Before you read the article, take a look at the infographic below. Only 5-step to find your first mechanical keyboard. If you get more interested in the mechanical keyboard, I will show you how to select a mechanical keyboard step by step.
I believe you just have had a sketchy profile of your ideal mechanical keyboard. You need a mechanical keyboard more than you think. But you must have some doubts about buying a mechanical keyboard, it’s quite normal. How comes a mechanical keyboard over $100? You may step back when you know the price of a mechanical keyboard. After all, now a laptop may only cost you about $500. Why do I have to buy a so expensive mechanical keyboard? What should I look for in a mechanical keyboard? The mechanical keyboard complete guide will show you everything about mechanical keyboards. I ensure to find a suitable mechanical keyboard in the end.
Part One – What’re the differences between a mechanical keyboard and a membrane keyboard?
Part Two – Which type of switch suits you best?
Part Three – Would you like to try a wireless mechanical keyboard?
Part Four – The tips of maintenance and cleaning a keyboard
Part Five – How to type faster – the most common shortcuts.
Part Six – Common keyboard terminology
What’re the differences between a mechanical keyboard and a membrane keyboard?
How does a membrane keyboard work?
A membrane keyboard is a keyboard that keys are connected, and are covered by transparent, soft plastic. Membrane keyboards have pressure pads to send the typing command. A membrane keyboard is normally inexpensive. Some membrane keyboards are resistant against liquid, which makes them easy to clean.
Three main elements consist of a membrane keyboard: the top membrane layer, “holes” layer, and the bottom membrane layer.
When you type, the signal will transfer from the top membrane layer to the bottom membrane layer through the conductive traces.
The most outstanding advantage of a membrane keyboard is portability and flexibility. Most portable keyboards are membrane keyboards. However, they are not good at typing accuracy and speed. So professional typists generally prefer a mechanical keyboard.
How does a mechanical keyboard work?
Every key in a mechanical keyboard has a spring and a switch. When you type, the signal is sent to the computer through its switch. A mechanical keyboard is generally more expensive than a membrane keyboard. Because of their higher cost, they are replaced by membrane keyboards after the 1990s. However, a mechanical keyboard is superior to a membrane keyboard in many aspects.
The most-known advantage is benefiting the typing speed and accuracy. Different from membrane keyboards, there is no rubber membrane to bounce your key back up. Each key has a separate switch and a metal spring. Once the spring is compressed, a keystroke is registered. Every key has no effect on other keys.
When you type on a mechanical keyboard, the keys will response with audible feedback and tactile feedback. Your body and senses will react unconsciously, and you will type faster and precisely. Although different switches feature with various characteristics, the upshot of typing experience is superior.
Mechanical switches are very durable, generally rated for 50 million keystrokes and more. A high-qualified mechanical keyboard can last for years. In spite of a mechanical keyboard is expensive than a membrane keyboard, the investment really worth in the long term.
Which type of switch suits you best?
When we talking about mechanical keyboard, we must discuss mechanical switches. In the interactive mechanical keyboard guide, the first question is “What do you use your keyboard for?”. Which one is your answer? “Gaming, Typing, Even mix of gaming and typing.”
According to your answer, you can choose your best suitable mechanical switches. Generally speaking, there are four main mechanical switches in the market: Black switches, Brown switches, Red switches, and Blue switches. The most prestigious brand is Cherry MX switches who are the pioneer in the industry. Following Cherry, there are some Cherry-like switches that have similar functions at a lower price.
Feature Table for Mechanical Switches
|Behavior||Feel||Actuation Force||Actuation Point||Total Travel Distance||
If your primary application is typing, the recommended switches are Brown or Blue switches. The tactile and clicky feedback fits typists better. Blue switches have loud sound, so it can be a little noisy in a quiet working environment. Brown switch is a reasonable choice for typing and office.
Typing Mechanical Keyboards
|Price||Check out||Check out||Check out||Check out||Check out|
|Switch||Brown Switch||Brown Switch||Brown Switch||Brown Switch||Brown Switch|
|Connector Type||USB 2.0
(Wireless 2.4 GHz)
|USB 2.0||USB 2.0||USB 2.0
(Wireless 2.4 GHz)
|Polling Rate||1000 Hz||1000 Hz||1000 Hz||500 Hz||1000 Hz|
|Cable Length||150 cm||180 cm||165 cm||50 cm||165 cm|
|Product Weight||2.2 pounds||2.65 pounds||2.2 pounds||2.7 pounds||1.54 pounds|
|Product Dimensions||14.4 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches||14.3 x 5.4 x 1.6 inches||14.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches||14.5 x 7.7 x 1 inches||11.7 x 5.2 x 1.5 inches|
If your primary application is gaming, you may prefer Black or Red switches. These two mechanical switches have similar characteristics. They are all linear press with no tactile bump, meaning faster registering. The top-to-bottom switches are more suitable for gamers. The wired mechanical keyboard has fast response time or high polling rate, no delay input.
Gaming Mechanical Keyboards on Amazon
|Corsair K70||104-key||Cherry MX||Red LED||USB 2.0||$109.99|
|Logitech G910||104-key||Romer-G||RGB||USB 2.0||$113.50|
Would you like to try a wireless mechanical keyboard?
Thanks to the development of technology, the keyboard can be connected to a computer without a cable. Wireless keyboard benefits people with its portability mostly.
It’s known that most wireless keyboards are membrane keyboards. That’s because that membrane keyboards in themselves are lighter and portable than mechanical keyboards. If only considering portability, people prefer wireless membrane keyboard with small size. They are travel-friendly, very carry-on.
On the other hand, wireless keyboards are not just for portability, they are free people from the displayers, providing more space and freedom. Wireless mechanical keyboards could be your primary choice if there is no need for carry-on. No matter you are a gamer, a writer, or a programmer, you all benefit from a wireless mechanical keyboard. Mechanical keyboards always improve your productivity in gaming and work.
Speaking to wireless keyboards, there are two main connecting methods: RF (USB connectivity) and Bluetooth. Given their different working principle, they separately have own advantages. As the development of Bluetooth technology, the connectivity is becoming stable than before, but overall, RF (USB connectivity) is more stable and safer than a Bluetooth connectivity.
Bluetooth connection has comparability issues that require your more attention when you purchase a Bluetooth wireless keyboard. This is also the main complaint about Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Compared to Bluetooth, RF (USB connectivity) wireless mechanical keyboards are easy-installation, plug-and-play.
Velocifire Wireless Mechanical Keyboards
|Wireless Mechanical Keyboard||
|Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
|Polling Rate||500 Hz||1000 Hz||1000 Hz||150 Hz|
|Switches||Outemu Brown Switch||Brown Switch||Brown Switch||Outemu Brown Switch|
|Keycaps||ABS double-shot||ABS double-shot||ABS double-shot||ABS double-shot|
|Connector Type||USB 2.0
(Wireless 2.4 GHz)
(Wireless 2.4 GHz)
(Wireless 2.4 GHz)
(Wireless 2.4 GHz)
|Battery Type/Size||Build-in Lithium Battery/200mAh||Build-in Lithium Battery/
|Build-in Lithium Battery/
Build-in Lithium Battery/
|Wireless Range||26 feet/8 meters||26 feet/8 meters||26 feet/8 meters||26 feet/8 meters|
|Backlit||N/A||White LED||White LED||N/A|
|Compatibility||Windows 2000/XP/Vista/ 7/8/10/ LINUX||Windows 2000/XP/Vista/ 7/8/10/ LINUX||Windows 2000/XP/Vista/ 7/8/10/ LINUX||Windows 2000/XP/Vista/ 7/8/10/ LINUX|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
|Cable Length||50 cm||150 cm||150 cm||120 cm|
|Product Weight||3.1 pounds||2.64 pounds||2.2 pounds||1.59 pounds|
|Product Dimensions||18 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches||17.5 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches||14.4 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches||12.2 x 4.72 x 1.77 inches|
The tips of maintenance and cleaning a keyboard
How often do you clean your keyboard? Whatever you use a membrane keyboard or a mechanical keyboard, the maintenance and cleaning is an indispensable step to a daily input device.
As time goes, dust and bacterium can accumulate on the keyboard. A clean and sanitary keyboard is good for your health and your typing experience.
Routine maintenance to keep a clean keyboard
In order to keep a nice and clean keyboard, it’s critical to form routine maintenance and cleaning since you have your new keyboard. You can apply this method with a blow or a can of compressed air, with the cotton swabs and some alcohol or water. It won’t take you much time, and most importantly, you won’t need to disassemble the whole keyboard.
There are some tools you can apply: cotton swabs, small brush, alcohol, or other cleaners.
- Turn your keyboard upside down, and start to clean.
- Blow some air to remove the dust
- Rub with water. Don’t use too much water, it may leak inside.
- If you apply alcohol, the keycap’s coating may get damaged.
But if your keyboard really needs a deep cleaning, you can follow the below steps. The whole cleaning process will take about 40 minutes.
How to deep clean a keyboard (membrane keyboard & mechanical keyboard)?
To deep clean a membrane keyboard, you will need a screwdriver. As the first step is to disassemble the keyboard. When you unscrew your keyboard, there may be an extra hidden screw under a sticker. You need to remove it as well. Once you remove the screw, you void the warranty of your product. So think twice before acting.
Before you start to remove the keycaps, take a photo of the keyboard to remember each keycap place. You can use a key puller to remove the keycaps. Most mechanical keyboards come with a key puller. You need to prepare one if you don’t have. Be careful to remove the keycaps, not damaging the switches and springs.
When you have removed all the keycaps, you can deal with the backplate. There may be some extra screws to hold it. Remove them all if you want to clean the frame.
Clean the keycaps
It’s easy to clean the keycaps. Place them in a bowl of warm water, and scrub them with a soft sponge or fabric. Try not to scratch the keycap surfaces.
Dry the keycaps when the cleaning is done. Leave them alone until the keycaps are completely dry.
Clean a plate
- Turn the plate upside down.
- Apply a small blower or a compressed air duster to remove these dust.
- Dip a cotton swab in the alcohol and wipe off the left dirt.
- Not too much alcohol in case it drips inside the plate.
The process is almost the same to a membrane keyboard or a mechanical keyboard. Now some membrane keyboards have resistant to water, which makes cleaning easier. No longer worry about the water will damage the keyboard.
Clean a laptop keyboard is quite different. The keycaps of a laptop keyboard are easy to get damaged when you pull them out. So it’s not suggested to do that.
Generally, you just need to blow the dust with a blower or a compressed air can. And then apply some cotton swabs to scrub between the keys. It may cost some time and patience.
Once the cleaning is finished, the final step is to assemble the keyboard. Put everything in the right place according to your taken photo.
How to type faster – the most common shortcuts
A mechanical keyboard definitely helps you type faster and more precise. Before type, make sure your hands are in the proper position.
Keyboard Finger Position
In the meanwhile, deftly applying some common shortcuts is an effective method to fasten your typing speed and precision. Practice makes perfect!
Windows computer (PC)
- Ctrl+C and Ctrl+Insert: copy the selected items
- Ctrl+X: cut the selected items
- Ctrl+V and Shift+Insert: paste the items that are in the clipboard
- Ctrl+Z: undo any change
- Ctrl+Y: redo the last action
- Ctrl+F: open the search window
- Ctrl+N: create a new or a blank document in some programs
- Ctrl+O: open a file in the current program
- Ctrl+A: select all text
- Ctrl+B: make the selected text be Blod
- Ctrl+I: make the selected text be Italics
- Ctrl+U: make the selected text be Underlined
- Ctrl+K: insert a hyperlink for selected text
- Ctrl+Home: move to the beginning of the current document
- Home: move to the beginning of the current line
- Ctrl+End: move to the end of the current document
- End: move the end of the current line
- Alt+Tab: switch between the open programs
- Ctrl+Tab: switch tabs in a program
- Shift+Alt+Tab and Shift+Ctrl+Tab: move backward
- Windows+Tab: switch through open programs in a full window screenshot (only in Window Vista,7,8, and 10)
- Ctrl+Backspace: delete a full word at a time instead of a single character
- Ctrl+left or right arrow: move the cursor one word at a time instead of a single character
- Ctrl+Shift+left or right arrow: select one word at a time in that direction
- Ctrl+S: save a document or a file
- Ctrl+Home: move the cursor to the beginning of the document or web pages
- Ctrl+End: move the cursor the end of a document or web pages
- Ctrl+P: open the print preview of a page or a document
- PageUp or PageDown: move the next or previous page
- Spacebar: move the scrollbar down a page in browsing the Internet
- Shift+Spacebar: move the scrollbar up to a page in browsing the Internet
- Alt+F: open the file menu options in current program
- Alt+E: open the edit options in the current program
- F1: open Help in a window program
- F2: rename a selected file
- F5: refresh the current program
- Shift+Del: cut the selected item
- Shift+Home: highlight from the current position to the beginning of the line
- Shift+End: highlight from the current position to the end of the line
- Ctrl+Esc: open the START menu
- Ctrl+Shift+Esc: open Windows Task Manager
- Alt+F4: close the current acting program
- Alt+Enter: open the Properties of the selected file, folder, shortcut, etc.
- Command (Cmd)+C: copy the highlighted text
- Cmd+X: cut the highlighted text
- Cmd+V: paste the items that are in the clipboard
- Cmd+Z: undo any change
- Cmd+Y: redo the undo
- Cmd+F: open the search window
- Cmd+Tab: switch between open programs
- Cmd+S: save a file or a document
- Cmd+up arrow: move to the beginning of a document or web pages
- Cmd+down arrow: move to the end of a document or web pages
- Cmd+P: open the print preview
Special Characters of PC shortcut keys
There are some special characters that can be created by shortcuts to save time. If you are on a laptop or a keyboard without a separate num pad, you need to use NumLock function to temporarily change the part of your keyboard into a number keypad.
Here are some commonly used special characters.
- Alt+0176: ° (degree symbol)
- Alt+0153: ™
- Alt+0169: ©
- Alt+0174: ®
- Alt+0128: € (Euro currency)
- Alt+0162: ¢ (Cent symbol)
- Alt+0163: £ (British Pound currency)
- Alt+0165: ¥
Other Common Keyboard Terminology
- Dome switch keyboards: a hybrid of the membrane and mechanical keyboards. Use metal dome switches or polyurethane formed domes in a rubber or silicone keypad, two circuit board traces working together.
- Scissor-switch keyboards: a type of dome switch keyboards, it uses a scissor-like mechanism to connect the keycap to a plunger. These keyboards are quiet and easy to press.
- Ergonomic keyboards: a keyboard is designed with ergonomic consideration. They can reduce muscle strain in some ways.
- Cylindrical keys: these keys have curves on the left and right edges.
- Flat keys: mostly apply on the laptops. They are flat with no curve.
- Spherical keys: these keys have curves on all four edges.
- Pad Printing: it’s the least expensive method. The key font is printed with durable ink. This type of printing is easy to wear out.
- Laser Etching: utilize a laser to print the character into the keycaps and the character stand out.