Why and Who Should Upgrade TO A Mechanical Keyboard

Why you should throw the cheap membrane type keyboard, out of the window, or if you are more sane then sell it on OLX/Quikr, and buy a mechanical keyboard. There is a day and night difference between a mechanical keyboard and a normal membrane/rubber dome type keyboard.

Why and Who Should Upgrade TO A Mechanical Keyboard

Mechanical keyboard are the best when it comes to typing and not too many people really understand the difference between a mechanical and a standard Keyboard. It is like when you have done DSLR photography you understand what your smartphone camera is missing.

What is a Mechanical Keyboard?

The mechanical keyboard has an actual physical switch mechanism, which gets activated when you press a key and the keystroke is registered like the one shown in below picture.

Why and Who Should Upgrade TO A Mechanical Keyboard

The normal membrane keyboard or the rubber dome keyboard does not have these individual switches but have a membrane which gets the signal from the key to the CPU as shown in the below picture.

membrane keyboard.JPG

The major difference between the rubber dome and the mechanical keyboard lies in the typing experience, in case of the rubber dome keyboard you need to press the keys all the way down to the bottom to register a click. In case of a mechanical keyboard, they register the click half way through the keystroke. This saves a lot of energy and makes typing fatigue free for the user.

A Brief History of Mechanical Keyboards

Christopher Latham Sholes (February 14, 1819 – February 17, 1890) was an American inventor who invented the first practical typewriter and the QWERTY keyboard still in use today. Mechanical keyboards are not new they date back to 80s, one of the most popular mechanical keyboard was made by IBM the Model M, it was vastly sold and people even use it after 20 years. A true master piece.

Dell Mechanical Keyboard IBM Mechanical keyboard

IBM released a PC in 1983 which had a keyboard with QWERTY layout but all important Keys like Shift and Enter were of small size unlike today. The 83 Key keyboard was known as the AT/XT keyboard.

After the first keyboard was launched they felt the need for improvements and IBM created a team of 10 members as reported by PC Mag in an article. The team made changes to the Keyboard layout made the important keys larger like the shift and enter and space bar. They also invented the CTL+ALT+DEL shortcut and was the first time it was used. With all these improvements the new IBM M keyboard was launched on 10 June, 1985 with the IBM 3161 Terminal PC.

Microsoft , Dell and Samsung all had mechanical keyboards in 1980’s and 1990’s the rubber domes are cheaper to manufacture and got launched in 90’s as a commercial product. Now majority of the keyboards use the Rubber Dome mechanism which is far inferior to the mechanical switches in terms of user experience and life. The Mechanical switches can bear 50 million strokes before failure, some of the mechanical keyboards are 10 years older to legal drinking age and still breathing.

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.

― Michael Crichton

Mechanical Keyboards are fairly easy to clean – You can actually remove all the key caps and wash them refit everything on keyboard and it work again.

remove keycaps and wash them

Type of Mechanical Keyboard Switches

There are different type of switches which are used in the mechanical keyboards and the switches decide the feel and touch and the noise level for the keyboards. The switches differentiate from each other based on the sound they make, design and actuation force(the force required to push each Key).

The type of Switches used in the mechanical keyboards.

Most commonly used switches are the Cherry MX Blues, they give you a nice tactile feedback when you type and also register a louder click sound. The Cherry MX Blue require a 60 gram of actuation force to press a key.

cherry MX Blue switches

 The next Most popular switches are the Cherry MX Browns, they give you a tactile feedback when you press the key but again the sound is not enough to wake up your room-mates.

Cherry MX red are catching up fast and Gamers are adopting to the Cherry MX Red ,as they don’t have any tactile feedback, a smoother click and no noise to distract. There is smooth linear motion for the cherry MX red’s. The sound you may hear from them is the switch bottoming out.

Cherry MX Red Switches

The Cherry MX Clear are quite similar to the Cherry MX Brown , though have a slightly higher 55 grams actuation force compared to the Cherry MX Brown’s 45.

Cherry MX clear

The Cherry MX Black are similar to the Cherry MX red but have a 60 grams actuation weight compared to the 45 grams of the Cherry MX Red.

Cherry MX Black switches

The Cherry MX Green are mostly found in the cooler master keyboard and are quite similar to the Cherry MX Blue but with higher Actuation force of 80 grams Vs a 50 gram actuation force on the Cherry MX Blues.

Popular Keyboard Switches – Most Used by People Around the World

Popularity of Mechanical Switches

The Cherry MX Blues are the most popular with around 32.6% of people using them, Cherry MX Brown are fast catching up with 28.6% of people using them.

The other major category is Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX Blacks which are quite popular with the Gamers.

mechanical keyboard switches

The Noise to Actuation Force Graph

Force and sound chart for Mechanical keyboards

If you are looking for a mechanical keyboard for writing, blogging or programming – The Cherry MX Blue or Brown will suit you the most.

If you are a gamer a quick responsive keyboard is what you should get, in case of mechanical keyboard you don’t need to press the key all the way down to the bottom a little click ensures that your action is registered. While in the conventional keyboards your fingers can get pained at time playing for long hours.

If you are a blogger like me or a writer or a programmer, and spend more than 4 hours of your time in-front of a computer screen, I would strongly recommend to switch to a mechanical keyboard.

Which model of keyboard you should buy, we will come to that later.

Why I switched To a Mechanical Keyboard ?

Why and Who Should Upgrade TO A Mechanical Keyboard – I initially had a simple dell keyboard which I bought for around Rs. 500 which I was using for everything, gaming typing and writing and other tasks. It was okay but again not very comfortable. I made a switch to the Logitech Wireless MK330 keyboard and wireless Combo, a good upgrade from the old Dell keyboard. Keys were softer and more easier to type, but after using it for 6-8 months decided to try the cheaper mechanical keyboard the TVS E GOLD Bharat which costs Rs. 2000 or $30.

Logitech K330 image

Wireless Logitech membrane Keyboard

The change was staring shifting from a membrane keyboard to a mechanical keyboard, it simply felt great and was one of the best thing I could have done to boost my productivity.

The major advantage was faster speed and felt blissful to type on the keyboard. A mechanical keyboard like the TVS with Cherry MX blue makes a lot of noise, not to wake up sleeping room partners but to make sure the click gets registered to you faster and easier. The Cherry MX blue switches makes maximum noise while the Cherry MX brown are a little quiet, while the Cherry reds are the more silent types.

TVS GOLD Worlds Cheapest Mechanical Keyboard Price $30

TVS GOLD Worlds Cheapest Mechanical Keyboard Price $30

TVS Keyboard was great but was not built for perfection neither can you expect that from a low cost keyboard. The keys and the keyboard is far superior to anything else in that price range. But can you really compare a Macbook Air to a Macbook Pro with retina display can you?

The next logical choice for me was to look at some of the expensive keyboards as there is no other Low cost mechanical keyboard brand in India.

After a long thorough research we picked the Corsair Rapid I 10 KEYLESS Mechanical keyboard priced at Rs. 7,500. Who the hell buys a Rs. 7500 Keyboard asked one of my friend’s who declared I have gone a little crazy. The keyboard came and as expected was gem of a device, that friend of mine is ready to have war with me to borrow the keyboard which I am keeping in safe before sleeping. Jokes aside, the keyboard is fantastic, build quality, the rubberized coating on Keys, backlit illumination everything just makes it divine.

Why and Who Should Upgrade TO A Mechanical Keyboard

Cooler Master Rapid i Brown Cherry Keyboard

It is 100% value for money if you are a pro pc user and spend a long time in front of the PC. To just sum up the journey from a cheap keyboard to a premium Mechanical Keyboard it was like starting from a Nano and in the end getting a BMW. That is the amount of difference you will feel once you switch to a good mechanical keyboard.

How to Select Which keyboard is right for You, is it worth to spend on a mechanical keyboard?

Low usage 1-2 Hours a day, doing internet and simple tasks – Get a wireless or wired membrane keyboard.

Medium usage – 2- 3 hours , internet emails etc. – Get something like a TVS GOLD or K330 Logitech

High Usage – 4 hours or more – Get a Mechanical Keyboard like Corsair Rapid I , Razer or Das depending upon your budget.

I have not used the Das keyboard but would definitely like to get one in the near future.

Okay if you are finding less motivation to spend the huge amount of money a Mechanical keyboard here are 10 strong reasons you should go through before making up your mind.

10 Reasons You Should Get a Mechanical Keyboard if You are a gamer, Programmer, blogger, writer or in case you spend a good amount of your time in front of a PC.

  1. Mechanical keyboards are really touch sensitive and soft to work on.
  2. Keys are much easier to press compared to the membrane keyboards. Your fingers will thank you for the switch.
  3. The force required to press the keys(Actuation force) on a mechanical keyboard is much lesser compared to the normal keyboards (more than 80 grams).
  4. Mechanical Keyboard keys are mostly made of a much superior material and feel great when they come in contact with your fingers. They can last for 5-10 years, have much longer life.
  5. Mechanical Keyboards have programmable keys which can be used for specific tasks and purposes.
  6. Mechanical keyboards most of them are backlit which makes it a delight to work with them.
  7. They give you better typing speed compared to anything else you can get your hands on, I type faster on a mechanical keyboard compared to even when working on the Macbook Pro.
  8. The keys are ergonomic and there is a slight curvature to them which makes sure that you catch the right key even when you are touch typing.
  9. The click sound from the keyboard ensures that you are able to register the key as soon as it is pressed.
  10. The tactile feedback that the mechanical keyboard offers is great and can enhance your typing speed and skills.

The Cons of Mechanical Keyboards

Everything has it CONS, so does the divine mechanical keyboards. The make a lot of noise, specially blue cherry key one’s. They are heavy, not really a con for me, I like the stability of the Keyboard can weigh 1 KG or more. They are damn expensive and if you are in India then you have fairly little choice.

Verdict – Is it Worth it to spend Insane Amount on a Mechanical Keyboard

Why and Who Should Upgrade TO A Mechanical Keyboard – If you ask me are you happy after spending a huge amount of money on the keyboard, I will say totally satisfied and will put it as a value for money purchase. If you are a Gamer, writer, blogger, programmer or a PRO-PC user, it is a 100% worthy upgrade.

There is an Excellent Guide on the Mechanical keyboard on Overclockers that you can read to gain more knowledge on the mechanical Keyboards. Also can read the greatest mechanical keyboard ever made on the verge for more information on IBM M Keybaord.

 

Watch Why I Use a Mechanical Keyboard Even When Not Gaming!

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2 Comments

  1. kanuj sharma
  2. Abhishek

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