A surprising number of people believe that mechanical keyboards are outdated and have been completely replaced by the more modern membrane computer keyboards.
Membrane keyboards are similar to a standard low-profile keyboard in terms of key travel but lack the tactile response and auditory feedback that a mechanical computer keyboard provides.
So, mechanical keyboards do have some obvious advantages.
Now let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of mechanical keyboards.
What Are Mechanical Keyboards?
A mechanical keyboard uses physical switches where each press is registered precisely and requires a certain amount of downward force when you’re typing or WASD’ing your way through your favorite game.
They solve the problems that come with “mushy” membrane keyboards such as, for example, ghosting (multiple key presses), less precise results because of typos, overall speed, and sheer durability.
That’s why heavy-duty computer users love them – they get the job done and last a lot, lot longer than a standard membrane keyboard.
Although, although rubber dome/membrane keyboards make up the majority of the equipment in use today, they offer an unsatisfying feel and a low-quality typing experience.
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Mechanical Keyboard
Before we start, no, mechanical keyboards aren’t only for gamers.
In fact, they were the first type of keyboard used for data entry on the earliest computers, so they’re designed with data entry in mind.
Gamers just happen to prefer them for all the advantages they offer.
Now let’s take a look at some of a mechanical keyboard’s incredible benefits and a few of its negatives to help you decide if one will suit your needs.
Advantages of using a mechanical keyboard
An enhanced typing experience
The tactile response offered by the springs and switches used in mechanical keyboards makes for not only a more comfortable typing experience but a healthier one.
A standard membrane keyboard offers no resistance when typing, so your fingers, wrists, and tendons all suffer minute impacts tens of thousands of times per day.
You can also effortlessly replace the switches on the keypad to ensure that you get the exact typing experience and tactile response level you want. You can even make your mechanical keyboard as loud and clicky as you want, or almost whisper quiet.
And you can even pimp your keyboard so that certain keycaps are different colors, etc.
Solid and stable
Mechanical keyboards also offer a high level of stability because they weigh more than a standard membrane keyboard.
So you won’t wind up accidentally tipping it over when you stand up.
Some of the higher-end mechanical keyboards are made from aircraft-grade aluminum instead of ABS plastics.
They’re designed to physically last longer, even in more punishing environments.
Great for gaming
Gamers are all about response times because being a split-second late when pressing a key can send you straight to respawn heaven (or hell).
That’s why gaming enthusiasts pick a mechanical keyboard over the other options available to them.
There’s also a small amount of nerd humble bragging when it comes to mechanical keyboards e.g. your current switch setup, etc.
They last longer
Typically, a standard keyboard allows about 5 million key presses before you’ll notice the keys sticking or the typed character not appearing onscreen.
A mechanical keyboard, on the other hand, is good for anywhere from 30 to 70 million presses, depending on how heavy you pound on the keys.
That’s a life expectancy of at least 6x longer than a typical membrane keyboard, but possibly up to 14x longer.
Disadvantages of using a mechanical keyboard
So are there any downsides to owning a mechanical keyboard?
Of course there are.
Depending on the type of switch you use, a mechanical keyboard makes far more noise when typing compared to a standard keyboard.
While there are models that are relatively quieter, even the most muted of them all creates a clicking sound every time you press down on a key.
Some people have no issue with those sounds, but it drives other people nuts.
So take this into consideration if you’re considering using a mechanical keyboard in an office environment, or a shared space.
They cost more
Mechanical keyboards feature more moving parts and complexity than a plain old membrane or rubber dome keyboard.
And this means they cost more – sometimes 10x as much as a regular keyboard.
That means you should budget to spend at least $100 on a new mechanical keyboard if you want one that’s going to last.
Membrane keyboards cost as little as $5 these days.
We’ve seen other sites claim that mechanical keyboards don’t provide an “ergonomic typing experience.”
That’s simply not true.
The original Cherry mechanical keyboards were designed specifically for data entry specialists moving from typewriters to using keyboards instead.
Making the “not an ergonomic keyboard” is like saying that typewriters didn’t/don’t offer an ergonomic typing experience.
If anything, mechanical keyboards are actually better for you from an ergonomic point of view – you can see our explanation why under the “An enhanced typing experience” section at the very start of this article.
As you can see, there are far more advantages to using a mechanical keyboard than there are disadvantages.
The only real downsides are the upfront cost (around $100) and then a little bit of time to adjust to the sensation of typing on a keyboard that uses mechanical springs.