If you’re taking the first step down the road of mechanical keyboards then you may find the amount of choice available to you to be a little overwhelming. On top of all the different sizes of keyboards, there are also the different individual key switches to consider as well.
There is an entire spectrum of mechanical key switches, with features ranging from the force needed to push down on the key to register the keystroke (actuation force), the travel distance, and what type of RGB lighting you want. You can even customize the sound of your keypresses, whether you prefer silent, or the kind that produce a satisfying/annoying click every time you hit a key. One end of this spectrum features extremely light and short distance keys, perfect for shaving milliseconds off response times in games but not so great for avoiding typos. The other end features heavier switches for people who like to bang out their keystrokes.
Unless you’re getting your first mechanical keyboard purely for gaming or your new job as a typist, there’s a chance you’ll be looking for something in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum. But even once you settle upon that choice, there’s still the choice to be made for which manufacturer you want to go with. Here are the differences and similarities between the HyperX Aqua and Cherry MX Brown mechanical key switches to help you decide.
Mid-range, tactile switches on the mechanical key switch spectrum tend to be a balance of fast key presses and accurate typing. As with many other gaming keyboards, the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB features Cherry MX switches, regarded as one of the most popular switch manufacturers. However other keyboards such as the Alloy Origins Core use HyperX’s own Red or Aqua switches.
Both Cherry MX Red and HyperX Red switches are linear, suited to pure gaming applications with no tactile feedback on keypresses. But the HyperX Aqua is what is classified as a tactile switch, more akin to the Cherry MX Brown switch. These are the keys you’d pick if you still want the feel of mechanical keys but without the additional audible clacking of “clicky” switches like Cherry MX Blues.
Unlike Red linear switches, the HyperX Aqua and Cherry MX Brown switches have a slight bump in their travel path that helps gives the user confirmation of a keypress. Tactile-style key switches fall between clicky switches and linear switches both in terms of their loudness and actuation force. This makes them perfect for gamers who want a mechanical keyboard with a fast key switch, but prioritize accuracy over speed...and they possibly also have friends on voice comms who complain about how loudly they type already.
The differences between Cherry MX Brown and HyperX Aqua switches are quite small. Tiny, in fact. Both use the exact same actuation force of 45g, but the Aqua’s travel distance and actuation point are just 0.2mm shorter than the Cherry MX Brown. According to HyperX’s rigorous testing procedure, Aqua switches have a lifespan of 80 million keystrokes, compared to more than 50 million for the Cherry MX Brown. Though we’re confident your fingers would get tired before either of them do, considering you’d need to hammer on a key 5 times a second every second for nearly 4 months before you had to worry about the life of a key switch.
Another difference between the two key switches is that HyperX Aqua switches use an “exposed” LED design that places part of the LED outside above the switch housing, while Cherry MX Brown switches use recessed lighting. The position of the lighting gives HyperX Aqua switches vibrant, more brilliant lighting, if that’s what you’re into.
If you think that a 0.2mm shorter travel path before your input is registered is the key to getting that matchmaking rank promotion that’s been cruelly evading you, then maybe the HyperX Aqua will give you that edge in speed you need. However, the choice of key switch might make more of a difference for you than your key switches will, so if you’re comparing two keyboards and you see that one uses HyperX Aquas and the other uses Cherry MX Browns, you’ll know that they’re both going to have pretty solid, similar switch performance profiles.