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what is mechanical keyboard

 Why would anyone want to spend more than $ 100 on a mechanical keyboard instead of sticking to a basic $ 20 model? A keyboard is a keyboard, right? Not so much actually. My mind changed when I finally tried the best gaming mechanical keyboard. 

I suddenly found the keys on my rubber dome keyboard appallingly bold. What is so special about mechanical keyboards? To answer that I'll start with a little history.

In the early days of PCs keyboards were large and expensive devices. They included a stable printed circuit board mounted on a metal board with various types of mechanical switches that provide tactile and/or audible feedback when pressed. 

It did not leave you in doubt whether you typed a character successfully or not. There was no need to tap the keyboard up and down with each beat just to ensure the key was pressed.

The best gaming mechanical keyboard was large and heavy and cost over $ 100. When the average PC cost between $ 2000 and $ 5000 that extra price was negligible.

However, when computers dropped in price consumers were less willing to shell out $ 100- $ 200 on a keyboard. And manufacturers were under pressure to produce complete systems for less than $ 1000 leaving no room for a $ 200 keyboard.

Enter the rubber dome membrane keyboard. The circuit was printed on a series of flexible membranes and the keys were supported by rubber domes instead of springs. Pressing a key collapsed the rubber dome pushing the membranes together to register a keystroke.

The problem with this construction is that the quality of the rubber domes may vary quite a bit because of simple things like the temperature and humidity on the day of their manufacture. 

Also, they were usually not as stiff as springs and did not jump back quickly giving them the shrill feeling characteristic of them.

Two problems resulted from this. First, you had to download the keys in large quantities just to make sure they were indeed recording the key. This resulted in an unnecessary amount of concussions in the fingers and hands.

Also, you can type characters by mistake simply by placing your hands on the home keys since the rubber domes were not usually as stiff as springs. This required suspending the hands slightly in the air of the keyboard which caused fatigue due to prolonged use.

The popularity of thinner laptops led to the scissor-switch which had a very short key drive and had only two key positions up and down. This meant that downloading the key was the only course of action.

These shortcomings eventually led to a resurgence of the best gaming mechanical keyboard. At first, it came in the form of amateurs searching eBay and second-hand sources for old mechanical keyboards. 

This has led to a huge price increase for the more popular ones like the Model M Dell's AT101 and Apple's extended keyboard.

But even the current keyboard manufacturers have noticed and started producing new ones giving us a variety to choose from today. Most mechanical keyboard manufacturers use Cherry MX switches or one of several Cherry MX clones that have emerged in recent years. 

Also, the patent on the old IBM Model M was acquired by Unicomp and they continue to produce new ones. And Matias in Canada redesigned the old intricate Alps switches.

Although they are more expensive the best gaming mechanical keyboard does not have the shortcomings that users have received from rubber domes. You are not required to get off the key to know that you have turned on the switch and you can safely place your fingers on the home keys without worrying about typing something by mistake.

Mechanical Keyboard Switches

When you ask the question "What is a mechanical keyboard?", You can answer one of two ways simply or thoroughly. As a newcomer to this area, you need to start simple.

A mechanical keyboard is different from other keyboards because they have switches under the keys. These switches are made of several moving parts A hard plastic "stem" contains two metallic contacts and a spring underneath. 

When a key is pressed the stem pushes the spring down so that the two metal contacts connect, recording the keystroke to the keyboard circuits and therefore to your computer.

Essentially it is these switches that make mechanical keyboards well mechanical keyboards. You may have keyboards like a regular keyboard but it will still be mechanical because of its use on switches.

The Other Defining Factor Quality

Because of the durability and construction of these switches, mechanical ones are quality keyboards that last much longer than regular keyboards. Why? Simply put the constants are cheaply manufactured.

Because manufacturers tend to put out so many keyboards with computers they have been looking for ways to make the keyboards cheaper. 

This led to them creating membrane keyboards (like the sticks you might have in the microwave), and more commonly the keyboards have the rubber dome which are a hybrid of mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards. 

These domes are not made of several moving parts Instead the fun switches are made of polyurethane under the rubber or silicone keyboard.

When you press a key the rubber/silicone pushes the poly "switch" down to contact the circuit board below it. Although these dome switches can be made of metal you usually get the polyurethane instead of your average keyboard.

And that means they do not last nearly as long as a metal dome keyboard let alone a mechanical one.

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