The Difference Between Mechanical Switches and Optical Switches - Ranked

The Difference Between Optical Switches and Mechanical Switches

When it comes to choosing a mechanical keyboard, one of the most important decisions you'll make is the type of switch you want to use. Two of the most popular types of switches are optical switches and mechanical switches, and each has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks.

Mechanical Switches

Mechanical switches are the traditional type of switch used in mechanical keyboards. They consist of a metal stem that moves up and down to activate the switch and register a keystroke. This type of switch provides a tactile and audible feedback when a key is pressed, which many users find satisfying.

Mechanical switches are also highly durable, with a lifespan that can range from 50 million to 100 million keystrokes. They are also customizable, with a wide range of switch types available, including linear, tactile, and clicky switches. This allows users to choose the switch that best fits their typing style and preferences.

Optical Switches

Optical switches, on the other hand, use infrared light to register a keystroke. When the key is pressed, the switch sends a beam of light to a receiver, which registers the keystroke. This design eliminates the metal stem found in mechanical switches, making optical switches lighter than their mechanical counterparts.

Optical switches are also highly responsive, with a quicker actuation time than mechanical switches. They are also durable, with a lifespan that can range from 60 million to 100 million keystrokes. However, optical switches do not provide the tactile and auditory feedback that many users enjoy in a mechanical switch.

Which is Right for You?

The choice between optical switches and mechanical switches ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both optical switches and mechanical switches have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Optical switches are often favored by gamers for their low latency, while typists tend to prefer the reliability and wide range of options offered by mechanical switches. It's important to note that optical switches cannot be used on a mechanical switches PCB and vice versa, so compatibility should also be considered when making a decision.

Ultimately, the choice between optical switches and mechanical switches comes down to personal preference, as there is no "right" or "wrong" choice. By considering the benefits of each type of switch and your own typing preferences, you can make an informed decision when choosing a mechanical keyboard.