Brown and Blue switches are two of the most popular mechanical switch types, especially in pre-built keyboards. But how do you choose between the two? Do you go for the safe Browns or the loud and clicky Blues? The best way to know is to try both, of course. But if you can’t, then our comparison of Blue vs. Brown switches is the next best thing.
We’ll compare the basic specs, typing feel, noise, and price, all to help you decide which of the two is the switch for you. Let’s get started.
Brown vs. Blue Switches: Specifications
We’ll focus on Cherry MX Brown vs. MX Blue switches here, as they’re the defining examples of both switch types. But Cherry isn’t the only company that makes tactile Brown and clicky Blue switches; most clone manufacturers have their own takes on the OG Cherry formula. Most are quite faithful, too, with only minor differences in actuation force or travel distances.
This means that our points here are applicable to most Brown and Blue switches on the market, whether they’re Cherry originals or clones from Gateron, Outemu, or Kailh.
Here’s a table showing the specs for Brown and Blue switches from several manufacturers:
|Cherry MX Brown||Tactile||55 g||2.0 mm||4.0 mm|
|Gateron Brown||Tactile||55 g||2.0 mm||4.0 mm|
|Outemu Brown||Tactile||50 g||2.0 mm||4.0 mm|
|Kailh Brown||Tactile||50 g||1.9 mm||4.0 mm|
|Cherry MX Blue||Tactile||60 g||2.2 mm||4.0 mm|
|Gateron Blue||Tactile||60 g||2.3 mm||4.0 mm|
|Outemu Blue||Tactile||60 g||2.2 mm||4.0 mm|
|Kailh Blue||Tactile||50 g||1.9 mm||4.0 mm|
This table requires some knowledge of terms like “actuation” and “travel”. If you’re not familiar with them, check out our guide to linear vs. tactile vs. clicky switches for explanations of these concepts.
Brown vs. Blue Switches: Typing Feel
Brown switches are tactile switches, so there’s a small bump when you press the switch down. It’s not a huge bump—nowhere near some of the best tactile switches—but it’s enough to make typing enjoyable, which is what you want from a tactile switch.
However, the tactile bump on switches like the Cherry MX Brown isn’t too big or noticeable, however. So rapid inputs when gaming will still feel fine, making Browns a good switch for gaming too. They’re a great beginner switch for this very reason; you won’t have to commit to typing or gaming, and can enjoy the best of both worlds with one keyboard.
Unfortunately, as with many jack-of-all-trades products, the Browns likely won’t satisfy you if you know you want a lot of tactility or ultra-smooth travel. Depending on your tastes, the small tactile bump can make the Browns feel more like a scratchy linear switch, neither smooth nor tactile enough for some users.
Blue switches are clicky switches, meaning they have an audible click alongside a tactile bump. This sharp, high-pitched click makes Blue (and other clicky switches) much louder than linear or tactile switches while giving them a slightly different feel as well.
Traditional clicky switches, like the Cherry MX Blue switches, use a click jacket to generate the click. This small plastic sleeve moves up and down with the stem and contacts the housing, causing the click. The jacket means a slightly sharper tactility, too, which some will prefer.
However, the moving click jacket can also make Blues less than ideal for repeated inputs (such as fast-paced gaming). While the jacket moves with the stem, it isn’t fixed to the stem. Blues can feel sticky and a bit imprecise if you’re spamming them. You can still game on them if you want, but we think they’re more suited to typing.
Browns and Blues are both tactile, but they take different approaches to arrive at a similar result. Brown switches have a less noticeable tactility, making them a safer, more versatile choice. On the other hand, Blues have sharper, more present tactility, albeit at the cost of a loud click and potential sluggishness in some situations.
Brown vs. Blue Switches: Sound
The two switches couldn’t be more different when it comes to sound profile and volume. Browns are quiet compared to the Blues, with the bottom-out clack the only really noticeable sound when typing. They’re not silent by any means, but they’re quite laid-back compared to Blue switches.
Blues have a sharp, audible click that dominates the aural experience. And they still have the same noticeable bottom-out clack of the Browns, which further adds to the noise. You either love how Blues sound or hate them; few are neutral or ambivalent.
I don’t mind how Cherry MX Blue switches sound, although I don’t think they’re as enjoyable as click bar switches (which most of the best clicky switches use). But I’ll let you be the judge.
Up next, the Cherry MX Blue switches:
There’s a huge difference between Blue and Brown switches, and you should be able to tell within a few seconds which you prefer. As usual, there’s no right or wrong here; go for the switch you enjoy more.
However, we highly recommend going with Browns if you work in an office or are within earshot of others. Even if you enjoy the Blues, your colleagues or housemates may not. The last thing you want is to get on their nerves every time you sit down to type an email. Unless you’re that sort of person, of course.
Brown vs. Blue Switches: Price
You can get 105 Cherry MX Browns or MX Blues for the same price, around $60 on Amazon. If you’re in the US, you can get them even cheaper: 10-packs of MX Blues and MX Browns go for about $4 from MechanicalKeyboards.com.
It’s the same story for clones from Gateron (for example). You can get 90 Gateron Browns or Gateron Blues for about $35 on Amazon. So there’s no reason to choose one over the other based on price. Choosing between Cherry MX switches and Gateron switches is another matter, though; check our Gateron vs. Cherry comparison for an in-depth look.
You will have to select the brand, of course. But once you’ve settled on Cherry, Gateron, or any of the other MX-style switch manufacturers, you’ll be free to choose between Browns and Blues with no price concerns.
If you’re wondering whether to go for Cherry or Gateron, stay tuned in the coming weeks for our guide on the Cherry vs. Gateron comparison to see how the brands fare in a head-to-head competition.
Blue and Brown switches are both similar yet wildly different. While both provide a level of tactile feedback that linear switches like Reds and Blacks don’t offer, they do this in vastly different ways. Browns are more versatile, with more restrained tactility and a reasonably quiet sound profile.
Blues, on the other hand, have an in-your-face click that you won’t mistake for any other switch. They also have a click jacket, so their tactility is a bit sharper, albeit at the cost of potential sluggishness depending on what you’re doing with them. Both are good switches, but they’ll appeal to different users; only you can decide which is the switch for you.
Have you made your decision? Head over to our list of best places to buy keyboard switches to grab a bunch of Browns or Blues.