Mechanical keyboards are no solution to anything, and deep down we all know it | PCGamesN

Mechanical keyboards are no solution to anything, and deep down we all know it

Mechanical keyboards

A vast swathe of both your total gaming experiences and mine, through the sprite-laden '90s, the boom of 3D polygonal graphics, and the gradual sophistication in game design that led to some all-time classics through the early '00s, were had before anyone gave two Cherry MX Browns about peripherals. 

Instead, they were tapped out unceremoniously on hearing-aid beige keyboards and mice, which looked indistinguishable from the ones normal people like our dads used in their offices. We dreamed back then of better graphics, bigger worlds, and even bigger screens, because the platform seemed in its infancy; the possibilities all seemed up for grabs. Never did we hunger for better keyboards.

More about the games than the bits you play them with? Good on you - here are the best PC games. Enjoy.

Then, slowly, the culture shifted. It started, as far as I remember, with the Razer Boomslang in 1998. When it arrived, with those enormous left and right mouse buttons like an angle grinder blade, its radical design seemed to indicate that it had solved a problem with conventional mice that we didn't know existed.

Look at it next to a perfectly good IntelliMouse. It covertly communicates that all this time it's been much harder to click on things - in games, on your desktop, when you're idly dragging out little boxes to see if you can make a perfect square - than it needed to be. What's more, other people you might bump into on some Gamespy Quake II server might suddenly have an insurmountable advantage. Because their mouse buttons might be much bigger than yours.

Razer Boomslang

The most desirable gaming peripheral in 1998

The culture of competitive gaming peripherals was born. Proliferated by insecurity about our abilities, in an era when it genuinely smarted to be called a n00b, it took further root through the '00s when gaming became an increasingly acceptable pastime and thus it we were allowed to spend a bit more money on the fringe aspects of our once shadowy hobby.

Then eSports happened, stopped happening, then started happening again, this time in massive arenas in Poland and Shanghai. Pro teams signed deals with PC hardware manufacturers. Nervous-looking European teenagers with gelled hair started appearing on motherboard adverts, wearing polo shirts with their own signatures on them. It was all building to one central idea: better peripherals can make you a better gamer.

Mechanical keyboards represent the nadir of that idea. They're the moment at which we whisked up years of marketing bluster into a heady Kool-Aid and knocked it back, telling ourselves that this new and interminable clackety-clacking was somehow an indicator that we'd just made a valuable, performance-enhancing upgrade to our PC.

Mechanical keyboard switches

Fuck this thing

Here's what manufacturers said: mechanical keyboards offer a more robust and tactile experience than membrane boards. The key design offers more feedback and more precision, and in a gaming scenario than could mean the difference between success and failure. In addition, they allow for a much higher number of simultaneous presses and a higher rollover, so your inputs will never be missed as they might on conventional keyboards. With several mechanical key types on offer, each offering a different tactle experience, you can find the board that suits you best.

And that sounds great. We were receptive to the message. We'd already learned that, to an extent, having a mouse designed for gaming is actually quite a pleasant thing. Whether or not it affects in-game performance, a gaming mouse is generally pretty comfortable and has a few extra programmable buttons that might come in handy. We were on board with that.

So when the manufacturers who sold us those gaming mice came back and said they'd done something meaningful to keyboards too, we listened. Actually, we did more than listen. We bought the things by their thousands. 

I don't refute the spec sheets of mechanical keyboards; their 50-key rollovers or 50 million operations. Most of them, particularly today, are incredibly well-made peripherals built on sturdy, tastefully brushed metal bases with useful backlit keys. They deliver on all the little, prosaic promises made by their makers when they first started to break into the gaming market earlier this decade - but what those little promises add up to is a solution to a problem that didn't exist.

Here's what I started playing PC games on:

Packard Bell 1997 keyboard

Image credit: Austin Matzko

It's the keyboard that came with my circa 1998 Packard Bell PC. It doesn't have a 50-key rollover, and it didn't come in a variety of Cherry MX varieties for me to choose from. And yet never once, during year after year of use, death after death in some of the best (and worst) first-person shooters the platform has ever seen, did I ever sit back in my chair watching a You're Dead screen and go, "that was my keyboard's fault."

Because it wasn't. It never is. The number of keys you can simultaneously depress, as if you're rolling out pizza dough on your keyboard, is a meaningless figure once it gets past a certain point (let's say five). Whether or not each key registers a tangible click when you press it isn't going to make the game you're playing more enjoyable.

There were downsides to the old designs, admittedly. There was the backlighting problem. The lack of media controls. The gradual build up of everything you've ever eaten, touched, or scratched slowly presenting itself in a gruesome build-up all over what was once a pristene beige object turned horridying brown-grey. But these problems all have very easy solutions, and those solutions don't look like this:

Mechanical keyboards

"K-k-kill... me..."

I was a fairly early adopter. I've been using mechanical keyboards for both gaming and work use, on and off, for about five years. It's taken me that long, five years of daily use, to crystallise a few salient facts in my brain:

It's much harder to type accurately on mechanical keyboards.

They're incredibly, distractingly noisy.

They don't make me any better at games, nor the games any more enjoyable.

They're more expensive than membrane keyboards.

What their devotees will tell me is that it's all about the feedback. In the same way a tightly-tuned drum kit sends your sticks back in your direction when you hit the skins, a vital aspect of playing the instrument, mechanical keys push back towards you when you hit them. Exactly how they do that, and whether they click or not, depends on the switch type. But somehow that feedback is condusive to a better typing experience.

Nope. Not for this guy. At the risk of sounding like an eager-to-impress middle schooler, I do a lot of typing. As with a lot of people, it's pretty central to my job. I spend eight hours a day writing thousands of words for articles and emails, then I go home and hit WSAD, E, space, and shift a lot. 

I can't type on a mechanical keyboard for shit. Not when I first got one, and not now after five years. Everything I try to type out is riddled with little typos, and that makes me wonder: am I making typos when I play games, too? Am I registering a whole bunch of unnecessary key presses? While I'm doing that, typing out nonsense that I have to go back and correct, the room is filled with jarring click-click-clicking, as if there's a courtroom stenographer behind me, furiously keeping record of every keystroke. 

All this I put up with, because I'm clinging on to the abstract concept that this mechanical keyboard I have is somehow better for gaming. 

Logitech G410 keyboard

Earplugs not included 

I appreciate that there's something unavoidably Luddite about my point of view. I'm probably just a generation too old to move with the times and accept that all PC gaming equipment needs to be constructed to military-grade standards, for reasons I'm now too irrelevant to grasp. Mechanical keyboards are the peripheral equivalent of Snapchat, and I'm still on MSN Messenger wondering why none of my friends have come online for 12 years.

But let's remember this: manufacturers didn't release mechanical keyboards because they ran some tests and discovered they were empirically better for gaming. They released them to see if we'd buy them. They released them because, really, where else can you go if you're a gaming keyboard manufacturer? How else can you create a higher price point for such a utilitarian, unglamorous product? 

And we did buy them. Loads and loads of them. They've become de rigueur. It's since become more than acceptable to spend triple figures on a rectangle full of keys. That's why manufacturers released them.

Look, I'm sure you may disagree. It's a subjective experience, isn't it? You might type everything perfectly on a mechanical board, either because you decided it was perfectly acceptable to have to re-learn how to type to accomodate this new device you just bought or because your fingers are just good like that. 

You might love the sound of that clicking - or you might have a board with silent switches, which aren't actually silent but bring the noise level back down to something equivalent with membrane boards. 

But tell me this: in those first exploratory days of your PC gaming, when you sat before a great beige keyboard that came with the PC, surrounded by floppy discs, bottles of Sunny Delight, and the members of Kriss Kross, did you ever wish for something better to type on? What, exactly, is the problem that mechanical keyboards solved?

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Tim Edwards avatarBen Barrett avatarChris Higgins avatarMeddle avatarAnakhoresis avatardarkcuckerberg avatar+24
Tim Edwards Avatar
521
2 Years ago

You've gone mad.

8
Ben Barrett Avatar
520
2 Years ago

This site is a joke.

6
Chris Higgins Avatar
36
VoidRoamer Avatar
4
2 Years ago

I generally agree with the author here. Although a mechanical keyboard used to be on my to-buy list, it had nothing to do with gaming but rather nostalgia. The issue I have is that engineering-wise the mechanical keyboards of today are nothing like the mechanical keyboards of old. There are actually several different key mechanisms that mechanical keyboards can use; most historically significant are Buckling Spring and ALPS. What is also never addressed is whether or not they keys themselves are rounded or flat and if they are laid out in curved or level rows.

The first keyboard I owned was the famous buckling spring IBM model M which had a very satisfying solid, audible and tactile response. The keyboards themselves were so robust and heavy that you could bludgeon a person to death with one. Out of nostalgia I bought one and brought it to work to type on (I work as a programmer) filling the halls with a satisfying and nostalgic Clack! Clack! Clack! Within 30 minute half my co-workers had dropped by my room threatening to club me over the head with it.

4
MrAptronym Avatar
361
2 Years ago

If I remember though, the Model Ms had issues if you managed to get liquid into the switches themselves. They were practically impossible to dry. I spill coffee a lot so...

They aren't the same as the old buckling spring models, but I am pretty happy with the Cherry Brown switches over a membrane keyboard. I might consider testing something that requires a bit more force though.

1
Fraser Brown Avatar
960
2 Years ago

People who use mechanical keyboards in offices should be thrown in a giant pit and set on fire, along with loud chewers and people who use typewriters.

4
Tim Edwards Avatar
521
2 Years ago

You must seriously hate Angela Lansbury.

1
subedii Avatar
753
2 Years ago

Insufferable Ms. Busybody? Good grief yes.

EDIT: On-topic, I got a keyboard with cherry red switches, which I found loud. Some cheap rubber inserts ordered off of amazon soon fixed that.

2
Fraser Brown Avatar
960
2 Years ago

For many reasons, but also this.

1
AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

The way you wrote that it almost sounds like you're a bit on the spectrum. Not an insult from me. I tend to find more common ground with people like that. It's actually rare to find anyone who does understand overstimulation in a world of noisy extraverts.

1
Fayde Avatar
22
2 Years ago

Life's too short to use cheap peripherals.

3
AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

That's a privileged, first world perspective if ever I saw one. It must be nice to actually be able to think like that.

2
Prime_years_fly_fading Avatar
3

Glad to read this article. I did use old mechanical keyboards back in the early 90's or so. Over the last few years however I've been spending a reasonable amount of money trying to find the best keyboard for my needs (both gaming and a ridiculous amount of typing) and all my experiences with mechanical keyboards have been less than rewarding. Gaming-wise was indifferent, noise levels were ok. Typing, however, has always been frustrating. Lots of repeated keystrokes, typos, etc.

3
MrAptronym Avatar
361
2 Years ago

Not to say that you can't prefer a membrane keyboard or that your experience has been invalid, but if you're getting repeated keystrokes with a mechanical keyboard, it might just be the kind of switch.

If you're using modern keyboards with mechanical switches, a lot of the high end 'gamer' marketed ones use switches with a linear resistance (Cherry red or black) that don't really register any feedback until you bottom them out. Ones aimed at general use or towards programmers have keys with a clear tactile and possibly audio bump that tells you when a key has registered. If you find that you are pressing keys too easily even then, you might just need one that requires more force to press down.

A big part of the appeal of mechanical keyboards is, I think, the ability to get that feedback without bottoming out a key. if you normally press your keys hard like that you may prefer a membrane I guess?

2
AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

I've used a variety of keyboards over the years and like I said in my own post, mechanical has always been the worst because it requires effort to register on every mechanical keyboard I've ever used.

It might be my autism giving me more sensory input than most people get (which scientific studies of late seem to be suggesting is the case), but I can get from every other kind of keyboard what mechanical keyboard users claim they need from that experience. At the touch of the softest kind of key.

No matter what type of keyboard I've used, no matter how cheap, if it isn't broken I've always been able to know when I've registered a keypress. I'm beginning to wonder if people who like mechanical keyboards actually have trouble registering touch.

And if that is indeed the angle, then I'm beginning to understand the appeal.

2
Kinth! Avatar
203
2 Years ago

I have a mechanical keyboard but not for gaming purposes. The idea that they will make you any better at a game or even give you an advantage is just daft.

I bought mine for typing purposes (though it is a corsair "gaming" keyboard) and I have had the opposite experience to you in that I find typing much easier on a mechanical keyboard.

3
suicigh Avatar
1
1 Month ago

"The idea that they will make you any better at a game or even give you an advantage is just daft."

"I find typing much easier on a mechanical keyboard."

Does easier typing not make you a better gamer? :^)

1
memnarch Avatar
56
2 Years ago

My keyboard has nine media keys, a good layout and i can vacuum and immerse it in cleaning fluid if i so wish (and sometimes do). It's also actually quieter than a regular keyboard. It cost about 15 quid. Lets be real here, i sometimes have animals, often have food at my desk, i play games often with a cup of tea half an inch from my keyboard whose frugal space requirements make it possible to have any desk space left at all. People 'need' a mechanical keyboard in the same way they 'need' that spoiler on their junker toyota (which is to say it looks good until you remember that literally anything else is likely to have an effect first)

3
Mountain_Man Avatar
731
2 Years ago

Was this intended to be an April Fools Day article?

3
radoval Avatar
3
2 Months ago

Oh, man, you've just put into words all my though about the subject. I'll comment shortly: there was nothing, absolutely nothing the mechanical keyboards added to my "computer" life, whether for the gaming or any other computer related activity. It is all marketing hype, that is all.

On the contrary, the sheer amount of frustration I had with a few models of mechanical keyboards was enormous.

No more!!!

Cheers

3
Meddle Avatar
4
2 Years ago

I'm going to pretend this entire article is shitty satire.

Subjectively, of course.

2
Anakhoresis Avatar
659
2 Years ago

That's interesting that you say you type worse on a mechanical keyboard. The majority of people I know that have them say they type better and it feels better. That being said... I've hated every one that I have typed on. Like you said, they're loud (though I believe they have ones that are quieter?), and they just don't feel very good to me. My favourite keyboard that I've ever had was built with scissor switches on a membrane, sadly it's not made anymore.

But yeah, no one ever believes me that I genuinely don't like mechanical keyboards, plus I think that even if I did, the cost difference would outweigh how much I would care.

2
Droniac Avatar
114
2 Years ago

Mechanical keyboards existed before membrane keyboards. The latter were invented purely to cut costs and reduce noise. And those are the only problems membrane keyboards ever fixed, while introducing a slew of new ones.

Now here's what mechanical keyboards do better:

- Longer life expectancy / durability.

- Sturdy frames that do not bounce on a key-press.

- Sturdy keys that do not get stuck, bounce, or register multiple times.

- Reliable mechanical input mechanisms that only register incorrectly when there's an actual mechanical problem.

- Tactile (and audio) response that clearly denotes when key-presses are registered.

- No need to bottom-out every stroke, which over time significantly reduces stress on finger joints. If typing correctly.

Your subjective experience may well be that membrane keyboards offer a superior typing experience for you. It takes a certain method of typing to use a mechanical keyboard properly and if it doesn't suit you there's really no helping or denying that. But as an actual product, in terms of actual features and comparative flaws, mechanical keyboards are an outright superior product in literally every way other than (sometimes) pricing and (always) noise production.

As to your trivialization of eSports concerns: I think you're leaning too much on your subjective experience here. The reason mechanical keyboards returned was the StarCraft 2 eSports scene: Koreans were using mechanical keyboards en-masse, so Western gamers wanted them too. Theoretically mechanical keyboards require less time per tap, provide superior tactile feedback and register hits more reliably. You're shrugging those off because you don't consciously recognize them, but even if you're writing a lot you're still no pro-gamer and you're not concerned with APM numbering in the hundreds. Those actual pro-gamers? You can be certain they do notice the difference. Even I notice the difference and the last game I competed in at international top level was UT3 (nwCTF)...

2
AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

All this is doing though is confirming to me that mechanical keyboard popularity is linked with a low resolution sense of touch.

I've never had these problems on any keyboard. I prefer quiet keyboards and I've always found them to have incredible accuracy, I feel the tactile response of them easily, and they don't wear out on me because I don't hammer them like a creature possessed (I don't have the need to).

I think it's a matter of needing a longer lasting product for people who're incredibly heavy handed.

0
Droniac Avatar
114
2 Years ago

And what is that based on? I'm seeing a conclusion, but no arguments.

Let's say someone is highly sensitive to touch. Wouldn't these statements be true?

- They'd be more likely to notice, and appreciate, superior tactile response.

- They'd be more prone to (noticing) joint-strain, so not having to always bottom-out keys would be a huge benefit.

- They'd be more likely to notice and benefit from having to only tap lightly, so they can type faster.

- They'd be more cognizant - and therefore more critical - of problems with membrane keys causing typing issues.

Here's a - similar to your own - anecdotal counterpoint to your theory:

I happen to be, highly, sensitive to touch. I recognize your point about noticing tactile response on membrane keyboards easily. But mechanical keyboard tactical response is on an entirely different level and vastly preferable. I also tend to type very fast, and (mostly) 2-finger blind, so I actually tend to tap keys very quickly and lightly instead of forcefully. Yet I've never had a membrane keyboard last longer than 3 years, even the really good ones. To be fair: I type a lot (gamer, programmer and writer) so that may simply be a difference in frequency of use.

2
Ocid Avatar
272
2 Years ago

You having a laugh?

2
QuickSaveF5 Avatar
2
1 Year ago

I'm with the author here. I have been using a mechanical keyboard for a while now and I notice no difference in gaming. Typing on this thing seems to register a lot of un-intended key strokes because the keys are too easy to actuate. From what I've experienced, you can somewhat rest your fingers on a membrane keyboard, but not a mechanical. I don't feel too bad for getting this keyboard though. Its very well constructed. I'm pretty sure it could get run over by a tank and still work. Also, I got it on a really good sale.

2
markcmd Avatar
1
2 Years ago

If you started gaming in 1998 you are probably too young to have experienced the original mechanical keyboards of the 70s-80s like the IBM model M. I remember switching to membrane keyboards in the 90s and I missed the sturdiness and responsiveness of mechanical keyboards. It's probably what you are used to that counts the most for personal preference. Just as an example, my 70 year old dad much prefers his new mechanical keyboard for typing as it reminds him of the old keyboards used in his career as professional writer.

1
AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

God. I remember those. They were a nightmarish cacophony of sound. I actually could not go into offices where those were being used, the sheer noise of a number of people typing on those things would give me bad panic attacks.

Is there an ASMR element to this with brains which are underesponsive to sensory stimuli where having something loud and clacky is pleasurable? Or is it like a big engine in a car? It's fascinating, and I'm sorry I don't understand the appeal.

But yes, I was there for those. I wish I hadn't been.

1
hahnchen Avatar
97
2 Years ago

Is this a fucking joke? Those beige colossi from the 90s were mechanical keyboards.

I started PC gaming on a 1997 Dell, the keyboard was an IBM clone with ALPS switches. That keyboard broke in 2004 (my fault), and then I switched to the cheapest possible keyboard from Dixons. It was garbage.

I finally went back to mechanical this year, another beige Dell classic from the 90s. I find it even better than new mechanicals such as the DAS. Mechanical keyboards made a comeback because they're better, that's the reason that they exist. Membrane keyboards were introduced only because they were cheaper.

1
Belimawr Avatar
1276
2 Years ago

I went through keyboards every 12-18 months due to wear been on this keyboard close to 3 years now and it's never had even a hint of a problem, I would say that is a good reason to get a mechanical board when the life span is so much better.

1
MrAptronym Avatar
361
2 Years ago

I used to use a mechanical keyboard as a kid and loved it and the thing still works even. Plenty of old grognards (Prgogrammers esp.) use their old ones today. The tactile quality is definitely different and many people prefer it, it is weird to claim they are no solution to anything, even as you claim to notice a difference. It is also weird to act like the gaming peripheral companies made them up when they have had adherents since the early days of computers. Sure they made a push and convinced people of some probably inflated benefits, but its not like they invented the mechanical keyboard.

Sure, you might not like it, but that doesn't mean other people cannot appreciate them. (And they aren't all loud.) I agree all the insane peripherals with a dozen buttons added and a ton of lighting settings are mostly pointless. I also don't really think I've bought an advantage in any games I play with my Corsair. However, I do think I enjoy typing on it better when I am programming or writing overlong comments. The noticeable physical click makes a good tactile signal and I like the depth of motion the keys have.

A good office chair, a nice mouse and a solid keyboard are three of the best PC purchases I have ever made. The thing is also very hardy, I've spilled four cups of coffee directly on my keyboard and it doesn't seem to mind one bit.

I appreciate the idea of questioning whether peripherals and other 'gamer' aimed products are actually worth having, but this just seems like a rant about things being different from when you were a kid? (Which was different from when people were kids 10 years earlier than you and probably grew up on a different kind of mechanical switch keyboard.)

1
AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

I actually wonder what people do to their keyboards to have them konk out so quickly...

Then again, I've seen people use console controllers like possessed beasts. And I really do wonder if it's a lack of either capacity for touch, or an inability to process finer sensory stimuli. Essentially, I have high resolution touch where most people seem to have a very, very low resolution sense of touch.

So I don't wear out keyboards so quickly because I don't need to hammer on them. It's the same with game controllers, too. I didn't need mechanical parts in those to have them last. It's just a matter of not needing to maul them and actually looking after them.

I'm not saying that your love of mechanical keyboards is wrong, but more that perhaps a low resolution sense of touch makes them more of a necessity for you than they would be for, say, me.

And you may not have a low resolution sense of touch, but that's the only angle I can see at the moment that makes sense.

1
AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

Oops, double post, sorry.

1
Shriven Avatar
3486
2 Years ago

Paid for article!

1
Aever Avatar
654
2 Years ago

Actually, I started using PCs with an old IBM mechanical keyboard that probably weighted a good few kilos. Think this was it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ80bIUEMyQ.

Anyways, back to the topic, most of the things you hear about "gaming" peripherals is nowadays marketing or simple gimmicks you'll barely use. Why? Because you figure out fairly fast that you can do as as good without. Keyboards with displays that usually you can't see, keyboards with a gazillion extra buttons that serve little practical purpose, mice with more buttons that a regular keyboard, etc.

A few people will be able to use all those features, some might gain an advantage because they can make use of the very high sensitivity of gaming mice, but most of us won't. Most of us will buy a gaming mouse because .. well, it looks cool, but will dumb down the sensitivity to a more manageable value, usually a value that any reasonably mouse will be able to do as well.

But, there are some fact behind all the marketing. Mechanical keyboard are tougher and should last longer than a membrane keyboard. Pushing buttons tends to be easier, because you need less force to achieve a button press. Also, it's easier to find the keyboard you feel most comfortable with, because of all the options for the switches. Finally, gaming keyboards tend to be the have the best overall quality, since people that use them are willing to pay more than people that are just looking for any keyboard.

Finally, about typing. I work in a software development office and mechanical keyboards are fairly popular. They're annoying as hell, true, but people that have been using them for a while say they actually type faster and make less mistakes. In the end, it's a matter of taste and getting used to them. They're not inherently better or worse for typing, all that matters is how well you can adapt to them.

1
TheMindPoison Avatar
1
1 Year ago

My first gaming experience on PC platform (IBM PC -- I started playing games on Apple ][ and DEC terminals) was WITH a mechanical keyboard -- only back then we called them "keyboards". The crappy membrane keyboards that commonly came with boxed consumer PC's are a relatively recent thing (like last 20 years) before that almost all keyboards had mechanical switches and were variations of toolings repurposed from professional word processing equipment, electric typewriters, mainframe terminals and their ilk. When computer enthusiasts (if you were a PC gamer back in tha day, you were a computer enthusiast and likely able to code) built a PC for gaming -- there werent really "Gaming" pc's yet, we generally paid extra for quality clicky keyboards because they were so much better than the membrane el cheapos AND we became used to them -- especially the popular IBM Model M -- which, to me it seems, nearly all mechanical gaming keyboards attempt to emulate the tactile feel and many times the sound of today. Man, I hated the day my original regular PC keyboard -- not a model M but a comparable one -- died. I had used it for years with it's AT plug plugged into a PS/2 adapter. It wasn't until I got my Razer blackwidow that I remembered how much I had loved the feel of a good mechanical. Now I use an inexpensive Eagletec, and a not so inexpensive Razer rather than the membrane keyboards and, aside from the noise, I can't complain at all. Does it make me a better gamer? Na, probably not, but I swear it makes me a better game developer!

1
brunofin12 Avatar
1
1 Month ago

I agree fully with you. I am more of an ergonomics person. I have a Logitech M705 because it's the best mouse I have laid my hands on. When my first broke, I bought another one the same. I am dreaming of a Microsoft Sculpt keyboard right now. I want a silent keyboard. I literally wake people up with my current keyboard, and that's not useful at all. The RGB is pretty, but meh. I think my BIAS lights behind the screen are actually better because they serve a purpose (and are pretty too).

1
Writer Avatar
1
1 Month ago

YES. This article sums up exactly what I'm thinking about mechanical keyboards. The "feedback" argument being the most ridiculous one.

1
AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

I thought I was the only old-school heretical freak that disliked those. I've been with computers since computers had rubber keys, back when all this mechanical nonsense was the hip, new thing. I didn't like it. I still don't.

I'm not being a suck up. It's my autism. I won't go into too much detail, but certain kinds of autism lead to mental over-stimulation. And with high-functioning autism meaning one has an always-on brain that never really rests? That's bad. That can turn into an epileptic fit really, really fast.

All the clacking, the almost (for me) painful physical feedback of having to press the keys that hard... Well, it was a type of keyboard that could almost give me a panic attack after using it for too long. I preferred the quieter keyboards that had little plastic caps with rubbery bits beneath, the predecessor to the higher quality chiclet keyboards that some (including me) use for gaming today.

I've recently moved away from laptop and back to desktop, and the kind of keyboard I'm using? It's one of these:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LOGITECH-K280e-Layout-Corded-Keyboard/dp/B00FOJFGEM

It's better than any mechanical keyboard I've ever used. It's quiet and incredibly responsive, which is all I want out of both a typing and gaming keyboard. I don't feel the need to be fancy, and I'm not being hard on mechanical keybaords because this article has provided a 'cool zone' for which to do so. I'm just voicing my honest opinion.

I've never understood the appeal, either. This is one of those things where I actually don't even understand the appeal through the lens of my empathy, which is fairly advanced I'd like to think. I'm trying to envision someone actually finding a use out of it that's real and being satisfied with that and how it's superior to other solutions. I just can't.

Mechanical keyboards feel like one of those things that happened because popular people liked them. The Kim Kardashian of keyboards, if you will. Everyone else finds them fantastic, sexy, and the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I'm just left scratching my head in confusion. And it's not for a lack of trying to understand the appeal, believe me on that, it isn't. I want to understand everything, that's one of my drive in life.

But this is one of the bigger mysteries.

0
darkcuckerberg Avatar
5
2 Years ago

"It's a mystery that anyone can like something I don't!"

They happened in the gaming realm because popular people liked them , but there have been communities existing around mechanical boards long before that. Your empathy is broken, and so is your brain. Maybe scratch your head a little bit harder, it might help.

2
darkcuckerberg Avatar
5
2 Years ago

Brilliant, so please explain the existence of mechanical switch technology in keyboards long before the mass-shift to rubberdomes brought on by the manufacturers' desire to cut their costs? Explain the cult-ish love for the Model M and F, along with Cherry's original mechanical boards? Then what about the existence of ALPS switches in boards, along with their clones as well? These all predate the rise of gaming-related peripherals.

It's certainly not that they've solved some new problem, but when the majority of people who use them feel that they offer a better typing experience than rubberdomes, maybe your experience is an outlier.

Sure you may prefer scissor switch mechanisms to cherry-based switches, but you can't honestly tell me that you'd prefer say the ubiquitous HP rubberdomes present in businesses and public institutions to even the cheapest of mechanical boards.

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Jᴀғᴀғᴀ Hᴏᴛs Avatar
2

"Brilliant, so please explain the existence of mechanical switch technology in keyboards long before the mass-shift to rubberdomes..."

Please explain the existence of steam engines prior to the internal combustion engine.

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AnAuldWolf Avatar
872
2 Years ago

Look through the comments section and you'll find my explanation.

High resolution sense of touch:

- Presses keys quietly.

- Can feel tactile response on light key presses.

- Doesn't have 'keyboard errors' due to accurately gauging which key was pressed and how hard.

- A light touch means the keyboard lasts a very long time.

- For those who suffer with migraines, tinnitus, hyperacusis, or any form of audio overstimulation problems the quietness is a blessing.

Low resolution sense of touch:

- Is confused by lack of tactile response due to very low levels of physical sensory processing, needs a key that 'clicks' (to whatever degree) to know it's happened.

- Perceives errors and problems with non-mechanical keyboards that exist only to those keyboards not providing the heavy degree of physical stimuli needed.

- Is very heavy handed in order to get the level of physical sensory feedback needed to know they've pressed something, so non-mechanical keyboards are seen to not last as long.

- Are probably deaf and too inconsiderate to care about those who aren't.

The more I read, the more true this seems. You're likely not a person I could hand two pieces of wood to and ask if you could tell the tree they're from by sensation of grain alone (I can do that).

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darkcuckerberg Avatar
5
2 Years ago

You're probably an autist with a fixation on wood then. The average rubber dome requires upwards of 50cN to actuate (the Dell QuietKey, one of the more ubiquitous old rubber domes requires 75cN) The switches I currently have installed in my primary board only require 35cN of force to actuate. I'm anything but heavy handed.

I'm not perceiving an error, I have a preference about the feel and feedback of a given switch technology.

I don't use loud boards in public / shared work spaces, I have a board that is silenced to a degree comparable to most RD boards.

You did a great job making shitty conclusions, jackass.

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darkcuckerberg Avatar
5
2 Years ago

Right, but the implication is that they came after in an attempt made only to drive sales for something that has apparently zero benefit, according to the author. Not exactly a perfect metaphor.

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