Gateron Switches Difference Between Optical & Mechanical – The Mysterious Gamer


Gateron Switches Difference Between Optical & Mechanical




Gateron Switches difference between Optical and Mechanical, and which one should you use?

Let's look at the main distinctions to see what they are.


Gateron Optical Linear Red Switch


Gateron Mechanical Switches

This post will look at the distinctions between traditional mechanical switches and optical-mechanical switches. Although both types of switches are available from several manufacturers, this post will discuss Gateron switches.

 The Mechanical Switch

For years, mechanical switches have been the only switch type available. The traditional mechanical switches have a copper contact plate within. The metal contact separates whenever we press down far enough, forming a closed-loop that produces a keypress.




Optical switches will perform similarly to mechanical switches. However, the optical switches use a laser sensor on the PCB instead of two metal contacts compared to mechanical switches. When you press hard enough on optical switches, the laser gets blocked, triggering a closed loop that produces a keypress.




Please remember that these switches are both technically mechanical. However, to avoid confusion, we'll use the terms "mechanical" and "optical" to distinguish between traditional and Optical mechanical switches. Let's start with the structure of the optical switches.

Both switches have the same housing, a polycarbonate top housing and a nylon bottom housing.

Optical switches have a little magnifying glass on the LED opening, generating a brighter LED glow than a mechanical switch. When you look at the bottom housing, it's either three or five-pin mechanical switches, but with optical switches, you only get one pin, which brings us to our next point.



 Gateron Mechanical Switch 3 & 5 Pin 


Gateron Optical Switch Linear Yellow 

Difference Between Gateron Optical Switches and Mechanical Switches

We use Gateron optical switches in all of our optical keyboards. These switches are hot-swappable, which is advantageous because you don't have to worry about soldering or clipping the legs of the keyboard switches or stressing about bent pins due to misalignments.

Although it's easier to pull switches in and pull switches out, you're still very limited with optical switches as far as options go. While mechanical switches are available from various manufacturers on the market, Gateron Optical Switch-Compatible Keyboards can only use Gateron optical switches.

Optical switches, unlike mechanical switches, are not as versatile since you're limited in terms of options. You can only pick from six Gateron optical switches that will only work with Gateron Optical Switch-Compatible Keyboards. In contrast, you may choose from any brand of mechanical switches for our mechanical keyboard lineup.


 How to Choose from Different Keyboard Sizes


Similarities and Variations of Both Types of Switches

When looking inside a linear optical switch, it's worth noting that the optical switch is mostly empty. Optical linear switches appear to be hollow because linear optical switches don't have any metal contacts and do not have any legs on the stem. Because of this structure, the only source of friction is the rails in the bottom housing, and you can expect a far smoother typing experience than any mechanical linear switch available.




But the metal contacts are there, and the legs are also present for the optical tactile switches. The metal leaves and stem legs are needed to give you a tactile bump. It's not linked to any electronics or pins or wires. They're there to offer you that tactile sensation.




On the other hand, a mechanical switch has legs on the stem and metal leaves that connect to the bottom two pins. Here's the distinction between the switch stems, the optical stem legs are considerably longer since they reach the bottom of the housing, where you'll notice a tiny hole. The laser in the PCB must go through the hole in the housing to make a keypress. To produce a keypress, press down on the stem, obstructing the light and creating one.


You can do the same thing with a pencil tip and the PCB laser; when the pencil tip is pressed down far enough into the bottom housing, it creates a keypress. Like this, you can see how the technology works. Optical switches give you a gaming advantage since the detection of light is considerably faster than two metal contacts physically coming together as the mechanical switch does.


Now let's move on to the Switch Specs


 Gateron Mechanical Switches have 7 types you have clicky and tactile with the blues and greens, tactile with the browns, and linear yellow, red, and black mechanical switches. Which all have different actuation forces and bottom-out forces. The Gateron green switches are the heaviest at 65 grams, while the Gateron Clear is the lightest with a 35-gram actuation distance; both switch types have a four-millimeter bottom-out space.


Gateron Optical Switches

You have a far more comprehensive range to select from for Gateron optical switches. You can choose among the majority of the same colors, and a silent version of every color is available, except for the blue optical switches. The optical black is the heaviest at 60 grams, with the Optical yellow being the lightest at 35 grams. The yellow optical switch is the most lightweight switch sharing the same actuation distance as optical silver.

Remember that Gateron optical switches work only with keyboards created and intended to operate exclusively with Gateron optical switches. In contrast, any mechanical keyboard can utilize other compatible mechanical switches. Because the housing is identical, all tactile Optical Switches produce the same sound as their mechanical counterparts. But for, the linear optical switches, since they don't have the metal contacts or the legs and the stem, will sound differently.



The empty housing makes optical switches sound somewhat hollow, so the Optical linear vs. Mechanical linear sound is nearly identical.

Finally, as far as pricing is concerned, they're the same price whether you choose a Gateron optical keyboard or a hot-swappable mechanical keyboard. 


If you're searching for a hot-swappable mechanical keyboard, click here.




Pros of Gateron Optical Switches

In the end, here are the benefits of a gateron Optical Keyboard that uses Gateron optical switches. The first is that they employ light detection. As a result, actuation is considerably faster than with a mechanical switch. Number two, all of the keyboards are hot-swappable, which is convenient. Number three, they have a magnifying top housing for better-led production.

Cons of Gateron Optical Switches

The disadvantage of Gateron Optical Switches is that you're highly restricted to the switches available right now. Keyboards created and intended to operate exclusively with Gateron optical switches only work with Gateron optical switches from Clicky, tactile, linear also speed Optical Switches; it's not as though you're losing much. However, if you want to try Holy Panda or Zealios Switches, you can't do that with an optical keyboard that works exclusively with Gateron optical switches.


If you're searching for a keyboard that lets you fully personalize every aspect of it, check out our selection of mechanical keyboards.


Gateron optical keyboards, particularly the yellow switches, are regarded as some of the finest switches available.

If you're a gamer, I believe optical switches will be beneficial because they reduce actuation time and distance. No Mechanical Switch on the market can reach the one-millimeter actuation distance that optical switches can achieve right now.

What's your choice, Gateron mechanical switches or Gateron optical switches? I prefer linear optical switches because they feel considerably smoother, especially when lubed, since you don't have to worry about the metal contacts and stem legs. However, because I enjoy trying out various switches, I'd most likely use Gateron mechanical switches or any other switch on my main keyboard since I'm not restricted. And I would use Gateron optical switches on a second keyboard for gaming. But that's just me.


Some people say Gateron optical switches are superior to Razor optical switches because Gateron optical switches don't have the rattling associated with Razer optical switches. Gateron optical switches shoot straight down with a nice thud. Let us know what you and your friends would pick in the comments below. I'll see you guys in the next one. Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and have a great day.

Click here to learn more about Gateron optical keyboard.

Do you want to learn more about keycap profiles? Click this link to discover more.

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