Gateron Ink Yellow vs. Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring

An in-depth look at the Gateron Ink Yellow and the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switches—which one is the best fit for you?

Overview

When it comes to choosing the right mechanical keyboard switch, two popular options to consider are the Gateron Ink Yellow and the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring. The Ink Yellow switch offers a typing experience that falls between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard, with its shorter travel and smooth, clacky feel. Its neutral and mild characteristics make it a versatile choice for a wide range of users. On the other hand, the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switch is perfect for those who prefer a tactile switch with a medium-high level of tactility. With its long, two-staged spring, this switch provides a satisfying tactile feedback during typing, along with deep, resonating thocks. Its clacky and sharp characteristics, combined with its snappy, bouncy, and stepped feel, create a unique typing experience. However, let's dive in a bit deeper beyond these generalities so you can best decide on the switch that suits your preferences and needs.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

60g

Actuation force

55g

Bottom-out force

67g

Bottom-out force

63g

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

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

20mm dual-stage spring

Housing materials

The Gateron Ink Yellow and the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switches differ in terms of their housing materials. The Ink Yellow features a proprietary INK blend top and bottom housing, while the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring utilizes polycarbonate for both the top and bottom housing. The INK blend top and bottom housing of the Ink Yellow produces a pointed and relatively high-pitched sound profile, which is often described as clacky. In comparison, the use of polycarbonate in the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring creates a sharper, higher-pitched, and crisper sound profile. This is due to polycarbonate being a stiffer plastic that enhances clarity and resonance. Aesthetically, polycarbonate's translucency is advantageous for RGB lighting, making it a preferred choice in switches for such purposes.

While the housing materials of the Gateron Ink Yellow and the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring differ, they both contribute to the switch's overall sound profile. The INK blend top housing of the Ink Yellow and the polycarbonate top housing of the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring both produce a higher-pitched sound. However, the polycarbonate housing offers a sharper and crisper tone due to its stiffness. On the other hand, the bottom housing materials influence the bottom-out sound and feel of the switch. The INK blend bottom housing of the Ink Yellow and the polycarbonate bottom housing of the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring both contribute to the overall clacky sound that is often associated with these switches. Thus, while the materials differ, the resulting sound profiles of the switches are similar in certain aspects.

In terms of functionality, the top and bottom housing materials play distinct roles in the operation of the switches. Pressing down on a switch will primarily bring forth the qualities of the bottom housing, influencing the bottom-out sound and feel. This means that both the INK blend and the polycarbonate bottom housings will contribute to the overall tactility and auditory experience when pressing down a key. Conversely, when releasing a key, the top housing takes center stage in producing the sound. Whether it is the INK blend top housing of the Ink Yellow or the polycarbonate top housing of the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring, both materials impact the sound created when a key is released. Therefore, the top housing material is crucial for the switch's overall sound production during key release.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring tactile switch, there are some notable similarities and differences. Beginning with the actuation force, the Gateron Ink Yellow requires 60 grams of force to trigger a keystroke, while the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring requires slightly less at 55 grams. This makes the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring the lighter option for those who prefer a lighter touch. However, both switches fall within the medium range of actuation force. Moving on to the bottom out force, the Gateron Ink Yellow has a weightier bottom out force of 67 grams compared to the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring's 63 grams. This indicates that the Gateron Ink Yellow provides a heavier and more substantial typing experience for those who prefer a stronger push feel. Overall, while the actuation force differs slightly between the two switches, they both offer a similar medium actuation force that could work well for most users. However, the Gateron Ink Yellow is the heavier option in terms of bottom out force, providing a more satisfying keystroke for those seeking a heavier touch.

Travel distance

When comparing the travel distance of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring tactile switch, we can see a slight difference. The Ink Yellow has a travel distance of 3.5 mm, while the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring has a travel distance of 4 mm. In terms of traditional standards, the 4.0 mm travel distance is considered more common, while the 3.5 mm distance is slightly shallower. However, in recent times, there has been a trend towards shorter travel distances, especially favored by gamers who value faster response times. If you prefer a more responsive typing experience, opting for the shorter travel distance would be ideal. On the other hand, some individuals may find shorter travel distances to feel too abrupt and prefer a deeper key press. In that case, choosing the switch with the longer travel distance would be more suitable. Ultimately, it 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 Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring has an MSRP of $4.50 per 10 switches. At Milktooth, we are able to pass on savings to our customers and offer the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring for $3.57.

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

The Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch is known for its shorter travel and smoothness, providing a typing experience that falls between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard. It has a pleasant clackiness, producing a crisp and bright sound when pressed. On the other hand, the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring tactile switch offers a medium-high level of tactility. It features a long, two-staged spring, which results in deep and resonating thocks when typing. The sound of both switches can be described as clacky, with the Ink Yellow having a more neutral sound profile and the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring having a higher-pitched sound. Additionally, the Ink Yellow switch has a mild and polished feel, providing a gentle typing experience with reduced friction and smooth key travel. The Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switch, on the other hand, has a sharp, accented, and snappy feel, offering a strong and crisp feedback intensity with a bouncy and stepped sensation. Overall, while the Ink Yellow and Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switches differ in their sound and feel characteristics, both provide satisfying typing experiences, with the Ink Yellow offering a smoother and more neutral experience, and the Shadow (Ink) Double Spring providing a more tactile and lively feel.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you are looking for a switch with a shorter travel and a typing experience between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard, the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch would be a great choice for you. It offers a medium-heavy bottom-out force and showcases smoothness and clackiness. On the other hand, if you are seeking a tactile switch with a medium-high level of tactility, the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switch would be perfect. It has a medium bottom-out force and features a long, two-staged spring that provides deep, resonating thocks when typing.

In terms of sound, both switches are described as clacky, producing sharp and snappy sounds when pressed. However, the Ink Yellow switch is also described as neutral, making it suitable for most intents and purposes, whether you are a beginner or advanced, and whether you plan to use it at home or work. The Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switch, on the other hand, is described as high-pitched, so if you prefer a sharper and crisper sound, this would be a good choice.

In terms of feel, the Ink Yellow switch is described as mild and polished. This means it offers a gentle typing experience with reduced friction and smooth key travel. The Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switch, on the other hand, is described as sharp, accented, snappy, bouncy, and stepped. This indicates a high feedback intensity with a prominent amount of tactility, a super responsive typing experience, a spring-like feedback sensation, and a switch that feels mild with some pre-travel and/or post-travel.

Ultimately, your choice between the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the Aflion Shadow (Ink) Double Spring switch will depend on your specific preferences for typing experience, sound, and feel. Consider whether you prioritize a shorter travel and smoothness or a medium-high level of tactility and deep thocks. Additionally, think about whether you prefer a neutral sound or a high-pitched sound, and whether you prefer a mild and polished feel or a sharp, accented, snappy, bouncy, and stepped feel.

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