Are Mechanical Keyboards Worth It? [It depends]

CG Director Author Christopher Harperby Christopher Harper   /  Published 

Mechanical Keyboards are all the rage nowadays. They can be customized beautifully to fit your needs and even custom-built entirely if you so wish. But are mechanical keyboards really worth it, given their price tag?

By the end of this article, you should know for sure whether or not mechanical keyboards are worth it for you.

Let’s dive right in:

What are Mechanical Keyboards?

First, let’s define what a “mechanical” keyboard even is. Mechanical keyboards are distinct because they rely on mechanical “switches” to detect if a key was pressed.

There are many different brands and types of mechanical keyboard switches.

These switches can all have varying levels of height, design, activation distance, noise levels, tactile feedback, and more.

Here’s what typical silent mechanical keyboard switches consist of:

Components of Silent Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Source: Gateron

Pretty complex, right?

What other kinds of Keyboards are there?

Besides mechanical keyboards and their various switches, there are a few other common keyboard form factors.

The cheapest and most common by far is the rubber-dome keyboard, also known as a membrane keyboard.

While these are similar in design to a mechanical keyboard, their use of rubber domes restricts their tactile feedback and results in a slightly squishy feeling when typing.

Another common type of keyboard is a chiclet keyboard. Chiclet keyboards are usually seen in wireless keyboards or thin laptops, and work similarly to rubber domes but on a much smaller scale.

Oftentimes if you pop off a chiclet key, the flat surface beneath can still be pressed to register a keypress. Chiclet keys are compact and, depending on the manufacturer, can feel either surprisingly responsive or unusually spongy.

What makes Mechanical Keyboards better than other keyboards?

Tactile feedback, high custom feel possibilities, superior build quality, and better overall support for features like N-key rollover.

Tactile feedback is the big boon of a mechanical keyboard switch. Unlike other keyboard types, mechanical switches have a distinct tactile click that can be felt by your fingers whenever your finger hits the actuation distance on your keys.

Cherry MX Switch Animation

Source: Cherry MX

As someone who has been typing articles like this for a living for years, let me tell you: it’s a lot easier to type fast with great tactile feedback than it is to type without it.

Gamers and writers alike should benefit greatly from a mechanical keyboard.

Depending on the switch you pick, you can customize exactly how that tactile feedback feels.

Maybe you won’t want any at all. Or maybe you’ll want the loudest, clickiest switch you can find- who am I to judge you?

Superior build quality mostly speaks for itself. Mechanical keyboards are built stronger across the board because they kind of have to be, otherwise, they would break fairly easily. This also makes them a bit heavier in general.

Finally, let’s talk about features like N-key rollover and RGB.

While it’s true that non-mechanical keyboards will support these features as well, the high-end mechanical keyboards will tend to have the most full-fledged support for them.

Per-key RGB effects on a membrane keyboard is incredibly rare, but is fairly common for mechanical keyboards, for instance.

In addition to the above benefits, you can also fully customize or even custom-build your mechanical keyboard – if you so wish.

What makes Mechanical Keyboards worse than other keyboards?

Mainly pricing and noise levels.

Mechanical keyboards are a good bit more expensive than their non-mechanical counterparts, and if you just want to type stuff out without spending a lot of money, it’s very easy to overlook mechanical keyboards as an option.

However, budget mechanical keyboards have become increasingly common in recent years, so you don’t necessarily need to overspend for mechanical- they’re easily found for $40 and under these days.

Budget Mechanical Keyboard Pricing

Source: Redragon USA

Noise levels can be mitigated with the right mechanical keyboard switches, but overall mechanical keyboards tend to be louder.

If you’re in a shared living environment, you may feel disincentived to buy a mechanical keyboard. You definitely shouldn’t get one that has particularly loud and clicky keys if noise levels are a concern. (Cherry MX Silent Red and Black are your friends)

Conclusion: Are Mechanical Keyboards Worth It For You?

If you don’t do a lot of typing or PC gaming and don’t feel the need to customize or even custom-build a keyboard to your liking, probably not.

As great as mechanical keyboards can be for people who make heavy use of their keyboard, membrane and chiclet keyboards work perfectly fine for the majority of the population, and that’s okay.

But if you are spending a lot of time at a keyboard and want to have the best “feel” for typing and gaming, I can’t recommend mechanical keyboards enough.

In my experience, the boost in tactile feedback has been absolutely worth the switch and makes keyboard use much more satisfying in feel than it would be otherwise.

FAQ

Do mechanical keyboards have to be loud?

Not at all, actually!

While it’s true that most mechanical switches are significantly louder than membrane or chiclet, not all of them are.

In fact, many mechanical keyboard switches are made explicitly to be as quiet as possible, to minimize tactile feedback, or both. Just because you’re getting a mechanical keyboard doesn’t mean it has to be loud or have a lot of travel distance.

Components of Silent Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Source: Gateron

The great thing about having all these different switch types is that you have basically endless variety in noise level and feel to choose from.

If you’re interested in learning more about keyboard switches and want to find the quietest mechanical keyboard switches, click here to check out Alex’s full guide.

What kind of mouse should be used with a mechanical keyboard?

There are no hard-set rules on the kind of mouse you should use with a mechanical keyboard.

For productivity purposes, I’d really just recommend any mouse that you’re comfortable with.

Alex has also made a pretty good roundup of productivity-oriented Mice For Blender if editing and rendering are your main workloads.

If you bought a mechanical keyboard for gaming, I recommend pairing it with a high-quality optical gaming mouse.

Mice with optical sensors have improved accuracy and almost no built-in acceleration, whereas laser sensors are notoriously prone to inconsistency and acceleration.

Tactile feedback and consistency are both highly valued in gaming circles, for good reason.

Can laptop keyboards be mechanical?

It’s not as common as chiclet, but yeah, absolutely. Especially once you move to 17-inch laptops and larger, mechanical keyboards become more common.

Some high-end laptops will even have fully-sized desktop mechanical keyboards built into their chassis, with full-size mechanical switches to match.

MSI Titan GT77 Mechanical Keyboard

Source: MSI

This feature will definitely be a lot more expensive to seek out in a laptop than just buying a mechanical keyboard and plugging one in, though.

If you’re shopping for a laptop with this as a focus, be ready to pay a premium for the feature.

Over to You

And that’s all, for now!

I hope that this article helped you determine whether or not mechanical keyboards are worth it for you.

In my opinion, mechanical keyboards are worth it for just about anyone who uses their PC a lot. Most people just aren’t aware of the option, or the true level of variety and freedom that comes with mechanical keyboards. I hope this article helps clear that up!

Leave a comment below or in the Forums if you have any other questions about keyboards or PC hardware and peripherals in general. Until then or until next time, stay healthy! And don’t forget: any RGB implementation that isn’t per-key is trash.

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Christopher Harper - post author

I have been a passionate devotee to technology since the age of 3, and to writing since before I even finished high school.

These passions have since combined into a living in my adulthood and have made writing about PC Hardware very satisfying.

If you need any assistance, leave a comment below: it’s what I’m here for.

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