Mechanical vs. Membrane Keyboards: What’s the Difference?

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It’s almost second nature for any gaming enthusiast to ask what kind of keyboard they should purchase. Whether you’re a professional gamer or enjoy playing the latest first-person shooter, the debate between mechanical and membrane keyboards is worth having.

After all, the keyboard is one of the most important peripherals for a PC gamer, not to mention mice, mouse pads, and headsets.

This article will explore the differences between mechanical and membrane keyboards to help you decide which one is right for you.

How Do They Work?

Mechanical keyboards use small switches underneath each key to register a keypress. These switches come in different “flavors,” each offering a unique balance of tactility, audible feedback, and actuation force.

In contrast, membrane keyboards use a rubber dome beneath each key that collapse when pressed, which then completes an electrical circuit and registers the keypress.

Advantages of Membrane Keyboards

The membrane keyboard affords you the following benefits:

Lower price point

Since they require fewer parts and manufacturing complexity, membrane keyboards typically cost less than mechanical keyboards.

Reduced noise output

Membrane Keyboards don’t have the same audible “click” as mechanical models, so they’re ideal if you need to keep things quiet—such as in an office setting.

More compact design

The rubber domes used in membrane keyboards are thinner than the physical switches found in mechanical models. This makes them more compact overall and ideal if you have limited desk space or frequently travel with your keyboard.

Less maintenance

Because there are no physical moving parts in the membrane keyboard, they generally require less maintenance than mechanical models (although this isn’t always the case).

For example, dust and other particles can get caught beneath the keys of both types of keyboards—but considering you can remove the keycaps from most mechanical keyboards for cleaning, it’s easier to keep them clean overall.

Advantages of Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keyboards offer the following advantages:

Greater durability

The individual switches in mechanical keyboards are much more durable than the rubber domes used in membrane keyboards. This means mechanical keyboards can withstand more abuse and last longer overall.

More customization options

Due to their popularity among gamers and general tech enthusiasts, many more customization options are available for mechanical keyboards than for membrane keyboards.

For example, you can find mechanical keyboards with RGB backlighting, programmable keys, and hot-swappable switches—to name a few features.

Better typing experience

Because each key press on a mechanical keyboard is registered independently, they tend to be more responsive and offer a more satisfying typing experience than membrane keyboards.


Mechanical keyboards tend to be more costly than membrane models.

Final Verdict

Both mechanical and membrane keyboards have distinct advantages that make them well-suited for different purposes. If you’re eyeing a high-performance keyboard that will last for years, offer a great typing experience, and plenty of customization options, then a mechanical model is probably your best bet—albeit at a higher price point. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quiet keyboard that won’t break the bank, a membrane keyboard will best suit you.