Mechanical vs Chiclet Keyboards. Different Mechanical Switches.

While going through the keyboard selection, you always have two major choices, Regular Chiclet Keyboard or a Mechanical Keyboard. If you are going for a mechanical keyboard, which switches to prefer? Let’s find out everything about this.

How Regular Chiclet Keyboards Works

Well, Most of the keyboards we use in general are chiclet keyboards, or Rubber Dome Keyboard. Chiclet keyboard contains a rubber membrane under the individual switches we see on upper layer. When we press a specific button, It strikes on the small pores on rubber membrane. It creates a resistance on a circuit strip placed under it. IC’s are attached to track which key is being pressed and the data is sent accordingly.

Here, The switches pressed by us directly puts force on the rubber membrane, due to which we cannot get a great confirmation feedback. We may press a specific key again and we can also miss a key unknowingly that the key is not pressed.

However, Chiclet keyboards are the most popular ones and almost 90% of you are using a chiclet keyboard with your Device. The same tech is followed in TV Remotes, Calculators etc. This is light-weight and also helps us to make foldable keyboards.

PROS:

  • Cheaper – You can have a good chiclet keyboard under 500 INR
  • More Opportunity – New Technology like foldable Keyboards can be made.
  • Easily Available – Easy to find in market.
  • Quiet – No loud sounds which can distract and disturb people in surroundings.
  • Light Weight – Less weight makes them perfect to be used in laptops.

CONS:

  • No feedback – We can miss a key and press a key again.
  • Extreme Gaming UsageNot suitable for high-level gamers.
  • Not easy to clean – Dirt under keys is hard to get rid of.
  • Not Durable – Rated for only 5M key presses.

How Mechanical Keyboard Works

Unlike Chiclet Keyboards, Mechanical Keyboard have individual mechanical switches which have spring, stem etc. placed in the individual housings. These switches are placed in a durable case and have easily removable key caps on top with denoted alphabet. Under the switches, there is a PCB which gets the electrical signal from switch and delivers it to the device.

When we strike a key of mechanical keyboard, we are completing a whole mechanical process of the key press. Due to this, we have options to increase the tactile feedback, click feedback and also we can make switches which respond when pressed with high force and low force, also we can design silent keys. These keyboards are very durable.

The behavior of the keyboard is decided by which switch we uses in the keyboard. Brands like cherry and Kailh produces the different kinds of switches for Mechanical keyboard. Some of the popular ones are MX Blue, MX Red, MX Black, Kailh Speed Blue, Kailh Speed Gold etc. We will learn how to choose one according to your needs, below in the article, As of now, Let’s take a look at Pros and Cons of Mechanical Keyboards.

PROS:

  • Feedback – Good Auditory and Tactile feedback.
  • More Durable – Rated for 20M – 50M key-presses.
  • Easier to clean and Maintain – The dust below the keys can be easily removed by removing the key cap.
  • Suitable for Gamers – The feedback and responsive key-presses takes gaming to next level.

CONS:

  • Noisy – Disturbs and distracts people in surrounding.
  • Expensive – Good Mechanical keyboard starts from INR 2500, Anyone cannot afford these.
  • Heavy in Weight – Not easy to be used in laptops.

Which one to prefer?

Well, there is a huge price difference between Regular Chiclet and Mechanical Keyboards. Your preference for choosing the right keyboard type can vary depending on what type of user you are. Let’s Discuss this. You are have to do a lot of typing work, If you want extreme level Gamer, You should go for Mechanical keyboard, Also, If you are looking for a office or workplace, choose the mechanical keyboard switch which do not produce much noise so that others may not be distracted.

While looking for a keyboard for home usage or normal usage, You can go for a good chiclet keyboard from Dell, Logitech or Corsair. I highly recommend you not to buy keyboards under 300 INR, These are not good. These gets damaged very soon and have poor quality.

Choosing the Correct Switch for Mechanical Keyboard

You can choose the type of switch according to your needs. The three major factors which differentiate these switches are:

  • Force required to press the key
  • Tactile feedback by the key-press
  • Auditory feedback by the key-press

Two major brands, which makes keys for Mechanical keyboards are Cherry MX and Kailh. The colors donates the property of keys and differentiate them on basis of Noise, Feedback and Force Required.

Switch NameSwitch TypeForce NeededFeedbackPre-TravelTotal TravelLifespan
Cherry MX RedLinear45cNSilent2mm4mm5,00,00,000
Cherry MX BrownTactile55cNLittle Tactile Sound2mm4mm5,00,00,000
Cherry MX BlueTactile, Clicky60cNHigh Clicky Sound2.2mm4mm5,00,00,000
Cherry MX BlackLeniar, Smooth60cNSilent2mm4mm5,00,00,000
Cherry MX BrownTactile, Soft55cNLittle Tactile Sound2mm4mm5,00,00,000
Kailh Speed SilverLiner40cNSilent1.1mm3.5mm7,00,00,000
Kailh Speed CopperTactile40cNLittle Tactile Sound1.1mm3.5mm7,00,00,000
Kailh Speed GoldTactile, Clicky40cNHigh Clicky Sound1.4mm3.5mm7,00,00,000
Kailh Speed BronzeTactile, Clicky50cNHigh Clicky Sound1.1mm3.5mm7,00,00,000
Table Comparing Different Mechanical Switches

You can compare the different switches yourself now, and can choose the right one according to your comfort and requirements. The more sound you want to get, More force you need to press the key. If you want a good clicky sound with less force, You can go for Kailh Speed Gold and Kailh Speed Bronze, However, The most popular one is Cherry MX Blue.

RGB and Backlit Keyboards

These are very popular among gamers. These have LED’s under the key caps which provide lightning effects on the keyboard called Backlit. Using RGB LED’s, Different patters can be easily obtained and gestures like, when we press a button etc can be produced. As today’s world is very much into RGB, RGB or backlit keyboards are also becoming popular. RGB Keyboards and Backlit keyboards are easily available now a days, in Mechanical ones and Rubber dome as well.

Learn about Interfacing ports – PS/2 vs USB. Are PS/2 still alive?

Learn about Keyboard Technology on Wikipedia here.

Author: Prateek

Technology Enthusiast, Computer Science Student

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