Computer enthusiasts and gamers all rave about mechanical keyboards. They provide tactile, responsive feedback when you use them, are programmable to your needs and are highly durable, three qualities that make them an excellent addition to any gamer’s arsenal. If you haven’t upgraded yet and are looking to do so at a fair price, this article will tell you what you need to know.
- Advantages of a Mechanical Keyboard
- Disadvantages of a Mechanical Keyboard
- Factors to Consider When Buying a Cheap Mechanical Keyboard
- Type of Switch
- Opening the Door
Advantages of a Mechanical Keyboard
Mechanical keyboards have the classic feel where you can hear the click in every stroke. They are constructed with mechanical switches, which result in high accuracy and responsiveness. Mechanical keyboards are different from membrane keys, which most keyboards use, in that you will know when you make a keypress or not.
Mechanical switches have the longest lifespan. Some keyboards guarantee over 50-70 million keystrokes. They are far more durable compared to keyboards with rubber domes. The lifespan helps make mechanical switches a good investment since your money should stretch further.
It is important to note that there are some complaints about mechanical keys losing their feel after a couple of years. Yet this is only to expected after very heavy use as they are built to last.
Great Feedback and Responsiveness
When you press any key on a mechanical keyboard it is hard to miss the click that follows – unless you’re using Cherry MX Red (or equivalent) switches.
Mechanical keyboards are noisy as a result, yet they produce several advantages otherwise. For example, mechanical switches respond halfway through the action so keys produce letters and numbers quickly, and therefore allow you to type faster.
Additionally, the responsiveness of mechanical keyboards helps you minimize errors and typos. It is especially important for a typist or writer that may be writing thousands of words on a daily basis.
Disadvantages of a Mechanical Keyboard
It is only fair that we discuss the cons of a mechanical keyboard after examining its numerous advantages over a stock keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards have a little extra weight and others present more keys when designed for gaming. Consequently, they are bulkier compared to your average keyboard. It makes transporting them around destinations a little more tricky.
There are some mechanical keyboards, like those with Cherry MX Blue (or equivalent) switches that feature a prominent click sound. Though the sound is relayed on purpose, it does make them noisy, in some cases exceptionally so. So they don’t always work well in a library or at the workplace, or if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy the ambient “typist” noise.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Cheap Mechanical Keyboard
Full-Size Keyboards vs. 10 Keyless Keyboards vs. 60% Mechanical Keyboards
The size of your keyboard is a significant consideration. Full-size keyboards are either ANSI 104 or ISO 105 keyboards. They have all the keys, including the number pad.
The 10 Keyless keyboard does not have the number pad, yet includes all other buttons including the function keys.
The final design to consider are 60% mechanical keyboards. The style does not have the function row, number pad, or arrow keys. As a result, 60% mechanical keyboards are the most compact keyboards available.
The Behavior of the Switch
Keyboards respond differently when you press down on a button. Some typists or gamers have a preference toward one style over another. If you are unsure of which behavior works best for you, it doesn’t hurt to try out a few different styles before you determine the one with the best fit for your fingers.
- Clicky Switches: The keys have a prominent bump when the key is pressed down followed by a click sound. The benchmark is the Cherry MX Blue Switches. You’ll find keyboards that advertise these or equivalent are “clicky” keyboards. They’re great for typists.
- Tactile Switches: The keys also have a bump midway through pressing, but a click sound does not follow it. The benchmark is the Cherry MX Brown switches. You’ll find keyboards that advertise this or equivalent are “tactile” keyboards.
- Linear Switches: These are simple to operate switches. They move up and down without any bump or click sound. In essence the switches are silent. The benchmark is Cherry MX Red switches, and they are becoming popular – especially among newer mechanical keyboard releases – as they don’t pollute your discord or twitch stream with noise.
Type of Switch
There are many different types of switches featured on a mechanical keyboard. In this section, we will examine popular types like Cherry MX switches, Kailh, Steel Series, and Romer-G.
Cherry MX is the most famous switch brand because of its numerous patented options: MX Black, MX Blue, MX Brown, and MX Red.
As we have stated, most mechanical keyboard manufacturers categorize their switches in relation to Cherry MX’s standards. So here they are:
Cherry MX Blue
Cherry MX Blue switches have a distinct click and tactile feedback. Writers and professional typists prefer them because they allow you to feel the keypress as soon as it is registered. It will enable you to type fast because of the small actuation distance.
Cherry MX Brown
Cherry MX Brown switches have a good balance of actuation force, distance, and tactile feedback. They are preferred for most games since you can feel when you make a keypress. They allow you to press multiple keys with fewer mistakes. Typists will also favor these switches because they are not loud like Blue switches.
Cherry MX Black
Cherry MX Black switches are linear. They require clicking until they bottom out because of the lack of tactile feedback. The switches have a high actuation force which is not ideal for typists. However, if you are a fan of first-person shooter games you will probably prefer the Cherry MX Black switches
Cherry MX Red
Cherry MX Red switches have the least actuation force in the Cherry MX line. They don’t have that much tactile feedback because the key is linear. It goes straight up and down. You will not feel tired after hours of gaming because of less actuation force and small actuation distance.
Razer has branded their switches as orange, green, and yellow switches. Razer’s Orange Switch is much like the Cherry MX Red switch. It has a 45cN actuation force with tactile feedback and no click sound.
Razer’s Green Switch is tactile and clicky. It offers a long actuation distance and an average actuation force of 50cN. The switches are used for many gaming keyboards.
Razer’s Yellow Switch has the shortest actuation point at only 1.2mm. It is linear in that it does not have tactile feedback and remains silent. These switches are normally used in fast-paced gaming.
Kailh and Romer-G Switches
Kailh has similar switches to Cherry MX switches. The red version is a linear switch, and the brown is a tactile switch. Meanwhile, blue is a tactile and clicky switch.
Romer-G is a tactile switch seen in some Logitech mechanical keyboards. It is weighted like the Cherry MX Red at 45cN.
Key backlighting is mostly important to gamers. Gamers have the option of investing in a single color backlighting keyboard or RGB lighting. RGB lighting allows you to allocate a color to every key for the ultimate personalized setup.
Backlighting is also useful in that it provides illumination when in low-light environments. It is a special, distinct feature of mechanical keyboards, and cheaper versions rarely have more than one color of backlighting.
Your keyboard is something you plan to use every single day. The last thing you want is fatigued hands before you have finished typing your first article of the day. It is why you will need to consider a keyboard with the right key height and ergonomics.
Additionally, keyboards with a wrist-rest are often more comfortable for the average user. You should consider buying a separate wrist-rest if the keyboard does not already include one.
Once you decide on a style and type of switch, you will want to examine the quality of the keycaps. Some keyboards feature printed letters while others are lasered. Cheap keyboards are prone to have the lettering get shiny and wear off with extended use. However, if you can get your hands on a double-shot molded keycap model, you will have better odds of increasing the lifespan of the keyboard.
If you are looking to get a cheap mechanical gaming keyboard, you will need to consider if it comes with any customizable features. Customizable options include features like macros and programmable keys.
Opening the Door
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to own a mechanical keyboard. They are a great ergonomic upgrade. The mechanical switches offer satisfying clicks and more comfortable key presses. Whether you want a wireless, compact, or 10 Keyless models, you can improve your typing speeds and gaming performance with an amazing mechanical keyboard.