Gateron Ink Red vs. Kailh Plum

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

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, there are a wide variety of options to choose from, each with their own unique characteristics. Two switches that stand out in the market are the Gateron Ink Red and the Kailh Plum. The Gateron Ink Red is a linear switch, known for its lower actuation force, making it an ideal choice for those with a lighter typing style. These switches are remarkably smooth, providing a satisfyingly crisp and clacky sound profile while requiring minimal effort to type on. On the other hand, the Kailh Plum is a tactile switch that offers a distinctive experience. Unlike many other tactile switches, the Plum doesn't have a significant tactile bump, yet it still feels quite hefty. Its unique combination of weightiness without an overpowering tactile response makes it stand out from the crowd. The sound profile of the Plum switch is neutral and enjoyable. However, let's dive in a bit deeper beyond these generalities so that you can make the best decision based on your specific preferences and typing style.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

45g

Actuation force

N/A

Bottom-out force

60g

Bottom-out force

70g

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Pre-travel

1.70 mm

Total travel

4.00 mm

Total travel

3.60 mm

Factory lubed

Yes

Factory lubed

No

Stem construction

Standard

Stem construction

Standard

Stem material

POM

Stem material

POM

Top housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Top housing material

Polycarbonate

Bottom housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Bottom housing material

Nylon

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Mount type

Plate (3-pin)

Spring

Gold-plated

Spring

Stainless steel

Housing materials

The housing materials of the Gateron Ink Red and the Kailh Plum switches have distinct differences in their sound profiles and overall aesthetics. The Ink Red features a proprietary INK blend top housing, which is known for its pointed and relatively high-pitched sound profile that is not overly sharp. This results in a satisfying thin and clacky sound when typing. On the other hand, the Plum utilizes a polycarbonate top housing, which creates a sharper, higher-pitched, and crisper sound profile due to the stiffness of the plastic. Additionally, the clear housing of the Plum switch allows for enhanced RGB lighting effects.

In terms of the bottom housing, the Ink Red also utilizes the proprietary INK blend material which contributes to its pointed and high-pitched sound profile. Meanwhile, the Plum switch utilizes a nylon bottom housing. Typing on switches with nylon housing elicits a deeper and fuller sound profile due to the softness of the plastic. Nylon absorbs more sound than harder plastics, resulting in a duller and rounder sound when compared to the Ink Red.

It is important to note that the impact of the housing materials differs depending on whether it is the top or bottom housing. When pressing down on the switch, the qualities of the bottom housing will be more noticeable in terms of the bottom-out sound and feel. Conversely, the top housing will have a greater impact on the sound produced when releasing a key. Therefore, while the Ink Red and the Plum may offer variations in sound, the qualities brought by the housing materials may produce similar results depending on how the switch is used.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Red linear switch and the Kailh Plum tactile switch, there are some notable differences. The Gateron Ink Red has an actuation force of 45 grams, while the Plum's actuation force is unavailable. Both switches have a medium bottom out force, with the Ink Red at 60 grams and the Plum at 70 grams, making it slightly heavier.

For those who prefer a lighter typing experience, the Gateron Ink Red may be the preferred choice. With a lower actuation force, it allows for longer periods of comfortable typing, making it ideal for work or extended gaming sessions. On the other hand, the Kailh Plum offers a more substantial typing experience with its heavier bottom out force. This provides a stronger push feel, which some individuals prefer for a more satisfying typing feedback.

Although the actuation force for the Plum switch is unknown, it is safe to assume that it would require a force similar to or greater than the Ink Red due to its medium-heavy bottom out force. Therefore, if one is looking for comparable results in terms of actuation and bottom out force, the Gateron Ink Red would be the lighter option while the Kailh Plum would be the heavier option. Ultimately, the choice between the two would depend on personal preferences and the desired typing experience.

Travel distance

The travel distance of the Gateron Ink Red linear switch is 4mm, while the Kailh Plum tactile switch has a travel distance of 3.6mm. These distances may not seem significantly different, but it can make a noticeable impact on the typing experience. The Gateron Ink Red's longer travel distance of 4mm provides a more traditional feel, offering a deeper key press that some users may find more satisfying. On the other hand, the Kailh Plum's shorter travel distance of 3.6mm is well-suited for those who prioritize speed and responsiveness, such as gamers. Choosing between these switches ultimately depends on personal preference and typing style. If a shorter travel distance is preferred for faster response times, the Kailh Plum tactile switch is the way to go. However, if a deeper, more substantial key press is desired, the Gateron Ink Red linear switch is the better option.

Price comparison

Which switch is more bang for your buck?

The Gateron Ink Red 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 Red for $7.35.

The Kailh Plum 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

When it comes to sound, both the Gateron Ink Red and Kailh Plum switches offer a neutral sound profile, which means they have a moderate sound without any distinct characteristics. However, the Ink Red switches have a slight chirpy sound that sets them apart from other switches, giving them a unique acoustic signature. It is important to note that the sound of a switch can also be influenced by other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps chosen.

In terms of feel, the Gateron Ink Reds are described as silky, mild, and polished. This means that typing on these switches provides an exceptionally smooth and refined experience, with minimal resistance. The mild characteristics of the Ink Reds make them suitable for most users, as they offer a gentle typing experience without any pronounced features. On the other hand, the Kailh Plum switches are also described as mild, providing a comfortable and approachable typing experience. Additionally, Plum switches have a stepped feel, meaning they have two stages of tactile feedback and allow for some pre-travel and/or post-travel sensation.

Overall, both the Gateron Ink Red and Kailh Plum switches offer satisfying typing experiences with their respective qualities. While the Ink Reds have a lower actuation force and a crispy, clacky sound profile, the Plums feel hefty but lack a strong tactile bump, making them uniquely different from other tactile switches. If you are looking for a smooth and effortless typing experience, the Ink Reds would be a great choice. However, if you prefer a switch with a bit more weight and a stepped tactile feel, the Plum switches might be more appealing. Considering these factors, it is important to choose the switch that best matches your personal preferences and typing style.

Conclusion

In closing, when deciding between the Gateron Ink Red linear switch and the Kailh Plum tactile switch, it ultimately comes down to your personal preference and typing style. If you prefer a lighter typing experience and appreciate a switch with lower actuation force, the Ink Red would be an ideal choice for you. Its smooth and effortless typing experience, combined with a satisfyingly crisp and clacky sound profile, make it perfect for those with a lighter touch.

On the other hand, if you enjoy a slightly heavier switch with a unique tactile feel, the Plum switch would be worth considering. While it does not have a pronounced tactile bump, it provides a significant weightiness that sets it apart from other tactile switches. Its sound profile is neutral and enjoyable, making it suitable for various typing scenarios.

Both switches have a moderate actuation force requirement and offer a smooth typing experience. The Ink Red is described as silky, mild, and polished, ensuring a refined and frictionless typing experience. The Plum, on the other hand, offers a gentle typing experience, with some pre-travel and/or post-travel, giving it a stepped feel.

In summary, the Gateron Ink Red linear switch is best suited for those with a lighter typing style, seeking smoothness and a clacky sound profile. Meanwhile, the Kailh Plum tactile switch is recommended for individuals who prefer a heavier switch with a unique tactile experience. Ultimately, it's important to try out different switches and see which one feels the most comfortable and enjoyable for you. Happy typing!

Mentioned in this article