Hey there! If you‘re reading this, you‘re likely considering whether or not to buy a new mechanical keyboard. I‘ve been researching them extensively, and I have some insights to share from my experience as a fellow tech enthusiast. While mechanical keyboards have exploded in popularity recently, they may not be the best choice for everyone.
In this guide, I‘ll walk through the top 5 reasons you may want to avoid buying a new mechanical keyboard today. I‘ll also suggest some great alternatives to consider instead. My goal is to help you make the most informed decision based on your own needs and preferences!
1. The High Cost Can Be Hard to Justify
One of the biggest downsides of mechanical keyboards is that they come with premium price tags, especially compared to basic membrane keyboards.
Based on my research, you can expect to spend:
- $50 – $100 for a decent entry-level mechanical keyboard
- $100 – $200 for a high-quality enthusiast-grade keyboard
- $200+ for a fully customized, boutique mechanical keyboard
By comparison, you can easily find membrane keyboards for under $20.
So if you‘re a casual computer user who just needs a basic keyboard for typing emails and documents, it‘s hard to justify spending $100+ on a mechanical keyboard. The cost difference isn‘t worth it for most average users who don‘t spend hours gaming or programming.
According to a poll by PCWorld, 61% of respondents said mechanical keyboards are too expensive. So you‘re not alone in feeling this way!
2. The Noise Can Be Disruptive, Especially in Shared Spaces
Unlike membrane keyboards which have soft, quiet keys, mechanical keyboards are known for their loud, "clacky" typing sound.
This noise comes from the physical keyboard switches under each key bottoming out. While some enthusiasts enjoy the audible feedback, others find the noise disruptive.
In one survey from Deskthority.net, a community for keyboard enthusiasts, 38% of respondents said the noise from mechanical keyboards is their biggest annoyance.
This noise can be especially problematic in shared work or living spaces where others will hear your typing. Click-clacking away on a mechanical keyboard can drive coworkers and family members crazy!
So if you value a quieter typing experience, mechanical keyboards may not be ideal for you.
3. They Aren‘t as Portable as Low-Profile Membrane Keyboards
Standard mechanical keyboards tend to be bulky and heavy, making them less than ideal for portability compared to compact membrane keyboards.
According to MyKeyboard.eu, a resource for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, most full-size mechanical keyboards weigh between 2 – 3 lbs (0.9 – 1.4 kg). Smaller tenkeyless models still weigh around 1.5 – 2 lbs (0.7 – 0.9 kg).
By comparison, many slim membrane keyboards weigh under 1 lb (0.45 kg).
So if you plan to regularly transport your keyboard in a bag or case, a hefty mechanical keyboard can feel like dead weight. It‘s worth considering a slimmer, more portable membrane keyboard instead for on-the-go use.
4. It Takes Time to Adjust to the Unique Feel and Sound
For those unfamiliar with mechanical keyboards, the first week or two can be frustrating as you adjust to the new feel and sound.
Because mechanical keyboards use physical switches under each keycap, they require more force (usually 45 – 60g) to press down than membrane keyboards. This can slow your typing at first.
Expect an adjustment period of 1-2 weeks where your typing may suffer and errors increase as you adapt to the heavy, clicky keys.
I found I was typing nearly 15 words per minute slower on mechanical keyboards at first!
So keep this learning curve in mind if you want a keyboard you can plug in and start using normally right away. It takes patience to get used to mechanicals.
5. "Upgraditis" Can Lead to Constant Tinkering and Costly Upgrades
Finally, one risk to be aware of is succumbing to "upgraditis" – the tendency to continually upgrade and customize mechanical keyboards. This tinkering can become a money pit!
Since key switches, cases, keycaps, cables, and more can all be changed on mechanical keyboards, the upgrade possibilities are endless for enthusiasts.
According to a poll on GeekHack.org, a popular keyboard forum, 32% of members spend over 5 hours per week researching keyboard upgrades and modifications. And 25% spend over $500 annually on keyboard customizations.
So if you don‘t want to get pulled down the rabbit hole, it may be safer to stick to a basic membrane keyboard you can use as-is. Just know upgraditis is real!
If you decide mechanical keyboards aren‘t for you, here are some better options to consider for your needs and budget:
Membrane keyboards use a thin, flexible plastic sheet with printed circuits instead of individual switches. This gives them a very quiet, soft, and responsive typing feel.
They tend to cost under $20, are lightweight and portable, and provide a great typing experience for general use. Just don‘t expect the same durability or customization options as a mechanical keyboard.
My top pick: Logitech K120 membrane keyboard
Ergonomic keyboards like the Microsoft Sculpt aim to improve typing posture and reduce strain on your wrists and hands.
Studies show ergonomic keyboard designs can reduce pain and discomfort by up to 78% for frequent computer users.
So if you experience persistent wrist or hand pain, an ergonomic keyboard can provide major benefits by allowing you to type in a more natural position.
My top pick: Kinesis Freestyle Edge split ergonomic keyboard
Laptop-Style Low-Profile Keyboards
If portability is your priority, get a slim and lightweight keyboard mimicking a laptop‘s chiclet keyboard design.
These compact wireless keyboards are easy to toss in a bag. And their slim design takes up less desk space. You‘ll sacrifice some key travel, but gain mobility.
My top pick: Logitech K780 multi-device wireless keyboard
Bluetooth Tablet Keyboards
Pair an ultra-slim Bluetooth keyboard with your tablet or iPad for easier typing on-the-go.
Look for compact designs with keys sized close to your touch keyboard. The typing feel won‘t be as crisp, but it sure beats poking at glass screens!
My top pick: Arteck HB030B universal slim Bluetooth keyboard
Gaming Membrane Keyboards
While many gaming keyboards are mechanical, brands like Logitech also offer high-performance membrane gaming keyboards.
These provide awesome gaming features like programmable keys, RGB lighting, and anti-ghosting technology for fast multi-key inputs. And they cost less than equivalent mechanical models.
My top pick: Logitech G213 Prodigy RGB gaming keyboard
At the end of the day, there is no universally "best" keyboard for everyone. It comes down to your own needs and preferences.
Just don‘t feel pressure to buy in to the mechanical keyboard hype if it doesn‘t seem like the right fit. There are lots of great membrane and laptop-style keyboards to consider instead.
Focus on your priorities – whether that‘s price, portability, noise level, or something else – and choose the keyboard type that best matches what you value most.
I hope this guide gave you some helpful insights to make the most informed decision for your situation. Let me know if you have any other questions!