Are Mechanical Keyboards Better For Gaming?

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Nov 20, 2022

For gamers in the 21st century, the market is saturated with products and accessories available for optimizing your gaming experience, but it can be difficult to pinpoint which devices are going to deliver. If you’re into gaming then you’ll know how important each piece of equipment can be to have a good experience, and the keyboard is no different.

Are mechanical keyboards better for gaming?

Yes, mechanical keyboards are better for gaming because they’re more reliable, they provide greater tactile feedback, they’re more responsive and durable and they’re faster. They’re made of better materials and work well when using multiple keys at the same time, which is something gamers need. In addition, unlike other types of keyboards, mechanical keyboards are highly customizable and portable for gamers on the go.

This article will identify how mechanical keyboards differ from standard rubber membrane keyboards. It will also examine how these features affect a gamer’s experience before reviewing whether mechanical keyboards are better when gaming.

Real quick: before we get too far along here, if you want to get more great ideas for your gaming room or home office and connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Battle Station Setup here.

What Are The Advantages To A Mechanical Keyboard When Gaming?

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The two most common types of keyboards on the market currently are rubber membrane keyboards and mechanical keyboards. They function by doing different things.

The biggest difference is the key switch used.

The membrane keyboards contain a circular rubber dome that is squashed when you press the key.  It then connects to the wires underneath.

Mechanical keyboards function via mechanical switches located underneath the keys that spring up and down when the key is pushed.

You might be wondering how a simple change like that can affect performance. But these small things contribute to the speed, and accuracy of the keyboard which can make a huge difference when you’re gaming.

Mechanical Keyboards & N-Key Rollover

Mechanical Keyboards & N-Key Rollover

N-key rollover is a feature that makes them so much better than rubber membrane keyboards. This means that every single key has its own independent circuit board that detects the amount of pressure being applied to the key.

Using a membrane keyboard while gaming you can register up to about 3 keypresses at a time.

Mechanical keyboards are made to allow multiple key presses at the same time, whereas rubber membrane keyboards (due to the inexpensive materials) are unable to handle multiple key presses.

This is called ‘ghosting’.

It refers to when you’re using the keyboard and the keys stop registering the keypresses.

Ghosting is a particular nuisance when it comes to gaming.

For instance, say you’re playing a game and holding down “W” to move forward, along with the “shift” key to run, and you need to jump so you press the space bar, and while jumping you want to throw a grenade by pressing “G”.

On a membrane keyboard, unless you get the timing of your keypresses and releases perfect it’s entirely possible that the fourth option, the “G” to toss the grenade, won’t get registered.

A mechanical keyboard will not have any issues registering all those keypresses.

By using a high-end mechanical keyboard you can literally press down all the keys on your keyboard at once and they will all register.

Mechanical Keyboards Last Longer

Mechanical Keyboards Last Longer

The materials used to make membrane keyboards are generally rubber, silicone, and polyurethane. These are cheap materials that drive the cost down, but also means they are more likely to wear down quicker than a mechanical keyboard made from hard plastic and metal.

A rubber membrane keyboard can last from 5-10 million presses, which seems good at first. But it falls short when compared to the mechanical keyboard’s lifespan of 20-100 million presses.

The keyboard is one of the primary accessories used when PC gaming and the last thing you want to do is have to keep replacing it.

Getting a keyboard with more longevity would be the preferred option for a gamer who is going to be using it regularly.

Additionally, when a key breaks on a mechanical keyboard you can remove the broken one and replace it with another. This makes it both easier to repair and maintain.

The Keys Are More Accurate Than Other Keyboards

The Keys Are More Accurate Than Other Keyboards

The tactile feedback can result in enormous gains in accuracy.

When you use a membrane keyboard, even if you hold down the key long enough to register the keypress, there is still a chance that the key isn’t actually pressed.

Other types of keyboards aren’t great in this area.

Typing errors due to poor feedback are common on other types of keyboards.

However, a mechanical keyboard is the type of keyboard that is specifically designed to give you the perfect amount of feedback to ensure accuracy.

It could be by using tactile switches that employ a tactile bump to send feedback to your brain that the keypress registers.

It could be that the type of switch you choose is a “clicky” switch which provides both auditory and tactile feedback.

Mechanical gaming keyboards are designed for high performance and incredible accuracy so your on-screen action is accurately reflected by the inputs you’re giving it on your keyboard.

Mechanical Keyboards Are More Ergonomic

Mechanical Keyboards Are More Ergonomic

If you’re gaming then it’s likely you’re going to be putting your keyboard through some heavy use.

The last thing you want is to experience ongoing wrist pain because of it. Mechanical keyboards are more ergonomic as they tend to be tilted, whereas rubber membrane keyboards are usually flat.

The keys also don’t need to be pushed as far down as a membrane keyboard does. As soon as the switch clicks into place you can release the key. This means the key doesn’t travel as far, which is better for your fingers.

Are There Any Disadvantages To Getting A Mechanical Keyboard?

Are There Any Disadvantages To Getting A Mechanical Keyboard?

While the mechanical keyboard has plenty of positives, there are a couple of drawbacks that come with them too.

Firstly, they are heavier than their rubber counterparts. While this isn’t much of an issue, if you’re carrying around a laptop bag full of other items then it may become an issue.

Secondly, the switches aren’t always as quiet as those found on rubber membrane keyboards. They make a slightly louder click sound when typing.

Third, because this is a mechanical piece of equipment mechanical keyboards to require some maintenance. This means that you need to oil or grease the springs occasionally, and clean the contacts every so often.

Mechanical Keyboards Are The More Expensive Option

Mechanical Keyboards Are The More Expensive Option

As I mentioned above, the plastic and metal materials used to make mechanical keyboards are of a higher quality than the rubber, silicone, and polyurethane that create a rubber membrane keyboard.

That cost affects the price of the product as well.

Mechanical keyboards retail higher than their membrane counterparts, with the average price of the mechanical keyboards coming in around $100, whereas the non-mechanical keyboard is $50. If you’re on a budget then you might struggle justifying the expense.

Due To The Switches They Are Louder Than Other Keyboards

Due To The Switches They Are Louder Than Other Keyboards

When you press down on a rubber membrane keyboard the rubber dome absorbs the majority of the sound, meaning these keyboards are quieter. This is beneficial for quiet environments such as libraries, or if you’re typing in the home.

A mechanical keyboard is louder due to the spring-loaded switches, every keypress ‘clicks’ into place and the sound is meant to be similar to a typewriter. If you’re typing in a room with other people this can be an annoyance. But it shouldn’t matter if you’re gaming, as you’ll usually be listening to the game’s audio.

That said though, there are key switches that are silent like the Cherry MX Silent Reds which are designed to be quiet.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a new keyboard for gaming there’s no doubt that a mechanical keyboard is a great investment for anyone interested in leveling up their skills.

They offer faster response times, greater accuracy, and more durability than rubber membrane keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards rated higher than other types of keyboards by users who are putting them through the paces.

Pros Cons
N-Key Rollover Overwhelming number of options
Lasts longer More expensive
Easier to clean, repair and maintain Can be louder to use (depending on the mechanical switches you choose)
More ergonomic for hands, wrists, and fingers
Higher accuracy and can handle multiple keypresses

If you’re a gamer then you’ll want a keyboard that lasts longer, is suitable for gaming, and is better for your overall hand and wrist health.

Not to mention a keyboard that is more accurate and reliable. Even the cost is justified by it lasting far longer. Mechanical keyboards are the way forward if you’re looking for a keyboard with longevity and better performance. These features make them better for use when gaming.

Next Steps

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Robert David Orr

I'm an old school gamer from way back as a kid of the 80s - My first console was the Commodore 64. Since then, I've been gaming on everything from PC games to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to the Xbox One. Learn more.

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