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Mechanical keyboards vs. ordinary PC keyboards – which to choose?

Looking to update your keyboard experience? Here’s what you need to know.

wasd keyboards mechanical keyboards
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

A mechanical keyboard uses physical, actual switches under the keys to determine when someone has actually pressed in a key. Whereas an ordinary keyboard is a different setup. In this article, I will discuss the differences and talk about how to choose a keyboard.

A keyboard and a mouse are very important devices when interacting with your computer. Apart from typing, a keyboard can perform other functions using its different keys. Modern keyboards are a direct inheritance from the typewriter which was developed as early as 1878.

QUERTY still remains the popular keyboard layout since it is considered to be more efficient than the Dvorak layout which was patented in the year 1936. Selecting the right keyboard is very important when designing your computer workstation because you don’t want to have your hands and wrist aching or do your work uncomfortably. So, which type of keyboard should you use on your computer?

Mechanical vs. ordinary keyboards

A mechanical keyboard uses a mechanical switch that is placed under every key to record each keystroke that you make. This physical switch is triggered when you press the key before bouncing back quickly to return the key to its original position. An ordinary PC keyboard, on the other hand, uses a rubber dome and membrane to allow for the depression and recording of the key. It is a common type of keyboard since it is easy and cheap to produce.

When choosing between the two types of keyboards, it is important first to understand what they have to offer:

Durability

When going through the best buy mechanical keyboard reviews, the main concern is usually to get a good keyboard that lasts longer especially if you will be using it regularly. Mechanical keyboards are long lasting despite the manufacturer since they use mechanical switches that are certified to be durable. They are highly resistant to repetitive strokes since they use metal on metal contact points with the ability to withstand over 50 million key presses compared to only 10 million for membrane keyboards. Collapsed rubber domes and sticky keys make ordinary keyboards to deteriorate easily.

Feel

The most important aspect to look at when choosing a keyboard is the feel and key resistance. If you value the solid ‘thuck’ click that comes with a mechanical keyboard, then you may not like the mushy and spongy feel of the ordinary keyboard. This is because the rubber dome underneath the ordinary keyboard keys offers a nonlinear resistance to pressure giving it a wobbly feel. The problem with mechanical keys is the audible sound that they produce when clicked although there are people who find this feeling pleasurable.

N-Key rollover

Mechanical keyboards allow you to press more keys simultaneously compared to an ordinary membrane keyboard. This means that you won’t have a problem using a mechanical keyboard for a good gaming experience.

Maintenance on mechanical keyboards

Keyboards are prone to dust, spillage, and dirt and they need to be cleaned and maintained from time to time. While ordinary keyboards are highly susceptible to dirt due to the sticky rubber, they are very problematic to remove and clean compared to mechanical keyboards. Mechanical keyboards are therefore easy to maintain given that it takes no time to separate, clean and reattach the self-contained switches and the flat plastic.

Typing experience

An ordinary keyboard may have a near same typing experience with the mechanical keyboard, but it is the audible click of an actuated button that sets the mechanical keyboard apart. This feature ensures that you don’t keep pressing down the key longer than it is needed as opposed to annoying anyone who is in the room. With an ordinary computer, there is a high tendency of your hands getting tired since you will use more force every time that you push the keys more than necessary.

Mechanical keyboards allow you to type more quickly, accurately and lightly compared to an ordinary PC keyboard. It is also durable, customizable, easy to maintain and allows you to press more keys simultaneously. It is however expensive and loud compared to an ordinary keyboard which is let down by its mushy feels and quick wear out. Therefore, choose a mechanical keyboard if you intend to use it for long periods of time and an ordinary keyboard if you will use it for light work.

What kind of keyboard do you prefer? Do you have a favorite mechanical keyboard? Let us know below.

Check out some of our recent mechanical keyboards review here:

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