If you are a pc gamer, programmer, or just someone with a computer, a keyboard is one of the most important peripherals you can own. When you aren’t moving your mouse, you’re mashing away on your keyboard.
Having the right keyboard can improve your gaming or working experience and you should know that you have options outside of the budget keyboard you find at your local electronics store.
In this guide, we cover “What is a Mechanical Keyboard?” and the benefits of mechanical keyboards vs regular keyboards.
What is a Mechanical Keyboard?
A mechanical keyboard is a keyboard consisting of individual high-quality plastic switches underneath each keycap. When using a mechanical keyboard, a physical switch that is spring-loaded is pressed each time a key is pushed down on.
There are a variety of mechanical keyboard switches available on the market, with something for everyone.
When it comes to switch types, you can choose between linear, tactile, and clicky switches. Each of these mechanical keyboard switch types have differing characteristics of tactile feedback and noise. Finding that sweet touch for your needs can help you perform at your best.
The most popular mechanical keyboard switch manufacturer is Cherry, a German based company. A large majority of keyboards use Cherry MX switches since they are the popular choice.
Popular Cherry MX switches include:
- Cherry MX Black
- Cherry MX Brown
- Cherry MX Blue
- Cherry MX Red
- Cherry MX Silver
The ability to customize mechanical keyboards is one of the biggest benefits of owning one. Flexing your creativity and flare isn’t possible with regular keyboards. But because each key on a mechanical keyboard is an individual switch, you can swap out the keycaps, switches, and housing as you like.
There are artisan keycaps, keycap sets, and mechanical keyboard housings offered in a diversity of colorse, themes, materials, and more.
Mechanical Keyboards vs Regular Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards are unique when compared to regular keyboards because of the direct feedback that is provided. Regular keyboards have rubber membranes that touch on a circuit while mechanical keyboards have individual spring-loaded switches for each key.
What is a Membrane Keyboard?
A membrane keyboard is a regular keyboard that you will find on most computers. The rubber dome is inexpensive, which attributes to the commonality of them in laptops, devices, and appliances.
The major differences between the two are the durability, responsiveness, and customization, which puts mechanical keyboards on top.
A few areas where mechanical keyboards may be beat are the cost, noise, and weight.
If you travel a lot the weight of a mechanical keyboard with all your items may be much since the individual switches add to the weight of the keyboard.
When it comes to cost, mechanical keyboards can be pricey. Especially if you start considering custom keycap sets, artisan keycaps, custom builds, and custom cables. The aspects of mechanical keyboards that make them great, attribute to the cost. The saying “you get what you pay for” stands true for the most part for mechanical keyboards. There are definitely budget options available, but for the most part, expect to shell out more cash for a mech keyb.
Lastly, noise can be seen as a con for mechanical keyboards, but depending on the switch you choose, that may or may not be an issue.
Compared to mechanical keyboards, membrane or regular keyboards lack in quality in comparison. Regular keyboards are estimated to have an operational lifespan of about 5 million keycap presses. This is compared to the guarantee by Cherry of 50 million keycap presses.
Wrapping Things Up
Overall, mechanical keyboards are the right choice over regular keyboards. The differences are clear cut, and with keyboards being a key part of your computer setup, why not make the investment?
Mechanical Keyboard Pros
- Durability: Mechanical keyboards are more durable than regular keyboards because of the individual switches vs the rubber dome, resulting in 10x the number of presses in the keyboards lifetimes.
- Comfort: Because there is the ability to choose different switches based on tactility, finding the right switch and keycaps for you can make your typing experience as comfortable as possible.
- Responsiveness: The individual switches are more responsive than regular keyboards.
- Customization: Customization is possible with the option to choose colors, keycaps, cables, and switches.
Mechanical Keyboard Cons
- Weight: The overall weight of a mech keyb will be slightly heavier than a regular keyboard because of the switches.
- Noise: If you don’t choose the right switch for your environment, the clicking sound (if that’s the switch chosen) can be a distraction to others.
- Cost: Due to the benefits lined out above, “you get what you pay for” when it comes to mechanical keyboards.