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Emmanuel A.


15 minutes

Are Mechanical Keyboards Better for Productivity?

Can you really boost productivity with mechanical keyboards? This post explores if they live up to the hype so let's find out if they're the key to efficiency!

Hippo PBT Keycaps and Pixel Comet Desk MatHippo PBT Keycaps and Pixel Comet Desk Mat

Hippo PBT Keycaps and Pixel Comet Desk Mat

Mechanical keyboards are loved by many for several reasons – their durability, satisfying feedback, and the fact that they can be customized. But one question remains: are mechanical keyboards really better for productivity?

No matter how excellent the properties of mechanical keyboards are, they are not the best fit for everyone. Besides, this keyboard type comes with its unique downsides, which have made some prefer to use membrane keyboards. When choosing a keyboard, what matters is for you to always go for a keyboard that truly meets your needs while providing comfort and efficiency.

When it comes to productivity, mechanical keyboards are a great choice. In this article, we will explore what mechanical keyboards are, how they can help to improve productivity, and some drawbacks to note when using them, as well as how to choose the perfect mechanical keyboard out of thousands in the market.

What are Mechanical Keyboards?

Tiger Lite TKL with Marble Liquid LightningTiger Lite TKL with Marble Liquid Lightning

Tiger Lite TKL with Marble Liquid Lightning

A mechanical keyboard is a type of keyboard that uses spring-dependent switches for registering key presses. They are called mechanical keyboards because their switches have to go all the way down and back up by relying on the tiny spring present underneath each key.

Anyone can use mechanical keyboards, but they are most preferred by gamers, programmers, and other active keyboard users due to their peculiar characteristics. Some people also just love mechanical keyboards for the sentimental attachment they have for them and their love for having a device that’s customizable and productive to work with.

Mechanical keyboards come in different shapes and sizes, and the feel of your mechanical keyboard is mostly determined by the kind of switches used. They are three main types of mechanical keyboard switches:

Linear Switches: Linear switches go all the way down with a smooth feel when you press them, almost like membrane keyboards but without the "mushy" feeling.

Tactile Switches: Tactile switches provide a noticeable bumpy feel halfway (or at the top) while pressing. This bump informs you that the press has been activated.

Clicky Switches: Clicky switches provide a clicky sound and feedback alongside the bumpy feel when a press has been registered. These are the loudest type of switch.

Kinetic Labs Linear and Tactile SwitchesKinetic Labs Linear and Tactile Switches

Kinetic Labs Linear and Tactile Switches

Although these are the three main types of mechanical keyboard switches, you will find vast variations in the amount of feedback and hit force required to make a press across different mechanical keyboards. This is as a result of other factors peculiar to each keyboard like the actuation force and the actuation point.

The actuation force refers to how much force and effort you need to apply on a key for a successful keystroke and for the press to be registered. The actuation distance, on the other hand, refers to how far down you need to press on each key for the press to be actualized.

Benefits of Using a Mechanical Keyboard over a Membrane Keyboard

Green TG67 with Corn PBT Keycaps and Lost City Desk MatGreen TG67 with Corn PBT Keycaps and Lost City Desk Mat

Green TG67 with Corn PBT Keycaps and Lost City Desk Mat

The unique characteristics of mechanical keyboards make them preferred by some groups of computer users over other kinds of keyboards. Gamers, for example, who require speed and precision when gaming find mechanical keyboards most efficient for providing this. The same applies to other active keyboard users like programmers and typists.

Most amazing, however, is the fact that mechanical keyboards can be customized. Therefore, each user can fine-tune details like switch and keycap type, and even the intensity of the tactile feedback to whatever they find most comfortable.

But that's not all, mechanical keyboards are also very durable – much more durable than membrane keyboards, withstanding heavy use and lasting for years despite the intense handling of gamers, programmers, and other heavy keyboard users. Generally speaking, mechanical keyboards also have modular parts, so in the case that a part does break, you can usually get a replacement part from the manufacturer.

Here’s a more critical look into the benefits of using mechanical keyboards:

Speed, Responsiveness, and Precision

Mechanical keyboards can register keystrokes faster than other types of keyboards, depending on the switch used. This makes them a go-to for speed and accuracy. Gamers particularly love the quick reflex and swift response time of mechanical keyboards while using them makes programmers and other fast typers less concerned about keyboard issues like ghosting and unnecessarily stiff keys that can hinder speed and accuracy. If you're looking for a switch for gaming specifically, you should use gaming speed switches, as these have a short actuation distance.

The excellent rollover of mechanical keyboards is what makes them less prone to ghosting and missing keystrokes. Interesting also is how you can always replace a specific switch or keycap as soon as you notice an issue.

Customizable and Replaceable Parts

It is only a matter of having the right tools in your toolbox and you can replace almost every part of a mechanical keyboard or customize them to suit your personal taste. Customization and replacement of parts are however not features that apply to most membrane keyboards, especially when it comes to changing switches and keycaps.

Octopus PBT Keycaps with Hippo Switches and AccessoriesOctopus PBT Keycaps with Hippo Switches and Accessories

Octopus PBT Keycaps with Hippo Switches and Accessories

You can build your mechanical keyboard to your taste by changing the switches and keycaps to something much more suitable for you or even decide to do some mix and matching, giving certain keys on your keyboard some features like more tactile feedback or lower a actuation point.

Besides, if you tend to get bored with experiencing the same features in your keyboard, a mechanical keyboard allows you to switch things up as often as you want. And if you are just enthusiastic about building keyboards and fancied about the way keyboards work, they give you the opportunity to explore, practice, and see for yourself and each tweak you make impacts the efficiency of the keyboard.

Sturdy Build and Durability

If you are an active and intense keyboard user like a programmer or gamer, you wouldn’t want a keyboard that keeps shifting and jumping all over the desk with each fierce hit on the keys. You want a highly sturdy and durable keyboard that is able to withstand all of your heavy hits.

Mechanical keyboards have been built to achieve this. They are generally heavier than membrane keyboards and thanks to the nature of their switches, are more durable. You won’t find the key bed of mechanical keyboards swiftly eating up for example, or the keys getting flattened into the keyboard in only a matter of months.

While sturdiness and durability cannot always be assessed by just staring at the keyboard, you can, to some extent, determine sturdiness by how much a keyboard gives way when bent. A sturdy keyboard would most likely not conform when bent, no matter how wide it is. It also helps to go for a keyboard with anti-slip rubber pads at the base. This helps to ensure the keyboard stays in the same spot as you type.

How Do Mechanical Keyboards Help to Improve Productivity?

Beyond durability and customization, mechanical keyboards are effective for improving productivity in several ways.

More Speed and Accuracy

Typing Fast on a Mechanical KeyboardTyping Fast on a Mechanical Keyboard

Typing Fast on a Mechanical Keyboard

There are no two ways to say it: if speed and precision mean a lot to you when at the computer, then you should get a mechanical keyboard! All of their intricate features and details are built to offer speed. This also explains why many never want to go back to membrane keyboards after they have explored mechanical keyboards.

For gamers, a lag of just half a second can be the end of a game that was once going great, while for programmers, a reliable keyboard can lead to faster typing, fewer errors, and faster turnover time in the long run as you won't have to worry about your keys malfunctioning while typing.

Anti-Ghosting Features

Ghosting is a peripheral error that occurs as a result of a keyboard's inability to process multiple keystrokes or presses at a time. When many keys are pressed at a time, the keyboard is unable to pick all and therefore sends the wrong signal to the computer which in turn causes a wrong output. See our short article on anti-ghosting for a more detailed look.

During fast and competitive gaming, ghosting keyboards can make response and maneuvering slow as the keyboard will not be able to pick up many prompts at a time. During typing, on the other hand, a keyboard that ghosts can cause errors of omission and the wrong ordering of letters. This can particularly be a major setback for gamers who require precision and exactness in competitive environments.

If you are not a fast keyboard user or you’re just the average computer user, ghosting might not be a concern for you. However, getting a keyboard with an anti-ghosting feature can go a long way to help programmers and professionals save the time of having to keep checking their work for errors and will improve precision and speed for all other types of active keyboard users.

Mechanical keyboards are excellent at offering this anti-ghosting features and some have specifically been designed to do this. Besides, the tactile feedback they offer makes it easy to recognize a successful keypress before moving on to hitting another key.

Reduces Fatigue and Strain

Thanks to their ergonomic design, several mechanical keyboards in the market help users work better by eliminating fatigue and strain. With mechanical keyboards, you will often find unique ergonomic designs like wrist rests, splits designs, arcs, and bends that help the wrists, arms, and shoulders stay in a natural position when working.

Satisfactory Typing Experience and Tactile Feedback

Mechanical keyboards are kings at offering you that satisfactory tactile feedback that gets you immersed in your work and makes typing flow nicely.

Many, especially those who are not gamers, find themselves having a special love for mechanical keyboards just because of the satisfying feedback and nostalgic appeal they give. Needless to say, if a device helps you to settle better into work, then you had better go for it!

Potential Drawbacks of Using Mechanical Keyboards

As much as mechanical keyboards have several benefits to offer, they also come with their own cons. The good thing is these are not altogether bad features. They are just features some would consider a “peeve.” Most programmers and gamers would overlook these drawbacks and still go for a mechanical keyboard any time, any day.


Person Tapping on a KeycapPerson Tapping on a Keycap

Person Tapping on a Keycap

The feedback given by mechanical keyboards can be a concern for computer users who are easily disturbed by noise and those who work in shared workspaces. Thankfully, there are several mechanical keyboards out there that have been designed to reduce or even altogether eliminate sound. The best way to deal with the clicky or clacky sound of mechanical keyboards is to go for a mechanical keyboard with linear switches as those do not give any noisy feedback. See our article on building a silent mechanical keyboard for more info.


Mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than membrane keyboards. This is not far-fetched since they have a lot more features and are built to be sturdy and durable. Other factors like the brand, quality, switch type, and size will also affect the overall cost of a mechanical keyboard. The good thing is that these keyboards are built for efficiency and durability. They, therefore, offer value that, in the end, compensates for their high price.

To learn more about the costs that go into making a mechanical keyboard, see our article on why mechanical keyboards are so expensive.


For the average computer user, using a mechanical keyboard can seem a bit over the edge. Talk of the numerous features to deal with, and customizations you have to manually put in place. All of these can become overwhelming for simple computer users and others who are not so interested in the mechanics of devices.

The good news is that the vast majority of mechanical keyboards are ready to use out of the box, and only require minor assembly such as installing switches and keycaps.


Gray Keychron Q6 with Marble Liquid CloudGray Keychron Q6 with Marble Liquid Cloud

Gray Keychron Q6 with Marble Liquid Cloud

Truthfully, mechanical keyboards tend to be heavier than membrane keyboards. This is because they are made from heavier materials and they contain much more components than membrane keyboards. Portability and desk space can therefore be a concern when using membrane keyboards.

You should consider the size of your desk before purchasing a keyboard since keyboards come in different sizes. You could also go for keyboards that do not contain unnecessary keys if you are looking to manage desk space.

If you are concerned about weight and portability, then I'd recommend going for a plastic keyboard over an aluminum mechanical keyboard, as the latter is often much heavier and more expensive.

How to Choose the Right Mechanical Keyboard for Productivity

Even after you have decided to go for a mechanical keyboard over a membrane keyboard, there are still several options to choose from. Choosing can become overwhelming if you are not sure of what you want or what makes for an efficient keyboard. Before making a purchase, here are factors you should consider in order to make an excellent choice of a mechanical keyboard:

Switch Type

It is known that mechanical keyboards provide tactile and mechanical feedback when pressed, but not even all types of mechanical keyboards will give this feedback. That said, it is important to know what you want in a mechanical keyboard in terms of feedback and sound. If you are all out for the bumpy feedback and clicky sound, then you should go for a keyboard with clicky switches.

If you want a keyboard that offers you all of the other features of mechanical keyboards but not the annoying sound and weird bumpy feel, then you should go for a keyboard with a linear switch (see the popular Gateron Oil Kings). If you want something moderate, however, then you should consider a keyboard with a tactile switch.

Hippo Linear SwitchesHippo Linear Switches

Hippo Linear Switches

Mind you, other factors like the actuation force and actuation point will affect the nature of the keypress on each keyboard. You should therefore take your time to explore the exact features of a keyboard before you purchase one, especially if you will not want to go through the rigor of customizing your keyboard to a preferred taste right after when you just purchased it.

Also, note that the switch type is not all that determines how noisy a keyboard would be. Other factors such as the keycap shape and material, the keyboard case material and design, and even the room acoustics will affect how much noise is given out when a keyboard is pressed.

Ergonomics and Comfort

That you are intentional about knowing more about mechanical keyboards most likely already implies that you stay working at your computer for long hours. Long hours of sitting down and hitting fast at the keyboard can cause strain and stress on certain muscle parts, especially those of the wrists, arms, and shoulders. Just like you would go for an excellent ergonomic chair to combat strain on the muscles of the waist, you also want to go for a keyboard that will treat your wrist, arms, and shoulders nicely.

Mechanical keyboards are generally known for their ergonomic value and added comfort. Nevertheless, they can get unhealthy too, especially if they make you apply too much pressure on your keys before a press is registered.

You should always watch out for the ergonomic features a keyboard comes with. Go for mechanical keyboards with features like wrist rests and those that have been generally designed to minimize muscle strain and encourage natural and ideal body positioning while working. Desk mats can also be a comfortable choice while typing, as they give you a level area to rest your palms.

Wired and Wireless Feature

With wireless keyboards becoming more and more common, it is important to decide if you would want a wired or wireless keyboard. Wireless keyboards are definitely trendy and great for portability, but they also come with setbacks such as slower response time and limitations in connection distance.

Wired Keyboard with Candy Shop PBT Keycaps and Desk MatWired Keyboard with Candy Shop PBT Keycaps and Desk Mat

Wired Keyboard with Candy Shop PBT Keycaps and Desk Mat

Wired keyboards, on the other hand, provide a swifter response, but they will not allow you to work from your couch while your monitor is centimeters away from you. To decide which keyboard to go for, you must consider the nature of your activities and go for a keyboard that will give you a much more smoother experience.


Backlighting can simply be a fun feature, but it can also be an important one. If, for example, you travel a lot, go camping, or find yourself in situations where electricity can be a problem at night; or if you simply just love to work at night with the lights off, then the backlight feature is important for helping you find your way around your keyboard in the dark.

If you want customizable backlight options, then you should go for a keyboard with a programmable RGB that lets you do wonders with color hues and spread across the keyboard.


Perhaps you want a keyboard that allows you to switch key positions any time, any day; or you want a keyboard that allows you to assign specific macros and commands to individual keys or key combinations, then you need a keyboard that allows for these high-end programmability.

The most popular firmware option for custom mechanical keyboards is QMK with VIA support, which makes programming keys a breeze. Be sure to check what firmware your mechanical keyboard supports.

Operating System Support

This is not always said but it is also very important. While most keyboards will work with the most popular operating system types, that is Mac and Windows, it is also important to choose a keyboard whose layout and specific features conform to the operating system of your computer. For example, commands work differently on both operating systems and the Windows key will definitely not act the same way as it wound with a Windows computer when the keyboard is connected to a Mac.

Some keyboards come with handy switches and keys that you can swap when you want to make a switch between operating systems. This makes using the keyboard easier for you after you switch, especially during the first few days when you may not have fully adjusted to the switch in operating systems to be mindful of the new way of running commands you now have to employ.


Hippo PBT Keycaps and Switches with Pixel Comet Desk MatHippo PBT Keycaps and Switches with Pixel Comet Desk Mat

Hippo PBT Keycaps and Switches with Pixel Comet Desk Mat

It is easy to get carried away with looking out for the switch type of a mechanical keyboard that you miss out on a subtle detail like the aesthetics. While many will not care so much about this, it might be a feature you want to give thought to.

Generally, mechanical keyboards have a more premium and classic look than membrane keyboards, so that is already a plus. But you should also decide on what specifics you want such as color, shape, pattern, and size.


If you rely on your keyboard most for performing your activities at the computer, then you definitely need a keyboard that allows for efficiency and improves productivity. Mechanical keyboards are an excellent keyboard type for efficiency, speed, and productivity, and this is due to their ergonomic nature, customizability, and speed.