What is a Mechanical Keyboard? Complete Guide

You may have seen the word “Mechanical” used in a computer keyboard but aren’t sure what it really means. If you’re interested in learning more about what a mechanical keyboard is, you’re in luck! This article will give you a basic overview of what a mechanical keyboard is and what makes it different from a membrane keyboard. I’ll also discuss which switch to use, and how to choose the right one for your gaming environment.

What is a Mechanical Keyboard?

A mechanical keyboard is a type of keyboard that uses mechanical switches for each key, as opposed to the rubber dome switches found in most traditional keyboards. Mechanical switches are typically more durable and provide a distinct tactile and audible feedback when a key is pressed.

Each key on a mechanical keyboard has its own individual switch, which means that if one key is broken or damaged, it can be replaced without having to replace the entire keyboard. This also means that mechanical keyboards typically have a longer lifespan than traditional rubber dome keyboards.

The mechanical switches are usually made by different manufacturers and can vary in their actuation force, travel distance, and feedback. This allows users to choose a switch that best suits their typing style and preferences. Some popular mechanical switch manufacturers include Cherry MX, Kailh, Gateron, and Razer.

Mechanical keyboards are also popular among gamers, as the tactile and audible feedback can help with in-game accuracy. They are also preferred by programmers and writers for their precise actuation and durability.

In summary, a mechanical keyboard is a type of keyboard that uses mechanical switches for each key, providing distinct tactile and audible feedback when a key is pressed. They are typically more durable and have a longer lifespan than traditional rubber dome keyboards, and allow users to choose a switch that best suits their typing style and preferences.

Another advantage of mechanical keyboards is that they are customizable. Many mechanical keyboards come with customizable keycap sets that can be replaced to personalize the look of the keyboard. Some users also like to customize the lighting effects on mechanical keyboards, which can be done through the use of software or built-in lighting controls.

Another advantage is that the mechanical keyboards are good for typing, some people may find them more comfortable and easier to type on than traditional rubber dome keyboards. The mechanical switches offer a more satisfying and tactile experience when typing, which can be beneficial for those who spend a lot of time typing.

On the other hand, mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than traditional rubber dome keyboards, and they are also louder. If you’re looking for a quiet keyboard, a mechanical one may not be the best choice.

In summary, mechanical keyboards offer a number of advantages over traditional rubber dome keyboards, such as durability, customization options, and a satisfying typing experience. However, they are generally more expensive and louder than traditional rubber dome keyboards. If you’re looking for a keyboard that is durable, customizable, and provides a satisfying typing experience, a mechanical keyboard may be a good choice.

Membrane keyboard

A membrane keyboard is an inexpensive, flexible, and quiet alternative to a mechanical keyboard. It is commonly used in home computers, computers and appliances, and commercial equipment. They are also found in military and scientific equipment.

Membrane keyboards are made of three or more layers. The top layer is typically made of rubber or a similar flexible material. This layer contains a conductive trace that triggers a letter or symbol on the screen when a key is pressed.

Membrane keyboards are also available with dome switches that offer tactile feedback. Some devices are designed to produce sounds, such as beeps, when a button is pressed.

Membrane keyboards require little force to press them together, making them ideal for portable devices. However, water spills may cause them to fail.

Thin keycaps wear out quickly and will look shiny after typing. In addition, they may produce a muted clicking noise. For users who need to hear beeps and other noises, a membrane keyboard with a light or loudspeaker is an option.

The best membrane keyboards can be customized to meet specific applications. Some are made with extra features, such as macro-buttons and workflow-improving technology.

If you are on a tight budget, a membrane keyboard is a great choice. They are affordable and are easily produced. While they don’t provide as much feedback as a mechanical keyboard, they do provide an instantaneous opening and closing electrical circuit.

The main drawback of a membrane keyboard is its mushy feel. If you have sensitive hands, you might not like this. Additionally, they lack key rollover and key movement. As a result, they are a poor choice for typing with large numbers of characters.

Cherry MX switch

The Cherry MX switch is one of the most reputable mechanical keyboard switches on the market. Its durability and precision performance are unmatched. Whether you are a PC gamer or a writer, you can benefit from using a Cherry MX keyboard. Known for their quality, reliability, and durability, they are also incredibly comfortable.

Cherry MX switches come in a variety of configurations to suit different uses. They offer a high actuation force and precision feedback. For fast gaming, you may want to go with a Cherry MX Red switch. These have a fast trigger and smooth, linear WASD cluster.

The Cherry MX Clear is another model that has a tactile response. These are less noisy than the other tactiles, but they are more expensive. Generally, they are used for the spacebar in a Cherry MX Brown keyboard.

Another popular Cherry MX switch is the Cherry MX Black. This is a similar model to the Cherry MX Red, but it has a heavier actuation force. If you are looking for a cheaper option, you can opt for the Cherry MX Grey. However, you should be aware that they have a clicky response, which adds extra noise.

Another option you can opt for is the Cherry MX Blue. These have an audible click and a pronounced tactile bump. You can also opt for the Cherry MX Clear, which is a tactile switch with no click.

Another type of Cherry MX switch is the RGB version. These feature a LED under each upper housing. The light does not affect the key characteristics, but it provides a spectacular lighting effect.

A number of major manufacturers use Cherry MX switches in their gaming keyboards. Kailh, Gateron, and Outemu are some of the popular brands.

Choosing the right switch for your environment

Choosing the right switch for a mechanical keyboard is crucial. The switch will affect the way you type, the quality of your computing experience, and how long it takes for you to press each key. It’s also important to consider your typing environment and how you like to type.

There are three main types of mechanical keyboard switches, and each has its own characteristics. The most common are rubber dome switches, membrane/rubber dome switches, and linear mechanical keyboard switches. These different types offer different feedback and actuation points.

Linear switches are a good choice if you enjoy gaming. They are easy to press and provide a smooth, consistent experience.

Tactile switches are also a good choice for gamers. They have a small bump in the middle of the key, which gives physical feedback of the key being pressed. This helps reduce mistakes and makes typing more enjoyable.

Clicky keyboard switches are similar to tactile switches but have a mechanism that produces an audible click. Some gamers prefer these types because they give them more audio feedback than tactile keys. However, these types tend to be noisier, which can be irritating to other people.

Razer switches are a new addition to the mechanical keyboard market. Razer’s mechanical switches are more durable than Cherry’s, and they offer a smooth actuation point and less resistance than other brands. But they don’t have the same weight and longevity as authentic Cherry MX keys.

If you want a quieter typing experience, choose a silent switch. Silent red and black aren’t standard, so you may have to hunt for them. Alternatively, choose blue or brown for a more quiet environment.

Cost

The cost of a mechanical keyboard depends on several factors. These include brand, type of switches used, backlighting, and other features. A typical mechanical keyboard will cost anywhere from $60 to $200, though higher-end models will have more advanced features.

Mechanical keyboards are considered superior to membrane keyboards because they provide accurate typing and extended durability. They are also faster and louder than their traditional counterparts. However, the cost of a mechanical keyboard is high. This is because of the use of more expensive materials, such as aluminum key dividers and metal plates.

While a mechanical keyboard costs a lot, it can be well worth it in the long run. They are designed to last for years, unlike membrane keyboards that are easily broken and will need replacing after only a few months.

If you want a mechanical keyboard, but don’t have a large budget, you may consider building your own. It’s a great way to save money and have a custom keyboard. You’ll also have a wider range of options when it comes to components. For example, you can use cheaper parts like aluminum or even LEGO to create a case, or you can 3D print the entire keyboard.

In addition, there are advanced replacements for mechanical keyboards. You can get a multi-function mouse or joystick. Another option is to buy a pre-built keyboard, but this isn’t always the cheapest solution.

You can choose a keyboard with a switch that is lubricated, which can reduce sound issues. Another option is to install a film inside the switches. Using a metal plate helps the switches stay in place.

Another option is to build a hot-swappable keyboard. While these are a little more expensive, you don’t have to worry about soldered switches.

Keyboard VS Mechanical keyboard

Keyboard Mechanical Keyboard
Uses rubber dome switches for each key Uses mechanical switches for each key
Shorter lifespan Longer lifespan
Less satisfying typing experience More satisfying typing experience
Not customizable Customizable
Quieter Louder
Less expensive More expensive
If one key is broken or damaged, the entire keyboard must be replaced Individual keys can be replaced if they are broken or damaged
Not suitable for gamers Suitable for gamers
Not suitable for programmers and writers Suitable for programmers and writers

FAQs

What is the point of a mechanical keyboard?

A mechanical keyboard is designed to provide a more satisfying typing experience, with a tactile and audible feedback when a key is pressed. The mechanical switches used in mechanical keyboards are typically more durable and have a longer lifespan than the rubber dome switches found in traditional keyboards. They also offer a more precise actuation, which can be beneficial for gamers, programmers, and writers who spend a lot of time typing.

Mechanical keyboards are also customizable, many of them come with customizable keycap sets that can be replaced to personalize the look of the keyboard. They also offer lighting effects that can be customized through software or built-in controls.

Another advantage of mechanical keyboards is that they are better for typing, some people may find them more comfortable and easier to type on than traditional rubber dome keyboards.

In summary, the main point of a mechanical keyboard is to provide a more satisfying typing experience, with a tactile and audible feedback when a key is pressed. They are also more durable and have a longer lifespan than traditional rubber dome keyboards, and they are customizable and better for typing. They are also suitable for gamers, programmers, and writers who spend a lot of time typing.

Are mechanical keyboards really better?

Mechanical keyboards have some advantages over traditional rubber dome keyboards, but whether they are “better” or not depends on the user’s needs and preferences.

Advantages of mechanical keyboards include:

  • A more satisfying typing experience: The tactile and audible feedback provided by mechanical switches can make typing more enjoyable for some users.
  • Durability: Mechanical switches are typically more durable than rubber dome switches and have a longer lifespan.
  • Customization: Many mechanical keyboards come with customizable keycap sets that can be replaced to personalize the look of the keyboard.
  • Better for typing: Some people may find them more comfortable and easier to type on than traditional rubber dome keyboards.

On the other hand, traditional rubber dome keyboards have some advantages over mechanical keyboards, such as:

  • Quieter: Mechanical keyboards can be louder than traditional rubber dome keyboards, which may be a disadvantage for some users.
  • Less expensive: Mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than traditional rubber dome keyboards.

Ultimately, whether a mechanical keyboard is “better” or not depends on the user’s needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a keyboard that provides a satisfying typing experience, is durable, and is customizable, a mechanical keyboard may be a good choice. However, if you’re looking for a quiet keyboard that is less expensive, a traditional rubber dome keyboard may be a better option.

What are the disadvantages of a mechanical keyboard?

There are a few disadvantages to mechanical keyboards, including:

  • Loudness: Mechanical keyboards can be louder than traditional rubber dome keyboards, which may be a disadvantage for some users. The sound can be distracting for others working around you or if you’re using it in a shared space.
  • Price: Mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than traditional rubber dome keyboards.
  • Not for everyone: Some users may not enjoy the tactile and audible feedback provided by mechanical switches, and may prefer the softer feel of traditional rubber dome keyboards.
  • Heavier: Mechanical keyboards are generally heavier than traditional rubber dome keyboards, which can be a disadvantage for people who need to move their keyboard around frequently.
  • Not portable: Mechanical keyboards are larger and bulkier than traditional rubber dome keyboards, which can be a disadvantage for people who need to transport their keyboard frequently.
  • Customization can be confusing: Some mechanical keyboards offer customization options, such as different key switches, which can be confusing for some users.

In summary, mechanical keyboards have some disadvantages, such as loudness, higher price, not for everyone, heavier and not portable and customization options can be confusing for some users. These disadvantages should be taken into account when deciding whether to purchase a mechanical keyboard.

Do mechanical keyboards break easily?

Mechanical keyboards are generally more durable than traditional rubber dome keyboards, but that does not mean they are immune to breaking.

Mechanical switches, which are the heart of mechanical keyboards, are made to last for a longer time than rubber dome switches, and they are rated for a certain number of key presses (actuations). However, with extended usage and wear and tear, individual switches can still break or malfunction. Additionally, the internal components such as the circuit board, can also be damaged by accidental spills or other incidents.

In addition, the keycaps, which are the plastic caps that sit on top of the switches, can become loose or even break over time. They can be replaced, but it’s an additional cost.

However, it’s important to note that mechanical keyboards are generally more durable than traditional rubber dome keyboards and they are designed to withstand more wear and tear. If a mechanical keyboard is well-maintained and used under normal conditions, it can last for many years without breaking.

In summary, mechanical keyboards are generally more durable than traditional rubber dome keyboards, but they are not immune to breaking. With extended usage and wear and tear, individual switches, keycaps and internal components can malfunction or break. However, if a mechanical keyboard is well-maintained and used under normal conditions, it can last for many years without breaking.

How long do mechanical keyboards last?

The lifespan of a mechanical keyboard can vary depending on the brand, model, and usage.

Mechanical switches, which are the heart of mechanical keyboards, are rated for a certain number of key presses, or actuations. The most common mechanical switches are rated for 50 million to 100 million actuations. This means that a keyboard with these switches should last for many years under normal usage.

However, other factors can affect the lifespan of a mechanical keyboard, such as the quality of the materials used, the build quality, and the usage conditions. A keyboard that is well-maintained and used under normal conditions can last for many years, while one that is exposed to dust, spills, or heavy usage may not last as long.

In general, it’s safe to say that a mechanical keyboard should last for several years under normal usage, but it’s hard to give a specific number as it depends on many factors. But it’s worth noting that if a mechanical keyboard is well-maintained and used under normal conditions, it can last for many years without breaking.

In summary, the lifespan of a mechanical keyboard can vary depending on the brand, model, and usage. Mechanical switches are rated for a certain number of key presses, and a keyboard with these switches should last for many years under normal usage. However, other factors such as the quality of materials, build quality, and usage conditions can also affect the lifespan of a mechanical keyboard.

Brandon S. Lee

Hi, My name Brandon S.Lee and I am a professional Gamer, I also worked with the keyboard making company called Logitech. I was the quality check manager of the Logitech keyboard department. Here we have a team of people who researched on the keyboards, talked with keyboard users and analyzes the user reviews and then write the product reviews.

KMG Advice
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