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Whether you’re looking to build your own device or are researching the best keyboards online, one part that should not go unstudied is the case. The keyboard’s case is the structure that holds the printed chipboard and switches in place, and techies debate which material is best. This article will compare polycarbonate vs aluminum keyboard cases, what makes each unique, and which might best suit your needs.
When buying a new device, it’s crucial to investigate all the basic specs. To learn more, we have some great articles comparing hot-swap vs soldered keyboards and linear switches vs clicky switches.
If you’re purchasing an aluminum keyboard, check to see if the aluminum casing is anodized. Anodized metal lasts longer and has a better finish.
All mechanical keyboards come with a casing plate to house the switches. And depending on what material that plate is made from, it can affect your setup’s overall protection and aesthetic.
Polycarbonate can be thought of as a premium plastic. It looks and feels similar to plastic, but it’s more durable and has a smoother texture than a plastic case. On the other hand, aluminum plates are often considered a more premium option, as they are heavier and have a slick look.
Casing preference is mainly subjective, but we’ll compare a few key areas to help you understand the differences.
If you want to read up on additional case materials, we have another article comparing aluminum vs brass plate keyboards. And for those building their keyboard and are researching tactile switches, you can look into our article that covers Razer green switches vs Cherry green switches.
Both keyboard case types are incredibly durable. Even though polycarbonate is made out of softer materials, it’s not wimpy. Polycarbonate is more durable because it doesn’t bend or scrape as quickly as metal plate materials. You can find our guide on the best hot-swappable keyboards to compare some of the more durable models on the market.
Either type of material comes in a wide variety of color options and designs. However, overall, aluminum cases are sought for their look and are popular among gamers and live-streamers. Another highly desired area of aesthetic expression is the keyboard’s backlighting. For more, you can visit our guide on the best-backlit keyboards.
Some find that aluminum plates make a hollow, echoey sound. To fix this, you can add soundproofing material to the interior of the casing or install linear switches.
Aluminum plates are more eco-friendly and recyclable. On the other hand, polycarbonate options are recyclable, but their production is more harmful to the environment.
STAT: Polycarbonate casing has an impact strength that is 200 times greater than glass. (source)