Beginner’s Guide to Mechanical Keyboards

As we all know, the performance of a mechanical keyboard is overall better than that of a membrane keyboard. But how to pick your Mr/Mrs. Right? The first thing you should learn about is the differences between a mechanical keyboard and a membrane keyboard.  

1. Differences in keystroke logging: membrane keyboards generally have 2KRO,3KRO, or 6KRO while mechanical keyboards support N-key rollover (no matter how many keys you are holding down simultaneously, all of them will be registered correctly).

Mechanical keyboards are ideal for programmers and fast typists, while light users can also consider membrane keyboards since they do not often come across certain 3-key combinations/shortcuts.

2. Typing feel: under the keycap of a membrane keyboard is a membrane; under the keycap of the mechanical keyboard is a spring plus stem. This factor allows users to have a better typing feel and experience with mechanical keyboards.

 A good mechanical keyboard can alleviate the fatigue of typing. Users who need to type for a long time can consider it.

3. Lifespan: Common membrane keyboards only offer a life span of 5 million keystrokes while a mechanical keyboard can reach 50 million. So if you’re using a keyboard for 6 hours per day, 30 keystrokes per minute, a mechanical keyboard can be used: 50 million/365 6/60/30, which is 12 years. In theory, a mechanical keyboard can last for 3 to 5 years.

About Key Switches

Switches are a very important parameter of the mechanical keyboard. There are mainly four types of switches: black, brown, green, and brown switches. Before we deep into the switches, let’s talk about these three terms first.

Actuation force

Actuation force is the amount of pressure required to press a key and register a keypress. Put simply, it’s how hard for you to press the key to be recognized. Different key switch designs allow for different levels of actuation force, measured in grams. Heavier switches require more force to press down.

Travel distance

Travel distance is the actual distance the keys of a keyboard to be pushed down before the keystroke is recognized. The travel distance usually ranges from 3mm to 4mm

Switches Types

When you really break it down, there are only three types of switches: linear, tactile, and clicky.

Linear: Smooth and consistent keystroke with a quiet noise. Linear is just straight down, nothing is stopping it. So a lot of gamers usually use this because they want a quick reaction time. When they want to press the button, they want the response to be up there. A lot of professional gamers I guess would go for it.

Tactile: A small bump on each keystroke with moderate noise. If you want to do typing and gaming or specialize in typing and stuff, I suggest you go with tactile. That's what I got like you can feel a little bump before it actually registers on the computer.

Clicky: A small bump on each keystroke with a loud click noise. Clicking is pretty much like tactile except there's even more of a bump and there's a clicky sound. Some people like that, some will find that incredibly annoying for typing.

Cherry MX Switches

The Cherry MX switch is the gold standard for mechanical keyboards. These are the main ones you’ll see.


The Cherry MX Black is a linear switch, so it doesn’t provide tactile or audio feedback, With 60 cN, these switches also require more force to actuate the keys than MX Brown and MX Blue switches do. The Cherry MX Black switches are mostly used by gamers, especially for RTS and shooter games. Typists usually choose other switch types.


The Cherry MX Red switches are similar to the Cherry MX Black. Both of them are linear switches without any feedback. The difference between them is that the Cherry MX Red requires far less actuation force (only 45 cN). The Cherry MX Red is a very popular choice in gaming keyboards.


When you press a key with a Cherry MX Blue switch, you’ll feel a tactile bump and a distinctive clicking sound when a keypress register. This is great for typing and improves productivity.  


Cherry brown switches are great for those who don’t like the loud clicky blue switches but do like the tactile bump feeling. This will increase accuracy and keypress confidence.

The above description is just the theoretical data of the switches, and the actual typing experience may vary from different users. You can buy a switch tester to experience the real typing experience of different switches and find out which types of switches fit you best.

Other things Worth Considering

Keyboard wrist rest: some users may feel uncomfortable typing without a palm wrist. This depends on personal needs.

Multimedia function keys: Just add shortcut keys for common computer operations such as volume adjustments on the keyboard. This also depends on personal needs.

Ergonomic design: The left- and right-hand keys are separated and form an angle that matches the natural placement of the hands. This depends on personal needs.

If you want to know more about mechanical key switches, please refer to: