The 5 Best Tactile Switches in 2023

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated Feb 10, 2023

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tactile keyboard switches

Tactile switches are up there with linears as the two most popular switch types for mechanical keyboards. But this popularity makes choosing the best tactile switch much more challenging, especially with all the different flavors of tactility available on the market.

We can’t claim to have a definitive, exhaustive list of the best tactile switches available. That’s almost impossible, especially with all the subjectivity involved in switch tastes. But we’re confident this list is a great starting point for anyone interested in exploring the wonderful world of tactile key switches. Let’s get started.

Short on Time? The Best Tactile Switches at a Glance
  • Best Tactile Switches Overall: Gazzew Boba U4Ts have a sharp, satisfying tactility and enjoyable sound profile.
  • Best Tactile Switches Alternative: Glorious Pandas smooth out some of the harsh edges of rival tactiles without sacrificing overall tactility.
  • Best Value Tactile Switches: Akko CS Lavender Purples are stiff tactiles that can compete with switches twice the price for pure tactile feedback.
  • Best Tactile Switches for Beginners: Gateron Browns are traditional tactiles with a less up-front tactile bump, great for anyone just getting to know tactiles.
  • Best Tactile Switches for Gaming: Kailh Speed Coppers combine an early tactile bump with short actuation to make one of the most gaming-friendly linears available.

Our Favorite Tactile Switches

Before we start, it’s important to point out that bottom-out force and actuation force specs aren’t the same. Generally speaking, bottom-out forces are always higher than actuation forces, so a 67-gram bottom-out force usually equates to an actuation force in the 50 to 55-gram range.

We’re also using force graphs in this list to try and illustrate how the tactile switches feel. If you’re unfamiliar with how to read these graphs, check out our guide to clicky, tactile, and linear switches for a quick run-down on what everything means.

1. Gazzew Boba U4T

Best Tactile Switches Overall

Bottom-Out Force62, 65, or 68 grams
Pre-travel Distance2.0 mm
Total Travel Distance4.0 mm

The Gazzew Boba U4T switches consistently come up whenever someone asks about the best tactile mechanical switch, and for a good reason. These are “thocky,” satisfying tactiles that feel as close as you can get to Topre’s capacitive keyboard switches in Cherry MX form.

These switches excel on two fronts: tactile feel and sound. The Boba U4Ts are very tactile switches, with an early tactile event and pronounced bump that dominates most of the key travel. It’s arguably the archetypal “P-bump” tactile switch: not overly heavy, but with a strong tactile feeling that makes them feel weightier than they actually are.

The Boba U4T switches ship with either 62 or 68-gram springs. The 62-gram version is our `preferred switch, as we feel it’s a bit more of an “everyman” high-end tactile that most users should be able to get used to. The 68-gram version offers noticeably more tactile feedback and may be a bit too much if you’re not a hardcore tactile switch fanatic.

Gazzew Boba U4T force curve

Pay attention to the cyan force curve here. Source: headtr1p

The long stem also plays a significant role in the U4T’s signature “thocky” sound, which is one of the key tenets of the U4T’s design. “Thock” is an onomatopoeic word that’s hard to describe, so we recommend watching this video to get a good idea of what “thock” is.

Switch wobble is as minimal as you’ll get with unmodified, unstickered switches. They’re not perfect, but we believe all but the pickiest users should be fine using these without stickers. Lubing will help with the sound, but it’s a lot of work for relatively minimal gain.

Gazzew Boba U4T

Source: MKzealots

You can also choose between RGB (linked above) and non-RGB versions; the RGB versions have a clear top that lets light through, while the classic non-RGB version has a Gateron-style milky top. They perform identically, so get whichever works best for you (and is available when you’re ordering).

The Gazzew Boba U4Ts have been out for a while, but they’re still one of the best tactile switches that money can buy. They’re not quite for everyone, but users seeking a crisp, up-front tactile switch for their mechanical keyboard should start here first.

Prefer a silent tactile switch? Check out the silent U4; it retains everything good about the U4T but has silicon dampers to reduce sound significantly.

2. Glorious Panda

Best Tactile Switches Alternative

Bottom-Out Force67 grams
Pre-travel Distance2.0 mm
Total Travel Distance4.0 mm

The Glorious Panda switch is Glorious’ take on Drop’s much-loved Holy Panda tactile switch, but at a significantly lower price. These were quite controversial at launch, but they’ve settled into the role of a safe, solid tactile switch that most typists will enjoy.

Like so many modern tactiles, the Glorious Panda switches have a P-shaped tactile bump that appears early on in the travel. There’s slightly more pre-travel (the distance before the tactile bump) than some other switches, but it’s still a very up-front tactile experience.

The Glorious Pandas are relatively mellow, at least as far as modern high-tactile switches go. The peak tactile bump isn’t as heavy as the Holy Panda, nor is the linear falloff post-tactile bump as drastic. While this means they’re likely not the final word in outright tactility, it makes these a friendlier switch that’s easier to get used to.

One issue many users have pointed out is that these emit a pinging sound during high-speed typing, which likely comes from the interaction between the spring and metal contact leaf. There’s also some scratchiness to the Glorious Panda switches, particularly when typing and actuating the switch slowly.

While I have no issues with spring ping (my daily driver is a buckling spring mechanical keyboard, after all), I get that most of you likely will find it somewhat disagreeable. Thankfully, you can resolve both issues with some lube. Glorious even sells pre-lubed versions, although the price premium means you’re better off buying un-lubed Pandas and doing it yourself.

Glorious Panda

Source: Glorious

Switch wobble is also a minor downside, with noticeable stem wobble in both directions. However, the movement is controlled enough that you likely won’t have issues once you install keycaps and start typing.

The Glorious Pandas are great switches, but aren’t necessarily the final say in tactility or smoothness. Despite that, they’re a tactile switch worth checking out for their smoother, more mainstream take on the modern tactile mechanical switch.

3. Akko CS Lavender Purple

Best Value Tactile Switches

Bottom-Out Force36 grams
Pre-travel Distance1.9 mm
Total Travel Distance4.0 mm

The Akko CS Lavender Purple is an impressive budget tactile switch that combines an up-front tactile bump with a surprisingly light spring. The result is a stiff but relatively smooth switch that can compete with switches double the price in overall typing feel and tactility.

These Akko tactiles follow the “up-front” tactile design that’s all the rage amongst enthusiast tactile switches. It’s tactile almost immediately from the get-go, with a sharp bump followed by a gradual falloff up until the operating point. The switch only has a 36-gram actuation force, but the tactility is significantly heavier than the light spring might suggest.

Akko CS Lavender Purple force curve

Source: Akko

One area where the Akko Lavender Purples betray their low cost is the general travel and switch feel. While the tactility is top-tier, the Lavender Purples tend to feel a bit scratchy and lack the smoothness of a truly high-end mechanical keyboard switch. They’re not bad at all, but they’re not as refined as a switch like the Boba U4T (for example).

Of course, that’s nothing that some lube can’t help with. These benefit from switch film, too, and you might as well do both at the same time. They’re definitely still usable stock, but putting in the time and effort to mod these will really elevate these switches.

Akko CS Lavender Purple

Source: Akko

Overall, the Akko CS Lavender Purples are one of the best deals going if you want big, stiff tactility for a low price. If you want to dip your toes in the water of enthusiast tactile switches without breaking the bank, these are a great tactile switch to go for.

4. Gateron Brown

Best Beginner Tactile Switches

Bottom-Out Force55 grams
Pre-travel Distance2.0 mm
Total Travel Distance3.5 mm

Gateron’s Brown switches aren’t very glamorous, but their extremely affordable price makes them a great choice for a budget tactile switch build. They’re also a great choice for those who prefer a more traditional tactile bump that’s perfect for mechanical keyboard newcomers and light-fingered typists.

Many enthusiast tactile switches opt for an up-front and strong P-shaped tactile bump, which is often what long-time tactile fans want. However, such strong tactility may be jarring for those new to the hobby (or tactile switches). Gateron’s Brown switches are perfect for them, as they stick to the Cherry MX Brown tradition of a relatively subtle tactile event that happens halfway through the key travel.

Gateron Brown force diagram

Source: Gateron

We opted for the Gateron Browns over the Cherry MX Browns because of their ever-so-slightly increased tactility. They’re still light compared to many enthusiast tactiles, but we think the Gaterons don’t feel like “scratchy linears” as much as the Cherry switches.

As you might expect given the price, these Gateron Brown switches aren’t perfect. The switch wobble present on lower-end Gaterons rears its ugly head again here. They’re far from unusable, but you will notice horizontal and vertical stem wobble. It’s nothing deal-breaking considering the price, though, and it isn’t something that impacts the typing experience all that much.

Gateron Brown

Source: Gateron

Overall, the Gateron Browns are a great tactile switch if you want reasonable quality and a lighter, friendlier tactile bump than most enthusiast tactiles. Experienced mechanical keyboard hobbyists can skip this, but those just getting started with tactiles should consider starting with these.

5. Kailh Speed Copper

Best Tactile Switches for Gaming

Bottom-Out Force40 grams
Pre-travel Distance1.1 mm
Total Travel Distance3.5 mm

If you want a tactile switch that combines the fast response of gaming switches with the more up-front P-shaped tactility of a modern tactile switch, look no further than the Kailh Speed Coppers.

The Kailh Speed Coppers have a high bump at the start of the travel, which then feels mostly linear as you move through the rest of the travel. The main appeal of these switches is that the shortened pre-travel makes them feel as if they actuate during the bump, instead of after like most tactiles.

If you want a switch that “confirms” every input with tactile feedback, then the Kailh Speed Coppers will work for you. However, the combination of an early tactile bump and short travel can feel a bit strange, especially if you’re heavy-handed and tend to push through tactile bumps easily. They’re not unusable, but we feel that full-travel switches are always more satisfying to type on.

Kailh Speed Copper force curve

Source: Kailh

One thing many users do is use these in combination with other switches. For example, some users opt for a linear gaming switch for the alpha keys while opting for these on the modifier and number keys. That combo would give you the best of both worlds: smooth, fast response for WASD but more authoritative keypresses elsewhere.

Wobble and smoothness are about what you’d expect for a low-cost tactile switch. These definitely benefit from lube and switch films if you want to maximize their potential.

Kailh Speed Copper

Source: Kailh

Like many gaming switches, the Kailh Speed Copper switch isn’t the sort of switch that we’d recommend for everyday use. While some users find them perfect for gaming and typing, the early bump and short actuation combo make these more of a specialty gaming switch in our eyes.

If you’re after something more versatile, the Gateron Browns take our pick. But these are definitely worth considering if you’re building a gaming-only mechanical keyboard and aren’t worried about how these will feel when you’re not gaming.

Before You Buy

We’ve covered most of the crucial buying tips in our guides to linear vs. tactile switches and best linear switches, so we’ll avoid repeating the same basic info here. Instead, let’s discuss tactility itself and the two main types you’ll encounter when shopping for switches.

Tactility: “P-Bump” vs. “Traditional”

Tactile key switches come in two general varieties: the “up-front” or “P-bump” tactility that characterizes most enthusiast switches and the more “traditional” tactility of the OG Cherry MX Brown.

Akko CS Lavender Purple force curve

Source: Akko

A stiff enthusiast tactile with a “P-bump” will have a similar force curve to the one above. It’ll have an (almost-)immediate ramp up to the tactile bump (pressure point) within the first 0.5 mm of travel or so, followed by a linear fall-off until the operating point (or actuation point). You’ll feel another small bump there before it bottoms out.

The amount of tactility (or how strong this initial tactile bump is) will differ between switches, but this general force curve is one that most tactile switch fans prefer. Contrast this to a more traditional tactile switch like the Cherry MX and Gateron Brown:

Gateron Brown force diagram

Source: Gateron

Here, you’ll notice that the tactile bump happens much later in the switch’s travel, at around one millimeter or so. This means that the switch will have a linear feel before and after the bump, unlike P-shaped tactiles that only feel linear after the tactile bump. It’s more relaxed and won’t feel as tactile, which may be positive or negative, depending on your preferences.

The P-shaped bump dominates tactile switches now, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option: personal preference, as ever, comes into play here. If you’ve never tried a tactile switch, we recommend starting with a more traditional example (like the Gateron Brown) to see whether you want to explore further.

Closing Thoughts

There hasn’t been a better time to get into tactile switches; with so many takes on the tactile switch out there, you’ll definitely hit on one or more switches that’ll work perfectly for you. Of course, that also means that you’ll have to go through a ton of switches to find the right one, but that’s where lists like ours can hopefully help.

If you have money to spend, the Gazzew Boba U4Ts are almost unbeatable for sound, tactility, and overall typing feel. But if you want some of that enthusiast-grade tactility on a budget, the Akko CS Lavender Purples come close despite costing half the price. And then, of course, there’s always the humble Gateron Brown if you want something that’s not quite as in-your-face.

Happy hunting!

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