What is Travel Distance of a Mechanical Keyboard Switch?

travel distance

Travel distance in mechanical switches is a pivotal element that profoundly impacts the typing experience on a mechanical keyboard, referring to the total journey a key undertakes from its initial press to its deepest depression.

Understanding Travel Distance

  1. Components of Travel Distance:
    • Actuation Point: Marks the juncture at which a keypress is recognized.
    • Bottom Out: The terminal point of a key’s descent.
    • Total Travel: The comprehensive distance from the initial press to the bottom out.
  2. Measurement:
    • Travel distances, typically quantified in millimeters, exhibit variation across different switch models.

Types of Switches and Their Travel Distances

  1. Cherry MX Switches:
    • Renowned for setting industry benchmarks, Cherry MX switches characteristically offer a total travel distance of around 4mm, with actuation generally occurring halfway at about 2mm.
  2. Other Switch Brands:
    • Competing brands such as Topre, Romer-G, and Kailh present distinctive travel distances, each crafting a unique typing narrative.

Impact of Travel Distance on Typing

  1. Typing Speed and Efficiency:
    • Reduced travel distances can augment typing velocity, necessitating lesser movement for actuation, yet might elevate the risk of inadvertent keystrokes.
  2. Typing Comfort:
    • Extended travel distances typically yield pronounced tactile feedback, favored by many for enhanced comfort and precision during prolonged typing engagements.

Travel Distance and Keyboard Customization

  1. Personal Preference:
    • Travel distance preferences diverge widely; gamers may lean towards shorter distances for nimbleness, whereas writers or programmers might opt for longer distances for a more rhythmic typing cadence.
  2. Custom Mechanical Keyboards:
    • Keyboard aficionados often select switches with specific travel distances to tailor their custom builds toward a preferred typing experience.

Considerations and Trade-offs

  1. Actuation vs. Bottoming Out:
    • Distinguishing between the travel required for actuation and that for complete depression is vital. A setup favoring shorter actuation with extended total travel might offer an ideal mix of responsiveness and cushioning.
  2. Ergonomics:
    • Optimal travel distance selection can elevate ergonomic benefits, potentially minimizing repetitive strain injuries.


Travel distance in mechanical switches decisively shapes a keyboard’s performance, influencing aspects from typing speed and precision to comfort and ergonomics. Its variation among switch types necessitates careful consideration when choosing a mechanical keyboard. Catering to a spectrum of needs and preferences, the right travel distance can significantly refine the keyboard usage experience, whether geared toward gaming, typing, or everyday tasks.


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