Mechanical keyboards are the primary alternative to your default membrane keyboard and these days are becoming increasingly popular. This is especially true among heavy computer users, who will spend hours a day in front of their computer, and so need the highest quality keyboards.
When it comes to why people like to use a mechanical keyboard, they will tend to fall into rough categories based on what exactly they are using it for. Gamers tend to choose mechanical keyboards for faster playtime and bonus features. Programmers find the responsive nature of mechanical keyboards especially helpful. And typists are most impressed by their speed of typing and durability.
In this article, I will take a closer look at exactly why each of these groups gravitates towards mechanical keyboards. So, if you are thinking of making the switch, belong to one of the three groups, or are just plain curious, this is the place for you to learn more. If you want a quick lowdown on what they actually are first though, check out my article giving a rundown on mechanical keyboards before carrying on with this one.
Why do Gamers use Mechanical Keyboards
First up probably the group that is most well known for being early and widespread adopters of the mechanical keyboard, gamers.
Mechanical Keyboards Have a Faster Click Time
The most important selling point for almost any gamer is that something will improve their gameplay. Luckily mechanical keyboards do just that.
For example, many actually register your click when it is only halfway down. This only buys you a fraction of a second but in today’s fast-paced gaming world that can be enough.
Gamers then choose mechanical keyboards to get that little bit of a time boost, that can make the difference.
You Can Change Individual Keys on a Mechanical Keyboard
Unlike many bog-standard keyboards, the keys on a mechanical keyboard are entirely separate entities. This means they can be changed or replaced separately.
This has two key benefits for gamers. One of these is purely aesthetic: it allows the user to change some or all of the keys to a style of their choosing. When people are spending hundreds or even thousands on their gaming setup they often want to make sure it looks as good as it performs. Switching keys like this can take a setup from looking pretty good to absolutely gorgeous.
The second benefit though is a more practical financial one. For a lot of games, you end up just using the same half a dozen keys over and over again. You hardly touching the others at all. With a single-piece keyboard, this becomes hugely wasteful.
You end up having to replace a keyboard that is 90% fine and fork out for a new one. With a mechanical keyboard, on the other hand, you can just replace the worn-out keys and save yourself a bunch of money!
Mechanical Keyboards are Heavy, so Don’t Move Around While Playing
It has to be said when I game I can get a little bit (a lot), enthusiastic (overly competitive). My hands tend to move at a million miles per hour gripping everything like I am trying to crush it.
With my mechanical keyboard though, one thing I don’t have to worry about is accidentally pushing it around while playing to have it out of position when I really don’t have the time to readjust. This is because mechanical keyboards are heavier than regular keyboards, much heavier.
Depending on what you want a mechanical keyboard this could be a bad thing, they are definitely not as portable as a regular keyboard for example.
For me though, and checking out Reddit a bunch of other heavy-handed gamers too, this added weight is a godsend.
You Can Get Mechanical Keyboards with LED Backlighting
We have already told you why many gamers like replaceable keys to make a keyboard look gorgeous. Well, LED backlighting makes a keyboard truly jaw-dropping. This is technically not an exclusive feature of mechanical keyboards, but mechanical gaming keyboards are definitely where it occurs most often, and for many gamers is a deciding factor.
Why do Programmers Like Mechanical Keyboards
Programmers are often overlooked when it comes to talking about using mechanical keyboards, and I really can’t work out why. They are in front of their screens for as long as anyone and so can benefit just as much from switching to a mechanical keyboard.
Button Customization With Mechanical Keyboards
A lot of mechanical keyboards are absolutely built for customization. Whether it is through key replacement or accompanying software that allows you to super easily assign shortcuts to regularly used keys, this feature can be an absolutely massive time and frustration saver.
Mechanical Keyboards Provide Physical Feedback and Separated Keys
Thankfully, I don’t spend too much time coding anymore. When I used to though, I would waste absolutely hours working out where I had gone wrong, only for it to be a tiny little misclick or missed letter.
Mechanical keyboards can’t solve this completely. With an actual physical kickback when you press down on a key though, it can be seriously reduced. This forms a key reason for many programmers to get a mechanical keyboard (and makes me very jealous that I did not have one at the time!).
Why do Typists Use Mechanical Keyboards
Given that their job is literally too, well, type, it is hardly surprising that many typists are getting mechanical keyboards. They help to make their jobs easier and more enjoyable.
You Can Type Faster With a Mechanical Keyboard
As someone who now spends most of their time either researching or typing, I am always doing whatever I can to bump up the speed that I can get words on the page. I am not alone either. In fact, as is pretty much every writer I know.
That is why so many writers turn to mechanical keyboards. With them, we can type faster and with fewer mistakes. In short, they make us better at our jobs. They do this in several ways.
First of all, the half clicking mentioned improving gamer speed does the same thing here. It can have a substantial effect on typing speed too.
Secondly, and vitally, the physical feedback mentioned as to why programmers are big fans of mechanical keyboards is also vital for improved typing speed, especially when with the audio feedback of the key clicking down. Together these two feedback systems are powerful tools to increase typing speed and comfort.
Mechanical Keyboards Last Longer
All that typing though tends to wear keyboards down far faster than less for regular people. Because of this typists need to replace keyboards more often than almost anyone else. That is, of course, unless they use a mechanical keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards are built to last. These days each key tends to last for around 50 million to 100 million clicks. When even top range membrane keyboard keys last for around 20 million clicks, the difference is plain to see. This isn’t even taking into account that you can replace the individual keys on a mechanical keyboard, to take their durability to a whole new level.
If you are a typist, or any heavy keyboard user, this means a lot fewer trips to buy a new one!
So that is a quick run-through of what some key different groups get out of mechanical keyboards. None of these things are hard and fast. Each person will have their own individual reasons for liking mechanical keyboards, and there is a definite overlap between the groups. It is though, a great place to start and get a feel for whether you would benefit from one yourself.
What I haven’t yet talked about, and something that definitely applies across the board is that mechanical keyboards just feel better. This may sound silly. After all, it is only typing.
But in the same way that writing with a high-quality pen gives you a feeling of confidence in your work over a cheap and scratchy biro, so too does typing with a mechanical keyboard.
You feel as though the strokes of your fingers really matter, and in my eyes, this can only be a good thing.