Intro to mechanical keyboards

Intro to mechanical keyboards

intro to mechanical keyboards
Mechanical keyboards are making a comeback and receiving increasing attention from the technology and gaming community. With a long history of origin, they possess a special structure including mechanical switches, keycaps and backplate, providing an accurate, stable typing experience and outstanding longevity. In this introduction to mechanical keyboards, readers will join Enthkey to discover their operating mechanism, outstanding advantages compared to conventional keyboards, instructions on choosing appropriate keys and switches, as well as implementing them. promising future of this field. Let's learn about mechanical keyboards - the passion of computer and game lovers.

Discover the Origin of the Mechanical Keyboard

History of formation and development of mechanical keyboards

Mechanical keyboards have a long origin, going through a remarkable development journey. Its earliest roots can be found in 19th-century mechanical typewriters, with spring-loaded push rods facing the type shaft. However, it was not until 1968 that the Japanese company Hirose released the first electronic keyboard using an individual mechanical mechanism for each key.   Marking an important turning point, 1977 saw the birth of the first Cherry MX mechanical switch for computer keyboards developed by Cherry company (Germany). This became a widely adopted standard, opening a new era for mechanical keyboards. Other manufacturers such as Alps and Futaba also raced to produce many separate switch lines in the 1980s and 1990s. The rise of the mechanical keyboard-loving community Although commonly used at that time, mechanical keyboards were gradually forgotten before the rise of flat screen keyboards. However, in the 2010s, the community of technology lovers and gamers created a strong rise for mechanical keyboards. Offline events (meetups) in many countries are organized to exchange, display and buy and sell special mechanical keyboard models. At the same time, large forums such as Reddit, Geekhack, Deskthority were also formed and dedicated to this community. The appearance of new manufacturers such as Filco, Das Keyboard, and Ducky has contributed to bringing richness and diversity to the market.

Why are mechanical keyboards popular

So what makes mechanical keyboards so popular? Perhaps it is the separate mechanical mechanism with switch, stem and spring, creating a different typing experience - compact, slow and clear. Users feel more accurate and stable thanks to clear feedback (tactile feedback) and long key travel. Mechanical keyboards also have a lifespan many times longer than conventional flat screen keyboards, rated up to tens of millions of keystrokes. They meet gaming and office needs well thanks to their fast response speed and resistance to ghosting effects (wrong keys). In particular, users can customize and personalize almost every aspect of the keyboard from sound, typing feel to aesthetics through various accessories. With a long history and great typing experience, mechanical keyboards have attracted a strong enthusiastic community and growing interest from users globally.

Structure and operating principle of mechanical keyboard:

Core components of mechanical keyboards

  • Keycaps: The part you see and touch directly when typing. Keycaps are usually made from ABS or PBT plastic, and can be customized in style and color by substitution.
  • Switch: The central component that determines the feeling of typing. Popular types of switches are Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh with many variations of typing force and sound.
  • Backplate: The base frame that keeps all switches and components securely attached. Backplate is usually made from aluminum or stainless steel because of its sturdiness and vibration resistance.

Typing mechanism of mechanical switch

  • Stem: The part that bears physical force when you press the key, connected to the keycap above.
  • Housing: The outer casing contains the mechanisms inside the switch.
  • Spring: Spring coil helps the stem push back to its original position after pressing.
  • Contact: The electrical mechanism is activated when the stem is pressed down, transmitting a signal to the computer.

Working process when typing:

  1. The user presses down on the keycap
  2. The pressing force is transmitted through the stem and pushed down to the spring inside the housing
  3. Spring compresses and pushes the stem back to its original position
  4. When the stem is pressed down, it activates the electrical contact to send a signal to the computer
This basic structure and principle of mechanical switches creates the slow, solid and clear typing feeling typical of mechanical keyboards, different from flat screen keyboards.

Factors affecting the feeling of typing

  • Actuation force: The amount of force needed to press the switch to operate, usually from 45-70g depending on the type. Large pressing force will create a more "firm" typing feeling.
  • Key travel distance: The distance the stem moves from the initial position to the trigger, usually 2-4mm. The long stroke gives a slower, clearer typing feeling.
  • Switch features: Tactile (has a rough line when pressed), Linear (evenly pressed), Clicky (has a clicking sound) will create a different typing feeling.

Differences with regular keyboards

Compare typing experience

  • Feedback: Mechanical keyboards have clearer physical feedback, clearly feeling the movement of the keys.
  • Accuracy: Thanks to moderate stroke and typing force, the mechanical keyboard achieves high typing accuracy.
  • Stable: Durable structure, quality switches create stability in every keystroke.

Service life

  • Rated lifetime: Mechanical switches are rated for a long lifespan, usually 50-100 million clicks.
  • Wear resistance: PBT and POM plastic are more durable than ABS plastic on regular keyboards.

Prevent ghosting and improve speed

  • N-key rollover (NKRO): Mechanical keyboards support NKRO better, allowing multiple keys to be pressed at the same time.
  • Anti-ghosting: The phenomenon of mistaken keys when pressing multiple keys at the same time is limited.
  • Response speed: Mechanical switches respond faster, helping to type quickly.

These differences between mechanical keyboards compared to conventional keyboards help significantly improve the user's working experience and productivity.

Choose suitable keys and switches for mechanical keyboards

Usage orientation

  • Office: Prioritize gentle linear or tactile switches, the sound is not too noisy. Traditional or rounded keycaps are easy to type on.
  • Game: Switch has fast, dry response like Cherry MX Red or Kailh Speed. You can choose a compact and lightweight tenkeyless design.
  • Versatile: Tactile or moderately clicky switches, for both typing and gaming experiences. Thick keycaps, good quality gum.

Learn about popular switch lines

  • Cherry MX: Original standard, many variations in percussion force and sound. MX Red/Black linear, Brown tactile, Blue clicky are popular.
  • Gateron: Smoother typing power than equivalent Cherry, reasonable price. Suitable for office and gaming.
  • Kailh: Cheaper price, many switch options to meet all needs. Speed switch super fast typing for gaming.

Keycap sets and customization

  • Material: Durable PBT, better handling than ABS. PBT keycaps are thick, resonant, and feel more solid.
  • Style: OEM symmetrical profile, Cherry/GMK rectangular profile, SA high cylind profile. Choose according to personal preference.
  • Size: Fullsize 104 keys, compact TKL 87 keys or 60-65% more compact for gaming.
  • Custom keycap sets: diverse colors, glowing effects, printed styles, beautiful characters.

Choosing the right keys, switches and keycaps will help the mechanical keyboard best meet each person's needs as well as their own style and preferences.

Future trends and prospects of mechanical keyboards

New design trends

  • Compact: Compact mechanical keyboard models of 60%, 65%, 75% will be more popular because of their portability and space saving.
  • Ergonomic: Design for a more comfortable, ergonomic typing position will be emphasized such as an evenly curved, split keyboard.
  • Aesthetics: New aesthetic trend with beautiful keyboard cases made from many materials such as aluminum, wood, polycarbonate.

Additional technology

  • Backlight: The trend of RGB, multi-color backlight effects, expressing personality will continue to grow.
  • Wireless connection: Wireless mechanical keyboards with Bluetooth connection, more convenient Wireless will gradually become more popular.
  • New technology: Fingerprint recognition, LED lights showing shortcuts, voice control can appear.

Market development prospects

  • The mechanical keyboard market is forecast to grow at an average rate of 8-10%/year in the next 5 years.
  • New brands from China and Taiwan will diversify the market in terms of types and prices.
  • Demand for mechanical keyboards is expected to increase from gamers, writers, and programmers with jobs requiring high productivity.
  • The fan community is growing stronger, motivating manufacturers to release many new products.

With innovations in design, technology and good growth prospects, mechanical keyboards promise to continue to grow and become more popular in the future.


In this introduction to mechanical keyboards, Enthkey and you have explored their ancient origin, development process as well as their special structure and operating principles. Compared to conventional keyboards, mechanical keyboards stand out with superior typing experience, long life and resistance to ghosting. Instructions for choosing the right keys and switches for each usage need to help users optimize their experience. Besides, the future of mechanical keyboards promises a lot of potential with new design trends, modern technology and positive development prospects. Hopefully, through this introduction to mechanical keyboards, readers will better understand this special field.

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