Author Topic: Are Brown switches overrated?  (Read 20718 times)

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Offline taugrim

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Are Brown switches overrated?
« on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 20:40:45 »
Last year I purchased my first mechanical keyboard, the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid, with Red switches for both gaming and typing, but with an emphasis on gaming performance.

Even though I loved my keyboard, I started questioning whether I'd bought the right color switches after reading blog articles and forum threads that said that Brown is superior to Red for gaming, and that the tactile bump of the Browns provides meaningful feedback.

So I purchased a CM Storm keyboard with Brown switches and tested both keyboards over several days, with and without different color O-rings.

I found that the placement of the tactile bump of the Brown switches to be too early in the keypress and too subtle to inform my keypresses - in most cases as soon as I felt like I'd started pressing a key, I'd already passed the tactile bump. This isn't a flaw necessarily in the tactile bump itself, but rather the fact that the switch registers a keystroke very early in the keypress, and the tactile bump is just before that.

I explain this in an article I posted, along with photos:
http://taugrim.com/2015/01/03/red-vs-brown-cherry-mx-switches-red-vs-blue-o-rings/

I'm curious to hear what those of you who have used both switch colors (and others) think about Brown switches I understand per the stickied FAQ that there is no "right" answer here. I was just disappointed by the feel of the Brown switches, after reading so much hype about them.
« Last Edit: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:01:52 by taugrim »

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 20:41:58 »
Browns are the starting point for most people.  Personally, I feel Browns and Reds are the worst switches there are.  Broken in older Browns can be nice, but the new ones just feel gritty and nasty to me.

Offline taugrim

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 20:43:10 »
Personally, I feel Browns and Reds are the worst switches there are.

What are the downsides for each in your opinion?

Do you mind sharing which color(s) you prefer and why?

Offline Joey Quinn

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 20:48:31 »
The first switch I tried was clears but I've owned boards with both red and brown switches. To me reds are far too light and browns feel like a switch where only part of the slider is lubed. I really like clears and ergo clears so I think my issue with browns is the size of the bump on the stem. As far as reds go it's just the weight that bothers me because I really like blacks and linear grays.
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Offline hwood34

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 20:50:31 »
Dear god no. There certainly one of the lesser liked MX switches, so they're rated about where they should be typically
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Offline user 18

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 20:54:25 »
Personally, after trying all the major Cherry switches except MX White (red, blue, brown, black, green, clear), I don't find browns terribly disappointing, but I would much rather use blues, greens or clears. I do feel that the tactile action of brown switches can provide useful feedback, although the small bump reduces the usefulness of this feedback in relation to MX clears for example. As someone who tends to float keys while gaming, I find the tactile bump to be very useful, as they give me a firm indicator of where I am in my stroke in relation to the actuation point.

In terms of distance to actuation and bottom out, all stock MX switches should have the same characteristics (2mm actuation, 4mm bottom out). With tactile switches, the tactile bump comes just before the actuation point -- once you pass the tactile bump, actuation occurs very quickly. MX browns have a tactile area between 1mm and 2mm depression, with actuation at 2mm depression.

I feel that the value of brown switches is as a starting point. They're a decent middle ground, which allows people to determine in what direction the would like to move for future boards (i.e. do you want a board that's more/less tactile, would you want audible feedback, would you want a heavier switch, etc). However many people are also happy with brown switches all on their own, and never feel the need to try and get something different.
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Offline taugrim

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 20:55:28 »
Dear god no. There certainly one of the lesser liked MX switches, so they're rated about where they should be typically

This GH forum seems to have very well-informed folks, so maybe that's the consensus around people who know.

It's just that for a noob who doesn't have experience with the switches, most links you find Google recommend Brown for gaming.

E.g. like this article:
http://www.furiouspaul.com/articles/cherry-mx-keyboard-switches.html

Offline demik

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:08:13 »
they shouldn't even be rated. horrible switch.

actually all cherry sucks.
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Offline hwood34

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:09:15 »
Dear god no. There certainly one of the lesser liked MX switches, so they're rated about where they should be typically

This GH forum seems to have very well-informed folks, so maybe that's the consensus around people who know.

It's just that for a noob who doesn't have experience with the switches, most links you find Google recommend Brown for gaming.

E.g. like this article:
http://www.furiouspaul.com/articles/cherry-mx-keyboard-switches.html
"blacks: worthless"
"blues: decent"
"browns: ABSOLUTELY AMAZING"

what is he even talking about
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Offline Defect

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:10:15 »
Most people here seem to regard browns as the worst stock MX switch.

If anything they're underrated.  Not everyone wants something as tactile as clears.  Lubed browns aren't that bad.

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Offline Data

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:39:15 »
Browns are cool.  Switches are so subjective that Browns can be neither overrated nor underrated.  They are exactly what they are.  They'll be the absolute best possible switch for some people and the worst garbage imaginable for others.  Isn't it great that we have this level of variety?

Offline Zeal

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:41:57 »
Browns are usually the first entry switch for MK buyers.

Koreans love their "vintage" browns though.
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Offline nubbinator

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:43:59 »
Browns are usually the first entry switch for MK buyers.

Koreans love their "vintage" browns though.

The broken in "vintage" ones are nice.  I had some but gave them away. The difference between them and new Browns was night and day though.  I hate Browns, broken in "vintage" ones are actually quite nice.

Offline Roibhilin

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #13 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:45:36 »
90% of the people here hate browns

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Offline Zeal

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #14 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:51:26 »
90% of the people here hate browns

OBJECTION!  :p

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Offline rowdy

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #15 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:54:02 »
Clears might be more to your liking, although they do have stiffer springs.
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Offline tbc

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #16 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 21:56:11 »
Dear god no. There certainly one of the lesser liked MX switches, so they're rated about where they should be typically




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Offline sorijealut

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #17 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 22:02:33 »
it's good to go by your personal scale of preference  ;)

Offline oneproduct

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #18 on: Sun, 04 January 2015, 23:56:19 »
Browns are my favorite. :P

Depends how strong your fingers are though. A lot of people here like heavy switches, but a lot of them are also larger Americans.

I'm half chinese and I've got small fingers that prefer light switches.
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Offline Lubed Up Slug

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 00:46:30 »
There isn't any superior switch for gaming or typing or coding or whatever. What is best is down to what is best for you. Sure greens and other heavier switches will be tiring and maybe not best for prolonged use with gaming but it is up to you. If you like reds best then go ahead use them. You can see in this thread alone people are disagreeing about what they like best and that is fine. Don't commit to a switch before you have tried it, because you might be disappointed if all you do is read other people's opinions and then see what it is like for yourself. I think that a lot of the hype for browns comes from the idea that they are a hybrid between blues and reds and therefore good for both typing and gaming. I personally find browns to feel like dirty reds. They just are less refined in my opinion. I prefer reds for typing, but I don't really game that much so I can't give an opinion on that issue.

Offline crazystu

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #20 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 01:04:51 »
My first mechanical has browns (WASD V1), and I recently took it out and tried it with some PBT keycaps (Cherry profile).
They feel way better than I remember, possibly because they are pretty well used and feel smooth. Having good keycaps definitely helps though!
I think they are fairly criticized, they get a lot of hate and love.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 02:19:35 »
I think MX brown is a great choice for an internet café, school computer lab, public library, or guest bedroom: it has just a hint of tactile feedback at the actuation point so you know when the key has triggered, it’s not very stiff so basically no one is going to find it tiring to type on, it actuates about halfway through the stroke which is a full 4mm, it’s not too loud, and there’s no hysteresis, meaning that video-game players won’t complain about being excessively slowed down. Like all MX switches, it uses gold cross contacts, meaning that even if the plastic bump wears down to nothing, the switch should continue to work after tens of millions of presses. It’s no one’s favorite, but everyone can sorta live with it.

For more discerning typists, there’s a whole world out there beyond MX.
« Last Edit: Mon, 05 January 2015, 02:22:14 by jacobolus »

Offline azhdar

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 02:33:16 »
I hate the feeling of them , it just feels like a gritty red switch ( or like some people said , a red switch with a turd stuck in it ) .

Also , since I keep contributing to /r/mk daily questions thread , a lot on newcomers seems to think that browns are "quiet blue" which is infuriating .

Offline chrisq

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #23 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 03:02:31 »
I have keyboards with all major cherry switches (red, 2xblue, black, brown, 3xclear) and topre, but i still prefer reds, browns or blues for gaming.
They're not my favorites overall, which are clears or topre, but for gaming I think any other than those 3 are pretty bad.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #24 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 03:09:33 »
gritty red [...] a lot on newcomers seems to think that browns are "quiet blue" which is infuriating.
I’d say all MX switches are either linear or could be called “gritty linear” or perhaps “linear with a little speed bump”. I think “quiet blue” is a pretty accurate description of MX brown. If you put noise-canceling headphones on over ear plugs, MX blue and brown feel fairly comparable.

From my perspective, all MX switches are kinda “meh”, though I tried nuclearsandwich’s 456GT with spring-swapped (62g) and lubed (maybe vintage?) MX black switches at a meetup a couple months ago, and I must admit that was a pretty nice typing experience.

Offline azhdar

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #25 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 03:12:56 »
gritty red [...] a lot on newcomers seems to think that browns are "quiet blue" which is infuriating.
I’d say all MX switches are either linear or could be called “gritty linear” or perhaps “linear with a little speed bump”. I think “quiet blue” is a pretty accurate description of MX brown. If you put noise-canceling headphones on over ear plugs, MX blue and brown feel fairly comparable.


Even without the click they are completely different , blue being heavier and much more tactile .

Offline ConscienceDrop

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #26 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 03:33:46 »
browns are great, but most people start with them to be "safe" and because of this more people leave the switch statistically speaking. they are also more vocal about the change of switches they made and this adds to the slander against browns

its okay to not like browns. just remember that browns loved you for who you are and they dont resent you for needing to spread your wings and try new switches. they were they for you when you didnt even know what a mech was

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #27 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 03:36:55 »
Even without the click they are completely different , blue being heavier and much more tactile .
Have you tried without sound? The sound changes the way it subjectively feels. MX blue is really not very tactile. I think “gritty red with a plasticky tick sound” is a pretty fair description.

Offline azhdar

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #28 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 03:43:48 »
Even without the click they are completely different , blue being heavier and much more tactile .
Have you tried without sound? The sound changes the way it subjectively feels. MX blue is really not very tactile. I think “gritty red with a plasticky tick sound” is a pretty fair description.
I indeed never tried without sound , will try and report back .

Offline Polymer

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #29 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 04:50:37 »
I think browns are enjoyed by quite a few..and disliked by quite a few...There isn't any favorite switch for anything...

I personally really enjoy browns..especially when they're worn in a bit, they feel great....IF you press them slowly, like you're doing a single key test..they feel terrible..but when typing/gaming on them they feel fine.  The one good thing they have over reds is they have a little bit more resistance to them but not nearly as taxing as blacks....They'll also feel more familiar to most people whereas linear can feel a bit alien unless you're used to them. 

I think for pure gaming I enjoy 62/67g red/blacks...but certainly brown isn't a bad way to go. 

Everyone is going to have a different opinion..you're just going to have to try it out for yourself. 

Offline derb2k2

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #30 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 05:39:05 »
I honestly prefer the feel of "broken in" brown switches over red and blue. As was mentioned, it feels like there is some added resistance that helps with accuracy and makes the typing experience much better.

I think I'll stay away from Reds for gaming too. Browns feel much better when double-tapped quickly.
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Offline lolkey

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #31 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 07:47:01 »
This is like saying chocolate ice cream is overrated because you don't like it. Everyone has different tastes. Buy a switch tester and stop hating on what others like.

Quote
after reading blog articles and forum threads that said that Brown is superior to Red for gaming

That's news to me. Everything I've read is the complete opposite.
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Offline Rayoui

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #32 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 07:54:57 »
I've used just about every Cherry MX switch (haven't tried ergo clears yet). For my daily drivers, I started out with reds, then went to browns, then blues, then back to browns. The browns are my favorite for both typing and gaming. The "gritty" feeling is only noticeable when pressed extremely slowly; far slower than any normal person would press while typing. In my experimentation, I found the amount of tactile feedback to vary greatly depending on the keycaps used.

Switch preference is a really subjective thing. Everyone has their own opinion of each type, and nobody is right or wrong.
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Offline Clearly Superior Username

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #33 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 08:47:37 »
My only mechanical keyboard atm is a Poker II with cherry mx browns, and while I love it, I really want to try clears.

Offline dante

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #34 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 08:57:08 »
Can't wait for Gateron's to become more widely available.  They sound like lubed MX switches.

Offline azhdar

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #35 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 09:02:23 »
Even without the click they are completely different , blue being heavier and much more tactile .
Have you tried without sound? The sound changes the way it subjectively feels. MX blue is really not very tactile. I think “gritty red with a plasticky tick sound” is a pretty fair description.
Blue isn't indeed that tactile , the sound makes it all , now I'm confused . But I can still feel the weighting difference between blue and brown .

Offline davkol

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #36 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 09:09:21 »
I most certainly have tried various switches with headphones blasting music, and browns still feel different from blues under specific circumstances.

If you smash them, they obviously feel the same... and there's one more specific usage that makes them similar. I spent several months typing on a Kinesis Advantage with browns and the buzzer turned on; MX Brown was designed for Kinesis Contoured BTW. It took me a while to get used to it, but then I pushed them rapidly and released them at actuation. Then they were quite similar to blues in actuality, only, umm, better.

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #37 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 09:11:21 »
Even without the click they are completely different , blue being heavier and much more tactile .
Have you tried without sound? The sound changes the way it subjectively feels. MX blue is really not very tactile. I think “gritty red with a plasticky tick sound” is a pretty fair description.
Blue isn't indeed that tactile , the sound makes it all , now I'm confused . But I can still feel the weighting difference between blue and brown .

They use the same spring.  It's doubtful that you feel a weighting difference, you're probably feeling the travel of the click mechanism, not a different weight.

Offline Doyniish

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #38 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 09:31:45 »
Personally I like my board with browns. I don't like the feel and sound as much as blues, but now that they are broken in and have been used for a almost 2 years they feel nice and un-gritty.

Offline Bakgrund

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #39 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 10:10:43 »
I like my qfr with browns, I also have a qfr with reds but I don't like it nearly as much . I've just had the qfr with browns for like a week though so it will be interesting to feel how they are when they are broken in. I think it's pretty subjective, alot of people might think they suck, but why the hell should you or I care? As long as  you like them you shouldn't care if someone else thinks they suck.
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Offline taugrim

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #40 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 10:31:38 »
I think MX brown is a great choice...it actuates about halfway through the stroke which is a full 4mm

<<<Deleted based on feedback from user 18>>>

And the actuation bump is just before the initial 2mm, so it's very early in the keypress.

You can see how little you need to depress a key (Brown switch shown) in order for it to actuate...



...relative to how far you can actually push keys before they bottom out...

« Last Edit: Mon, 05 January 2015, 14:10:28 by taugrim »

Offline Computer-Lab in Basement

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #41 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 10:32:20 »
browns suck
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Offline frosty

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #42 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 10:39:31 »
browns suck and vintage blacks for the win

in all seriousness, they are overrated too.

Offline smellz

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #43 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 11:16:58 »
To me, browns feel like dirty reds, but to a person with smaller/weaker fingers, this wouldn't be the case.
Also , since I keep contributing to /r/mk daily questions thread , a lot on newcomers seems to think that browns are "quiet blue" which is infuriating .
I know the feeling. I think that the important difference between blues and browns/clears/ergo-clears is that blues feel "snappier" since the slider part of the switch "jumps" over the tactile bump. With browns/clears/ergo-clears, you have to keep pushing for the entire distance of the switch's travel, so they won't feel exactly like blues or greens. 
« Last Edit: Mon, 05 January 2015, 11:18:46 by smellz »

Offline user 18

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #44 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 11:17:53 »


I think MX brown is a great choice...it actuates about halfway through the stroke which is a full 4mm

AFAIK that's not correct.

My understanding is that Cherry MX switches register a keystroke 2mm into the keypress regardless of color - i.e. 33% into the keypress not 50% - and then there is 4mm of additional keypress before bottoming out. (Note due to minor manufacturing differences the actual measurements may be slightly different).

And the actuation bump is just before the initial 2mm, so it's very early in the keypress.

You can see how little you need to depress a key (Brown switch shown) in order for it to actuate...

Show Image


...relative to how far you can actually push keys before they bottom out...

Show Image


You're incorrect. According to cherry specs, MX series switches have 0.08 inches (~2.03mm) of pretravel (before actuation), and 0.16 inches (~4.06mm) of total travel. Yes there may be small inconsistencies due to manufacturing, but the total travel is specced to never exceed the given number, although total travel may be slightly less than 4mm. If you have switches with 6mm total travel, as you describe, that's way out of spec.

What you may be experiencing is switches with an abnormally early (but still to spec) actuation point. Actuation may range from ~1.4mm to ~2.6mm according to specs, but anecdotally it tends to be closer to 2mm. If your switch actuates at 1.4mm, you may experience a 1/3 to 2/3 split as you describe.

Source: http://cherrycorp.com/product/mx-series/

In the dimensions section, there's a chart detailing pretravel and total travel distances. It's in inches, but it's not too hard to convert.
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Offline taugrim

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #45 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 12:09:46 »
You're incorrect. According to cherry specs, MX series switches have 0.08 inches (~2.03mm) of pretravel (before actuation), and 0.16 inches (~4.06mm) of total travel.

Source: http://cherrycorp.com/product/mx-series/

In the dimensions section, there's a chart detailing pretravel and total travel distances. It's in inches, but it's not too hard to convert.

OK thanks for the link and info.

It's strange though, I'm looking at my keyboard now, and watching when the keystroke is registered, and it doesn't look like it's halfway into the keypress.
« Last Edit: Mon, 05 January 2015, 12:12:29 by taugrim »

Offline ShivaYash

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #46 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 12:20:44 »
Browns are really great for typing. Although I prefer blues for home use now. Browns are great for office typing, should one have to share a room. How long does it take to break in Browns?
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Offline noons

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #47 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 12:21:35 »
Wasn't there a thread opened a few weeks ago with the exact same conversation?

Anyway...  For MX I have tried Green, Red, Blue, Brown, Clear, Black. Out of those I have actually owned Blue, Brown, and Red and to be honest unlike most of the people here Browns have been my favorite. I wouldn't say they are perfect for me, but I definitely like them more then any of the others. Red's just feel scratchy and not as smooth as they should (lube would probably help this), plus I tend to make a lot more mistakes even after months of dedicated usage. Blues I don't care for the noise and on top of that there is just some extra resistance that I don't particularly care for.
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Offline davkol

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #48 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 12:49:10 »
Wasn't there a thread opened a few weeks ago with the exact same conversation?
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Offline Dihedral

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Re: Are Brown switches overrated?
« Reply #49 on: Mon, 05 January 2015, 13:02:57 »
As with many of you guys I have tried all the MX switches, at least on switch testers if not on keyboards and found browns underwhelming. If I had to list them in order of preference, it would go:

=1. Clear 
=1. Blue   
3. Black
4. Green
5. Brown
6. Red

Brown just feels like a half-hearted attempt at a tactile switch. I like the tactility of the Clears, but without something extra, like the click of a blue switch, Browns just aren't tactile enough. I tried a board with browns and o-rings and it was even worse - I could not feel the tactility at all.

On another note, clears with a blue 'jumping bean' for a click would be really interesting. Maybe MX Sky Blues?