As far as I can remember, I always remember myself using membrane keyboards. I had never, ever used a mechanical keyboard for several days because, well, I valued more that it was cheap and functional than the experience of using a mechanic. The fact is that I have changed the computer. I have assembled a gaming computer (with its RGB and all, which streamer), I have added a 144 Hz monitor, a more decent mouse and, of course, a mechanical keyboard.
I admit that at first I was a bit reluctant. I am a person who is not capable of working with noise (maximum envy of those who can work with music) and I doubted if the tikitiki of the keys was going to bother me, but lost to the river. Several colleagues told their testimonies here and all they spoke wonders, so put to test, let’s try.
As I did a few weeks ago with the 144 Hz monitor, my idea is not to talk about the keyboard itself or to do a review, but to tell you how has my personal experience been. I would like to tell you what I learned in the process of choosing one and clearing up the possible doubts that may assail a person who does not know where to start. Needless to say, the comments are at your entire disposal so that you can tell your experience or give your opinion.
Why switch to a mechanical keyboard
Being completely frank, I don’t know. I mean, yes I know, now I tell you, but there is no clear reason as there was with the 144 Hz monitor. I just wanted to change and try new things. If so many people speak well of this type of keyboard, it has to be given very badly for me, that I spend half my life in front of the computer, I don’t like them. I already tell you that, indeed, this has been the case.
The reason for changing is that I was very happy with my old membrane keyboard, the typical 15 euro keyboard that you find in any store, but from one day to the next it started to fail. And a number on the numeric keypad or the asterisk was not missing, no. Missed “A”. Either it did not detect the keystroke or the key would get stuck and it would write me an “aaaaaaa” which I then had to erase.
Beyond the fact that “A” is one of the most used letters in Spanish (only so far in the text there are about 300 “a”) and that I earn a living writing, I used this keyboard to play. And you see, when you are playing ‘Valorant’ and you try to go to the right by pressing the “D”, but your keyboard considers it more appropriate to leave the “A” key caught and that you move to the left, leaving you in sight of the best of the other team, much grace does not do.
Overall, like many people I know who play on PC use mechanical keyboards, so I decided to buy one. The first one came out frog and it also failed after a short time (it did not detect well the keystrokes in the “E” and the “S”), but finally I have hit the key, and never better. The keyboard I have bought is a Razer Huntsman, which uses optomechanical switches. Switches? What’s that? Well, one of the things I learned in the process.
The thing is about switches
As always happens in the world of technology, it is enough that you start to investigate a little about a subject to discover that there is a whole underworld behind full of details to take into account. Did you think that a keyboard was a key, a plate and voila? Ha! Wait for start researching Cherry MX and its colors, is that you go crazy.
What sounds when you type is not the key, it is the switch. The key, known in this world of mechanical keyboards as “keycap”, is only the cover, what we play, but what gives life to the keyboard and what differentiates one mechanical keyboard from another are the switches. Depending on the switch, which is the switch that closes the electrical circuit of the board to “record” what we write, you will have one experience or another.
There are different types of switches, but the best known are those manufactured by Cherry Industrial, the Cherry MX. Each switch has a color that serves to differentiate one from the other. Depending on the type of switch, the keyboard will have one response or another. My partner Eva made an extensive guide with everything there is to know about mechanical keyboards and I recommend taking a look at it. For that matter, here is a summary of the characteristics of each switch.
Cherry Mx Blue
Cherry Mx Red
Cherry Mx Brown
Cherry Mx Black
Cherry Mx Speed Silver
Touch and sound switch
Without an audible click
Without an audible click
Without an audible click
Without an audible click
All these switches work the same: you press the key, it stops exerting pressure on a metal plate which, when released, touches another plate and closes an electrical circuit. There are different manufacturers, each with its own colors (for example, Razer has its own switches with their own colors that, for practical purposes, are similar to the Cherry MX), but in essence they work the same. For gaming, the most popular are the Cherry MX Red due to their low drive force and because they are linear. For office automation, Brown or Blue, depending on whether you like the sound or not.
But looking for different options and models I came across something quite curious: the optomechanical switches. The name already attracts attention, but its operation does even more. Optomechanical switches do not have a metal plate, but rather they use a laser. When the key is not pressed the laser is locked, but when the laser is pressed it releases and activates a sensor. I found it so curious that in the end the Razer Huntsman, which has these switches, ended up coming home.
There is no way back
That the switches are optomechanical does not affect what I am telling you too much because, for practical purposes, They are very similar in sound to the Cherry MX Blue. I understand that one of the main concerns when buying a mechanical keyboard is if it bothers the sound, and the optomechanical switches that are on my keyboard sound the same or almost the same as the Cherry MX Blue, which are the “loudest” or “clickys”.
Upset? Depends. Not me, not at all. In fact, It seems to me a sound of the most relaxing. When you start writing and you’re on a roll, that is, you don’t miss a single key or commit a single foul, the sound is a great pleasure. It is pure ASMR. I can’t work with music but I admit that the sound of the keyboard drives me crazy. Now, do not take it to an office, because your colleagues start to stop asking you if you want to go with them for a coffee.
I am not going to throw myself away that it reminds me of the first IBM keyboards of the 80’s because at that time I still had a decade and a half left to be born, so I can’t talk about nostalgia. Maybe in a few years, when we write using a mind-reading device attached to our head, I can write something like “Do you remember keyboards that made noise? What times.”
Is the change noticeable? A lot of. I noticed it with the first mechanic and I noticed it with the Razer. Membrane keyboards are great because they’re cheap, quiet, and don’t require you to press a large key, but with the mechanical keyboard, once you get used to the higher keys, I at least I notice more precision and speed when writing. It helps, of course, that I hardly have to force the key to enter a character. It is a smoother experience and I daresay more pleasant.
But where I have noticed it most is in the hands. As you can imagine, a large part of my day to day consists of writing, so my hands get tired. With the mechanical keyboard, however, I notice that it takes much longer to get tired, possibly for the same as before: I don’t have to force the keys.
And playing? What about gaming? Well, I also notice it a lot. This maybe more subjective, but I feel like I have more precision when moving or that, at least, I have more control over what I do. I also notice a shorter reaction time, something that makes sense considering that the travel of the switch is quite short and that the force that must be exerted to close the circuit is very low. My record of casualties and deaths is also grateful that the “A” is not caught every two by three.
Then there is the matter of RGB. Please children watch out for RGBBecause it starts with saying that you don’t want RGB on your computer and you end up buying fans with LEDs and looking for a way to have everything synchronized. It is a world that is better not to enter. But whoever is interested, it has RGB, it can be configured with different styles and if you have a Razer Chroma product (like my mouse, a Razer Basilisk) you can sync with it. If you don’t like it, you can deactivate it and that’s it.
Definitely, I am very happy with the change. I find the sound of the keyboard quite pleasant, I have the feeling that I write faster and more precisely and my hands feel less tired. If you use the computer casually with a membrane keyboard, you are more than fine, but if you use it more intensively or to play games, I, personally, would recommend trying it out and clearing up your doubts. For me, of course, it has been one way one way.