How Long Do Mechanical Keyboards Last

April 8, 2024

Mechanical keyboards are monsters of durability. A well-built mechanical keyboard from a reputable manufacturer can typically last anywhere from 5 to 10 years or more with regular use and proper care. Some have been using their mechanical keyboards for almost 2 decades without experiencing significant issues. Here are some factors that can affect the lifespan of a mechanical keyboard:

  1. Build Quality: Keyboards with metal frames, durable keycaps, and reliable switches are likely to endure more wear and tear over time.
  2. Switch Durability: Mechanical switches are rated for a certain number of keystrokes, often around 10 to 100 million keypresses. Higher-quality switches, such as those made by Cherry or Gateron, can last longer than cheaper alternatives.
  3. Usage Patterns: Heavy typists or gamers who use their keyboards extensively may experience wear more quickly compared to occasional users.
  4. Maintenance: Regular cleaning and maintenance can help extend the lifespan of a mechanical keyboard. 
  5. Environmental Factors: Exposure to extreme temperatures, humidity, or spills can damage a keyboard and shorten its lifespan.

The secret of their longevity lies in their durability, quality, and some tender loving care. Let's discuss how you can keep your keyboard functioning for many years to come. 

Why Mechanical Keyboards Have a Long Lifespan

If you're using a mechanical keyboard, you'd be happy and relieved to know that you made a good decision and investment. That's because mechanical keyboards are engineered and manufactured with durability in mind. Let's explain why mechanical keyboards tend to have a longer lifespan compared to standard membrane keyboards:

  1. Durable Switches: Mechanical keyboards use individual mechanical switches for each key. These key switches are constructed with durable materials such as metal contacts and plastic housings. These switches are designed to withstand 50 to 100 million keystrokes, resulting in longer-lasting performance compared to the silicone rubber domes used in membrane keyboards.
  2. Repairability: If a key switch fails or a keycap becomes faulty, the defective component can be replaced without replacing the entire keyboard. Hot-swappable keyboards, in particular, allow users to replace keys without soldering or desoldering the components. This repairability can extend the useful life of a mechanical keyboard.
  3. Customizability: Many mechanical keyboards allow users to customize keycaps, switches, and other components. Not only does this enhance the typing experience but it also allows users to replace worn-out parts or upgrade components to maintain optimal performance over time.
  4. Build Quality: High-quality mechanical keyboards are built with sturdy materials such as metal frames and thick keycaps. This robust construction contributes to their longevity by providing resistance to wear and tear from daily use.
  5. Less Susceptible to Key Chatter: Mechanical switches are less prone to key chatter; that is when a key registers multiple keystrokes with a single press. Key chatter can accelerate wear on a keyboard by causing excessive actuations, but mechanical switches are engineered to minimize this issue.

Extending the Lifespan of Your Mechanical Keyboard

image of a mechanical keyboard, removed keycaps, and a bowl of soapy water

Your mechanical keyboard is engineered to last for years. But you can lengthen its lifespan with a few simple pointers: 

  1. Regular cleaning: Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate between the keycaps and inside the switches, potentially affecting their performance. Regularly clean your keyboard with compressed air and a soft brush.
  2. Deep clean: For a deeper clean, remove the keycaps and/or the switches and clean the nooks and cavities where brushes and jets of compressed air can't reach.
  3. Avoid eating and drinking near your keyboard: Liquids and food crumbs can damage and dirty the switches and circuitry of your keyboard. 
  4. Use a keyboard cover: Use a keyboard cover when your keyboard is not in use. This can help protect it from dust, dirt, spills, UV rays, and other harsh elements.
  5. Proper storage: When not in use, store your keyboard in a clean and dry environment away from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and humidity.
  6. Be gentle: Avoid excessive force when typing or gaming. Mechanical keyboards are durable, but excessive pressure on the keys can lead to premature wear and tear.
  7. Replace worn keycaps: Keycaps are usually the first components to show wear and tear. Replace worn keycaps with new ones to maintain a consistent typing experience and protect the switches underneath.
  8. Perform regular maintenance: Periodically check your keyboard for any signs of damage or malfunction. If you notice any issues, address them promptly to prevent further damage.
  9. Avoid excessive key rollover: Some mechanical keyboards have features like NKRO (N-Key Rollover) that allow you to press multiple keys simultaneously. While this feature is useful, avoid excessive key rollover as it can put additional strain on the switches.
  10. Invest in a keyboard sleeve or case: If you travel with your keyboard frequently, invest in a protective sleeve or case to protect it from bumps, scratches, and other damage while traveling.

Maximizing the Durability of Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Mechanical switches have an impressive lifespan, guaranteeing tens to hundreds of millions of keystrokes. While this is impressive, there are ways to extend the lifespan of these switches.

  1. Use the proper typing technique: Avoid slamming the keys or using excessive force when typing. Typing with a lighter touch can reduce wear on the switches.
  2. Clean regularly: Remove the keycaps. Clean the dirt, dust, and grime around the switches using a brush and a moist cloth. If you're using a hot-swappable keyboard, you can also remove the switches themselves and clean the insides of the sockets.
  3. Avoid spills: Liquid spills can damage mechanical switches. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your keyboard to prevent accidental spills. If a spill does occur, immediately disconnect the keyboard, remove the keycaps, and thoroughly dry the affected areas.
  4. Avoid extreme temperatures and humidity: Exposure to extreme temperatures or high humidity can damage mechanical switches and other components of the keyboard. Put your keyboard in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight to prevent potential damage.
  5. Use a keyboard cover: Cover your keyboard to protect the switches when the keyboard is not in use.
  6. Key jamming: If a key becomes stuck or jams, do not forcefully pry it as this can damage the switch. Instead, gently press the key a few times or use a keycap puller to remove the keycap and inspect the switch for any obstructions.

Conclusion

With a mechanical keyboard, you're in for a long-lasting typing companion. This amazing computer peripheral is built to withstand the test of time, thanks to its solid construction, individual switches designed to handle millions of keystrokes, and the option to replace worn-out parts.

Your keyboard's build quality doesn't solely determine its lifespan. How you care for and maintain it also plays a significant role. With the right choice and proper maintenance, your mechanical keyboard can serve as a faithful tool for your gaming and typing needs for many years.

Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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