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How Can You Tell If a Keyboard Is Mechanical?

Are you in search of a mechanical keyboard? Learn how to differentiate mechanical keyboards from other types and discover the key features that make them stand out.

When it comes to selecting a keyboard, you might be wondering what distinguishes a mechanical keyboard from other types. Mechanical keyboards are highly sought after by gamers, writers, and anyone who values the tactile feel and audible feedback of a keyboard. But how can you tell if a keyboard is mechanical?

One of the main features of mechanical keyboards is the use of individual mechanical switches beneath each keycap, rather than the rubber domes found in membrane keyboards. This results in tactile feedback when typing, accompanied by a distinctive clicking or clacking sound. Mechanical keyboards also tend to have a longer lifespan and are more durable than other types, making them a popular choice for heavy typists or gamers.

In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between mechanical and other types of keyboards, including membrane, scissor-switch, and butterfly-switch keyboards. We’ll also discuss the various types of mechanical switches available and their respective characteristics. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to determine whether a keyboard is mechanical and make an informed decision when selecting your next keyboard.

How to Identify a Mechanical Keyboard

There are a few ways to determine if your keyboard is mechanical:

  1. Check the keys: Mechanical keyboards have individual switches underneath each key. By closely examining a mechanical keyboard, you can see the individual switches under each keycap. Non-mechanical keyboards typically use a rubber dome or membrane under the keys.
  2. Listen for noise: Mechanical keyboards tend to produce a distinct clicking or clacking sound when you type. This is because the individual switches under each keycap create tactile feedback that generates a sound when pressed. Non-mechanical keyboards are generally quieter.

III. Feel the keys: Mechanical keyboards have a different feel compared to non-mechanical keyboards. The individual switches provide tactile feedback and a satisfying “click” when pressed. Non-mechanical keyboards tend to feel squishy or spongy when typing.

If you are still unsure whether your keyboard is mechanical, you can usually find out by checking the manufacturer’s website or product documentation.

Features of a Mechanical Keyboard

Mechanical keyboards differ from regular keyboards in that they use individual mechanical switches under each key instead of rubber domes. Here are some features of a mechanical keyboard:

  1. Tactile feedback: Mechanical keyboards provide tactile feedback when you press a key. You can feel and hear each keypress, which can be satisfying and help with typing accuracy.
  2. Durability: Mechanical switches are rated for tens of millions of keystrokes, making them more durable than traditional rubber dome switches.
  3. Customizability: Many mechanical keyboards allow you to swap out keycaps and switches, so you can customize the look and feel of your keyboard to your liking.
  4. Typing experience: The typing experience on a mechanical keyboard is generally considered to be more enjoyable than on a traditional keyboard due to the tactile feedback and responsiveness of the keys.
  5. N-key rollover: Most mechanical keyboards have n-key rollover, which means that you can press multiple keys at once, and they will all register. This is useful for gaming and fast typing.
  6. Anti-ghosting: Mechanical keyboards also have anti-ghosting, which means that the keyboard can register each keypress even when multiple keys are pressed at the same time, avoiding missed keystrokes or ghosting.
  7. Sound: Mechanical keyboards are typically louder than regular keyboards due to the tactile feedback provided by the mechanical switches. Whether this is a pro or con depends on your preferences and environment.

Overall, mechanical keyboards offer a more tactile, customizable, and durable typing experience compared to regular keyboards.

Difference between Mechanical Keyboards and Other Keyboard Types

Mechanical keyboards use individual mechanical switches underneath each key, providing tactile feedback and a distinct clicking sound when pressed. Here are some differences between mechanical keyboards and other types:

  • Membrane keyboards: Membrane keyboards use a flat, rubbery membrane underneath the keys to register keystrokes. Unlike mechanical keyboards, they lack a physical mechanism, so they don’t offer the same tactile feedback or clicking sound.
  • Scissor-switch keyboards: Scissor-switch keyboards use a scissor-like mechanism underneath each key to register keystrokes. They offer a slightly better typing experience than membrane keyboards but still lack the tactile feedback and clicking sound of mechanical keyboards.
  • Chiclet keyboards: Chiclet keyboards have a flat, square-shaped keycap design. Similar to membrane keyboards, they use a rubbery membrane to register keystrokes. However, due to their larger keycap size, they offer a slightly better typing experience.
  • Optical keyboards: Optical keyboards use infrared or laser technology to detect keystrokes. They are typically quieter and more durable than mechanical keyboards but lack the tactile feedback and clicking sound.

Many gamers, programmers, and typists prefer mechanical keyboards due to their tactile feedback, durability, and overall typing experience. However, they are typically more expensive than other types of keyboards.

Pros and Cons of Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keyboards have become increasingly popular among gamers, programmers, and typists due to their tactile feedback, durability, and customization options. However, like any other technology, mechanical keyboards also have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the pros and cons of a mechanical keyboard:


  1. Tactile Feedback: Mechanical keyboards use individual mechanical switches for each key, providing tactile feedback and a satisfying click sound when pressed. This feature can improve typing accuracy and reduce typing fatigue.
  2. Durability: Mechanical keyboards are built with high-quality materials, such as metal or ABS plastic, and are designed to last longer than traditional membrane keyboards. Most mechanical switches are rated for millions of keystrokes, and the keys can be easily replaced if they become worn or damaged.
  3. Customization: Mechanical keyboards often have more customization options than membrane keyboards. Users can change the keycaps, adjust the actuation point, and program macros for frequently used commands.
  4. Faster Typing Speed: Due to the tactile feedback and improved accuracy, many users report increased typing speed on mechanical keyboards.


  1. Cost: Mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than traditional membrane keyboards, with some models costing several hundred dollars.
  2. Loudness: The tactile feedback of mechanical keyboards means they are often louder than membrane keyboards. The clicky sound may be distracting or annoying to others in the same room.
  3. Weight: Mechanical keyboards are often heavier and bulkier than membrane keyboards, making them less portable.
  4. Limited Availability: Compared to membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards are still less common, which can make it difficult to find them in stores or try them out before purchasing.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, identifying a mechanical keyboard requires attention to its physical characteristics and functional features. The most apparent physical attribute is the presence of mechanical switches underneath each key, providing tactile feedback and a distinct sound. Additionally, mechanical keyboards often have customizable backlighting, dedicated media keys, and programmable macro keys, making them ideal for gaming or productivity tasks. It’s important to note that not all keyboards marketed as “mechanical” are genuine, so it’s crucial to verify the switch type used in the keyboard. Overall, understanding the differences between mechanical and non-mechanical keyboards can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a keyboard that suits your needs.


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