Kailh Box Royal vs. Gateron Ink Yellow

An in-depth look at the Kailh Box Royal and the Gateron Ink Yellow switches—which one is the best fit for you?

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, two popular options with distinct characteristics are the Kailh Box Royal and the Gateron Ink Yellow. The Box Royal switch is revered for its unparalleled tactility, offering a sharp and almost aggressive feel. If you crave a keyboard that provides a satisfying tactile response with each keystroke, the Box Royal is the perfect choice for you. Additionally, these switches have a relatively higher pitched sound profile, further enhancing the overall typing experience. On the other hand, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch offers a different appeal. It features a shorter travel distance, making it ideal for those seeking a typing experience that is between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard. This switch boasts a pleasant smoothness and clackiness, providing a polished feel while typing. However, let's dive in a bit deeper beyond generalities so you can best decide on the best switch for you.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

45g

Actuation force

60g

Bottom-out force

70g

Bottom-out force

67g

Pre-travel

1.80 mm

Pre-travel

1.50 mm

Total travel

3.60 mm

Total travel

3.50 mm

Factory lubed

No

Factory lubed

Yes

Stem construction

Box

Stem construction

Partial box

Stem material

POM

Stem material

POM

Top housing material

Nylon

Top housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Bottom housing material

Nylon

Bottom housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Mount type

Plate (3-pin)

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Spring

Stainless steel

Spring

Gold-plated

Housing materials

The Kailh Box Royal and the Gateron Ink Yellow differ in their housing materials, resulting in distinct sound profiles. The Box Royal features a nylon top housing, which creates a deeper and fuller sound due to the softer plastic absorbing more sound. This results in a duller and rounder sound. On the other hand, the Ink Yellow utilizes Gateron's proprietary INK blend for its top housing. This proprietary blend produces a pointed and relatively high-pitched sound profile, described as clacky and satisfyingly thin. Therefore, their top housing materials yield contrasting sound experiences.

In terms of bottom housing materials, the Kailh Box Royal and the Gateron Ink Yellow both employ nylon. Nylon is known for its ability to elicit a deeper and fuller sound profile, providing a similar experience for both switches. The relatively softer plastic of the nylon absorbs more sound, resulting in a duller and rounder sound for both switches. Therefore, the bottom housing materials of the Box Royal and the Ink Yellow contribute to comparable sound characteristics.

When it comes to the impact on the overall sound and feel of the switches, the qualities of the bottom and top housing materials play a significant role. The bottom housing is responsible for the bottom-out sound and feel when the switch is pressed down. This means that the nylon bottom housing of the Box Royal and the INK blend bottom housing of the Ink Yellow will both influence the tactile feedback and sound during keypress. Conversely, the top housing material will have a greater impact on the sound when you release a key. Hence, the contrasting top housing materials of the Box Royal and the Ink Yellow contribute to distinctive sound profiles upon key release.

Weight

When comparing the Kailh Box Royal tactile switch and the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch, there are notable differences in their actuation force and bottom out force. The Box Royal has a lighter actuation force of 45 grams, while the Ink Yellow requires a slightly higher force of 60 grams to trigger a keystroke. However, both switches have a similar bottom out force, with the Box Royal being slightly heavier at 70 grams compared to the Ink Yellow's 67 grams.

Considering the weight aspect, those who prefer a lighter switch may find the Box Royal more suitable for extended typing sessions or long gaming sessions. The lighter actuation force allows for quicker and easier keystrokes, reducing fatigue over time. On the other hand, individuals who prefer a more substantial typing experience and a stronger push feel may lean towards the Ink Yellow. With a higher actuation force, it provides a greater level of resistance and feedback, resulting in a more satisfying typing experience.

It's worth noting that while the differences in actuation force and bottom out force exist, they are both categorized as medium-heavy switches. Therefore, individuals using either the Box Royal or the Ink Yellow can expect comparable results in terms of the overall weight and resistance of the switches. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches depends on personal preference, with the Box Royal leaning towards a lighter feel and the Ink Yellow offering a slightly heavier and more robust typing experience.

Travel distance

The Kailh Box Royal tactile switch and the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch have different travel distances. The Box Royal has a travel distance of 3.6 mm, while the Ink Yellow has a slightly shorter travel distance of 3.5 mm. Both switches fall within the range of shorter travel distances, which are becoming increasingly popular, especially among gamers seeking quicker response times. If you prioritize a more responsive typing or gaming experience, the Ink Yellow with its slightly shorter travel distance would be the better option. However, it's worth noting that some individuals may find shorter travel distances to feel abrupt or lacking in depth. In such cases, the Box Royal with its slightly longer travel distance would be a more suitable choice for those seeking a more substantial keystroke feel.

Price comparison

Which switch is more bang for your buck?

The Gateron Ink Yellow has an MSRP of $7.50 per 10 switches. At Milktooth, we are able to pass on savings to our customers and offer the Ink Yellow for $7.35.

The Kailh Box Royal comes in at $6.25 per 10 switches.

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.

Typing experience

In terms of sound, the Kailh Box Royal switch has a relatively higher-pitched profile. This means that when these switches are pressed, they produce a sharp and crisp sound. If you prefer a more rich and bassy sound profile, you may want to consider alternatives. On the other hand, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch is described as having a neutral sound profile. This means that it has a moderate sound and is suitable for most purposes. Additionally, the Ink Yellow switch is also described as clacky, which means it produces a sharp and snappy sound when pressed. It has a crisp, bright, and percussive sound. It's important to note that the sound of a switch can also be influenced by other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps used.

In terms of feel, the Kailh Box Royal switch is known for its sharp tactile feedback. It has a strong and crisp tactile bump that is very pronounced and can be felt distinctly with each keypress. This provides a high feedback intensity, making it suitable for those who prefer a prominent tactile experience. On the other hand, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch is described as offering a mild typing experience. It provides a more gentle feel compared to switches with more pronounced characteristics. It falls into a safe middle-ground zone in terms of its feel, making it approachable to most users. Additionally, the Ink Yellow switch is described as polished, which means it has a smooth and refined finish. This results in a sleek typing experience with reduced friction and smooth key travel.

Based on the available information, the Kailh Box Royal switch and Gateron Ink Yellow switch offer different subjective qualities. The Box Royal switch features a sharp, binary tactility with a higher-pitched sound profile and a strong tactile feedback. On the other hand, the Ink Yellow switch provides a typing experience between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard. It has a more mild feel, a clacky sound profile, and a polished finish. Both switches have their own unique characteristics that cater to different preferences. If you are looking for an aggressive and sharp tactile experience with a higher-pitched sound, the Box Royal switch is a great choice. However, if you prefer a more gentle typing experience with a clacky sound and a polished feel, the Ink Yellow switch would be a suitable option.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you're looking for a highly tactile switch with a sharp, binary tactility and a relatively higher pitched sound profile, the Kailh Box Royal tactile switch is the perfect choice for you. These switches have a bottom out force of 70 grams, which is medium-heavy. They offer a strong and crisp tactile bump that can be felt distinctly with each and every keypress. On the other hand, if you prefer a typing experience that falls between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard, the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch is the way to go. With a bottom out force of 67 grams, it provides a pleasant smoothness and clackiness. The Ink Yellow switch has a more mild and approachable feel, making it suitable for most users, and its sound profile is described as neutral and clacky. Ultimately, the choice between the Kailh Box Royal and Gateron Ink Yellow will depend on your preference for tactility, sound, and feel.

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