Mechanical keyboards: find out if you should pay to upgrade

Switch up how you use your PC with a mechanical keyboard.

If you use your PC daily for work or gaming, it may be time to invest in a mechanical keyboard to improve your current set-up. Where your standard keyboard uses rubber switches to connect an electronic circuit that sends a signal to your computer that you wanted to type the letter ‘x’, a mechanical keyboard uses physical switches underneath the keys to send the message that a key has been pressed.

Although it doesn’t seem much different to your regular rubber membrane lined keyboards, the switches on mechanical keyboards change the way we type and improve the experience. The switches require less force from the user to activate the switch, and offers a more tactile and audible experience for the user.

If you’re still unsure about whether it is the right investment for you, the following include the advantages and disadvantages of the mechanical keyboard.

Advantages

Using a mechanical keyboard has the following advantages:

  • Longer lifespan: mechanical keyboards are certified to last longer than your regular rubber-dome switches. Where the average keyboard will last up to 10-15 million key presses, a mechanical keyboard can withstand 30-70 million key presses.
  • No wear out: the switches on a mechanical keyboard will last longer, and will rarely get stuck or clattery with age. A 2 year old mechanical keyboard will still feel brand new to type on.
  • Improved typing experience: with several types of switches on offer, your typing experience can be tailored to your needs. There is also the added benefit of audible feedback that comes with the visual response of a letter popping onto the screen.
  • Stability: mechanical keyboards are heavy. The added weight means they won’t shift as easily, maintaining a stable position on your desk.

Disadvantages

There are also the following disadvantages to using a mechanical keyboard:

  • Noise level: a different type of switch means the keystrokes may be significantly louder to a standard keyboard. Consequently, a mechanical keyboard may not be suitable for a shared, quiet office space where noise can cause disruption or irritation to colleagues. There are however mechanical keyboards that use noise level as a selling point, offering low-sound or stealth modes.
  • High cost: mechanical keyboards are more expensive, however they should be considered an investment. If you treat your mechanical keyboard well, it will far outlast a standard keyboard.
  • High weight: where the greater weight benefits stability, it can make transporting the keyboard inconvenient or uncomfortable if the keyboard is rested on your lap.

For tips on how to be more productive when working from home, see how to organise your home work space.