Cherry MX Reds are popular among both gamers and typists. They’re affordable, smooth, and durable. Their popularity is likely why Cherry decided to make a Silent version, but is it just as simple as taking a Red switch and making it quiet? We compared Cherry MX Reds vs. Silent Red to help you decide on the right Red switch for you.
We’ll be covering the specs, typing feel, and comparing the sound to give you the full picture.
Cherry MX Red vs. Silent Red Switches: The Basics
|Cherry MX Red||Linear||45 g||2.0 mm||4.0 mm|
|Cherry MX Silent Red||Linear||45 g||1.9 mm||3.7 mm|
On paper, the MX Red and Silent Reds are very similar. Both Cherry MX switches have an actuation force of 45 g, but the Silent Reds have a 0.1 mm shorter pre-travel distance and 0.3 mm shorter total travel. We don’t think that 0.1 mm less pre-travel is enough to make a noticeable difference, but you might feel the reduction in total travel when comparing them side-by-side.
What the specs can’t show is why there are differences in the travel distance. Silent Reds use rubber dampeners to absorb sound on the downstroke and upstroke. These dampeners are on the stem, which reduces the pre-travel and total travel on the MX Silent Reds.
In terms of durability, Cherry rates the MX Reds at 100 million keystrokes while the Silent Reds will last 50 million keystrokes.
Cherry MX Red vs. Silent Red Switches: Typing Feel
The Cherry MX Red and Silent Red are linear switches, meaning the stem travels smoothly with no tactility or click. A common trait of new Cherry switches is that they can feel a little scratchy out of the box. They improve over time as you use them, but you can make them smoother by lubing them if you don’t want to wait.
The weighting on both switches is the same, so you’ll use the same amount of force when typing on the Reds and Silent Reds. The Silent Reds will bottom out sooner due to the 0.3 mm shorter travel, but this isn’t enough to make a huge difference in the overall typing feel. The 0.1 mm shorter pre-travel makes it a slightly more responsive switch on paper, but it’s hard to notice such a small difference in practice.
The rubber dampeners on the Silent Reds are the biggest difference from regular MX Red switches. The stem still travels smoothly like a linear switch, but there’s a distinct mushy feeling when you bottom out the switch. It’s not quite as mushy as a membrane keyboard, but it can be a little off-putting if you’re accustomed to linear mechanical switches.
It’s best to try out the Reds and Silent Reds side-by-side to get a better comparison. Some people prefer the slight bounce you get from the small rubber dampeners. Others might find the mushiness weird and unpleasant, so it’s really down to personal preference. They are ultimately very similar on paper, but the rubbery response on the Silent Reds can either make or break the typing experience.
Cherry MX Red vs. Silent Red Switches: Sound
Stock, Cherry MX Reds produce a slightly scratchy sound when pressed, followed by a soft clack when it bottoms out. They’re audible, but still relatively quiet by mechanical switch standards.
The Silent Reds differ most significantly in the bottom-out sound. You’ll still hear a slight scratchiness when the stem slides down the housing, but it ends in a muted clack thanks to the rubber dampeners. It’s not silent, but there’s a noticeable reduction in volume.
First, the Cherry MX Red switches:
Then, the Cherry MX Silent Red switches:
While the Silent Reds aren’t completely silent, they are more muted compared to regular Cherry MX Reds. If you want a quiet mechanical keyboard, the Silent Reds are the switch to go for.
Cherry MX Red vs. Silent Red Switches: Price
Both the Cherry MX Reds and Silent Reds cost around $0.40 to $0.50 a switch, putting them in a low to mid-range pricing bracket. They’re not as cheap as Gateron or Outemu, but Cherry’s excellent durability helps make up for the increased cost.
You can buy Cherry MX Reds and Cherry MX Silent Reds with clear housings in bulk for around $0.40 to $0.60 per switch from Amazon retailers. These clear housings are perfect for a back-lit mechanical keyboard, as they’ll let your RGBs shine through.
If you’re looking to save money then you can go with solid black housings for both the MX Reds and MX Silent Reds. These won’t let light through, but that’s fine if you don’t have a backlit board or don’t care much about lighting.
If you’re in the Lower 48 of the US, then you can get the MX Reds and MX Silent Reds from MechanicalKeyboards.com instead. They sell both switches for $0.40 per switch in packs of 10, which can work out cheaper than Amazon sellers depending on how many you buy. If you’re outside of the US, it’s worth checking out a local retailer or mechanical keyboard store in your region.
Cherry set out to make a quieter version of their popular MX Red switch, and they’ve succeeded—at least on paper. The Silent Red has similar specs to regular Reds, but the typing experience changes due to the use of rubber dampeners. The slightly mushy response can be off-putting to some, but the reduced sound might be worth it to you.
Remember, though: there’s more to a quiet keyboard than picking a silent switch. You could purchase O-rings to dampen the sound, lube your switches, or even install foam inside your keyboard. Check out our guide on how to make your keyboard quieter if you’re looking for more ways to reduce the sound of your keyboard.
If you’re ready to order new switches, check out our list of the best places to buy keyboard switches.