Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard

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Updated July 26, 2022

If you’re looking for the best keyboards on the market, you’ll likely want to know about the differences between a membrane vs mechanical keyboard. These are two of the most popular types that you can find, and they each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Keyboard type makes a huge difference to user experience, so picking out the right one is crucial to ensuring you can type comfortably.
  • Any type of membrane keyboard is more common due to its lower price, but they do not have the same level of comfort or durability as mechanical options.
  • Mechanical keyboards are better for those who seek durability and solid tactile feedback. This is because of the metal spring used in their manufacturing.

Comparing a mechanical keyboard and a membrane keyboard means considering the features you care most about. Today, we’ll put them head-to-head and show you how to choose a keyboard so you can find one that fits your lifestyle.

Mechanical Switches vs Membrane Switches

As you research keyboards, you’ll find that there are all sorts on the market. Figuring out which style you prefer can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, the standard keyboard layout, QWERTY, remains the same across this range in English-speaking countries, so that shouldn’t be an issue of concern.

Insider Tip

Mechanical switches are the best option for a better gaming experience due to their advanced features.

Of course, if you’re unsure what a QWERTY keyboard is, that’s okay. It’s likely that, if you live in a Western country, you’re probably already using one, even if you didn’t know that’s what it’s called. When it comes down to choosing a keyboard, the primary differences you need to worry about are N-key rollover features, RGB lighting, and tactile and auditory feedback.

Tactile Feedback

The switch type used in either type of keyboard gives the user a vastly different feeling while typing. The rubber dome sheet beneath a membrane keyboard has a soft, squishy feel when you press a key. On the other hand, a mechanical keyboard produces a pleasant “pushback” on each stroke due to the individual key switches beneath the keycap.

Some folks love the feel of mechanical keyboard switches. Other people don’t understand why mechanical keyboard enthusiasts feel the way they do, preferring the softer experience of membrane models. Read our article comparing linear vs. tactile switches to learn more about mechanical switches.

Ergonomics

Your typing experience isn’t just about whether you have clicky switches or not. Ergonomics plays a massive role in deciding whether you have a comfortable experience.

The mechanical keyboard is a vastly better choice if you need something more ergonomic for your hands. The key presses require less pressure, which keeps you from overworking your fingers. You’ll also find them in split configurations, providing a more natural orientation for your wrists. This makes them the favorite keyboards of those with carpal tunnel syndrome or similar problems.

Membrane keyboards tend to lack these special features, making mechanical keyboards the better choice for protecting your hands and wrists.

Durability

If you need a keyboard for gaming or work, you’ll want something that will stand the test of time. After all, it’ll likely be gaining some serious mileage pretty quickly. The mechanical keyboard is the prime choice when it comes to durability.

Because of this, this keyboard option is the best for those who need something that won’t give out on them no matter how much stress they put on it. While membrane switches are sturdy, they don’t stand a chance against a mechanical board.

Of course, this also makes mechanical keyboards more expensive than membrane models. For more information about the differences in keyboards, check out our article comparing optical vs mechanical switches.

Warning

Clicky switches can be incredibly loud, so they aren’t recommended for public spaces that are supposed to be quiet, such as libraries or cafes.

F.A.Q.S

What are rubber dome switches?

A rubber dome (or membrane) keyboard is the most common technology used for modern keyboards. They use a sheet of rubber dome switches under the keycaps that, when pressed down, complete an electrical circuit that registers your input on each stroke and sends that information to your computer.


Are mechanical switches better for intense gaming?

Mechanical gaming keyboards are considered the best for gaming for a few reasons. They provide a faster response time, advanced features, better ergonomics, and better durability than standard membrane keyboards.


What is N-key rollover?

N-key rollover (NKRO) is a feature found in high-end keyboards. This feature allows the keyboard to register each keystroke individually. This provides protection from “ghosting” or the keyboard not registering certain keys when multiple keys are pressed.


What are linear switches?

Linear keyboard switches give the user a smooth, continuous typing experience without the tactile feedback you find in a mechanical option.


STAT: As of the first half of 2019, over 32 percent of eSports game users had purchased gaming peripherals in China, such as mechanical keyboards, mousepads, garage kits, and so on. (source)

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