A mechanical keyboard is a type of keyboard that uses mechanical switches under each of its keys instead of the wide spread rubber membrane most of us are familiar with today. If you happened to work with computers back in the 80’s and early 90’s you may remember the feeling of typing on a mechanical keyboard as it makes a certain satisfying clicking sound as you type and each key press just feels a lot more “solid” in general.
A mechanical keyboard is also considered to last much longer and while debatable, it can also increase your typing speed. In fact many professional typists prefer using a mechanical keyboard because it is much more efficient and your hands won’t grow tired of typing for hours at a time.
When you compare the different mechanical keyboard reviews on the internet, you’ll notice that almost all of them recommend a mechanical keyboard with either the linear red switch type or better yet the keyboards that come with tactile feedback switch type.
Tactile switch keyboards are considered to be a good middle ground for both gaming and typing because of their low actuation point (the point where the keystroke is registered) meaning that less force is needed to be applied on each key and because they’re not as loud as clicky switch keyboards that can annoy your co-workers or friends at a LAN party.
Different switch types
Regardless of the make and model of a mechanical keyboard, the switch types can be separated into three main categories:
Linear switches are the simplest of the three switch types and come without the additional tactile feedback or clicking sound. Linear switches can be separated into two additional sub-categories: black and red.
The black switches with their medium to high actuation force aren’t considered very good for typing due to their high weighting, but can become useful when playing certain video games in order to prevent accidental key presses.
A red switch keyboard on the other hand is considered to be a much better choice for gaming because of its low actuation point resulting in a much more lightweight typing experience. It’s worth noting that you will also experience less fatigue using a red switch keyboard compared to the black switches.
Tactile switches are, as the name suggests, mechanical keyboard switches that give you an additional tactile feedback in the form of a rather noticeable “bump” as you press down a key. The bump lets your brain know that the key press has in fact been registered and that you can let go of the key.
You might not notice a difference at first especially if you are used to pressing a key all the way down while typing, but over time you’ll learn to apply less force on the keyboard keys which can increase your overall typing speed and is essential in video games where your Actions Per Minute is crucial for winning a match.
Clicky switches are tactile switches known for their extra clicking sound and favored mostly by transcribers and people who have to type for longer periods of time. The clicky switch keyboards aren’t considered to be very good for gaming because of their relatively high weighting.
Things to consider
Most mechanical keyboards are much louder than the average rubber membrane keyboards because a mechanical keyboard has, under each key, a separate switch for that particular key so if your workplace has other people in close proximity, a mechanical keyboard will most likely be extremely annoying to your co-workers.
A mechanical keyboard is not meant to be portable and you’ll notice it immediately when you unbox one because it’s way heavier than your average keyboard weighing around 3 pounds or so. A heavy keyboard with decent rubber pads on the bottom works perfectly on a desk since it won’t move around that easily, but if you’re planning on taking it with you on a field trip, it’s going to be more of a nuisance.
Test it before you buy it
Since reading articles and reviews about the different switch types of mechanical keyboards can only do so much, it’s advised to test out the different switch types using a mechanical keyboard switch tester to figure out which one works best for you.