The Main Differences Between Mechanical and Membrane Keyboards

Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard

There are three common types of keyboards: mechanical, film, and electrostatic. Today we're going to compare mechanical and membrane keyboards to see the major differences between them. This will help you choose the right keyboard for your game or office.

There are various types of keyboards, and you may find yourself wondering which one to purchase and on what basis. Worry not, as we will look into some of such aspects below.

That said, these keyboards include the mechanical and the membrane keyboard, which we are going to differentiate in depth.


1. Trigger Principle

A mechanical keyboard has a mechanism that functions in such a way that when a character is pressed with enough pressure, it registers a keystroke. Additionally, each of the keys uses individual switches; hence each of the keys has a circuit whose purpose is to send information to the CPU and have the output on the screen. This process usually takes milliseconds; hence the response is very fast.

Mechanical Trigger Principle

On the other hand, the membrane keyboard experiences a slow response because its keys are positions separately on a membrane with three layers; rubber, spacer layer (commonly known as the hole layer), and the conductive layer that basically transmits the required electric energy to the circuit.

Therefore, a keystroke is registered if you press a key within a specific area. The rubber is beneath the keys and is also in touch with the circuit. Thus, for you to get the output on the screen, you have to press the key hard for the rubber to touch the circuit, which further communicates to the CPU.

Membrane Keyboard Trigger Principle


2. Tactile Feedback

Tactile Feedback

When it comes to the tactile feedback of the mechanical keyboard, it is quite clear that it consists of a significant feeling on the finger whenever you press the keys. Actually, the sensation is usually different depending on the nature of distance that a particular key trip. Additionally, the feeling of the press on a mechanical keyboard never changes over time, making it a stable option.

For the membrane keyboard, the sensation on the hand when pressing the keys usually varies as it ages. This is due to the rubber beneath the keys, which ages and eventually cracks hence affecting that feeling. Moreover, the older the rubber gets, the more pressure the user has to apply when pressing a key and the longer the keyboard takes to respond. This, in turn, causes users a lot of inconveniences.


3. Aural Feedback

In regards to the aural feedback of the two keyboards, the mechanical one tends to be a bit loud while the membrane keyboard does not produce any significant sound. These sounds are a result of the triggering effect when a key is pressed. The sound of the membrane keyboard is actually very significant that it can be heard over the phone. Some people even opt for the membrane keyboard just because of this sound.


4. Key Cap Material

Key Cap Material

While the mechanical keyboard is made with ABS material mostly, the membrane keyboard is usually made with PBT injection molding. This is a win-win for both of the keyboards because the molding of the membrane keycaps ensures a strong casing and also makes it very resistant to wear and tear, whereas the ABS material on the mechanical keyboard is greasy, meaning it is very hard to be erased. Moreover, the keys are usually printed out; hence it is very rare to notice if they get worn out.

In addition, you can always change the keycap of a mechanical keyboard to your own preference. This is impossible for the membrane keyboards; hence for you to change the keycaps, you have to get a new board altogether.


5. The Prices

keyboard price

With price being a huge factor that people consider when buying literally anything, let alone a keyboard, the prices of the membrane and mechanical keyboard play a very big role in the choice of a user.

With that in mind, the membrane keyboard is usually termed economical because it is cheap and can even be afforded by the low-income population. On the contrary, the mechanical keyboard is quite costly, making it less preferred, especially by low-income workers.

This is important to point out because sometimes you may end up using more money than you can afford on buying a mechanical keyboard, not knowing that there is a cheaper option which is the membrane keyboard. Hence, this will prevent you from overspending outside your budget.


6. n-Key Rollover

keyboard n-Key Rollover

As we had mentioned above, the mechanical keyboard has keys that are separate from each other, while the membrane keyboard has keys that may lie on the same membrane. This makes the control of the mechanical keyboard much easier than that of the membrane keyboard.

To have a more visual picture of this, let’s say you are playing PUBG; holding the W and D at the same time makes your character relocate to the right ahead while holding two in addition to that enable the exchange of guns. Well, this may be impossible when it comes to the membrane keyboard because of the lack of independent controls of the keys.


7. The Service Life

keyboard service life

The service life of a keyboard is addressed in terms of the maximum number of times that a single key can be pressed. Having said that, the mechanical keyboard has a lifespan of about 50 million presses per key, while the membrane keyboard only has 5 million presses per key. This goes to show you that although the mechanical keyboard is more expensive than the membrane keyboard, it will sustain you longer than the membrane keyboard.

In fact, you may end up using about three membrane keyboards over some years when you could have used only one mechanical keyboard over the same period of time.


8. Exterior Styling

exterior look of a mechanical keyboard

Similar to the case of the keycaps, the exterior look of a mechanical keyboard can be easily changed to the liking of each individual. Moreover, since the mechanical keyboards use USB-Cables, the base housing can easily be switched because the means of usage will remain the same.

The membrane keyboards, on the other hand, usually come in specific designs and models that can barely be changed. Therefore, you can never customize them to the colours and designs that you personally prefer.


Which One?

mechanical and the membrane keyboard choice

Now that we have looked at the different characteristics of both the mechanical and the membrane keyboard, it is now time for you to decide which one you will go with. As you have also seen, both have some advantages and disadvantages, and it is not just a matter of which one is better than the other but also what works for you as an individual.

Hence, if you want to experience a faster response and have a customizable keyboard, you can go with the mechanical one. nonetheless, always keep in mind the cons of it, like the clicking sounds of the keys. However, if you want to experience a quiet typing time and you can keep up with the long waiting that the membrane keyboard takes, then you can as go with it.

Similarly, keep in mind the fact that you can not customize it nor change the keyboard and also remember that it has a shorter lifespan. Not forgetting the aspect of money, you can always choose where your pocket can afford it!

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