What Is A Mechanical Keyboard? Mechanical Vs. Membrane Keyboard

Clicky, precise, and tactile feedback.

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What Is A Mechanical Keyboard
Image: Unsplash

While many of you already know what a mechanical keyboard is, follow this explainer guide for those unaware. In addition, we’ll also make sure to explain the difference between a mechanical and a membrane keyboard. Also, the things to keep in mind while getting yourself a mechanical one.

Mainly popularised by gamers, mechanical and membrane keyboards might look similar, but they are not. Meanwhile, let’s first read about what a mechanical keyboard is.

A basic definition

A Mechanical Keyboard uses independent key switches for each key on the board. These switches use a spring and a switch mechanic consisting of multiple moving parts. In other words, upon pressing the key, the ‘stem’ attached to the spring is pushed down. The pushed-down stem further allows the two metal contacts to connect and register the keypress.

This mechanism of mechanical key switches allows for a tactile, precise, and smooth typing experience. The most common key switches used in mechanical keyboards are “Cherry MX” key switches. The Cherry MX key switches come in multiple forms, providing different typing experiences for each key switch.

mechanical key switches
DifferencesMechanical KeyboardMembrane Keyboard
1Tactile feedback on keypressSofter key press
2clicky and noisyNoise-free clicks
4long life spanShorter life span
5can remove and replace keyscan’t remove and replace keys
6easy to cleancleaning this is a nightmare
Basic differences between Mechanical and Membrane keyboards

Difference: Mechanical vs Membrane keyboard

While mechanical keyboards offer precision in typing, they also seem to have a longer life span when compared to membrane keyboards. With an average lifespan of 30 to 70 million key presses compared to the average lifespan of only 5 million key presses offered by membrane keyboards.

In addition, keys on a mechanical keyboard are easily replaceable; however, the same can not be said for membrane keyboards. As the key switches on a mechanical keyboard are separate, you can replace them with a special tool. Gamers are often seen replacing their WASD keys, which are mostly used in PC gaming.

On the brighter side, cleaning a mechanical one is a piece of cake, while it’s a nightmare to clean a membrane keyboard. On the flip side, mechanical ones belong to the noisy bunch. Typing on one is bound to distract your coworker. Moreover, there are mechanical key switches that offer a less noisy typing experience. As far as the pricing is concerned, membrane ones are cheaper than their mechanical counterparts.

While we’re talking about keyboards, you might be interested in knowing why QWERTY keyboards are the most common.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the end-user, their needs, and preferences. Coders, writers, and gamers tend to incline more towards mechanical ones that offer more precision in typing than membrane keyboards.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Akshay Bhardwaj

Akshay Bhardwaj

A casual gamer, fascinated with everything geeky, mostly found lazing around. I drink, and I don't know things!