The 6 best membrane keyboards
In the world of computer keyboards, most options are split between two major categories: mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards. Whereas mechanical keyboards are spring-loaded with physical switches so they’re tactile and clicky, membrane keyboards use a rubber or silicone dome underneath each key, which makes them quieter, less resistive, and more affordable. The best membrane keyboards are responsive, well-made even though they’re less distracting, and compatible with both your lifestyle and existing devices.
What To Look For In A Membrane Keyboard
Durability: Membrane keyboards are typically known for being less durable than mechanical keyboards. That said, the right features can increase their lifespan. Some brands test their keyboards for longevity (in number of keystrokes) and advertise that information. Others protect and reinforce their hardware with things like spill-resistant designs and braided cables.
Compatibility: Before you choose a keyboard, make sure it’s compatible with your existing technology — both when it comes to the operating system and the ports and cables needed to hook it up.
Responsiveness: The primary function of a keyboard is to register keystrokes, but cheaper membrane keyboards have been known to skip inputs — especially if multiple keys are being pressed at the same time. Anti-ghosting technology helps make sure that all keystrokes are quickly and accurately registered in the order they were pressed.
Volume: Many people opt for membrane keyboards because they’re quieter than mechanical keyboards. While most brands won’t advertise a concrete measurement for this like decibels, you can look for keyboards that are designed for quiet use and has that backed up by reviewers.
Comfortability and Convenience: Especially if you work or game for hours at a time, your keyboard should be comfortable and convenient to use. Comfort may come in the form of a built-in wrist rest or ergonomically curved keys — while convenience may mean a backlight, a keyboard lock, a wireless design, or programmable keys.
Shop The Best Membrane Keyboards
In a hurry? Here are the top picks for membrane keyboards, whether you’re using your computer to work or game.
- The overall best: HyperX Alloy Core RGB Membrane Gaming Keyboard
- The best for gaming: Corsair K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard
- An affordable wireless mouse & keyboard combo: Logitech MK295 Wireless Mouse & Keyboard Combo
- A quiet keyboard with a mechanical feel: Redragon K509-RGB PC Gaming Keyboard
- A comfortable keyboard for Windows: Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
- The best Bluetooth membrane keyboard: Logitech MX Keys Advanced Wireless Illuminated Keyboard
1. The overall best
HyperX Alloy Core RGB Membrane Gaming Keyboard
- Spill-resistant with a reinforced braided cable
- Comfortable, quiet, responsive keys
- RGB lighting effects
- Designated media keys
- The lights are bright and it’s not the quietest out there, so some reviewers find it distracting
The HyperX Alloy Core RGB keyboard has an average 4. 6-star rating after feedback from more than 4,000 reviewers. Even though it’s a relatively quiet membrane keyboard, it’s still durable, spill-resistant, and has anti-ghosting technology to help make sure every keystroke is registered. Despite its affordable price tag, it also has plenty of extra features like six pre-set LED lighting effects, dedicated media keys, a keyboard lock mode, and quick-access buttons where you can control the lighting profiles and enter gaming mode.
One reviewer wrote: “Honestly if I could recommend any membrane keyboard, this would be it. Pros: membrane so very quiet, media controls are exquisite, very customizable, Fn+F12 allows you to disable all input/lock the keys, great for cleaning, been using for several months and keys feel great still.”
Compatible operating systems: Windows 7, 8. 8.1, and 10 | Connectivity technology: USB 2.0 | Anti-Ghosting: yes
2. The best membrane keyboard for gaming
Corsair K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard
- Highly customizable
- Comfortable and convenient for gaming
- Affordable despite its quality
- Some reviewers don’t like the key layout
Yes, it’s a membrane keyboard — but six programmable macro keys, a detachable palm rest, and customizable RGB backlighting make the Corsair K55 keyboard a favorite among gamers. It also has anti-ghosting technology and is resistant to dust and accidental spills, so it’s one of the more responsive and durable options out there. Finally, if you switch from gaming to streaming, you can control the volume and media playback directly from the keyboard.
One reviewer wrote: “What drew me to this keyboard was just how solid it looked with how many different features it has. The programable ‘G’ buttons are a welcomed upgrade from a standard keyboard that lacks this function, but the inclusion of dedicated media control buttons make this the ultimate combination of a gaming keyboard and a media consumption keyboard. The lighting software is also very easy to use and gives loads of options.”
Compatible operating systems: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10; Mac OS X 10.12 Sierra | Connectivity technology: USB 2.0 | Anti-Ghosting: yes
An affordable wireless mouse & keyboard combo
Logitech MK295 Wireless Mouse & Keyboard Combo
- Affordable and comes with a free wireless mouse
- Durable and “virtually silent,” according to reviewers
- It’s relatively basic in terms of its features
If you don’t want to be tethered by cables, the Logitech wireless keyboard is quiet, lag-free, and even comes with a bonus wireless mouse, all for a great price. It connects with plug-and-play ease using a 2.4 GHz USB dongle, which responds quickly and accurately from up to 33 feet away. Plus, one fresh set of batteries lasts for up to 36 months in the keyboard (and 18 months with the mouse). The keyboard itself is spill-proof, features adjustable tilt legs, has eight shortcuts, and allows you to control the volume, media playback, and more at the touch of an on-device button. However, no anti-ghosting tech is noted.
One reviewer wrote: “In my search to find a quiet wireless keyboard I have purchased 4 other keyboards, which were fine, one of which I used for 7 months, but hands down this is my favorite. For starters, its size looks and feels like a normal plug in keyboard that come standard with my office computers, but this keyboard is in a league of its own. The keys are some of the softest I have ever experienced, it almost feels like your fingers glide across the keys, which is great since if you are typing for hours a day your hands and fingers do not get tired as they would with a normal keyboard. Secondly, there is absolutely zero noise as you are typing!”
Compatible operating systems: Windows 7, 8, 10, 11; Chrome OS | Connectivity technology: 2.4 GHz wireless USB dongle | Anti-Ghosting: unclear
A quiet keyboard with a mechanical feel
Redragon K509-RGB PC Gaming Keyboard
- A tactile mechanical feel, but still relatively quiet and affordable
- Made from waterproof ABS
- Gaming-friendly features and customization
- Not the longest-lasting in terms of computerized components
For those who prefer the feel of a mechanical keyboard, but are looking for something cheaper and quieter, there’s this Redragon gaming keyboard. It is a membrane (and it’ll cost you less than $30), but its precision-engineered keycaps are responsive and clicky, while its solid ABS waterproof frame is more durable than most. Among its other noteworthy features, you’ll find 12 multimedia keys, a colorful backlight with six modes and four brightness levels, and anti-ghosting up to 25 keys at once.
One reviewer wrote: “I’ve had a number of cheap membrane keyboard over the years, and this is one of the best-feeling I’ve used. It has a great tactile bump and just the right amount of travel. The sound of the key presses, with the tactile feel, as well as the satin feel of the texture of the keys (very smooth and clean), all come together to give this keyboard a ‘velvety’ or ‘milky’ feel while typing.”
Compatible operating systems: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10; Limited Mac OS support | Connectivity technology: USB | Anti-Ghosting: yes
A comfortable keyboard for Windows
Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
- Ergonomically designed for fast, comfortable typing
- Built-in shortcut keys things like for multimedia, search, and emojis
- Reliable speed and accuracy
- Not waterproof or backlit
- Limited compatibility
An ergonomic keyboard usually has curved, split keys rather than rows that are straight across; this allows you to type while positioning your wrists at a more natural angle — and this Microsoft ergonomic keyboard is one of the best in the membrane category. It has an overall 4.5-star rating after more than 4,000 reviews, with some customers calling it a “life-saver” for those who type all day or experience wrist discomfort. It also has a cushioned palm rest, a raised center, and ample built-in shortcut keys for convenient everyday use. However, the brand doesn’t note if it has anti-ghosting technology.
One reviewer wrote: “Quiet and perfect size keyboard. My wrists were killing me using standard keyboard we had at work. After about a week of using this — all better!”
Compatible operating systems: Windows 10; limited for Windows 7 and 8.1 | Connectivity technology: USB | Anti-Ghosting: unclear
The best Bluetooth membrane keyboard
Logitech MX Keys Advanced Wireless Illuminated Keyboard
- Connects wirelessly to most devices (both Bluetooth and USB dongle)
- Has automatic backlighting
- Durable, ergonomic, quiet, and beautifully designed
- One-year limited hardware warranty
Finally, if you’re willing to spend over $100 on a membrane keyboard, the Logitech MX Keys Advanced keyboard is worth the splurge for several reasons: For one, it connects wirelessly to up to three devices using Bluetooth or a dongle. For another, it’s USB-C rechargeable (for up to 10 days of use on a single charge) and compatible with almost all major operating systems. Last but not least, additional features include automatic backlighting that detects the presence of your hands, ergonomically designed keys that match the shape of your fingertips, a metal-plate construction for durability, and a typing experience that’s precise, responsive, tactile, and super quiet, all at the same time.
One reviewer wrote: “This keyboard cost way more than I had hoped to spend, but now that I have bought and returned at least 3 others, I realize it is absolutely a bargain. […] Number one, it is as close to silent as is humanly possible. […] Number two, it has a buttery smooth, responsive feel that requires only very light touches, and the keys travel a trivial distance without ANY sideways shimmying.”
Compatible operating systems: Windows 10, 11, or later; Linux; Chrome OS; MacOS; iPadOS; Android | Connectivity technology: Bluetooth or USB dongle | Anti-Ghosting: yes
Membrane keyboards vs.
mechanical: What’s the difference?
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SteelSeries Apex Pro
(Image credit: Windows Central)
Membrane keyboards vs. mechanical: What’s the difference?
Best answer: Membrane keyboards have a “mushy” feel, are more affordable, are quiet, and lack key rollover. Mechanical keyboards have smoother switch actuation, give better feedback, and have key rollover. However, they’re more expensive, and they’re often loud as well.
What are the differences between membrane and mechanical?
The main difference between membrane and mechanical keyboards is how they feel. Membrane keyboards have a distinct “mushy” type feel when you press down on their keys due to the rubber underneath them. Meanwhile, mechanical keyboards feature spring-loaded switches under the keycaps that actuate smoothly when you press them, responding with an audible “click” sound. Mechanical keyboards give better overall feedback to the user than membrane ones do when typing because of this design, but they’re also much louder compared to the relative silence of membrane keyboards.
Another thing that often separates membrane and mechanical boards is the presence of key rollover. This feature allows your keyboard to successfully detect several different key presses at the same time, which is invaluable while playing games that feature input combos (for example, crouch jumping). It’s also helpful if you’re a rapid typist. Without key rollover, keyboards will lag behind your inputs due to their limited processing. Mechanical keyboards always have key rollover, but membrane keyboards almost always lack full key rollover.
Membrane keyboards do have one edge, though: affordability. Membrane keyboards are much less expensive than mechanical ones across the board, making them great choices if you’re on a budget. That being said, there are also several affordable mechanical boards on the market as well, so membrane keyboards aren’t without competition in this space.
Which should you choose?
Source: Windows Central The Razer Cynosa Chroma membrane keyboard. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
Ultimately, the choice between membrane and mechanical should be based on what you need from your keyboard. If you spend a ton of time typing or you want something that’s great for gaming, you should go with a mechanical board. The feedback on mechanical keyboards is fantastic, and as long as you can deal with the noise (and the increased cost), you’ll have a much smoother typing and/or gaming experience thanks to the support for full key rollover. Our favorite mechanical keyboard is the SteelSeries Apex Pro, which has an excellent design, provides an amazing typing and gaming experiences, and comes with a cool wrist rest and RGB lighting to boot.
If you’re on a budget or you’re planning on typing only every once in a while, a membrane keyboard is the way to go. They’re more affordable and still provide a good typing experience, although the lack of key rollover makes them poor choices if you type fast or play games. One of our favorite membrane keyboards is the Razer Cynosa Chroma, which features a solid design, cool lights, and 10-key rollover that’s limited compared to what mechanical keyboards offer, but still helpful nonetheless.
If neither of these keyboards is right for you, make sure to check out our roundup of the best keyboards and best gaming keyboards for more options.
SteelSeries Apex Pro
Perfect for typists and gamers
The SteelSeries Apex Pro combines excellent design with an awesome aesthetic and nice bonuses like a wrist rest, making it our favorite mechanical keyboard available.
Razer Cynosa Chroma
An amazing budget option
The Razer Cynosa Chroma may not be as performant as mechanical options, but it’s still a great keyboard — especially when you consider its low price.
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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he’s been an avid fan since childhood. You’ll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.
Keyboard types: mechanical, membrane, scissor
Today it is difficult to imagine using a computer without a keyboard. The presence of a screen input device cannot serve as a full replacement for it. For the correct choice of the desired device, you should focus on the positive and negative points, as well as take into account a number of additional parameters.
What are the keyboards
Modern keyboards are represented by a wide selection of models: touch, folding, wireless, backlit, endowed with rich functionality, gaming, office. All devices (besides projection and touch) have a single common feature – the type of switches. We are talking about a mechanism, when triggered, the keyboard detects the pressed key and transmits the desired signal to the system. The switches are of various types, they provide the convenience of typing, determine the size of the keys and the features of a particular keyboard.
The distant ancestor of the mechanical keyboard can be considered a typewriter, from which it adopted many design features.
The operation of each key is controlled by a separate switch with a special mechanism that creates a characteristic click when pressed. Mechanical gaming keyboards have a complex structure, which is reflected in their cost.
Principle of operation
The opening of the contacts located inside the switches occurs mechanically. The presence of a metal spring provides a soft return of the key to its original position. Switches are characterized by quick response and do not require full pressure on the button. The moment of activation of pressing is felt tactile, which provides better control and requires less effort during typing.
The most important element of a mechanical keyboard, which distinguishes it from other types, are switches (switches). They are of three types:
- Linear. Soft switches that create the same and uniform force along the entire length of the stroke when pressed. Relevant among gamers.
- Tactile. The pressing force increases by the moment of operation, provides a clear tactile response. A popular option for switches when working with text.
- Snap. They have a tactile and audible response, bringing the PC keyboard closer to a typewriter.
All switches have different pressing force, stroke length, sound and tactile feedback. A variety of options allows you to fine-tune the desired parameters of the input device and get the selected preferences in the work. For more personalization, you can combine different types of switches in one keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards provide fast, accurate typing. This is ideal for long term work. But they also have their advantages and disadvantages.
- Tactile feedback. The key advantage of “mechanics”. Each keystroke is effortless and has a distinct feel. This parameter is especially relevant for fast typing and during games, when you need to press the keys often and quickly.
- Smooth, soft running. When entering, it is not necessary to completely sink the buttons, just a slight pressure or light touch is enough. This gives less stress on the hands and reduces their fatigue.
- Registration of parallel clicks. All mechanical keyboards have support for simultaneous pressing of six buttons, some models are supplemented by the Key Rollover function with registration of an unlimited number of clicks. The parameter is of particular importance for gamers.
- Durability of use. The design, high-quality materials significantly reduce the wear and tear of the device.
- Heavy weight. The use of metal frames in the design, a large number of parts increase the mass of the device, while excluding its accidental shift on the table.
- Easy maintenance. Removable keycaps make it easy to disassemble the device for cleaning.
- High cost. The use of expensive switches and components in the design increases the price of the product.
- Noise during operation. Depending on the type of switches chosen, the volume of the sounds emitted by the keyboard changes, but even the quietest switches work louder than standard membrane counterparts.
- Heavy weight. In addition to the positive moment with immobility on the table, a significant mass complicates the carrying of the device.
Membrane-type input devices are quite popular, due to the simplicity of their design and affordable price. The internal structure of the device is represented by a three-layer plate. Two layers have conductive paths, the third is responsible for their separation. In places where there are buttons, cutouts are provided on the separating plates, which ensures contact between the contacts when the buttons are pressed. The presence of a silicone substrate guarantees an accurate hit, due to its rounded shape, the button returns to its original position after a click.
Membrane keyboards are quiet. There are no spring switches in their design, a rubber gasket is used as shock protection. The soft material absorbs the main noise, which, combined with the low key travel, allows for almost complete silence.
Tactile feedback is considered the weak side of membrane keyboards. For the keys to work, they must be pressed all the way and with great effort, compared with a mechanical device. The simplest models are not able to handle the simultaneous pressing of more than three buttons. For more expensive devices, this number is increased to six keys. The reason lies in the design features of the device, which is especially noticeable during speed dialing, when there is a “click” and the pressing of the button is not activated.
Membrane models are lighter than mechanical ones. They can easily be moved on the table or taken with you. Most models are splash and dirt resistant.
Over time, membrane keyboards lose their original presentable state, a “fatigue effect” is observed. With daily intensive use of the device for typing, the effect will make itself felt earlier. The silicone or rubber gasket wears out over time, the quality of pressing decreases, which reduces the response.
- Clear tactile feedback. Despite the lack of physical feedback like “mechanics”, separate models of the membrane type are able to provide a similar tactile response.
- Quiet operation. One of the advantages of membrane devices is silent operation even when pressing the keys intensively. Such models will be an excellent choice for offices equipped in the open space style, where the noise level should be kept to a minimum. This is a big plus when conducting a conference call with colleagues or clients – when writing notes on a mechanical keyboard located next to the microphone, it will turn into a lot of noise for the other participants in the conversation.
- Variety of models. Membrane devices are represented by a variety of design options, which allows you to choose the right device for any user.
- Attractive price. The cost of input devices with a membrane design is lower due to the production of readily available materials.
- Compact dimensions and low weight. The portability of the models makes it easy to take them with you on trips and travels. In case of loss or damage, they are easier and cheaper to replace with new ones.
Membrane devices are not for everyone, especially when prioritizing reliability and physical response.
- Less strength. Despite the flexibility of the membranes, their service life is much shorter than that of components from a mechanical keyboard.
- Difficulties with parts replacement. If one component fails, the entire keyboard needs to be replaced.
- Reduced service life. The service life of devices is shorter due to the lower reliability of the device.
Scissor-type input devices are a hybrid of mechanical and membrane devices. On the buttons of such a keyboard there are special devices that resemble classical models, but with some difference – the contact is applied to a special rod (rod), and not to an elastic membrane.
The keys are moved by a simple mechanism in the form of crossed plates connected to each other in the middle by a movable loop. In appearance, the device looks like scissors, which determined its name.
In terms of actuation force, scissor models are similar to mechanical ones, only they have silicone caps. Depending on the brand, it is 25-100 g / force, the average is 60-80 g / force.
The design shortens the key travel. Pressing in such keyboards is soft, which provides the convenience of typing large text arrays of information. The service life is twice as long as that of membrane models – for each key, the resource is about 10 million clicks.
- Middle price segment.
- Good tactile feedback for fast typing.
- Durability similar to mechanical models.
- Low noise during operation.
- Significant dimensions by analogy with mechanical models – not every equipment looks harmoniously complete with such an information input device.
- Sensitive to dirt and moisture ingress.
Important features for selection of keypads
The choice of input device is as important as the choice of the computer itself and other peripherals. In addition to the key mechanism, the user must decide on a considerable number of technical parameters of the keyboard. The most significant are:
- Purpose of the device. First, it is worth designating the main range of tasks, as well as the devices to which the keyboard is planned to be connected. Equipment used for typing or gaming will have different characteristics.
- Interface, connection type. A wireless device will be convenient in the absence of a permanent workplace or the need to connect the keyboard to the TV. Wired models have a faster response, do not require charging, and eliminate delay, which is especially important for gamers.
- Form factor. Features of the organization of the workspace allow you to choose a full-sized, compact device or a separate digital unit.
- Additional functions. Improved moisture protection, multiple USB ports and other useful features will make using the keyboard more convenient.
Most users, especially gamers, pay attention to the presence of a backlit keyboard. The glow of the buttons can make it easier to work in the dark, models with backlit keys have a more attractive look than their counterparts without LEDs in the design. For input devices, a single-color, multi-color RGB backlight is provided, which supports changing the colors of the glow, various dynamic effects. Popular devices are also used, in which the backlight is provided only for some buttons.
For office workers, secretaries and those who sometimes play standard computer games, a membrane keyboard will be the best choice. Its inexpensive price makes the device available to the public, but at the same time provides a sufficient resource of use.
Scissor models, which require less effort to actuate the buttons, are more suitable for those whose professional activity is associated with typing a large amount of text: copywriters, typists and those who work daily at a PC, typing a considerable amount of text information. Working with a scissor keyboard creates less stress on the hands compared to a mechanical one.
Cybersportsmen, avid gamers and serious video gamers prefer mechanical devices because of the great variability in designs and the possibility of customizing it.
everything you need to know about membrane, mechanical and other switches
A fast and reliable keyboard is a prerequisite for winning the latest battle royales and popular first-person shooters, legendary online combat arenas and fantasy worlds of massively multiplayer online games. That is why gamers regularly ask themselves the question of choosing the most convenient and comfortable model for games. The reliability and ergonomics of the device are important components, but in the case of keyboards, the type of switches on which it functions is equally important. Today we will figure out what types of switches (or, as they are also called, switches) exist, how they differ from each other and how well they are suitable for gaming. Go!
If you ask an avid gamer – “Which is better, membrane or mechanics?”, Do not be surprised if you see a wrinkled mine at the word “membrane”. What’s the matter? Why do players dislike membrane switches so much? Everything is extremely simple and complex at the same time. Membrane keyboards are cheaper to manufacture, and therefore cheaper for buyers, but the design, in essence, is not entirely successful. In order for the key to work when pressed, a substrate with a contact grid is used, which is often made of a simple silicone film. The most important thing to know about membrane switches is that in order for the key to work, it must be pressed all the way.
This is exactly what causes problems for many users. When typing text for a long time, the fingers simply get tired. Players are also not enthusiastic about this principle of operation. At the same time, when using a membrane keyboard, accidental keystrokes are rare. When it comes to haptic feedback, membrane switches are the quietest of all. For gamers, this is an important attribute that allows them to play even at night without disturbing their household, but many players like the tactile feedback (click) of the mechanics, so they often prefer it.
The main disadvantage of “membranes” is reliability. Compared with the same mechanical keyboards, membrane keyboards have an average service life of only 1 million clicks (in rare cases – 10 million), while mechanics, again, have an average resource of 50 million clicks, which is probably enough until the end of life. Also, the silicone backing of the “membranes” hardens quite quickly and pressing the keys becomes even more difficult. Well, and finally, if the membrane keyboard is accidentally flooded with water, then with a probability of almost 100%, it will break. the contact grid used for keystrokes is a single element of the system. And if you damage at least a small part of a single system, then the whole system will break. And this must be remembered before buying and using a membrane keyboard.
Scissor diaphragm switches
A few words should be given to a separate type of switches as scissor-membrane (or simply scissor), which belongs to the family of membrane switches. Scissor switches are almost always used in laptop keyboards, and the principle of operation partially echoes the membrane. There is also a rubber gasket, but separately for each key, and in order for the key to work, a special mechanism is used, which significantly reduces the travel of the switch compared to the classic membrane.
But the most important difference between a scissor keyboard and a membrane keyboard is the extended life of the switches. Instead of 1 million clicks for diaphragms, scissors offer an average lifespan of 5 million clicks. But there are also disadvantages – a complex design and a much more pronounced tactile feedback. Scissor switches are an order of magnitude louder, and due to again unsuccessful design, the keys here are much more motionless and are pressed very tightly.
Mechanical membrane switches
Before looking at mechanical switches in more detail, let’s focus on a type of switch that we would call “Schrödinger switches”. They seem to be mechanical, but in fact, no. They are called mechanical-membrane switches, or as they are also called by manufacturers – hybrid. They are based on the principle of the “membrane”, but for those gamers who love haptic feedback, there is a click mechanic for quick response. At least, they say about fast operation, except perhaps only the manufacturers of these switches. But let’s be honest – it’s all tricks. Hybrid switches are, in fact, the most common “membrane” with its shortcomings, to which they screwed tactile feedback like in mechanical keyboards at Cherry MX or other mechanical switches. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that the prices for mechanical-membrane devices are much higher than for simple membrane devices. And all this overpayment goes solely for the click.
Hybrid switches are not very common, so the manufacturers and keyboard models can be counted on the fingers. Pioneered by Razer with in-house designed switches Mecha-Membrane for Model Ornata and Ornata Chroma , as well as for keypad Tartarus V2 . Other manufacturers reluctantly picked up the idea with hybrid switches. In addition to the Razer , keyboards that fully function on mechanical membrane switches are available in the ASUS , Thrust and SteelSeries ranges. And if the ASUS and Thrust are relatively inexpensive models in single copies, then the SteelSeries decided to go all-in by launching the high-end Apex M750 and M750 TKL keyboards on their own “ SS QX2 ” hybrid switches. As you can see, the choice is not great, and given that hybrid keyboards have retained all the diseases of membrane keyboards, we recommend that you think twice before buying.
Opto-mechanical switches are another hybrid type of mechanical switches that can be referred to as the aforementioned “Schrödinger switches”. Only if mechanical-membrane keyboards are based on the principle of operation of the “membrane”, then opto-mechanical switches are a relatively new type of switches with a completely different principle of operation. A special sensor is installed on the switch circuit board, which not only reads the pressing itself, but also takes into account the pressing force. Instead of the usual physical mechanical action, light is used to signal the switch. Thus, when a key is pressed, the light from the optical sensor passes through the switch and sends a signal to a special sensor on the switch’s circuit board.
On the technical side, opto-mechanical switches are characterized by increased reliability with a service life of up to 100 million clicks, a very low actuation force of 45 grams (by the standards of mechanical switches) with a actuation point of 1.5 mm, as well as a very low delay when pressed from 0.03 to 0.2 ms depending on the manufacturer. With all this, do not forget that this hybrid type of switches took a soft tactile feedback (click) from mechanical switches, which is universal – not very loud, but not so quiet that it could not be heard. As a result, such switches are better and more advanced than “pure” mechanics, and their principle of operation and advantages over mechanical switches take gaming keyboards to a new level. But again, as in the case of mechanical-membrane keyboards, optical-mechanical keyboards are, unfortunately, not so widespread, and specific models can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The operation of the optical-mechanical switch on the example of the Razer Opto-Mechanical switch
By the way, about manufacturers and keyboards on opto-mechanical switches. They, as we have said a little higher, not to say that many. Razer , as one of the pioneers, designed its own Opto-Mechanical switches, on which the Huntsman and Huntsman Elite models operate. Also, there are single models of optical-mechanical keyboards in Gigabyte (AORUS K9 Optical) and HP Omen (Sequencer). But most of the models on opto-mechanical switches are presented in the assortment A4Tech Bloody , which uses branded switches Light Strike .
Optical mechanical keyboards
And finally, we smoothly approached the most popular switches in gaming keyboards. Mechanical switches are fundamentally different in how they work with membrane switches and have a number of advantages, for which players just prefer mechanics, rather than “membrane”. Instead of a single silicone backing, each key has its own switch mechanism that fires about half (depending on the manufacturer and type of switches) of the total key travel, and in order to use the key again, it is not necessary to press it all the way down, because the reset point located just above the activation point.
This design is much “faster” than a conventional membrane, and also allows you to increase the life of the switches up to 50-60 million clicks, which will last for many, many years. Of course, you have to pay for the benefits, so even the most budgetary, BUT high-quality mechanical keyboard will a priori cost more than the most fancy and cool membrane keyboard due to the expensive production of a mechanical switch. And if the switches are also with RGB backlighting, then the price will be even higher, respectively. And the very high cost is, perhaps, one of the main disadvantages of mechanical switches, which can easily scare away a gamer from buying.
If we consider the types of switches, then here we can distinguish three main ones – linear, tactile and tactile clicking.
Linear switches are the quietest of all, but the tactile sound when clicked is barely audible, so using a keyboard with linear mechanical switches you are unlikely to disturb others with a loud click.
Tactile Switches are clicky switches that are already louder. Keyboards with tactile mechanical switches are versatile – there is tactile feedback, but there is no loud click that will annoy others.
But the tactile clicky switches are the loudest of them all. The sound from pressing is very noisy, so keyboards with such switches are well suited for those who do not want to disturb their household with loud keyboard sounds during the game. At the same time, many gamers like tactile clicky feedback, so when choosing a gaming keyboard, they focus on a loud click when pressed.
Well, as for the manufacturers of mechanical switches, everything here is both simple and complex at the same time. Perhaps the main manufacturer of switches is the German company Cherry , which introduced the world’s first mechanical switches on November 7, 1983. It is believed that Cherry MX switches are a kind of quality standard in the industry, and if a mechanical gaming keyboard is equipped with switches not Cherry MX , but, for example, their Chinese counterparts, then such a keyboard is not of high quality. Of course, there are other manufacturers of mechanical switches. For example, switches manufactured by Chinese companies Kailh , Gateron , Juxian , Kaihua , Outemu and others, the closest analogues of Cherry . They are cheaper to manufacture, but again, in the gaming community, the switches of the German manufacturer are considered to be more reliable (especially in comparison with Outemu ). That is why we will consider exclusively original switches Cherry .
Comparison of all mechanical switches Cherry MX
|Cherry MX Blue||Cherry MX Red||Cherry MX Low Profile Red||Cherry MX Silent Red|
|switch type||tactile clicky||linear||linear||linear|
|Life time||50 million clicks||50 million clicks||50 million clicks||50 million clicks|
|Pressing force||60 grams||45 grams||45 grams||45 grams|
|Total stroke length||4 mm||4 mm||3. 2 mm||3.7mm|
|Stroke length before actuation||2.2 mm||2 mm||1.2 mm||1.9 mm|
|Cherry MX Brown||Cherry MX Black||Cherry MX Silent Black||Cherry MX Speed Silver|
|Life time||50 million clicks||50 million clicks||50 million clicks||50 million clicks|
|Pressing force||55 grams||60 grams||60 grams||45 grams|
|Total stroke length||4 mm||4 mm||3. 7 mm||3.4mm|
|Stroke length before actuation||2 mm||2 mm||1.9 mm||1.2 mm|
|Cherry MX Low Profile Speed Silver||Cherry MX Green||Cherry MX Gray||Cherry MX Clear|
|switch type||linear||tactile clicky||tactile||tactile|
|Life time||50 million clicks||50 million clicks||50 million clicks||50 million clicks|
|Pressing force||45 grams||80 grams||80 grams||65 grams|
|Total stroke length||3. 2 mm||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm|
|Stroke length before actuation||1 mm||2.2 mm||2 mm||2 mm|
Among all Cherry MX switches, the fastest and quietest are linear MX Red , MX Low Profile Red , MX Speed Silver and their low profile version MX Low Profile Speed Silver . They have short travel to actuation and require only 45 grams to depress and actuate the switch, making them ideal for gaming. Switches MX Black and MX Silent Black will also provide silence during operation, but you should not expect “speed” from them. For those who like tactile feedback, but without a clearly loud click, haptic switches MX Brown , MX Gray and MX Clear 9 are suitable0185 . Well, for those who can’t live without a loud click when pressed (yes, don’t be surprised, there are such gamers too), you need to pay attention to the keyboards with tactile clicky switches MX Blue and MX Green .
Brand name mechanical switches
Also noteworthy are the “proprietary” switches of keyboard manufacturers. To do this, just for a couple of seconds – a small digression into history. In 2014, the demand for switches Cherry became so big that the company couldn’t keep up with the production and supply of switches. Then some (but not all) keyboard manufacturers decided they could do without the Cherry and started making their own replacements for the Cherry MX switches. For example, Logitech has developed Romer-G and GX switches for their keyboards. However, the company Razer also did not stand aside and made 9 switches0184 Razer Switch . In general, many companies have begun to manufacture their own switches, but we will consider only the most interesting analogues of “proprietary” switches.
|Romer-G Linear||Romer-G Tactile||GX Blue||GX Brown||GX Red|
|switch type||linear||tactile||Tactile clicks||tactile||linear|
|Life time||70 million clicks||70 million clicks||70 million clicks||70 million clicks||70 million clicks|
|Pressing force||45 grams||45 grams||50 grams||50 grams||50 grams|
|Total stroke length||3. 2 mm||3.2 mm||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm|
|Stroke length before actuation||1.5mm||1.5mm||2 mm||1.9 mm||1.9 mm|
|Razer Green Switch||Razer Orange Switch||Razer Yellow Switch||HyperX Red||HyperX Aqua|
|Manufacturer||Razer||Razer||Razer||Kingston HyperX||Kingston HyperX|
|switch type||Tactile clicks||tactile||linear||linear||tactile|
|Life time||80 million clicks||80 million clicks||80 million clicks||80 million clicks||80 million clicks|
|Pressing force||50 grams||45 grams||45 grams||45 grams||45 grams|
|Total stroke length||4 mm||4 mm||