Mechanical Keyboard vs. Membrane Keyboard: Why Should You Choose a Mechanical Keyboard
Many casual computer users think that all keyboards are created equal. It’s not surprising given that many people are just using computers for typing, sending emails, and some office tasks. But hardcore gamers know that they’re not. Keyboard choice is crucial to the whole gaming experience and can level up even regular computing tasks. Whether gaming or typing, a keyboard that feels right in your hands can help you perform your best.
There are two types of keyboards available in the market: membrane keyboards and mechanical keyboards. While both can deliver the same function, one is far superior in terms of quality and mechanism. So, how do these two types of keyboards differ, and why is it better to choose mechanical keyboards?
Let’s find out!
What is a Membrane Keyboard?
The switch on a mambrane keyboard
Membrane keyboards are known to be the cheaper option. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not worth using at all. Yes, they are less durable and often lower quality compared to mechanical keyboards. However, some still break this stereotype and provide a better typing experience than your regular cheap keyboard.
So what exactly is a membrane keyboard? This type of keyboard contains different mesh-like layers of wires underneath the keys, all of which are pressure sensitive. Whenever you hit a key, the metal end situated below the typing surface of each key comes in contact with the membrane mesh, which completes one of the many parallel circuits and registers that keypress.
The switches are simple on most membrane keyboards. This means that there’s no feedback when you type, except when you try to press a key all the way to the end. Basically, the switch found on this type of keyboard is as simple as a light switch, where it can either be on or off without any feedback as you transition from one key to another.
But how does a membrane keyboard feel? While it’s true that you’ll get minimal to no feedback on every keypress, this keyboard isn’t just a mechanical keyboard stripped away of the premium touch. These keyboards are entirely different, and so is their feel. The membrane keyboard is a lot softer than mechanical ones to touch. This means that you won’t need force when you press each key.
That’s why cheaper membrane keyboards often feel mushy when you type in them. However, good ones can have a uniquely satisfying feeling that you could never feel on mechanical keyboards. Some mechanical keyboards require you to push down harder, which can be tiring and annoying for some. Good membrane switches are nice and easy, with gentle keystrokes that are comfortable to use. But this is rare to find, and often you’ll get one with the squishy feel.
Lastly, their hardware isn’t as premium as mechanical keyboards. But this is acceptable for many people, especially since they are affordable and can offer numerous advantages that can also be worth it if you can find a good one.
What is a Mechanical Keyboard?
Photo: Epomaker TH80
Unlike a membrane keyboard that comes with a simple on and off switch, a mechanical keyboard’s mechanism is much more complicated. The switches found on this keyboard come with a mechanical spring-loaded switch. This switch is activated once you hit the actuation point, which refers to the point where the keyboard registers a key.
Each mechanical keyboard has a different actuation force, such as 45g±5g, 55gf±10g, etc. The actuation force is the amount of pressure you need to put whenever you push down a key and is usually measured in grams. The lighter the actuation force is, the lesser effort you need to exert to press a key down. In contrast, a higher number requires a much firmer press but often gives a more clear up-and-down feel of the keys.
In addition, mechanical keyboards come with various types of switches: blue, brown, red, and black switches. Each type of switch offers different types of feedback and actuation force, which gives you more options to choose from.
Specs of Cherry MX switches
The blue switches are the most commonly used switches and come with high tactile feedback accompanied by a loud, clicky sound. Brown switches make less noise and have less feedback. Red switches don’t have any tactile feedback, meaning you won’t get any clicky noise like typical blue switches. Black switches are heavier than most, which can tire fingers out, especially when typing for extended periods. However, black switches are also popular among gamers who would like clear straight up-and-down tactile feelings.
These are just some of the most popular switches, but there are other types you can find that will suit your needs. Apart from the numerous options to choose from, mechanical keyboards are popular because of how they feel.
Since they have increased depth and analog nature, they have more feedback with every keypress compared to membrane keyboards. This makes typing feel more satisfying, especially for gamers and people who type all day. Sure, some types of mechanical keyboards can be a lot noisier than membrane keyboards, but since you don’t need to press each key all the way down, it makes it much easier and more comfortable to use.
In addition to the feel, mechanical keyboards offer a lot of practical reasons. Sure, they tend to be more expensive than most types of keyboards, but they offer higher durability. An average membrane keyboard can only last for about five million keypresses per switch. Sounds a lot, right? But mechanical keyboards provide hundreds of millions of presses, so five million presses are nothing in comparison.
So, if you’re looking for a keyboard that you can rely on for an extended period, there’s no doubt that a mechanical keyboard is your best option. Additionally, mechanical switches have lower response times which is why many gamers prefer them. It can also support key rollover, where users can press keys simultaneously. Membrane keyboards often don’t have this, while mechanical keyboards boast six to eight key rollovers, which is beneficial in gaming.
Membrane Keyboard vs. Mechanical Keyboard
Why Choose a Mechanical Keyboard?
(because our cats like to stay with it :))
Thanks to its tactile feedback, a mechanical keyboard can provide you with a comfortable typing experience. The clicky sound and snappy feel allow you to know whether or not a key has been registered. You also don't need to forcefully push down every key; some types of mechanical switches can read keypresses halfway through the travel.
Since you can choose a switch that will suit your typing needs, you are less likely to make typos on a mechanical keyboard than on a membrane keyboard. Once you grow accustomed to a mechanical keyboard, you can precisely type even without looking at the keyboard, relying on muscle memory alone.
In addition to a more comfortable typing experience, mechanical keyboards offer customization options, allowing you to remove and replace the keys as you please. Gamers will also benefit from this customization since they can replace the most frequently pressed keys with different colors or designs. This also means that no keyboard will be put to waste since you can simply replace a key when it stops working instead of replacing the whole keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards also support key rollover. This means that it can correctly detect the keys being simultaneously pressed on the keyboard, regardless of how many keys you input. Lastly, this keyboard is durable. Yes, they may be significantly more expensive than cheap membrane keyboards, but the mechanical nature of the switches ensures that they can last for years with the same look and feel.
Get Your Mechanical Keyboard at Epomaker Today!
If you’ve spent a lot of money on your computer's hardware, then why not invest in a good keyboard as well? Sure, you can buy a cheap membrane keyboard, but it will never give you the comfortable typing experience mechanical keyboards give. It’s worth investing in tools you use each day, and a keyboard is undoubtedly one of them. So what are you waiting for? Get your new Epomaker mechanical keyboard today!