The 10 Best Mechanical Keyboards
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in February of 2016. Mechanical keyboards aren't only for nostalgia-loving computer geeks. A good, high quality model can actually help you type more quickly and accurately than a typical membrane version. For those reasons, as well as the fact that, with more rugged components, they're made to last longer, they're favored by gamers and others who spend long hours clicking at the keys. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best mechanical keyboard on Amazon.
What Makes Mechanical Keyboards Different?
In essence, not only does the feel of the keyboard change based on the key switch mechanism, but the actual force required to perform a keystroke changes as well.
Mechanical keyboards are also considered to be of better quality than regular keyboards.
All keyboards might seem the same to the average user, but for those who demand more of their computers, the distinct differences between keyboard types can make a huge difference to their functionality. Firstly, keyboards are equipped with different types of switch technology. Changing the key switch mechanism results in a significant change in the operation of the keys themselves. In essence, not only does the feel of the keyboard change based on the key switch mechanism, but the actual force required to perform a keystroke changes as well.
The switches in mechanical keyboards are made of a few different parts. These parts include the key, a plastic stem, two metal contacts, and a spring. The plastic stem is a part of the key itself, and moves between two metal contacts as the key is pressed down. When these contacts touch one another, the keyboard sends the signal to the computer that the key has been pressed. The spring attached to the underside of the key forces the key back up to its resting position until it is pushed again on the next keystroke. It is this switching mechanism which defines a mechanical keyboard, giving it the snappy feel many users favor.
Mechanical keyboards are also considered to be of better quality than regular keyboards. Over years of manufacturing, large companies have looked for cheaper ways to produce keyboards. This search resulted in a more commonly used alternative called the rubber-dome keyboard. These don't have as many moving parts as mechanical keyboards. Instead, they have a circuit board which uses a carbon composite and a rubber or silicone pad running across the entire board. Small rubber or silicone bumpers lie under each key, and when pressed they push the corresponding switch on the board. These types of keyboards are cost-efficient, but many users see them as lower quality.
Why Are Mechanical Keyboards So Prevalent In Gaming?
Internet gaming is generally a fast-paced, action-oriented environment. When compared to other fast-paced activities, such as physical sports, gaming is much more cerebral in nature. This has its benefits. Increased brain activity from video games has been linked to better cognitive performance, hand-eye coordination, and even social skills.
Internet gaming is generally a fast-paced, action-oriented environment.
Because most of the action takes place in the mind, physical action is generally limited to the movement of the hands over the keyboard and mouse. As the fate of a game can be determined in milliseconds, it is vital that a gamer make their keystrokes as efficient as possible.
Mechanical keyboards can help do just that. Where other keyboards require an average of four millimeters of movement to perform a keystroke, a mechanical keyboard requires just two millimeters of movement. Cutting the distance of a keystroke in half may not seem like much, but when combined with a reduced force required to perform a keystroke, many gamers view mechanical keyboards as much more efficient tools.
Another key benefit of mechanical keyboards is their durability. Because of the build of their switch mechanism, they wear down much more slowly than rubber-domed keyboards. Mechanical keyboards can handle years of use and still have the same springy feeling as the day they were first unboxed. The buoyant nature of rubber-domed keyboards is much more likely to wear down over time due to the aging process of elastomers, like silicone.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Right For You?
The number of ways in which the keyboard has been innovated over time is astounding. Whether or not the mechanical key switch is the pinnacle of the computer keyboard is yet to be seen, but they do appear to offer great benefit to users. Gamers are not alone in their use of mechanical keyboards. There are a few key benefits that may make them the smartest choice for a variety of people.
The mechanical switch mechanism provides the brain more useful feedback than a membrane keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards are designed for longevity. This is useful for anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a keyboard. If spending hours a day working from a computer is a job requirement, a mechanical keyboard may empower that work longer than a standard keyboard.
The use of computers in professional environments is always increasing, and using mechanical keyboards may be important to promote a higher standard of work. The mechanical switch mechanism provides the brain more useful feedback than a membrane keyboard. The snappy feel from the spring beneath the keys provides a small level of resistance that can help the user type faster. This translates to more productivity over time.
There are some drawbacks to using mechanical keyboards, however. While their complicated build makes them last longer, they also tend to be a bit more costly than other keyboards. In addition, spring-loaded keys have a tendency to click a bit louder than other keyboards. In a quiet office, this may be distracting to coworkers who are used to the quiet strokes of membrane or rubber-dome keys.
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