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Aflion Pandavs. Gateron CM

An in-depth look at the Aflion Panda and the Gateron CM switches—which one is the best fit for you?

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, two popular options that often come up in discussions are the Aflion Panda and the Gateron CM. The Aflion Panda is a tactile switch that is best known for its unparalleled hyper-tactile sensation and profoundly "thocky" sound profile. It offers a super responsive tactile force paired with a deep thocky echo, setting a new gold standard for those who value hypertactility and a full-bodied, sonorous audio feedback. On the other hand, the Gateron CM is a linear switch that breaks away from convention with its full nylon housing, delivering a richer, deeper sound signature. It boasts an impeccable factory lube job, resulting in an effortlessly smooth typing journey and a sensation of gliding gracefully with each keystroke. Plus, its lengthened, dual-staged spring provides a bouncy typing experience. However, let's dive in a bit deeper beyond these generalities so you can best decide on the ideal switch for you.

By the numbers

Panda
CM
BrandAflion
CategoryTactile
BrandGateron
CategoryLinear

$5.20

$3.56 per 10 switches

$4.80

$4.25 per 10 switches

Technical specifications

Actuation force

50g

Actuation force

55g

Bottom-out force

60g

Bottom-out force

63.5g

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Total travel

4.00 mm

Total travel

3.60 mm

Factory lubed

Yes

Factory lubed

Yes

Stem construction

Standard

Stem construction

Standard

Stem material

POM

Stem material

POM

Top housing material

Polycarbonate

Top housing material

Nylon

Bottom housing material

Nylon

Bottom housing material

Nylon

Mount type

Plate (3-pin)

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Spring

Single-stage 15mm long spring

Spring

Dual-staged 20mm lengthened gold-plated spring

Housing materials

The housing materials of the Aflion Panda and the Gateron CM switches differ in terms of their sound profiles and aesthetic features. The Panda utilizes a polycarbonate top housing, which creates a sharper, higher-pitched, and crisper sound. This is because polycarbonate is a relatively stiff plastic, leading to a clear and resonant sound. Furthermore, the translucency of polycarbonate allows for the incorporation of RGB lighting, enhancing its visual appeal. In contrast, the CM switch utilizes a nylon top housing, resulting in a deeper and fuller sound profile. Nylon, being a softer plastic, absorbs more sound, producing a duller and rounder tone.

Moving on to the bottom housing, both the Panda and CM switches employ a nylon material. This contributes to a deeper and fuller sound profile, as nylon absorbs more sound than harder plastics. Consequently, both switches offer a similar sound experience in this aspect. However, it's important to note that the bottom housing has a greater impact on the bottom-out sound and feel of the switch when pressed down.

In summary, the choice of housing materials in the Aflion Panda and Gateron CM switches leads to distinct differences in their sound profiles. While the Panda's polycarbonate top housing offers a sharper and crisper sound, the CM's nylon top housing produces a deeper and fuller tone. On the other hand, both switches share the same nylon bottom housing, resulting in a similar sound experience when typing. Depending on individual preferences for sound and aesthetics, users can choose between the Panda's polycarbonate top housing for a clearer sound with RGB lighting compatibility or the CM's nylon top housing for a deeper sound profile.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Aflion Panda tactile switch and the Gateron CM linear switch, there are some notable differences. The Aflion Panda has a slightly lighter actuation force of 50 grams, compared to the Gateron CM's 55 grams. However, when it comes to bottoming out, the Aflion Panda requires 60 grams of force, whereas the Gateron CM is slightly heavier with a bottom out force of 63.5 grams. This means that the Aflion Panda provides a lighter typing experience during normal keystrokes, but requires a bit more force to fully press the keys down. On the other hand, the Gateron CM offers a slightly heavier actuation force, providing a more substantial typing feel, and requires a bit more force to bottom out as well. So, for those who prefer a lighter touch and want to type for longer periods, the Aflion Panda would be a suitable choice. Conversely, if a more substantial and heavier typing experience is desired, the Gateron CM would be the better option. Overall, these switches offer a medium actuation force, but with slightly different levels of heaviness when it comes to bottoming out.

Travel distance

When comparing the travel distance of the Aflion Panda tactile switch and the Gateron CM linear switch, we can see that the Panda has a longer travel distance at 4 mm compared to the CM's 3.6 mm. This means that when pressing down on a key with the Panda switch, you will feel a slightly greater distance traveled compared to the CM switch. The Panda's 4 mm travel distance falls into the more traditional range, while the CM's 3.6 mm is slightly shallower. However, it is important to note that shorter travel distances are becoming more popular, especially among gamers who prioritize faster response times. If you prefer a more responsive typing or gaming experience, opting for the CM switch with its shorter travel distance may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you enjoy a deeper and more substantial feeling when pressing down on keys, the Panda switch with its longer travel distance might be more suitable for your preferences. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the specific requirements of the user.

Sound tests

Price comparison

Which switch is more bang for your buck?

The Aflion Panda has an MSRP of $5.20 per 10 switches. At Milktooth, we are able to pass on savings to our customers and offer the Panda for $3.56.

The Gateron CM has an MSRP of $4.80 per 10 switches. At Milktooth, we are able to pass on savings to our customers and offer the CM for $4.25.

Here at Milktooth, we offer the best prices on switches (on average, 27% lower the competition). In addition, we offer free shipping on orders over $49.00. We also offer free returns and exchanges, so you can shop with guaranteed satisfaction.

That said, while price is an important piece of the puzzle, our opinion is that you should ultimately pick the option that most suits your unique preferences since you’ll be using these switches for years to come. In other words, finding something perfect for you is, in our view, the most important criteria.

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Typing experience

When it comes to sound, the Aflion Panda tactile switch is known for its resonant sound profile. Typing on these switches produces a clean and sharp, higher-pitched sound that provides an immersive auditory experience. On the other hand, the Gateron CM linear switch is described as having a bassy sound signature. The sound produced by these switches is characterized by a deeper and richer tone, resembling the depth and richness associated with bass tones. Additionally, the CM switch also delivers a thocky sound, which is a deep, rich, and satisfying sound when the key is pressed and released. The CM switches have a low-pitched tone, offering a more mellow and bass-heavy sound compared to higher-pitched switches. It's important to note that the overall sound experience of a switch is also influenced by factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps used.

In terms of feel, the Aflion Panda tactile switch provides an accented tactile experience. It falls into the category of a medium tactile switch, offering a prominent amount of tactility without being overwhelming or too subtle. This means the switch provides a satisfying amount of feedback without overpowering the typist. Additionally, the Panda switch is described as invigorating, offering a snappy and reactive feel with moderate to firm actuation force. This creates an immersive typing sensation that keeps the typist engaged. On the other hand, the Gateron CM linear switch is often described as buttery, polished, creamy, and frictionless. These switches provide a smooth and fluid keystroke experience, thanks to their seamless and effortless typing sensation. The CM switches have a smooth and refined finish, reducing friction and ensuring smooth key travel. They also offer a creamy and silky sensation, allowing the typist to glide their fingers across the keys effortlessly. Ultimately, the CM switches offer a frictionless typing experience, minimizing any sense of resistance or friction when pressing the keys.

In conclusion, both the Aflion Panda tactile switch and the Gateron CM linear switch offer unique subjective qualities. The Panda switch is best known for its hyper-tactile and thocky sound profile, providing a full-bodied and sonorous audio feedback. This switch also delivers an invigorating typing experience with pronounced feedback and reactive feel. On the other hand, the CM switch stands out with its bassy sound signature, offering a deeper and richer tone, along with the thocky sound profile. This switch provides a smooth and effortless typing journey, evoking a sensation of gliding gracefully with each keystroke. It also offers a frictionless experience due to its smooth and polished finish. While each switch has its distinctive characteristics, choosing between them would depend on personal preferences, weighing factors such as the desired sound profile, level of tactility, and typing experience. However, if you are looking for similar results, both switches provide an immersive and satisfying typing experience with their unique sound and feel qualities.

Try switches before you buy them

We understand that finding the perfect keyboard switches can be a challenging and time-consuming process. This led us to design Milktooth's try at-home program that allows you to sample and test different switches in the comfort of your own home, ensuring you make the right choice for your typing preferences.

You can try 10 switches at home for 5 days, and your switches come pre-installed on switch testers. Of course, you’re more than free to install them into your own board to try as well for the most representative typing experience.

Gone are the days of going through countless forums and reviews to find the ideal switches. Now, you can experience the tactile feedback, actuation points, and sound profiles firsthand, empowering you to make an informed decision without any pressure or time constraints.

We understand the importance of finding the perfect typing experience, and our try at-home program eliminates the risk of making a costly mistake. Experiment with different switch variants, test them in various typing scenarios, and fine-tune your keyboard to match your individual preferences.

The try at-home program costs only $15, which includes shipping both ways. By trying before you buy, you can make the most informed purchasing decision possible. Simply click the "try at home" button on any given switch webpage to get started.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you prioritize an unparalleled tactile sensation and a deep thocky sound profile, the Aflion Panda tactile switch is the way to go. With a medium bottom out force of 60 grams, the Panda offers a hyper-tactile experience that sets a new gold standard for those who value hypertactility and a full-bodied, sonorous audio feedback. On the other hand, if you prefer a smoother typing experience with a bouncy feel, along with a richer and deeper sound signature, the Gateron CM linear switch is the better choice. With a slightly higher medium-heavy bottom out force of 63.5 grams, the CM switches feature a full nylon housing, impeccable factory lube job, and a lengthened, dual-staged spring, ensuring a gliding and effortlessly smooth typing journey. Ultimately, the decision between the two switches comes down to whether you prioritize the tactile sensation and thocky sound of the Panda or the smoothness, bounciness, and rich sound of the CM. Consider your preferences and typing style to make the best choice for your mechanical keyboard.

Mentioned in this article

Panda

Panda

BrandAflion
CategoryTactile

$5.20

$3.56 per 10 switches

Try the Panda switches
CM

CM

BrandGateron
CategoryLinear

$4.80

$4.25 per 10 switches

Try the CM switches