The main difference between a mechanical keyboard vs an ordinary PC keyboard is how each keyboard sends information when you press a key.
Mechanical keyboards use mechanical switches while ordinary PC keyboards or non-mechanical keyboards use membranes.
The difference does not end there. If you’re deciding which keyboard will be best for your need, then by the end of this article, you will figure out which one is the best for you.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at the difference between a mechanical keyboard and an ordinary PC keyboard to know which is better.
Mechanical Keyboard Switches and Ordinary PC Keyboard Membrane Explained
As mentioned earlier, mechanical keyboards use switches while an ordinary PC keyboard uses membranes. We will further explore the differences between switches and membranes as follows:
Mechanical Keyboard Switches
Each key on a mechanical keyboard has a switch that registers every single press of the key. The switch is located underneath each key which when pressed sends a signal to the PC that the key had been pressed.
There are three types of mechanical switches which include linear (red), tactile (brown), and clicky (blue).
Ordinary PC Keyboard Membrane
An ordinary PC keyboard uses a membrane that is located under the keycaps. The membrane has three layers that work together for the keyboard to register a keypress.
The bottom layer is made of a rubbery material that provides support. In the middle, there is a thin film that has printed circuits.
When you press a key, this film makes contact with the circuits which then sends a signal to the PC. The top layer is also made of a rubbery material and provides support as well.
Are Switches Better than Membrane?
Mechanical switches are better than membranes with keystrokes rated between 20 and 50 million keystrokes whereas membranes’ keystrokes won’t go higher than 5 million keystrokes.
Mechanical switches also allow n-key rollover which allows simultaneous pressing and registering of multiple keys at the same time. Membranes on the other hand normally won’t be able to register multiple keys at once.
When it comes to durability between a mechanical keyboard and an ordinary PC keyboard, with the number of keystrokes, a mechanical keyboard is expected to last up to 10 years or more.
An ordinary keyboard on the other hand has an average lifespan of 5 years.
When it comes to feeling, a mechanical keyboard has the edge over an ordinary PC keyboard.
The typing experience is different and a lot more satisfying with each keypress having tactile feedback.
There is also a sound that is produced when you press each key which some people find therapeutic while other claim it is too noisy.
On the other hand, an ordinary PC keyboard feels dull and lifeless in comparison. Although there are users who still prefer the soft and spongey sensation of a membrane keyboard.
Typing using a mechanical keyboard is a lot more satisfying and precise. The keypress is registered as soon as you press the key which makes it perfect for gaming and fast-paced typing.
A normal PC keyboard can be less responsive and there is a slight delay from when the key is pressed to when it is registered.
This can be frustrating especially if you’re playing squad games with friends where the game requires a quicker response or if you’re in the middle of finishing an important document and have to wait for the keys to catch up.
When it comes to gaming mechanical keyboards offer better customization and faster response time than an ordinary PC keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards even allow users to program keys to have convenient shortcuts and commands. Shortcuts during games can become a competitive advantage, especially in games like MMORPGs where combinations and attack rotations are important.
On the other hand, an ordinary PC keyboard for gaming purposes is not as efficient. The keys are not as responsive and there are no customization options.
One of the main reasons people don’t switch to mechanical keyboards is because of the price difference.
Mechanical keyboards can be 2-3 times more expensive than an ordinary PC keyboard. Nowadays, with the rise of users switching to mechanical keyboards, you can find some affordable mechanical keyboard options to try out.
However, in the long run, mechanical keyboards are a good investment because of their lifespan and better user experience.
When it comes to cleaning your keyboard, the mechanical keyboard type with hot-swappable switches steps up with the convenience of removing the keycaps and cleaning in between switches. You can even detach the switches and clean them separately.
Meanwhile, cleaning an ordinary PC membrane keyboard can be problematic because of the sticky rubber that gathers dirt.
Choosing between a mechanical keyboard vs ordinary PC keyboard, mechanical keyboards are the better option in terms of durability, feel typing, and gaming experience.
However, mechanical keyboards are more expensive than the other keyboard type. So it all comes down to preference in the end.