Mechanical keyboards have been gaining tons of attention in the past couple of years. In fact, most gaming keyboards are utilizing mechanical key switch technology nowadays. But given their high prices, consumers are often conflicted about whether or not they should buy one.
Mechanical keyboards are superior to regular membrane keyboards in terms of their typing feel, build, and durability. They feature individual switches underneath each key, which increases durability and reliability and makes the typing experience more satisfying. They can help make mundane tasks more enjoyable and help gamers play at their best.
In this article, we will be giving a brief overview of the main selling points of mechanical keyboards. We will also be helping consumers decide whether or not mechanical keyboards are worth it investing in.
The concept of a mechanical keyboard isn’t anything new, they were introduced back in the late 80s and were the only keyboards available until membrane keyboards replaced them in the late 90s. However, they made a reemergence sometime in 2010 and have steadily increased in popularity ever since.
What separates mechanical keyboards from your typical membrane keyboard or chiclet laptop keyboard is their key switch technology. Underneath each key is a mechanical switch. And depending on the type of switch being used, the typing feel can vary. Having a mechanical switch underneath each key has several advantages, and some of these include durability and reliability.
Since a dedicated switch handles each key, their chances of wearing out are a lot lower than membrane keyboards that only rely on a thin sheath of membrane that can easily break. Furthermore, mechanical keys can be easily replaced, especially with hot-swap keyboards.
In addition, mechanical switches are way more reliable compared to other switch types, and it ensures that each keystroke made by the user will accurately register. In addition, most mechanical keyboards have an N-Key Rollover and Anti-Ghosting features meaning keypresses won’t get mixed up or fail to register. This is incredibly important for fast-paced games where multiple keys are being pressed simultaneously.
In addition to the basics that we talked about, there are several other perks to owning a mechanical keyboard, which we will be discussing in more detail below.
Perks of Having a Mechanical Keyboard
Superior Typing Experience
Objectively speaking, mechanical keyboards offer a more satisfying typing experience. This is because of several factors, including the mechanical switches used, plate and case material, and the sound of your keyboard.
Some mechanical keyboards offer a bouncy typing experience, while some can feel stiffer. But at the end of the day, users will have options in terms of how they want their keyboard to feel. This is next to impossible for membrane keyboards which, usually feel mushy and inaccurate.
In addition, there are plenty of mechanical switches to choose from. You get your basic linear, tactile, and clicky switches, each with its own unique characteristics. Also, there are several brands and models of switches to choose from. Some are heavier, smoother, more tactile, etc.
Unlike membrane keyboards and laptop keyboards, mechanical keyboards offer various degrees of customization to users. One of the easiest things that users can customize is the keycap sets. Users can choose what colorway and design they prefer, easily matching their peripherals or setup theme.
In addition, users can also choose between different keycap heights and thicknesses, which can further help make the typing experience more enjoyable. The currently available ones include cherry profile, SA, MT3, XDA, OEM, and many more.
Also, mechanical keyboard owners can choose between different keycap brands. They can go with more budget options from the likes of Tai Hao or go all out with high-end keycaps such as GMK.
The only thing to take note of is that not all keycaps are compatible with all types of mechanical keyboards. Smaller mechanical keyboards, such as 60%, 65%, and 75% keyboards, may have an odd layout that some 104 keycap sets won’t be compatible with.
Also, most keycaps sets are non-backlit, meaning they won’t let the RGB from your keyboard sine through. This is done to better highlight the colorway and the keycaps’ design. But overall, there are plenty of options to choose from that satisfy different types of consumers.
Programmability and Custom Macros
One of the best perks of custom keyboards is that most of them come with native software that allows for remapping and custom macros. Remapping is incredibly important for smaller form factor keyboards missing some physical keys. It is also important for specific use cases and programs that typically do not allow the user to reprogram their keys.
In addition, most mechanical keyboards allow users to set their own macros. For those unfamiliar with the term, macros allow the user to execute several key combinations with just a single button. This can help speed up processes in programs such as Adobe CC and even in games such as MMOs.
With the programmability features of mechanical keyboards, the possibilities are endless. Of course, you can also do features such as macros with other devices such as the Elgato Stream Deck and even in membrane keyboards. However, the entire process won’t be as streamlined, especially with membrane keyboards with no dedicated software.
Superior Performance (Gaming Keyboards)
Of course, we can’t talk about mechanical keyboards without mentioning gaming. There are specific gaming keyboards that have been highly optimized for gaming. Everything from the form factor to the switches used has been properly researched and designed to best suit both casual consumers and professional gamers.
Most gaming switches that have been developed by brands such as Razer and Logitech G have gone through several modifications to ensure that they offer the fastest response time. In addition, several other features, such as the polling rate, are maxed out to lessen the input delay of the keyboard. For professional gamers who demand the best tools possible, these are enough reasons for them to upgrade from a membrane keyboard.
Should You Buy a Mechanical Keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards are significantly more expensive compared to regular consumer-grade keyboards. And for some, that is a tough pill to swallow, especially considering that mechanical keyboards pretty much accomplish the same tasks as regular keyboards.
But with that said, we certainly think that the investment is easily worth it. With mechanical keyboards, you will be investing in a device that can easily last for several years. Even mechanical keyboards from the 80s are still working perfectly fine today.
Also, we believe that if you are going to be getting a keyboard, then at least get something that feels satisfying to use. It can potentially boost your productivity and help mundane tasks such as typing long documents and responding to emails a lot more fun.
When talking about gaming, mechanical keyboards are easily worth it. They offer superior performance that allows you to play at your best. Additionally, the ergonomics and other design elements have been properly researched and optimized to allow gamers to safely play for as long as possible.
Of course, the end consumer can only make the final call. However, if you are looking for something better than the one you are using, there are very few options better than mechanical keyboards.
The KBE team is dedicated to sharing our knowledge and creating useful resources about computer keyboards. This article was written as a team collaboration, combining our knowledge and years of experience using, building and modding keyboards. Meet the team here.