Kailh Sage vs. SP-Star Duck

An in-depth look at the Kailh Sage and the SP-Star Duck switches—which one is the best fit for you?

Overview

When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, two popular options to consider are the Kailh Sage and the SP-Star Duck. The Kailh Sage is a clicky switch that offers a distinct typing experience characterized by its heavy weight and refreshingly sharp clickiness. On the other hand, if you prefer a more subtle tactile typing experience, the SP-Star Duck switches are the way to go. These switches provide a gentle tactility while typing, accompanied by a clean and crispy sound profile. The Sage is often regarded as invigorating, sharp, and crunchy, whereas the Duck is described as neutral, mild, buttery, and polished. Each switch has its own unique qualities, so let's dive in a bit deeper beyond these generalities to help you decide which one is best suited for your needs.

By the numbers

Technical specifications

Actuation force

N/A

Actuation force

N/A

Bottom-out force

70g

Bottom-out force

58g

Pre-travel

1.70 mm

Pre-travel

2.00 mm

Total travel

3.60 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

Polycarbonate

Top housing material

Polycarbonate

Bottom housing material

Nylon

Bottom housing material

Polycarbonate

Mount type

Plate (3-pin)

Mount type

PCB (5-pin)

Spring

Stainless steel

Spring

Gold plated

Housing materials

The housing materials of the Kailh Sage and the SP-Star Duck share similar characteristics and purposes. Both switches feature a polycarbonate top housing, which creates a sharper, higher-pitched, and crisper sound profile. The use of polycarbonate in the top housing adds a level of stiffness, resulting in a more clear and resonant sound. Additionally, due to its translucency, polycarbonate is especially useful for switches that plan to utilize RGB lighting. This indicates that both the Sage and the Duck would produce similar sound profiles and aesthetic effects when it comes to their polycarbonate top housings.

However, the bottom housings of these switches differ. The Sage utilizes a nylon bottom housing, which offers a different typing experience compared to the Duck’s polycarbonate bottom housing. Typing on switches with a nylon bottom housing elicits a deeper and fuller sound profile. This is because nylon is a relatively softer plastic that absorbs more sound, resulting in a duller and rounder sound. On the other hand, the polycarbonate bottom housing of the Duck contributes to its sharper, higher-pitched, and crisper sound profile. The stiffness of the polycarbonate material enhances the clarity and resonance of the sound produced. Therefore, the bottom housings of the Sage and the Duck provide distinct sound characteristics and tactile feedback when pressing down on the switch.

When using either switch, the qualities of each housing material will be discernible during different stages of typing. The impact of the bottom housing on the bottom-out sound and feel will be more pronounced when pressing down on the switch. This means that the nylon bottom housing of the Sage will contribute to a deeper and fuller sound when keys are pressed. On the other hand, the top housing will play a larger role in the sound produced when releasing a key. With their polycarbonate top housing, both the Sage and the Duck are likely to generate a sharp and crisp sound when keys are released. Therefore, the combination of housing materials in these switches brings distinct audio characteristics to the user's typing experience.

Weight

When comparing the actuation force and bottom out force of the Kailh Sage clicky switch and the SP-Star Duck tactile switch, there are a few key differences to note. Starting with the actuation force, the specific gram measurement is unavailable for both switches. Therefore, it is unknown whether they have the same actuation force or if there is a difference in weight. However, when it comes to the bottom out force, the Kailh Sage has a higher weight of 70 grams, making it medium-heavy, while the SP-Star Duck has a slightly lower weight of 58 grams, which is considered medium.

Weight plays a crucial role in the typing experience for different individuals. Some users prefer lighter switches as it allows them to type for longer periods, making it ideal for work or extended gaming sessions. On the other hand, there are those who enjoy a stronger actuation force, providing a more substantial push feel and enhancing the overall typing experience. For these individuals, choosing options with heavier forces would be more suitable.

In conclusion, although the specific actuation force of the Kailh Sage and SP-Star Duck switches is unknown, they differ in terms of bottom out force. The Kailh Sage is heavier with a bottom out force of 70 grams, whereas the SP-Star Duck is slightly lighter with a bottom out force of 58 grams. This diversity in weight allows users to select the switch that aligns with their desired typing experience, whether it be a lighter touch for increased endurance or a heavier push for more satisfying keystrokes.

Travel distance

The Kailh Sage clicky switch has a travel distance of 3.6 mm, while the SP-Star Duck tactile switch has a travel distance of 4 mm. In terms of travel distance, the Duck has a longer distance compared to the Sage. 4.0 mm is considered to be the most traditional travel distance, while 3.6 mm falls on the shorter side. Gamers often prefer shorter travel distances for faster response times, as it allows for quicker keystrokes. If you prioritize responsiveness, the Sage with its shorter travel distance would be a suitable choice. However, some individuals find shorter travel distances to feel too abrupt. If you prefer a more substantial and deeper feel when pressing down on keys, the Duck with its longer travel distance may be more suitable for you. It is important to consider personal preferences and typing style when selecting a switch with the desired travel distance.

Price comparison

Which switch is more bang for your buck?

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

The Kailh Sage comes in at $6.25 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

The Kailh Sage clicky switch is best known for its distinct clicky typing experience, offering a refreshing sharp clickiness. Its sound profile is described as crunchy, resembling the sound of stepping on piles of crisp and crunchy autumn leaves. This makes it a popular choice for those who enjoy a more pronounced and satisfying auditory feedback while typing. In terms of feel, the Sage switch is invigorating and sharp, providing a snappy and reactive tactile sensation with each keypress. The strong and crisp tactile bump adds to the immersive typing experience of the Sage switch.

On the other hand, the SP-Star Duck tactile switch offers a more subtle tactile typing experience. The sound profile of the Duck switch is described as neutral, with a moderate actuation force requirement and a moderate sound profile. This makes it suitable for various purposes, whether you are a beginner or advanced user, and whether you intend to use it at home or in a work setting. The Duck switch provides a clean and crispy sound, which is less pronounced compared to the Sage switch.

In terms of feel, the Duck switch offers a mild and approachable typing experience. It falls within a safe middle-ground zone, making it suitable for a wide range of users. The Duck switch can be described as buttery, providing a smooth and fluid keystroke experience. The typing sensation is seamless, effortless, and uniform, allowing for comfortable and enjoyable use. Additionally, the Duck switch is polished, indicating a smooth and refined finish that results in reduced friction and smooth key travel. This enhances the overall typing experience by providing a sleek and polished feel.

In conclusion, the Kailh Sage clicky switch and the SP-Star Duck tactile switch offer different subjective qualities in terms of sound and feel. The Sage switch provides a distinct crunchy sound and an invigorating, sharp tactile feedback. On the other hand, the Duck switch offers a neutral sound profile and a mild, buttery feel. Both switches have their unique characteristics and are suitable for different preferences. However, it's important to note that the sound and feel of a switch can also be influenced by other factors such as the keyboard board and keycaps used.

Conclusion

To sum up, if you're looking for a distinct clicky typing experience with a medium-heavy bottom out force, the Kailh Sage switches would be the ideal choice for you. These switches offer a refreshing sharp clickiness and a weight that adds to the overall typing experience. On the other hand, if you prefer a more subtle tactile typing experience with a medium bottom out force, the SP-Star Duck switches would be perfect. These switches provide a gentle tactility, clean and crispy sound profile, and a more approachable feel compared to switches with more pronounced characteristics. Ultimately, the choice between the two switches depends on your preference for clickiness and the level of tactility you desire in your typing experience.

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