Linear switches excel for gaming; their smooth travel and lighter weighting are perfect for the rapid inputs many modern games require. But what type of linear switch do you go for? Are traditional linears like the MX Red fine, or should you get a short-travel “gaming” switch like the MX Speed Silver? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out with our Cherry MX Speed vs. Red comparison.
Cherry MX Speed Silver vs. Red Switches: The Basics
|Cherry MX Speed Silver||Linear||45 g||1.2 mm||3.4 mm|
|Cherry MX Red||Linear||45 g||2.0 mm||4.0 mm|
Both Cherry MX switches we’re comparing here are lightweight linear switches with a 45-gram actuation force and 100-million-actuation lifespans. The main difference between the two is the travel distances.
The MX Red is a standard-travel switch with 2.0 mm pre-travel and 4.0 mm total travel. This is the standard actuation distance present in most Cherry MX switches. In comparison, the MX Speed Silvers have shorter travel distances at 1.2 mm of pre-travel and 3.4 mm of total travel.
Unfamiliar with terms like actuation or travel? Check out our guide to linear vs. tactile vs. clicky switches for quick explanations of mechanical switch terminology and concepts.
Cherry MX Speed Silver vs. Red Switches: Typing Feel
Fundamentally, the MX Speed Silvers and MX Reds feel similar, if not identical, to type on. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given both are linear switches with an identical 45-gram actuation weight.
On paper, the MX Speed Silvers should actuate faster and bottom out sooner than the MX Reds. The Speed Silvers’ 1.2-mm pre-travel and 3.4-mm total travel distances allegedly make them perfect for gaming, the higher actuation point reducing latency and increasing responsiveness.
How much this matters in the real world is up for debate. The shorter total travel distance (3.4 mm vs. 4.0 mm) is mostly imperceptible. It doesn’t alter the feel of the switches all that much, and they certainly don’t feel that much speedier than standard-travel MX Reds.
Real-world latency or response time benefits are also up in the air. I haven’t noticed any difference in responsiveness when gaming on MX Speed Silvers compared with Cherry MX Reds. They feel identical in the heat of battle to me, so it’s hard to say whether the shorter travel will benefit you.
However, some typists may be slightly more typo-prone than usual when typing on MX Speed Silvers. The shorter pre-travel (or actuation) distance means you can more easily activate keys with a light touch. This can, in turn, lead to more mistakes.
If you already find MX Reds too light, then you’ll likely not enjoy the MX Speed Silver switches much (if at all). On the other hand, extremely light-fingered typists who don’t bottom out switches may find the shorter travel distances on the MX Speed Silvers somewhat more noticeable than I do.
Note that you’ll want to try out the MX Speed Silvers in a working mechanical keyboard to see if the faster actuation is advantageous. So, if you don’t already have a hot-swap keyboard, it’s probably a good time to invest in one to test these short-travel “gaming” switches.
Cherry MX Speed Silver vs. Red Switches: Sound
Cherry MX Speed Silver and Cherry MX Red switches sound virtually identical to my ears, with little to differentiate between the two. Both are linear, so there’s no audible click or tactile bump to separate the two.
If you want to be picky, the MX Speed Silvers do sound slightly deeper and thicker than the MX Reds in my Skyloong GK61. But they’re not hugely different, and it’s unlikely that you’ll choose one or the other based on sound profile.
Listen to these clips and decide for yourself. I installed the switches in my Skyloong GK61 and recorded them with an Audio Technica AT2020. First, the MX Speed Silvers:
Then, the MX Reds:
Overall, there’s really nothing to separate the two switches. Typing feel and the shortened travel will be the biggest influence on whether you go for the Speed Silvers or Reds, not the sound.
Cherry MX Speed Silver vs. Red Switches: Price
Cherry MX Speed Silver switches are generally slightly more expensive than their MX Red counterparts, although the precise price difference will depend on the retailer.
For example, some Amazon sellers sell 105 Cherry MX Reds for around $50 but sell the same amount of Cherry MX Speed Silvers for about $65. Similarly, MechanicalKeyboards.com sells 10-packs of Cherry MX Reds for $4, while a 10-pack of MX Speed Silvers will cost you $5.
If you’re in the Lower 48, we recommend buying your Cherry switches from MechanicalKeyboards.com, as the site offers bulk discounts and free economy shipping. However, those outside the US will likely rely on Amazon or AliExpress sellers.
I don’t think the Cherry MX Speed Silvers are worth the slightly increased price, but I’m probably not the target audience. If you want short-travel switches and believe they help make you a better gamer, they’re likely worth paying extra for. If you’re uncertain, you may as well stick with the MX Reds and get a slightly more versatile and cheaper switch.
Cherry’s MX Speed Silver and MX Red linear switches are both solid switches, but they will appeal to different types of users. MX Speed Silvers’ shorter travel and reduced latency may result in a more responsive switch, making them perfect for gamers seeking every small advantage.
On the other hand, the Cherry MX Red is a more conventional switch with reasonably smooth travel and no gamer-focused gimmicks. We think it’s the more versatile switch of the two. However, they’re still not necessarily a switch we’d recommend for hardcore typists.
Ready to spend your money? Check out our list of the best places to buy keyboard switches.