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Cherry MX Blackvs. Gateron Oil King

An in-depth look at the Cherry MX Black and the Gateron Oil King switches—which one is the best fit for you?

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, two popular options to consider are the Cherry MX Black and the Gateron Oil King. The Cherry MX Black is a linear switch that boasts a smooth texture due to Cherry's Hyperglide tooling. Typing on these switches provides a satisfying deep sound profile. On the other hand, the Gateron Oil King is also a linear switch that offers a buttery smooth typing experience and a sound profile reminiscent of snapping a dark chocolate bar. While the MX Black is known for its low-pitched textured feel and stiffness, the Oil King is praised for its low-pitched creamy and silky sensation, as well as its bassy, buttery, and polished features. However, let's explore the specific characteristics of each switch to help you make an informed decision based on your preferences.

By the numbers

MX Black
Oil King
BrandCherry
CategoryLinear
BrandGateron
CategoryLinear

$4.00 per 10 switches

$6.50

$6.15 per 10 switches

Technical specifications

Actuation force

60g

Actuation force

55g

Bottom-out force

80g

Bottom-out force

65g

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Total travel

4.00 mm

Total travel

4.00 mm

Factory lubed

No

Factory lubed

Yes

Stem construction

Standard

Stem construction

Standard

Stem material

POM

Stem material

POM

Top housing material

Nylon

Top housing material

Nylon

Bottom housing material

Nylon

Bottom housing material

Proprietary INK blend

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Spring

Stainless steel

Spring

Color coated

Housing materials

The housing materials of the Cherry MX Black and the Gateron Oil King, specifically the nylon top housing, are very similar. Both switches utilize nylon as their top housing material, resulting in a deeper and fuller sound profile when typing. This is because nylon is a softer plastic that absorbs more sound compared to harder plastics. As a result, both switches produce a duller and rounder sound, providing a satisfying typing experience for users.

Similarly, the bottom housing materials for both switches play a crucial role in the overall sound profile. The MX Black features a nylon bottom housing, which contributes to a deeper and fuller sound when bottoming out the keys. In contrast, the Gateron Oil King incorporates a proprietary INK blend for its bottom housing. This unique blend offers a pointed and relatively high-pitched sound profile, without being overly sharp. This characteristic sound is often described as "clacky", creating a distinct auditory experience for typists.

Despite the differences in their bottom housing, both switches share a similarity in how the housing materials impact the typing experience. When pressing down on a key, the qualities of the bottom housing are felt, influencing the bottom-out sound and feel. This means that both the MX Black and the Gateron Oil King provide a tactile and satisfying sensation when typing. On the other hand, the top housing is responsible for the sound produced when releasing a key. Although the specific sound profiles may vary between the switches, the overall result is a well-rounded and immersive typing experience.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Cherry MX Black linear switch and the Gateron Oil King linear switch, there are notable differences to consider. The Cherry MX Black has a heavier actuation force of 60 grams and a bottom out force of 80 grams, providing a more substantial typing experience. On the other hand, the Gateron Oil King has a lighter actuation force of 55 grams and a bottom out force of 65 grams, making it slightly more comfortable for longer typing sessions. While the MX Black is heavier in both categories, offering a stronger push feel, the Oil King falls into the medium-heavy range. However, both switches provide a satisfying keystroke experience, as they require a certain amount of force for actuation and bottoming out. So, if one prefers a lighter typing experience, the Gateron Oil King would be a suitable choice, while those seeking a heavier and more substantial feel may opt for the Cherry MX Black.

Travel distance

The Cherry MX Black linear switch and the Gateron Oil King linear switch have the same travel distance of 4 mm. Both switches provide a consistent travel distance, ensuring a consistent typing experience. When pressing down on a key with either switch, users can expect to feel a 4 mm travel distance, allowing for precise and comfortable typing. Therefore, whether you choose the Cherry MX Black or the Gateron Oil King, you can expect similar results in terms of travel distance.

Sound tests

Price comparison

Which switch is more bang for your buck?

The Gateron Oil King has an MSRP of $6.50 per 10 switches. At Milktooth, we are able to pass on savings to our customers and offer the Oil King for $6.15.

The Cherry MX Black comes in at $4.00 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.

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Typing experience

The Cherry MX Black and Gateron Oil King linear switches have some similarities and differences in terms of sound and feel.

In terms of sound, both switches are described as low-pitched. This means that they have a deeper and more mellow tone compared to higher-pitched switches. However, the Oil King switch is also described as bassy, which means it offers a richer and deeper sound profile during key presses, resembling the depth and richness associated with bass tones. It's important to note that the sound of a switch is not solely determined by the switch itself, but also by other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps used.

When it comes to feel, the Cherry MX Black switch is described as textured and stiff. The textured nature of the switch means that it provides noticeable friction when pressed, which can be preferred by some users but not by others who prefer a smoother typing experience. Additionally, the MX Black switch requires a higher amount of force to actuate and bottom-out compared to other switches, meaning you'll need to apply more force when pressing the keys.

On the other hand, the Gateron Oil King switch is described as creamy, silky, buttery, and polished. These descriptors suggest that the switch offers an exceptionally smooth and effortless typing experience. The switch has lubricant applied at the factory or utilizes specific materials to create a smooth and buttery sensation. This leads to reduced friction, smooth key travel, and a sleek typing experience.

In conclusion, while both the Cherry MX Black and Gateron Oil King switches provide a low-pitched sound profile, the Oil King switch offers a deeper and richer sound due to its bassy nature. In terms of feel, the MX Black switch has a textured and stiff experience, while the Oil King switch offers a creamy, silky, buttery, and polished typing sensation. Ultimately, the choice between these switches will depend on personal preference and the desired sound and feel for the typing experience. It's important to consider other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps to optimize the overall typing experience.

Try switches before you buy them

We understand that finding the perfect keyboard switches can be a challenging and time-consuming process. This led us to design Milktooth's try at-home program that allows you to sample and test different switches in the comfort of your own home, ensuring you make the right choice for your typing preferences.

You can try 10 switches at home for 5 days, and your switches come pre-installed on switch testers. Of course, you’re more than free to install them into your own board to try as well for the most representative typing experience.

Gone are the days of going through countless forums and reviews to find the ideal switches. Now, you can experience the tactile feedback, actuation points, and sound profiles firsthand, empowering you to make an informed decision without any pressure or time constraints.

We understand the importance of finding the perfect typing experience, and our try at-home program eliminates the risk of making a costly mistake. Experiment with different switch variants, test them in various typing scenarios, and fine-tune your keyboard to match your individual preferences.

The try at-home program costs only $15, which includes shipping both ways. By trying before you buy, you can make the most informed purchasing decision possible. Simply click the "try at home" button on any given switch webpage to get started.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you are looking for a heavy switch with a deep sound profile, the Cherry MX Black linear switch is the ideal choice for you. With a bottom out force of 80 grams and Cherry's Hyperglide tooling, these switches offer a textured smoothness and a familiar deep sound profile. On the other hand, if you prefer a medium-heavy switch with a sound profile reminiscent of a dark chocolate bar snapping, the Gateron Oil King linear switch is the way to go. With a bottom out force of 65 grams, these switches provide a buttery smoothness and a sound profile described as low-pitched and bassy. In terms of feel, the MX Black offers a textured and stiff typing experience, while the Oil King offers a creamy, silky, buttery, and polished typing sensation. Ultimately, the choice between these switches depends on your preference for key weight, sound profile, and typing feel. Therefore, consider your personal preferences and prioritize factors such as weight, sound, and feel when selecting the perfect switch for your mechanical keyboard.

Mentioned in this article

MX Black

MX Black

BrandCherry
CategoryLinear

$4.00 per 10 switches

Try the MX Black switches
Oil King

Oil King

BrandGateron
CategoryLinear

$6.50

$6.15 per 10 switches

Try the Oil King switches