Mechanical Keyboard Switches

A few years ago, the “gaming keyboard” usually consists of a regular old membrane keyboard with several fancy lights on it. Now, all the mechanical keyboards are in rage. Gamers have come to appreciate the responsiveness, durability and versatility that only mechanical switches can provide.

Why buy mechanical?

Or in this case you’re among the few holdouts that insist that the membrane keyboard is just fine, and you don’t want to spend so much money on your keyboard, take a few minutes to read our mechanic keyboard guide. The short version: Membrane keyboards work by sending an electrical signal between two plastic membranes.

Mechanical keyboards, in the other hand, work through a discreet switch under each key cap, as the typewriter does. This makes the keyboard not only more robust and less prone to failure, but also more responsive and comfortable.

How much do mechanical keyboards cost?

If you’re not a brand name picker, you could get a mechanical keyboard to use as little as $60—or even less if you’re willing to settle for an older model. If you go with a well-known brand, though, tenkeyless mechanical keyboards start at around $80, full-size keyboards cost around $110, while full-size RGB lighting keyboards can cost up to $180.

Linear vs. Tactile

Two terms you need to know to get as much out of this guide are “linear” and “tactile.” Almost any mechanical switch comes down to choice, and the distinction between the two kinds is easy to understand. You need to push it all the way down, like a membrane key, to actuate a linear switch. To dampen vibrations a tactile switch, you usually push it about halfway down; you can keep pressing the key after that, but you could also take your finger off and move to the next key right away. Some fans argue that linear switches are better for gaming, while tactile switches are faster for typing. I have no strong feelings either way about this debate, having successfully used both linear and tactile switches for both purposes.

Cherry MX

Cherry MX switches are really the benchmark for mechanic keyboards. If the manufacturer does not use genuine Cherry switches, you can bet that the company will do its best to imitate them. There is no single magic quality that makes Cherry so comfortable and responsive — just good, ancient-fashioned German engineering and versatility.

Bottom Line

The type of switch you want depends on whether you want a linear or tactile experience, and whether you chose quiet or noisy keys. Knowing these two considerations will decrease your potential keyboard choices from dozens to a handful.

The gap between Cherry and the competing switches is not as wide than it was a few years ago, yet there is a reason why Cherry is still the best known brand on the market. Buy a keyboard with Cherry MX switches if possible.

Mechanical keyboards are expensive, unless you insist on keeping the latest gadgets, you can often save a few (twelve) bucks by buying a model that has recently been replaced.

Your keyboard is your biggest connection to your computer. Getting a better keyboard gives you an edge to other players. You may also want to pair your monitor setup with a single monitor arms for a total gaming experience.

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