The Difference Between Membrane and Mechanical Keyboards
To your average computer user, this may make no difference, but to someone who is around computers and uses them daily, the right type of keyboard can make all the difference in the world. While keyboards may seem like simple technology that can be written off as just an accessory to use your computer properly, they can really change how you work and how you use a computer. There are actually two types of keyboards; membrane keyboards and mechanical keyboards.
The typical keyboard that your average computer has is a membrane keyboard, which is an electro-mechanical membrane laid in a casing of a keyboard. When each key is pushed, it will trigger an electronic signal in the membrane, which is then sent along the cable of the keyboard into an input where it is then used by the keyboard. The benefits are that this is far, far cheaper to produce in a keyboard, but the cons are that the quality of a membrane keyboard is awful – if you spill water on it, it’s done, and if one part of the circuit breaks, the keyboard is done as well.
However, a mechanical keyboard forgoes the membrane of a keyboard in favor of a series of switches, which are connected by a central board in the keyboard. Each switch individually triggers a pulse behind sent, which has the advantage of a much more precise output but at the cost of an increased price to produce and call for increased build quality.
The difference in mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards is quite noticeable; while membrane keyboards typically have flat, lower profiles, mechanical keyboards are very flamboyant about their presence. Mechanical keyboards come in a variety of switches, which will create a different tactile clicking noise. This clicking noise signifies that the connection has been triggered, and a pulse will be sent to the keyboard – this is, ultimately, the most satisfying part about using a mechanical keyboard. These come in a variety of colors, all of which require a different force in order to activate, as well as a different volume of tactile sound. These switches are interchangeable, but due to the nature of individual switches, require a much larger form factor keyboard, so the keys on a mechanical keyboard stick out far more.
Mechanical keyboards have the benefit of being a more precise typing machine, as two signals will not interfere or cancel each other out – hold down both shift keys on your own keyboard and type, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Odds are, if you are on a membrane keyboard, you missed some characters – this is due to the lack of precision in a membrane keyboard, where a mechanical keyboard will be more precise.
However, this isn’t to write off membrane keyboards entirely – some are very high quality despite being technologically limited, and are great for anyone who wants to get more into the use of a PC. For your average PC user, a membrane keyboard will suffice just fine, but for more advanced users, a higher-end membrane keyboard or even a mechanical keyboard can be necessary. I’ve recommended my top 2 picks for both membrane and mechanical keyboards, and tried to cover everyone from your basic hobbyist to your hardcore gamer and streamer.
The most standard and vanilla model, the Logitech K120 is a membrane keyboard that does exactly what you need it to do – it types and comes with very few bells and whistles, but comes with the Logitech build quality at a low price of $9.99. This is a keyboard for somebody who realizes that they need a keyboard to go with a new computer, but doesn’t want to shell out a bunch of money – get this if you intend to be on your computer for 30030 minutes to an hour every day.
Perixx Backlit Keyboard
This is a model based off a long-time model known as the Saitek Eclipse. The Perixx takes everything from the Eclipse’s model, including the feature to change the backlighting of the keys to either blue, purple or red. The Perixx is available for a lower price of $49.99 on Amazon, and is a model intended for somebody who is into gaming but isn’t quite ready to take the full leap and invest hundreds to a few thousand in their computer and the required accessories. While the Perixx is a membrane keyboard, it uses a higher-quality membrane and components that will last a far longer time than your average keyboard. In addition, the Perixx also includes a palm rest that can be used for bigger setups with more surface area.
Moving into the mechanical keyboard territory, the Redragon Yama is a low-budget, high-quality mechanical keyboard that features a lot of bells and whistles that are found in more expensive models. The Yama comes in a $79 and $89 price variants, and will come in either black or white, respectively. The Yama has a built-in LED for each individual key, and this can be changed individually to create some excellent effects. The Yama also comes with onboard memory, which means it can store up to six profiles, and even includes 12 customizable keys. The Yama also includes a palm rest. This is a keyboard for your entry level gamer, and someone who is curious about mechanical keyboards – since it is so cheap, this isn’t a full commitment yet, but this will show you exactly why mechanical keyboards are superior.
The Yama is loaded with a variety of functions and features, including USB ports and voice/audio jacks on the side, individual LED lights on each key, 12 rebindable buttons, and stealth black or loud white variants.
Razer Blackwidow Chroma
The ultimate finale of this list and the greatest keyboard on themarket, the Blackwidow takes after Razer’s successful design and simplicity of their previous products and combines them with the Chroma technology. Much like the Yama, the Blackwidow Chroma has individual LED lights in each key, but these lights will sync with the drivers and actually change based on your computer use – for example, the Blizzard game Overwatch causes the keyboard to flash whenever you score a lot of points. The Blackwidow Chroma is an excellent mechanical keyboard that comes with a lot of flashy features and includes constant support through the Razer Synapse app, but comes at the price tag of $160. However, this is a keyboard that should last you for life, and even comes with Razer’s legendary customer service where they will replace almost any part that dies from natural causes and use.
The Blackwidow Chroma comes with numerous functions and features, including USB ports on the side, audio/voice jacks on the side, Razer Synapse support for updating the drivers and features of the keyboard, and comes with mandatory brown switches that are quiet and low-force activation.