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Are Mechanical Keyboards Better? Mechanical vs. Normal

Learn why mechanical keyboards may be better than membrane keyboards for everything from writing to gaming.

Mechanical Keyboard Anas Alshanti / Unsplash

Last Updated: November 17, 2021

Written by Brandon Jones

What Is a Mechanical Keyboard?

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Mechanical keyboards are computer keyboards with high-quality plastic key switches under each keycap. These switches create a better tactile feel than the most common keyboards with rubber membranes (rubber dome) under each key. Mechanical keyboards may look similar since they have the same functionality and keys (visually), but they're on an entirely different level.

Mechanical keyboards improve upon many qualities of the most common keyboards, all of which you can read about in this article.

Check out my Recommended Mechanical Keyboards below.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Are Mechanical Keyboards Better?

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Overall, mechanical keyboards improve the quickness, lifespan, and tactile feel of a keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are popular among gamers, programmers, touch typists, and people who work with them all day during work.

A mechanical keyboard's clicky feel is more satisfying than the mushy feel of an ordinary membrane keyboard. You can feel every keypress easily, which makes mechanical keyboards great for accurate and precise typing.

Quickness

The precise feedback and control of a mechanical keyboard are incomparable to membrane keyboards. Instead of a generic mushy press, each press on the key will feel like you are actually pressing something.

The feedback of a mechanical keyboard will improve the quickness of your typing or in-game movements since you won't be second-guessing any presses or having missed presses.

Because mechanical keyboards are precise, your muscle memory will work more efficiently, optimizing your workflow and speed.

Lifespan

Mechanical keyboards don't wear out as fast and feel like new longer when compared to membrane keyboards. In most cases, you won't get stuck or wobbly/inaccurate keys like with membrane keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards have been tested to last up to 30–70 million key presses. Membrane keyboards only last around 5 million keypresses.

To back up these claims, I'm writing this article on my Corsair mechanical keyboard I bought six years ago, and it's still going strong!

Tactile

The mechanical switch in a mechanical keyboard offers a satisfying typing experience with its tactile feedback.

When you press a key down, you'll feel feedback when you reach its actuation point (when a press is registered), with a slight bump that lets you know when a key is successfully pressed.

Some types of key switches for mechanical keyboards don't have as much tactile feel (or any). You can look in the description of each product to know what type of key switches the keyboard has.

Customization

Another great thing about mechanical keyboards is choosing different versions of switches to fit your preferences. Some key switch types provide more feedback, others have a gentle feeling, or they can be a mix of both. You can sometimes even remove the keycaps and install custom ones to make them one of a kind.

Here are a few of the most common mechanical keyboard key switches:

  • Cherry MX Brown: Most popular. An excellent hybrid for gaming and typing while allowing for fast key presses. Provides tactile feedback, but not as noisy as other switch types.
  • Cherry MX Blue: Provides tactile feedback with a loud and clear click sound, so you'll know when a keypress is registered. Favorite among writers or anyone who types often.
  • Cherry MX Black: More linear and doesn't provide feedback when hitting the actuation point (when a press is registered) but makes noise when bottoming out.
  • Cherry MX Red: Similar to Cherry MX Black, but requires less force and less time for a keypress to be registered.

Cons of a Mechanical Keyboard

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While we can agree there are many great qualities in a Mechanical Keyboard, there are some downsides that some people won't like.

  • Noise: The tactile feel comes at a cost; mechanical keyboards are known to be loud. If there are others nearby who won't like the noise or need to be quiet late into the night, mechanical keyboards may not be for you.
  • More Expensive: Mechanical keyboards can be pricy. However, take into account the higher price reflects the quality and longer lifespan.
  • Heavier: If you want a keyboard to carry around in your backpack during travel, this might not be for you. Mechanical keyboards are built sturdier, which makes them heavier.

Despite these cons, many people (including myself) still think mechanical keyboards are worthy of their praise.

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Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

  • Find the Corsair K100 Mechanical Keyboard on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • The 4,000 Hz polling rate on the Corsair K100 allows for more keystrokes to be detected per second and is excellent for gaming.

  • This keyboard has optical-mechanical key switches that have a 1.0 mm actuation distance and smooth linear travel.

  • Six dedicated macro keys allow for customized key mapping and commands.

  • It also has an aluminum frame and dynamic per-key RGB backlighting.

  • This keyboard has all of the benefits of being a mechanical keyboard. Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

SteelSeries Apex Pro

  • Find the SteelSeries Apex Pro on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • It is made of an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy frame for long-term durability.

  • Has dedicated multimedia controls.

  • This keyboard has adjustable switches to customize the actuation distance of each switch.

  • Responsive switches: up to 0.7 ms response time and 0.4 mm actuation point.

  • Customizable RGB key backlights.

  • Includes a detachable palmrest. SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Lenovo Legion K500

  • Find the Lenovo Legion K500 on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • This keyboard has seven media keys and a dedicated game mode key.

  • 100% anti-ghosting (no lost keypresses)

  • Has linear red mechanical switches, rated for 50 million clicks.

  • Customizable RGB key backlights.

  • You will have the ability to tilt the keyboard between 2.58 and 8 degrees.

  • Has a detachable textured palmrest. Lenovo Legion K500 Lenovo GY40T26478 Legion K500 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Corsair K70 RGB MK.2

  • Find the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • The Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 comes in multiple key switch types, including Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Blue, and Cherry MX Red.

  • The anodized brushed aluminum frame is excellent for durability and aesthetics.

  • The USB pass-through port makes it easy to connect a mouse or other devices.

  • 1000Hz polling rate allows for more keystrokes to be detected per second and is great for gaming.

  • This keyboard has all of the benefits of being a mechanical keyboard. K70 RGB MK.2 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard — CHERRY MX Brown K70 RGB MK.2 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard — CHERRY MX Brown Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

HyperX Alloy Origins Core

  • Find the HyperX Alloy Origins Core on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • This keyboard has Linear HyperX red key switches.

  • It is made of an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy frame for long-term durability.

  • Compact and portable, with a detachable USB C cable.

  • Customizable RGB key backlights. HyperX Alloy Origins Core HyperX Alloy Origins Core Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Learn More About Mechanical Keyboards

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Want to learn more about Mechanical Keyboards? Check out the articles in this Mechanical Keyboard series: