What is a Mechanical Keyboard?


Mechanical keyboards are popular keyboards and are said to perform better for typing, programming, and gaming. 

So, What is a mechanical keyboard? Mechanical Keyboard is the type of keyboard that relies entirely on individual mechanical switches for registering clicks. Mechanical keyboards are durable, last longer, and are known to enhance productivity. Unlike membrane keyboards, they do not use a membrane. Mechanical keyboards are the best choice, be it typing, programming, or gaming. 

A mechanical keyboard is built up using tiny components assembled. Mechanical keyboards have several components that make up their entire circuitry and build design.

Components of mechanical keyboards

The components that build up the entire mechanical keyboards are:

  1. Mechanical Switches
  2. Frame
  3. Mechanical Keyboard Base
  4. PCB circuit
  5. Other components(like stabilizers and Dampeners)
mechanical keyboard

Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Mechanical Switches are individual switches that are a significant form factor for any mechanical keyboard and are responsible for its performance.

Mechanical switches are the keys on which clicks are made and registered. 

mechanical keyboard switches
Picture mechanical keyboard switches(Blue Switch)

Types of Mechanical Keyboard Switches

As mentioned above, the mechanical keyboard being an individual unit, plays a vital role in registering the keyboard clicks. The performance, typing experience totally would depend on it. One of the most popular Mechanical Keyboards Switch manufacturers is Cherry MX. Others include Kailh, Otemu, etc. You can also refer to this list of mechanical switches from Wikipedia.

You would get a complete mechanical keyboard switch guide from this video. (Video Credits: Techquickie)

There are different types of mechanical switches (Based on color):

  1. Blue Switch
  2. Red Switch
  3. Brown Switch
  4. Black Switch
  5. Green Switch

I have explained the above switches in the following table below:

Switch TypeFeelActivation Force
Blue SwitchClicky and Bumpy50g
Red SwitchLinear and Smooth45g
Brown SwitchTactile and Bumpy45g
Black SwitchLinear and Smooth60g
Green SwitchClicky and Bumpy70g

Based on usability switches can be classified into the following:

Clicky 

Clicky mechanical switches produce much noise during typing. Also, you will find bumpy experience in typing, which gives a good amount of keypress feedback to you. Typing turns out to be very accurate with the clicky type of mechanical switches. 

You may not like a clicky switch if you want a keyboard to use for office. You would love to use the Clicky switches for those who like the typical mechanical keyboard typing experience.

E.g., One example of a Clicky switch is Blue Switch.

Tactile 

Tactile switches, though, are bumpy in usage but are silent as compared to the clicky switches. The tactile switches are excellent and responsive but make less noise. 

During typing or gaming, you may like to have keypress feedback but not any noise to come. For these types of users, the tactile switches give a fantastic experience.

E.g., One example of the tactile switch is Brown Switch.

Linear

Linear switches are the smooth ones and ones that create the slightest sound. It is preferred mainly in offices where noise may disturb your working. 

Also, linear switches are fast enough and require less activation noise. So, it is also recommended for gamers. 

E.g., One example of Linear Switches is Red Switch.

Frame

The frame is the part in the mechanical keyboard where the keys sit on the keyboard. It is mainly made of metal (Aluminium). Frame plays a vital role as all the keys would fit into this. 

The better the fit, the better the experience of typing would be. Otherwise, the keys may vibrate or move a bit left or right. Mechanical keyboards have a solid build quality.

Mechanical Keyboard Base

The mechanical Keyboard base denotes the housing of the keyboard. The keyboard base is the part that makes the outer bottom covering of the keyboard. Having a good quality keyboard base is essential for longevity and stability. 

Also, a good quality mechanical keyboard base would remain intact even with minor drops.

PCB circuit

PCB circuit is the central part of the keyboard. Whatever the impression we give on the mechanical keys of the switches goes through the PCB side gate that recognizes that each keypress of a particular mechanical switch to a particular ASCII is recognized by the computer.

PCB circuit can also be considered as the heart of the keyboard.

Other Components 

Stabilizers

As the mechanical keyboard has each key as a separate movable part, so the longer keys like the space bar keys have some stability issues. Due to this, the stabilizers are used beneath the keys to ensure that the keys sit straight and stabilize to get a superb typing experience. 

Without the stabilizer, you are typing experience reduced as you would get a less stabilized switch that would shake.

Dampeners

To reduce the noise of the switches, dampness or noise reducers are implemented, which works like a charm. O-shaped rings made of rubber works very well for dampening the mechanical keyboard, even the blue switches.

Lube

Lubing is an essential part of the case of mechanical switches. Lubing the mechanical switches is a pretty important task. It sets a good diving experience by reducing the friction or the noise. Leaving the keys would help you to get constant clicking and typing experience.

This video would comprehensively cover mechanical keyboards. You would get an overall experience about mechanical keyboard. (Video Credit: TechRadar)

Types of Mechanical Keyboards Layout

Mechanical Keyboards can have a standard full-sized keyboard style layout or a more custom layout that can bring more positive factors out of convenience. 

Mechanical keyboards have many custom layouts other than the full-sized keyboard layout like 

  • Full-sized layout,
  • 60% keyboard layout, 
  • layout without the function keys, 
  • layout without the number keys.

Difference Between a Mechanical Keyboard and a regular Keyboard

Mechanical keyboards though serve the same problem as any regular keyboard but have several differences that would help to know why it is better.

Comparison CriteriaMechanical KeyboardRegular Keyboard (Membrane)
TechnologyIndividual Mechanical Keys registers clicksA membrane register clicks beneath the keyboard keys.
Performance in GamingModerate to HighLow to Moderate (Depending on brand)
Typing SpeedHigh (Makes your typing faster)Average to High
DurabilityDurableNot Durable
Longevity10-15 years on average1.5 to 3 years on average
LoudnessLoud(Blue Switches) to comparatively silent(Linear Switches like Red Switch) Low Sound
RGBBoth RGB and Non-RGB presentBoth RGB and Non-RGB present
CostCosts MoreCosts Less

Advantages of Mechanical Keyboards

Highly Durable

For any keyboard, durability is a significant factor to consider. Mechanical Keyboards are pretty durable enough and are very good for any performance-oriented task like Gaming. In Gaming, durability is a very crucial factor to consider.

Due to the durability and consistent performance, mechanical keyboards are a choice for even pro gamers.

Many of the mechanical keyboards are constructed well to break down with mild to moderate drops.

Highly Customisable

Mechanical keyboards are known for the way you can customize it, and it imparts convenience to the users. Gamers love the aura of the RGB switches with anti-ghosting features. The typists and the programmers love the different keyboard layout, like the more compact and portable 60% layout. 

As not all keys in a keyboard are required, and some keys are redundant too. So, having a good keyboard layout eliminates redundant or unused keys in the layout, like the number keys on the right and even the function keys(F1 to F12).

Long-Lasting

Due to their solid design and build, mechanical keyboards last about 10 to 15 years with heavy usage. The longevity is far better than membrane keyboards which break down often within a year or more.

Mechanical keyboards are made of well-built and designed switches, which impact how much longevity would be.

Enhanced Typing and Gaming Experience

With Mechanical Keyboards, you would have an overall enhanced typing experience. The activation of the keys is 40-50 gm as per the keys, and you also get feedback that makes the typing experience way better. 

I love typing using mechanical keys a lot. Mechanical switches also improve the typing speed and hence the overall productivity you do.

Disadvantages of Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keys are Noisy.

Mechanical keys are noisy. For example, the clicky type of keys, ie. The Cherry MX Blue keys are very noisy. They are not suitable to use in the office environment or anywhere where noise can be a problem. 

In contrast, the linear mechanical keyboards or the membrane keyboards are not at all noisy. 

Suppose you want a silent profile mechanical keyboard. In that case, you can look for linear keys, which are an excellent option for the office.

High Price

Mechanical keyboards come at a high price point. Compared to mechanical keyboards, membrane keyboards are often even ten times cheaper.

Being at a high price point, many do not prefer choosing a mechanical keyboard. Though mechanical keyboards are expensive, they are worth having.

Mechanical Keyboards are heavy.

Unlike the Membrane type of keyboards which weigh around 500-700 grams, a mechanical keyboard weighs more than 1.5 kg. On average mechanical keyboards weigh around 1.3 to 1.8 kg. 

Mechanical keyboards being much heavier is a problem for those who want to carry the keyboard with them. Due to its increased weight, a mechanical keyboard cannot be considered a portable option.

Who would take advantage of mechanical keyboards?

Mechanical keyboards are for anyone who relies upon and does heavy tasks using a computer keyboard, typing, programming, or Gaming. The professionals mostly use these, and in the gaming industries, even the programmers in the competitions use this.

People in different professions who can get benefit by using a mechanical keyboard in their daily work routine are: 

  • Journalists
  • Content creators
  • Copywriters
  • Programmers
  • Professional typist
  • Any Gamers and even the pro-gamers and many more people.

Top Mechanical Keyboard Brands

The most popular peripheral manufacturers are all in the mechanical keyboard industry. Even the quality and innovation they are putting in the mechanical keyboards are commendable.

The most popular mechanical keyboard brands are:

  1. Logitech – known for Peripherals in all ranges and with trustworthy products that last long and perform well.
  2. Steelseries – best for gaming keyboards
  3. Razer – best for durable and high-performance mechanical keyboards
  4. Corsair – known for a high-quality mechanical keyboard. Corsair keyboards last longer.

Mechanical keyboard using experience: How is it?

I have been using a mechanical keyboard for more than two years, and I mainly use it for programming, gaming, and blogging.

I use it very heavily throughout the day. The essential thing I note is that the typing seems to be less tiring than any membrane type of keyboard. Typing has improved significantly in terms of speed and accuracy.

mechanical keyboard

After using a mechanical keyboard, you would not like to move to any keywords like membrane type of keyboard, scissor-type of switches in laptop. 

Overall the typing experience using a mechanical keyboard is worth it. You would feel the keypress and the sound that would help type without looking even at the keyboard as you get to know that the key has been registered already by hearing the keypress sound.

This keypress sound or the experience that you gave us feedback from the mechanical keyboard is excellent.

This video shows how to build a custom mechanical keyboard in detail (Video Credit: Linus Tech Tips)

Final words

Mechanical keyboards are the quality and durable keyboards ever manufactured. I have explained each and every bit of clarity regarding what is a mechanical keyboard, their types, and what advantages they have.

Though they are expensive, the value the mechanical keyboards provide is unmatched. I use a mechanical keyboard for daily work like coding and blogging.

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