Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboards: Which Is Better for You?


Updated: 18/09/2023

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Two keyboards sit on a table: a mechanical keyboard on the left and a membrane keyboard on the right. Text above the keyboards reads "MECHANICAL KEYBOARD VS MEMBRANE KEYBOARD".

When it comes to computers, there are many different types of input devices that allow us to interact with them. These include keyboards, mice, touchscreens, and more. But when it comes to the most important input device for many users, the keyboard reigns supreme.

When it comes to keyboards, there are two main types: Mechanical and Membrane. But which type of keyboard is right for you?

This article will compare and contrast mechanical switch keyboards and membrane keyboards  to help you decide which type is best for your needs.

Mechanical keyboards are known for their tactile feedback and satisfying clicky sound. They use individual mechanical switches for each key, which makes them more durable and responsive compared to membrane keyboards.

On the other hand, membrane keyboards have a flat, rubbery surface with a thin membrane layer underneath. When a key is pressed, the rubber dome collapses, registering the keystroke.

Here’s a quick decision guide:

  • Go mechanical if: You prioritize a satisfying typing experience, durability, and customization, and noise isn’t a major concern.
  • Go membrane if: You prefer a quieter keyboard on a budget and value a slimmer profile.

What are Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard?

Before we delve into the details, let’s understand mechanical switch vs membrane switch keyboard.

mechanical keyboard has individual mechanical switches under each keycap. These switches have a spring-loaded mechanism that provides tactile and audible feedback when pressed. 

On the other hand, a membrane keyboard utilizes a thin, flexible membrane layer beneath the keycaps. Pressing a key triggers a rubber dome or membrane, which completes the circuit and registers your keystroke.

Both mechanical and membrane keyboards have their advantages, contributing to their popularity. Many enthusiasts and professionals favor mechanical keyboards due to their superior typing experience (tactile and audible feedback), durability, and customization options.

On the other hand, Membrane keyboards are popular for their affordability, compact size, and quiet operation. These keyboards are often used in office environments or by individuals who prefer a softer typing experience.

1. Mechanical Keyboards

Image of the HyperX Fury X RGB mechanical keyboard, showcasing its main features.

Mechanical keyboards are the ones known for their satisfying clicky-clack and superior typing experience. Unlike the standard keyboards you find on most computers, which use rubber domes, mechanical keyboards rely on individual mechanical switches under each key.

Here’s what makes them special:

  • Switch Mechanism: Mechanical keyboards use spring-loaded switches to register key presses. When you press a key, a physical switch moves, allowing two electrical contacts to meet. These switches come in various types: lineartactile, and clicky.
  • Feel and Feedback: Typing on a mechanical keyboard feels satisfying, with noticeable tactile feedback. Each keypress provides a distinct sensation. Mechanical keyboards for typing offer a satisfying feel with various keystroke feedback options (linear, tactile, clicky) suited for different typing styles.
  • Durability: Mechanical keyboards are more durable due to their robust construction.
  • Customization: They offer more customization options, such as interchangeable keycaps.
  • N-Key Rollover: Mechanical keyboards often support N-key rollover, allowing simultaneous key presses without ghosting.
  • Typing Sound: Some mechanical switches can be loud, especially the clicky ones.

How Do Mechanical Keyboards Work?

Mechanical keyboards utilize individual mechanical switches for each key. When a key is pressed, the controller is activated, registering the keystroke. These switches consist of various components, including a spring, stem, and electrical contacts. The spring provides the actuation force and tactile feedback while the stem presses down on the electrical connections to complete the circuit and send the input to the computer.

Here are some of the top mechanical keyboard brands and models to consider, keeping in mind your needs and preferences:

1. Corsair K70 Max:

High-quality image of Corsair K70 Max keyboard with customizable RGB lighting and sleek design.

This full-size keyboard from Corsair is a popular choice for gamers due to its durability, performance, and feature set. It boasts top-of-the-line Hall Effect switches for super-fast response times, per-key RGB lighting, and a comfortable wrist rest.

2. Logitech G915 TKL:

Image of Logitech G903 wireless gaming keyboard, a sleek and advanced gaming keyboard by Logitech.

If you’re looking for a wireless option, the Logitech G915 TKL is a great choice. It’s a tenkeyless design, meaning it lacks the dedicated numpad on the right for a more compact footprint. It offers low-profile mechanical switches for a quieter typing experience while retaining a nice tactile feel, and long battery life.

3. Razer Huntsman Mini:

Razer Huntsman Mini keyboard with rainbow colored keypad

This 60% keyboard is a great option for those who want a minimal footprint on their desk. It’s particularly popular among gamers who value maximum desk space for mouse movement. It comes with Razer’s clicky optical switches for a very fast and responsive typing experience. Keep in mind the lack of function keys and dedicated arrow keys might require some getting used to.

These are just a few of the many great mechanical keyboards on the market. When choosing a keyboard, consider what features are most important to you, such as switch type, size, lighting, and price.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mechanical Keyboards

Advantages of Mechanical Keyboards
  • Tactile feedback and audible click (optional) for a more satisfying typing experience
  • More durable than membrane keyboards
  • Highly customizable to meet individual needs and preferences.
  • Faster response time and actuation point, making them ideal for gaming and competitive typing
  • A greater variety of switch types allows users to find the perfect typing experience.
Disadvantages of Mechanical Keyboards
  • More expensive than membrane keyboards
  • It can be noisy, especially if using clicky switches
  • Heavier and bulkier than membrane keyboards
  • Requires more cleaning and maintenance, as the individual switches can accumulate dust and debris
  • Not as portable as membrane keyboards

2. Membrane keyboards

Membrane keyboard with colorful rainbow backlight

On the other hand, membrane keyboard switches are generally quieter and more affordable. They rely on a rubber dome membrane that registers keystrokes when pressed. Instead of individual switches, the entire keyboard is covered by a rubber membrane with domes underneath each key. When a key is pressed, the dome collapses and makes contact with a circuit, registering the keystroke.

Here’s what makes them special:

  • Switch Mechanism: Membrane keyboards use rubber domes that are pressed down with each key press. These domes connect to small electrical contacts.
  • Feel and Feedback: Membrane keyboards have a softer typing feel. The keys feel somewhat “mushy” compared to mechanical switches.
  • Affordability: They are more affordable than mechanical keyboards.
  • Quiet Operation: Membrane keyboards are quieter, making them suitable for shared spaces.
  • Features: Some membrane keyboards include additional features beyond basic typing.

Types of Membrane Keyboards

There are two main types of membrane keyboards:

  • Flat-panel membrane keyboards: These have a single rubber dome or membrane for each key. They are typically found on laptops and other portable devices.
  • Full-travel membrane keyboards: These keyboards have individual keys surrounded by a rubber membrane. They are typically found on desktop computers and gaming keyboards.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Membrane Keyboards

Advantages of Membrane Keyboards
  • Less expensive than mechanical keyboards
  • Softer, quieter typing experience
  • More durable than scissor-switch keyboards
  • More portable than mechanical keyboards
  • Easier to clean than other types of keyboards.
Disadvantages of Membrnae Keyboards
  • Not as responsive as mechanical keyboards
  • Not as customizable as mechanical keyboards
  • It can be mushy or difficult to type on for some users
  • They are not as durable as mechanical keyboards in the long run

Membrane Keyboard Recommendations: The Best of the Best

Here are our top picks for the best membrane keyboards in 2024:

  • Logitech MX Keys: 
Image of Logitech MX Keys  keyboard

The Logitech MX Keys is the best overall membrane keyboard on the market. Its features include multi-device connectivity, adaptive backlight, and a comfortable typing experience.  

  • Microsoft Surface Keyboard: 
Image of a Microsoft Surface Keyboard

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is the best membrane keyboard for productivity. It’s sleek stylish, and offers a quiet and comfortable typing experience.

  • Razer Ornata V2: 
Image of a Razer Ornata V2 keyboard

The Razer Ornata V2 is the best membrane keyboard for gaming. It features Razer’s hybrid mecha-membrane switches, which offer a tactile bump and audible click without the high price tag of a mechanical keyboard.

  • SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL: 
Image of a SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is the best compact membrane keyboard. It’s perfect for gamers who want a portable and powerful keyboard.

  • Corsair K55: 
Image of a Corsair K55 keyboard

The Corsair K55 is the best budget membrane keyboard. Its features include RGB backlighting, a plush wrist rest, and durable construction.

  • Logitech G213 Prodigy: 
Image of best membrne keyboard Logitech G213 Prodigy

The Logitech G213 Prodigy is the best membrane keyboard for gaming on a budget. It features Logitech’s Mech-Dome switches, which offer a tactile bump and audible click without the high price tag of a mechanical keyboard.

No matter your needs, there’s a membrane keyboard out there that’s perfect for you. So start your search today and find the best membrane keyboard for your needs!

Mechanical Keyboard vs Membrane Keyboard: Which One Is Right for You?

Mechanical Keyboard vs Membrane Keyboard comparison image which one is winner

TL;DR

  • Mechanical keyboards: For a premium typing experience, tinker ability, gaming performance, durability, and millions of actuation.
  • Membrane keyboards: For a silent typing experience, laptop-like feel, affordability, and replaceability.

Here is a more detailed comparison of mechanical and membrane keyboards:

FeatureMechanical KeyboardMembrane Keyboard
Typing experienceTactile and responsive, with a variety of switch types to choose from, including linear, tactile, and clicky.Soft and quiet, with a more uniform typing experience across all keys.
DurabilityVery durable, with some models rated for over 100 million keystrokes.Less durable, with a lifespan of typically 5-10 million keystrokes.
CustomizabilityHighly customizable, with interchangeable keycaps, switches, and other components.Not very customizable, with limited options for keycaps and other components.
PriceMore expensive, with a typical price range of $50-$300 or more.Less expensive, with a typical price range of $20-$100.
PortabilityLess portable, due to their larger size and weight.More portable, due to their smaller size and weight.

Conclusion:

In the battle of mechanical vs membrane keyboards, there is no definitive answer as to which one is better. It ultimately comes down to your personal preferences, typing style, and specific needs.

A mechanical keyboard gives users a better typing experience, increased durability, and customizability, but they are more expensive and less portable than membrane keyboards. Membrane keyboards are a good option for budget-minded shoppers and those who prefer a softer and quieter typing experience.
So If you need more clarification, try out different types of keyboards to see which one you prefer.
Let us know in the comment section below, and in case you need any help, we are here to help you choose the best keyboard for your needs.

Are membrane keyboards better than mechanical?

Mechanical keyboards are generally better than membrane keyboards due to their superior typing experience, durability, and customizability. However, they are also more expensive and less portable.

Are membrane keyboards good or bad?

Membrane keyboards suit users on a budget or who prefer a softer and quieter typing experience. However, they are not as durable or customizable as mechanical keyboards.

What is the disadvantage of membrane keyboard?

The main disadvantage of a membrane keyboard is that it is not as durable as a mechanical keyboard. Membrane keyboards typically have a lifespan of 5-10 million keystrokes, while mechanical keyboards can last for over 100 million keystrokes.

What are the disadvantages of a mechanical keyboard?

The main disadvantages of a mechanical keyboard are its price and portability. Mechanical keyboards are more expensive than membrane keyboards and are larger and heavier.

Why do people prefer mechanical keyboards over membrane?

People prefer mechanical keyboards over membrane keyboards because they offer a superior typing experience, durability, and customizability. Mechanical keyboards also have a wider variety of switch types so that users can find the perfect keyboard for their needs.

Why not to buy mechanical keyboard?

You may not want to buy a mechanical keyboard if you are on a budget or prefer a softer and quieter typing experience. Mechanical keyboards are also less portable than membrane keyboards.

Do laptops use membrane keyboards?

Yes, most laptops use membrane keyboards. This is because membrane keyboards are more affordable and portable than mechanical keyboards.

Why do gamers prefer mechanical keyboards?

Gamers prefer mechanical keyboards because they offer a faster and more responsive typing experience. Mechanical keyboards also have a wider variety of switch types so that gamers can find the perfect keyboard.


Shifa Tariq

Shifa Tariq

Hi, I'm Shifa, the CEO and Co-founder of Best Keyboard Tester, the go-to website for comprehensive keyboard guides, in-depth reviews, and top recommendations. As a huge keyboard enthusiast and tech lover, I created this website to help everyone find the perfect keyboard, whether you're a casual typist or a hardcore gamer. Our unique online keyboard tester tool lets you virtually try different switches and layouts before buying. I'm passionate about helping people discover the joy of an excellent keyboard and always looking for ways to improve our website.

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