Explained: Difference between a mechanical and a membrane keyboard

The keyboards that are available in the market offer customisations of multiple parts that include — keycaps, switches and RGB lighting among others. However, the most important choice for users is likely to decide between mechanical and membrane keyboards. These are the two main types of keyboards available in the market and each kind has its pros and cons. Mechanical keyboards are usually more expensive than their membrane counterpart, but they are not necessarily the best keyboards for gaming. However, membrane keyboards sometimes require hard key presses to get the job done, which rarely happens in mechanical keyboards. In the end, it all depends on how you want your deck to feel under your fingertips. Here we will discuss the difference between a mechanical and a membrane keyboard along with the advantages of both types.
What is a membrane keyboard?
A membrane keyboard consists of three layers — top membrane, keyholes, and bottom membrane. Whenever users press a key, the signal goes through these layers to reach a conductive circuit where the keystroke is finally registered. These are affordable rubber-layered keyboards that register less feedback than a more expensive, spring-loaded mechanical keyboard with audible accuracy.
Advantages of a membrane keyboard
Users often tend to overlook membrane keyboards. Unlike mechanical keyboards, these keyboards don’t focus much on stylish features like — RGB lights and media controls. However, that doesn’t mean membrane keyboards can’t have these fancy features. These keyboards are designed to serve users who are on a limited budget and want to cover their typing needs with a more ergonomic solution. The keys in a membrane keyboard are cheaper as there are fewer manufacturing costs involved in designing one which brings down the overall cost of the keyboard.
Moreover, membrane keyboards are more versatile as they are usually made up of plastic materials that make them lighter and more portable. On the contrary, mechanical keyboards can turn out to be more difficult to use in various situations even after including higher quality materials and metal parts.
On top of that, membrane keyboards don’t make much noise like their mechanical counterparts as they don’t use spring-loaded switches. Membrane keyboards have multiple rubber layers to curb the audible feedback of a keypress. This is the reason that makes these keyboards more appropriate for office setups.
What is a mechanical keyboard?
Every key present in a mechanical keyboard uses individual switches. Unlike membrane keyboards, the keys present on the mechanical ones require far less pressure to register a keystroke. Mechanical keyboard switches replace the rubber layers with a mechanism under each key. Whenever the key engages with the mechanism, the keypress is registered and sent to the CPU to produce desired results. These keyboards are considered more accurate than membrane keyboards as each key uses an individual switch. Relying on the keyboard’s actuation, a key doesn’t need to be fully pressed for it to register a keystroke. This feature of a mechanical keyboard is very useful for typists and gamers who need a more sensitive response.
Advantages of a mechanical keyboard
Mechanical keyboards include three basic types of switches — linear, tactile and clicky. Each switch comes with different features, but users need to choose between them according to their preferences. For instance, linear switches offer no feedback when it hits the actuation point, tactile switches provide tactile feedback, while clicky switches make an audible click sound.
The tactile and clicky switches on mechanical keyboards are mostly preferred by gamers and eSports competitors as the keys don’t need to be completely pressed down. Users can squeeze in more actions per minute with these types of switches.
Mechanical keyboards even offer multiple important features compared to membrane keyboards, which include — n-key rollover, anti-ghosting, and macro keys. A large group of users find these features essential. Moreover, a mechanical keyboard is often the better choice if quick response times, durable build and multiple connectivity options are important for you.

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