Gateron Ink Yellow vs. SP-Star RedBlue

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

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, the Gateron Ink Yellow and the SP-Star RedBlue both offer unique features and experiences. The Ink Yellow is characterized by its shorter travel, providing a typing experience that falls between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard. Its smoothness and clackiness adds to the overall pleasant feel. On the other hand, the RedBlue linear switches are truly something special. Suited for those who prefer a medium-light typing experience, these switches offer a relatively higher-pitched sound profile. While the Ink Yellow is categorized as 'Neutral', 'Clacky', 'Mild', and 'Polished', the RedBlue is categorized as 'Low-pitched', 'Neutral', 'Mild', 'Thocky', and 'Polished'. However, let's dive in a bit deeper beyond these generalities so that you can make the best decision on which switch is perfect for you.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

60g

Actuation force

N/A

Bottom-out force

67g

Bottom-out force

57g

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 Gateron Ink Yellow and the SP-Star RedBlue differ in their housing materials, with the Ink Yellow featuring a proprietary INK blend and the RedBlue utilizing polycarbonate. Despite this difference, both switches offer a satisfying thin and higher-pitched sound profile, although the RedBlue's polycarbonate housing creates a sharper and crisper sound compared to the Ink Yellow's blend. In terms of aesthetics, the RedBlue's clear housing allows for better RGB lighting effects, while the Ink Yellow's blend provides a unique look and sound.

Moving onto the bottom housings, both the Ink Yellow and the RedBlue offer a similar pointed and high-pitched sound profile. However, the use of polycarbonate in the RedBlue's bottom housing enhances the sharpness and clarity of the sound, resulting in a more resonant sound profile overall. In terms of aesthetics, the RedBlue's clear bottom housing aligns with its clear top housing, allowing for a cohesive and visually appealing design. The Ink Yellow, on the other hand, may have a different material for its bottom housing, but it retains the satisfying clacky sound that is characteristic of the INK blend.

When it comes to the overall impact on the switch, the different housing materials have varying effects. The bottom housing plays a significant role in the bottom-out sound and feel, affecting the overall tactile experience when pressing down on the switch. On the other hand, the top housing influences the sound that is produced when you release a key. While the Ink Yellow and the RedBlue differ in their housing materials, their similar characteristics ensure that users will still enjoy a satisfying typing or gaming experience, albeit with varying levels of sharpness and clarity in the sound produced.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the SP-Star RedBlue linear switch, a clear distinction can be made. The Ink Yellow exhibits a medium-heavy actuation force of 60 grams, requiring a substantial push to trigger a keystroke. Its bottom out force is slightly higher at 67 grams, indicating a firmer touch needed to press all the way down. In contrast, information about the actuation force of the RedBlue switch is not available. However, it has a medium-light bottom out force of 57 grams, making it lighter than the Ink Yellow. This difference in weight can greatly influence the typing experience for different individuals. Those who prefer a lighter switch may find the RedBlue more suitable for extended typing sessions or prolonged gaming sessions. Conversely, individuals seeking a stronger push feel and a more substantial typing experience may gravitate towards the Ink Yellow with its heavier actuation and bottom out forces. Overall, the choice between these switches depends on personal preference and the desired level of force required for a satisfying typing experience.

Travel distance

The Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch has a travel distance of 3.5 mm, while the SP-Star RedBlue linear switch has a travel distance of 4 mm. Both switches fall within the shorter travel distance range compared to the traditional 4.0 mm standard. Gamers who prioritize faster response times may prefer the Ink Yellow switch with its slightly shorter travel distance. On the other hand, individuals who prefer a deeper keypress may find the RedBlue switch with its 4 mm travel distance more satisfying. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches will depend on personal preference for either a shorter or longer travel distance.

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 RedBlue has an MSRP of $5.80 per 10 switches. At Milktooth, we are able to pass on savings to our customers and offer the RedBlue for $5.40.

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 and SP-Star RedBlue switches offer contrasting experiences. The Ink Yellow switch is characterized by a neutral sound profile, producing a moderate and satisfying clack when pressed. This switch is known for its crisp, bright, and percussive sound that adds a pleasant auditory component to your typing experience. On the other hand, the RedBlue switch boasts a low-pitched sound profile. This switch offers a more bass-heavy and mellow tone compared to higher-pitched switches. With its neutral sound characteristics and a touch of thockiness, the RedBlue switch provides a deep, rich, and satisfying sound when pressed and released. Keep in mind that the sound of both switches may vary depending on other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps used.

In terms of feel, both the Gateron Ink Yellow and SP-Star RedBlue switches offer a mild and approachable typing experience. With their mild qualities, these switches provide a more gentle typing experience compared to switches with more pronounced characteristics. This makes them suitable for a wide range of users, whether they are beginners or advanced typists. Additionally, both switches feature a polished finish, resulting in a sleek and refined typing experience. This smoothness can be attributed to the materials used and/or factory lubrication, ensuring reduced friction and smooth key travel. As a result, users can expect a comfortable and enjoyable typing experience with either switch.

In conclusion, the Gateron Ink Yellow and SP-Star RedBlue switches offer distinct subjective qualities in terms of sound and feel. The Ink Yellow switch stands out for its clacky sound profile, characterized by a crisp and bright sound, while the RedBlue switch offers a low-pitched and thocky sound that is deep and rich. In terms of feel, both switches provide a mild and polished typing experience, ensuring a gentle and smooth key press. Overall, the Ink Yellow switch is recommended for those seeking a typing experience between a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard, while the RedBlue switch caters to individuals who prefer a medium-light typing experience. Despite their differences, both switches offer reliable and satisfying typing experiences, ensuring that users can achieve similar results depending on their preferences and requirements.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you are looking for a typing experience that falls between that of a laptop keyboard and a standard mechanical keyboard, and you prefer a medium-heavy bottom out force, then the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch would be the better choice for you. This switch offers a shorter travel, pleasant smoothness, and a clacky sound profile. On the other hand, if you prefer a medium-light typing experience and a relatively higher-pitched sound profile, then the SP-Star RedBlue linear switch is the one you should consider. Both switches have a moderate actuation force requirement and a neutral sound profile, making them suitable for various purposes. Additionally, they both provide a mild and polished feel, ensuring a comfortable typing experience. Ultimately, the decision between these two switches will depend on your personal preferences and typing needs.

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