The keyboard market has become increasingly competitive over the years, which means more options for us consumers. Gone are the days when you simply used whatever was available. Nowadays, you get to choose between a mechanical keyboard vs. regular keyboard (also known as a membrane keyboard) based on which feels right to you.
The team at SitWorkPlay has created this in-depth keyboard comparison guide to help you make the most well-informed decision for your workflow. Whether you’re a coder, gamer, or desk jockey logging tons of hours at your workstation, we have all the information you need to understand and choose the right peripheral for your setup. With that in mind, let’s dive in.
Mechanical Keyboard vs. Regular Keyboard: What’s the Difference?
Here’s a quick look at the main differences between a mechanical keyboard vs. regular keyboard.
|Mechanical Keyboard||Regular Keyboard|
|Feel||Mild to moderate spring||Spongy|
|Noise level||Quiet to loud||Quiet|
|Weight||Heavier than regular keyboards||Lightweight|
|Lifespan||Longer lifespan||Shorter lifespan|
Mechanical Keyboard Basics
Although mechanical keyboards have several defining features, the distinguishing factor lies underneath their keycaps.
You see, mechanical keyboards use physical switches to record each keystroke. After you hit the keycap, the switch underneath springs into action. Once it reaches a certain distance, the switch makes contact against an underlying circuit board and registers your keystroke near-instantly.
Contrary to popular belief, not all mechanical switches make tons of noise or offer much sensory response. There are several types of mechanical switches available, and each one provides a unique feel.
The price of mechanical keyboards varies, ranging from $50 to $200 and up. The final cost will depend on the model and level of customization. When you invest in a good mechanical keyboard and take care of it, the keyboard can last from years to a lifetime.
Mechanical Keyboard Features
- Mechanical switches – Think of mechanical keyboard switches like light switches. Press on one, and it eventually reaches an actuation point, relaying a signal to the computer and registering your keystroke. These spring-loaded switches often offer a typewriter-esque feel.
- Key rollover – This is one of the reasons why gamers love mechanical keyboards. Key rollover means that the keyboard can detect several keypresses or functions simultaneously. This is what prevents lagging and allows gamers to input combos. It’s also beneficial if you’re a fast typist.
- Customization – You can personalize most mechanical keyboards by changing switches and even keycaps.
Cons of Using a Mechanical Keyboard
- Pricey – Mechanical keyboards can be expensive.
- Noisy – Most mechanical keyboards are louder than regular keyboards. Many users find this noise unpleasant.
Mechanical Keyboards Brands & Models To Check Out
- Corsair K100 RGB Optical | Amazon ($189) – This is a top-quality keyboard with responsive optical switches. It’s among the best keyboards for serious gamers. Keypress inputs are up to 8x faster, and there are six dedicated macro keys. Pick it up for $189.
- Ducky One 2 RGB TKL ($135) – Enjoy high-quality keycaps and tons of switch choices at an affordable price. The Ducky One 2 RGB TKL is a great all-around mechanical keyboard for $135.
- Filco Majestouch 2 | Amazon ($149) – If you want the functionality of a mechanical keyboard and nothing else, this is it. The design is simple and offers a good selection of Cherry MX switches. Grab it for $149.
Read More: The Best Mechanical Keyboards of 2022
Regular Keyboard Basics
Today’s most common regular keyboards feature membrane technology.
Unlike mechanical keyboards, which rely on individual switches, regular keyboards boast a circuit board that’s activated via a long silicone membrane with rubber domes attached. These feel less crisp and more mushy than mechanical keyboards, but they work fine for most everyday work operations.
Regular keyboards range from around $20 to $100 and higher for more specialized models. For example, there are now regular keyboards on the market that are “hybrid” models, offering some of the features associated with a mechanical keyboard and regular keyboard. These tend to be more expensive.
Regular Keyboard Features
- Quiet keys – Thanks to their silicone designs and minimal key travel distances, typing with a regular keyboard ensures quiet operation.
- Spill-resistant – Many standard keyboard models offer a spill-resistant option, helping you increase the longevity of your peripheral.
- Lightweight – Regular keyboards are light and portable. Laptops have regular keyboards built-in.
Cons of Using a Regular Keyboard
- Slower – Membrane keyboards tend to be slower, meaning this option isn’t ideal for serious gamers, coders, or fast typists.
- Non-customizable – In general, parts cannot be replaced very easily.
Regular Keyboard Brands & Models To Check Out
- Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard (59.99) – Split keys and the included wrist cushion offer optimal comfort. This is a good option if you type all day. Find it for as low as $60.
- Razer Deathstalker Essential Membrane Keyboard | Amazon ($89.99) – This keyboard is fully programmable and adjustable. Users like the low profiles keys. Pick it up for $90.
- Logitech G213 | Amazon ($49.99) – This is one of the best membrane keyboards you can get with a budget of $50. This keyboard has all the bells and whistles without the price tag. Find it on Amazon for $50.
Are Mechanical and Regular Keyboards Interchangeable?
Yes and no. If you plan on simply typing and completing everyday tasks on your computer, a mechanical keyboard and membrane keyboard will work. They serve the same function, bridging the gap between you and your computer.
Mechanical Keyboard vs. Regular Keyboard: FAQs
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about the mechanical keyboard vs. regular keyboard.
1. What is the primary difference between a mechanical keyboard vs. regular keyboard?
A regular keyboard works thanks to pressure pads, whereas a mechanical keyboard relies on individual switches. Mechanical keyboards also offer better key rollover.
2. If mechanical keyboards are so great, why don’t more offices have them?
Technically speaking, mechanical keyboards perform very well. The issue with having several in an office is the noise. While silent switches are available, they aren’t as ideal for typing (less sensory feedback).
3. What is the price difference between these two options?
Expect to pay more for a good mechanical keyboard, especially if you plan on customizing it. You can get an excellent mechanical keyboard between $50 and $100. However, they can also reach over $200. When you’re in the market for a regular keyboard, you can score a decent one for $20 to $50. A regular keyboard will be more than sufficient for everyday office tasks.
Mechanical vs. Regular Keyboards: Which One Should You Buy?
When debating between a mechanical keyboard vs. regular keyboard and trying to decide which is best, think about your own needs.
The best keyboard depends on what you’re using it for. A mechanical keyboard is likely a good investment if you’re a serious coder, gamer, or typist. However, a regular keyboard will do the trick if you need to perform everyday tasks like sending emails, filling orders, or typing minimal website copy.
If you need more guidance, SitWorkPlay is here. Check out The 10 Best Mechanical Keyboards of 2021 and The 10 Best Ergonomic Keyboards of 2021.
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