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Introduction to Mechanical Keyboard Switches

By now, we’ve all seen those technology column articles from various news outlets discussing all of the best new mechanical keyboards out there for you to “upgrade your productivity” and “customize your workplace setup.” While some of these articles look at different pre-built options and every so often a truly customizable one, all of these articles fall short on one specific thing: the switch options. Championed as productivity improvers, strain reducers, and the ultimate personalized touch for your desk at work or at home, these websites unfortunately limit their discussion of mechanical keyboard switches simply to ‘Red’, ‘Blue’, and ‘Brown’ ones. Knowing that there are thousands of more interesting, uniquely designed, and fancifully colored options out there, I can’t help but feel a little sad that first-time buyers think that that is all there is out there for them. Keeping in mind how many new keyboard enthusiasts are sold short on the switch options out there, the team at DROP has set out to make a series of articles to help you not only expand your switch horizons beyond those tech articles but to help cut through all of the marketing nonsense to find the best options for you. To look specifically at the most important part of any mechanical keyboard build – the switches – I’ve teamed up with DROP to help you all make the best-informed decisions about switches. (My name is Goat, by the way. I’m glad I could meet you here at the start of your journey deeper into switches!)
Trust me, I really like switches... Credit: @ThereminGoatMK So, you’re probably wondering what makes “mechanical” keyboards truly different from whatever keyboard you could buy at any old office supply store. The biggest difference between commonplace “membrane” keyboards and “mechanical” ones is what lies underneath each key. Old membrane keyboards feature tightly packed sheets of rubber which mush together when pressed to register an input on your keyboard. Mechanical keyboards, though, have what are known as ‘switches’ – slightly more complex plastic and metal pieces which can produce smoother and much more pleasant feeling strokes with each input. These switches come in all feelings, weights, colors, and sounds that you could even possibly imagine. Don’t worry though, we won’t go into all of the intricacies of switches here in this article.
While there are many keyboard components to look into to find the perfect fit for you, I will be personally biased in saying that I think the switches are most important. For some takes on the other bits and pieces of mechanical keyboards out there, you should check out some of the articles that the other awesome writers at Drop have put out about them here. As to why I think that switches are the first component to consider in any mechanical keyboard build, here are top three reasons laid out:
Keyboard switches are the heart and soul of your keyboard
Image Credit: @Oregoncrete Even though this sounds a bit overly poetic, the switches inside of your keyboard function very much like the heartbeat that gives your keyboard life. With many people buying similar looking keyboards and keycaps, such as our 65% ALT board and brand new DCX Keycaps, a lot of keyboards might look the same without really feeling the same. With over 30 switch options available at DROP, identical looking keyboards could have entirely different feelings, sound, and even functionality all based on what switches people choose to put in them. That thought especially brings me to my second point…
Keyboard switches are nearly infinitely customizable
Image Credit: @nox2d
As you may have guessed by the fact that we stock so many switches, each one can produce different feelings and sounds with each press of a key. While I cover some of the marketing terms and switch slang in this article that helps you understand what separates one switch from another (Coming Soon!), you’ll have to trust me for now that the options are near endless. Switch weights ranging from 30g to over 100g in force, with three different types, and hundreds of different color schemes all make for an incredible set of options for your perfect keyboard. Did I even mention that you can further customize your switches on your own after you buy them?
Switches can customize a board to your exact needs and personality

Image Credit: @@Winkeyless As you’ve probably already seen in photos of mechanical keyboards all over the web, keyboards can look to match your personality. If you want a beige or black colored, professional looking board for your large CEO desk at work, you can have that. If you want a colorful, cute, or even themed look to match your gamer setup at home, you can have that too. But what if you want that CEO keyboard to be light and airy to the touch? What if you wanted your pink and purple, vaporwave themed keyboard at home to be heavy and quiet so that it can stand up to countless hours of gaming while not putting your teammates on tilt from the sound? These are all the types of scenarios that can be entirely reached depending on your choice in switches for your mechanical keyboard.
With that brief introduction as to why switches are such an important decision for you to make when picking your first or even fifteenth keyboard, I hope I was able to convince you to look a bit further into the details that sets switches like Holy Pandas and Gateron Yellows apart! My personal recommendation for next steps would be to look into the three main types of switches , though I won’t stop you if you want to jump right into trying some out for yourself. Before you do that, though, you may want to check out different marketing terms which you’ll often see with switches. Mod Edit: Fixed some formatting

Jan 3, 2024
When shopping on for switches, I see only a single price. shows a price in the tens of dollars? Is that the price PER SWITCH, or for a set of 10 switches? The site is really unclear on the quantity you get for that price.
Oct 1, 2023
the Goat being a Goat, great read
Oct 19, 2022
Very well written, awesome article as always.
ghosttedd.fbThanks for the kind words <3.
Oct 18, 2022
Been a fan of your blog for a while and appreciate the work you do to get us all the little details. Thanks for the great write up, and all the work you’ve done for us keeb nerds.
KhaimeraI am glad that they are helpful to you and (hopefully) many other people in the community. There's so many fascinating details - historical and performance wise - in so many switches as of late that I feel escapes the kind of attention it deserves. I'm just glad to have a chance to make some other people as excited about switches as I get.
Oct 17, 2022
Great article! As someone who's just getting into mechkeys and has been thinking about switching up the switches, the timing on this (and hopefully other articles) is perfect. Thank you!
chuckdudeI appreciate the kind words mate. Rest assured there are more articles that will be published here and are being worked on behind the scenes, in addition to my normal content I write on my own website.
Hey Goat, what do you rate the factor of JWK switch material impacting the smoothness of the switch?
TisymcI think this is a bit of an underdefined question. If you could tell me a specific type of material you're interested in I can try and better formulate a response!
Oct 13, 2022
What did you use to print or produce the designs?
OSPACEOIf you're asking about my displays for my switches, they are custom cut 500 slot (20x25) acrylic testers that were designed by a good friend of mine. While laser cutting is possible with a high enough powered laser, my suggestion would be CNC machining if you choose to go this route.
What do you think about jwk switches on fr4 plates? I like how thoccy they are
ChuuuuI unfortunately think that is too nuanced of a question for me to answer here! Durock/JWK has made such a wide variety in switches that I couldn't possibly think to pin them down to one singular idea. (I'm also not much a fan of the words 'thock' and 'clack' as you might feel inclined to read about in my article on switch sound!)
Hi Goat. Hope grad school isn't killing you
erickongHello Eric. It is certainly trying.
Oct 6, 2022
Thanks for your great reviews on switches. Helped me make my last switch purchase that I am very happy with.
wickid-goodHey mate, I really appreciate the kind words. I'm hoping I can help some newer people out with stuff this length so I can convince them to start reading textbook-length switch reviews!
ThereminGoatMKI have read some of your longer reviews (when I have time); I appreciate the depth. Part of the fun of switches is the history and context behind them.
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