Many budget keyboards that usually come shipped with a computer are membrane keyboards. These keyboards have little to no tactile feedback with the constant struggle of depressing the keys, making it unintuitive to use.
Mechanical keyboards, however, have switches underneath the keys that determine activation of a keystroke and depending on the type of these switches, we get different feedback and travel time. The high quality of these spring-activated key switches provides a natural key depress AKA bottoming out combined with the signature click sound that gives nice feedback.
There are a variety of these key switches out there, and you only want the best. But what is best is up to you as the type that best suits you comes down to your personal preference. Going through this list will help you have a deeper understanding of how similar or different these switches are from one another.
You can typically ask these questions:
- What kind of feedback do you prefer while pressing the keys? Bumpy or smooth?
- Are you a light typist, or you keep bottoming out?
- Do you play games more than type?
- How do you want your key presses to sound?
Before diving into the types, let’s understand the characteristics of a mechanical switch. Apart from how the keystroke feels, there are five other technical characteristics that will help you choose your perfect keyboard according to your needs.
- Operational force or how hard the key needs to be pressed
- Activation point, the point of travel where the keypress is registered
- The total travel distance of the key until you bottom out
- Tactile position, where you feel the switch bump
- Reset point, where the key gets deactivated
Now that we know what to look for let’s get into the types.
The switches that I’ve listed are Cherry MX mechanical switches. These switches consist of a spring and two golden-plated contacts. The golden-plating prevents contacts from rusting, increasing the lifespan of the Cherry MX switch. Cherry MX comes in variety and can be differentiated by the stem color underneath the cap.
Being one of the first keyboard switches made available to general consumers, these are one of the simplest key switches. They don’t make a loud click sound, and the bump is minimal, making it a preferred choice of many gamers as it feels smooth, and the Activation and Reset points exactly overlap that makes tapping and double-tapping much easier than what others provide.
These Light Tactile brown switches will suit you if you’re a gamer as well as a typist. The tactile bump exists, unlike the black switches; while the tactile bump is soft, it still provides good tactile feedback with a barely noticeable click sound.
As the name suggests, these blue switches are clicky. The tactile bump is clicky, so much so that it feels like typing on a typewriter. The audio feedback is loud, and you would want to consider this before using the keyboard in your workplace. Make sure to always consider the surrounding where you will be using your keyboard, you don’t want to be inconsiderate.
Keyboards are how we perform actions when playing, or even typing. I have always been an advocate of making the journey worth reaching the destination. When you are playing games, the whole process should be enjoyable. Having a keyboard that suits your needs helps you achieve that. I hope this quick guide I put together helps you choose a good mechanical keyboard with a switch-type that works the best for you.