Mechanical vs Membrane: The Best Keyboards for Gamers
The perfect keyboard for gaming (and getting work done in general) is a hotly contested topic that sparks impassioned debate and intense tribalism in the gaming community. To the average observer, they might be confused. Aren’t all keyboards basically the same?
My advice: don’t ask that question in a room full of keyboard enthusiasts! There are lots of keyboard styles to be found and new ones being innovated all the time, from Apple’s ultimately doomed “butterfly switch” keyboards, to keyboards that can actually be laser-projected onto any surface.
Mechanical Vs Membrane
The two most ubiquitous keyboard designs by far are mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards. In mechanical keyboards, each key is individually spring loaded and produces a distinct “clicking” sound when pressed. Depending on who you talk to, this is either incredibly gratifying…or extremely annoying.
Membrane keyboards have a “mushier” feel and tend to be much quieter. Though they were developed long after mechanical keyboards were first devised, they are now used in most laptops and external keyboards. Their design involves the keys sending an electrical signal to a unified circuit board underneath, as opposed to each key individually firing off like a mechanical keyboard.
Here’s a table with a brief overview of the pros and cons of each keyboard. Read on for a more detailed analysis.
Tactile, noticeable feedback
More comfortable for some users
Bulky, heavy — not portable
Can sound quite loud
Quiet, smooth keypresses
Much more compact, portable
A more familiar feel some users may prefer
No key rollover
Less precision, accuracy compared to mechanical keyboards
Which is better?
The answer to this question is entirely subjective. They keyboards themselves are both equally efficient, can both type just as quickly, and depending on who you talk to, are both ergonomically designed.
Mechanical keyboard enthusiasts swear by their keyboards, suggesting that they are more comfortable and satisfying to use over prolonged periods of time. This may be true for many people, there are still those who prefer the smooth, quiet feel of a membrane keyboard.
Then there is the question of accuracy and ease of use, a critical question for gamers who depend on their keys to get the edge against their opponents.
One key advantage of mechanical keyboards over membrane keyboards is a feature known as “key rollover.” This allows the user to register multiple keypresses at the same time since mechanical keys are individually actuated. A membrane keyboard can only register one keypress at a time, which creates the potential for “missed” key presses (which can be catastrophic for gamers).
For this reason, for gamers, mechanical keyboards with their adjustability and customizability, their tactile feedback and their ability to register multiple keypresses at once, are rapidly gaining popularity.
However, membrane keyboards are much lighter, can be made into portable sizes, and are generally more affordable than mechanical keyboards. If you’re someone who likes gaming on-the-go or travels frequently, a membrane keyboard is probably the best choice for you.
Type ergonomically with a wrist rest
In order to type or game for long periods of time without harming or risking damage to your wrists, it’s recommended you type with a wrist rest or pad to keep them supported and elevated while you type. Your fingers should essentially hover over the keyboard as you type while your wrists remain straight.
Though many keyboards come with wrist pads, you’ll have to double check to make sure yours does, or else prepare to order one separately.
Light up your world
Though any keyboard will do, keyboards with RGB backlighting are popular for gamers because they allow additional customizability (and they just look cool). As long as some kind of backlighting is included you’ll be covered, and your eyes will thank you during those late-night gaming sessions.
Consider your environment
While having a killer keyboard can give you a great competitive edge, it’s also important to take other ergonomic factors into consideration. A comfortable gaming chair makes all the difference, especially for long hours of intense gaming.
More gamers are also turning to standing desks as a great way to mix up the monotony of sitting in one fixed position for hours on end. A standing desk can inject you with a new burst of energy so you can keep going, stay quick, and stay alert.
While it may seem silly for many keyboard enthusiasts to have such strong allegiances to one type of keyboard over the other, it’s undeniable that having a good keyboard can make or break your gaming experience and success. Especially in more competitive arenas where every millisecond can make a difference, having the best possible tools for your gaming style is essential to your success.
What are some of your favorite keyboards for gaming and why? Sound off in the comments below!