It's not a new trend, but many gamers have come to appreciate mechanical switches' performance and feedback. Whether you're a writer, gamer or someone who spends a lot of time coding, there's no reason to settle for something less than a high-quality mechanical keyboard.

The switches on an excellent mechanical keyboard last hundreds of millions of actions. The parts are easily interchangeable, so broken keycaps, springs or stabilizers can be replaced without breaking the keyboard.

The keycaps are actuated by springs

Switches underneath each keycap activate the keycaps on a mechanical keyboard. The keys move up and down with minimal resistance, allowing fast actuation. The switches also provide tactile feedback, so the user can feel when the key has been pressed hard enough to register.

The switches in a keyboard tell your computer when a key has been pressed, which allows the software to recognize the alphanumeric character or command you have typed. They are essentially the brains of your keyboard, which is why it's essential to understand how they work.

Many different types of switches can be used in a keyboard. The most common are linear, tactile, and clicky. Tactile and clicky switches produce a bumping sensation at or near the actuation point, while linear switches offer a smooth keystroke.

Another way a switch can be actuated is by allowing for a contact mechanism between the keycap and a conductive surface underneath it. This is how most modern keyboards function, and it's the most common type of switch in most mechanical keyboards.

However, it can also be accomplished in a more complex manner. This is how buckling spring keyboards were initially designed, as seen in the IBM Model F and M series of keyboards.

Using a multi-stage spring can help address these issues and improve the overall feeling of a mechanical keyboard. These springs are typically made up of multiple sections of tightly wound cable, which gives them a stiffer, more consistent feeling when compared to standard linear springs.

Weights actuate the keycaps

A keycap is a small plastic piece on top of each keyboard switch. It can be made from various materials and comes in various thicknesses, profiles, and colours.

The type of material used in the keycaps also affects how they feel. Some keycaps are smooth and rubbery, while others have a textured surface that can make typing on them more comfortable. The thickness of the keycaps can also alter how the switches actuate when you press down on them.

Due to its low cost and ease of injection moulding, ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is the most common keycap material. It is impact-resistant and lightweight, though uncoated ABS can become shiny over time.

PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate) is more expensive than ABS, but it has a more matte surface and is resistant to shine over time. This makes it popular among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, who appreciate how it feels and looks on their keyboards.

Some typists prefer to have keycaps with heavier weights, which can reduce fatigue during long gaming and productivity sessions. However, some people are more prone to grazing the keyboard's key registers when using heavier switches.

The keycaps are actuated by springs

If you are new to mechanical keyboards, you might not understand how they are so sustaining. They are incredibly durable and last up to 50 million key presses, which is impressive for a keyboard. This makes them an excellent investment if you type a lot.

The reason for this is because of the way the key switches are actuated. The switch comprises a spring, a plunger, and two pairs of metal contacts underneath every key. When the plunger moves down, it pushes the spring, forcing the pair of contacts together. This closes the switch and records your input. When the finger pressure is released, the plunger and spring return to their original position.

The beam spring and the dome switch are two main types of critical switches. The beam spring uses a buckling spring to drive a small hammer that strikes a capacitive contact when you press a key.

On the other hand, the dome switch is a hybrid between a beam spring and a membrane switch. This switch consists of an upper membrane that presses down against the bottom layer when you press a key. The bottom layer of the membrane then contacts the top membrane, allowing current to flow.

This can cause the switch to register the keypress in various ways, depending on the switch itself. Some switches, for example, have a slightly more linear travel time than others. This can also be a significant factor in the feel of a switch. If you find that a particular switch has a particularly harsh feeling, you might want to consider swapping it out for a different type.

Weights actuate the keycaps

Unlike typical keyboards, which use rubber domes to register keystrokes, mechanical switches allow for a much more tactile feel when typing. These switches have a higher actuation point, meaning you can quickly change keys without depressing them down for the key to register. This helps to keep your hands less fatigued and reduces your risk of injury.

One of the essential parts of a mechanical keyboard's feel is the keycaps. The types, thicknesses, and profiles of the keycaps you choose will directly impact how your keys work and feel.

Other plastics like PBT and POM have similar properties, though they are more expensive. They have a textured surface that can be helpful for gamers who want to feel more connected with their keys, but they are generally not as durable as ABS.

Replacing your keycaps should be pretty straightforward, as almost all mechanical keyboards come with a pincer-like tool that you can use to take them off. Just ensure your keyboard is off and disconnected from your computer before you remove the keycaps, and then push the pincer tool into the key while pulling up on the cap to remove it.


Choosing the right keycaps is crucial to your mechanical keyboard performance. They can distinguish between a fast, responsive keyboard and one too slow or hard to use. The keycaps can be shaped into either uniform or sculpted rows, with each row having a unique height and strike angle. Sculpted rows are more attractive to users who enjoy typing or gaming, giving the keys a more contoured appearance. Aside from sculpted row shapes, keycaps can also be angled or cylindrical. Angled tops are more prone to damage, while cylindrical keycaps are more durable and easier to clean.