Mechanical vs membrane keyboard – Which one to choose in 2021?

mechanical keyboard vs membrane keyboard - which one is better?

Mechanical vs membrane keyboard is a debate every computer user would want to have.

Gamers and programmers are susceptible to the kind of keyboard they use for their respective tasks. A gamer needs a highly responsive keyboard that will enable them to react quickly to opponent moves. A programmer would need a keyboard that will give them more direct feedback.

Every other computer user prefers a keyboard that has specific properties that best fit their needs. In this article, we will draw a comparison between the two types of keyboards so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

Read it patiently to the end, and you will be surprised at some of the minor differences between a mechanical and membrane keyboard.

What is a Mechanical Keyboard

mechanical keyboard, a view from side

A mechanical keyboard is one that uses switches to send signals and communicate when one is typing.

Mechanical keyboards come with a variety of switches that function differently. Additionally, each switch is specifically designed for each key, and it comes with a base, spring, and stem. Switches in a mechanical keyboard can be red, brown, blue, or black.

A mechanical keyboard’s noise level when typing depends on the type of switches it uses; some are loud while others are tactile without any sound. Similarly, you will find that some switches are easy to press while others are a bit hard. For most keyboards, users can easily DIY their keyboards with exchangeable keycaps.

Switches are the main features of a mechanical keyboard and different types; linear, tactile, and clicky.

Linear switch mechanical keyboards provide the user with an instant response when the key bottoms out. Additionally, there is no response once you get to the actuation point.

Tactile switch keyboards give the user a response once they get to the actuation point. You will usually feel a bump that indicates that the key was pressed successfully.

On the other hand, Clicky switches give a sound to indicate a successful key press once you get to the actuation point.

Pros of A Mechanical Keyboard

A mechanical keyboard has the following advantages to the user:

Durability

Durability is a huge benefit that comes with mechanical keyboards. Mechanical keyboard keys are known to last for years without wearing out, not even a clatter or getting stuck. The kind of durability seen in mechanical keyboards is a pipe dream for most membrane keyboards.

Excellent Feedback

A typist, gamer, or programmer will benefit significantly from the mechanical keyboard’s tactility and rapid feedback. Apart from not requiring a lot of effort to type any letter, you will also get feedback almost instantly. If you’re looking to hit more keys as quickly as possible, this is the keyboard for you.

A Unique of Styles

Mechanical keyboards present users with many options, especially when it comes to typing styles. Most importantly, one doesn’t have to press the key to the bottom. You will always get a response even if you press the key halfway.

Heavy and Stable

Although some users consider the heaviness of a keyboard a con, it is advantageous if you don’t want your keyboard to quickly get pushed over the edge of the table. Mechanical keyboards are also stable and don’t shake when using.

N Key Rollover

A mechanical keyboard allows the user to press many keys simultaneously, which includes pressing all the keys simultaneously and still getting the desired feedback.

Longevity

Mechanical keyboards have been found to last 30 to 70 million presses; that is many years of service even if you often use your keyboard. Membrane keyboards, on the other hand, last six times less than a mechanical keyboard. That is a lifespan of about 5 million presses.

Quiet Typing

Although mechanical keyboards have a certain level of noise, they are relatively quiet compared to membrane keyboards. That is an excellent feature for people who don’t like it when their keyboards make noise while typing.

Cons of A Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keyboard with blue switches

Mechanical keyboards are not without some downsides we need to bring to your attention.

Noise

Mechanical keyboards have varying levels of noise, but they’re generally noisy. A noisy keyboard is quite irritating, and some people get distracted by the noise coming from the keyboard while typing. You might want to get yourself a membrane keyboard if you hate such noise.

Not Budget-Friendly

Because mechanical keyboards use sophisticated technology, they tend to be more expensive than membrane keyboards. Additionally, the materials from which these kinds of keyboards are made are also costly, thus making the keyboard expensive.

Requires DIY

Although not all, most mechanical keyboards require DIY skills to customize them. Some people prefer customizing keycaps and switches, making it more expensive if one doesn’t have any DIY skills.

Relatively Heavy

Mechanical keyboards are a little heavier compared to membrane keyboards. Although the heaviness helps stabilize the keyboard, some people find it hard to move a heavy keyboard from place to place.

What Is a Membrane Keyboard

A membrane keyboard has three layers in its design in place of switches. The layers are different from each other and are incredibly flexible to enhance the user’s typing experience.

When the key is pressed, the top membrane’s conductive layer comes into contact with the middle layer, which has holes.

Pressure pads found under each key pass through the holes and contact the conductive layer at the bottom of the lower membrane layer. It is this conductive layer that carries the signals and feedback.

Membrane keyboards use two types of designs; flat key designs and dome switch keyboard designs. Flat key design, mostly seen in microwave ovens, has keys printed on the same pad.

That kind of design is not used in computers because it doesn’t provide feedback: computers, specifically keyboards, usually use dome switch keyboard designs with letters printed on top.

Additionally, the dome switch keyboard design may have letters printed or laser stretched to facilitate feedback.

Pros of A Membrane Keyboard

A woman typing on membrane keyboard

Users prefer a this type of keyboard because of the following reasons:

Great Feedback

Satisfying feedback is one outstanding feature of membrane keyboards. The feedback feature helps gamers, typists, and programmers value speed and quick reactions more than anything else. That is what you will get in a membrane keyboard; excellent feedback.

Exceptional Typing Experience

It is also great when it comes to typing, just like a mechanical keyboard. The technology used in the dome switch design has done a lot to bridge the gap between a membrane keyboard and a mechanical keyboard. It has enabled the keyboard to offer real-time typing feedback irrespective of the task one is performing.

Low Noise Levels

A membrane keyboard is relatively quiet compared to a mechanical keyboard. Quiet typing makes this type of keyboard ideal for open office environments where the noise is minimal. You don’t have to worry about the other person hearing the keyboard click if you use it while talking on the phone or over a microphone.

Many Options

Variety is another benefit a user can get from membrane keyboards. Additionally, these types of keyboards are very accessible in the market and come in various designs. For this reason, one gets to choose a keyboard that best suits their needs.

Affordability

Membrane keyboards, unlike mechanical ones, can be made from ordinary materials that cost much less. Additionally, the devices use mature and straightforward technology that is low cost. The keyboard is affordable to the average person.

Light

These kinds of keyboards are relatively light and portable. That means it’s easy to carry it around when traveling or place it on your lap when typing. The reason membrane keyboards are light is that they are mostly made of plastic and a lesser metal gear composition.

Cons of Membrane Keyboards

Membrane keyboards, like mechanical keyboards, have certain disadvantages users find unappealing.

Awful Typing Feel

Some people find membrane keyboards mushy and more strenuous. Such keyboards will typically slow down the user or make them uncomfortable; hence membrane keyboards are unpopular among gamers.

Short Lifespan

Membrane keyboards have a relatively short lifespan due to the type of materials from which they are made. Most of these keyboards wear out faster than anticipated because they will cease giving feedback once the membrane wears out.

Gamers, for instance, use the keyboard ten times more than regular computer users. A membrane keyboard cannot survive in such an environment for long, no matter how stylish it looks. You will be headed back to the shop to buy another one sooner or later.

Unavailability of Spare parts

It becomes challenging to replace individual parts of a membrane keyboard. That is quite inconvenient because it means you’ll always be forced to buy a new set if one component fails to function properly.

Which One Should You Choose

As mentioned earlier this is a conversation a regular computer user cannot avoid.

Having looked at each of the two keyboards in detail, what remains choosing the best one for you. It is essential to know that what you plan to do with the keyboard determines the type that’s best for you at the end of the day.

If you’re a gamer, you need a fast, comfortable keyboard that offers many alternatives. Additionally, gaming requires highly durable keyboards because of the nature of the environment they’re used. How would you feel if you smashed your keyboard because of an emotional outburst and it breaks into pieces? Gamers prefer keyboards that are tough to survive accidental falls and rigorous use.

Similarly, programmers want a keyboard that gives fast feedback and comfortable to use. These two groups of users have only one option; to go for a mechanical keyboard, which is more robust, stable, fast, and allows for several presses at a go.

Typists are another group of people that should consider buying a mechanical keyboard instead of a membrane keyboard. Regularly pressing the keys on a membrane keyboard makes the membrane wear out and become non-responsive.

On the other hand, a membrane keyboard best suits people who work in quiet places such as open-office environments and at home. These keyboards do not produce a lot of noise since the membrane is soft enough to absorb any sound.

Additionally, the membrane ones are light and portable. If you like carrying your tools of workaround, this keyboard will come in handy. Most importantly, a membrane keyboard is quite affordable if you’re looking for a budget-friendly product.

A Quick Buying Guide

Young man typing on membrane keyboard

Keyboards, like every other computer component, require that you consider your needs before purchasing any. What do you want to do with the keyboard once you buy it? Will the keyboard satisfy all your needs?

Once you have considered your needs, the next thing is to compare the available keyboard models and designs.

That is where the mechanical vs membrane keyboard debate comes in.

Let us agree that finding the best electronic is very tricky, no matter how tech-savvy you consider yourself.

People have mastered the art of creating counterfeits with an outlook that resembles the actual product. It is imperative that you only go for products, including keyboards from a recognized dealer with a physical location or official website.

Testing alone does not guarantee the authenticity of the keyboard you just bought from a random street vendor. Make sure to do thorough background research on the product you need, including a mechanical or membrane keyboard.

Bypassing this small protocol will only result in disappointments and significant inconveniences.

FAQs: Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboards

Are mechanical keyboards really better?

They may be considered better by professionals due to their high performance. They provide more comfortable typing experience and better performance, they have a longer lifespan and they execute every single keystroke with great precision. Because of that, they are the first sort of choice if it comes to programming or a gaming keyboard.

Are membrane keyboards really that bad?

No, not at all. There’s a reason why membrane vs mechanical is the first point of every discussion and why membrane keyboards are very often chosen for office work. They make almost no noise, they are light and portable and they usually come at an affordable price.

Is Mecha membrane better than mechanical?

No, I wouldn’t say so. Mecha membrane term was purely invented for marketing purposes when mechanical keyboards were very popular. They have only a few features more than the ones with rubber domes. Also, as they actuate at the bottom of key travel they are less responsive than the mechanical ones.

Do mechanical keyboards last longer than membranes?

Yes, that’s very true. Mechanical keyboards are created with many key presses in mind so even under heavy use they can last for approx 10 years. On the other hand, the average lifespan of membrane keyboards is approx 1.5 years.

With no hesitation – the Cherry MX mechanical switch is the right answer. They are very good for gaming, but with fast typing, they generate quite a lot of noise that’s why they are not recommended for programmers.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a mechanical or membrane keyboard, there is always a range of options out there. All you need to do is find a product that gives you the best experience. Whichever way you’re using it always comes down to personal preference.

Some users make the mistake of buying a keyboard without considering their needs, only to end up with a product that is of no use to them.

If you go for either of these two keyboards, some factors should be at the back of your head. These include actuation, feedback, durability, and what you plan to do with it.