How Can You Tell If A Keyboard Is Mechanical?

So, you have a keyboard, and now you’re wondering if the keyboard is mechanical or not.

You can tell if a keyboard is mechanical by removing the keycaps to determine if there is a mechanical switch underneath. Membrane keyboards tend to feel more spongy and, perhaps they need less pressure on the keystroke but, the only way to be sure is to see the actual mechanical switches underneath the keycaps.

In this article, I explore how you can tell the difference between a regular membrane keyboard and a mechanical keyboard.

how can you tell if a keyboard is mechanical
A spring-loaded switch found on a mechanical keyboard offers unmatched tactile feedback when its pressed.

Table Of Contents

  1. How Do I Know If My Keyboard Is Mechanical?
  2. What Is the Difference Between A Regular And Mechanical Keyboard?
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Final Thoughts On How Can You Tell If A Keyboard Is Mechanical

How Do I Know If My Keyboard Is Mechanical?

There are a few ways to tell if your keyboard is mechanical or not, some of the methods are easier to perform than others. So let’s check them out and see if you can determine if your keyboard is mechanical or not.

Check The Packaging:

This may sound obvious to some, but if you have recently purchased your keyboard and still have the packaging check to see if it mentions anything about a mechanical keyboard or mechanical switches, if there is then you are in luck.

Also, inspect the keyboard itself for any visible markings referring to a mechanical keyboard or mechanical switch, for example, the most popular mechanical switches are Cherry MX. Alternatively, if you know the make and model trying searching on Amazon for mechanical keyboards.

Feel For The Springs:

One major difference between a mechanical keyboard and a membrane keyboard is that under the keycap there is a spring-loaded switch. When you type on a mechanical keyboard, the keys feel clicky, in other words, you feel resistance since you have to actuate the switch. A membrane keyboard tends to feel mushy when you press the keys – what does your keyboard feel like?

Another point to consider is because mechanical keyboards use spring-loaded switches, they typically tend to be less flat than membrane keyboards – is your keyboard flat?

Remove The Keycap:

This may sound extreme and daunting to someone with little to no experience with a mechanical keyboard but it’s not! Removing a mechanical keycap is a really simple task with a keycap pulling tool.

Removing the keycap is the only way to be sure that your keyboard is a mechanical one. Once you successfully remove the keycap from the keyboard, you will see the distinctive mechanical switch cross pictured below – and therefore confirming that you do in fact have a mechanical keyboard.

If you are unable to remove the keycap then its unlikely that your keyboard is a mechanical one.

mechanical keyboard switch
Mechanical keyboards are easily identified from their distinctive spring-loaded switches.

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What Is the Difference Between A Regular And Mechanical Keyboard?

When comparing a mechanical keyboard versus a membrane keyboard there are several differences. Let’s explore the biggest differences below:

Rubber Membrane:

The most noticeable difference between a regular keyboard and a mechanical keyboard is that a regular keyboard uses a rubber membrane under the keycap to actuate the key when it’s pressed whereas a mechanical keyboard uses a mechanical switch.

Sound And Feel:

To the trained ear, regular keyboards and mechanical keyboards do sound different. A mechanical keyboard sounds clicky when a key is pressed, whereas a regular membrane keyboard is less clicky. Regular keyboards also feel mushy when the keys are pressed due to the rubber membrane below the keycap.

Price:

Typically regular membrane keyboards are less expensive than mechanical keyboards, however they tend not to last as long either.

Durability:

Mechanical keyboards are typically more durable than regular membrane keyboards. Additionally, mechanical keyboards are easier to clean, service, or replace any components that may have become broken.

Mechanical Keyboard Pros:
  • Better Keystroke precision
  • Longer life span
  • Replaceable parts
  • More durable
  • Easy to clean and service
  • Customizable
Mechanical Keyboard Cons:
  • More expensive to buy
  • Heavier than membrane keyboards
  • Depending on the switch they can be louder
Mechanical versus membrane-style keyboards, what are the diferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, I have answered all of your questions related to, how can you tell if a keyboard is mechanical? However, you may still have other questions surrounding mechanical keyboards. If you do, below I have answered some common frequently asked questions.

Are mechanical keyboards loud?

This really depends on your definition of loud. Mechanical keyboards can be fitted with powerful silent switches like the Cherry MX Silent Black switch.

Is a mechanical keyboard really better?

Yes, a mechanical keyboard is really better. They have a better build quality and therefore have a longer life span, they are easier to clean, and most of the components are serviceable or replaceable. When considering typing you will find a switch to fit just about any typing preference.

What is a 100% mechanical keyboard?

A 100% mechanical keyboard is a style of keyboard often referred to as a full keyboard and will have at least 104 keys. They typically have the alphanumerics, navigational, and number pad keys. Full keyboards will also come with the F keys running along the top of the keyboard.

Final Thoughts On How Can You Tell If A Keyboard Is Mechanical

So, in conclusion. There are a few methods available when it comes to deciding if your keyboard is mechanical, some easier than others. For the less experienced mechanical keyboard user, it may be difficult to tell from feeling alone, and therefore removing the keycap to expose the mechanical switch may just be your best option.


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