Gateron Ink Yellow vs. TKC Kiwi

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

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, there are numerous options to consider. Two popular choices, the Gateron Ink Yellow and the TKC Kiwi, offer unique characteristics for different typing preferences. The Ink Yellow showcases a shorter travel distance and provides a typing experience that falls between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard. With its smoothness and clackiness, it offers a pleasant tactile feedback. On the other hand, the Kiwi switches are designed to enhance typing with a medium to medium-strong bump at the top of each press. These switches deliver a satisfyingly snappy sound profile and come lightly factory lubed for a smooth and effortless typing experience right out of the box. While these general descriptions highlight the main features of each switch, diving deeper into their specific qualities will ultimately help you decide which switch is best suited to your typing preferences.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

60g

Actuation force

43g

Bottom-out force

67g

Bottom-out force

67g

Pre-travel

1.50 mm

Pre-travel

N/A

Total travel

3.50 mm

Total travel

4.00 mm

Factory lubed

Yes

Factory lubed

Yes

Stem construction

Partial box

Stem construction

Standard

Stem material

POM

Stem material

POM

Top housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Top housing material

UHWMPE

Bottom housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Bottom housing material

UHWMPE

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Spring

Gold-plated

Spring

Gold coated spring

Housing materials

The housing materials of the Gateron Ink Yellow and the TKC Kiwi switches exhibit distinct characteristics. The Ink Yellow's proprietary INK blend top housing offers a satisfying thin and higher-pitched sound, which is often described as clacky. Similarly, the Kiwi's UHWMPE top housing provides a resonant clack when typing, contributing to a bright sound signature. Both switches deliver a pleasing auditory experience with their unique top housings, although the exact tonal qualities may differ slightly.

In terms of bottom housing, the Ink Yellow utilizes its proprietary INK blend, known for its pointed and relatively high-pitched sound profile. The result is a distinct typing experience with a slightly clacky sound. On the other hand, the Kiwi features a UHWMPE bottom housing, which is a newer material in the switch housing realm. This material contributes to a very bright sound signature, amplifying the resonant clacks when typing. While both switches offer an enjoyable typing experience with their bottom housings, the bright sound signature of the Kiwi's UHWMPE bottom housing sets it apart.

When considering the overall impact, both the top and bottom housing materials play a significant role in determining the sound characteristics of a switch. Pressing down on a switch reveals the qualities of the bottom housing, affecting the bottom-out sound and feel. On the flip side, the sound when releasing a key is mainly influenced by the top housing material. Although the Gateron Ink Yellow and the TKC Kiwi have differing housing materials for their top and bottom, both switches offer a similar satisfying clacky sound, with the bottom housing slightly emphasizing the tactile feedback and the top housing accentuating the sound during key release.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the TKC Kiwi tactile switch, it is evident that there are notable differences between the two. The Gateron Ink Yellow has a slightly heavier actuation force of 60 grams, whereas the TKC Kiwi requires a lighter force of 43 grams to activate a keystroke. However, both switches share the same bottom out force of 67 grams, which falls into the medium-heavy range.

Considering weight, individuals who prefer a lighter typing experience for extended periods of time may lean towards the TKC Kiwi with its lower actuation force. This makes it particularly suitable for use in workplaces or during prolonged gaming sessions. On the contrary, those seeking a more substantial and forceful feel when typing may opt for the Gateron Ink Yellow with its higher actuation force. For them, the heavier force offers a more immersive and tactile typing experience.

In terms of actuation force, the Gateron Ink Yellow is the heavier of the two switches, while the TKC Kiwi is lighter. However, when it comes to bottoming out, where the entirety of the keystroke is completed, both switches share the same force. Therefore, if one desires a similar result in terms of the force required for full keystroke completion, they can achieve this with either the Gateron Ink Yellow or the TKC Kiwi.

Overall, the Gateron Ink Yellow and the TKC Kiwi provide distinct options based on individual preferences. The actuation force of the switches caters to those who prefer a heavier or lighter typing experience, while their shared bottom out force ensures consistency in the completion of keystrokes.

Travel distance

The Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the TKC Kiwi tactile switch have different travel distances. The Ink Yellow has a travel distance of 3.5 mm, while the Kiwi has a slightly longer travel distance of 4 mm. The Ink Yellow's 3.5 mm travel distance is shorter compared to the more traditional 4 mm travel distance of the Kiwi. Gamers, who prioritize faster response times, may prefer the Ink Yellow with its shorter travel distance. This shorter distance allows for quicker keystrokes and a more responsive feel. On the other hand, those who enjoy a more substantial key press may find the Kiwi's longer travel distance more appealing. The extra depth provided by the 4 mm travel distance of the Kiwi can give a more satisfying and tactile typing experience. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches depends on personal preference and the desired typing experience.

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 TKC Kiwi comes in at $8.00 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 Gateron Ink Yellow switch is known for its neutral and clacky sound profile. When pressed, it produces a sharp and snappy sound that can be described as crisp, bright, and percussive. On the other hand, the TKC Kiwi switch has a low-pitched sound profile that is more bass-heavy and mellow compared to higher-pitched switches. Both switches have a moderate actuation force requirement, making them suitable for various purposes, whether you're a beginner or advanced user, and whether you plan to use them at home or work. It's important to note that the sound of a switch is influenced by other factors such as the keyboard and keycaps used.

When it comes to feel, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch offers a mild and polished typing experience. It provides a more gentle feel compared to switches with more pronounced characteristics. The switch has a smooth and refined finish, resulting in reduced friction and smooth key travel. Similarly, the TKC Kiwi switch has an accented and polished feel. It offers a medium amount of tactility, providing a prominent amount of tactile feedback without being overwhelming or subtle. Like the Ink Yellow, the Kiwi switch is also polished, resulting in a sleek and smooth typing experience.

Based on the available information, the Gateron Ink Yellow and TKC Kiwi switches offer different subjective qualities in terms of sound and feel. The Ink Yellow provides a clacky sound profile and a mild, polished feel, while the Kiwi offers a low-pitched sound profile and an accented, polished feel. Both switches have a moderate actuation force requirement, making them suitable for most users and purposes. However, it's important to consider other factors such as keyboard and keycap choices, as they can influence the overall sound and feel of the switches. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches will depend on individual preferences for sound and feel.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you are looking for a smoother and clackier typing experience reminiscent of a laptop keyboard but with a medium-heavy bottom-out force, the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch would be the ideal choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a tactile switch with a medium to medium-strong bump at the top of each key press, accompanied by a satisfyingly snappy sound profile and a lower-pitched tone, then the TKC Kiwi tactile switch is the way to go. Both switches have a moderate actuation force requirement and a polished finish, ensuring a pleasant and approachable typing experience. Ultimately, your decision should be based on your personal preferences and the specific typing experience you desire.

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