Mechanical Keyboards versus Traditional Keyboards in Workplaces

April 19, 2024

Keyboards are common in the workplace. They are the interface between you and your computer. You can type words for a report, create designs, program apps and websites, or even run systems using a keyboard. It's almost impossible to imagine that any work can be done without a keyboard.

Most workplaces use traditional membrane keyboards. But what if these workplaces shift and use mechanical keyboards? Will there be any difference? Can these businesses save more money or get better value for their operational costs? Will their work be more efficient?

Well, that's what we're going to find out.

Understanding Keyboard Types

Let's begin by understanding what membrane keyboards and mechanical keyboards are. Although the functions are the same, how each type executes that function is very different.

Mechanical Keyboards

A mechanical keyboard uses individual mechanical switches for each key. Each key on a mechanical keyboard contains its own switch mechanism, typically consisting of a spring and metal contacts.

When you press a key on a mechanical keyboard, the keycap pushes down on a plastic stem inside the switch. In turn, the stem pushes against a metal spring inside the switch. The force exerted on the spring reaches a point where it overcomes the spring's resistance, causing the spring to collapse. This collapse is known as the actuation point.

As the keypress reaches its actuation point, the switch completes an electrical circuit by connecting two metal contacts inside the switch. This electrical signal is then sent to the keyboard's controller, registering the keypress and presenting the signal as a character or an action on your computer screen. 

Once the key is released, the spring returns to its original position, pushing the stem and keycap back up. This action resets the switch and prepares it for the next keypress.

Mechanical keyboards are popular for their durability, tactile feedback, large degree of customization, and distinct typing experience.

Standard Membrane Keyboards

Traditional membrane keyboards are the most common type of keyboards found in workplaces and homes. They consist of three layers: the top membrane layer, a middle spacer layer, and a bottom membrane layer.

The top membrane layer contains the keys, which are made of rubber or silicone. When a key is pressed, it pushes down on the top membrane layer, which then makes contact with the bottom membrane layer. This completes an electrical circuit as the keypress is registered. The middle spacer layer provides support and ensures that the keys return to their original position after being pressed.

Membrane keyboards are relatively quiet operation and low cost, making them popular choices for office environments and general-purpose computer use.

Standard Features

an image of a membrane keyboard

There are many brands and models of standard and mechanical keyboards. While they may have extra functionalities and different designs, they do share some common denominators. 

Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keyboards come with features that appeal to many users. Some common features include:

  1. Mechanical Switches: The defining feature of mechanical keyboards is the individual mechanical switches beneath each key. These keys are mechanisms that register keypresses to the computer. These durable switches provide tactile feedback, varying actuation points, and durability.
  2. Customizable Keycaps: Many mechanical keyboards have removable and customizable keycaps. Users can use them out for different designs, materials, or aesthetics. 
  3. Backlighting: Backlit mechanical keyboards have LEDs underneath the keycaps that light up the keys. Some keyboards offer customizable backlighting options, allowing users to modify brightness levels, color schemes, and lighting effects.
  4. N-Key Rollover (NKRO): Mechanical keyboards often support N-key rollover. Each key press is individually registered, regardless of how many keys are pressed simultaneously. 
  5. Anti-Ghosting: Similarly, anti-ghosting technology ensures that all keystrokes are accurately registered, even when multiple keys are pressed simultaneously. This prevents "ghosting," where certain key combinations may not be registered.

Standard Membrane Keyboards

Membrane keyboards or traditional keyboards are widely used in offices, homes, and other everyday settings. Here are some of the common features you might find in a standard medium keyboard:

  1. Membrane Key Switches: Standard medium keyboards use membrane key switches. These switches consist of a rubber dome or membrane layer beneath the keys. The dome or layer compresses when a key is pressed, making contact with a circuit board underneath, registering the keystroke.
  2. Full Keyboard Layout: Most standard medium keyboards feature a full-size layout with a standard set of keys, including alphanumeric keys, function keys (F1-F12), navigation keys (arrow keys), and modifier keys (Shift, Ctrl, Alt).
  3. Numeric Keypad: A numeric keypad is often included on the right side of the keyboard, providing a convenient layout for entering numbers and performing calculations.
  4. Plug-and-Play Connectivity: Standard medium keyboards typically connect to a computer via a wired USB connection, although wireless models with Bluetooth connectivity are also available.
  5. Slim Profile: Many standard medium keyboards feature a relatively slim profile, making them suitable for use in compact workspaces.
  6. Affordability: Standard medium keyboards are generally more affordable compared to mechanical keyboards and other specialized keyboard types, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious consumers.

Advantages and Disadvantages

an image of a mechanical keyboard

Mechanical keyboards and standard keyboards have their pros and cons. Let's identify them so you can choose for yourself which is best for you.

Mechanical Keyboards


  1. Tactile Feedback: Mechanical keyboards provide tactile feedback. Users feel when a key is actuated. This tactile sensation can enhance typing accuracy and comfort.
  2. Durability: Mechanical keyboards are more durable than membrane keyboards. The individual mechanical switches are rated for 50 to 100 million keystrokes. 
  3. Customization: Users can choose from a variety of mechanical switch types, each offering different characteristics such as actuation force, tactile feedback, and noise level. Many mechanical keyboards also allow users to customize keycaps, backlighting, keys, and macros, providing users with a personalized typing experience.


  1. Cost: Mechanical keyboards tend to be more expensive than membrane keyboards due to the mechanical switches. These switches are more complex and expensive to manufacture compared to membrane switches. 
  2. Noise: Some mechanical keyboards can be loud, especially those with clicky switches. The sound may be disruptive in quiet environments or shared workspaces. 
  3. Weight and Size: Mechanical keyboards are heavier and bulkier than membrane keyboards. The individual mechanical switches add weight to the keyboard, and the larger keycaps and switch mechanisms can result in a larger overall footprint. 
  4. Maintenance: Dust and debris can accumulate between the keycaps and switches over time, affecting performance and typing feel. Regular cleaning and maintenance are recommended to keep the keyboard in optimal condition.

Standard Membrane Keyboards


  1. Affordability: Membrane keyboards are generally more affordable than mechanical keyboards. The simple construction and mass production of membrane switches result in lower manufacturing costs.
  2. Quiet Operation: Membrane keyboards are quieter compared to mechanical keyboards. The rubber dome switches cushion the impact of keystrokes, giving each key press a softer and less audible typing sound. 
  3. Slim Profile: Many membrane keyboards feature a slim and lightweight design, making them more portable and space-efficient compared to mechanical keyboards.
  4. Low Maintenance: The absence of individual mechanical switches means there are fewer moving parts to collect dust and debris, resulting in a lower risk of key failure or performance issues.


  1. Lack of Tactile Feedback: Membrane keyboards lack the tactile feedback provided by mechanical keyboards. The rubber dome switches have a mushy feel and do not offer the same level of responsiveness or feedback as mechanical switches. 
  2. Limited Durability: Membrane keyboards are generally less durable than mechanical keyboards. The rubber dome switches have a shorter lifespan compared to mechanical switches. The rubber domes lose their elasticity and responsiveness, resulting in degraded typing performance.
  3. Inconsistent Keystrokes: Due to the nature of the rubber dome switches, some keys may feel softer or require more force to actuate than others. This inconsistency can affect typing speed and accuracy, particularly for touch typists.
  4. Limited Customization: Users cannot easily swap out keycaps or customize switch types, backlighting effects, or programmable macros. This lack of customization may limit the keyboard's suitability for users with specific preferences or requirements.

Which Has Better Performance in the Workplace

In general, mechanical keyboards often surpass common membrane keyboards in terms of speed, precision, and overall user interaction. Mechanical keyboards, with their tactile feedback, aid in typing rapidly and correctly. They are designed for durability and can withstand an impressive millions of key presses, far outlasting the standard 5-year life expectancy of membrane keyboards.

While standard mechanical keyboards can do what they're designed to do (a device to be used for typing stuff), they win in one department---their affordability. 


Mechanical keyboards have the upper hand over traditional keyboards on several fronts. They offer unmatched comfort, enable quicker typing, and are known for their exceptional longevity. Users can customize them according to their individual needs and preferences. 

If you have the budget, consider swapping membrane keyboards with mechanical keyboards. The latter can definitely level up your typing and, subsequently, your efficiency at work.

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.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Pinstack is a dedicated online media platform focusing on selling and reviewing mechanical keyboards. Our commitment is to provide comprehensive reviews, in-depth guides, and much more. With our active presence on YouTube and our website, we strive to deliver top-quality content across multiple platforms, aiming to bring the best to our audience.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscription Form
We care about the protection of your data. We’ll never share your details.

Pinstack is an Amazon Affiliate. All earnings from this website are from qualified purchases. Learn more about our affiliate disclosure terms.
2023 - Copyright, All Rights Reserved
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x