Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboards: Which One to Choose

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Keyboards are not the same as they were in the past. I remember the time when typing on a keyboard was audible down the street. Technology has evolved and things have changed with the arrival of high-end mechanical and membrane keyboards. But there’s still confusion among the users when it comes to picking between a mechanical vs membrane keyboard for gaming or typing.

Where most users fall for mechanical keyboards for their tactile feedback and durability, others prefer a silent keyboard which comes with soft keycaps. Both types have their pros and cons which are necessary to discuss at this point.

We’ll high all the key differences between a mechanical and membrane keyboard so you should pick the one that falls under your needs.

Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard: Main Differences

Mechanical Keyboard

  • Durable
  • Tactile feedback
  • Great for gaming
  • Better for typing

Membrane Keyboard

  • Affordable
  • Quieter
  • Water-resistant
  • Low-profile design

Although modern-day mechanical and membrane keyboards look similar in shape and design, they differ from each other in terms of switch mechanisms. Mechanical keyboards come with spring-loaded mechanisms whereas membrane keyboards use rubber domes.

The type of spring mechanism used in mechanical keyboards makes them more durable, therefore these types of keyboards have a longer lifespan as compared to membrane variants.

Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard:
Spring mechanism in a mechanical keyboard

Moreover, it’s much easier to customize a mechanical keyboard with different switches and keycaps.

In the case of a membrane keyboard, there is a rubber dome under each keycap. Upon pressing any key, the dome sends a signal to the computer regarding the key you’ve pressed.

membrane keyboard and rubber domes under neath each keycap
Rubber domes found in a membrane keyboard

Due to the presence of a rubber dome under each key, membrane keyboards offer you a silent typing experience as compared to mechanical keyboards. Also, the keys on a membrane keyboard are soft and don’t provide you with tactile feedback as a mechanical keyboard does.

Durability

Generally, mechanical keyboards are tough built and they usually outlast membrane keyboards when it comes to durability. A typical mechanical keyboard can record anywhere between 20 to 50 million keystrokes before retiring from the job. This is roughly an estimated time period of ten years or so.

Membrane keyboards on other hand are more sensitive in nature and can give up if you heavily rely on them for your tasks. It’s difficult for a membrane keyboard to last more than 5 million keystrokes. Further on, gaming on a membrane keyboard can further reduce its life.

Typing Feedback

Frankly speaking, the feedback on a mechanical keyboard is much more pleasant than that of a membrane keyboard. Some users are fond of tactile feedback when gaming or typing on a keyboard. I myself love the pushback of the keycaps as I run my finger on my keyboard.

When it comes to responsiveness, mechanical keyboards are more responsive and come in different variants like clicky, tactile, and linear. Each of these variants has a different feel to it as you type on them.

For me, it’s much easier to type on a mechanical keyboard as compared to a membrane keyboard. The clicky noise of the keys and the spring mechanism let me know that I’ve successfully registered a key.

As a membrane keyboard uses a rubber dome sheet underneath, this makes them much softer and noise-free as you type. However, it will take a lot of time for you to get used to a membrane keyboard. It’s because the feedback on a membrane keyboard is totally different from that of a mechanical keyboard.

rubber dome sheet used in a membrance keyboard
Rubber dome sheet

To me, it’s much easier to type and game on a mechanical keyboard. And the reason for that is the tactile feedback and clicky sound. But if you hate keyboard noise, then a membrane keyboard is the right fit for you.

Noise

No doubt, mechanical keyboards produce a lot of noise as compared to membrane keyboards. Some expensive mechanical keyboards are less noisy, but up to some extent. Alternatively, you can use O-rings to reduce noise on a mechanical keyboard, but that also is a time-consuming method.

If you hate the click and clack while typing, then going after a membrane keyboard is the only choice left for you. Membrane keyboards are also cheaper as compared to mechanical keyboards. So, you’ll be paying less amount of money to have a super silent typing experience.

Customization

Mechanical keyboards are easy to upgrade as customised to membrane keyboards. You can simply take out individual keycaps and replace them with your preferred third-party keycaps in no time. You can also customize a mechanical keyboard with different switches to experience different feedback from it.

Membrane keyboards, on the other hand, come with a single-piece design and it’s difficult to do any customization work. Although, some membrane keyboards come with software that allows you to change macros and the function of the keys, however, up to some extent only.

Verdict – Mechanical or Membrane Keyboard

As we’ve said earlier, both keyboard types have their pros and cons. Personally, I prefer mechanical keyboards due to their all-rounder nature. You can use them for gaming or typing at the same time. As far as the noise is concerned, the level of noise that present-day mechanical keyboards produce is bearable. It doesn’t disturb your gaming or typing experience at all.

If you type regularly for long hours or if you play a lot of games, then go for a mechanical keyboard to get the most value.

At the same time, if you work in an environment where silence matters the most, then stick with a membrane keyboard. These are super cheap compared to their mechanical variants and are available in eye-catching designs as well. It’s better to with a membrane keyboard if you don’t type a lot or if you don’t play a lot of games.

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