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| 1. June 2021

Are Mechanical Keyboards Worth It?

Mechanical keyboards have taken the world of gaming by storm and, by the looks of it, they’ll remain a part of the status quo for the foreseeable future. They’ve been so prevalent that it’s really hard to remember a time when they weren’t a part of the conversation. For a long while, they were mostly used by enthusiasts and then, seemingly overnight, everyone had one. That’s the subjective feeling, at least. So, naturally, one simply has to wonder: are they really worth it?

The best ones come at too big of a premium; paying upwards of $150 on a keyboard is reserved only for the most hardcore of gamers/enthusiasts. Fortunately, the mid-range segment of the market is populated by a slew of great options, and — in case you’re a budget-oriented buyer — you can also get some on the cheap thanks to companies like Redragon.

Still, “cheap” is a relative term.

To some, a mechanical keyboard with a $100 price tag will seem like a pretty darn good deal. Others, however, will deem it a frivolous luxury, one that is far out of reach. It’s important to understand where exactly you fall within this spectrum of sorts, as it’ll heavily affect your options going forward.

But let’s bring this all back to the key question of “worth.” If you’re someone who spends upwards of eight hours a day in front of your computer (regardless if it’s for work or pleasure), then having the “right” keyboard by your side will make the whole experience endlessly more enjoyable. Our peripherals are, in a way, extensions of ourselves. They are the gateways into the vast and beautiful virtual worlds which we inhabit so frequently.

They’re also the tools we use to communicate digitally, either with friends and family or complete strangers whom we’ve never met and yet have so much in common with; we’re bound by shared interests and hobbies.

So, in that sense, the peripherals we use are a big deal, be it for gaming or any other kind of workflow.

Taeha Types perhaps explained it best:

Let’s Talk Gaming

If you’re a gamer (and, frankly, if you’re reading these lines then you almost surely are), then having a mechanical keyboard will undoubtedly improve your overall gaming experience. Now, do you need an expensive model to reap these benefits? Of course not! A solid, $50 option will definitely do the trick, given that you find the right switch for your needs.

Mechanical keyboards, much like any other segment of the market, have been overhyped beyond measure. And, frankly, the same goes for gaming mice, their sensors, lift-off distances, polling rates, and so on. Hardware manufacturers make a living off of FOMO. If they announce a brand-new product and market it well enough, you’ll invariably get the urge to upgrade. And yet there’s really no reason to do so. The difference between a top-of-the-line model from Logitech and a mid-range option from HyperX or Cooler Master is fairly negligible — doubly so if you’re an average Joe who doesn’t have a bunch of keyboards and switch types lying around.

So, to answer the overarching question as simply as possible: mechanical keyboards are not only worth it for gaming, but they’re also a spectacular addition to any gaming set-up!

Exercise Modesty

So take a more rational approach next time you decide to upgrade your peripherals. Mechanical keyboards are definitely worth it, but there is a point of diminishing returns. Don’t spend more than you have to just because a popular streamer or esports pro likes a particular brand or model — they’re either sponsored to say so or have a different set of criteria for the peripherals they use. To the best players in the world, a split second can often be the difference between victory and defeat, so they might as well invest into the latest and greatest piece of tech money can buy.

For the rest of us, though, spending more than $60/70 — or perhaps even $100 if you’ve got enough money lying around — doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Generally speaking, you can invest a lot more into your peripherals, but they shouldn’t be at the top of your list of priorities. A more powerful computer will yield much bigger benefits, as will a high refresh rate monitor. Perhaps a more comfortable chair or a better desk.

Once you’ve got all that figured out, you might as well invest into a more premium mouse and keyboard, but doing so any sooner would be truly ill-advised.

Do Your Research

To truly harness the potential of a mechanical keyboard, you’ll need to do a bit of research. Reading about the many switch types is great and all, but it’s all in vain if you can’t test them out in person. So make sure to head over to your local IT store and test out as many keyboards and switch types as you possibly can. Most folks just purchase a mechanical keyboard and call it day, thinking there’s not a lot of depth or nuance to it all. Needless to say, they’re seriously in the wrong.

Some folks just can’t game comfortably with linear switches. Others abhor the clickiness of tactile ones, or vice versa. To each their own, but it’s a process filled with trial and error — you shouldn’t just buy a mechanical keyboard and be done with it. The whole point is to tailor your peripherals to your needs, preferences, and — perhaps most importantly — workflow. There are many mechanical keyboards out there, and while finding one might seem like a daunting endeavor, it’s well worth the effort!