When talking peripherals, mechanical keyboards seem to be a must for today’s gamer. PC hardware is already expensive enough as it is, so why would anyone consider spending more on a mechanical keyboard when there are cheaper alternatives? In this article, we will discuss why mechanical keyboards are indeed worth it.
Mechanical keyboards are, admittedly, not for everyone. They take getting used to. They can also be loud depending on which switches you choose, but once you get used to the new feel, it’s pretty hard to imagine using anything else.
What is a Mechanical Keyboard?
A mechanical keyboard is a keyboard that contains physical spring activated switches. The spring activated switches of mechanical keyboards provide smoother tactile and audible feedback when compared to traditional membrane keyboards. There are several types of switches that allow the customization of the feel and sound of a mechanical keyboard.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Worth it?
Mechanical keyboards are definitely worth paying a premium if you’re a person who does a lot of typing. The fact that you’re getting much clearer tactile and audible confirmation that you’re hitting the keys will make your keystrokes more accurate and will require significantly less effort. You’ll be able to undergo long typing sessions without having to constantly rest your sore forearms and hands.
Now, here’s where things get confusing a bit. Believe it or not, people don’t usually pay scientists to do studies on the differences between traditional membrane and mechanical keyboards, so there’s a lot of unconfirmed information regarding their actual set of features that floats around. Companies everywhere claim that you’ll have more accuracy, more speed, and won’t get tired as easily.
Seeing as there are a lot of users who are vocal about their personal experience, I can confidently say that most of these claims are true. Mechanical keyboards most definitely take getting used to. From my personal experience, here’s how the first few days will go: your WPM will drop, you might feel like they take more energy to use, and your accuracy will definitely be affected by the elevated keys. After getting used to the particularities of the keyboard, the general consensus is that you’ll be more accurate and faster using a mechanical keyboard.
Advantages of a Mechanical Keyboard
Mechanical keyboards definitely bring more to the table, but when can you actually take advantage of their ‘superior’ design and feature set?
Mechanical Keyboards are Better for Typing
Well, if you’re working with spreadsheets, text documents, and are constantly answering lengthy emails all day, a mechanical keyboard can definitely make your life easier. They’re much more comfortable and ergonomic than your classic membrane, office-designated keyboards. Depending on the switches, they can get pretty loud, so maybe not suited for any office environment, but there are also quiet options (more on that later). The feedback is instant, helping you conserve energy, and the experience is much more satisfying. For long typing sessions, try picking something with low actuation force and a quiet click.
Mechanical Keyboards are Better for Gaming
If you’re a gamer, you’re probably inclined to invest in a mechanical keyboard. While most of it is because of how they’re marketed, a lot of pro gamers swear that their actions are more precise because of how they’re built. The keys are taller and easier to feel, so you’ll be able to attack and counter your enemies with more precision and lethality. For gaming “precision”, Cherry MX Red switches come highly recommended because of their linear behavior.
Mechanical Keyboards are Much More Durable
Now here’s the big selling point of mechanical keyboards. Mechanical keyboards are built to be very durable. Most of them are also very easy to clean. All the keys can be easily removed by hand or by the included key-removal tool without any tools. The plastic is much more durable, the body is oftentimes built using metal (in part), so it can easily become a very long-term investment. In terms of lifespan, your keyboard will definitely outlast your computer. There are vintage IBM mechanical keyboards with PS/2 connectors that are still being used today.
Mechanical Keyboards are Customizable
Mechanical keyboards are also very customizable. You can find keycaps on the internet that are compatible with every type of switch. This allows you to get very creative with your personal design. If something’s too flashy, you can order some low-profile caps and turn your gaming keyboard into something that’s more appropriate for an office. If it’s not flashy enough, I’m sure that you can get as creative as you want.
Disadvantages of a Mechanical Keyboard
The only thing that might sway you when weighing mechanical and membrane keyboards is cost. Mechanical keyboards cost significantly more because of the higher quality materials used in designing them. That being said, there are a lot of other factors that can influence the price of a mechanical keyboard. Especially since they’re marketed towards a gaming audience. RGB (a term that refers to a component’s ability to light up and cycle through every color) is something that noticeably brings prices up. Programmable macros are also a premium, as well as keyboard size.
For gaming and office purposes, a low-profile, a 60% mechanical keyboard (more compact, doesn’t have the numpad) can be bought new for around 100$ from a reputable manufacturer. Knockoffs are cheaper, but they’re also not as durable.
Not as Loud as You Think
Some people will say that mechanical keyboards are not worth it because they’re very loud, but that’s not true. There are many different types of mechanical switches. The loudest being Cherry MX Blue and Razer Green switches, with a very audible click. If you’re looking for a quieter yet satisfying typing experience, then Cherry MX Brown switches are perfect. They provide a good middle ground for people who want a mechanical experience but are discouraged by the loudness of the clicks.
The mechanical keyboard market is pretty vast. If you’re an enthusiast and want to have the most complete PC experience, then a mechanical keyboard comes highly recommended. There are a lot of different switches, so everyone can find a good fit. Recently, the patent for original Cherry MX switches has expired. Therefore, every major manufacturer has their own take on the classic. Word on the street is that the Chinese equivalents are also pretty good and even cheaper, so there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of experience and budget.
Is a mechanical keyboard worth it for you? Difficult to tell. If you spend half of your time at your desk, playing video games or typing away, then definitely. If your desktop is gathering dust half of the time, then it’s probably not. That being said, a mechanical keyboard is usually always better than a membrane alternative, as it can outlast it while providing a much better typing experience.