Gateron Ink Yellow vs. SP-Star Polaris Gray

An in-depth look at the Gateron Ink Yellow and the SP-Star Polaris Gray switches—which one is the best fit for you?

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, two popular options that often spark comparisons are the Gateron Ink Yellow and the SP-Star Polaris Gray. The Ink Yellow, a linear switch, is best known for its shorter travel distance, making it a perfect choice for those seeking a typing experience between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard. Additionally, it offers a pleasant smoothness and clackiness that enhances the overall typing experience. On the other hand, the Polaris Gray, also a linear switch, is favored by those who prefer a bouncy typing experience. Its sound profile is clean and clacky, providing a satisfying auditory feedback. While these general pointers give a brief overview of the switches' qualities, let's dive in a bit deeper beyond generalities so you can best decide on the most suitable switch for your needs.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

60g

Actuation force

N/A

Bottom-out force

67g

Bottom-out force

67g

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

Yes

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

Polycarbonate

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Spring

Gold-plated

Spring

Gold plated

Housing materials

The housing materials of the Gateron Ink Yellow and the SP-Star Polaris Gray switches have some similarities and differences. Both switches utilize a proprietary blend in their bottom housing, which results in a pointed and relatively high-pitched sound profile. This thin and satisfying sound is often described as clacky. Similarly, the use of polycarbonate in the top housing of the Polaris Gray switch also creates a high-pitched and crisper sound profile. However, the Polaris Gray switch has the added benefit of translucency, which makes it ideal for use with RGB lighting.

While both switches share some similarities in their housing materials, they also have distinct differences. The Ink Yellow switch has a proprietary INK blend for both the top and bottom housing, whereas the Polaris Gray switch utilizes polycarbonate for both housings as well. However, the stiffer nature of polycarbonate contributes to a clearer and more resonant sound profile in the Polaris Gray switch. Additionally, the translucent nature of the polycarbonate top housing makes it especially suitable for users who plan to incorporate RGB lighting into their setup.

The impact of the different housing materials can be felt when interacting with the switches. The bottom housing, influenced by the proprietary INK blend or polycarbonate, plays a significant role in the bottom-out sound and feel. On the other hand, the top housing, whether it is made of the INK blend or polycarbonate, contributes more to the sound produced when releasing a key. Therefore, while the specific qualities of each housing material may differ, both switches provide distinct auditory experiences depending on the specific housing used for the top and bottom portions of the switch.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the SP-Star Polaris Gray linear switch, we can see some similarities and differences. The Ink Yellow has an actuation force of 60 grams, while the exact actuation force for the Polaris Gray is unavailable. However, both switches have a bottom out force of 67 grams, placing them both in the medium-heavy category.

For those who prefer a lighter typing experience, the Ink Yellow may be the better choice as it has a lower actuation force. This allows for longer typing periods without causing as much fatigue. On the other hand, if you prefer a stronger push feel and a more substantial typing experience, the Polaris Gray switch may be more suitable, despite the unknown actuation force. Both switches offer the same bottom out force, ensuring a consistent typing feel and sound.

Ultimately, the decision between these two switches will depend on personal preference. If you prioritize a lighter actuation force, go for the Gateron Ink Yellow. If you prefer a stronger push and a medium-heavy typing experience, opt for the SP-Star Polaris Gray. Regardless of your choice, both switches provide a satisfying keystroke with their medium-heavy bottom out force.

Travel distance

When comparing the travel distances of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the SP-Star Polaris Gray linear switch, there is a notable difference. The Ink Yellow has a travel distance of 3.5 mm, while the Polaris Gray has a travel distance of 4 mm. In this case, the Polaris Gray has the longer travel distance. The Ink Yellow's 3.5 mm falls on the shorter end of the spectrum, making it a popular choice among gamers who prioritize quick response times. On the other hand, the Polaris Gray's 4 mm provides a deeper key press, which may be preferred by those who enjoy a more substantial feel when typing. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches comes down to personal preference and whether one values a shorter or longer travel distance. Regardless of the choice made, both switches offer their respective advantages to enhance the typing or gaming 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 SP-Star Polaris Gray has an MSRP of $5.60 per 10 switches. At Milktooth, we are able to pass on savings to our customers and offer the Polaris Gray for $5.00.

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 can be described as neutral and clacky. A neutral switch is known for its moderate sound profile, making it suitable for various purposes and user experience levels. The Ink Yellow switch produces a sharp and snappy sound when pressed, creating a crisp, bright, and percussive sound. On the other hand, the SP-Star Polaris Gray switch is characterized by a low-pitched sound profile. This type of switch usually produces a more bass-heavy and mellow tone compared to higher-pitched switches. Additionally, the Polaris Gray switch is also considered neutral in terms of sound, making it suitable for different user preferences and environments. It is worth noting that the sound produced by the switches can also be influenced by other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps chosen.

In terms of feel, both the Gateron Ink Yellow and the SP-Star Polaris Gray switches offer a mild typing experience. A mild mechanical keyboard switch provides a gentle and approachable typing feel compared to switches with more pronounced characteristics. Both switches fall within a safe middle-ground zone, ensuring that the typing experience is comfortable for most users. Furthermore, both switches have a polished finish, resulting in a smooth and refined typing experience. This polish can be attributed to the materials used and/or factory lubrication, reducing friction and allowing for smooth key travel. The combination of the mild typing feel and polished finish contributes to a sleek and enjoyable typing experience for both the Ink Yellow and Polaris Gray switches.

In conclusion, the Gateron Ink Yellow and SP-Star Polaris Gray switches have some similarities in terms of their subjective qualities. Both switches provide a pleasant smoothness, although the Ink Yellow offers a shorter travel distance. They also share a mild typing experience and a polished finish, ensuring a comfortable and refined feel for typing. However, there are some differences in sound. The Ink Yellow switch is described as clacky, producing a crisp and bright sound, while the Polaris Gray switch is characterized by a low-pitched sound profile with a deep and satisfying "thocky" tone. Overall, if you are looking for a typing experience that falls between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard, either switch can provide similar results, but the choice between them will depend on your personal preferences for sound and other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps used.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you are looking for a switch with a shorter travel and a pleasant smoothness and clackiness, the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch would be a great choice for you. It offers a typing experience that falls between that on a laptop and on a standard mechanical keyboard. In terms of sound, the Ink Yellow switch is characterized as both neutral and clacky, providing a moderate sound profile with a crisp and percussive tone when pressed.

On the other hand, if you prefer a bouncy typing experience with clean and clacky sound profile, the SP-Star Polaris Gray linear switch would be a suitable option. These switches are known for their neutral sound profile, featuring a low-pitched and mellow tone compared to higher-pitched switches. Additionally, the Polaris Gray switch provides a mild and polished feel, giving you a gentle typing experience with reduced friction and smooth key travel.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the specific typing experience you are looking for. Whether you want a switch with shorter travel and clackiness or a switch with a bouncy and clean sound profile, both the Gateron Ink Yellow and the SP-Star Polaris Gray switches offer unique characteristics that cater to different preferences and typing styles.

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