Mechanical Keyboard Buying Guide: Need to Know Before You Buy

Mechanical Keyboard Buying Guide

This comprehensive reference covers everything you need to know about mechanical keyboards, from switch types and features to popular brands, custom builds, maintenance advice, and FAQs. Learn the essential features that distinguish mechanical keyboards and their best use for gaming, typing, and programming. Get assistance in locating the ideal mechanical keyboard to enhance your computer use experience.  

What Are Mechanical Keyboards?

A mechanical keyboard operates using physical switches under each key. This gives precise tactile feedback when typing, unlike the rubber dome membrane used in standard keyboards. The switch design leads to unparalleled durability, with a lifespan up to 50 million keystrokes. Mechanical keyboards cater to those seeking a premium typing experience, whether for gaming, programming, or writing.

Key Types of Mechanical Switches

The type of mechanical switch largely impacts the overall feel and performance of a keyboard. The most common switch types include:

Linear Switches

  • Cherry MX Red - Light smooth actuation force, no tactile bump or click. Good for fast-paced gaming.
  • Cherry MX Black - Stiffer than Reds but still linear. Ideal for gaming that needs heavier keys.

Tactile Switches

  • Cherry MX Brown - Light tactile bump feedback without sound. Excellent balance for typing.
  • Cherry MX Clear - Stiffer than Browns with more noticeable bump. Preferred for typists.

Clicky Switches

  • Cherry MX Blue - Distinct tactile bump & audible click sound. Satisfying for typing.
  • Cherry MX Green - Stiffer, more pronounced version of Blues. Ideal for typists.
  • Kailh Box White - Light & crisp clicky switch. Great typing switch.

Silent Switches

  • Cherry MX Silent Red - Linear like Reds but with integrated noise dampeners.
  • Cherry MX Silent Black – Dampened, stiffer linear switch.
  • Gateron Silent Brown - Tactile yet muted bump feedback.

Essential Features to Consider


The most common sizes are full-size (104 keys), tenkeyless (TKL) without numpad (87 keys), and 60% compact layouts. Smaller sizes allow more ergonomic positioning.

Wired vs Wireless

Wired mechanical keyboards have minimal input lag. Wireless offers more flexibility but may have weaker connections during intense gaming.


Anti-ghosting allows multiple simultaneous key presses without conflicts. Ideal for gaming. Look for 6-key rollover or higher.


Customizable keyboards allow remapping keys and macros for optimized workflows.

Media Controls

Convenient media keys for volume control, playback, etc.

RGB Lighting

Variable brightness and color backlighting offers customizable aesthetics.

Wrist Rest

Cushioned wrist rests reduce strain with proper ergonomic positioning.

Top Mechanical Keyboard Brands

Popular pre-built mechanical keyboard brands include:

  • Corsair – Feature-packed gaming keyboards with programmability.
  • Logitech – Reliable typing and gaming keyboards with smart functionality.
  • Razer – Cutting-edge gaming keyboards focused on performance.
  • Ducky – Well-constructed keyboards with fun themes and minimalist design.
  • Das Keyboard – Top-quality typing keyboards aimed at enthusiasts.
  • Keychron – Budget-friendly slim keyboards with cross-compatibility.

Custom Mechanical Keyboards

Enthusiasts can build fully customized mechanical keyboards piece by piece, choosing:

  • Switch type – Any MX-compatible mechanical switches.
  • Case – Metal, plastic, or wood cases in various layouts.
  • Keycaps – Custom keycap sets in different materials, fonts, colors.
  • PCB – The printed circuit board that connects the switches.
  • Plate – The switch-mounting plate material affects feel, e.g. brass, aluminum.
  • Stabilizers – Balance larger keys like spacebar for an even press.
  • Lubricants – Silicone grease reduces switch friction and noise.

Mechanical Keyboard Maintenance

Proper cleaning and maintenance ensures your keyboard's longevity. Recommended tips:

  • Use compressed air to clear dust and debris from switches.
  • Keycaps can be removed and soaked in soapy water then air dried.
  • Switch lubricant helps reduce friction. Apply a tiny amount on the slider rails.
  • Replace worn keycaps over time for smooth level presses.
  • Change worn out switches if keys feel inconsistent or non-responsive.

Popular Accessories

  • Switch testers – Try switches first hand before buying a keyboard.
  • O-rings – Add to keycaps to dampen noise and reduce travel distance.
  • Keycap puller – Safely remove keycaps without damaging switches.
  • Switch opener – Opens switches to enable cleaning and modifications.
  • Coiled cable – Custom USB-C coiled aviator connector cable.
  • Desk mat – Protects desk surface and gives stylistic flair.

Mechanical Keyboard FAQs

Are mechanical keyboards better for gaming?

Mechanical keyboards are ideal for gaming due to durability, n-key rollover, and fast responsiveness. Tactile or clicky switches enhance feedback.

How do I know which switch type I prefer?

Test switch types first-hand with a switch tester. Determine whether you like linear, tactile or clicky switches.

Are all keycap sets compatible with my keyboard?

Keycap compatibility depends on layout size and stem style. Most custom sets fit Cherry MX-style cross stems.

Can I use a mechanical keyboard for regular typing?

Mechanical keyboards excel for typing with springy responsive keys. Tactile or clicky switches provide the best feedback.

Are mechanical keyboards loud?

Clicky switch types like Blues are audible. But there are quite options like linear Reds or dampened Silent switches.

How do I clean a mechanical keyboard?

Use compressed air and/or keycap removal to clear dust. Avoid submerging the entire keyboard. Clean around switches gently.

Why are mechanical keyboards so expensive?

The high-quality durable components and customized designs lead to premium pricing. But budget options are also available.

Are small 60% keyboards practical?

60% of keyboards save space while keeping essential keys. Function layers let you access missing keys like arrows. Takes some learning but is very efficient.

Can mechanical keyboards be wireless?

Yes, wireless mechanical keyboards are available using Bluetooth connectivity. Ensure minimal input lag, especially for gaming.


Mechanical keyboards are a worthwhile investment due to their diverse design possibilities and excellent performance potential. To limit your options, consider your priorities (typing, gaming, programming, etc.) and preferred switch style. For a completely optimised experience, look for keyboards with vital characteristics such as programmability and ergonomics. Investing the effort to identify the ideal mechanical match will benefit your computing for many years to come.

Next Post Previous Post