Keyboards are being used by millions at the same time. From office staff writing reports to high school students writing essays. It is an essential tool in today’s world of technology. For the past 8 years, you may have heard the term “mechanical keyboard”. This technology has been around for some time and has become more mainstream in certain environments. Although it is considered an “upgrade” for some users, a mechanical keyboard is not for everyone. Here is some information about mechanical keyboards and see if you would get into the trend.
So whats the difference?
The average keyboard you may know is referred as a membrane keyboard. It acts as a button when pressed and does its job pretty well. Underneath there is rubber coating around the button which helps provide that clicking sound and a lifting feeling when pressing down. A mechanical keyboard actually works in an entirely different way but similar to a typewriter. There are many variations of a mechanical keyboard but they all work by a switch mechanism rather than a pressure based one that a membrane keyboard uses. Underneath the keycap, there is a button that when pushes down triggers the switch underneath to input the command. It’s almost like flicking a light switch on and off but instead many times faster than you would expect. Mechanical keyboards have a much more clicky sound it as a switch is much more louder and movement based compared to the membrane button.
There are different variations of a mechanical keyboard. The differences factor a lot of things. They can swap the tactility (how hard you press) of the keycaps to how fast the keycaps go down. Cherry MX is one of the largest producers of mechanical keyboard switches. They offer over 7 kinds of switches that cater to the way a person types. From people who almost smash each key down to those who are quick and don’t put a lot of pressure when typing. This is a large reason why people enjoy mechanical keyboards since it can offer different experiences compared to a membrane keyboard. The lifespan of a mechanical keyboard is also a large part of why people buy these expensive products. A typical membrane keyboard can last over 10 million keystrokes, while a mechanical can have between 50 million to 100 million keystrokes (it has been tested). The overall build is a lot more thicker and typically weights more due to the average metal frame many brands use.
Some extra features that most mechanical keyboards include
- RGB backlighting
- Extra macro keys
- Programmable keys
- Removable keycaps
- Onboard memory
- Software for full customization
- Some include wrist rests and other attachments
Due to the added features and different design choices, there can be a large difference in pricing between the two kinds of keyboards.
Basic model examples:
High tier examples:
To help summarize the information, here are both pros and cons to both types of keyboards.
- A more responsive and technical keyboard
- Different options for different typing styles
- Typically has higher lifespan
- Better build quality compared to membrane keyboards
- Can be easier to clean on most keyboards
- Removable keycaps
- Anti-“ghosting” (All keystrokes are recognized)
- Most mechanical keyboards can be “loud”
- Beginning may be hard to get used to
- Higher price than most membrane keyboards
- Can weigh a lot more
- Larger cables
- Cheaper than mechanical keyboards
- A lot more options of designs, brands etc.
- Slim designs are available
- Less noisy compared to mechanical
- Can be more lightweight and portable
- Most are constructed with cheaper materials
- Buttons can be hard to clean, some do not have removable keycaps
- Lower life span
Should you get a mechanical keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards can be a great addition to your setup but its not always for everyone. There are many factors in your life that can affect the decision if you buy it or not. If you stay at home and work or are often on your computer typing away then a mechanical keyboard will work best. It will only work best if you use your keyboard often, writers, coders and gamers will enjoy a mechanical keyboard more. People who move frequently and work in quiet areas might be more fit for a membrane keyboard. The sound and build of a mechanical keyboard can sometimes be annoying and distracting for some. Both keyboards will do well in their task and have been for the past years. Think about where, when and how you use your keyboard and decide wether to get a mechanical or membrane for your next purchase.
– Benson Lam