Gateron Ink Yellow vs. TKC Tangerine

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

Overview

When it comes to choosing the perfect mechanical keyboard switch, two popular options to consider are the Gateron Ink Yellow and the TKC Tangerine. The Ink Yellow is a linear switch that offers a pleasant typing experience, striking a balance between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard. It boasts a shorter travel distance and showcases a smoothness and clackiness that many users love. On the other hand, the Tangerine is also a linear switch known for taking typing to the next level. With an incredibly smooth feel, every keystroke becomes a pleasure. What sets the Tangerine apart is its use of UHWMPE housings, a rarity in the realm of bespoke mechanical switches, contributing to that satisfying typing experience. However, let's dive a bit deeper beyond these generalities so that you can make an informed decision on which switch is best suited for you.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

60g

Actuation force

N/A

Bottom-out force

67g

Bottom-out force

62g

Pre-travel

1.50 mm

Pre-travel

N/A

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

UHWMPE

Bottom housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Bottom housing material

UHWMPE

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Spring

Gold-plated

Spring

Gold coated spring

Housing materials

The Gateron Ink Yellow and the TKC Tangerine both employ proprietary housing materials that contribute to their distinct sound profiles. The Ink Yellow's proprietary INK blend top housing is characterized by a pointed and relatively high-pitched sound. This creates a satisfying and clacky typing experience that is not overly sharp. Similarly, the Tangerine's UHWMPE top housing offers resonant clacks when typing, resulting in a bright sound signature. While the Ink Yellow's top housing produces a more precise and focused sound, the Tangerine's top housing provides a slightly brighter and more resonant tone.

Moving on to the bottom housings, the Gateron Ink Yellow and TKC Tangerine utilize different materials to further enhance their sound profiles. The Ink Yellow's proprietary INK blend bottom housing, similar to its top housing, contributes to a thin and higher-pitched sound. This adds to the overall clacky feeling when typing on the switch. In contrast, the Tangerine's UHWMPE bottom housing, being a newer material, introduces a different element to the sound signature. It offers a very bright sound profile, enhancing the resonant clacks you experience while typing.

When comparing the impact of the top and bottom housing on the overall typing experience, it is important to note that they may have distinct contributions. The bottom housing of a switch, such as the Ink Yellow or the Tangerine, has a more significant influence on the bottom-out sound and feel. This means that the material used in the bottom housing plays a crucial role in determining the overall tactile feedback when pressing the key. On the other hand, the top housing primarily affects the sound produced when releasing a key. While the Ink Yellow and Tangerine share similarities in terms of the overall clacky feeling, the specific tonal qualities will differ due to their unique housing materials.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch and the TKC Tangerine linear switch, there are noticeable differences. The Ink Yellow has an actuation force of 60 grams, which means that this is the amount of force required to trigger a keystroke. In contrast, the Tangerine's actuation force is unavailable, so it is unclear how much force is needed to activate the switch. However, the bottom out force of the Ink Yellow is 67 grams, indicating that it requires a slightly heavier force to fully press the key down. On the other hand, the Tangerine has a bottom out force of 62 grams, making it slightly lighter in this aspect.

Weight is an important factor to consider when choosing a switch, as it affects the overall typing experience. Some individuals prefer a lighter actuation force as it allows them to type for longer periods of time without experiencing fatigue. This makes it ideal for those who use their keyboard for work or engage in long gaming sessions. On the contrary, others prefer a stronger push feel for a more substantial typing experience. In this case, they would benefit from switches with heavier forces.

While the actuation and bottom out forces of the Gateron Ink Yellow and the TKC Tangerine differ slightly, they provide similar results in terms of switch weight. The Ink Yellow is considered medium-heavy due to its actuation force of 60 grams and bottom out force of 67 grams, while the Tangerine falls into the medium category with an actuation force of unknown grams and a bottom out force of 62 grams. Thus, both switches offer a balance between lightness and heaviness, providing users with options that suit their preferences.

Travel distance

The Gateron Ink Yellow linear switch has a travel distance of 3.5 mm, while the TKC Tangerine linear switch has a travel distance of 4 mm. This means that the Tangerine switch has a longer travel distance compared to the Ink Yellow switch. 4.0 mm is considered the most traditional travel distance, while 3.0 mm is the most shallow. The preference for shorter travel distances has become prevalent, especially among gamers who value faster response times. So, if you prioritize responsiveness, the Ink Yellow switch with its shorter travel distance would be the better option. However, for those who prefer a deeper, more satisfying keystroke, the Tangerine switch with its longer travel distance may be a better fit. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches would depend on personal preference and the desired 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 TKC Tangerine comes in at $6.30 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 most purposes, whether you are a beginner or advanced user, and whether you plan to use it at home or work. It also has a clacky sound, which means it produces a crisp, bright, and percussive sound when pressed.

On the other hand, the TKC Tangerine switch has a high-pitched sound profile. It produces a sharp and crisp sound when pressed, which can be preferred if you do not like the richer and bassier sound profiles of certain switches. However, it's important to note that the sound of both switches is also influenced by other factors, such as the choice of keyboard and keycaps.

In terms of feel, the Gateron Ink Yellow switch offers a mild typing experience. It provides a more gentle feel compared to switches with more pronounced characteristics. This makes it approachable and comfortable for most users, as its qualities fall within a safe, middle-ground zone. It also has a polished finish, resulting in reduced friction and smooth key travel.

On the other hand, the TKC Tangerine switch offers a frictionless typing experience. It minimizes any sense of resistance or friction when pressing the keys, providing an extremely smooth and effortless typing experience. It is also described as buttery, meaning it provides a seamless, effortless, and uniform typing sensation. Similar to the Ink Yellow, the Tangerine switch also has a polished finish, ensuring smooth and refined key travel.

Overall, both switches offer a smooth typing experience, but with different sound profiles. The Gateron Ink Yellow has a clacky sound and a neutral feel, suitable for most purposes. The TKC Tangerine has a high-pitched sound and a frictionless, buttery feel, taking the typing experience to the next level. Depending on your preferences and needs, both switches can provide satisfying results, although the Tangerine switch may be more appealing if you prioritize smoothness and a high-pitched sound.

Conclusion

To wrap up, both the Gateron Ink Yellow and TKC Tangerine linear switches offer a smooth and pleasant typing experience. The Ink Yellow is ideal for those who prefer a typing experience in between that of a laptop and a standard mechanical keyboard, with its shorter travel and moderate actuation force. It produces a clacky sound, giving it a crisp and bright sound profile. On the other hand, the Tangerine switches take typing to the next level with its incredibly smooth feel, thanks to the UHWMPE housings. It offers a frictionless and buttery typing experience, making each keystroke a pleasure. The Tangerine switch also has a slightly lower actuation force compared to the Ink Yellow. If you prefer a higher-pitched sound, the Tangerine switch is a great choice. Overall, both switches have their unique qualities, and the decision between them ultimately comes down to personal preference in terms of typing experience, sound profile, and actuation force. You can't go wrong with either choice!

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