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When buying or building a keyboard it is easy to overlook an important component under the hood, the switches. While the styling or the RGB leds of a keyboard may dazzle, It’s useful to look up the type of switches it has- these are the engine of your keys.
When it comes to the best keyboard switch brands Cherry MX stands among the top players of the industry. This company specializes in designing and manufacturing key switches and judging by their large user base they know what they’re doing.
The Red Switches are among the most popular offerings by Cherry MX and have quickly captured the attention of clickheads and keebnerds around the globe. After installing Cherry MX Red switches on my swappable keyboard and using them for a month, I can say that they live up to the hype.
If you own a hot-swappable keyboard and want to experience the feel and responsiveness of a premium quality switch, then Cherry MX Red switches are for you. But if you are like me, you would want to know more about the Red Switches before you make a purchase. I have compiled everything you would want to know about the Cherry MX Red switches in this guide so you can figure out if these are the correct switches for you.
What type of switch is the Cherry MX Red?
Cherry MX Red switches fall in the linear switch category. Linear switches are famous for their smooth operation. If loud clicky keyboard switches aren’t your thing, then Linear switches offer the responsiveness of a mechanical keyboard minus the sound. They have a simple operating mechanism and require very little force to press them down.
Cherry MX Red switches require the same amount of force throughout their entire travel path. This is because Linear switches don’t have a tactile bump near the middle of their travel path, so there isn’t any resistance to overcome. The Cherry MX Red is a gaming switch and judging by these discussions in some gaming forums, gamers have embraced its minimal sound and smoothness.
Technical specifications for Cherry MX Red
Cherry MX Red linear switches boast a decent spec sheet. Here are some key specifications of this gaming switch:
Actuation force: 45 cN operating force
Pre-travel: 2.0 mm (key travel before the keystroke registration)
Total travel: 4.0 mm (key travel until it bottoms out)
What makes Cherry MX Red switches good for gaming?
Now it’s not like you won’t be able to type using these key switches. I know people that have been typing on $5 keyboards for years. However, gaming is where these switches shine because they are purpose-built for fast reactions and low force requirements.
Besides, if you didn’t care about keyboard performance and the feel of a keyboard you wouldn’t be reading this guide. Here are some reasons that make Cherry MX Red switches great for gaming:
Whether you are a casual gamer or a semi-pro FPS player, you wouldn’t want a key switch that takes too much time and force to register keystrokes. The less force a key switch takes to register a keystroke the faster you can get out of the enemy’s crosshairs.
MOBA orMMO gamers especially Dota 2 players constantly have to use key combinations and that’s where the 2.0mm pre-travel of Cherry MX Red comes in handy. Short travel combined with the low force required to operate the Red switches makes them ideal for making complex in-game maneuvers.
In competitive gaming good communication between team members can drastically improve your performance. I have noticed that while the Red switches aren’t silent their sound is low compared to the tactile mechanical switches; I have tested.
The low noise output of Cherry MX Red switches means they don’t interrupt your team’s callouts.
They don’t tire you out
If you play for multiple hours every day you need switches that won’t tire you out. The ultra-light Cherry MX Red switches make sure that your fingers don’t feel fatigued after an intense gaming session.
Keystrokes are predictable
With no resistance and a soft spring action Cherry MX Red switches require the same amount of force to press every single time. Although dirt and debris build up around the switch mechanism can alter the consistency of the Red switches so keep your keyboards clean to get consistent performance.
The predictability of the Cherry MX Red switches can help develop muscle memory so you can perform in-game actions effortlessly.
What keyboards come with Cherry MX RED switches in 2023?
You can buy Cherry MX Red Switches and install them into your hot swappable keyboard or you can buy a keyboard that comes with built-in Red switches. I already own a few hot-swappable keyboards, so personally I’m less likely to seek out the complete package. However, if you are looking for the complete package, then there are a few available options. Here are two of the best keyboards that come with the Red switches:
Varmilo VA87M: This keyboard is being sold with almost every model of Cherry MX switches and the Red series is one of them. However, the Varmilo VA87M isn’t a hot-swappable keyboard so if you are looking for a swappable keyboard this one is not a good fit for you.
As far as the looks are concerned this keyboard offers multicolored keycaps, durable construction, and smooth key presses.
Durgod K320: This keyboard comes with Cherry MX Black, Blue, Red, Brown, or Silver switches. So you can pick this keyboard with the Red switches and save yourself the hassle of assembling the board yourself.
However, similar to the previous entry this keyboard is also not hot-swappable which may put some of you off.
Cherry MX Red vs. Brown: which one’s the better option?
Cherry MX switches are categorized by switch color (which is a smart move from the marketing point of view). Each color series by Cherry MX differs from the other. Their Cherry MX Red and Brown variations are commonly compared to one another. Both the Red and Brown switches offer completely separate feel and performance.
While the Brown switches are tactile, the Red switches are linear. What this means is that the brown switches have a distinct bump that is signature to tactile switches and most users find it satisfying. However, Red switches, as mentioned above- are smoother with no bumps or tactile feedback.
When choosing between the Red and Brown switches, consider your usage scenario. While the Brown switches are more suitable for typing because of their tactile feedback, the Red switches are better for gaming. So as long as you are using the right switch for the right application you can’t go wrong with buying either.
Cherry MX Red is regarded as one of the best gaming key switches of 2023 by users. So you can’t go wrong with buying this keyboard for any kind of gaming application. However, if you plan on using your keyboard primarily for typing, then the Cherry MX Red might not offer the best experience possible.