Ah, clicky switches. Their loud clicking sound makes it sound and feel like you’re typing up a storm on your mechanical keyboard. Not everyone digs that, of course, but if that’s something you want, then our list of the best clicky switches will help.
Clicky switches are relatively uncommon compared to tactile and linear switches, so narrowing down your options is slightly easier. That said, personal preference still plays a huge part in finding the best clicky switch, and that’s something that we can’t account for. So use our list as a starting point for you to explore clicky switches, and not as a be-all-end-all guide. Let’s get started.
- Best Clicky Switches Overall: Kailh White Owls are lighter-weight click bar switches with a great-sounding click and pleasing tactility.
- Best Clicky Switches Runner-Up: Kailh Box Jades have a loud, sharp click and pronounced tactility for a satisfying—if very loud—typing experience.
- Best Heavy Clicky Switches: Kailh Box Navies are typist-focused switches with a robust click and ultra-heavy weighting.
- Best Gaming Clicky Switches: Kailh Speed Golds have a quieter, crunchier click that won’t annoy your teammates as much as other clicky switches.
- Best Click Jacket Switches: Gateron Blues are affordable clicky switches with decent smoothness and a less rattly click than Cherry MX Blues.
Our Favorite Clicky Keyboard Switches
Before we start, it’s important to know that manufacturers use one of two ways to add the click to clicky switches: click jackets and click bars. Click jackets are the “traditional” method used in clicky Cherry MX switches like the Cherry MX Blue (and all the switches that copy the MX Blue). Click bars, on the other hand, feature in most Kailh clicky switches (like the Box Jade).
We’ll discuss the differences between the two click mechanisms later in our guide.
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Kailh’s White Owl is one of the company’s newest clicky switches and is also, for our money, one of its best. It’s a medium-weight clicky switch with one of the most pleasing clicks you’ll get from a Kailh switch. If you care about the sound of your clicks—and you should, or else you might as well get a good tactile switch instead—then the White Owl is worth considering.
The White Owls have what we can only describe as a “just-right” click. Like all Kailh Box clicky switches, they have a fuller, more satisfying click than click jacket-based switches like the Cherry MX Blue. However, these White Owls also aren’t quite as strident as other Kailh switches like the Box Jades, making them a better general recommendation.
We appreciate how clear and crisp the click is, too. The White Owl switches don’t have any of the pinging or scratchiness you can often hear in other clicky switches, making it one of our favorite clicks ever in an MX-style switch.
The Kailh White Owl switches’ just-right feeling extends to the weighting. Its 46-gram actuation force is slightly on the light side for a clicky, so these aren’t for heavy switch lovers. But its overall smoothness and middle-of-the-road weighting mean it should appeal to many users.
Kailh equipped the White Owl clicky switches with thick click bars, improving tactile feedback over those with thin click bars like Box White. So even if the White Owls are just as light as the Box Whites, they offer better tactile feedback and a more full-bodied click. It’s a clever decision that sets the Kailh White Owl apart from Kailh’s other clicky switches.
Overall, there’s much to like about the Kailh White Owls. Their nicely-judged click sound and weight make them a great pick for those who just want a top-notch clicky switch for their mechanical keyboard. There are heavier clickies and louder clickies, but the White Owls are a great general-purpose clicky switch that’ll satisfy many of you out there.
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Kailh’s Box Jades are one of the company’s most popular Box switches, and it’s not hard to see—or, rather, hear—why. The Box Jades have some of the loudest, most up-front clicks possible from an MX-style switch.
The Box Jades are the switch for those who think other MX-style clicky switches just aren’t clicky enough. They’re loud, sharp, and crisp, and miles ahead of click jacket switches when it comes to sound quality. There’s no rattle or sloppiness here, just pure, unadulterated click.
That said, clicks aren’t necessarily the best sounding to our ears, as there’s a slight scratchiness that other Kailh clicky switches like the Kailh White Owl and Box Whites don’t have. This is only a nitpicky complaint, though, and one that you’ll probably only notice if you compare them side-by-side.
The Kailh Box Jade switches’ typing feel matches up quite well with the sound; it’s crisp and sharp, with strong tactility but a lighter actuation force. At 50 grams, it’s in the ballpark of the White Owls and MX Blues, but the thicker click bar makes it feel more tactile than both.
However, the lighter spring does have some negative effects. Box Jades can feel sluggish on the upstroke, as the spring isn’t heavy enough to push the stem past the thicker click bar. It’s not a fatal flaw, and most users get by with it fine. However, it’s something to consider if you’re interested in the Kailh Box Jade switches.
The Kailh Box Jade switches are a top-tier clicky switch, perfect for those who prioritize volume above all else for their mechanical keyboard. If you’re after refinement or a “tuneful” click, then you’ll want to look elsewhere. But if you’ve ever yearned for just more click, then these are the clicky switches you need.
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The Kailh Box Navy switches are one of the heaviest clicky switches you can buy right now. If you feel like a loud click needs to be matched by a heavy spring and massive tactility, then the Box Navies are definitely worth a look.
Unlike other Box switches like the Box Jades, the Box Navies sound the most like Cherry’s MX Blues, albeit on steroids. They have a similar pitch and sound profile but are noticeably louder with a much bigger emphasis on the low-end thock than MX Blues. We think they sound great, and they’re probably our second-favorite clicky switch sound profile (after the White Owls).
The Box Navy switch’s claim to fame is its hefty weighting. With a 75-gram actuation force and 90-gram bottom out, these are some of the heaviest mainstream mechanical keyboard switches on the market right now. Make no mistake: these aren’t for everyone. But they can be fun to type on, provided you can get used to the weight and avoid bottoming out.
One upshot of the heavier spring is that the Box Navies have no issues with a slow upstroke like on the Box Jades. These are definitely slower switches due to the overall weight, but you at least won’t have to worry about the switch snagging or sticking when you’re typing.
The Kailh Box Navy switches complete the trinity of top-tier clicky switches in the company’s stable. They’re probably the most niche option of the three, so they sit third behind the White Owls and Box Jades. Still, heavy-handed typists who want a clicky switch that matches their typing style will definitely love these.
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Clicky switches aren’t necessarily what we’d recommend for gaming, but if you want a clicky mechanical keyboard switch to game on then Kailh’s Speed Gold switches are worth checking out.
Unlike most Kailh clicky switches, the Kailh Speed Gold switches use a traditional click jacket design like the Cherry MX Blue switches. While this means they’re not as tactile or satisfyingly clicky as a Box switch, this design has benefits gamers will appreciate.
The main appeal of the Kailh Speed Gold is that it has a more “muted” click that isn’t as high-pitched and sharp as other clicky switches. Quite a few reviewers have described the Speed Gold switches as feeling more “crackly” (in a good way) than “clicky,” and we’d agree with that assessment.
They’re still clicky, of course, but the more subdued click will be much less intrusive over a live microphone than most click bar switches. But if you’re concerned with sound, we recommend checking out linear switches instead, as they’ll be much less audible.
As far as typing feel goes, we’d say the Kailh Speed Gold switches are decent but not spectacular. Tactility is decent enough, and they’re not overly scratchy or unpleasant to use. These aren’t overly exciting switches, but they’ll do a great job in a gaming mechanical keyboard if you must have clicky switches.
The only thing holding the Kailh Speed Gold back from a more general recommendation is its short 1.1 mm pre-travel distance. While we’re ambivalent about the benefits of short-travel mechanical keyboard switches for gaming, it’s hard to overlook the challenges a quick actuation can pose to typists. It’s perhaps not as pronounced with a clicky switch, but we still won’t recommend the Kailh Speed Gold if you’re a full-time typist.
Overall, the Kailh Speed Gold switches are an intriguing option if you want a clicky switch for gaming. They’re not as pleasing as the Box switches, but your teammates and anyone who has to listen to you game will appreciate the quieter click.
5. Gateron Blue
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Gateron’s Blue switch is the company’s take on the Cherry MX Blue, the grand-daddy of modern clicky switches. Its click jacket mechanism may feel a bit old-fashioned and lightweight compared to Kailh’s click bars, but it’s still a worthwhile switch for those who want a more traditional-sounding clicky switch.
The Gateron Blue switch sounds very similar to Cherry’s MX Blue, with the same thin, high-pitched click. However, Gateron Blues have a less-“rattly” click than Cherry MX Blues, which is why we prefer them over the Cherry versions. To be clear, the Gaterons are nowhere close to the robust clicks of Kailh’s Box switches. Still, they’re a subtle, but noticeable, cut above the Cherry originals when it comes to the click sound.
The Gateron Blue switches are medium-weight clicky switches that offer reasonable tactility while remaining easy and non-fatiguing to type on. It’s a good balance that will appeal to most people. It won’t win any awards for smoothness or tactile feedback, but it does feel ever so slightly smoother than the Cherry MX Blue switches.
Combine the better click and slightly smoother actuation, and you have a compelling reason to go for the Gateron Blue switches over the Cherry originals. They are noticeably less durable than the Cherry MX Blues, with an endurance rating of only 50 million actuations (vs. the Cherries’ 100 million), but we think the lower price and preferable sonic and typing experience make the tradeoff acceptable.
The Gateron Blue switches are a good take on the traditional Cherry MX Blue design. They’re significantly more affordable than Cherry’s MX Blue while outperforming it in some key areas. If you’re not keen on the feel and sound of click bar-based switches, these are the clicky switches to get.
Before You Buy
We’ve covered a handful of valuable switch-related topics in our other switch guides (like in our guide to the best linear switches), so we won’t repeat them here. Instead, let’s discuss something unique to clicky switches: the click mechanism.
Click Jackets vs. Click Bars
As mentioned earlier, MX-style clicky mechanical switches use one of two methods to generate the click. The first method, the click jacket, is the more traditional of the two, debuting with Cherry’s venerable MX Blue switches.
The click jacket is a molded plastic section surrounding the stem. It moves with the stem and generates a click during the downward travel. The jacket also keeps a leaf spring in tension, which releases after the click and makes contact with the switch plate. This completes the circuit and actuates the key.
Check out this animation of a Cherry MX Blue to see the click jacket in action:
Click bars, on the other hand, use a small plastic nub to push against a thin wire. The thin wire contacts the switch housing, generating tactile and auditory feedback. It’s a much simpler design, but the solidity of the wire contacting the housing gives click bar key switches their fuller-bodied and louder clicks.
One of the more interesting characteristics of click bar switches is that they click twice. You get a loud click when the nub pushes against the wire on the downstroke and a quieter click on the upstroke as the nub passes the wire a second time. Click jackets only click once on the downstroke.
Click bar switches’ double click isn’t for everyone, but we think it’s what makes them special. The double clicks give these switches a pleasurable, crunchy sensation and great tactile feedback when typing.
Most clicky switch fans prefer click bar switches (i.e., Kailh Box switches) because they sound better and provide more solid tactile feedback. Click jackets often have a rattly and thin-sounding click, whereas click bars sound more robust and solid. The downside, of course, is that click bar key switches are loud and often unsuitable in situations where others are within earshot.
However, as with so many things, it will come down to personal preference. Just because most enthusiasts prefer Kailh Box switches doesn’t mean they’re the right type of clicky switch for you. The only way to know for sure is to try both types of clicky switches and see which type of clicky mechanical keyboard switch works best for you.
Clicky switches are probably the least popular type of switch, and it’s not hard to see why. For every person that loves the clickety-clack of a switch like the MX Blue, you’ll probably find five or ten who find it absolutely intolerable. But if you’re one of the former, we think finding and installing the best clicky switch will elevate your mechanical keyboard hobby to the next level.
If you want the best of the best, you can’t go wrong with either the Kailh White Owls or Kailh Box Jades. Both are crisp, tactile switches with a strong click and a great typing feel. But if you’re more of a click jacket fan, then the Kailh Speed Golds or Gateron Blues will do a perfectly fine job too.
All the best!