Keyboards are incredibly versatile devices used to put information into our computers, making them a crucial piece of equipment for almost every possible use of a computer device.
The most popular types of keyboards today are membrane and mechanical keyboards. In recent years, membrane keyboards have become significantly more popular than mechanical keyboards, leaving us to question why mechanical keyboards are still being made and whether they are worth it.
If you’re considering buying a mechanical keyboard, the answer to these questions might be pretty useful to you. Keep reading as we give you our evaluation of whether mechanical keyboards are still worth getting.
What Are Mechanical Keyboards? How Are They Different From Membrane Keyboards?
On the surface, all keyboards appear identical- they host three rows of alphabets, some keys dedicated to punctuation marks, and separate rows dedicated to numbers and function keys. Despite this similarity, Keyboards can vary significantly in how they are structured internally.
Nowadays, most people use either one of these two types of keyboards: membrane keyboards or mechanical keyboards.
The most popular kind of keyboard today is the membrane keyboard, which has a rubbery- dome beneath each key. When pressed, this rubber gets compressed, and the key electrically connects to the keyboard’s wires.
On the other hand, mechanical keyboards are quite different – rather than using rubber, they use a plastic switch underneath the key to initiate the connection.
These physical switches give mechanical keyboards their robust feel, and it is also what takes away the “mushiness” from these keyboards – you will feel your clicks such that you can never doubt whether a key has been pressed or not.
These keyboards are mainly used by touch typists, gamers, and computer programmers who enjoy these keyboards’ unparalleled accuracy and responsiveness.
How Do They Work?
Mechanical keyboards, unlike membrane keyboards, make use of keyboard switches that lie beneath their keycaps. The concept of keyboard switches is pretty straightforward.
Switches contain stems that connect to the keycap and are kept upright by a spring. When the keycap is pressed, the stem is forced downward, enabling two electrical connections to meet up, and the keyboard works.
Thanks to their spring-loaded switches, mechanical keyboards have a distinguishably different feeling from membrane keyboards. When you press a key on a mechanical keyboard, you will hear a distinguishable click to ensure that you always know when a key is pressed.
You should note that not all mechanical keyboards function the same way. The switches used in mechanical keyboards are often categorized as either linear or tactile.
In order to work, a linear switch needs to be pressed down all the way, whereas a tactile switch only needs to be pressed down halfway through.
Whichever one of these you choose, though, the idea remains the same: mechanical keyboards will assist you greatly in terms of improving your accuracy. This quality can be attributed to the fact that each keypress is marked by a distinct and audible click.
Uses of Mechanical Keyboards
Today, Membrane Keyboards tend to be significantly more popular than mechanical keyboards.
This popularity can be attributed to the fact that these keyboards are much cheaper than their mechanical counterparts and that they are much quieter than mechanical keyboards. Still, this does not mean that mechanical keyboards are good for nothing.
Many individuals, and specialists, like programmers and typists, actively seek out mechanical keyboards (over membrane keyboards) for themselves because of the spectacular accuracy these keyboards bring about in their typing.
Gamers are another example of a demographic that mechanical keyboards cater to. Even the tiniest fraction of a second can make a difference in gaming.
This means that gamers absolutely cannot afford the occasional accuracy issues that membrane keyboards face. So, all professional gamers seek out top-of-the-line mechanical keyboards to optimize their setup.
Pros and Cons
Now that we have a fair idea of what mechanical keyboards are, how they work, and what they are used for, let’s move our discussion to the pros and cons of using mechanical keyboards- an evaluation of the pros and cons of using mechanical keyboards will help us answer the central question of this discussion.
Let’s begin our discussion by looking at the major plus points of using mechanical keyboards.
Perhaps one of the most important factors to consider while judging the utility of tech equipment is its ability to bear an intensive workload.
As we mentioned earlier, the demographic that mainly seeks out mechanical keyboards is largely professional gamers, typists, computer programmers, etc. All of these professional uses involve intense workloads, which their work setups need to be able to bear.
Mechanical keyboards live up to this requirement splendidly. Individuals and professionals can safely rely on these keyboards and expect to see no breakdowns or glitches even while they perform the most keyboard-intensive task out there.
Compared to membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards can handle the workload much better and can complete the task much quicker with great accuracy.
Another essential aspect to consider while evaluating a piece of tech equipment is the question of how long the piece of equipment actually lasts – in other words, the question of its durability.
It turns out mechanical keyboards are pretty durable pieces of equipment with their life spans even lasting up to 10- 15 years with minimal repairs and maintenance costs.
One of the reasons why these keyboards tend to outlast other types of keyboards is that mechanical keyboards can be repaired pretty easily- if a key stops working, the user can easily detach that portion of the keyboard (kind of like Lego pieces) and replace it with a functioning piece.
In contrast, a membrane keyboard has a significantly shorter lifespan. This is mainly due to the fact that you can not make repairs in the local region of the keyboard that is damaged. Instead, you have only two options to choose from once you damage your mechanical keyboard. The first is to change the entire membrane itself, and the second is to change the whole keyboard.
Premium Typing Experience and Better Performance
One thing is for sure; you can not beat the typing experience that you get on a mechanical keyboard. This holds true both in terms of style and functionality- not only do these keyboards feel amazing to type on, but they’re also much more accurate than membrane keyboards.
This reliability is why mechanical keyboards significantly outperform the experience of typing on any other type of keyboard.
All good things come with trade-offs. In this section, we will discuss some of the most apparent disadvantages of using mechanical keyboards. Then, we will put these cons against the pros of using mechanical keyboards to determine the answer to our final question.
Portability Issues and Bulkiness
Mechanical keyboards are large, bulky accessories that are significantly heavier than membrane keyboards. This bulkiness means that these keyboards require extra effort on the owner’s part to be carried from one place to another.
In contrast, membrane keyboards are lightweight and compact; therefore, they have the edge over mechanical keyboards in terms of portability.
Mechanical keyboards are generally far more expensive than membrane keyboards. If you’re on a strict budget, the high costs of these keyboards can be a significant downside.
If you’ve ever used a mechanical keyboard, you know that it is not the quietest piece of equipment. As we mentioned earlier, the internal structure of these keyboards involves clickable switches.
While these switches serve great functional utility, their loudness can be irritable to many users who prefer to work in silence.
After considering all factors, our answer is this:
It depends on what you need to use them for. If you’re a student or someone who doesn’t perform keyboard-intensive tasks, you will be able to do just fine with a membrane keyboard. In this case, taking on the high costs and the extra bulkiness of a mechanical keyboard will not make much sense for you.
However, even if you have slightly keyboard-intensive tasks to perform, we strongly recommend that you invest in a good quality mechanical keyboard.
The superior accuracy and typing experience that these keyboards have to offer will significantly boost your productivity, and you will truly get your money’s worth.