Mechanical keyboards are probably the first keyboards you picture when you think of keyboards; they’re the sturdy, old-fashioned, colorful, and almost silent keyboards of the 1980s. However, a more appropriate definition is that mechanical keyboards, also sometimes referred to as ergonomic keyboards, are actually made using high-quality ball bearings under every single keypad. The bearings make it possible for the user to quickly move his or her finger back and forth over the keys without having to exert unnatural pressure on the finger itself. The result is an extremely responsive keyboard, which is also very comfortable to use for long periods of time. Because of this unique construction, this kind of keyboard is especially well suited to people who are not used to performing any amount of physical activity. Another advantage is that because there are no mechanical springs involved, this kind of keyboard can be taken on trips and vacations without worrying about losing the capability to provide a stable input device.
These days, however, mechanical keyboards have become quite popular amongst people who are accustomed to performing regular physical activities in front of their computers. Oftentimes, people who use standard and generic laptop keypads and keyboards for extended periods of time develop some sensitivity to the subtle changes in key switches. In fact, many people who regularly type for long stretches of time find that the act of pressing a key can cause a sensation in their fingers that’s best described as a “pressing” or “sticking” sensation. On the other hand, when people use mechanical keyboards, these problems don’t occur.
This is because the act of pressing a key does not require any force at all on the part of the typist. Instead, the act of pressing a key activates a set of weights that are located inside of the rubber dome that make up the majority of the keyboard’s keycap. When you lift a keypad, you move the weights from beneath the rubber dome so that they can then move up and down in response to the force with which you’re pressing down on them. When you release a keycap, the weight on the keycap simply pushes it away from the rubber dome, and it won’t go back in until you remove it again.
With rubber-based keycaps, the act of pressing a key will provide a tactile sensation because the weights will move. Because of this, it’s common for users of standard laptop keyboards to find that, after spending some period of time with a rubber-based keycap, they will eventually feel a “click” in their fingers when the keys have been pressed down. However, with mechanical keypads, this “click” is provided by the mechanical parts themselves. Because these parts are able to resist mechanical forces of motion, and because they have greater overall friction-the click that you feel is more of a gentle “bounce” when the keys are pressed down.
The next time you’re looking at a new keyboard, look at the offerings on the market. Chances are, you will notice that many of them are available in either membrane or mechanical configurations. In fact, some of the major manufacturers such as Razer pandas have already begun manufacturing their own line of mechanical keyboards using a two-piece PCB (printed circuit board) that has a layer of rubber between the two layers of main plastic. These types of keyboards offer a greater degree of responsive feel to the user because there is less plastic allowing for greater amount of key movement per square inch.
One other feature that you should definitely be on the lookout for in a keyboard is the keystroke efficiency. A good way to measure how efficient a keyboard is at providing your keystrokes with enough energy to execute them without getting stuck is to test out the individual character of each keystroke. If you are able to determine which keystroke is the most efficient in terms of providing power to your fingers, then you know that the mechanical keyboards on the market are quite efficient. You should also keep in mind that rubber dome keyboards use very little amount of rubber that allows for much more responsive keystrokes. The higher amount of responsive keystrokes you are capable of having the more professional your gaming experience can become.