Gateron CM vs. KTT Phalaenopsis

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

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, two popular options to consider are the Gateron CM and the KTT Phalaenopsis. The Gateron CM is a linear switch that stands out with its full nylon housing, which not only makes a bold statement but also produces a richer and deeper sound when typing. Additionally, the impeccable factory lube job ensures an effortlessly smooth typing experience, almost feeling like gliding gracefully with each keystroke. The CM switches are also known for their bouncy typing experience, thanks to their lengthened, dual-staged spring. On the other hand, the KTT Phalaenopsis is a tactile switch that features the beautiful translucent Phalaenopsis design. With a light actuation force of 37g, typing becomes effortless and minimizes finger fatigue, even during prolonged typing sessions. The 50g tactile force provides a satisfying and discernible tactile bump, making each keystroke a delightful experience. While these are general pointers about each switch, let's dive in a bit deeper beyond these generalities so you can make the best decision based on your preferences.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

55g

Actuation force

37g

Bottom-out force

63.5g

Bottom-out force

50g

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Total travel

3.60 mm

Total travel

4.00 mm

Factory lubed

Yes

Factory lubed

Yes

Stem construction

Standard

Stem construction

Partial box

Stem material

POM

Stem material

POM

Top housing material

Nylon

Top housing material

Polycarbonate

Bottom housing material

Nylon

Bottom housing material

Polycarbonate

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Mount type

Plate (3-pin)

Spring

Dual-staged 20mm lengthened gold-plated spring

Spring

22mm gold-plated spring

Housing materials

The Gateron CM and the KTT Phalaenopsis switches have different housing materials, with the CM featuring a nylon top and bottom housing, while the Phalaenopsis uses a polycarbonate top and bottom housing. These different materials have distinct effects on the sound profile and feel of the switches.

In terms of sound profile, the nylon housing of the CM switch creates a deeper and fuller sound. This is because nylon is a softer plastic that absorbs more sound, resulting in a duller and rounder sound when typing. On the other hand, the polycarbonate housing of the Phalaenopsis switch produces a sharper, higher-pitched, and crisper sound. Polycarbonate is a stiffer plastic that leads to a more clear and resonant sound profile. Consequently, if you prefer a deeper and fuller sound, the CM switch with its nylon housing would be a better choice, whereas if you prefer a sharper and crisper sound, the Phalaenopsis switch with its polycarbonate housing would be more suitable.

Aesthetically, the top housing of the switches also plays a role. The CM switch's nylon top housing does not have any specific visual advantages but contributes to the overall sound. In contrast, the Phalaenopsis switch's polycarbonate top housing is clear and transparent. This makes it a great option if you plan to use RGB lighting, as the translucency of polycarbonate allows the lighting to shine through, enhancing the visual experience. So, if you want to incorporate RGB lighting into your setup, the Phalaenopsis switch with its polycarbonate top housing would be a better choice in terms of aesthetics.

It's important to note that if a switch has different housing materials for its top and bottom, the qualities of each housing material will be divided between the two parts. The bottom housing will have a greater impact on the bottom-out sound and feel when you press down on the switch, whereas the top housing will have more influence on the sound when you release a key. Therefore, understanding the housing materials of both the top and bottom is crucial in determining the overall sound and feel of a switch.

Weight

When comparing the actuation and bottom out forces of the Gateron CM linear switch and the KTT Phalaenopsis tactile switch, we can observe some notable differences. The CM switch has an actuation force of 55 grams, slightly heavier than the Phalaenopsis switch's 37 grams. This means that the CM switch requires a bit more force to register a keystroke. Similarly, in terms of bottom out force, the CM switch has a weightier 63.5 grams, while the Phalaenopsis switch is lighter at 50 grams. Therefore, if weight is a consideration for users, the Phalaenopsis switch may be more suitable, as it offers a lighter typing experience. However, those who prefer a more substantial push and a stronger tactile feedback may find the CM switch more appealing due to its heavier actuation and bottom out forces. Overall, the Gateron CM linear switch can be considered medium-heavy, while the KTT Phalaenopsis tactile switch is a lighter option.

Travel distance

The Gateron CM linear switch has a travel distance of 3.6 mm, while the KTT Phalaenopsis tactile switch has a travel distance of 4 mm. Therefore, the Phalaenopsis has a longer travel distance compared to the CM. Traditionally, a travel distance of 4 mm is considered standard, while 3 mm is more shallow. However, with the increasing popularity of shorter travel distances, gamers especially prefer switches with shorter travel distances for faster response times. If you prioritize a more responsive typing experience, the Gateron CM linear switch would be a suitable choice. On the other hand, some individuals may find shorter travel distances to feel too abrupt and prefer switches with a longer travel distance like the KTT Phalaenopsis tactile switch for a more satisfying typing feel. Overall, the choice between the two switches depends on individual preferences for either faster response times or deeper key presses.

Price comparison

Which switch is more bang for your buck?

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.

The KTT Phalaenopsis has an MSRP of $4.73 per 10 switches. At Milktooth, we are able to pass on savings to our customers and offer the Phalaenopsis for $4.15.

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, both the Gateron CM linear switch and the KTT Phalaenopsis tactile switch offer a deep and rich sound profile. The CM switch is characterized as "bassy," with a lower frequency range that resembles the depth and richness associated with bass tones. It also has a "thocky" sound, producing a deep and satisfying sound when pressed. Similarly, the Phalaenopsis switch is also described as "bassy" and "thocky." This means that both switches will provide a pleasant auditory experience during key presses. However, it's important to note that the sound of a switch can also be influenced by factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps used.

In terms of feel, the Gateron CM linear switch is described as "buttery," "polished," "creamy," and "frictionless." These descriptors indicate a smooth, uniform, and effortless typing experience. The CM switch provides a seamless and fluid keystroke sensation, with reduced friction and smooth key travel. On the other hand, the KTT Phalaenopsis tactile switch is described as "stepped." This means that it has a two-stage feel, with some pre-travel and/or post-travel. While the specific qualities of the Phalaenopsis switch are not further elaborated upon, it can be inferred that it offers a different tactile experience compared to the CM switch.

Taking into account all the available information, both the Gateron CM linear switch and the KTT Phalaenopsis tactile switch offer unique qualities. In terms of sound, they share similar characteristics, being both "bassy" and "thocky." This means that users can expect a deep and satisfying sound profile from both switches. In terms of feel, the CM switch provides a buttery, polished, creamy, and frictionless typing experience, while the Phalaenopsis switch has a stepped tactile feel. As a newcomer, it would be beneficial to consider personal preferences for sound and tactile feedback when choosing between these switches. Ultimately, both options promise an enjoyable typing experience, albeit with different subjective qualities.

Conclusion

To sum up, when choosing between the Gateron CM linear switch and the KTT Phalaenopsis tactile switch, it is important to consider your preferences regarding bottom out force, sound, and feel. If you prefer a medium-heavy bottom out force, the CM switch with its 63.5 grams would be a suitable choice. On the other hand, if you prefer a lighter bottom out force, the Phalaenopsis switch with its 50 grams would be more suitable.

In terms of sound, both switches are described as bassy and thocky, offering a deep and satisfying sound profile during key presses. However, the CM switch is also described as low-pitched, providing a more mellow tone compared to the Phalaenopsis switch.

When it comes to feel, the CM switch offers a buttery, polished, creamy, or frictionless typing experience. These descriptors indicate a smooth and fluid keystroke, with reduced friction and effortless key travel. On the other hand, the Phalaenopsis switch is described as stepped, meaning it provides a more mild tactile feel with some pre-travel and/or post-travel.

Ultimately, the choice between the Gateron CM and KTT Phalaenopsis switches will depend on your personal preferences for bottom out force, sound, and feel. Consider whether you prefer a medium-heavy or light bottom out force, a mellow or standard deep sound profile, and a buttery or stepped tactile feel. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the switch that best suits your typing preferences.

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