Mechanical keyboard

Mechanical keyboards have become a popular choice for many, from gamers to office workers. But what exactly is a mechanical keyboard? And are they suitable for office use? Dive into the world of mechanical keyboards and get answers to some popular questions. 

Frequently asked questions about mechanical keyboards

What it is, how it works, and types of switches

What is a mechanical keyboard? 

A mechanical keyboard is a type of computer keyboard that uses individual mechanical switches for each key. These switches are made of several components: a hard plastic “keycap”, a softer plastic “key stem”, and the actual switch mechanism beneath—which produces a tactile feedback and audible click when pressed. This design offers a more precise and consistent keystroke, making them a favourite among typists and gamers alike. 

How do mechanical keyboard switches work? 

At the heart of every mechanical keyboard is the switch. Each key on a mechanical keyboard has its own individual switch, which consists of a hard outer shell and an inner mechanism. When you press a key, the switch mechanism moves, completing an electrical circuit and sending the signal to your computer. This design not only provides tactile feedback but also ensures each keystroke is distinct and accurate. 

What are the different types of mechanical switches, and how do they differ? 

Mechanical switches come in a variety of flavours, each offering a unique typing experience: 

  1. Linear switches: These have a smooth keystroke without any tactile bump or audible click. They’re often preferred by gamers for their consistent keystroke. 
  1. Tactile switches: These provide a noticeable bump mid-way through the keystroke, giving feedback that the key has been pressed. They’re popular among typists. 
  1. Clicky switches: These are like tactile switches but with an added audible click sound. They offer both tactile and auditory feedback. 

The choice between these switches is largely based on personal preference and the intended use of the keyboard. 

ASUS ROG mechanical gaming keyboard

Mechanical keyboards vs gaming keyboards

Is a mechanical keyboard different from a gaming keyboard? 

While many gaming keyboards are mechanical, not all mechanical keyboards are designed for gaming. Gaming keyboards often have features tailored for gamers, such as macro keys, customizable RGB lighting, and faster response times. On the other hand, mechanical keyboards designed for typing might prioritize comfort, ergonomics, and quieter switches. 

Are gaming keyboards good for typing? 

Gaming keyboards are often mechanical, but are they good for typing? The answer is yes! Gaming keyboards are designed for precision and responsiveness, qualities that are also beneficial for typing. However, some gaming keyboards come with additional features like macro keys or RGB lighting, which might not be necessary for typing tasks. It’s all about personal preference. 

Person using mechanical keyboard

Adding a mechanical keyboard to your work setup

Should I use a mechanical keyboard in the office? 

Using a mechanical keyboard in the office can be a game-changer. They often provide a more comfortable typing experience, especially for those who spend hours at their desk. The tactile feedback can help reduce typing errors and increase typing speed. However, there’s a catch. Mechanical keyboards can be louder than their membrane counterparts.

What mechanical keyboard should I get for typing? 

When looking for a mechanical keyboard for typing, consider the following: 

  1. Switch type: There are various switch types, each with its own feel and sound. For typing, many prefer tactile switches that offer feedback without a loud click. 
  1. Size: Mechanical keyboards are available in either full-size or tenkeyless designs. Decide whether you need a number pad depending on your workflow.
  1. Features: Backlighting can be useful in low-light conditions. Some keyboards also have multimedia keys or programmable keys. This may be useful if you need quick access to specific commands.
  1. Customization: If you would like to fully customize the look and feel of your keyboard, look for a “custom mechanical keyboard”. These allow you to choose your keycaps, switches, and even the keyboard’s layout to suit your needs.

Are wireless mechanical keyboards better than wired? 

The preference between wired and wireless mechanical keyboards is subjective. Wireless options offer a cleaner desk setup without cables and the flexibility to move the keyboard around. However, they do require charging or batteries. Wired keyboards, on the other hand, don’t have the risk of running out of battery mid-task. It’s all about what fits your needs and workspace best.

Are there ergonomic mechanical keyboards for those concerned about wrist health? 

Absolutely! Ergonomics is a big concern for many, especially those who type for extended periods. Several manufacturers offer ergonomic mechanical keyboards designed to reduce wrist strain and promote a more natural hand position. These keyboards might have a split design, tenting, or a negative tilt. Paired with a wrist rest, they can make typing more comfortable and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries. 

Is it rude to have a mechanical keyboard at work? 

The sound produced by mechanical keyboards can be a point of contention in an office setting. While some people love the audible click, others might find it distracting. If you’re considering bringing your mechanical keyboard to the office, it’s a good idea to opt for switches that are quieter. There are also low profile mechanical keyboards which are designed to be more discreet and less noisy. Always be considerate of your coworkers and maybe even ask them if the sound bothers them. 

Customizing a mechanical keyboard

Maintenance and cost of mechanical keyboards

How long do mechanical keyboards last compared to regular keyboards? 

Mechanical keyboards are built to last. Thanks to their robust design and individual switches, they can withstand tens of millions of keystrokes. In contrast, regular membrane keyboards, which use a different kind of pressure pad system, typically have a lifespan of 5 to 10 million keystrokes. This means that, in the long run, a mechanical keyboard can outlast its membrane counterpart by several years. 

How do I clean and maintain my mechanical keyboard? 

Maintaining a mechanical keyboard is straightforward: 

  1. Regular cleaning: Use compressed air to blow out any dust or debris from between the keys. 
  1. Deep cleaning: Every few months, consider removing the keycaps (using a keycap puller) and gently cleaning the surface and switches with a soft brush or cloth. 
  1. Spill management: If you spill something on your keyboard, immediately unplug it and turn it upside down to drain. Remove the keycaps and clean the affected area. Let it dry completely before plugging it back in.

Can I replace individual keys or switches on a mechanical keyboard? 

One of the great things about mechanical keyboards is their modularity. If a key or switch wears out or if you simply want a change, you can often replace individual keys or even the switches themselves. This not only extends the life of the keyboard but also allows for a high degree of customization. Whether you want to swap out for a different switch type or just change the keycaps for a fresh look, mechanical keyboards offer that flexibility. 

Why are mechanical keyboards more expensive than other keyboards?

Mechanical keyboards tend to be pricier than their membrane counterparts for several reasons: 

  1. Durability: Mechanical switches can withstand tens of millions of keystrokes, making them last longer. 
  1. Quality: The build quality, materials used, and the intricate design of the switches contribute to the cost. 
  1. Customization: The ability to customize keycaps and switches can also add to the price. 
  1. Niche market: As a product that caters to enthusiasts and professionals, mechanical keyboards are in demand, which affects the price.

Find the right mechanical keyboard for you

Steelseries mechanical keyboard

Mechanical keyboards offer a unique typing experience that many find superior to other types. Whether you’re gaming or typing, there’s likely a mechanical keyboard out there that’s perfect for you. Understanding the nuances of mechanical keyboards can enhance your typing experience and help you make informed choices. Whether you’re a gamer, a writer, or just someone who appreciates a good keyboard, there’s a mechanical option out there for you. 

This article was drafted using AI technology and then reviewed, fact-checked, and revised by a member of our editorial team.

Best Buy (assisted with AI)
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