Complete Guide to Understanding Mechanical Keyboards

Author Landon Fanetti

Posted Feb 23, 2023

Reads 7.2K

A White Mechanical Typewriter

If you've heard of a mechanical keyboard guide and wondered what it is, you're not alone. Mechanical keyboards differ from regular keyboards in that they have moving parts inside, which provide a different typing experience. While standard membrane PC keyboards use a huge plastic sheet with materials like plastic dome to cover the entire circuitry underneath, mechanical keyboards rely on individual switches for each key.

Mechanical keyboard switches come in various types such as tactile or clicky switches that make a nice clicking noise when you type. They also have different switch parts like stem, leaf, and spring that affect the overall feel of your typing experience. In this article, you'll find a complete guide to understanding mechanical keyboards - from labeling size layout parts to production method for keycaps materials. You'll also learn about switch types and keycap profiles so you can choose the perfect keyboard for your needs.

Mechanical keyboard vs. Membrane keyboard

When it comes to keyboards, there are two main types: mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards. Both keyboards fall under their own category, with their own pros and cons. Membrane keyboards are the cheaper option of the two, featuring rubber domes or pressure pads that sit on an underlying circuit board. On the other hand, mechanical keyboards offer an elevated typing experience with satisfying clicks and individual mechanical key switches.

Close Up Shot of Black Computer Keyboard

As previously mentioned, membrane keyboards feature rubber domes or pressure pads that sit on an underlying circuit board. This suggests membrane keyboards feature a lower quality typing experience than mechanical keyboards due to the lack of individual key switches. In contrast, mechanical keyboards contain a single key switch for each key, including spring metal contact leaves and a switch housing, allowing manufacturers to create a large variety of switch types and customization options.

One major difference between the two is how typing feels. The pressure required to actuate each key is different in both types of keys as well as the key travel distance actuation point. Additionally, the sound made by each type of switch varies widely; a membrane keyboard produces little noise while a mechanical switch can be heard from across the room. Ultimately, while membrane keyboards are a more budget-friendly option for those who do not require an exceptional typing experience, investing in a good mechanical keyboard will provide you with an excellent guide towards improving your overall typing experience.

Customization and Modifications of Mechanical Keyboard

Mechanical keyboards refer to a type of keyboard that uses mechanical switches for each key. Appearance, feel, and sound are some of the main reasons why many people prefer mechanical keyboards. However, users' preferences vary, and this is where customization and modifications come in. These modifications can include things like changing individual keys to applying lubrication or sound dampening materials.

One of the most popular forms of customization is easily removable keycaps. These come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and materials - from standard black keycaps to colorful ABS plastic or PBT plastic keycaps. Another common modification involves applying a special lubricant to the mechanical switches. This can make the keyboard smoother, adding sound dampening materials for a quieter typing experience.

Adding foam to the keyboard case or adding o-rings are other modifications that can help absorb the sound produced by switches bottoming out or key hits. This results in a quieter typing experience with a different sound profile. However, modifying mechanical keyboards can be an involved process that requires desoldering existing switches, which may not be suitable for everyone. Regardless, it's a rewarding hobby that can enhance your typing experience and make your keyboard truly your own.

Discover the Magic of Mechanical Keyboards!

Mechanical keyboards have gained popularity in recent years due to their durability, tactile feedback, and customization options. Unlike traditional rubber dome or membrane switches, mechanical keyboards use individual mechanical switches to register keystrokes. Each key on a mechanical keyboard contains its own switch, which is composed of a stem that moves up and down when pressed. When the stem moves downward, a spring compresses causing the switch to bounce back when released. The spring then expands, returning the switch to its original position.

Black Continental Silenta Typewriter

Each mechanical switch provides a specific feel and sound depending on the spring weight and housing material used. This means that users can customize their typing experience to suit their preferences. Mechanical keyboards are built to withstand millions of keystrokes and provide tactile feedback, meaning that each key press is successfully registered. Improved typing speed and accuracy are additional benefits offered by mechanical keyboards.

In addition to being durable and providing tactile feedback, mechanical keyboards offer a wide range of customization options such as keycap designs, backlighting, and programmable keys. These features make mechanical keyboards a popular choice among gamers and programmers who require a high-quality typing experience. So why not try out a mechanical keyboard yourself? You might just discover the magic they have to offer!

How Mechanical Keyboards Differ From Membrane Keyboards

When it comes to choosing a keyboard, one of the most important considerations is whether to go for a membrane or mechanical keyboard. Membrane keyboards are the more common and affordable option, but what sets them apart from their mechanical counterparts? Well, membrane keyboards use plastic membrane sheets with conductive traces printed on them to create an electrical circuit for a specific key. While they are popular among budget-conscious consumers, they can feel mushy and unresponsive additionally, their multiple membrane layers can stop working over time.

Now let's talk about mechanical keyboards. These keyboards are typically made up of individual mechanical switches that have a metal contact point inside them. When you press down on the keycap, it makes contact with the metal contact point, completing an electrical circuit for that specific key. Mechanical keyboards tend to be more durable than membrane keyboards and their individual switch design means that if one key stops working, it won't affect the functionality of the rest of the keyboard.

The main differences between mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards lie in their unique characteristics. While membrane keyboards may be a good choice in a quiet environment, mechanical keyboards tend to offer a customizable typing experience. They can be tailored to fit your preferences with different types of switches available such as tactile, linear or clicky switches. Ultimately, investing in a mechanical keyboard is a long-term investment as they tend to last longer than their membrane counterparts because they are built with higher quality materials and components.

Designing Your Space: Creating a Perfect Size and Layout

When it comes to mechanical keyboards, there are many form factor and layout options to consider. Traditional full size keyboards come with a dedicated number pad and usually have 108 keys. Some even offer additional media keys and volume knobs. However, if you don't care for a dedicated number pad, a tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard may be more your style. These keyboards have 88 keys and the TKL form factor removes the number pad making the keyboard more compact.

For those who prefer even smaller keyboards, there are 61 key options available as well. While some may find the keys cramped on these smaller keyboards, they do offer easy access to extra functions through the function key labeled "fn". Personal preferences for small keyboards will vary, but it's important to keep in mind the different form factors mentioned when selecting your ideal mechanical keyboard.

It's also worth noting that layouts differ based on location. JIS layouts are primarily based in Japan while ISO layouts are more common in America. The layouts differ based on things like where the shift keys are placed or if the JIS mirrors the ISO layout but has an extra key between shift and Z. Additionally, pay attention to bottom row layout as this can also impact typing comfort and accuracy. By considering all of these factors, you can design your space with the perfect size and layout for your mechanical keyboard needs!

Exploring the Inner Workings of a Mechanical Keyboard

A Woman Playing a Video Game

Let's talk about the inner workings of a mechanical keyboard. Unlike traditional rubber dome keyboards, mechanical keyboards have individual switches under each keycap. These switches are responsible for registering keystrokes and providing tactile feedback to the user. There are several types of switches available, each with their own characteristics and feel. Understanding how these switches work can help you choose the perfect mechanical keyboard for your needs.

Top Brands of Mechanical Keyboards You Need to Know

If you're looking for a mechanical keyboard, let's dive into some of the most popular mechanical keyboard brands in the gaming world. Corsair is a well-known brand that offers mechanical keyboards with various switch types and customizable RGB lighting. Razer is another popular gaming brand that also offers mechanical keyboards with different switch types and lighting options. Both feature extra programmable keys for gaming macros.

Logitech is a well-known brand in computer accessories and has various mechanical keyboards with different switch types and even includes a wrist rest for added comfort. SteelSeries is another popular brand in the esports world, and their mechanical keyboards feature low-profile switches and customizable RGB lighting.

Ducky is a smaller brand that produces high-quality mechanical keyboards with different switch types and custom keycaps. Filco is another smaller brand that's a popular choice for its minimalist design making it perfect for office use. Lastly, Das Keyboard offers mechanical keyboards with different switch types and customizable backlighting, making them one of the most popular mechanical keyboard brands on the market.

Important Things to Think About Before Making a Decision

If you're an avid typist or a gamer looking for the perfect keyboard, mechanical keyboards are definitely worth considering. However, before you make a purchase, there are additional things to think about. Mechanical keyboards come in many variations, with different features and brands. You'll also need to decide between a wired mechanical keyboard or wireless ones like wireless mice and wireless mechanical keyboards using the 2.4GHz wireless connectivity method that comes with a USB-based receiver.

Concentrated African American female comparing important papers of report on leather sofa in office

The modern gaming mechanical keyboards offer super-fast polling rates of up to 8000Hz, reducing the response time to a ludicrous 0.25ms. Some manufacturers offer keyboards that provide simple single-colored backlighting, while others have strong opinions on RGB backlighting. Cheaper mechanical keyboards often offer zone-based RGB lighting allowing users to set one color per zone instead of each individual key; however, premium mechanical keyboards offer additional RGB LED bars with over 168 million colors giving endless color combinations and crazy effects.

Choosing the right mechanical keyboard can be overwhelming due to the vast number of options available. This quick guide should give you a basic understanding of what's out there and help streamline your decision-making process. Ultimately, it's important to consider why you're buying a mechanical keyboard - whether it's for gaming or typing - as this will determine which features are most important for you in making your final choice.

How does a mechanical keyboard work?

A mechanical keyboard includes key switches that are partially responsible for the unique feel and sound generated by the keyboard. Unlike a membrane keyboard, where fingers press down on a single rubber dome, each key of a mechanical switch sits inside a two-piece housing (upper part and lower housing) with a stem centered in between. The included spring keeps the stem back to its original place after each key press.

When a key is pressed, the stem pushes down on metal contact points or "contact leaves" inside the switch. This action causes an actual electrical current to flow through the keyboards circuitry, registering finally as a keystroke. One of the benefits of this design is that it allows for adding variations in feel, sound, actuation force, and other features among different switch manufacturers.

The lower housing connects to the upper housing which features pins that connect it to the circuit board. This mechanism works broadly classified into two categories: tactile and linear. In tactile switches like Cherry MX Brown, there's a noticeable bump when you hit an actuation point. On the other hand, linear switches like Cherry MX Red provide no tactile feedback when hitting an actuation point. Whether you're typing away at your desk or gaming into oblivion, now you know how your mechanical keyboard works lets you enjoy those satisfying clicks and clacks with every keystroke!

History of Mechanical Keyboards

The time starting back in the 1980s, membrane keyboards were widely used. They had rubber membranes with conductive pads underneath, which when successfully pressed, would send signals to the computer. However, membrane keyboards didn't provide tactile feedback and weren't very durable.

IBM users were the ones who first started using mechanical keyboards. Companies started developing mechanical keyboards with individual switches underneath each keycap to provide tactile feedback and better durability. This was a game-changer for gamers and programmers, who needed a reliable keyboard. The reason mechanical keyboards are so popular is due to their customization options like switch types that require different amounts of force to activate and make a loud click sound. Switch options in mechanical keyboards also include customizable RGB lighting, programmable keys, and detachable cables - features that make mechanical keyboards a highly customizable option for many users.

In summary, mechanical keyboards have come a long way from membrane keyboards with no tactile feedback or durability. Gamers and programmers are now able to choose from various switch types that provide an unparalleled typing experience with satisfying tactile feedback. Customization options such as customizable RGB lighting, programmable keys, and detachable cables give users even more control over their keyboard setup. These are some of the reasons why mechanical keyboards remain popular among gamers and programmers today despite the many advancements made in membrane keyboards technology.

Build Quality and Durability of Mechanical Keyboard

When it comes to build quality and durability, mechanical keyboards are generally considered to be superior to their membrane counterparts. As mentioned earlier, mechanical keyboards use individual switches for each key press, typically rated for millions of key presses. In contrast, membrane keyboards (heres) use rubber dome switches that can wear out over time, leading to inconsistent typing experiences.

Materials used in mechanical keyboards also tend to be of higher quality than those used in membrane keyboards. This includes things like aluminum frames, PBT keycaps, and braided cables. These materials contribute to the overall durability of the keyboard and ensure a longer lifespan compared to their membrane counterparts.

The typing experience finally is worth noting. Mechanical keyboards provide tactile feedback and a distinctive clicking sound that makes typing a more satisfying experience. With their superior build quality, high-quality materials, individual switches that are easy to replace components with, and the satisfying typing experience they offer; it's no surprise why mechanical keyboard has become so popular lately. In summary, mechanical keyboards offer an unparalleled level of performance when it comes to build quality and durability while providing a much more enjoyable typing experience than membrane keyboards.

1. Pros:

Mechanical keyboards are known for their tactile feedback, which provides users with a satisfying typing experience. The individual switches in mechanical keyboards offer a tactile bump that makes typing more enjoyable and helps improve typing accuracy. Additionally, mechanical keyboards are much more durable than membrane keyboards, withstanding millions of keystrokes due to their sturdier construction. This longer lifespan is due to the durability of the key switches and the varying levels of tactile feedback and actuation force they provide.

Furthermore, mechanical keyboards typically have faster response times than membrane keyboards, which can also help improve typing accuracy. The anti-ghosting technology present in many mechanical keyboards allows users to press multiple keys simultaneously without worrying about missed keystrokes. With customizable key switches available in mechanical keyboards, users can choose the level of tactile feedback and noise levels that work best for them. Overall, mechanical keyboards are a great investment for anyone looking to improve their typing accuracy and overall productivity.

2. Cons:

One of the biggest drawbacks of mechanical keyboards is their loud clicking sound. While this tactile feedback can be satisfying for some users, it can also be distracting or annoying to others, particularly in quiet environments. Additionally, mechanical keyboards tend to be heavier and have higher quality construction than membrane keyboards, making them less portable.

Another con of mechanical keyboards is their higher actuation force compared to membrane keyboards. This means that it takes more pressure to register a keystroke on a mechanical keyboard, which may not be ideal for those who type for long periods of time. In contrast, membrane keyboards tend to have a lighter typing feel with less tactile feedback. However, as mechanical keyboards have gained popularity in recent years, many manufacturers have started offering different types of key switches with varying actuation forces to cater to different user preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a mechanical keyboard and how does it work?

A mechanical keyboard is a type of computer keyboard that uses individual mechanical switches instead of rubber dome or scissor switches. When a key is pressed, the switch sends a signal to the computer, resulting in faster and more accurate typing.

What does mechanical keyboard mean?

A mechanical keyboard uses individual switches for each key, resulting in a tactile and audible feedback when typing. This type of keyboard is preferred by gamers, programmers and typists due to its durability and improved typing speed.

How do mechanical keyboards work?

Mechanical keyboards work by using individual mechanical switches for each key, which provide a tactile response when pressed and register the keystroke without relying on rubber domes or membranes like traditional keyboards. This results in faster and more accurate typing, as well as increased durability and customization options.

What makes a keyboard mechanical?

A mechanical keyboard uses individual mechanical switches to register each keystroke, providing a tactile and audible feedback that improves typing accuracy and speed compared to traditional rubber dome keyboards.

What are the different types of mechanical keyboards?

The different types of mechanical keyboards are linear, tactile, and clicky. Linear switches offer a smooth keystroke without any tactile feedback, while tactile switches provide a slight bump when the key is pressed. Clicky switches have both a bump and an audible clicking sound.

Landon Fanetti

Landon Fanetti

Writer at Exgenex

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Landon Fanetti is a prolific author with many years of experience writing blog posts. He has a keen interest in technology, finance, and politics, which are reflected in his writings. Landon's unique perspective on current events and his ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple manner make him a favorite among readers.

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