The Complete Guide to Gateron Keyboard Switches

Find out more about the switch company’s most popular offerings

There is no board of trustees for mechanical keyboards. No central governing body meets to determine the format and standards for what switches will fit in which boards, or just how much “bump” a tactile switch should have to merit the label. Instead, it’s a loose assortment of designers and manufacturers that keep the mechanical keyboard scene vibrant and alive, as well as the enthusiasts who are never shy to voice their preferences and spread the word.

For those enthusiasts who may need a refresher and newcomers alike, we present this Gateron switches guide. As one of the most prolific switch creators in the business, Gateron is likely one of those names you’ve heard come up with some frequency — now it’s time to learn what makes them unique, and which of their switches may be best suited for your purposes.

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A brief introduction to Gateron

Gateron is based in Huizhou, a city in China’s coastal Guangdong Province. Since its founding in 2000, Gateron has developed and manufactured switches, sensors, and other plastic hardware components for use in consumer electronics, cars, industrial automation, and beyond. But in terms of products made to be used directly by consumers, Gateron is all about mechanical keyboard switches.

Much of the modern mechanical keyboard switch market was defined by Germany’s Cherry corporation, as it laid out different types of switches identified by corresponding colors — blue for clicky, brown for tactile, red for linear, and so on. Gateron has stuck to those fundamentals with many of its products, recreating the experience and cross-compatibility you can find in a Cherry switch at a budget-friendly price point. But it’s also gone further afield with its own unique creations, including the Oil King switches that recently gained popularity amongst linear fans and a range of collaborative kits.

Did You Know?:If you want to make a big impression with each keypress, our guide to the loudest mechanical keyboards is ready and waiting.

A Gateron switches guide for keyboard enthusiasts

Gateron has created a number of different types of mechanical keyboard switches over the years, with some lines featuring multiple sub variants and others standing alone. Here is a Gateron switches guide to some of the company’s most popular current offerings.

Gateron Milky switches

Coming in multiple different versions each for linear, tactile, and clicky, the Gateron Milky switch line is named after the translucent white color of their upper housing. They’re priced starting at just $27 for a full set of 110 switches on Gateron’s official site (that’s enough to fully outfit most full-sized keyboards), and they come unlubricated as you’d expect for such a low price. That said, they have a satisfyingly solid feel and sound even when used straight as they come from the factory.

Gateron Ink switches

The Gateron Ink line only comes in linear and clicky designs, but even the most diehard tactile typists may still be tempted by their unique aesthetic. Their dark transparent housings are inspired by Chinese ink, and they come complete with black-plated springs and metal contact blades for an extra sleek look from top to bottom. All but the clicky Gateron Ink Blue switches come lightly lubricated from the factory to ensure their linear operation runs fountain-pen smooth (lubricating clicky switches without dampening the “click” can be a tricky proposition), and you’ll pay $88 for a full set of 110 switches.

Gateron G-Pro switches

The Gateron G-Pro line was created for RGB-loving gamers (and anyone else who adores a colorful light-emitting diode) who want to make sure their keyboard lighting solutions shine as bright as possible. More than simply featuring a transparent upper housing, G-Pro switches have a light-guiding column that concentrates their illumination for optimal impact. Assuming you can tear yourself away from watching them shine, they also provide a stable typing experience across linear, tactile, and clicky options — and you’ll save money for even more RGB-enabled accessories, since they start at only $31 for a set of 110 switches.

Did You Know?:Our guide to RGB keycaps will help you make sure your whole keyboard is ready to shine on and on.

Gateron Baby Kangaroo switches

OK, “Baby Kangaroo” is admittedly an odd name, but this is the same hobby that embraces unusual switch appellations such as “Holy Pandas” and “Bobagums,” so we say the more the merrier. The marsupial moniker will make sense once you feel these tactile switches for the first time — their elevated tactile point makes each actuation feel like a kangaroo-worthy hop for your fingers, putting a unique spin on a physical sensation that is otherwise quite familiar for many. They’re far from the cheapest Gateron options, but they’re not prohibitively expensive at $66 for 110 switches either.

Gateron Oil King switches

Gateron Oil Kings recently made a splash in the mechanical keyboard community for their ultra-slick operation. Their extra-long spring and substantial bottom-out weight contribute to an idiosyncratic linear feel that is easy to get used to and hard to leave behind. Naturally, a switch with “oil” in its name has to come pre-lubricated from the factory, and it isn’t available in tactile or clicky variants — they’d probably be too smooth to feel the bump or hear the click anyway. You can pick up 110 Oil King switches for $72.

Gateron/Keychron Phantom switches

For the final two picks in this Gateron switches guide, we’re highlighting some of the switches that Gateron makes in collaboration with other brands. First up are the Phantoms, which are a joint design with Keychron and come in linear, tactile, and clicky variants. Each switch’s colorful transparent upper housing works in concert with your keyboard’s RGB lighting to create a look that’s more than the sum of its parts. They’re built to work well with the south-facing RGB setups used by Keychron, but you can also drop them into any 3-pin, hot-swappable board. A set of 110 Phantoms will run you $88.

Gateron/ZealPC Zealio switches

Zealio switches have remained a perennial favorite among fans of tactile typing since they debuted in 2015, with their staying power aided by a second version that introduced an even larger tactile bump in 2018. Their name comes straight from their origin: You can only pick up a set of Zealio switches from ZealPC, a Canada-based boutique mechanical keyboard shop. The fact that Zealios have secured such powerful name recognition among enthusiasts despite only being available straight from the source speaks for itself. You can pick up a set of 10 Zealio switches from ZealPC for $11, which equates to a list-high price of apporoximately $121 for a full-sized keyboard’s worth.