Mechanical Keyboard vs Membrane: Which One Should You Choose

When buying a keyboard for gaming or work, you will realize that you can choose between a mechanical keyboard or a membrane keyboard. It is true that there have been some other keyboard types like optical keyboards, and opto-mechanical keyboards, but the ones we mentioned are the most commonly available and used options in the market.

The thing that you need to know about buying a keyboard is that no matter what task you are going to perform with it, sooner or later your fingers will start fatiguing. However, the good news here is that this sort of fatiguing does not happen if you have a mechanical keyboard thanks to the way they work.

But is it really worth spending the premium on a keyboard that will prevent finger fatiguing as well as help you work more productively? For the longest time, mechanical keyboards were expensive to buy, however, they are now becoming more and more accessible with some Chinese options costing as low as $30. Keep in mind that if you do want to buy the best gaming keyboard, it is better that you go through this first so you can make an informed decision

Keeping that theory in mind, we have decided to make a detailed comparison between mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards.

What are Mechanical Keyboards?

Before we get into details, it is first important to know the basics of a mechanical keyboard in order to understand the situation better. A mechanical keyboard is comprised of switches that are used to send in input signals every time a key is pressed. As far as the switches are concerned, there are countless options available in the market with the gold standard being the Cherry MX switches that are widely used in the market.

Each key uses its own switch; and is comprised of a base, a spring, along with a stem. All of these combine to make a mechanical switch that has a longer lifespan and will not lose its touch or feel as you use it.

There are countless benefits of buying a mechanical keyboard, along with some caveats as well. So, let’s have a look.

The Benefits of a Mechanical Keyboard

Honestly, when it comes to looking at the benefits of a mechanical keyboard, you do not have to look a lot in order to find them out. There are countless benefits, both in terms of the way these keyboards look and perform. Still, below are the benefits of these keyboards that you should keep in mind when keyboard shopping.

  • Removable and Changeable Keycaps: One of the biggest benefits of these keyboards is that the keycaps can be removed or changed if you do not like them. This is a great benefit as some keyboards ship with keycaps that are made out of average plastic and they lose their feelings over time. This is an issue that most people commonly face, thankfully, you do not have to worry about this with a good mechanical keyboard.
  • Durable: Another great thing about mechanical keyboards is that they are extremely durable. For instance, all Cherry MX switches have a lifespan of 50 million actuations, with some other switches going even higher. Whatever the case is, the keyboard will not lose the way it feels.
  • Tactility: With mechanical keyboards, the feel and responsiveness of the keystrokes are much more tactile and responsible. You do not even have to bottom out the key entirely in order to have a good typing experience. This is something that most people will appreciate, especially those who type a lot.
  • Versatile Typing Style: Different people have different preferences to the way they type; some prefer their keyboards be tactile and clicky like the old typewriters, while others prefer a more nimble approach. With mechanical keyboards, you do not have to worry about such aspects as you will get to choose whatever your typing preference is.
  • Per-Key Lighting: This can be seen as both positive and negative but the thing with mechanical keyboards is that if you do invest in them, you will be getting the benefits of per-key lighting. Now you can choose this in static colors or you can spend the extra money and go for RGB lighting, which seems to be the trend these days.
  • Easy to Maintain: Another great thing about mechanical keyboards is that they are super easy to maintain. You really do not have to go through a lot of trouble performing maintenance on these keyboards as they only require half an hour or so and you are good to go.

While the benefits are certainly there, you also have a few downsides that are important to keep in mind. Do not worry though, they are not deal breaker and will certainly not make you change your mind.

Downsides of Mechanical Keyboards

With all the good things aside, there are a few downsides that you should keep in mind. You can check them out below.

  • Expensive: Although this is being toned down now, there still is a price disparity between mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards with the former being more expensive than the latter in many cases. Most companies like Razer, Corsair, and Logitech are charging a premium for their high quality, better keyboards with more features.
  • Loud: Although is an entirely subjective issue but it is important to know that most mechanical keyboards tend to be on the louder side. Sure, it largely depends on the type of switch you go with, but it is still something that you should never overlook.

Membrane Keyboards

Membrane keyboards have been in the market a long time now, and while they are slowly being phased away thanks to the mechanical keyboards being more accessible, they are still there and people do end up buying them for one reason or another.

These keyboards are comprised of 3 layers; the first one being the top membrane layer, under that, you find another layer that is comprised largely of holes to let the rubber domes pass through. Underneath that, you have conductive trace sheet that sends the signals. Unlike a mechanical keyboard, a key will only register when it passes through all three layers.

Benefits of a Membrane Keyboard

Honestly, there are not a lot of benefits to these keyboards that you should be sold on. Sure, they are good but most of the things they provide are rudimentary at best. Still, we are going to have a look at them and see what you can get for your money.

  • They Are Quiet: One of the biggest benefits of membrane keyboards is that they are quiet. A lot quieter as compared to the competition. You can type away on these without having to worry about disturbing anyone or causing any distractions.
  • Cheap: Another benefit of buying a membrane keyboard is that these keyboards are a lot cheaper than you might think. You can easily pick one up for $5 or even less in some cases. In most cases, these keyboards serve as cannon fodder while consumers wait to buy better, more expensive options that are mechanical.

Sadly, the benefits of membrane keyboards end just here. There is not much to look for when it comes to such keyboards, as discussed before, they are slowly being phased out.

Downsides of Membrane Keyboards

The thing about membrane keyboards is that they have always had the issues that people face even to this day. The technology behind these keyboards never really evolved because there was not much to evolve and change.

Below, you will find some of the downsides that haunt these keyboards even today.

  • Finger Fatigue: One of the most common issues of membrane keyboards is finger fatigue. Since you have to bottom out the key every single time you have to press it, the result is fatigue in your fingers if you have been using the keyboard for a long time.
  • Shorter Lifespan: One of the biggest issues that these keyboards suffer from is predominantly shorter lifespan. The rubber starts wearing off rather sooner and the typing experience no longer remains the same.

So, there you have it. The downsides of membrane keyboards, and even though they are only two, they can make a whole lot of difference that you should be aware of.

Conclusion

I believe there is no point in drawing the conclusion here since everything is pretty self-explanatory. If you are looking for the best experience with typing or gaming, buying a mechanical keyboard is a no brainer. If you want to save money and go for something on a temporary basis, then a membrane keyboard should suffice you.

One thing is for certain here; under no circumstances can a basic or high-end membrane keyboard can beat a mechanical keyboard, and that is a given. So ultimately, if you are wondering what is the best mechanical keyboard of this era then feast your eyes by checking out this SteelSeries Apex Pro Review, which we just reviewed and absolutely fell in love with!

Bill Wilson


Bill is a certified Microsoft Professional providing assistance to over 500 remotely connected employees and managing Windows 2008 to 2016 servers.
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