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Difference Between Membrane and Mechanical Keyboard

In case you are a casual computer user, you would not be able to differentiate between a mechanical and membrane keyboard. However, if you are a die-hard computer user, you will find that there is a huge difference between a mechanical keyboard and a membrane keyboard. In fact, if you are involved in a lot of gaming, you will definitely need to invest enough to get the right and the best type of keyboard

What is the difference between Membrane and Mechanical keyboard? The difference between them lies in the fact that the mechanical keyboard provides you with a direct feedback with respect to the typing compared to the experience on a membrane keyboard. On a membrane keyboard, a keypress is registered through a thin membrane to circuit beneath it, while on a mechanical keyboard, a spring-loaded Mechanical key switch registers the keypress.


What is a Keyboard?


A keyboard is an external input device and is attached to your computer or any other device through a wired or wireless connection. It is used for entering letters, symbols, and other characters on the device or even for issuing commands to your computer. 

A keyboard is essentially an important part of your computer. While you can make use of the virtual keyboard on your computer, it should be noticed that a virtual keyboard cannot replace an external keyboard. 


What is a Membrane Keyboard?


A membrane keyboard is also referred to as a regular keyboard. The membrane keyboard comes with rubberish membrane below the buttons which is pressed against the circuits exactly at the positions where the buttons are pressed. 

membrane Keyboard

The use of a membrane is a specific reason that these keyboards are called membrane keyboards. In essence, whenever you get a new computer, it is the membrane or regular keyboard that you would ideally get with it. 

(Photo Credit: www.nerdream.it)

The keyboard makes use of the three-layered membrane that is developed to be pressure sensitive. As soon as you press the key in the specific area, it will register a keypress. You will need to press the key a bit for allowing the membrane to touch the circuit and thus register the keystroke. 


What is a Mechanical Keyboard?


The mechanical keyboard was first introduced in 2000. The keyboard makes use of the individual switch for each of the keys. The keycap can be simply pressed halfway down, and you will register a keystroke. Unlike the rubber membrane, the keyboard and the keys therein make use of a mechanism for the working. 

Mechanical Switch

When you press the key, it does have a mechanism inside. The spring-loaded mechanism – when activated – sends the information onto the CPU and thereby registers the keypress. You can simply press the keys very slightly, and the keypress is registered. 

Mechanical keyboards make use of mechanisms knows as Key Switches. The switches used on the keyboard belong to different categories and types. A huge range of switches used on a keyboard is predominantly developed by a German company Cherry. The Cherry MX range of key switches is widely used on a wide range of mechanical keyboards. 

The mechanical keyboards have been quite predominantly used by those of you who type a lot. The spring mechanism bounces back instantly, making it easy and effortless to type for long hours. In sharp contrast to these mechanical keyboards, the membrane keyboards do not provide you with a feedback to register the keypresses. This is why you will experience fewer typing errors on a mechanical keyboard as opposed to the membrane keyboard. 


The Pros of Cons of the Membrane and Mechanical Keyboards


Now that we have been trying to find out the difference between membrane and mechanical keyboards, we will now try understanding the Pros and Cons offered by the two types of keyboards. 

Membrane Keyboards 

Pros 

  • A Good Feedback experience: When we talk about Typing Feedback, Mechanical keyboards are well known for that as they offer satisfying typing feedback which is great for gamers, and even for normal users as you get to know that the keypress is registered. The membrane keyboard also offers slight tactile feedback. Of course, the feedback received is not as good as what you get on mechanical keyboards. 
  • Quiet performance: One of the strongest benefits offered by a membrane keyboard is the quiet keyboard operation offered on them. This can be a great option for high-intensity typing. It can also be a great option for an open office environment. 
  • Variety: You have a huge variety of membrane keyboards, and that should be one of the strongest factors in their favor. Finding them should be extremely easy and simple. 
  • They are quite affordable: Since the membrane keyboards are manufactured with easily available materials, you will find them extremely affordable. 
  • They can be quite compact: The small and compact design can be one of the excellent options for the best portability on the mechanical keyboards. Carrying them along should be one of the easiest options.

Cons

  • They are not sturdy enough: The build quality offered by the membrane keyboards is not much dependable and study. The components on a membrane keyboard may not be long lasting and durable. 
  • Shorter lifespan: When you compare the membrane keyboards with the mechanical keyboards, you will find that the lifespan of the keyboard considerably lower.
  • Replacing the components can be difficult: Replacing the components on a membrane keyboard can be a tough task. You will need to replace the entire keyboard whenever a single component fails.

Mechanical Keyboards

Pros 

  • They provide a longer lifespan: A considerably higher lifespan is what makes them one of the best options. Under ideal conditions, a mechanical keyboard will last a minimum of 10 to 12 years. The key switches used in these keyboards are tested for 50 to 70 million key presses. In the case of Cherry MX switches, the key switches are tested for 100 million keypresses. 
  • High-end durability: Mechanical keyboards will not wear out faster. You can continue using them for a longer period than the membrane keyboards. 
  • Better serviceability: Just in case you find the components such as switches are damaged, changing them is rather easy. The availability of hot-swappable keyboards is yet another huge option. 
  • Excellent typing feedback: While membrane keyboards are known to offer you exciting ease of typing, the experience is further enhanced with the mechanical keyboards. The switches used on the keyboards offer you a varying typing experience that can be adjusted and customized with the use of the right keys. Various switches offer different feedback. Especially, Tactile switches offer better typing feedback.
  • High-end stability: The stability and accuracy of typing offered by the mechanical keyboards make it one of the thoughtful options in the long run. Even when you are typing rather aggressively, you will not find the keyboard sliding out in any way.

Cons

  • Noisiness: The mechanical keyboards produce a lot of noise. While that may be something loved by the gamers, it may not be a good idea in an office environment. If you are into gaming late into the night, the noise may prove to be quite annoying. 
  • They are expensive: The mechanical keyboards can be quite pricey. However, given the high-end durability and quality construction, the price may be justifiable. 
  • These keyboards are heavy: If you are looking to use the keyboard on the move or planning to carry them along, these keyboards may not be the right choice for your needs.

Are Mechanical Keyboards Good for Gaming?


If you are into gaming, a mechanical keyboard is all the more powerful and efficient in sharp contrast to a membrane keyboard. The faster gaming experience, coupled with a durable design makes the mechanical keyboards a great option for almost all your requirements in any sort of high-end gaming. 

A few of the advantages offered by a mechanical keyboard with respect to gaming are: 

  • It can be a perfect option to press the buttons repeatedly to move your gaming characters or firing bullets. The accuracy offered by the mechanical keyboard helps you register faster keystrokes. 
  • The clicky noise or the tactile feedback offered by the keyboard confirms that you have pressed a button. 
  • You can press the key harder in your excitement for the game. Mechanical keyboards handle it rather efficiently. A membrane keyboard may not be able to handle it effectively.

Mechanical keyboards are specifically built for gamers, and the tactile and auditory feedback offered by these keyboards should definitely make it a huge option. The features such as N key rollover, and an accurate gaming response are a few of the prime advantages that you stand to gain with as a gamer and that should be a prime factor for the difference between mechanical keyboard and membrane keyboard. 

A membrane keyboard may not provide you with the same degree of experience if you are looking to use them for perfect gaming. Yet another prime reason that would make a huge difference in terms of gaming is the mechanical keyboard vs membrane response time. The response time on a mechanical keyboard is accurate and faster than that on a membrane keyboard. 


Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard for Programming – Are they any Good?


The typing experience offered by the mechanical keyboards is perhaps one of the prime reasons that should make it a great experience in programming as well. However, the right choice of the mechanical keyboard for programming would be dependent on the switch you choose. 

That should not, however, mean that the mechanical keyboards will improve your programming skills. It is a process you need to learn by practicing well enough. But, since typing on a mechanical keyboard can be a fun and enjoyable experience, it can accelerate your ability to learn to code and make the process all the more interesting. 

The same goes for a membrane keyboard. The major difference between a mechanical keyboard and membrane keyboard with respect to programming lies in the accuracy, smoothness, and ease of typing, and obviously enough – you would love typing on a mechanical keyboard more than on a membrane keyboard. Programmers once used to a mechanical keyboard, would not prefer membrane over mechanical keyboards. 

Conclusion

As you would have observed from the above discussion, both mechanical and membrane keyboards come with their own advantages and disadvantages. If you are on a budget and do not necessarily care for the performance of your keyboard, a membrane keyboard would be a good choice. However, if you are for a better typing experience, and belong to any of the categories such as a fast typist, a gamer, or are into typing a lot such as story, articles, coding – using a mechanical keyboard is what would offer you an added advantage. 

Trying out different keyboards before you finalize your choice should be a practical solution. Check out the options above and get access to the best experience ever.

About the author

Atish Ranjan

Atish Ranjan is a blogger who has been publishing on the web for more than a decade. He shares his knowledge and expertise in the form of Text and Video Content.

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