If you are in the market for a new keyboard, you will most likely come across two different types — the membrane keyboard and the mechanical keyboard. With the considerable price difference between these two keyboards, you might wonder why the one is so expensive compared to the other one.
Both keyboards have their own set of advantages and are best suited for different needs. Although both of these keyboards have the same function, the way they feel and work is entirely different. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when deciding which one is best for you.
What Is a Membrane Keyboard?
A membrane keyboard is a regular keyboard and is the one most commonly used for general typing tasks. Depending on the membrane keyboard — and when compared to its mechanical counterpart — it is generally cheaper and more affordable. This is due to the materials used in the manufacturing process and how keystrokes are recorded.
They are usually made from plastic or rubber and the keyboard relies on a pressure pad to register keystrokes. Membrane switches generally last around 5 to 10 million keystrokes but vary depending on the keyboard. These types of keyboards are usually quiet and also provide a softer typing experience.
Although most keyboard enthusiasts — especially competitive gamers — will recommend the mechanical keyboard, it is not suited for everyone and requires a more significant upfront investment. Depending on your needs, a membrane keyboard could be the perfect fit. Same as its counterpart, it can also have a wide range of features, especially when looking at gaming membrane keyboards — without the mechanical switches, of course.
- Provides a softer typing experience
- Membrane switches are silent or have little typing sound — way less than mechanical keyboards
- Could still have many features, such as multimedia functions or RGB backlights
- Not very expensive
- Not very durable when compared to the mechanical alternative
- Has little to no feedback
- Does not possess key rollover — when the user presses multiple keys simultaneously, due to it relying on a pressure pad, some of the strokes might not register
- Has no customizable options
- Need to press harder to register feedback
Best suited for:
- General typing tasks
- People/gamers on a budget or who do not need all the feathers a mechanical keyboard offers
What Is a Mechanical Keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards come with a heftier price tag but they do provide more benefits than regular keyboards. One of the benefits a mechanical keypad has is the customizable options and accessories available for it, this is due to the mechanical switches this keyboard uses. Instead of relying on a pressure pad, it has individual mechanical switches that trigger a mechanism when pressed.
Due to mechanical switches using a mechanism that registers keystrokes, it is more precise and produces a satisfying click sound when used. These keys provide more feedback, a quicker response time and also has a faster typing feel. Although these keyboards have a great typing experience, the keys can be noisy and might be a dealbreaker to those who prefer stealthy typing.
A mechanical keyboard does provide more customizable options than most people would think — can change the keycaps, the button sensitivity and even the sound they make when pressed. A mechanical keyboard is also a lot more durable and generally lasts up to 50 million keystrokes, which is a lot more compared to its less sophisticated rival. There are three main types of mechanical switches — tactile, linear and clicky — which all provide a different experience.
- Faster response time
- Has tactical feedback
- Made from durable materials
- Keys could last up to 50 million keystrokes
- Provides a great typing and user experience
- Different customizable options to choose from
- Has key rollover feature
- Less force required for the keys to register
- Are expensive — can go other five hundred dollars
- Not meant for everyone
- Keys are noisy and can be distracting or annoying to some
Best suited for:
- People who spend a large amount of their day typing and want a more satisfying experience — such as writers
- People looking for more customizable options
- Gamers who play competitively
Are Mechanical Keyboards Better for Gaming?
In short, yes, but this also largely depends on what games you play. Due to a mechanical keyboard providing faster response time and being more accurate, they are the perfect choice for faster-paced games.
Another reason why mechanical keyboards are a good choice for gaming is their durability. Generally, they last longer than membrane ones and do come with features such as key rollover and customizable options.
Overall they will provide a more enjoyable gaming experience but they are not required.
Membrane keyboards can still be used for gaming, however, they will not provide the same enjoyable experience. If you are more a casual gamer and find that your regular keyboard gets the job done perfectly, there is no need to buy a mechanical one.
Should You Buy a Mechanical Keyboard?
This all comes down to personal preference. If you are a gamer who plays a lot of fast-paced action games where response time is crucial, a mechanical keyboard might be a good investment. The same can be said for writers or people who spend a large part of their day typing.
If you need to buy a new keyboard every couple of months due to a regular one not being able to keep up with your typing needs, a mechanical keyboard might make more sense. They have more durability and would be able to survive the daily tasks a writer undertakes.
On the other hand, if you are a more casual computer user and your work or hobbies do not revolve around typing, a membrane keyboard would work perfectly. They do not have the same life span as their mechanical counterpart, but they are more than adequate enough for regular typing purposes.
At the End of the Day
At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference and how frequently you will use it. Both keyboards are great and are made for different purposes and users. Whichever one you end up choosing, ensure you do proper research and consider the benefits that each of them offers. If you are still trying to decide which keyboard to buy, choose the one that best fits your typing needs.
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