Are Mechanical Keyboards Loud? What’s The Deal?

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Nov 30, 2022

You’ve probably heard or seen how wildly popular mechanical keyboards are with typists, programmers & developers, and gamers.

If you want to get the best typing experience possible, then you should definitely consider investing in a good mechanical keyboard.

But you’ve also probably heard that they can be loud. Is that true? Are mechanical keyboards just loud keyboards by default?

Mechanical keyboards can be either silent or loud – the choice is yours. The loudness of typing on a mechanical keyboard is determined by type of switch you choose to get with your mechanical keyboard. You can get keyboard switches that are loud and “clicky” like the Cherry MX Blues if you like the sound, or you can get keyboard switches that are silently operated, like the Cherry MX Silent Reds or Silent Blacks.

Keyboard manufacturers have been working tirelessly to improve the quality of their products over the years.

This isn’t a simple device that’s long been an afterthought for most computer users any more.

A high-quality mechanical keyboard will deliver an amazing typing experience, last you many years, and it’ll keep up with the demands of modern computing.

They’ve come a long way from the days of noisy, clacky keys. Today, they offer a variety of options, ranging from full-size models to compact ones.

Let’s look at why mechanical keyboards tend to be so loud, what the mechanical keyboard manufacturers have done about it, and what you can do yourself if you end up with a keyboard that’s just too noisy for your liking.

By the way – before we get too far along here, if you want to get more great ideas for your home office and connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Battle Station Setup here.

Mechanical keyboard switches

Mechanical keyboard switches

The big benefit that mechanical keyboard enthusiasts love so much is the way they operate using special switches that are used to perform a keypress operation (pressing down a key).

These switches are mechanical in nature and have several moving pieces that, when combined, make for a really unique, and high-performance typing and gaming experience.

There are three main types of mechanical keyboard switch:

  • Linear switches
  • Tactile switches
  • Clicky switches

Each switch functions basically the same way. The big difference is in the feedback a user gets while operating a mechanical keyboard.

Let’s talk about the characteristics of each type of mechanical keyboard switch.

Linear switches

Linear mechanical keyboard switches move straight up and down without any tactile feedback or auditory feedback and are favored by gamers because they provide a rapid response rate and smooth action.

The most common type of linear switch used in mechanical keyboards is the Cherry MX Red. Other common types of linear switches are:

Tactile switches

Tactile switches provide tactile feedback in the form of a noticeable bump when you’ve pressed them. It’s similar to the way that certain smartphones provide haptic feedback.

The most common tactile switches used in mechanical keyboards are Cherry MX Brown switches. Other popular options are:

  • Gateron Cap Brown V1 Switches

    Gateron KS-9 RGB Mechanical MX Type Key Switch – Clear top (65 Pcs, Brown)

    • SMOOTH – Gateron Switches are a favorite among enthusiasts for their smooth and satisfying typing experience as well as their lightning-fast gaming performance. They are available in 10 PCS, 65 PCS, 90 PCS and 120 PCS making them the ideal fit for 60%, TKL and full size keyboards.
    • GATERON BROWN – Tactile Switches have a small bump on each keystroke with a moderate noise level. The Silent Brown Switches have 4mm of total travel, an actuation force of 55g. The sound level and feeling make these an ideal switch in the office.

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  • AKKO CS Lavender Purple Tactile Switch

    EPOMAKER AKKO CS Lavender Purple Tactile Switch, 35gf, 3 Pin Switch, 45 Pieces

    • Previously we have matcha green, rose red and ocean blue switches using progressive springs yet the newly released lavender purple, radiant red and vintage white switches use classic extension springs. Specially, vintage white has the longest spring (22mm) among all three. The purpose of releasing the customer switches series is to offer more options to keyboard enthusiasts as every tiny bit of changes would create distinct typing experiences
    • It is always subjective when it comes down to the level of lubes that need to be applied on individual switch. Meanwhile, lubing the switches by machine might also affect the lifespan of switches. Thus, concerning those factors, AKKO CS switches will not come factory-lubed at the moment. AKKO CS switches do have a thin layer of dry film in the shrapnel for lubrication purpose, but there is no lube at all on any other parts such as top, stem or spring

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  • Akko CS Switches

    Akko CS Switches, 3 Pin 36gf Tactile Switch Compatible for MX Mechanical Keyboard (45 pcs, Lavender Purple)

    • Keyboard Switches & Akko CS Series – Akko Custom Series (CS) switches are 3-pin plate mounted custom switches made for DIY enthusiasts to obtain satisfying typing feelings with more affordable options.
    • Lavender Purple 36gf Tactile Switches – Different from Ocean Blue, Lavender Purple Tactile Switch is produced with a 18mm extension spring that is aimed to create unique and smooth feedbacks followed by the high tactile bump at 0.5mm.

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  • Drop Halo True Tactile Switches

    Drop Halo True Keyboard Switches — Plate Mounted, Tactile, 60g, Cherry-Style, Quiet Switches, by Kaihua (Halo True, 70 Pack)

    • SMOOTH CONSISTENT & SUPER SATISFYING Give your keyboard a tactile yet ultra-smooth feel with the Drop Halo True Switch Pack (70 pcs)
    • MEDIUM TO HEAVY TACTILE SWITCHES As medium-to-heavy tactile switches have been a huge hit over the years the Halo Trues deliver a tactile feel with a lack of pre-load (tension at rest) and smooth press from start to finish

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Clicky Switches

Clicky switches are just what they sound like; they make a distinct, auditory click when operated and are great if you enjoy that very distinctive click when typing.

The most common type of clicky switch used on mechanical keyboards is Cherry MX Blue switches. Several other popular options are:

Comparing The Loudness Of Linear vs Tactile vs Clicky Switches

Comparing The Loudness Of Linear vs Tactile vs Clicky Switches

Now that we’ve got a clear picture on what the different kinds of switches are available, let’s talk about the noise level of each type of switch: linear, tactile, and clicky. Each one has a unique approach to how they respond audibly.

Linear mechanical keyboard switches are typically quieter. They deliver a quiet, smooth experience both up and down during actuation with a consistent feel throughout the keypress operation.

Tactile switches produce a louder volume when operated and that’s in part due to the noticeable “bump” that’s experienced during a keypress. If you carry your mechanical keyboard around with you, but you’re concerned about noise levels, a tactile switch would be a good choice.

Clicky switches are louder than tactile switches. They’re designed specifically to produce a clearly audible “click” sound on each and every operation of the key.

What To Do If You Want To Change Your Mechanical Switches

What To Do If You Want To Change Your Mechanical Switches

Now that you understand the audible feedback you get from different kinds of switch types, what do you do if you aren’t happy with the key switches you’ve already got now?

If your mechanical keyboard model is a hot-swappable keyboard then it’s as easy as swapping out the current key switches for a new set.

And it doesn’t matter if you want to switch out just a few of your key switches or you want to replace the keys on your entire keyboard, you can swap out virtually anything you want when you have a hot-swappable keyboard.

This is also a good time to think about what kinds of features you want in your keyboard too.

Mechanical gaming keyboards are well-known for having very cool RGB backlit displays that, in many cases, are adjustable and can create a really awesome visual effect.

Actuation Force

How loud a mechanical keyboard is also depends on the actuation force used to operate the keys.

In most gaming instances, the level of force needed to operate a key is a finely tuned setting so that you’ve got it set perfectly for how you operate.

Other times, it really doesn’t matter as much.

Unless the noise becomes a problem.

The actuation force needed will vary from switch to switch – doesn’t matter what type of keyboard you have.

“Actuation force” essentially means how much physical effort is required to press down a key and register a keystroke.

And this can affect how loud your keyboard is.

Even if it’s not supposed to be loud, if you have a reputation for hitting your keys hard, they’re going to make more noise, especially when the effect you’re going for is that auditory feedback you get from a clicky switch.

How To Silence Your Mechanical Keyboard

How To Silence Your Mechanical Keyboard

But if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you enjoy the features but hate loud keyboards, there is a solution: Get a set of rubber O-rings to use on your switches.

You can use them on just a few switches to really customize how your keyboard operates, or you can use them on your entire keyboard.

This is a popular option for those who like the feel of the tactile Cherry MX Brown switches, but want to reduce the noise.

Same thing goes for those who want to tame the loud clickiness of the Chery MX Blue switches.

If you don’t want to use O-rings then an alternative to replacing all your switches would be to train yourself to type without bottoming out.

Key presses that go too far, or are pressed to hard are going to make noise, and sometimes that can be a problem.

Next Steps

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Robert David Orr

I'm an old school gamer from way back as a kid of the 80s - My first console was the Commodore 64. Since then, I've been gaming on everything from PC games to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to the Xbox One. Learn more.

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