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The ultimate keyboard guide: Mechanical vs Membrane

Typing enthusiasts all over the world say the mechanical keyboards are the purest typing experience. But what does that mean?

Generally, desktop keyboards are divided into two primary types: Mechanical and Membrane. Have you ever been confused why some keyboards cost only 500 while others go in tens of thousands? Read on to find out.

Membrane keyboard

These are the most commonly found keyboards anywhere merely because they’re incredibly cheap.

Membrane keyboards have a soft silicone dome-shaped layer sandwiched between the main circuit board and the keys. Hence the name, membrane.

Mechanical keyboard vs Membrane keyboard: Ultimate keyboard guide

Every time a key is pressed, the inside of the rubber dome under the key makes contact with the circuit board, and a key press is registered. These keyboards fare out to be pretty decent in everyday typing, are easier to manufacture, easier to maintain, make less sound and of course, cheap.

The problem, however, is that membrane keyboards have ghosting. This means that the keyboard can only register a certain number of key presses at once. This can be a problem in situations where you need to hit complex key combinations, such as in games.

Also, the typing experience on these keyboards isn’t exactly great. It’s just something you can get away with.

Last but not least, membrane keyboards are also found on almost all laptops. Most laptops adapt a chicklet style or scissor-style mechanism to register key presses. This allows for better key travel while keeping the keyboard deck thin.

Higher end laptops use mechanical switches. This makes the laptop thicker but provides for the best typing experience one can get.

Also read: Best gaming accessories for every budget

Mechanical Keyboard

Ask any person who types a lot on a computer. They’ll tell you there’s nothing as satisfying as the loud keypress of a Cherry MX Blue switch.

As the name suggests, Mechanical keyboards have a mechanical switch per key. This eliminates the problem of ghosting and also provides for an unmatched typing experience and response times.

Mechanical keyboard vs Membrane keyboard: Ultimate keyboard guide

You’ll also be able to type faster on a mechanical keyboard as compared to a membrane one.

Mechanical keyboards have three most common types of switches. These are made by Cherry MX and are called Red, Brown and Blue.

  • The Cherry MX Blue is the most tactile of the bunch. These switches will give the best response and are known for their loud clicky sounds.
  • Cherry MX Red are quieter switches which provide unmatched speed while registering key presses. Their travel path doesn’t have the ‘bump’ required to make the tactile feedback.
  • Cherry MX Brown comes in between. These switches balance out the tactile feedback for the keypress speed and accuracy. They also seem to strike the perfect balance between the audio feedback provided and the force needed to register the key press.

For obvious reasons, mechanical keyboards are expensive. The use of individual switches also allows for full RGB lighting. Some keyboards also let you change switches to suit your preference.

Which one should you choose?

In the end, it really comes down to personal preference. Mechanical keyboards still, however, do provide the best typing experience. If you’re a programmer, writer, gamer or anyone who’s going to be pounding over their keyboard, choose mechanical, and you can thank me later.

For all other purposes, and even the ones mentioned above, membrane keyboards will still do. The casual user won’t even know the difference. But trust me when I say, there’s nothing more satisfying than the feel and clickiness of a mechanical switch hitting bottom.

Also read: Why and how to encrypt your Android device?

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