Mechanical Keyboards: Pros and Cons

I’ve been using mechanical keyboards for a while now, and I want to quickly write up my observations on them. They’re quite fascinating and I love the tactile feedback and responsiveness they provide, and the nice solid construction they have that most membrane keyboards lack.

The first thing that I’ve noticed as I have transitioned from Cherry Blue keyboards (I have a portable laptop keyboard and a full-size keyboard with blue switch clones) to Speed Silver switches is that the responsiveness of a low-travel low-force switch is fantastic.

So far I’ve only used Cherry or Cherry-clone switches, which have been functionally identical and I haven’t had anything to say about them. Whether the clones are simply well-made, or they come from the same production line, I couldn’t say. The quality of the keyboards made with the non-clones has been better overall, but that’s more from a user-preference standpoint and not so much a mechanical function quality.

I haven’t used any of the keyboards long enough to be approaching their end-of-life use level, but I did use a Blue clone keyboard that had been left outside in inclement weather for a couple months because the Amazon delivery person left it in a really secluded place that was only uncovered by accident after a couple deliberate searches failed and it worked fine.

My impression of the blue switches was immediately fantastic. Noisy and tactile, they gave a great amount of feedback when typing and I found that my typing speed was immediately as fast as it was on membrane keyboards (about 100 WPM) and about 8-12 WPM faster after I got practice with them.

However, there are downsides to the blue switches, most notably that they make a heck of a racket, especially when you are typing quickly. After over a year of using blue switches, I decided to get something a little less noisy, and there was a sale on a Cherry Speed Silver featuring keyboard so I bit the bullet.

Moving to a non-tactile, non-clicky keyboard was a little bit difficult, especially with the Speed Silver’s lower actuation weight and distance. I found myself occasionally hitting buttons I merely intended to rest my fingers on, more than once stumbling into a trap or driving a vehicle off-road in video games.

Still, the Speed Silver switches are fantastic for quick response times, and they feel wonderful, even if they don’t have that tactile kick when they activate. I think I prefer typing on them for long periods of time, though I type a little bit slower on them.

One thing I did note about the lack of tactile response is that it is easier to duplicate keypresses and make typos without realizing it; I have a bad habit of predictively moving my fingers to the keys I am about to need, and that results in a fair amount of accidental presses on keys out of order. This works fine in a gaming context, but with a hair-trigger it’s not ideal.

Fortunately, the keyboard I have, the G.Skill RIPJAWS, comes with a software suite that allows you to customize some of the keyboard’s features, including configuring specific settings for multiple presses so that you can make them function in a way that fits your typing preferences.

I’d strongly recommend a mechanical keyboard to anyone, especially if they’re looking for a more satisfying experience. I will say that for everyday use Blue switches were more appealing, but since I spend a fair amount of my time in calls with people, the Speed Silver switches are a good courtesy for the people who have to listen to my typing, and I don’t mind the transition all that much.

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