Gateron Ink Yellow vs. Kailh Plum

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

Overview

When it comes to choosing a mechanical keyboard switch, two popular options stand out: the Gateron Ink Yellow and the Kailh Plum. The Gateron Ink Yellow is a linear switch that offers a typing experience between that on a laptop and on a standard mechanical keyboard. It is best known for its shorter travel and pleasant smoothness, providing a clackiness that many users enjoy. On the other hand, the Kailh Plum is a tactile switch that showcases a unique characteristic - it feels quite hefty without featuring a huge tactile bump. Unlike other tactile switches, where tactility and weightiness are highly correlated, the Plum offers a neutral and enjoyable sound profile. While these general aspects may help narrow down your choices, diving in a bit deeper beyond these generalities will allow you to make the best decision based on your personal preferences and needs.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

60g

Actuation force

N/A

Bottom-out force

67g

Bottom-out force

70g

Pre-travel

1.50 mm

Pre-travel

1.70 mm

Total travel

3.50 mm

Total travel

3.60 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

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 Yellow and the Kailh Plum switches bring different characteristics to the overall typing experience. The Ink Yellow utilizes a proprietary INK blend for both its top and bottom housing. This blend creates a pointed and relatively high-pitched sound profile, resulting in a satisfying thin and clacky sound. On the other hand, the Plum switch features a polycarbonate top housing. Polycarbonate is a stiffer plastic that produces a sharper and crisper sound. It is also transparent, making it ideal for showcasing RGB lighting. So, while both switches provide a high-pitched sound, the Ink Yellow has a more rounded and not excessively sharp profile, while the Plum has a clearer and resonant sound.

In terms of the bottom housing, the Ink Yellow and the Plum differ again. The Ink Yellow retains its proprietary INK blend for the bottom housing, providing a similar pointed and high-pitched sound as its top housing. In contrast, the Plum switch features a nylon bottom housing. Nylon is a softer plastic that absorbs more sound, resulting in a deeper and fuller sound profile. This softer material creates a duller and rounder sound compared to the sharper sound of the Ink Yellow's bottom housing. Therefore, while both switches offer different sound profiles, the Ink Yellow has a more consistent high-pitched sound throughout, while the Plum has a deeper and fuller bottom-out sound.

When discussing the overall impact of the housing materials on the typing experience, it is important to note that the top and bottom housing materials play different roles. Pressing down on a switch activates the qualities of the bottom housing, influencing the bottom-out sound and feel. In this regard, the Ink Yellow's proprietary INK blend and the Plum's nylon housing contribute to different sensations. Conversely, the top housing impacts the sound when releasing a key. Therefore, the polycarbonate top housing of the Plum switch is likely to have a more distinct effect on the sound when compared to the Ink Yellow. Despite these differences, both switches ultimately provide a satisfying and unique typing experience.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the Kailh Plum tactile switch, it is evident that both switches fall into the medium-heavy category. The actuation force of the Ink Yellow is known to be 60 grams, while the Plum's actuation force is unavailable. However, it is safe to assume that the actuation force of the Plum switch would be similar to the Ink Yellow since they both fall within the same weight category.

Moving on to the bottom out force, the Ink Yellow requires 67 grams of force to fully press the switch, while the Plum switch has a bottom out force of 70 grams. These measurements suggest that the Plum switch is slightly heavier in terms of bottom out force compared to the Ink Yellow.

Considerations for weight play a crucial role in choosing the right switch for different typing preferences. Those seeking a lighter switch may prefer the Ink Yellow, as it allows for longer typing sessions without fatigue. This makes it suitable for work environments or extended gaming sessions. Conversely, individuals who prefer a stronger tactile push for a more substantial typing experience might opt for switches with heavier forces, such as the Kailh Plum.

In conclusion, the Gateron Ink Yellow and Kailh Plum switches have similar actuation forces, with the bottom out force of the Plum being slightly heavier. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on personal preference and the desired typing experience.

Travel distance

The Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the Kailh Plum tactile switch have different travel distances. The Ink Yellow has a travel distance of 3.5 mm, while the Plum has a slightly longer travel distance of 3.6 mm. Both switches fall within the range of shorter travel distances, which have become more popular, especially among gamers seeking faster response times. If you prefer a more responsive typing experience, the Gateron Ink Yellow with its shorter travel distance would be a suitable choice. However, if you prefer a deeper and more substantial feel when typing, the Kailh Plum with its slightly longer travel distance may be more to your liking. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the level of key travel that feels most comfortable and satisfying to each individual user.

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 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, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch has a neutral profile with a slight clackiness. The sound is crisp, bright, and percussive, providing a satisfying auditory experience. On the other hand, the Kailh Plum switch also has a neutral sound profile, making it suitable for various purposes. The sound is described as neutral and enjoyable, without any specific characteristics mentioned. It is important to note that the overall sound of the switches can also be influenced by factors such as the keyboard and keycaps used.

In terms of feel, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch offers a mild and polished typing experience. The switch has a gentle tactile feel that falls within a safe, middle-ground zone, and the key travel is smooth and refined due to materials or factory lubing. Similarly, the Kailh Plum switch provides a mild typing experience with a unique characteristic. It doesn't have a strong tactile bump like most tactile switches, but it still offers a weighty feel. It is described as a stepped switch, meaning there is some pre-travel and/or post-travel, providing a more subtle tactile sensation.

Considering the available information, the Gateron Ink Yellow and Kailh Plum switches have some differing qualities. In terms of sound, the Ink Yellow has a clacky and sharp sound, while the Plum has a more neutral sound. Both switches have a neutral sound profile overall. In terms of feel, the Ink Yellow offers a mild and polished experience with reduced friction and smooth key travel. The Plum switch also offers a mild typing experience but with a weightier feel and a stepped tactile sensation. Despite the differences, both switches provide a pleasant typing experience within their respective characteristics. If you are looking for a switch with a shorter travel and laptop-like typing feel, the Gateron Ink Yellow would be a suitable choice. If you prefer a switch with a unique weighty feel and a more subtle tactile sensation, the Kailh Plum switch would be a good option.

Conclusion

In closing, if you're looking for a switch with a shorter travel that provides a typing experience between a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard, the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch is the way to go. It offers a pleasant smoothness and clackiness, making it enjoyable to type on. Additionally, it has a neutral sound profile that is suitable for both beginners and advanced users, whether you plan to use it at home or work. As for feel, the Ink Yellow provides a mild and polished typing experience, thanks to its smooth and refined finish.

On the other hand, if you want a unique tactile switch with a slight heft but not a huge tactile bump, the Kailh Plum tactile switch is the better choice. Its sound profile is also neutral and enjoyable, making it a versatile option for any user. Like the Ink Yellow, the Plum switch offers a mild typing experience that is approachable to most users. However, it has a stepped feel, providing a subtle pre-travel and/or post-travel sensation.

Ultimately, the choice between the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the Kailh Plum tactile switch depends on your preferences. If you prioritize a shorter travel and a smooth, clacky feel, go for the Ink Yellow. If a unique tactile experience and a neutral sound profile are more important to you, opt for the Plum switch. Both switches offer their own advantages and can enhance your typing experience in different ways.

Mentioned in this article