As a gamer, programmer, trader, or whatever digital skill you’ve developed, your keyboard is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your arsenal. Mechanical keyboards have become an increasingly popular choice for people in all kinds of fields over the past few years, but with how much some of the cost, people wonder whether they will stand the test of time.
Mechanical keyboards get better over time. As you get used to them and become more familiar with the travel distance and tactile feedback, they begin to feel better than traditional keyboards. Also, since they are built with switches rather than membranes, they last longer and degrade slower.
If you spend a lot of time with your computer, you’ll want to know more about the types of keyboards available for you. So if you’ve stumbled on mechanical keyboards as a viable option and are looking to learn more about them, you’re in the right place.
Why Do Mechanical Keyboards Get Better Over Time?
Mechanical keyboards get better over time because of how they’re built. Membrane keyboards are more like pressure pads than keys. On the other hand, mechanical keyboards have tactile feedback that can take some getting used to but improves your overall experience after you get used to it.
Getting the hang of them can take some time, but if you’re a gamer, programmer, or just use your computer a lot, you’ll figure your way around them sooner rather than later. With how much more customizable they are compared to other keyboards, you might eventually wonder how you ever got by without one.
Are Mechanical Keyboards the Best Option?
Mechanical keyboards have a lot of benefits going for them. The key difference is that they use switches for keys instead of pressure pads, but is that really enough to crown them above all other keyboards?
Mechanical keyboards are the best option if you like tactile feedback. They have a lot more travel distance during actuation. Because of this, they increase accuracy by reducing accidental key presses. However, if you prefer very low travel times, membrane keyboards might be better for you.
While I prefer mechanical keyboards, it’d be wrong to say they’re the best choice in all cases. To choose the best keyboard for yourself, you’ll have to consider how the different options stack against each other.
Mechanical Keyboards vs. Membrane Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards are much more durable than membrane ones. This durability isn’t a vague idea either—each key usually has an estimated life cycle. For example, membrane keys have a life cycle of about 5 million keystrokes.
On the other hand, mechanical keyboards last at least five times as long at about 30 million keystrokes, and the more durable ones can go up to 70 million strokes.
The keys on a mechanical keyboard can take quite a beating too. Since they are built with durability in mind, they are far better suited to people like gamers that have a habit of pressing hard on their keyboards.
Travel distance is the distance from when you touch the key to when the keystroke is completed and registered by the computer. For membrane keyboards, the travel distance is quite low and can sometimes lead to double presses, since it takes so little effort to press them.
Mechanical keyboards are built with high travel distance, and this is one of their main selling points. Most mechanical keyboards have travel distances of at least 0.11 inches (3 mm), which is almost three times more than the 0.05 inches (1.25 mm) average travel distance of membrane keyboards.
Realistically, the cost is the most important thing for most people when choosing a keyboard. While both types come with their own benefits and downsides, most people choose with their pockets first and then adjust for potential benefits after.
If cost is the most important thing to you, you’d be far better served with a membrane keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are not as durable, and many people use this to justify the price difference of fmechanical keyboards. However, it’s very unlikely that you’ll wear out a keyboard fast enough to make it worth it.
In the end, the main reason people choose mechanical keyboards is that they like the feel, not the increased durability.
Why You Should Own a Mechanical Keyboard
If you’re new to high-end keyboards, wrapping your mind around the differences between each type can be overwhelming. Mechanical keyboards that have many unique parts and different types of switches geared towards different preferences.
The first and most important benefit for most users of mechanical keyboards is the feedback they get when they press a key. The keys on a mechanical keyboard give a distinct click-clack sound when you press them.
This auditory feedback, combined with the resistance from their springs, almost completely removes the possibility of hitting keys by accident. But, most importantly, provides a more enjoyable feel.
Mechanical keyboards are built to last longer than most other keyboards. Their life cycle varies, but on average, they far outperform the alternatives.
As much as the life cycle is important, their ability to hold up under abuse is to. While I don’t recommend throwing your keyboard against a wall to see if it holds up, mechanical keyboards can take enough of a beating that they’re likely to come out on top even if you did.
If you’ve ever watched Aceu, Faker, Shroud, or various other streamers when they’re in their element, the intensity they strike their keyboards with is enough to be noticeable. Games require a high degree of concentration, and when you’re focused on winning, being nice to your keyboard can sometimes be the last thing on your mind.
If you also fall under this category, mechanical keyboards might just be the thing for you. While membrane keyboards are fine for regular, everyday use, mechanical keyboards will last longer under intense use and give you better performance.
Customizability is one area where mechanical keyboards blow their competitors out of the water. If the most important thing you want is to build a keyboard specifically suited to your tase, a mechanical keyboard is precisely what you need.
Almost every part of a mechanical keyboard is customizable, but the most noticeable customization option is the keycaps. Keycaps can be swapped whenever you want without fear of damaging the keyboard, and there are usually far more customization options than with other keyboards.
Many people change their keycaps for aesthetic purposes, but there can sometimes be far more to it. Beneath the keycap on a mechanical keyboard is the switch, and while the keycap is what you make the most contact with, the switch gives the keyboard most of its functionality.
Switches are responsible for most of the physical and audio feedback you get when using your keyboard, so changing them can change your entire experience. If you’re unhappy with the travel time of your keys, for example, o-rings can reduce actuation time for each key.
Mechanical keyboards are the highest-quality keyboards you can find. Although they can take some getting used to if you’re new to them, they become a lot better over time.
Compared to the alternatives, these keyboards are usually more durable and customizable, making them a good choice if you type a lot. Their main drawback is that they’re more expensive than other types of keyboards.