The Keyboard is an essential input peripheral in a PC or Laptop. If you are an extensive PC user or a gamer, then you may have come across the term, mechanical keyboard.
So, what is a mechanical keyboard? and how it is different from a normal keyboard? We will discuss this topic in this article.
Apart from the mechanical keyboard, different variants of computer keyboards are also available in the market, which you can find in our keyboard buying guide.
Significance of a Normal Keyboard
Well, the standard keyboard works on a pretty similar concept that any membrane key works upon.
Whether it’s a remote control for TV or a keypad feature phone, the application of membrane keys, is vast.
Talking about the technical aspect of a normal keyboard, it works by pressing against a certain designated point on the printed circuit board to register a keystroke. The signal passes to the processing unit and the desired output is performed.
However, the significant difference in a membrane keyboard is the mushy feeling of the keys. Basically, it has a rubber layer underneath the keys and above the circuit board. When you apply pressure on a certain key, the rubber pad presses against the board to complete the circuit.
What is a mechanical keyboard?
While standard keyboards work on a silicon/rubber membrane, mechanical keyboards feature spring-loaded switches under the keycaps that actuate with an audible clicky sound when you press a key.
Another key difference between a mechanical keyboard and a normal keyboard is the presence of key rollover. It is the ability of a keyboard to handle several simultaneous actions or keystrokes distinctly. This feature is extremely helpful for gamers to have more precise control over the game (for example crouch and jump) without any lag.
Because of the high quality, high accuracy and durability of their construction, mechanical keyboards are more expensive than regular ones.
Let’s see some key differences in these keyboards in the following table.
Mechanical Keyboard vs Normal Keyboard
|Mechanical keyboards use spring-loaded keys under each keycap.
|Normal keyboards use a layer of rubber-like membrane underneath the keyboard area.
|These are more precise and durable
|These are not that durable. Good for handling normal day-to-day tasks.
|Mechanical keyboards are more expensive due to their essential features.
|These are easily available and pretty affordable. You can even avail one in as low as rs. 200.
|Mechanical keyboards use an individual switch for each key, so they are customisable.
|Silicon dome/ rubber membrane keyboards are not customisable.
|These keyboards are pressure sensitive, so you can even press a key gently and the mechanism will automatically detect it.
|You have to apply the same amount of force on each key to register a keystroke on a normal keyboard.
|The price of mechanical keyboards varies according to the quality of keys coded with a specific colour. Eg: Cherry mx blue, Cherry mx red etc.
|The price on normal keyboards varies according to the features like key profile, backlight, size, etc.
|The mechanical keyboard produces a clicking sound while used.
|The cheap ones basically have more noise. But, you can find a great improvement in sound reduction from some decent brands’ keyboards and laptops.
Types of Mechanical Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards are broadly categorised into 3 categories. Depending upon their clicking characteristics, they can be linear, clicky or tactile.
While Cherry MX is the most popular brand and widely acceptable for mechanical keys, have classified the category of the keys according to their colour.
Red and Black switches are linear in nature, while the blue and green switches are clicky in nature. The switches with brown and clear or no colour are tactile in nature. Most of the manufacturers of mechanical keyboards using the Cherry MX keys usually stick to these colour codes.
The linear switches offer you a smooth and consistent actuation and are often recommended for gaming for their precision. Linear switches do not have any bumps, unlike the tactile and clicky ones. So, they can glide smoothly to register a keystroke.
Talking about the blue ones or clicky switches, they are louder by design and have a bump halfway. Although you don’t find any difference from the outer side, the mechanism lies within the switch. These switches give you clicking audio feedback for the keystroke, which pretty much resembles the typing feeling in a typewriter. These are often preferable for heavy typing tasks.
The tactile switches have quite a similar mechanism to the clicky switches. Due to the presence of a bump halfway, it doesn’t require a key to travel all the way to the bottom to register a keystroke. As a result, it provides a smooth typing experience with the keyboard.
Although there is no hard and fast rule to using each of these keyboards, tactile keyboards are often used for having a smoother typing experience in rigorous tasks like coding.
Ease of Maintainance in Mechanical Keyboards
Because of the high-quality switches, mechanical keyboards can cost more. And, the costly thing needs some maintenance to sustain longer. Cleaning is a big matter of concern when it comes to keyboards. As the keyboard structures can easily accumulate dust particles, it is hard to remove the dust stick to the rubber dome in a normal keyboard. Which can eventually interfere with circuit flow resulting in a poor response.
Thanks to the removable keycap structure the mechanical keyboards are easier to clean properly. You can use a keycap puller for this purpose, which is often provided by the manufacturers inside the box.
If you are not into heavy typing or gaming and use your keyboard every once in a while, it is preferable to go for a membrane keyboard. Although it is a matter of personal preference, for an intense gaming action or more precise response, you should invest in a mechanical keyboard. You will definitely see a significant difference.
Therefore choose a mechanical keyboard if you are intended to use it for a long period of time and a normal rubber dome keyboard for normal light tasks. check out our keyboard category, If you want more useful content or recommended options on computer keyboards. Till then happy clicking and typing ✌️.
Roy is a seasoned technical blog writer with a passion for unravelling the complexities of cutting-edge technology. With a background in Electronics Engineering, he has a keen interest in writing about the intricacies of keyboard and mouse in a simple way.