Durable by Design: Top Tips for Buying a Mechanical Keyboard



Buying a mechanical keyboard takes a somewhat different approach. Unlike regular membrane keyboards, you don’t simply go with price, or perhaps function set. Instead, you think of things such as actuation point, resistance, tactile feedback and click-sound generation. When you go mechanical, you get to choose a product that fits your exact set of needs, something you wouldn’t be able to do with regular, membrane devices.

Learn your switches

If you’re buying a mechanical keyboard, you should know that the purchase is best made in person, at a store that carries a range of models. It can be hard to know what you’re getting when you go online. You should go online, however, to prepare.

There’s a lot to learn. With a mechanical keyboard, everything depends on the kind of switch used. No matter what keyboard maker you choose, the actual key switches used come from only a couple of makers, ones with names such as Cherry or Topre. Reading up about the key switches that they make can help you zero down on the action that’s likely to work for you.

The Cherry Blue: These key switches offer a satisfying click when the actuation happens, and they are popular among those who type a lot. Keyboards that use the Cherry Blue action aren’t very good for gamers, however, because the actuation point is at the very bottom of the switch’s travel. This means that rapid-fire presses can be hard to achieve. You’d need to fully release the key before you started over again.

For anyone who likes the Cherry Blue but wishes for a firmer feel, there is the Cherry Green. This switch also adds a tactile “bump” feel at the point of actuation. It offers tactile feedback in addition to a click.

The Cherry Black: The Cherry Black features an actuation point at the very bottom of the key’s travel, but comes with medium-level resistance. This means that it could work for rapidly repeated gamer-style key presses. If you’re a typist, it works great then, too, but there is no “bump” when the actuation point is reached.

The Cherry Brown. If you want a hybrid keyboard that works for everything, the Brown is what you want. It features a soft touch and an actuation point at the middle of the key’s travel. Which means that one doesn’t need to press each key all the way to type.

Make sure that you understand the click issue

A clicky keyboard may be very nice for the person using the keyboard, but can get on other people’s nerves. Whether they are right in the room or in another part of the world, talking with you over an online game, you need to make sure that the clicking doesn’t get in the way.

Whatever kind of mechanical keyboard you may choose to buy, you’ll quickly fall in love with the precision that you get. It can be surprising to know how satisfying mere key clicks can be.

Cameron Parkinson writes about technology, gaming and more. He has worked at a computer store for several years and feels that his knowledge can help people whether they’re buying a new laptop, keyboard or screen.