Gateron Ink Red vs. Outemu Red Panda

An in-depth look at the Gateron Ink Red and the Outemu Red Panda 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 Ink Red and the Outemu Red Panda. The Gateron Ink Red is a linear switch, perfect for those with a lighter typing style, thanks to its lower actuation force. Known for its smoothness and satisfyingly crispy and clacky sound profile, it offers an effortless typing experience. In contrast, the Outemu Red Panda is a tactile switch that provides a light-medium amount of tactility. Typing on these switches produces a bassier, raindrop-like bottom-out sound and a clackier, higher-pitched top-out sound. While both switches have their merits, such as the Ink Red's smoothness and the Red Panda's unique sound profile, 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

50g

Bottom-out force

60g

Bottom-out force

60g

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Pre-travel

1.80 mm

Total travel

4.00 mm

Total travel

3.30 mm

Factory lubed

Yes

Factory lubed

No

Stem construction

Standard

Stem construction

Partial box

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 Outemu Red Panda switches differ in both their top and bottom housings. The Ink Red utilizes a proprietary INK blend top housing, while the Red Panda features a polycarbonate top housing. Both materials contribute to creating a distinct sound profile, but with slight variations. The INK blend top housing of the Ink Red provides a pointed and high-pitched sound, described as clacky. Conversely, the polycarbonate top housing of the Red Panda produces a sharper and crisper sound due to its stiffness. Despite these differences, both materials allow for clear and resonant sound profiles, particularly benefiting from RGB lighting due to their translucency.

Moving on to the bottom housing, the Ink Red incorporates the same proprietary INK blend found in its top housing. This results in a similar pointed and high-pitched sound profile, contributing to the overall clacky feel. In contrast, the Red Panda incorporates a nylon bottom housing. Nylon is known for producing a deeper and fuller sound, as its softer plastic absorbs more sound compared to harder plastics. As a result, the nylon bottom housing of the Red Panda creates a duller and rounder sound compared to the Ink Red's INK blend bottom housing.

It is important to note that the top and bottom housings in a switch play different roles in sound production. The bottom housing significantly impacts the bottom-out sound and feel when the key is pressed, while the top housing influences the sound when the key is released. Therefore, while the Ink Red and the Red Panda have different housing materials for their top and bottom, they both contribute to creating a satisfying sound profile in their respective ways.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Red linear switch and the Outemu Red Panda tactile switch, there are some notable similarities and differences. In terms of actuation force, the Ink Red requires 45 grams of force to trigger a keystroke, while the Red Panda requires a slightly heavier 50 grams. Both switches fall into the medium range in terms of actuation force.

Moving on to the bottom out force, both switches have an identical force of 60 grams, which suggests that the typing experience would be similar in terms of the pressure required to press the keys all the way down.

Considering the weight of the switches, it is worth mentioning that some individuals prefer lighter switches for prolonged typing or gaming sessions, as it allows them to type for longer periods without fatigue. In this regard, the Ink Red would be the lighter option with its 45 gram actuation force, compared to the Red Panda's slightly heavier 50 gram actuation force.

However, there are also those who prefer a stronger push feel and a more substantial typing experience. For such individuals, the Red Panda with its heavier actuation force might be the preferred choice.

Overall, both switches provide a medium actuation force and have an equal bottom out force. The Ink Red offers a lighter option for those who prefer it, while the Red Panda caters to those who enjoy a slightly heavier push feel.

Travel distance

The Gateron Ink Red linear switch has a travel distance of 4 mm, which is considered the more traditional option. On the other hand, the Outemu Red Panda tactile switch has a shorter travel distance of 3.3 mm, making it a more shallow option. Gamers often prefer shorter travel distances as it allows for faster response times. If you prioritize responsiveness in your typing or gaming experience, the shorter travel distance of the Red Panda may be the better choice for you. However, some individuals may find shorter travel distances to feel too abrupt. If you prefer a more hearty depth when pressing down on a key, the Gateron Ink Red with its longer travel distance may be the more suitable option. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches will depend on personal preference and the specific typing or gaming needs of the individual.

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 Outemu Red Panda comes in at $3.40 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, the Gateron Ink Red switch offers a satisfyingly smooth and crisp typing experience with a clacky sound profile. It has a neutral sound, which means it has a moderate actuation force requirement and a moderate overall sound profile. This makes it suitable for most users, whether they are beginners or advanced typists, and whether they are using the switch at home or in a work setting. In addition, the Ink Red switch has a unique acoustic signature with a slight squeak, setting it apart from other switches.

On the other hand, the Outemu Red Panda switch provides a different sound experience. It produces a bassier, raindrop-like bottom-out sound and a clackier, higher-pitched top-out sound. This gives it a thocky sound profile, which is described as a deep, rich, and satisfying sound when pressed.

In terms of feel, both switches offer a mild typing experience. The Gateron Ink Red switch is known for its silky, polished feel. It offers an exceptionally smooth typing experience with minimized resistance when pressing and releasing keys. It falls under the category of a mild switch, with a safe, middle-ground zone for sound and feel. The polished finish of the switch further enhances the smoothness and refined typing experience.

Similarly, the Outemu Red Panda switch also falls under the mild category. It provides a gentle typing experience that is approachable to most users. The sound and feel qualities of the switch are well-balanced and fall within a safe, middle-ground zone.

In conclusion, the Gateron Ink Red switch and the Outemu Red Panda switch offer different subjective qualities in terms of sound and feel. The Ink Red switch has a crispy and clacky sound profile with a squeaky acoustic signature, while the Red Panda switch has a thocky sound profile. Both switches provide a mild typing experience, but the Ink Red switch offers a silky and polished feel due to its smoothness and refined finish. Ultimately, the choice between these switches will depend on personal preference for sound and feel. However, it's important to note that the sound of the switches is also influenced by other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps used.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you prefer a lighter typing style and want an effortless typing experience, the Gateron Ink Red linear switch would be an excellent choice for you. These switches have a lower actuation force and are known for their satisfyingly smooth feel and crispy sound profile. They are suitable for both beginners and advanced users, and can be used at home or work. In terms of sound, the Ink Reds offer a neutral sound profile with a little chirp, setting them apart from other switches. When it comes to feel, the Ink Reds are described as silky, mild, and polished, providing an exceptionally smooth and refined typing experience.

On the other hand, if you prefer a tactile switch with a bit more feedback, the Outemu Red Panda switch would be a great option for you. These switches offer a light-medium amount of tactility, providing a more pronounced typing experience. They also have a bassier, raindrop-like bottom-out sound and a clackier, higher-pitched top-out sound, adding to the overall typing experience. In terms of feel, the Red Panda switches are described as mild, offering a gentle typing experience that is approachable to most users.

Ultimately, the choice between the Gateron Ink Red and Outemu Red Panda switches depends on your personal preference for typing style, sound, and feel. Both switches have a medium bottom out force of 60 grams, making them suitable for most intents and purposes. Whether you prefer a smoother and more effortless typing experience or a tactile switch with more feedback, you can make a decision based on your individual preferences and needs. Consider trying out both switches to see which one you find more enjoyable and comfortable to use.

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