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Preston S.

2024-06-20T16:10:43.656-0400

5 minutes

Are Mechanical Keyboards Harder to Press?

Could mechanical keyboards be harder to press? Preston's blog post goes into depth about what contributes to a keyboard's weight and overall feel when typing!

Black GMK67 with WS Cthulhu PBT Keycaps and Yosemite Desk MatBlack GMK67 with WS Cthulhu PBT Keycaps and Yosemite Desk Mat

Black GMK67 with WS Cthulhu PBT Keycaps and Yosemite Desk Mat

There seems to be a common misconception that mechanical keyboards are harder to type on, and that generally stems from a bad experience with them way back when they first were becoming mainstream. Today, things have definitely changed for the better

What makes a keyboard lighter/heavier

The sole factor when it comes to weight is the switch. A mechanical keyboard’s switch will determine how the keyboard feels overall, with other factors like mounting style and plate material coming into play later. However, for this article, we will just focus on the weight factor of a keyboard. First, let's quickly go over the three main types of switches:

  • Linear: Smooth, Consistent, No bump
  • Tactile: Contains a Bump, Sometimes smoother
  • Clicky: Contains a Bump, Contains a loud click noise
Linear, Tactile, and Clicky SwitchesLinear, Tactile, and Clicky Switches

Linear, Tactile, and Clicky Switches

Each switch contains a spring with a specific force number that tells you how heavy it will be to press down, but sometimes, the weight is not the only factor that comes into play.

Sometimes, switches can feel heavier because they contain something called a progressive spring, which means the switch gets heavier the further you press a key. Other times, a switch could feel heavier because the travel distance of the switch is farther than what you are used to. For example, a switch could have a total travel distance of 4.0mm (which is usually the max), and you are used to using switches that have a 3.5mm total travel distance (The total travel distance refers to the max distance a switch can travel when you press it). Lastly, for some users, tactile switches could make a switch feel faster to type on versus a linear switch with the same weight due to the tactile bump playing a big factor, but it could also have the opposite effect if the tactile bump is super heavy/sharp compared to the switch weight itself.

Silent Switches

Gecko Silent Linear SwitchGecko Silent Linear Switch

Gecko Silent Linear Switch

Silent switches, like Kinetic Labs’ Gecko Switches, are in a category of their own as they can feature silent linear options, silent tactile options, and even recently, semi-silent clicky switches. Usually, the way keyboard switch manufacturers make a switch silent is by adding silicone dampeners to the rails or stem of the switch that helps absorb most of the audible sound. Sometimes, a switch can have what we call a “mushy” feeling because of this, which can also lead to an unpleasant typing experience and maybe even make the keys harder to press overall. Unfortunately, this is pretty much on a case-by-case basis as some people might find a switch to be a super mushy feeling, while others might not notice it at all.

All about Personalization

I mention this in almost all of my articles, but everything in this hobby involves personalizing things to meet your needs/wants. For example, if you are heavy-handed and thus type heavy, you might want to stray away from lighter switches. If you are not a heavy typer, you would want to stick to lighter switches. Now, some people might prefer switches that have more resistance, and there is nothing wrong with that either.

Moon V2 Linear SwitchMoon V2 Linear Switch

Moon V2 Linear Switch

There are so many switches to choose from that it is important to find the right balance in what you want, as the longer you spend in the hobby, the less you focus on sound and the more you focus on how the keyboard feels. Here are some switches I personally recommend, along with their type and weight:

Conclusion

Mechanical keyboards can technically be harder to press, but the inverse is also correct. It all depends on what you want out of your keyboard, and that has to be my favorite part of the hobby as a whole. Everything is personalized to what you prefer, and it is important to think about every aspect, especially the weight and overall feel. Happy typing!