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The mechanical keyboard vs. regular keyboard debate isn’t much of a debate at all. One type of keyboard is objectively better than the other, even though they serve the same basic purpose. The user experience, customization options and long-term maintenance requirements greatly differ between the two categories.
Here’s a full breakdown of the key differences between mechanical keyboards vs regular membrane keyboards.
Most popular feature of mechanical keyboards is their unique key switches. Each key has a plastic stem and spring system underneath. When a user presses a key, the spring pushes down and connects two metal contacts that trigger the keyboard’s circuit.
This basic structure gives mechanical keyboards a thick clicking sound, while regular membrane keyboards have a more dull and monotonous clicking sound.. The mechanical typing noise is so distinct that algorithms can now figure out what you’re typing based solely on the sounds of each key.
Mechanical key switches also require less pressure to trigger the keyboard circuit than default versions. If you watch someone typing on a mechanical keyboard vs a regular keyboard, their typing motions will be quite different. Mechanical users can glide their fingers across the keyboard with ease, allowing them to type faster and longer with better accuracy.
If you struggle with carpal tunnel syndrome when typing for long durations, you should seriously consider converting to a mechanical keyboard. People in writing and other typing-heavy professions can also improve their job performance with this enhanced typing experience.
Mechanical keyswitches enable you to easily remove any keycap for regular maintenance. You need a small tool called a keycap puller, but they’re cheap and easy to find. You simply need to pull from underneath the keyswitch, and it will pop right off.
Your keyboard might need some fine-tuning for several reasons. Every keyboard experiences the build-up of dust and grime between the keys. Easy removal allows for easy cleaning. Keys can also get sticky or moved slightly out of place. Mechanical keyboards allow you to replace one specific key and change its layout to meet your needs.
The key maintenance difference between mechanical keyboards vs regular keyboards is the life expectancy. The hard keys are much more durable than the cheap rubber or plastic keys on regular keyboards. Mechanical keys use metal-on-metal contact points while you type, allowing them to remain functional for much longer before needing to be replaced.
Meanwhile, traditional membrane keyboards consist of rubber-dome keys that slowly break down over time. When pushed, the rubber key presses directly down on a polyurethane switch, triggering the circuit board underneath.
Polyurethane is a cheap plastic material that acts as a cushion between the keys and the circuit board. It doesn’t compare to the metal spring action of mechanical keyboards. The stem, spring and metal contacts are made to endure decades of typing without a drop in performance.
The most well-known advantage of mechanical keyboards is that you can completely customize your setup with different key layouts, color schemes and more. If you have a repetitive typing job or play a video game that requires specific keybinds, you can adjust the keys to make things easier. Every part of the keyboard can be catered to your personal preferences.
Mechanical keyboards also have a special ability called “N-key rollover” that sets them apart from traditional keyboards. N-key rollover allows you to simultaneously press multiple keys and still register each character. This ability is extremely useful for high-speed typing and advanced PC gaming.
The backlight feature is perhaps the most popular part of mechanical keyboards. While some regular keyboards have monochromatic backlights, mechanicals can have multiple colors and settings that change automatically. You’ll often see these complex backlight designs on the keyboards of professional streamers and online gamers.
Which Should You Choose?
The differences between a mechanical keyboard vs. regular keyboard are night and day. Mechanicals are more durable, easier to maintain and even sound better. However, that means they cost more than default versions. The dollar speaks loudest for most people, so a regular keyboard setup is still sufficient for most people. However, before you get a brand new laptop just because the keyboard is broken, consider getting a mechanical keyboard instead.
You can easily sync mechanical keyboards with any PC or laptop you’re currently using. The initial payment might be more expensive, but the investment will save you money on maintenance and replacements in the long run.