Gateron Ink Yellow vs. Cherry MX Brown

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

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, two popular options are the Gateron Ink Yellow and the Cherry MX Brown. The Gateron Ink Yellow is a linear switch, known for its shorter travel distance, making it a perfect choice for those who want a typing experience that falls between a laptop keyboard and a standard mechanical keyboard. Its smoothness and clackiness add to the overall pleasant feel of this switch. On the other hand, the Cherry MX Brown is a tactile switch that offers a subtle typing experience. These switches provide light tactility and low-pitched audio feedback, giving users a gentle and more subdued typing experience. Both switches have their unique characteristics and appeal, catering to different preferences. However, let's dive in a bit deeper beyond generalities so you can best decide on the ideal switch for you.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

60g

Actuation force

45g

Bottom-out force

67g

Bottom-out force

55g

Pre-travel

1.50 mm

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Total travel

3.50 mm

Total travel

4.00 mm

Factory lubed

Yes

Factory lubed

No

Stem construction

Partial box

Stem construction

Standard

Stem material

POM

Stem material

POM

Top housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Top housing material

Nylon

Bottom housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Bottom housing material

Nylon

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Spring

Gold-plated

Spring

Stainless steel

Housing materials

The housing materials of the Gateron Ink Yellow and the Cherry MX Brown switches offer distinct differences in sound and feel. The Ink Yellow features a proprietary INK blend for both the top and bottom housing, resulting in a pointed and high-pitched sound profile that is often described as clacky. This gives the Ink Yellow a satisfying thin and higher-pitched sound both when pressing down on a key and when releasing it. In contrast, the MX Brown utilizes a nylon top and bottom housing, which creates a deeper and fuller sound profile. The softer plastic of the nylon absorbs more sound, producing a duller and rounder sound when compared to the Ink Yellow.

While the materials used for the top and bottom housing may be different in each switch, the qualities they bring to the overall switch experience are split between the two. The Gateron Ink Yellow's proprietary INK blend for the bottom housing has more of an impact on the bottom-out sound and feel. When pressing down on a key, the Ink Yellow will offer its characteristic pointed and high-pitched sound. On the other hand, the top housing, regardless of the material, will have more influence on the sound when releasing a key. Thus, in terms of the housing materials, the Ink Yellow and the MX Brown differ in their respective impacts on the overall typing sound and feel.

In terms of similarities, both the Gateron Ink Yellow and the Cherry MX Brown utilize different materials for their top and bottom housing. The Ink Yellow's proprietary INK blend is distinct in its pointed and high-pitched sound profile, while the MX Brown's nylon material creates a deeper and fuller sound. However, it is important to note that the sound produced by both switches is a result of the combination of these housing materials. Additionally, both switches provide a satisfying typing experience, with the Ink Yellow offering a clacky sound profile and the MX Brown providing a rounder and duller sound.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the Cherry MX Brown tactile switch, we can observe some notable differences. The Ink Yellow requires a higher actuation force, weighing in at 60 grams, compared to the MX Brown's lighter 45 grams. This means that the Ink Yellow switch requires a slightly stronger push to initiate a keystroke. On the other hand, when it comes to bottoming out, the Ink Yellow also has a heavier force of 67 grams, while the MX Brown measures at 55 grams. This indicates that the Ink Yellow provides a more substantial typing experience, as it requires a greater force to fully press down the key.

In terms of weight, the lighter actuation force of the MX Brown may be preferred by individuals who type for extended periods or engage in long gaming sessions. The lighter force allows for smoother and faster keystrokes, reducing the chances of fatigue or strain. This feature makes the MX Brown an excellent option for work or gaming keyboards.

Alternatively, users who prefer a stronger push feel may opt for the Gateron Ink Yellow switch. With its heavier actuation and bottom out forces, the Ink Yellow offers a more satisfying tactile experience, providing a greater sense of feedback. This can be advantageous for individuals who prioritize a more substantial and pronounced typing experience.

Overall, while the Gateron Ink Yellow and the Cherry MX Brown switches differ in their actuation and bottom out forces, each caters to different preferences and typing styles. Whether one prefers a lighter or heavier switch, both options can yield satisfactory results depending on the user's personal preferences and requirements.

Travel distance

The travel distance of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch is 3.5 mm, while the Cherry MX Brown tactile switch has a travel distance of 4 mm. Comparing the two, the Cherry MX Brown has a slightly longer travel distance. The difference of 0.5 mm may not seem significant, but it can be noticeable when you press down on the keys.

Traditionally, a travel distance of 4.0 mm is considered the norm, while 3.0 mm is shallower. However, in recent times, shorter travel distances have become more popular, especially among gamers who prioritize faster response times. If you prefer a more responsive typing experience, the Gateron Ink Yellow with its shorter travel distance may be the better option for you. On the other hand, some individuals find shorter travel distances to feel too abrupt. If you prefer a deeper keystroke, the Cherry MX Brown's longer travel distance may be more suitable. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches will depend on your personal preference for travel distance and 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 Cherry MX Brown comes in at $4.00 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 offers a neutral sound profile with a moderate actuation force requirement. This makes it suitable for various purposes, whether you are a beginner or advanced user, or if you intend to use the switch at home or work. Additionally, the Ink Yellow switch is also known for its clackiness, producing a crisp, bright, and percussive sound when pressed.

On the other hand, the Cherry MX Brown switch delivers a bassy sound profile with a lower frequency range. This creates a deeper and richer sound during key presses, resembling the depth and richness associated with bass tones. The MX Brown switch is also described as low-pitched, providing a more bass-heavy and mellow tone compared to higher-pitched switches.

When it comes to feel, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch offers a mild and approachable typing experience. It falls in a safe, middle-ground zone, offering a more gentle feel compared to switches with more pronounced characteristics. Furthermore, the Ink Yellow switch is polished, ensuring a smooth and refined finish. This results in reduced friction and smooth key travel, improving the overall typing experience.

In contrast, the Cherry MX Brown switch is characterized as textured or scratchy. This means it has noticeable friction when pressed, which may be preferred by some users for the added tactile feedback. However, others may prefer a smoother, friction-free typing experience.

Taking all the available information into consideration, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch offers a shorter travel distance, providing a typing experience between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard. It is smooth, clacky, and delivers a moderate actuation force requirement and a moderate sound profile. On the other hand, the Cherry MX Brown switch offers a relatively light typing experience with gentle tactility and subdued audio feedback. Although the sound and feel of these switches differ, they both provide pleasing experiences. If you enjoy the characteristics described for either switch, you can expect similar results in that aspect.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you are looking for a switch with a medium-heavy bottom out force, a shorter travel, and a pleasant smoothness and clackiness, the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch is the way to go. This switch provides a typing experience that falls between that of a laptop keyboard and a standard mechanical keyboard. It offers a moderate actuation force requirement and a moderate sound profile, making it suitable for most purposes. Additionally, the Ink Yellow has a mild and polished feel, ensuring a gentle and polished typing experience.

On the other hand, if you prefer a switch with a medium-light bottom out force, gentle tactility, and subdued audio feedback, the Cherry MX Brown tactile switch is ideal for you. These switches are known for their subtlety and offer a relatively light typing experience. They produce a bassy and low-pitched sound profile during key presses, providing a deeper and richer tone. However, it's worth noting that the MX Brown switches may have a textured feel, which some users prefer, while others prefer a smoother typing experience.

Ultimately, the choice between the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the Cherry MX Brown tactile switch comes down to personal preference. Consider whether you prioritize a medium-heavy or medium-light bottom out force, a shorter or more tactile travel, and a balanced or bassy sound profile. Additionally, think about whether you prefer a mild and polished feel or a textured feel. By considering these factors, you can determine which switch will best suit your typing needs and preferences.

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