While you’ll commonly find mechanical keyboards used by gamers, this isn’t the only demographic that will find this style of keyboard useful. Whether you’re a programmer, transcriber or just someone who spends a lot of free time posting on websites like Reddit, a mechanical keyboard can have a huge improvement on your typing. However, don’t just dive in and purchase the first mechanical keyboard you see; knowing the basics about mechanical keyboards can ensure you get one that is perfect for your typing needs.
A Brief History of the Mechanical Keyboard
If you’ve had the pleasure of using a keyboard from a few decades ago, you’re likely already familiar with the technology that powers a mechanical keyboard. When home computing technology was first taking off, the earliest keyboards used an individual mechanical switch under every key, which provided a satisfying “clack” noise when pressed. Unfortunately, as manufacturers looked to find a way to cut costs and maximize profits, they deemed that having a mechanical switch under every key was too costly. Thus, the switch from mechanical keyboards to “monoblock” style keyboards, a style where an electrical circuit detects key presses instead of individual switches, became the industry standard. These days, every home computer sold by a major manufacturer, such as Dell or HP, comes with a “monoblock” style keyboard.
Due to the rise of social media and the overall importance of computers in our day-to-day life, many PC users are gravitating back towards mechanical keyboards, as the pros outweigh the higher cost.
Manufacturers, who once viewed mechanical keyboards as tools for a niche market, are now starting to provide a plethora of mechanical keyboards to meet the demand from the general populace. There is no better time to purchase a mechanical keyboard than right now, thanks to the immense amount of competition that is driving prices down.
Mechanical Keyboard Comparison Table
|1. Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate Soft Tactile MX Brown Mechanical Keyboard||MX Brown Switches|
Enhanced 104-key layout
|2. Das Keyboard Model S Professional Clicky MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard||Clicky MX Blue Switches|
50 million key strokes
|3. Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac Soft Tactile Brown Mechanical Keyboard||UV hard coat-protected key caps|
Mac OS specific key functions
|4. EagleTec KG010 Office / Industrial LED Backlit Mechanical Keyboard||Blue LED adjustable lighting|
Aluminum and ABS construction
|5. Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016||Rated up to 80 million keystrokes|
|6. Rosewill Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||Cherry MX Brown Switches|
N-key rollover function
Which Switches Work Best for Typing?
Like most things in life, all mechanical switches are not made equal. There is a broad assortment of switches available, with each switch serving a particular demographic; for example, gamers will want a switch that makes double-tapping a key easier while typists will want a switch that provides tactile and audible clues that you have fully pressed in a key. If you’re primarily using your keyboard for typing, there are two forms of mechanical switches you’ll want to look for inside of a mechanical keyboard: Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Brown.
If you find yourself frequently mistyping words as your hands glide across the keyboard, then the Cherry MX Blue switches are for you. These switches provide a “bump” sensation when fully pressed in along with a loud “clack” sound, giving you both a physical and audio cue that you’ve pressed a key. Because the actuation point that registers a key press is near the lower end of the switch, you won’t activate these keys by merely sliding your hand across the keyboard like you would on a “monoblock” keyboard. The one downside is that Cherry MX Blue mechanical keyboards do require a bit of force to press each key in; however, the amount of pressure required is not enough to cause fatigue or finger injuries even after long term use.
If loud sounds and using force to push in your keys doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, the Cherry MX Brown switches give you all the benefits of a mechanical keyboard in a quieter shell. The Cherry MX Brown switches require far less pressure to activate than the Cherry MX Blue switches and are far more silent: You will hardly hear anything when using a Cherry MX Brown mechanical keyboard. If you’re planning on using your mechanical keyboard in a location you share with others, you may want to opt for the Cherry MX Brown switches out of respect for those around you. If you’re planning on doing a little bit of gaming on your computer, you’ll also want to keep in mind that Cherry MX Brown switches work much better for PC gaming.
The Cherry MX Brown switches are best classified as a dual switch, as they are ideal for both gaming and typing, while the Cherry MX Blue switches are the best choice for typists but aren’t ideal at all for games due to low actuation point. Which choice you ultimately make regarding switches ultimately boils down to if you plan on playing games on your mechanical keyboard. If you’re not, go with Cherry MX Blue switches, if so, opt for Cherry MX Brown switches.
What Advantages Do Mechanical Keyboards Provide For Typists?
While the main advantage a mechanical keyboard has over a standard keyboard is the capacity to diminish your typos, this isn’t the only advantage mechanical keyboards can offer.
On average, a mechanical keyboard is a more durable piece of equipment, lasting significantly longer than your standard electric keyboard. While “monoblock” keyboards typically have a life span of five million key presses, most mechanical keyboards have a lifespan of around 50 million key presses. Likewise, the individual switches on a mechanical keyboard never wear out, with a mechanical keyboard having the same feel after several years of use as it did on the first day. If a switch does malfunction, you can simply pop it off your keyboard and replace it; with a “monoblock” keyboard, your only option is to throw the entire keyboard away and purchase a brand new one.
Since mechanical keyboards use individual switches under every key, this means they are considerably heavier than your average keyboard. If you’ve ever been frustrated by having a lightweight keyboard slide around your desk as you’re trying to type, you’ll love the fact that a mechanical keyboard will stay put no matter what.
Six of the Best Mechanical Keyboards for Typing
Now that you know what to look for when it comes to a mechanical keyboard for typing, you’re ready to purchase a mechanical keyboard of your very own. Below, we’ve highlighted six of the best mechanical keyboards for typists, each one providing a vast assortment of features that will augment your typing abilities.
The Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate Soft Tactile MX Brown Mechanical Keyboard is a typist’s dream come true, utilizing MX Cherry Brown switches to provide you with a superb typing experience. The first thing you’ll realize about the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate Soft Tactile MX Brown Mechanical Keyboard is that the keyboard is blank; Das Keyboard claims that by keeping the keys blank, you’ll type faster and more efficiently. That’s not all this mechanical keyboard has to offer, as it also provides gold-plated keys, a quick response time, an ergonomic design and a plethora of multimedia keys.
Obviously, if you haven’t memorized the layout of the keyboard, the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate Soft Tactile MX Brown Mechanical Keyboard isn’t a good fit; however, for professional typists who can recite the layout of the keys from memory, this is one of the best mechanical keyboards you can purchase.
If you’re not planning on doing any gaming and want to see the lettering on your keys, there is the Das Keyboard Model S Professional Clicky MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard. This mechanical keyboard includes all of the same features of the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate Soft Tactile MX Brown Mechanical Keyboard but also contains a few unique features, such as laser-etched inscriptions on the keys, anti-ghosting technology and two USB ports. The Das Keyboard Model S Professional Clicky MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard is built to last, with Das Keyboard guaranteeing this mechanical keyboard will last for at least 50 million key presses.
While the previous two Das Keyboard products have a significant number of differences between them, they do have one thing in common: They are both only for Windows operating systems. Das Keyboard hasn’t forgotten about Mac users, however, with the Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac Soft Tactile Brown Mechanical Keyboard. While this keyboard includes almost all the same features as the Das Keyboard Model S Professional Clicky MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard, it does feature over eight multimedia buttons for specific Mac OS features. This keyboard also includes a sleep button along with an oversized volume knob that lets you quickly raise or lower your Mac’s volume.
Rather than rely on the standard Cherry MX switches, the EagleTec KG010 Office / Industrial LED Backlit Mechanical Keyboard uses a set of custom mechanical switches that, according to the manufacturer, offer superior performance and durability over the competition. The improvements don’t stop there, as EagleTec uses a combination of aluminum and ABS plastic to ensure these plate-mounted keys stand up to even the roughest typing. Lastly, this mechanical keyboard is splash-proof, meaning that it won’t malfunction when a few droplets of water hit the keyboard’s surface.
Razer calls the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 a mechanical keyboard for gamers, though the features it offers will also benefit typists as well. The Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches are among the best for typing, and the individually backlit keys ensure you can see this keyboard even in pitch black conditions. The keys on the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 are fully programmable, letting you assign words or phrases to any key. The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 is also ergonomic, with a wrist rest designed to keep your wrists healthy even after hours of using this keyboard.
Like the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016, the Rosewill Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a mechanical keyboard targeting gamers; however, thanks to its high-quality Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches, this mechanical keyboard is excellent for typing as well. To ensure this keyboard doesn’t slide around your computer desk, a pair of rubber pads located on the bottom of the keyboard hold it in place. Rosewill has taken extra steps to ensure this mechanical keyboard is durable, such as using a gold-plated USB connector that helps protect against corrosion and damage.