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Cherry MX Blue vs. Red Keyboard Switches: The Ultimate Showdown

Cherry MX Blue vs. Red Keyboard Switches: The Ultimate Showdown

Key Points

  • Cherry MX Blue switches are clicky-type, while Red ones are linear.
  • Cherry MX Red switches are quiet and produce almost no sound, while Blue ones make a loud ‘clack’ when the key is pressed.
  • Cherry MX Blue switches have an actuation and bottom-out force of 60g, while Red ones have an actuation force of 45g and a bottom-out force of 75g.
  • Clicky switches are heavier since they require the click mechanism to be pressed, which provides additional resistance not present in linear switches.
  • Actuating a Cherry MX Blue switch requires you to bottom it out, which makes it functionally similar to a full-travel membrane keyboard.

Clicky versus linear switches is a rivalry as old as time. Proponents of the clicky switch cite clear tactile feedback and a satisfying ‘clack’ noise as the best parts of the switch type. Those who prefer linear switches tend to find the clicky switch abrasive and loud and like the smooth, light typing feel of the linear switch. Head to head, let’s compare the frontrunners of these switch types: Cherry MX Blue vs Red.

Cherry MX Blue vs. Red: Side-by-Side Comparison

BlueRed
Switch TypeClickyLinear
Switch Actuation Force60g45g
Bottom-Out Force 60g75g
Actuation Distance 2mm2mm
Full Travel Distance4mm4mm
Switch ProfileStandardStandard
Primary UsesTyping, GamingGaming
Plate-Mounted Tactile Switches
Cherry MX Blue Switches for Mechanical Keyboard
$11.99 ($1.20 / Count)
  • Tactile bump with audible clicking
  • Actuation force 60g
  • Total travel 2.4mm
  • Lifespan 40 million operations
  • Includes switch puller
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/21/2024 10:30 am GMT

Cherry MX Blue vs. Red: What’s the Difference?

The sound and the typing feel aren’t the only things differentiating Cherry MX Blue vs. Red keyboard switches. They have several distinguishing features that prospective users should consider when choosing their switches. Let’s examine these differences.

Switch Type

A Cherry MX Blue keyboard switch next to a Cherry MX Red one.
Cherry MX Blue and Red switches are among the most well-known mechanical keyboard switches.

The first difference to consider is the switch type. This difference will change how your switch interfaces the world rather than the keyboard’s PCB. Cherry MX Blue switches are clicky, while Red ones are linear. That means they give different tactile feedback while typing.

As the name implies, clicky switches produce an audible “clack” sound when the key actuates. This auditory feedback helps the user understand when to expect the key to press and can help prevent unintended actuation. However, these switches can be unwieldy for situations where a user needs to make repeated, rapid inputs on one key and have them all registered, also known as button mashing. Thus, some gamers find that clicky switches don’t suit their hobby.

Linear switches are the preference of most pro gamers for a reason. These switches don’t provide any tactile feedback and have a straight chamber that allows the keypress to glide down to the actuation point smoothly. The smooth and light actuation of the keys makes them ideal for people who need to have the fastest keypresses, like gamers who might need a split-second reaction to something in-game.

Actuation Force

A keyboard switch’s actuation force is the amount of force (in grams) required to get the computer to register the keypress. Every keyboard has an actuation force for the keys, even membrane keyboards. However, mechanical switches have a significantly lower required force to actuate.

Despite the overall switch selection being lighter than membranes, there is still diversity between switches that you must be mindful of. Actuation force will determine how difficult it is to push the switches down and is typically determined by the switch springs that the switches have. Thus, you can influence your keys’ actuation force by cracking the switches open and installing different springs.

Cherry MX Blue switches have an actuation force of 60g, while Reds have an actuation force of 45g. 15g might not sound like a lot, but it can make a difference for people with finger-related difficulties. Issues like carpal tunnel or arthritis can be alleviated by typing with lighter switches.

Bottom Out Force

Bottoming out your switch is when you press the switch to its full travel distance. Most high-end keyboard switches actuate before the switch is fully depressed. However, most membrane users are used to having to bottom out their keys to get the actuation. 

A Cherry MX Blue switch has a bottom-out force of 60g. This rating is the same force required to activate the switches. This rating makes it easy for people who have never typed on a mechanical keyboard to acclimate to the new sensation. Since the bottom-out and actuation force are the same, they won’t experience an efficiency drop from bottoming out their switches.

Cherry MX Red switches have a higher bottom-out force than Blue ones, with a force of 75g. This rating is greater than the actuation force of 45g, meaning you don’t have to bottom out the switch to actuate it. This difference can lead to people bottoming out their keys unintentionally. Doing so won’t damage the keyboard or switches but will produce a loud “clack” when the switch hits the backplate. So, it could still be annoying if you want switches that don’t make noise.

Additionally, putting more force than is strictly necessary to actuate the keys can be inefficient for people who need to use their keys as fast as possible, such as gamers or typists. Light switches allow gamers to react to in-game stimuli more quickly. They also allow typists to type faster and put less stress on their fingers.

Sound

It probably goes without saying, but Cherry MX Blue switches are also louder than Red ones. The design of linear switches is so that they provide as little tactile feedback as possible to improve speed and performance.

Now, the exact sound you hear will depend on everything from the acoustics of the keycaps to whether you tend to bottom out your keys. For instance, Cherry profile keycaps will get a bassier sound than those using OEM keycaps.

Additionally, you’ll get a louder sound if you bottom out your keys, which will cause the switch stem to strike the backplate, making a much more prominent noise than the click from the switch. Let’s start by listening to the switch sound without any housing.

Now, to determine how different the keys sound, it’s important to recreate the environment as best as possible. Luckily, I have a Ducky One 3, which features hot-swap sockets. So, we’ll first test the switch sound out of the socket. Then, put the switch in the Escape socket and listen to the sound when affixed to that keyboard with the stock keycaps.

Finally, let’s do an actual typing test using both switches. To do this, we’ll have to use two different keyboards as I only have 20 of each switch on me, unfortunately, which is not nearly enough to outfit a whole keyboard. We’ll use a Ducky One 2 Rosa and a Ducky One 3 Aura with similar builds. Both keyboards have plastic frames, metal backplates, and OEM keycaps.

Typing Feel for Work and Gaming

This section is going to be heavily personal. How a switch feels when typing depends on the person; people type differently and have different opinions on what kind of typing feel they like. It also relies heavily on what the person is using the keyboard for. Gamers usually prefer a quicker response and smooth feel over tactile feedback, while typists prefer tactile feedback, but this isn’t a universal experience.

I trialed both switches on typing and gaming. So, I have a good handle on their physical feel in both situations. Let’s discuss.

So, I go against the grain in both typing and gaming. I like tactile feedback when I game and smooth sailing when typing. That means where most gamers would prefer the Cherry MX Red switches, I usually like Blues and vice versa.

Typing Feel

It’s no secret that I type a lot. My whole job here at History-Computer is typing an extremely high amount of words daily. Thus, I have a lot of big feelings about typing feel. I spend so much time typing that it’s essential that the keyboard and switches I use feel good to me.

Some typists love Cherry MX Blues. They find the tactile feedback satisfying and helpful to their overall experience with their work. I am not as taken with them for this application. With a 60g actuation force, they are heavy for this task, especially since I do it so much. 

Now, part of this might have to do with my joint health. I have a condition that affects the mobility of my joints and can cause chronic pain there. So, the repetitive typing motion is only compounded by the heavy switch. The Cherry MX Reds provide a much smoother typing feel to me, which I like.

I don’t work in an office or have a coworking space. So, I don’t have to worry about my switches getting me fired or politely asked to leave a space.

After working with them for a while, I got used to the increased weight of the switch. However, I still wished the switches were lighter as I continued this article. It felt like the switch weight was holding me back from my full potential. Except under scientific scrutiny, this feeling did not hold up.

I also did a typing test with both switches, using a Ducky One 2 Rosa (Red Switch) and a Ducky One 3 Aura (Blue Switch), and, surprisingly, my typing speed was the same when my nose was put to the grindstone. The perceived slowness that I felt while typing was just that, perceived. So, maybe I’m just a tad lazy, and when I encounter resistance, I simply crumble.

Cherry blue vs. Cherry red
Cherry MX Red switches are perfect for gamers who need a fast and responsive keyboard.

Gaming Feel

I like how Cherry MX Blues feel while gaming. I hit the keys hard when I game; I really smash those suckers like they owe me money. Thus, I don’t feel the heaviness that many gamers who dislike clicky switches feel… because I’m hitting the things so hard that I’m going way beyond the bottom-out force. This behavior differs significantly from my typing behavior, where I hit the keys lightly and use as little force as possible.

So, I found myself liking the Cherry MX Blues. They felt just like I remembered them, requiring just enough force to resist being pressed accidentally but not enough to feel heavy like a membrane keyboard.

I like the tactile feedback of clicky switches when gaming. I mash hard enough that the repetitive motion doesn’t lessen my force past the increased actuation force compared to linear switches. Additionally, the click lets me know when I should expect the key to actuate, which can be helpful when you hit the keys as hard as I do because it helps you know when the switch has broken.

However, I won’t deny that I was a little wooed by the ease of inputs when using the Cherry MX Reds. Gaming with such an easy keypress was almost intoxicating. It was just so smooth and responsive. Overall, I liked both of them for gaming, but I still prefer clicky switches.

A Mainstay for Mechanical Keyboards
Pack of 20 Original Cherry MX Red Switches for Mechanical Keyboard
$19.99
  • Smooth and quiet linear switches
  • 45 grams actuation force
  • 2mm actuation point
  • 4mm total travel
  • Switch puller included
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/21/2024 10:25 am GMT

Cherry MX Blue vs. Red: 7 Must-Know Facts

  • Cherry MX Blue switches are clicky-type, while Red ones are linear.
  • Cherry MX Red switches are quiet and produce almost no sound, while Blue ones make a loud “clack” when the key is pressed.
  • Cherry MX Blue switches have an actuation and bottom-out force of 60g, while Red ones have an actuation force of 45g and a bottom-out force of 75g.
  • The exact sound and feel of the switches will depend on the frame, plate, and keycap constructions. Different keycap profiles provide different acoustics to the switch sound.
  • Clicky switches are heavier since they require the click mechanism to be pressed, which provides additional resistance not present in linear switches.
  • Tactile switches are an excellent middle ground for people who want the tactile feedback of a clicky switch without the loud noise.
  • Actuating a Cherry MX Blue switch requires you to bottom it out, which makes it functionally similar to a full-travel membrane keyboard. Thus, these switches are excellent for people making the switch from membrane to mechanical.

Cherry MX Blue vs. Red: Which One Is Better?

A keyboard with an exposed row of Cherry MX Blue switches and RGB lighting.
The iconic “click” of a Cherry MX Blue switch can be cumbersome when you share space with other people.

Choosing keyboard switches is a very personal experience. While membrane keyboards are typically inferior to any mechanical keyboard, mechanical keyboards are not made equal across the board. Additionally, the “I just like it” factor is crucial to the experience.

However, let’s discuss some statistical use cases you might want to consider when choosing between Cherry MX Blues vs. Reds.

What Actuation Force Do You Need?

If you need a low actuation force on your switches, choose Cherry MX Reds over Blues. Blues have a 15g higher actuation force on a force of 60g, meaning it is about 25% easier to press Cherry MX Reds over Blues.

Conversely, if you like more resistance when you press your keys, Blues provide additional physical resistance than Reds. So, people who have issues with accidental keypresses might benefit from switching to Blues, which have a higher actuation force.

Do You Care About the Noise?

The reality is that Blue switches are loud as heck and can be really annoying for people who have shared coworking spaces. Even people who just live with others may experience some resistance to having such a loud keyboard.

If you have a baby you don’t want to wake up, or a partner who is sensitive to sound, or you just work in an office with other humans, clicky switches might not be for you. Now, linear switches make noise. You’ll typically hear slightly scratching from the stem moving in the chamber. However, it’s nothing compared to the loud “clack” associated with clicky switches unless you consistently bottom them out.

  1. Pack of 20 Original Cherry MX Red Switches for Mechanical Keyboard
    $19.99
    • Smooth and quiet linear switches
    • 45 grams actuation force
    • 2mm actuation point
    • 4mm total travel
    • Switch puller included
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    01/21/2024 10:25 am GMT
  2. Cherry MX Blue Switches for Mechanical Keyboard
    $11.99 ($1.20 / Count)
    • Tactile bump with audible clicking
    • Actuation force 60g
    • Total travel 2.4mm
    • Lifespan 40 million operations
    • Includes switch puller
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    01/21/2024 10:30 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Cherry MX Blue switches?

Cherry MX Blue switches are Cherry MX’s standard clicky switches.

What are Cherry MX Red switches?

Cherry MX Red switches are Cherry MX’s standard linear switches.

What is the actuation force of a Cherry MX Blue switch?

The actuation force of a Cherry MX Blue switch is 60g. Its bottom-out force is the same.

What is the actuation force of a Cherry MX Red switch?

The actuation force of a Cherry MX Red switch is 45g. Its bottom-out force is 75g.

Which is better, Cherry MX Blue or Red?

Cherry MX Reds are more widely preferred to Blues. The loud noise that Blue switches make mean they’re less usable by the wider computing community since they can’t be used in coworking spaces and other shared areas.

Additionally, Blue switches are 15g heavier than Reds, making them harder to press and less ideal for people who prefer or need a light switch. The heaviness of the switch makes them less responsive as well, which can be a dealbreaker for people who need fast response times from their keyboard.

 

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