We are sure that one of the items on your wish list from when you constructed your first real gaming PC was a mechanical keyboard. Because? Mechanical keyboards were and are in the clout. you would have heard great things about them from individuals all over the internet—forums, YouTube videos, teammates, and so on. In esports competitions, many of the professionals use mechanical keyboards and we needed to try one out, as competitive gamers.
Is it worth it to invest in a mechanical keyboard for gaming or programming? Yes, it is well worth the effort. It made a noticeable impact on our ability to compete in games, particularly shooters. In games, We could react quicker. Typing is more enjoyable and quicker than it was before.
Since then, We haven’t touched a membrane keyboard. It was the same with our first high-refresh-rate display; you can’t explain why it works so well on paper or in a movie. You have to “feel” it for yourself. In this post, we’ll try to explain our views on mechanical keyboards and whether or not they’re practical.
Is A Mechanical Keyboard Worth It For Gaming Or Programming?
What Is A Mechanical Keyboard, And How Is It Different From A “Regular” Keyboard?
Before we go into whether a mechanical keyboard is worth it or not, let’s look at what separates a mechanical keyboard from a membrane keyboard. The majority of computer users all around the globe are acquainted with a membrane keyboard. It is usually provided as a free bonus with the prebuilt system.
Both membrane and mechanical keyboards work on the same basic principle. They include a grid of linked circuits known as a “key matrix.” When you press a key, the circuit beneath that key “closes,” allowing electricity to flow.
The signal is decoded and sent to your computer’s I/O ports by the keyboard’s own CPU and firmware. The portion of the keyboard that closes the circuit is what distinguishes a mechanical from a membrane keyboard.
Individual switches under each keycap on a mechanical keyboard are spring-loaded and have little metal contacts that shut the circuit when you push down. On the other hand, a membrane keyboard has a silicone/polyurethane/rubber membrane that runs the length of the board.
Under each keycap, there are little domes with conductive material beneath. When you press a key, these domes contract, forcing the keycap higher when you release it.
A second membrane, equipped with a circuit layer, lies underneath this top layer. There is a non-conductive support layer in the center with holes where the keys ought to be. When the top and bottom membranes touch, the circuit is closed, and a keypress is recorded.
Because there are fewer components and labor needs, manufacturing a membrane keyboard takes less time and is less expensive. Instead of building and testing individual switches, you can just print membranes. In addition, the membrane design is more water-resistant. In fact, a version of it is found in everyday goods like microwaves and household appliances.
What Is A Mechanical Keyboard and How Does It Work?
We previously described how each key on a mechanical keyboard has its switch. These switches are attached to the key matrix underneath them. A CPU, an LED controller, and ROM are among the other components (modern mechanical keyboards have customizable profiles for macros, lighting, etc.).
There are four main components in the Cherry MX switch, which is the most common switch type-
- Contact leaves made of metal (usually gold plated for better conductivity)
All of the components are housed in a plastic switch box that is connected to the key matrix via connections. The stem, which is connected to the top of the slider and serves as a foundation for the keycap, is a moving pillar-like structure. The slider is what closes or opens the circuit by pushing the metal contact leaves.
Because both metal contacts are prohibited from contacting each other in their resting state, the switch maintains the circuit open.
When you press down on the keycap, one of the metal leaves catches on the slider’s tiny notched bump and slides out of the way. It travels back in and connects to the newly exposed second contact leaf after the bump has gone.
The distance traveled from the resting state before both metal contacts connect and complete the circuit is known as the activation point. The stiffness of the spring determines the pace at which a key may bounce back and the force required to depress it. The bottom of the slider includes a rod-like extension that fits into the coil spring to keep it from flying out of place.
The spring pulls the key back up when no force is applied, closing the circuit. The top of the stem serves as a mounting platform for the keycap, which is often constructed of ABS or PBT plastic. Laser etching or injection molding are used for lettering. More information about keycap etching may be found here.
Mechanical Switches: What Are They and How Do They Work?
We demonstrated how a standard Cherry MX mechanical switch works. However, Cherry isn’t the only company that produces mechanical switches; Topre, IBM, Logitech, and others also have their versions of mechanical switches. Mechanical switches are divided into two categories: tactility and loudness. There are three main categories.
Cherry MX Blue is a good example of this since it features a unique collar around the slider with a large bump at the base.
As it descends, the collar hits the stem’s neck, giving Blue switches their signature “click” sound when activated. Because it hooks onto the flexible metal contact as it travels down, the extra-large bump is what makes it tactile.
The precise moment at which a Blue switch activates can be felt, making it an ideal option for typists and programmers who work alone at home. However, don’t bring it to your workplace or any other busy location since you’ll irritate a lot of people.
Some workplaces have even prohibited these kinds of noisy mechanical switches because a swarm of workers typing at the same moment would cause chaos.
People who desire the benefits of a mechanical keyboard without noise choose a linear switch. It’s also excellent for gaming since it has a smooth, linear keypress that’s simple to anticipate. You don’t have to wait for the key to return to 80 percent of its original position before pressing again.
Cherry MX Red and its somewhat stiffer relative, Cherry MX Black, with a greater actuation force, are two examples of linear switches. When it comes to actuation force, the Cherry Red only needs 45 gf (gram force) to record a keypress.
So, how is it that a Red switch has such a linear, non-tactile keypress? Simply put, it lacks a notched bump on its slider.
The best of both worlds is combined in this kind of switch. Take the Cherry MX Brown switch, for example, which is both tactile and quiet at the same time.
Not as quiet as a Red or as tactile as a Blue, to be sure. At the very least, your family and colleagues will not have to wear hearing protection while you play a game or write code.
A bump on the slider of a Brown switch, unlike a Red switch, provides tactile sensation as it travels through the metal contacts. However, the bump is smaller than on a Blue switch, making it more smooth. Because the slider is attached to the stem rather than functioning as a movable collar, there is no clicking sound when the switch is activated.
Other Types of Mechanical Switches Besides Cherry MX
This switch type is most frequently seen on the famous IBM Model M keyboards from the 1980s. It is very basic in design yet immensely enjoyable to write on. This switch’s housing is made out of a pivoting hammer with a long, thin coil spring connected to it.
When you push down on the keycap and compress the spring, it collapses or buckles, releasing the hammer, which then hits a contact point to complete the circuit.
It’s only found on high-end keyboards, and there’s a lot of debate over it in the keyboard world. Some critics argue that it isn’t a “genuine” mechanical switch since it incorporates features seen in membrane keyboards.
However, it features a metal spring, similar to a conventional mechanical switch, and no membrane other than the rubber dome on top of the spring.
A Topre switch activates a capacitive circuit at the bottom of the switch by utilizing spring compression. The keypress is linear, similar to that of a Cherry Red switch, although Topre switches have a distinct feel. It’s like a mechanical/membrane crossbreed.
This switch is from the 1980s, and the original maker is no longer in business. However, there are many designs influenced by the Alps switch, the most popular of which is known as the “Bigfoot.” This is due to its very broad stem, which expands the total switch footprint.
Alps switches are very uncommon and come in two varieties: complex and basic. They are available in a variety of colors and both tactile and linear versions. In comparison to complex Alps switches, simplified Alps switches are quieter and smoother. Check out this post from deskauthority to discover more about this ancient and very uncommon switch type.
Is It Better To Play Games With A Mechanical Keyboard?
It’s difficult for us to provide a definitive response to this one. So we’ll do our best to illustrate how a mechanical keyboard can help you improve your gaming experience.
To begin with, the Cherry Red linear switch has a modest actuation force (under 50 grams). This is especially useful if you need to hit several keys in quick succession, such as while strafing or jumping in a shooter.
Light keypresses also assist in RTS games where you have to press a lot of keys to control numerous troops since your fingers won’t feel as tired after a lengthy gaming session.
Another advantage of mechanical keyboards is that you don’t have to fully depress the key to activate it. Because the actuation point is in the center, if you teach yourself to identify it, you will be able to react quicker than your opponents. In a competitive environment, every instant counts.
For gaming, most users now prefer Reds or similar linear switches. Cherry MX Speed switches, which have a very short travel and actuation distance, have become our go-to switches.
Linear switches also have faster reset times, so they deactivate more quickly when released. In comparison to a clicky switch like the Cherry MX Blue, you can get ready for the next press quicker.
So, as a player, what does all of this mean? Because your key activates mid-travel and requires less effort to press down, you may respond quicker than your opponent who uses a membrane keyboard. Because all good mechanical keyboards have an N-key rollover over 10, you can press several keys continuously without locking the board.
Some even allow you to press each and every key, and they will record everything. Mechanical keyboards are also more likely to survive a furious gamer smash due to their robust construction. Above all, a mechanical keyboard remains constant, so even after years of hard use, the keys don’t seem lighter or mushier.
Is It True That Typing On A Mechanical Keyboard Feels Better?
The sensation of typing is entirely subjective; some like the mushiness and quietness of a rubber dome, while others love their clicky Cherry MX Blues. But we can tell you this: it’s rare to make a typo when each key emits unique tactile feedback and produces a loud click when activated. Plus, once you’re accustomed to a mechanical switch activating in the middle of its journey, you can smash away quicker.
Of course, others argue that all of this is nonsense and that a decent membrane keyboard can type just as quickly. We are aware that there are some excellent membrane keyboards available that are also almost as costly as a mechanical keyboard. Design techniques are used in modern high-end membrane keyboards to reduce the actuation point and travel distance.
The feel of mechanical, on the other hand, is unrivaled. It’s the equivalent of comparing a Subaru to a Mercedes-Benz. Both get you from point A to point B, but the latter provides you with a sense of joy and fulfillment.
If you use a computer to run your life and type 2000+ words each day, you should seriously consider getting a mechanical keyboard.
Keep in mind that the keyboard is the component of your computer with which you interact the most. You type on it, rest your hands on it, and rely on it to do tasks quickly and efficiently. So why not spend your money on something that feels better?
Instead of seeing the keyboard as just a tool for giving commands to your computer, consider how you might use it to improve your computing experience. A mechanical keyboard will do just that: it will make typing pleasurable. We don’t connect the term “enjoyable” with keyboards, yet it’s critical in today’s tech-driven world.
You’re essentially slapping a sheet of rubber with a membrane keyboard. They all have a similar vibe to them; some have macros and beautiful lighting, but that’s about it. Mechanical keyboards have personality and come in a range of styles to meet the needs of each individual.
Mechanical keyboards come in a variety of styles, including clicky mechanical keyboards, tenkeyless mechanical keyboards, vintage mechanical keyboards, quiet mechanical keyboards, RGB mechanical keyboards, and more.
You may even buy your own components and solder several kinds of switches onto a bespoke board. You may paint the keycaps in any color combination to match the aesthetics of your desk or workplace. Alternatively, you may just purchase keycaps online.
Do you want an escape key in the shape of Sonic the Hedgehog? Maybe some bright colors to liven up your workspace? How about a keyboard that doesn’t include a Numpad so you have more room for your mousepad?
Mechanical keyboards with low-profile keycaps and quiet keystrokes have also been observed. A mechanical keyboard is much more modular and customizable than any membrane keyboard currently available.
Is A Mechanical Keyboard Worth It? | How Much Can You Expect To Pay For One?
Even while there are mechanical keyboards for $25 on the market, they are still more costly than a standard Logitech/Dell rubber dome keyboard. Mechanical keyboards, even the cheapest ones, are more expensive than well-designed membrane keyboards. So the issue is, is it worth the additional cost?
If you mainly use your computer for online surfing and social networking, a high-quality mechanical keyboard isn’t necessary. Any half-decent membrane keyboard from the neighborhood shop will do for someone who only uses the computer on occasion.
If you aren’t the kind of person who obsesses over the technology in their gadgets, the design element of a mechanical keyboard isn’t likely to pique your attention.
A mechanical keyboard, on the other hand, will improve your computer experience and allow you to appreciate every minute you spend typing. Consider the long-term consequences of having an input device that helps you feel more confident in your typing and gaming skills, even if it is costly.
The psychological benefits of having a high-end keyboard on your desk, especially one that will last a decade if properly cared for, should not be overlooked. A happy mind leads to increased productivity as a consequence of a better typing experience.
What we are attempting to convey here may seem exaggerated at first, but you must first experience it for yourself before passing judgment. Not to mention the fact that you may customize your mechanical keyboard with a variety of keycaps. O-rings may also be used to decrease travel distance and noise levels, and they can be layered on top of one another to increase the impact.
So, how much should you expect to spend for a good mechanical keyboard in the real world? A good one should cost about 70 to 90 dollars, while a high-end one should cost around 100 to 150 dollars. Naturally, as the price rises, the number of features increases, as does the quality of the materials. USB passthrough, for example, allows you to connect devices such as a phone, external storage, mouse, thumb drive, and so on.
The keycaps on high-end versions are typically injection molded for long-term durability and are made of high-quality machined aluminum. There’s also the typical glitz and glam, like volume knobs, dedicated media buttons, per-key RGB backlighting, and so on. Of course, if you never intend to use them, you can always buy a simple mechanical keyboard with no fancy functions.
There are inexpensive Chinese versions in the $20 to $40 range, but unless you’re a newbie to mechanical keyboards or have a restricted budget, We wouldn’t suggest them. At lower price points, quality varies significantly depending on the brand. Some of it is outright garbage, while others may be well-made for the price.
Are there any mechanical keyboards that are quiet?
Definitely! Cherry MX has recently introduced a “Silent” switch type that is designed for minimal noise production while delivering a smooth linear keystroke. It’s suitable for regular typing as well as fast-paced gaming. Any keyboard using Topre’s capacitive switches will be rather quiet.
Topre keyboards, on the other hand, are likely to cost more since they are more exclusive and sophisticated than modern mechanical keyboards. Rubber O-rings, which are very inexpensive, may also be used to muffle the sound of your mechanical keyboard.
Cherry MX Silent Red switches are more common on keyboards, and they feature internal rubber dampeners that minimize the noise produced when the switch returns to its original position after being pushed.
In conclusion, mechanical keyboards may be quiet. Some switches are designed to be silent by default, while others may be changed to be quieter.
The lifespan of a Mechanical Keyboard
The life expectancy of a well-built mechanical keyboard may easily outlast the life expectancy of your computer. Before they have to purchase a new mechanical keyboard, some individuals go through a house or vehicle move. A decent model from a professional brand such as Das, Filco, or Ducky will cost a lot of money but will endure for more than ten years easily.
People using the original IBM model M keyboard, developed in the 1980s, maybe seen in videos on YouTube (it uses buckling spring switches). You can be sure the keyboard will endure a long time if it has some weight to it. Look for plastic casings that are thick and hefty, as well as metal plates. While you write fast, a good steel plate will keep the keyboard from bending too much.
It all boils down to your keyboard technique. It will probably last a long time if you write sporadic blog entries every week and surf social media.
Daily competitive gaming and coding, on the other hand, can quickly degrade your keyboard. How much faster can you go? It’s difficult to say since there have been recorded instances of individuals regularly abusing their keyboards. It operated for almost a decade despite pounding the keys while typing furiously and without cleaning it.
So, at the end of the day, purchase the best keyboard you can for the money you have. And keep it clean every now and again. Q-tips, a keycap remover, and a container of soapy water are all you need. Don’t put too much emphasis on RGB lighting since that’s typically the first component of the switch to break.
One of the LEDs on a keyboard We owned failed, even though the switch itself was intact. Throughout the night, the key stuck out like a sore thumb. A hefty mechanical keyboard with metal plates and double-shot injection molded PBT keycaps may endure an eternity.
How To Select The Best Mechanical Keyboard For Your Requirements
Type of Switch
This is entirely up to you; depending on the kind of job you perform and the setting you’re in, you’ll have different requirements. A gamer playing alone in a room, for example, does not need quiet switches since no one will be disturbed by the noise they produce.
On the other hand, if you work as a game programmer at a studio, you should be aware that your coworkers are unlikely to enjoy you spending all day playing Cherry MX Blues. With a hybrid switch like Topre or certain Cherry MX Browns, you may enjoy the best of both worlds.
Blues are the most often suggested for typing. In terms of gaming, the Reds and Browns will shine. Of course, you are free to shop about and choose a switch that meets your requirements. There are a variety of Cherry MX knockoffs that perform similarly to the genuine thing, if not better.
Cherry MX type switches are made by companies including Kailh, Gateron, and Outemu utilizing a similar design (this began after Cherry’s patent expired). Some of these knockoffs have a lifespan of up to 80 million keystrokes. If you want to understand more about Cherry’s stringent testing procedures, watch this video from Linus Tech Tips, in which they take you on a factory tour.
Design And Form Factor (60 percent, TKL, Full Size, etc.)
If you don’t require a Numpad, a tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard will save you space on your desk and allow you to utilize your mousepad more freely. A tenkeyless may be your only choice depending on the size of your mousepad and monitor stand.
The ergonomics and typing style of your keyboard are influenced by its form factor. Your hands will feel cramped if the keyboard is too tiny. If it’s too broad, you won’t be able to sit comfortably concerning your workstation and display. These variables may make a big difference in typing comfort depending on how much time you spend in front of your computer.
Check to consider 1800-compact if you want a small form factor but don’t want to sacrifice keys. It’s a smaller version of a full-size keyboard that utilizes a different layout to fit the same number of keys in a smaller space.
The arrow keys are packed directly beneath the Enter key in the 1800-compact form factor, and a lot of navigational buttons are crammed just above the Numpad. The total width is reduced while all keys are retained.
A 60 percent keyboard, which eliminates the Numpad and lacks a function key row, is another popular design. The right-hand navigational cluster has also been deleted, so you won’t find any Delete, Page Up, Page Down, or similar buttons. These functions may be accessed by hitting Fn and holding other keys, but it will take some practice and time to master.
Features (USB Passthrough, Windows Key Lock, Per-Key RGB lighting, Aluminum vs Brass Plate, etc.)
Aluminum backplates are used under the outer shell of certain keyboards to strengthen the construction and serve as a foundation for the mechanical switches. This plate is also used as a deck on the outside. Instead of aluminum plates, some keyboards feature brass plates. Brass is more prone to oxidation, making it an unsuitable material for use in unclean settings or when the keyboard isn’t cleaned regularly.
Brass, on the other hand, is denser and harder, producing a unique clack sound with greater bass. It also has a fascinating steampunk appearance, which some individuals may prefer over the more contemporary, polished look of aluminum. Brass is more difficult to bend and weighs more.
Now that we’ve discussed the kind of metal plate to choose, you may want to think about things like RGB. Some keyboards feature RGB lighting that can be customized per key, which is excellent for putting on a show for your friends or lighting up the room around the holidays.
Other keyboards feature solid Red, Green, or Blue lighting, making them less expensive than their RGB counterparts while having identical switches, frames, and designs. Gaming keyboards usually include a Windows key lock function, which is useful while playing games that require frequent use of the Alt and Ctrl keys.
You may also choose between wired and wireless connections; current wireless technology has reduced latency to the point that it is practically unnoticeable to anybody outside of the professional gaming community.
Intuitive Companion Software
We mentioned before that new mechanical keyboards come with their CPU and memory. This enables them to perform some pretty interesting things, such as save customized profiles for various games. You can even have your keyboard’s RGB backlights interact with the game, changing dynamically based on your in-game state.
A Razer Chroma-enabled game, for example, can force your keyboard to glow red when you’re low on health or white while you’re accessing the menu. It will also feature lighting effects to alert you when you are receiving damage or are in close proximity to an explosion.
All of this is controlled by software, so if you have several peripherals from the same manufacturer, you can link their lighting patterns and chain them together like LED strips on a Christmas tree. Your mouse, keyboard, and headphones will all light up at the same time, in rhythm, and the same pattern.
It’s critical that the software that comes with your gaming keyboard is simple to use and gets regular upgrades to address problems and provide new functions.
Some manufacturers provide great hardware, but their software leaves a lot to be desired. Do your homework and make your purchase based on current hardware and software evaluations.
Is it true that mechanical keyboards are water-resistant?
As compared to membrane-type keyboards, they are more vulnerable to water damage. The inner circuitry of membrane keyboards is protected from splash damage by silicone/polyurethane layers. Water or dust may leak in via the small spaces between the stem and its housing on mechanical keyboards, which are exposed to the weather.
If the switch is broken, you may replace it if the circuit board below is in good condition. Due to the nature of having individual switches, this is one of the redeeming features of a mechanical keyboard. However, while handling drinks near your mechanical keyboard, use caution.
It’s worth mentioning that certain brands, such as Razer and Corsair, make IP-rated dust and spill-resistant keyboards. So, if you can’t stop yourself from spilling anything over your keyboard, have a look at them.
Do You Need A Brand Name Mechanical Keyboard?
No, half of them plagiarize designs from a more well-known and older company. Furthermore, everything is produced in China, with the only exceptions being quality control and production procedures. So long as you buy a product made of excellent materials and backed by a good guarantee, the brand name doesn’t matter all that much.
Up until a few years ago, Kailh, Outemu, and Gateron were thought to make low-quality mechanical switches. However, it seems that their production methods and quality control standards have caught up to Cherry’s. Buying a new keyboard with one of these “imitation” switches shouldn’t be too difficult.
You need to go with a renowned brand if you want the best of the best, the Bentleys and Ferraris of the keyboard world. However, if you want something that is dependable and works well, any brand would suffice. Just make sure it has the functionality and design that you want.
Is It Possible To Type Faster With A Mechanical Keyboard?
It all depends on who is using the keyboard and how much expertise they have with it. Rubber domes are faster for some individuals, whereas Cherry Blue is quicker for others. Your typing speed is determined by your familiarity with a piece of equipment and your ability to maximize its benefits.
If you’re accustomed to using a membrane keyboard, you’ll find yourself pushing keys all the way down on a mechanical keyboard, which isn’t the most effective method to type. Furthermore, certain switches are purposefully built with greater actuation force needs than others to minimize the likelihood of mistyping.
So, if you have the proper mechanical switch for your typing technique and a keyboard you’ve been practicing with for months, you can achieve some amazing WPM speeds.
Is it true that mechanical keyboards are better for your hands?
Mechanical switches activate mid-travel because of their design, which implies that with enough practice, you may achieve the same effect with less effort over time. Over the course of 1 or 2 hours, this results in reduced tiredness.
Add in the fact that your fingertips will hover for a shorter time since the keys will bounce back up quicker. You should now be able to understand why mechanical keyboards are healthier for your wrist and finger joints. You don’t have to spend as much time typing because of less general tiredness and quicker typing rates.
If you spend a considerable amount of time gaming or typing daily, you should consider investing in a mechanical keyboard. If you know how to take advantage of its peculiarities, it feels better, lasts longer, and performs better.
Mechanical keyboards are also modular, allowing you to change out keycaps, paint, and even switches. Yes, certain modern mechanical keyboard types allow you to change switches on the fly without the need for any additional equipment.
Linear, clicky, tactile, or a combination of these mechanical switches are available. You may also select from a range of keycaps, such as low profile, classic, bespoke, and so on. Mechanical keyboards have a lot of personalities and are a lot of fun to type on.
If you want something more than a tool, if you think your keyboard is an important component of your computer interaction, invest in a decent mechanical keyboard. It will make typing more pleasant for you, and it will enable you to push yourself further when playing fast-paced competitive games.