In this guide, we’ll help you understand how mechanical keyboards work, as well as cover the pros and cons of using a mechanical keyboard.
What Is a Mechanical Keyboard?
A mechanical keyboard is equipped with spring-activated switches that provide the user with tactile and audible feedback. There are multiple types of switches found in mechanical keyboards.
Types of Mechanical Switches
The most common types of mechanical switches used in mechanical keyboards include:
Linear (red) switches are great for people who want to enjoy using a mechanical keyboard without having to live with noisy keystrokes. Not to mention, the linear keypress is easy to predict compared to other switch types, making linear mechanical keyboards ideal for gaming.
Linear switches also have a low reset time, allowing you to press the keys quickly.
Tactile (blue) switches allow you to feel the exact point at which it activates. They feel amazing, especially for programmers and writers/typists that use their keyboards a lot.
However, they’re very loud compared to linear keyboards, so you can’t use one of these in an office environment. Many companies actually banned tactile mechanical keyboards because of how disruptive they can be.
As its name implies, a “hybrid” switch offers a combination of the pros of linear and tactile switches.
Hybrid switches feel as good as tactile switches. They’re also just as smooth, but unlike conventional tactile switches, hybrid switches produce very little noise. This reduced noise-production makes them comparable to linear switches.
How Does a Mechanical Keyboard Work?
Unlike membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards use physical switches right below the keys. When you press a key, the actuation of the switch sends an electrical signal to the computer to tell it that you pushed a key.
Benefits of Mechanical Keyboards
Here are some of the perks of using a mechanical keyboard:
Mechanical keyboards are designed with durability in mind. No matter how much you abuse your mechanical keyboard, you can expect it to last for at least 10-15 years.
In fact, some people still use legendary IBM mechanical keyboards with PS/2 connectors that were manufactured decades ago.
The materials used in mechanical keyboards are high-quality. Plus, you can easily replace a key in case it malfunctions, which isn’t the case with regular keyboards.
Typing on a Mechanical keyboard feels better, period. Unlike typing on a membrane keyboard, the individual key design adopted by mechanical keyboards feels faster and more responsive, making mechanical keyboards better for typing and gaming.
When you upgrade to a mechanical keyboard, you’ll immediately notice a performance boost.
Mechanical keyboards are much more customizable than membrane keyboards. Since mechanical keyboards allow you to replace every single key, you can create your very own design effortlessly.
Keycaps are sold everywhere. If you’re a gamer, you can install flashy keys that complement your gaming setup. For an office environment, you can opt for a more conservative style.
Mechanical keyboards are available in a wide range of sizes that suit all setups. From full-size keyboards to TKL (Tenkeyless) and 65% mechanical keyboards, the choices are vast.
This means that a mechanical keyboard will effortlessly blend into your work-from-home space, gaming setup, or on-site office.
Disadvantages of Using a Mechanical Keyboard
Despite their numerous advantages, using a mechanical keyboard has some downsides, which include:
Hard to Clean
Mechanical keyboards are somewhat hard to clean compared to regular keyboards. This is mostly because of the increased key height, making it harder for you to reach between the keys when cleaning the keyboard.
However, if you avoid eating over the keyboard, things shouldn’t be that tricky. Not to mention, you can remove the keys and put them back every once in a while when a deep clean is required.
Mechanical keyboards can be too loud for some people, especially those used to keyboards that produce very quiet keypress sounds.
This could make them unfit for office use, as even if the sound does not bother you, it may be a hindrance to your co-workers.
The average mechanical keyboard weighs 2 lbs, which is much heavier than regular keyboards that usually don’t exceed the 0.8 lbs mark. However, the extra weight means that mechanical keyboards are more stable.
If you need a keyboard that you can carry in your backpack on a regular basis, you’re better off going for a membrane keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards are often more expensive than their regular counterparts. So, if you’re building a new setup, a mechanical keyboard might be out of your budget.
One of the perks of a mechanical keyboard is also customization, which will inevitably add to the cost of your setup if you choose to between ABS vs PBT keycaps or get custom keycaps from places like Etsy.
How Much Do Mechanical Keyboards Cost?
A mechanical keyboard can cost you anywhere from $200 all the way up to $600. Of course, higher-end models will cost you more.
With increased cost comes more durable materials, more reliable switches and often even more lighting and customization options.
Who Are Mechanical Keyboards For?
Mechanical keyboards are great for writers, gamers, programmers, and anyone who needs to type a lot on a daily basis.
Anyone who could benefit from increased typing speed and reduced wrist strain would appreciate a mechanical keyboard.
Using a Mechanical Keyboard for Gaming
Mechanical keyboards give you a competitive advantage in FPS and other types of games. The keystrokes in a mechanical are simply more precise and feel more natural.
Using a Mechanical Keyboard for Typing
For content creators, writers, and data entry specialists, a mechanical keyboard can be a great tool. Mechanical keyboards are super comfy and more ergonomic than normal keyboards.
So, if you type a lot, using a mechanical keyboard might just make your life easier.
Alright, so that was everything you needed to know about mechanical keyboards.
So, is a mechanical keyboard worth it? Well, it depends. If you’re a programmer, writer, or simply type a lot, a mechanical keyboard might be worth the investment. It’s also good for serious gamers.
However, if you barely use a keyboard, you’re better off buying a membrane keyboard since it’ll cost you less. Getting a membrane keyboard also means that moving around with the keyboard will be much less of a hassle since mechanical keyboards are pretty heavy.