Published on August 19th, 2018 | by Sunit Nandi0
The Ultimate Guide To Mechanical Keyboards
There’s something about mechanical keyboards that set them apart from regular keyboards. In this article, we’ll be talking briefly about mechanical keyboards, how they differ from regular keyboards, and how to take care of them!
What is a mechanical keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards go a long way back in history. They were originally made in the 1970’s by Alps, that same company that made the first Apple keyboards.
These keyboards were specifically made to last long—their durability was one of their main advantages over the regular keyboards. Aside from this, Alps mechanical keyboards also had another interesting trait: they were quiet, which made them a perfect choice for busy offices where employee cubicles were positioned near each other.
Nowadays, mechanical keyboards are actually known for their audible clicks, akin to the sound of a regular typewriter. These clicks come from the way that mechanical keyboards are made.
Mechanical keyboards, unlike regular keyboards, have a physical ‘switch’ that moves when it is pressed down. This physical ‘pressing down’ action is what acts as a cue for the computer that the key has already been pressed. This in turn, makes the audible clicking noise.
Nevertheless, the best buy mechanical keyboard in the recent years is actually one that doesn’t make too much noise, but that tends to be pricier as well.
Mechanical keyboards vs. regular keyboards
If it isn’t obvious yet, mechanical keyboards differ from regular keyboards, also known as membrane keyboards, by a whole lot. If you don’t like sounds while typing then you should have a quiet mechanical keyboard.
For one, their construction is completely different. As mentioned above, mechanical keyboards have an individual physical switch per key that signals to the computer when it has been pressed.
Regular keyboards, on the other hand, don’t have this individual physical switch. All the keys are just placed together on one panel, and then the computer senses which key has been pressed based on the area that was pushed down. And in the case of regular keyboards, the only thing separating the actual keys from the electrical circuits is a thin ‘membrane’, usually made out of silicone or rubber.
Other than the fact that mechanical keyboards are simply more durable, this also means that they are fully customizable. Even the tactic feedback and the audible clicking sound they make can be customized based on the user’s own preferences. Plus, mechanical keyboards can usually handle up to 10 simultaneous key presses while regular keyboards, only 3-6.
That’s why if you’re a gamer who needs instant keyboard feedback and quick presses in order to make accurate moves, you’re going to get the most benefits from a mechanical keyboard. In fact, the best gaming keyboards are almost always mechanical, owing to those reasons mentioned above.
However, as with everything, mechanical keyboards come with their own pros and cons. You have to consider both if you’re thinking of switching from a regular keyboard.
- gives tactic feedback and audible clicks
- higher number of simultaneous key presses
- replaceable and fully customizable keycaps
- lasts way longer than regular keyboards
- they can be noisy—though it’s up to you if this is a con
- they’re quite expensive, more than your average regular keyboard
- need more tender, loving care in order to last long
Taking care of a mechanical keyboard
If you’re thinking of switching from a regular keyboard, it’s important to know how to take care of your mechanical keyboard first. After all, even though it’s more durable than a regular keyboard, it still won’t last forever, and you do have to ensure that it’s well-cared for if you want it to maximize its durability. Not to mention, dirt and dust can easily get under the keycaps, and you wouldn’t want to use a disgusting keyboard, right?
As a beginner, the most important thing to know for now is how to clean your mechanical keyboard. Here are some quick guidelines:
- don’t ever use water directly on your keyboard
- if you really need to use water, use only a damp lint-free, microfiber cloth
- if needed, remove the keycaps very carefully using a keycap puller
- soak the keycaps in warm water and soap to remove dirt
- use a small brush or a Q-tip to clean each individual keycap
- make sure the keycaps are completely dry before putting them back
Again, don’t use, or worse, spray, water on your mechanical keyboard directly! Water can get into the switches and damage the circuits underneath. If you do accidentally get some water on your keyboard, make sure to unplug it immediately to mitigate any possible damages. Don’t forget to air it out first before attempting to use it again!
If you take care of your mechanical keyboard properly, you can rest assured that it’ll last you way longer than you possibly expect.
Should you get a mechanical keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards aren’t for everyone, but they can be a good investment if you like the pros we listed above or if you’re a gamer who could greatly benefit from using one.
If you need some help in choosing which mechanical keyboard best suits your needs, you can also check out our suggested list of mechanical keyboards as mentioned above. You just might find your next favorite computer accessory!