What is a Membrane Keyboard

Coby McKinley Profile image

Written By:

Updated June 27, 2022

If you’re looking for a top-tier keyboard, membrane keyboards might be your pick. If that has you wondering just what is a membrane keyboard, stick around.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Membrane keyboards feature a thin, flexible material that rests underneath the computer keys.
  • When a user presses a key, they depress a rubber dome that makes contact with the circuit board, activating a keystroke.
  • Membrane models are good for budget-minded users, but they will lose out on a mechanical switch’s physical feedback or sound.

Many experts recommend mechanical keyboards with clicky switches and tactile feedback, but high-end membrane keyboards offer an amazing budget option for casual gamers and writers.

You might also enjoy reading what a keyboard is if you want to understand the types of keyboard designs on the market. Another factor to consider is whether you want a full-size keyboard or a 65-percent model.

Insider Tip

A cheap gaming keyboard with membrane switches will not hold up to intense gaming as long as a mechanical keyboard.

What are Membrane Keyboards

Most QWERTY keyboards are membrane keyboards that feature a rubber-like membrane sheet underneath the keys. When you press the keyboard surface or keys, the flexible material underneath contacts the circuit board, actuating a keystroke. This type of keyboard does not offer tactile or acoustic feedback while typing.

Introduced in the late 1970s, flat-panel membrane keyboards became a standard technology for retail POS systems and home appliances. For example, most business keyboards, low-tech cell phones, and appliance keyboards have membrane keypads like those found on microwave ovens.

Membrane vs Mechanical Keyboards

While there aren’t any clear winners in the mechanical vs membrane keyboard debate, advanced users often like the feeling of a mechanical switch. That said, cost and actuation time are the advantages of membrane keyboards. In addition, you can get customization options and advanced features on a membrane model for much less money than a unit with tactile switches.

Warning

Remove your membrane keyboard from power if you need to repair an electrical contact under the membrane layer. This will keep you from potentially ruining the entire keyboard.

F.A.Q.S

Who should buy a membrane keyboard?

A standard membrane keyboard is a practical choice for the casual computer user who wants to browse the web. Membrane keyboards are much more affordable than their mechanical counterparts and can be ideal as a backup compact keyboard for travel or working from home.


What is the best keyboard for gaming?

An advanced user should use a mechanical gaming keyboard that can hold up to hours of play. Mechanical boards are usually more expensive than membrane models, but the mechanical key switches are more durable than the rubber domes on membrane gaming keyboards.


What Are Mechanical Keyboards?

A mechanical keyboard features mechanical key switches across the entire keyboard, and each key features a spring-loaded switch that delivers a tactile response when pressed. This keyboard type is best known for its audible feedback and tactile typing experience.


What is N-Key Rollover?

A keyboard with n-key rollover (NKRO) can scan each keystroke individually without any involvement from the PC. This means that every key registers when you press them, even if you simultaneously press numerous keys.


STAT: A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that 99% of Americans between 18-29 years old use the internet. (source)

Coby McKinley Profile image