Mechanical vs membrane keyboards: What’s the difference. What”s a membrane keyboard’

These keyboards have long been used in almost all types of computers because the mechanism is simple to build and maintain. But it is a double-edged sword, because the diaphragm, if it is not of good quality, wears out, turns out to be stiffer until we have enough problems to press the keys comfortably.

Membrane Keyboard vs Mechanical Keyboard: Which One You Should Use?

There are many ranges of keyboards from many different manufacturers, most of which are membrane or mechanical keyboards. Being a gamer and typist, I have used many different keyboards over the years, each with different advantages or disadvantages. Some feel good in my hands, some don’t. When you do a lot of work or play a lot, you need something that will work well for your fingers. Now, not all keyboards are the same considering some are better than others, even though they are similar. Today we are going to compare the membrane keyboard and the mechanical keyboard and give recommendations on who should use the membrane keyboard and who should use the mechanical keyboard.

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Membrane Keyboard

What is a Membrane Keyboard

Let’s move on to working with the first type of keyboard called a membrane, which uses 3 different layers that are very flexible. The first layer is called the top layer of the membrane and there is a conductive trace underneath the top. When a key is pressed, it slides through the second layer, which is made up of holes, allowing the thrust pads under each key to pass through and contact the conductive marks on top of the bottom diaphragm layer.

Diagram of a membrane keyboard. Photo by Fourohfour from Wikipedia

Two types of designs are used. One is the flat wrench that is commonly used in microwave ovens. The keys in this design are printed on the same pad, it still uses a pressure pad, but because it doesn’t provide a noticeable “physical feedback” it makes it difficult to use the computer’s keyboard which relies on physical feedback when you blink.

Another type, called a dome keyboard, uses a dome with letters printed on top, sometimes they are laser-printed or stretched. This type of keyboard uses a dome rubber or silicone keyboard as the top membrane layer. When the domes are pressed down, they collapse and the graphite under the dome completes the perimeter under the diaphragm insert, thus sending a key press signal.

Pros of Membrane Keyboards

  • Similar typing experience on a mechanical keyboard
  • Relatively quiet
  • More portable
  • Accessible

As membrane keyboards can be made of common materials and mature technology, a membrane keypad will be more affordable than a mechanical keypad which has the same functions.

Cons of Membrane Keyboards

  • Writing feels
  • Rollover key
  • Length of life
  • Cleaning

Mechanical Keyboard versus Membrane Keyboard – There is often controversy over which keyboard is better: membrane (conventional) or mechanical.

Membrane keyboards

Image via Razer

Most office keyboards and integrated laptop keyboards use membrane systems for their value and reliability. Membrane keyboards also have better resistance to liquids and dirt than their mechanical counterparts.

How membrane keyboards work

This type of keyboard typically has three layers, including two rubber membranes with a gap between them. On the highest level there is a dome under the keys. When the key is pressed, the dome moves down through empty space to make contact with the bottom layer. When the two parts come into contact, they complete the circuit and the keystroke is registered. Although membrane keypads come in several types, they all use a version of the above system.

Types of membrane keyboards

Dome switch keyboards

These keyboards come with most pre-built computers and are used by office workers around the world. Some inexpensive gaming keyboards, such as the HyperX Alloy Core RGB and Razer Ornata, also use membrane keys. They usually have individual keys with spaces between them and use the same system described in the previous paragraph.

Photo: Daniel Beardsmore

Scissor switch keyboards

Scissor-switch keyboards have flat keys separated by a plate, and are usually standard on most laptops and low-profile options. This type of keyboard also uses a rubber dome, but the keys are attached to the dome by a scissor mechanism. The mechanism is open when a key is in its normal position and closes when a key is pressed by pressing the dome to register a keystroke. Some of the advantages of this system include a shorter travel distance and less actuation force needed to press buttons.

  • Decent price
  • Quiet work
  • Light
  • It can be more resistant to liquids and dirt
  • May have a mushy fuzzy sensation
  • Shorter service life
  • Parts cannot be replaced
  • Some keystrokes are not logged (no key rollover)

Mechanical keyboards

Image via Corsair

Mechanical keyboards are usually more technical and more expensive than membrane keyboards. Advanced users and gamers usually prefer to use mechanical keyboards. These keyboards don’t use membranes, and each key has its own switch to activate each key.

Each switch consists of a base, a pin, a contact and a spring. The stem is connected to the cap of the key and supported by a spring. When a key is depressed, it pushes the spindle down to the actuation point to register a keystroke. Mechanical keyboards often have a distinctive “down” sound so users know when a key is pressed.

One of the main benefits of mechanical switches is that they allow users to customize the feel of each key press, including the actuation point, feel and sound. Cherry MX sets the standard for mechanical switches, and other brands such as Gateron and Kailh offer similar options that share compatibility. The most popular variants are reds, blues, and browns, each with unique features and features. Many reputable gaming keyboards such as the SteelSeries Apex 7 and G513 Carbon allow users to choose between these popular switch options to suit their preferences.

While many manufacturers use Cherry MX compatible switches, others use their own switches. Glorious offers its own Glorious Panda switches for GMMK keyboards, and Logitech offers two lines of mechanical keys called GX and Romer G. HyperX uses a combination of both. The company offers its keyboards with proprietary switches or Cherry MX alternatives.

Common mechanical switch types

Reds

Red switches are often preferred by gamers due to their linearity and smooth operation. Cherry MX Reds require 55 grams of activation force, with 2 millimeters of initial travel and 4 millimeters of total travel.

Blues

The blue switches have a clear tactile feel and make a clicking noise when triggered. Typists and other professionals prefer these louder switches. Cherry MX Blue switches require 50 grams of actuating force, and also have a 2 millimeter initial stroke and 4 millimeters of total travel.

Browns

The brown switches are between Cherry MX Blues and Reds. They have a slight lump and are relatively quiet. These switches are a middle ground between the other two types and are ideal for many applications. Cherry MX Browns need 45 grams of force to run with the same 2 millimeters of initial travel and 4 millimeters of total travel as the other two types.

Hot swapping

While most mechanical keyboards have switches soldered to the board, some options allow users to swap switches or use a combination of different switches. These keyboards are becoming more and more popular, and keyboards like the Glorious GMMK and Logitech G Pro X offer this feature. Despite their growing popularity, hot-swap keyboards can only be expensive and cost-effective for users who will struggle to replace switches.

  • Replaceable keycaps
  • easy cleaning thanks to the removable keycaps
  • Switches can be replaced by advanced users if they are damaged
  • Better feedback

As membrane keyboards cannot be repaired and no spare parts are available it logically follows that they are not intended for permanent use. Membrane keyboards are often manufactured using the cheapest materials and with the most reduced quality control standards. Of course, they can go on for a long time, and they probably will if you are careful with them.

The Bottom Line

After reading the post, you will have a further understanding of the membrane keyboard. Additionally, when purchasing a keyboard, you can make a wise choice based on the analysis of 2 keyboards. Hope this article can be helpful for you. The end of this post is coming.

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Currently, not all models are made the same, some are made better than others. In this article, of course, I will help with a guide on what a membrane keyboard is, features with pros and cons, and analyze the most ideal choice for you to choose according to your needs.

Difference between Mechanical and Membrane Keyboard (in Points)

Let’s get to know the 5 factors that determine which keyboard will suit your needs and the difference between a mechanical keyboard and a membrane keyboard:-

The convenience of each product is important to users. Weight, ease of cleaning and customization is the starting point for convenience and reliability for the user.

The membrane keyboard is much lighter compared to a mechanical keyboard. It will be easy to take this keyboard and carry it around your workspace. But it is difficult to clean and has no protection against liquids such as water if spilled into it.

Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, are resistant to liquids such as water and cold drinks. And yes, the mechanical ones are a bit heavy and a bit big that take up little space on the table.

In addition, if we are talking about dirt on the keys, you can completely disassemble the keyboard, which is easy. Just remove the caps and you will gain access to the keyboard mechanism. The presence of easily removable caps is another convenience for the user.

You can replace or attach additional keys according to your liking, which creates a truly customizable device for your desktop or your gaze at your surroundings. Players can often find interchangeable caps that come in separate sets.

In the case of a membrane keyboard, we are deprived of such a privilege.

Tactile Feedback

Listen, whether it’s an amateur, gamer, professional, or office worker, keyboard responsiveness is important. In the case of a mechanical keyboard, the keys are very responsive, which makes you feel faster and more efficient with each press than with membrane keyboards.

When typing, your fingers will appreciate the pleasure of its smoothness and softness, it does not require a lot of pressure to press a key. In fact, the button is triggered with half a stroke of the button, you will clearly feel the click and the corresponding sound.

As a result, you will save a lot of time when typing a large amount of text, it will also not cause severe pain and fatigue. This is why these keyboards have been appreciated and still used by esports players and professional typists.

On the other hand, tactile feedback is a weak point of membrane keyboards. Such keyboards cannot handle pressing more than three buttons simultaneously. Your effort is required here to press a key than a mechanical one.

This is due to the membrane structure of the keyboard. You will often find that when typing quickly there are “simultaneous clicks” appearing and pressing a key does not work. In this case, you are not able to type quickly, this drawback can lead to frequent failures in competitive games.

If we compare both keyboards in terms of the number of keystrokes. Then for a membrane keyboard, it can handle about 5-10 million clicks, and for a mechanical keyboard, up to 50 million or even some switches can reach 50-100 million clicks .

Best membrane

Razer Cynosa Chroma

Amazing budget option

The Razer Cynosa Chroma may not be as powerful as the mechanical options, but it’s still a great keyboard – especially considering its cheap price.

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For example, if you are on a tight budget and are less concerned with keyboard performance, a Membrane Keyboard is right for you. On the contrary, if you have to use the keyboard frequently, a mechanical keyboard will be better for you.

How to Distinguish a Mechanical Keyboard from a Membrane Keyboard?

In fact, membrane keyboards are not much different from mechanical ones, even in appearance. It is enough to press at least one button to understand which device is in front of the user.

Mechanical keyboards “click” loud and clear, which gives a tactile response, but also a sound. Similarly, buttons with switches work while pressing and there is no point in pressing them all the way.

The situation is different in the case of membrane devices. First, they’re usually quiet. Secondly, the edge of their activity is at the very bottom, so that the command sent to the computer is on the screen, the user has to press the key all the way down.

Several users resort to the complete disassembly of the gadget to decide on the type of keyboard. It is undoubtedly an effective technique for deciding on key assembly technology, however, it is not suitable for everyone.

Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard, Which One to Choose?

In today’s realities, each type of keyboard has its pros and cons. The keyboard is selected on the basis of the scope of tasks that the user solves on a daily basis and personal preferences regarding working at the computer. So they both have their audience.

Before deciding on a specific model, you should decide what you need the keyboard for. Because different users have different requirements for their devices .

Now, if you are an avid user who writes stories, articles, encodes and even rewrites quickly, a mechanical device would be a very good choice for you. Even gamers will benefit from using them in their games for the speed and extra features that are sometimes required.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a keyboard that is inexpensive, quiet, compact for tablet or wireless use, and you’re not looking for maximum performance, membrane keyboards are a good choice.

The best thing to do is find a place where you can try the different types and find the one that suits your needs as it is important to find out what works best for your fingers. Choose what works best for you.

The weight of a mechanical keyboard can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how you use it. Mechanical keyboards are usually heavy, which helps to prevent the keyboard from sliding across your desk while you type.

Overview of Membrane Keyboards

Also known as a membrane keyboard, a membrane keyboard is a type of keyboard that is characterized by a thin and flexible layer. This membrane layer serves as keyboard switches. All keyboards have switches. A switch is simply a mechanism that controls a circuit. Each key usually has one switch. However, in a membrane keypad, the switches are embedded in a flexible membrane layer.

Membrane keyboards operate on a membrane layer that is responsible for each of its switches. The membrane layer is usually made of polyester. As you may know, polyester is a flexible material that is more forgiving than stiff or rigid materials.

When constructing a membrane keyboard, manufacturers use a sheet of polyester with conductive marks printed on it. The polyester sheet is cut to size and folded three times. After the polyester sheet is cut and folded, manufacturers bond it to other keyboard layers using ultrasonic welding.

Advantages of Membrane Keyboards

In addition to being popular, membrane keyboards have several advantages over other types of keyboards. They are available, for example, in smaller sizes and with a lower profile. Thanks to the polyester layer, membrane keyboards are not large or bulky. They support a variety of sizes, and many membrane keyboards are small and low-profile.

Membrane keyboards are also fluid resistant. They are sealed so that no water, drinks or liquids can enter the circuits under the keys. If you’re looking for a keyboard to use in a humid environment – or other environments where humidity is an issue – you might opt ​​for a membrane keyboard for that reason.

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