Mechanical keyboards use a different type of switch then your standard computer keycap. The switches in these keyboards are spring-loaded, so they press down slightly when you press a keycap. Three types of switches are available: linear, tactile, and clicky. Each offers a different feel and sound.
One of the essential components of a mechanical keyboard is its switches. Depending on your personal preferences, there are many switch types and variations. Some people prefer a soft and quiet feel, while others are more into loud, clicky noises. A good set of switches will give you the feel and sound you want. Most mechanical keyboards are hot-swappable, meaning you can easily swap out switches to create your custom feel. This is especially helpful if you want to add new keycaps or have different switches on each key on your keyboard.
The switches on a mechanical keyboard are a very important part of the keyboard’s operation, and they can be quite complicated. This is why it is important to understand how a mechanical switch works and its different parts before buying a keyboard with this feature. Unlike membrane keys, mechanical keyboard switches are highly customizable for the force required to press them, their feeling, and their travel distance. You can customize these factors to make the switch as comfortable as possible – whether you are a touch typist, an RSI sufferer, or a heavy gamer.
There are many different switch types, each with a different purpose. If you’re a touch-typist, you might want a switch with a tactile bump to help you avoid accidentally typing the wrong keys. Tactile switches have a pronounced bump in the switch’s middle representing the actuation point. This bump can help you avoid mistyping, giving you a good idea when the actuation point is about to occur.
These switches are typically heavier than linear ones and require more operating force to register a keypress. This is why they are popular for gamers and anyone who repeatedly presses the same key. The bottom housings of switches also have a center mast which helps guide the stem in a vertical path when activated. While this isn’t the most useful feature a switch has to offer, it is still important that you know what’s going on here to understand how to use your mechanical keyboard best.
Keycaps are removable covers that sit over the key switch of a keyboard. They can be made from various materials, thicknesses, and profiles, affecting how the keyboard feels to type on. A mechanical keyboard’s keycaps are a critical component of the overall experience. They can make a big difference in how fast you type and your overall comfort, so choosing the right keycaps is important.
The profile of your keycaps is also a major factor in how they feel to type on, so it’s important to choose the one that will work best for you. For example, if you’re a writer, consider using Cherry profile keycaps, which have angled tops and are sculpted in a way that caters to speed. If you’re a gamer, choose a different profile that caters to a more comfortable and tactile typing experience. Some tall profiles have spherical tops that give them a more “thocc” sound when you type on them.
There are many different keycap profiles, each with its benefits and disadvantages. Some are better for people who want a faster typing experience, while others are more comfortable to use for long periods. Another factor to consider is your budget. Premium brands like GMK can cost hundreds of dollars, but some lower-priced options will meet your needs. The keycap plastic you choose is also a big decision. There are two main kinds of keycap plastics: ABS and PBT. Both are durable, but ABS is cheaper and has better colors.
However, the downside to ABS is that it tends to have a higher-pitched sound than PBT, so some users find it less comfortable. This can be especially problematic for gamers who are likelier to hit the keys hard. In addition to the material, a range of production methods can affect keycap quality, texture, and durability. Some are easy to produce, while others require special tools.
The Keyboard’s Design
The mechanical keyboard works by having individual key switches and springs that actuate and reside when a key is pressed. The actuation and residence force are determined by the material of the spring, the number of coils, and the diameter of the coils. This allows the keys to operate faster and with less effort than a standard keyboard, making them perfect for high-speed typing. In addition, the spring helps the switch to slide back into its original position after being actuated. This can also help reduce the amount of noise generated by the keyboard.
Another key part of the mechanical keyboard is the keycap, which covers the switch and is a physical interface between the keyboard and the user’s fingers. These caps are typically designed with a specific profile that ensures they’re ergonomic, with the right curves and shapes for the user. A wide range of keycap designs is available, from minimalist, minimal-profile keys to decorative characters like the Avengers and Thor. Many people go out and customize their keycaps with cool symbols and colors, usually made from plastic.
This is a great way to get creative with your keyboard, but be aware that it can be difficult to use if you don’t have strong finger muscles. This is why it’s a good idea to test the keyboard before buying it. Most companies selling mechanical keyboard parts have “switch samples” online, so you can try out different sounds and feelings to see which suits you best. You can also read up on the different key switches and their corresponding sounds.
The blue switch is the most common, which produces a clicky sound and is ideal for gaming. It’s also a lightweight, comfortable switch with relatively low input latency. It could be better for long hours of typing because it can be a little loud, but it will give you a sense of rhythm, making typing more fun and easier. Some prefer a tactile switch to a clicky one because it offers more typing feedback. This type of switch produces a bump of varying sizes as the key travels and generates a clicking sound when pressed. This is a good choice for beginners or those who want to upgrade from a membrane keyboard.