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What Is an Optical Switch Keyboard?

Backlit Keyboard

Many might not know this, but different switches, such as optical switches, are installed in keyboards. People have a habit of purchasing a keyboard they think looks cool, but what they should be focusing on are the switches. And if you’re currently wondering what an optical switch keyboard is? Continue reading below as we are going to explain this in detail. 

Quick Answer

Optical switches are the ones that use light to instruct the computer if a key has been pressed. Compared to mechanical keyboards, optical switch keyboards have a faster response time

If you’re someone who uses their PC for just browsing the internet, watching movies, or doing other light tasks, then it doesn’t matter which keyboard you use. But if you are involved in other tasks such as editing, gaming, and writing, then it is best to do some research before buying a keyboard.

At the time of writing, there are around nine types of keyboards available in the market, and all of them come packed with different switches. These switches are a reason people love or hate a certain keyboard. 

Optical switches are the most common of all keyboard switches in the world. Furthermore, many consider them the best type of switches, as they offer a comfortable and fast typing experience. 

Optical Switch Keyboards vs. Mechanical Keyboards

Now, a lot of people argue that mechanical keyboards are better than optical switch keyboards. While mechanical keyboards are pretty amazing, they are still far from being better than optical switch keyboards. We will list the differences below and let you decide on the winner.


Keyboards these days are not cheap, and you need to spend a good amount of money if you want a reliable one. Imagine spending so much on a keyboard that stops working after a year. Sounds frustrating, right? Well, the optical switch keyboards have a lifespan of 100 million keystrokes. In other words, they can last up to 25 years

On the other hand, mechanical keyboards have a lifespan of 50 million keystrokes, which equals around 10 years. While this is also a solid lifespan, it is half of what optical switch keyboards offer. Therefore, in terms of durability, optical switch keyboards win.

Response Time

The response time of a keyboard matters a lot. If the speed of the switches is slow, you won’t be able to get the most out of it. Mechanical keyboards also fail in this regard as they delay five milliseconds. On the other hand, optical switches don’t have this delay. In other words, they are much faster than mechanical switches as they have a better response time.

While this might not be something big for those who use their PC for general work, it makes a significant difference for those involved in writing or gaming. A faster response time means typing more words in a single minute or staying ahead of your opponents in competitive games. 


This is one of the areas where mechanical keyboards take the lead. This is because mechanical switches are divided into three options: tactile, clicky, and linear. All three are different and offer a good feel. On the other hand, optical keyboards are simple and don’t have extra key options. Most optical switch keyboards are the same so that you won’t feel any difference

However, it is important to remember that if you are looking for a keyboard that creates less noise, you need to go with an optical switch keyboard. This is because mechanical keyboards offer a better feel but are noisy. The clicks are satisfying, but they come at the cost of creating more noise.


In terms of price, optical switch keyboards are more expensive than mechanical keyboards. Optical switch keyboards are available in the mid to high range, while some mechanical keyboards can be much cheaper than them.

Furthermore, while you can find plenty of mechanical keyboards in the market, there aren’t many options available for optical switch keyboards. Manufacturers these days focus more on creating mechanical keyboards, as gamers prefer them because of their feel. Therefore, mechanical keyboards take the lead in terms of price and availability. 

Final Words

This was everything you needed to know about an optical switch keyboard. As you can see for yourself, optical switch keyboards have a better response time than mechanical keyboards and are more durable.

 However, they cost more than them, and you don’t get the luxury of choosing from different options. In the future, we can expect manufacturers to focus more on them. But for now, if you want something with more options, you’re better off with a mechanical keyboard.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are optical switch keyboards better than mechanical switch keyboards?

Optical switch keyboards are better than mechanical switch keyboards in terms of speed and durability. However, in terms of feel, mechanical switch keyboards are the winner.

Are there multiple switch options available for optical keyboards?

Unfortunately, unlike mechanical keyboards, there are no switch options available for optical keyboards. 

Do optical switch keyboards create a lot of noise?

Optical switch keyboards don’t create a lot of noise. On the other hand, mechanical keyboards are noisy. 

Are optical switch keyboards better for gaming?

While optical switch keyboards are fast, some people prefer using mechanical keyboards for gaming due to their feel

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