Gateron vs Cherry is a big question within the Mechanical Keyboard Community. Some enthusiasts prefer Cherry for their company's history of innovation and quality. Other users prefer Gateron for being an industry upstart producing smoother, more cost-effective switches. Let’s break down this switch rivalry.
Update: By popular demand, we're now offering Gateron switches as a standalone purchase on our web store. We're one of the only online stores to have Gateron silent optical switches available.
Gateron switches are made in Southern China by Huizhou Gateron Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. The company has been in operation since 2000 and also produces keycaps, batteries, and other items.
Despite very little mainstream marketing from the Gateron brand, Gateron continues to gain market share in the mechanical switches industry.
While Gateron began its life simply producing Cherry MX clones, they have taken a more innovative role in the market more recently. Gateron’s Zealio switches in collaboration with Zeal PC are highly sought after by hardcore mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.
Cherry was founded by Walter Kirsch in 1953. The first Cherry switches were produced in the basement of an Illinois restaurant. The company quickly grew and relocated to Germany in the 1960’s.
Cherry is still operated and manufactured in Germany. They are credited with inventing much of the mechanical switch industry. Cherry began producing its MX switch in the 1980s. The MX switch quickly became the industry standard. This standard is why most keycaps can be used across different brands of switches.
Across its entire range of switches, Gateron clearly focuses on producing a key switch that is smooth and comfortable for its user. The keys travel with little resistance or scratch.
Cherry switches do have a noted scratchiness. While some users claim that the scratchiness decreases with use, there are several disappointed Cherry users that aren't able to adjust to the scratchy feel. On the other hand, some users prefer the stiffness of Cherrys.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to whether a mechanical keyboard is loud or quiet. The way the user types is probably the most significant factor.
Gateron switches tend to require a fairly even actuation force throughout the keystroke. This means that people who bottom out- press the key all the way to the keyboard’s baseplate- will be fairly loud typists, even with linear or tactile switches.
Cherry switches are sometimes reported to require relatively more actuation force near the bottom of the keystroke, thus allowing users to more easily avoid bottoming out.
Gateron switches have a slightly higher actuation point (the point in which the keystroke is registered), this allows users to type more lightly relative to Cherry’s slightly lower actuation point.
There is some consensus among enthusiasts that Cherry switches are more consistent- each Cherry switch feels nearly the same, while Gateron switches sometimes have some small variation in feel from one switch to another.
Both Cherry and Gateron switches are marketed to have a lifespan of 50 million actuations. Gateron optical switches up that number to 100 million actuations. Cherry switches offer a warranty for those 50 million actuations while Gateron does not offer a similiar warranty.
Price is the ultimate differentiator for a lot of keyboard enthusiasts when they are choosing between Gateron and Cherry. Standard Gateron switches are usually cheaper in the aftermarket than Cherry. Neither brand is considered to be a “cheap” switch and both have some highly sought-after vintage or limited edition switches that can be very expensive for collectors.
TYPES OF SWITCHES
Gateron Brown vs Cherry Brown
Brown tactile switches are among the most popular with mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. These switches offer a satisfying bump on actuation, without the loudness of clicky blue switches.
Gateron browns are widely recognized to be smoother than their Cherry counterparts. Gateron is also noted to have a slightly more recognizable bump sensation on actuation.
Gateron Blue vs Cherry Blue
The noise of blue switches can be both a delight to typists or a mind-numbing annoyance to those around them. Either way, you cannot argue with their iconic click-clack sound.
The click of Cherry MX blue switches is slightly softer, whereas Gateron blues sound sharper and louder. Gateron blues have been reported to have slightly more key wobble than their Cherry counterparts.
F A Q
WHICH SWITCHES ARE THE QUIETEST?
The sound and volume of your mechanical keyboard rely on several factors like how hard you press, the material of the keyboard's body plate, and the material of the keycap. The sound of the switches themselves come from the key being pushed onto a spring and then released.
Recently, both Gateron and Cherry have released Silent switch products. These switches place a tiny piece of rubber into where the stem returns as the spring expands. Cherry claims that this innovation lowers the volume of their switches by around 30%.
For do-it-yourselfers, installing an o-ring on each switch can significantly lower your keyboard's volume. O-rings are small silicone rings placed around the stem of a key. With O-rings installed, the noise is greatly reduced when a keystroke bottoms out (is pressed all the way into the keyboard's body plate).
IS GATERON BETTER THAN CHERRY?
The answer to this ultimately comes down to personal preference. For some people, Cherry MX switches were in the first mechanical keyboard they ever owned, and they will prefer Cherry MX for life. In recent years, more and more keyboard enthusiasts and manufacturers have been moving to Gateron due to their mix of value and smoothness.
ARE GATERON SWITCHES COMPATIBLE WITH CHERRY KEYCAPS?
Yes, Gateron, Kailh, Outemu, Razer, and other Cherry MX clones all share the same PCB, plate, and keycap dimensions. Most third party or artisan keycaps will be designed to work interchangeably with any of these brands of switches.
At X-Bows, we have opted to use Gateron switches on all of our ergonomic mechanical keyboards. We enjoy the smoothness of their switches and also admire the speed with which their factory produces new products. X-Bows was one of the first keyboards available with Gateron silent switches in 2018.
We currently offer X-Bows with Gateron 3-pin switches: Brown, Blue, Red, Black, Yellow, Silent Brown, Silent Red. Learn more about X-Bows.