what is a mechanical keyboard
what is a mechanical keyboard

Have you ever wondered what exactly a mechanical keyboard is? If you’re tired of using standard keyboards that lack the satisfying click and tactile feedback, then a mechanical keyboard might be just what you need. Unlike traditional keyboards that use rubber domes, mechanical keyboards have individual mechanical switches beneath each key. These switches vary in terms of configuration and feel, allowing for a customizable typing experience that caters to your preferences. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of mechanical keyboards and shed light on the benefits they offer. So, let’s embark on a journey into the realm of improved typing pleasure and explore what makes a mechanical keyboard stand out from the rest.

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What is a mechanical keyboard?

A mechanical keyboard is a type of keyboard that uses individual mechanical switches for each key instead of a rubber dome or membrane. These switches are responsible for the tactile and auditory feedback that mechanical keyboards are known for. They offer a more satisfying and responsive typing experience compared to traditional membrane keyboards.

Definition of a mechanical keyboard

A mechanical keyboard is a computer keyboard that utilizes mechanical switches to register key presses. Each key is an individual switch, allowing for precise and reliable actuation. This means that every keystroke is independent and does not require the entire keyboard to be pressed down, resulting in a more accurate typing experience.

How a mechanical keyboard works

Mechanical keyboards function by utilizing mechanical switches underneath each keycap. When a key is pressed, the corresponding switch is actuated, completing an electrical circuit and sending a signal to the computer. These switches consist of a spring-loaded mechanism that registers the keypress and provides tactile and audible feedback.

Key features of a mechanical keyboard

There are several key features that set mechanical keyboards apart from their membrane counterparts. Firstly, the individual mechanical switches offer a distinct tactile and auditory feedback, enhancing the overall typing experience. Additionally, mechanical keyboards are known for their durability and long lifespan, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run. Moreover, mechanical keyboards often have customization options, allowing users to personalize their typing experience with different switch types and keycap designs.

Types of mechanical switches

Introduction to mechanical switches

Mechanical switches are the heart of a mechanical keyboard, and they come in various types, each with its own unique characteristics. These switches are typically categorized based on their actuation force, tactile feedback, and noise level. Understanding the different variations of mechanical switches helps in choosing the right keyboard for individual needs.

Popular mechanical switch brands

There are several reputable mechanical switch brands in the market, each offering a wide range of options. Some of the most popular brands include Cherry MX, Razer, Gateron, and Kailh. These brands provide a variety of mechanical switch options with different characteristics, ensuring there is a switch to suit every user’s preference.

Comparison of mechanical switch types

When choosing a mechanical keyboard, it’s essential to consider the different types of switches available and their unique characteristics. Some switches, like Cherry MX Blue, provide a tactile bump and audible click, while others, like Cherry MX Red, offer a linear and silent typing experience. Understanding the differences in actuation force, tactile feedback, and noise level can help determine which switch type is best suited to your needs.

Choosing the right switch for your needs

Choosing the right switch for your mechanical keyboard depends on personal preferences and intended use. For individuals who prefer a more tactile typing experience and enjoy hearing a satisfying click, switches like Cherry MX Blue or Razer Green may be ideal. On the other hand, if a quieter and smoother typing experience is desired, switches like Cherry MX Red or Razer Yellow would be more suitable. It’s important to consider factors such as typing style, noise tolerance, and specific needs when selecting the appropriate switch type.

Advantages of using a mechanical keyboard

Enhanced typing experience

One of the significant advantages of using a mechanical keyboard is the enhanced typing experience it provides. The tactile and auditory feedback from each keypress allows for a more satisfying and responsive typing feel. This increased feedback can lead to improved accuracy and reduced typing errors.

Improved accuracy and speed

The precise actuation of mechanical switches contributes to improved typing accuracy and speed. The distinct tactile feedback helps users to know when a keypress has been registered, allowing for better control over typing. With practice, users often find themselves typing more efficiently and with fewer mistakes compared to membrane keyboards.

Durability and long lifespan

Mechanical keyboards are known for their durability and long lifespan. The individual mechanical switches are designed to withstand millions of keystrokes, making them highly reliable and long-lasting. This durability makes mechanical keyboards a worthy investment, especially for those who spend a significant amount of time typing.

Customization options

One of the appealing features of mechanical keyboards is the ability to customize the typing experience. Keycap designs, switch types, and even key layouts can be personalized to suit individual preferences. This customization option allows users to create a keyboard that is uniquely tailored to their needs, adding a personal touch to their typing experience.

Tactile and auditory feedback

Another advantage of mechanical keyboards is the tactile and auditory feedback they offer. The tactile bump and audible click of certain switch types provide a satisfying feeling with each keypress. This feedback not only enhances the typing experience but also provides a sense of confirmation, ensuring the user knows when a key has been successfully actuated.

Disadvantages of using a mechanical keyboard

Higher cost compared to membrane keyboards

One of the downsides of mechanical keyboards is their higher cost compared to membrane keyboards. Due to the use of specialized mechanical switches, the manufacturing process is more intricate and expensive. This cost is often reflected in the retail price of mechanical keyboards. However, it is important to note that the durability and longevity of mechanical keyboards can outweigh the initial investment.

Loud typing noise

Mechanical keyboards are notorious for their loud typing noise, especially with certain switch types. The audible click produced by tactile switches, such as Cherry MX Blue, can be disruptive in quiet environments or shared spaces. While some individuals may enjoy the satisfying click, others may find it to be a distraction or inconvenience.

Heavier and bulkier design

Mechanical keyboards tend to be heavier and bulkier compared to membrane keyboards. The individual switches and sturdier construction add weight and size to the keyboard. This can make mechanical keyboards less portable and take up more space on a desk. However, for those who value the typing experience and durability, the slightly larger footprint may be a worthwhile trade-off.

Comparison between mechanical and membrane keyboards

Differences in key mechanism

The key mechanism is one of the significant differences between mechanical and membrane keyboards. Mechanical keyboards utilize individual mechanical switches, while membrane keyboards use a rubber dome or membrane layer to register keypresses. This distinction leads to variations in typing experience, feedback, and durability.

Typing experience and feedback

Mechanical keyboards provide a more satisfying and tactile typing experience compared to membrane keyboards. The distinct tactile bump and audible click of certain mechanical switches enhance the feedback with each keypress. On the other hand, membrane keyboards tend to have a softer and less pronounced typing experience, lacking the satisfying tactile feedback of mechanical switches.

Durability and lifespan

Mechanical keyboards are known for their durability and long lifespan. The individual mechanical switches are designed to withstand millions of keystrokes, ensuring they can withstand heavy daily use. In contrast, membrane keyboards often have a shorter lifespan due to the rubber dome or membrane layer that can degrade over time with extensive typing.

Quietness and noise level

One of the notable differences between mechanical and membrane keyboards is the noise level. Mechanical keyboards, especially those with tactile switches or clicky switches, can produce a loud typing noise. This noise may be distracting for some users, particularly in quiet environments. Membrane keyboards, by comparison, tend to have a quieter typing experience with less noticeable noise.

Price range and availability

Mechanical keyboards generally have a higher price range compared to membrane keyboards. The specialized manufacturing process and the use of mechanical switches contribute to the increased cost. However, the popularity of mechanical keyboards has grown over the years, resulting in a wider range of options and availability in the market.

Applications of mechanical keyboards


Mechanical keyboards are highly popular among gamers due to their precise actuation and tactile feedback. The enhanced typing experience and responsiveness offered by mechanical switches make them ideal for fast-paced gaming. Gamers can benefit from improved accuracy, reduced input lag, and a more enjoyable gaming experience.

Typing-intensive tasks

For individuals who spend long hours typing, such as writers, editors, or data entry professionals, a mechanical keyboard can greatly enhance productivity and comfort. The tactile feedback and improved accuracy of mechanical switches contribute to a more efficient and enjoyable typing experience, reducing strain and fatigue.

Programmers and developers

Programmers and developers often rely on precise and reliable typing when coding. Mechanical keyboards offer the necessary tactile feedback and responsiveness required for coding tasks. The ability to customize the switch type and key layout also allows programmers to create a keyboard setup that aligns with their specific needs and coding style.

Professional use in offices

Mechanical keyboards have gained popularity in professional settings such as offices. The durability and longevity of these keyboards make them a cost-effective choice for businesses, reducing the need for frequent keyboard replacements. Additionally, the tactile feedback and customization options can contribute to improved productivity and user comfort in work environments.

Maintenance and care for mechanical keyboards

Cleaning the keycaps

Regular cleaning of keycaps is essential to maintain the appearance and functionality of a mechanical keyboard. Keycaps can become dirty or accumulate debris over time, affecting the typing experience. Keycaps can be removed and cleaned using a gentle cleaning solution or a damp cloth. It’s important to ensure the keycaps are completely dry before reattaching them to the keyboard.

Preventing keycap fading

Keycap fading is a common issue with mechanical keyboards, particularly for those with printed or laser-etched keycaps. To prevent fading, it is recommended to avoid exposure to direct sunlight or harsh UV light. Additionally, using a keycap puller instead of pulling on the keycaps directly can help prevent damage to the print or etching.

Removing dust and debris

Dust and debris can accumulate within the mechanical switches, affecting their performance. Regularly cleaning the keyboard to remove dust and debris is essential for maintaining optimal functionality. Using compressed air or a brush can help remove dust from between the switches. It’s important to exercise caution when cleaning to avoid damaging the switches or other components.

Lubricating switches (if necessary)

In some cases, mechanical switches may require lubrication to maintain smooth and consistent performance. Lubricating the switches can help reduce friction and noise, improving the overall typing experience. It is important to use a recommended lubricant for switches and apply it sparingly to avoid excessive build-up. Proper research and guidance should be followed before attempting to lubricate switches.

How to choose the right mechanical keyboard

Identify your primary use

The first step in choosing the right mechanical keyboard is to identify your primary use. Consider whether you will be using the keyboard primarily for gaming, typing-intensive tasks, programming, or professional use in an office setting. This will help narrow down the key features and switch types that are most important for your specific needs.

Consider your typing preferences

Understanding your typing preferences can guide you in selecting the appropriate switch type. Determine whether you prefer a tactile bump, audible click, or a linear typing experience. Consider factors such as actuation force, noise level, and feedback to ensure the switch type aligns with your personal preferences.

Research and compare different brands

Research and compare different brands to find reputable manufacturers known for producing high-quality mechanical keyboards. Look for brands that offer a variety of switch types and have positive customer reviews. Reading online forums and user experiences can provide valuable insights into the performance and reliability of different brands.

Budget and pricing factors

Consider your budget and pricing factors when choosing a mechanical keyboard. Mechanical keyboards can vary in price range, with higher-end options offering additional features and build quality. It is important to find a balance between your budget and the desired features to ensure you get the best value for your investment.

Additional features to consider

Mechanical keyboards often come with additional features that can enhance the overall usability and convenience. Some features to consider include backlighting options, programmable macros, multimedia keys, and wireless connectivity. Determine which features are important to you and prioritize them when making a decision.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about mechanical keyboards

Are mechanical keyboards worth it?

Yes, mechanical keyboards are worth the investment for individuals who value a superior typing experience and increased durability. They provide tactile feedback, improved accuracy, and customization options that can enhance productivity and overall enjoyment of typing.

Can mechanical keyboards improve typing speed?

Mechanical keyboards can potentially improve typing speed over time. The tactile feedback and precise actuation of mechanical switches allow for more accurate and efficient typing, reducing errors and increasing overall speed. However, individual results may vary, and improvement in typing speed ultimately depends on factors such as practice and typing technique.

Can mechanical keyboards help with gaming performance?

Mechanical keyboards are highly regarded in the gaming community for their responsiveness and tactile feedback. The precise actuation of mechanical switches can help improve gaming performance by reducing input lag and providing better control over keystrokes. Gamers often find that mechanical keyboards offer a more enjoyable and accurate gaming experience.

Are mechanical keyboards suitable for beginners?

While mechanical keyboards may require some adjustment for beginners who are used to membrane keyboards, they can be suitable for individuals at any skill level. The tactile feedback and responsiveness of mechanical switches can be beneficial for beginners looking to develop good typing habits and increase accuracy.

Do mechanical keyboards require special drivers?

Mechanical keyboards generally do not require special drivers to function. They are usually plug-and-play devices that are recognized by the computer without the need for additional software installation. However, certain keyboards may come with software that allows for customization of backlighting, macros, or other advanced features.

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Sam Cox
Hi, I'm Sam Cox! I'm an experienced computer and gaming enthusiast passionate about helping others get the most out of their tech. a Tech expert and your go-to source for all tech tips at The Computer Geeks. With years of experience in the industry, I bring extensive knowledge and expertise to help you navigate the ever-evolving world of technology. I have a passion for simplifying complex concepts and finding creative solutions, making your tech journey both enlightening and enjoyable. Whether you're a seasoned tech enthusiast or a beginner looking for guidance, I am here to provide you with valuable insights, tutorials, and practical tips to enhance your digital experience.