3 Important Things to Consider while Buying a Perfect Cheap Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Most of the keyboards you might have come across so far have probably some kind of rubber membrane or scissor mechanism (when laptops are concerned). They may do the job, but any sizeable amount of gaming or typing asks for something hardier and here a mechanical keyboard steps in. The keys of a mechanical keyboard last longer, stay more consistent and are more comfortable than a cheaper keyboard. The difficulty is about deciphering all the enthusiast jargon to learn which board is perfect for you. If you are looking for such a perfect mechanical gaming keyboard, here are a few useful tips you should follow.
The first factor you should consider is the layout. The traditional desktop layout of 104-key full-size is still common. It means you get a full numpad, an arrow cluster and a function row. This will probably make you the most comfortable; however these types of boards often cost a little higher than the smaller alternatives (obviously because they’ve more switches and are bigger in size).
A step down is the tenkeyless (TKL) form. They are often known as 80% boards. They are same as a full keyboard, except the absence of number pad. Due to this, they are a bit cheaper and also portable. It brings the alpha keys more in front of you without having to hang board way off to your right.
Another less common design, which is fast getting popular, is the 60% or mini keyboard. In these, everything is omitted except, modifiers (shift, enter, etc), alpha keys and the number row. So, what about the other keys? They can be accessed through a function layer, e.g. Fn + WASD for your arrows. The advantage of this board is that they are a bit cheaper than full-sized and TKL boards and as soon as you get used to the function layer, you are able to type extremely fast as you don’t have to move your hands very far to access different functions. They are super portable too. There are a few slightly bigger options which are called 67% or 68% boards; however they are uncommon.
Mostly a cheap mechanical keyboard can be bought with various switches of your choice; that’s why they are mechanical keyboards. The commonest switches are Cherry MX and a variety of Cherry clones. Switches are color-coded to facilitate identification of their distinct features.
These switches are available in three basic types:
- Clicky: Clicky switches such as the MX Green and MX Blue make an audible sound when you press them.
- Tactile: Tactile switches (MX Brown and the heavier MX Clear) feature a small bump on them which you can feel when you press them. But they don’t make a clicking sound.
- Linear: Linear switches like MX Red and the heavier MX Black neither have a bump on them nor they click.
Thus there is indeed something for everyone.
For those who want a good typing experience, the tactile feedback and sharp click of a green or blue switch is perhaps the best. Clears and browns too are good for typing but won’t irritate people around you. In gaming boards, mostly linear switches are used, but you can type with them too. Cherry as well as the clone switches sport the same colored plus-shaped stem beneath the keycap, which enable you to recognize the type and differentiate them from other switches.
After deciding a layout and a type of switch perfect for you, what next? The keycaps on some keyboards too can be a deciding factor as you shop for a cheap mechanical keyboard. Most keyboards feature inexpensive ABS keycaps with lasered or printed legends. These usually get shiny after a period of use and the legends may wear off. A solution to this is a double-shot ABS, which retains the legends for a long time.
Consider these factors and get your hands on the best mechanical gaming keyboard.