This post was most recently updated on May 16th, 2023
Mechanical keyboards often have a shorter actuation point compared to membrane keyboards. The actuation point is the distance a key must travel before it registers a keystroke. Mechanical keyboards typically have a shorter actuation point, which means that a user can type faster with less travel distance. This can be especially useful for touch typists who don’t need to press keys all the way down to register them.
Mechanical keyboards have gained a reputation for being the go-to option for typing enthusiasts and gamers alike. They’re durable, customizable, and provide satisfying tactile feedback that can’t be found in other types of keyboards. But one of the most commonly touted benefits of mechanical keyboards is their supposed ability to increase typing speed. In this object, we’ll examine the evidence behind this claim and explore whether mechanical keyboards really make you type faster.
Table of Contents
Understanding Mechanical Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards use individual mechanical switches for each key, while other keyboards use a single membrane layer that requires more force to register a keystroke. This difference in construction affects the typing experience in several ways.
Before we dive into the research, let’s take a closer look at what makes mechanical keyboard unique. Unlike traditional rubber dome keyboards, mechanical keyboards use individual switches for each key. These switches are often referred to by their color, with the most common types being Cherry MX Blue, Brown, and Red. Each switch has a different actuation force and tactile feedback, which can affect the typing experience.
The tactile feedback is the most notable difference between mechanical and rubber dome keyboards. Mechanical switches have a distinct “click” or “bump” when the key is pressed, providing both an audible and physical confirmation of the keystroke. This feedback can be satisfying and improve typing accuracy, but it also requires more force to actuate the key. On the other hand, rubber dome keyboards have a softer feel and require less force to press down the keys. This can make typing feel smoother and faster, but it also means that you may accidentally press keys more frequently.
Mechanical Keyboards and Typing Speed
Now that we have a basic understanding of how mechanical keyboards work, let’s dive into the research on typing speed. One of the most cited studies on this topic was conducted by David L. Jones, a computer hardware engineer, and YouTuber. In 2012, he conducted a blind typing test comparing three types of keyboards: a rubber dome keyboard, a Cherry MX Blue mechanical keyboard, and a Cherry MX Red mechanical keyboard.
The results of the study showed that the Cherry MX Red keyboard had the highest average typing speed at 109 words per minute (WPM), followed by the Cherry MX Blue at 105 WPM and the rubber dome keyboard at 103 WPM. While these results seem to support the idea that mechanical keyboards are faster for typing, it’s important to note that the differences between the keyboards were relatively small.
Another study conducted by Jacob Sosnoff, a professor of kinesiology and rehabilitation science, looked at the effect of keyboard type on typing performance and fatigue. The study compared a rubber dome keyboard to a Cherry MX Blue mechanical keyboard and found that while the mechanical keyboard did result in faster typing speeds, it also led to increased fatigue and discomfort over time.
The main benefit of mechanical keyboards is the tactile feedback they provide. When a key is pressed on a mechanical keyboard, the switch activates and gives the user a physical response that lets them know the key has been registered. This feedback helps users type more accurately and with fewer errors since they can feel when a key has been pressed.
Customization and Personal Preference
It’s worth noting that typing speed is just one aspect of the typing experience, and personal preference plays a significant role in determining which keyboard is best for you. Mechanical keyboards offer a wide range of customization options, from switch type and keycap material to layout and lighting. This allows users to tailor their keyboard to their specific needs and preferences.
For example, some individuals may prefer the tactile feedback of Cherry MX Blue switches, while others may prefer the smoother feel of Cherry MX Red switches. Some may prefer a tenkeyless layout for a more compact design, while others may prefer a full-size keyboard with a number pad.
Ultimately, the best keyboard for typing will depend on your personal preferences and typing style. While mechanical keyboards may provide a slight advantage in typing speed, they may not be the best option for everyone.
It Requires Less Force to Generate Results
One of the most significant advantages of using a mechanical keyboard is that it requires less force to generate results. Most of them only require a key to be pressed halfway to send a signal to your computer, which allows you to type faster and more accurately.
The spring-activated mechanical keyboard design requires much less physical force than membrane keyboards, which require more force to register the keystroke. This can make a huge difference when you’re typing thousands of words daily and need to save every millisecond for the next keystroke.
Switches are the main component of a mechanical keyboard and come in various styles. They range from smooth linear switches to clicky tactile bumps, allowing you to choose the best one. There are many different types of switches, and they vary in their noise, feel, and durability. Some are very quiet, while others have a slightly louder sound but don’t provide the same kind of tactile feedback that you can get from other switch styles.
It’s important to note that this speedy response doesn’t mean that a mechanical keyboard will always be faster than a membrane, as the actuation force and distance can vary. It’s recommended that you choose a keyboard with a high operating force and actuation distance to ensure that the key is responsive enough for you to hit fast-paced games without straining your fingers. If a switch on your mechanical keyboard breaks, ordering a new one online and installing it yourself is easy.