What is a mechanical keyboard?
Mechanical keyboard is a type of keyboard. In terms of structure, each key of the mechanical keyboard has a separate switch to control the closure. This switch is also called “axis”. According to the classification of micro switches, the mechanical keyboard It can be divided into traditional brown axis, green axis, white axis, black axis, red axis and Romer-G and optical axis. It is precisely because each button is composed of an independent micro-motion, so the button has a strong sense of paragraph, resulting in a special feel suitable for game entertainment, so it is usually used as a relatively expensive high-end game peripheral.
The switch of the mechanical keyboard is an independent mechanical switch, and the electric shock is a metal contact switch. The switch of the membrane keyboard is composed of three layers of membrane, and its contacts are soft rubber.
The main difference between a mechanical keyboard and an ordinary keyboard is the shaft, lighting, and keycaps.(If you want to know the specific difference between mechanical keyboard and ordinary keyboard, or more advantages and benefits of mechanical keyboards, you can check this article of ours: What’s The Difference Between A Gaming Keyboard And A Regular Keyboard?)
1. Mechanical shaft
The mechanical shaft is the core component of the mechanical keyboard. Among them, the most classic mechanical shaft is the Cherry MX shaft produced by the German Cherry Company, and it is also the reference shaft of many self-developed shaft companies. The mechanical shaft body consists of a base, a shaft cap, a shaft cap fixing card, a spring, a metal foot and a contact metal sheet. If you disassemble a mechanical shaft, you can clearly see its structure and components.
The mechanical shaft can usually withstand more than 50 million taps, which greatly prolongs the service life of the mechanical keyboard. The average keyboard keys can withstand between 1 million and 10 million strokes. Thanks to each independent switch of the mechanical shaft, most mechanical keyboards can achieve 26 keys or all keys without rushing, and membrane keyboards can only achieve 6 keys without rushing.
The shaft body is usually classified according to the color of the shaft cap. The most common shafts on the market are black, green, tea, and red shafts. The feel of each shaft body is quite different, and the pressure coefficient is also different.
- Green axis （Blue Switch）
The green axis is the segment axis, the trigger key stroke is 2.2mm, the initial pressure is 25cN, the trigger pressure is 50 ± 15cN, the segment pressure is 60 ± 15cN, and the segment stroke is 1.75mm. It is the axis with the highest pressure among the four main axis bodies. Typing and pressing have a unique “paragraph feeling”, which can be understood as: after pressing halfway, if you want to continue pressing to the end, you must increase the pressing pressure, and at the same time, there will be a crisp sound. (The pressing sound of the green axis is similar to the sound when pressing a ballpoint pen) So the green axis can be said to be the main axis with the most “mechanical keyboard” characteristics. Happy, but at the same time, the sound of typing will become a nightmare for those around you. It can be said that the green axis is achieved by crispness, but also defeated by noise.
The pressing pressure required by the green axis is also relatively large, which is not very friendly to female users or users who require frequent and large input.
- Black shaft
The black shaft is a linear shaft, the trigger key stroke is 2.0mm, the initial pressure is 30cN, and the trigger pressure is 60 ± 20cN. Like the green axis, it is the axis with the highest operating pressure among the four main axis bodies. Compared with ordinary users, typing and pressing are more laborious, especially for users who have just transferred from the membrane keyboard. So it is not suitable for ordinary users, especially female users or users who need a lot of input. At the same time, the black axis is the axis with the smallest sound among the four main axes, and has the least impact on the surrounding people.
- Red axis
The red axis is a linear axis, the trigger key travel is 2.0mm, the initial pressure is 30cN, and the trigger pressure is 45 ± 15cN. The red shaft is the shaft with the smallest operating pressure among the four main shafts (same as the brown shaft), which can be said to be very suitable for users with general and large input. The sound of the red switch is very small, but it also lacks the “paragraph sense”, which makes people unable to feel the unique typing feel of the mechanical keyboard, and even many users feel that the typing feel is similar to that of the membrane keyboard after experience.
- Tea shaft
The brown shaft belongs to the section shaft body, the trigger key stroke is 2.0mm, the initial pressure is 30cN, the trigger pressure is 45 ± 20cN, the section pressure is 55 ± 25cN, and the section stroke is 1.25mm. It is the axis with the smallest operating pressure (same as the red axis) among the four main axis bodies. It also has a unique “paragraph feeling” like the green axis when typing and pressing, and it also emits sounds. However, the sense of paragraph and the sound are much weaker than those of the green axis. The pressing force is not as strong as that of the green axis, the sense of paragraph is not so strong, and the sound produced is moderate. It can be said that it is very suitable for users with a large amount of input. Especially for users who touch the mechanical keyboard for the first time after leaving the membrane keyboard and want to experience the unique feel of the mechanical keyboard, the brown-shaft mechanical keyboard is the best choice.
According to another classification method, the axis body can be divided into two categories: linear axis and paragraph axis. For many people who are not familiar with mechanical keyboards, the perception of mechanical keyboards is its crisp snapping sound. The main reason is that before the appearance of mechanical keyboards, membrane keyboards were silent, and the green-axis mechanical keyboard that appeared was very loud. After a preliminary understanding, people thought that the sound was the mechanical keyboard, and the sound was the membrane keyboard. But this is not the case. There are some mechanical keyboards with axes that do not make noise, such as mechanical keyboards equipped with linear axes such as black axes and red axes.
- Linear axis
The linear axis is characterized by silent, silent and straight up and down feel, and it goes directly to the bottom when you press it, that is, it directly touches the bottom line. The linear axis has a small degree of distinction, mainly focusing on smoothness, pressing force and thread, that is, the distance from the axis in the middle of the axis to the bottom. And all linear axes are mute, and the representative axes have black and red axes.
- Paragraph axis
The paragraph axis is divided into a click switch (strong paragraph axis) and a tactile switch (weak paragraph axis).
The characteristics of the click switch are mainly reflected in its strong sense of paragraph. On its little foot there is a large bump, and when pressed, the distance to the middle section increases the required pressure significantly. After a certain threshold is reached, a sudden breach of the threshold reduces the required pressure. , a bit similar to the feeling of pressing a ballpoint pen, and the sound is also similar to the sound of a ballpoint pen. The representative axis of the click switch is the green axis.
Compared with the click switch, the protrusion on the small foot of the tactile switch is much smaller, so the sense of paragraph when pressed will be weaker, and the sound of the metal sheet collision will be smaller. The representative axis of the tactile switch is the brown switch.
Linear switch, tactile switch, click switch how to choose?
Whether linear switches, tactile switches or click switches, they are produced to enhance the performance of mechanical keyboards, providing different features to meet the needs of different users. Therefore, there is no real advantage or disadvantage between the various switches, and the choice of which switch is up to your preference.
If you like smooth, quiet keystrokes, linear switches are the way to go. If you like to have a certain amount of press feedback, accompanied by a slight feedback sound, then tap to open is more suitable for you. If you want strong feedback and a loud sound with every keystroke, then click-to-hook will be a better choice.
In order to save cost, ordinary keyboards usually have no lights or a single immutable light, and only a few light sources to dimly illuminate various areas. The mechanical keyboard is equipped with a light bead under each key, which can emit at least 7 colors, and the light color and mode change with the mode switch. Some mechanical keyboards support custom lighting or the lighting has a music rhythm function. In terms of viewing, the lighting of mechanical keyboards is far more than that of ordinary keyboards.
The difference between the keycaps lies in the material and molding process of the keycaps. The keycaps of ordinary keyboards are usually ABS keycaps, which are screen-printed. The disadvantage is that the characters are easy to wear, and it is easy to get oily after long-term use. The keycaps of mechanical keyboards usually use ABS or PBT keycaps, using a two-color injection molding process, which has the advantages of strong durability, characters will not wear out, and the PBT keycaps will not be oiled for a long time.
- ABS keycaps (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene plastic)
ABS keycaps are keycaps made of ABS plastic and are the most common keycaps. ABS plastic is a terpolymer of acrylonitrile, butadiene and styrene. It has excellent impact resistance, heat resistance, low temperature resistance, chemical resistance and electrical properties. Good gloss and so on. It is easy to paint and color, and it can also carry out secondary processing such as surface metallization, electroplating, welding, hot pressing and bonding. It has the characteristics of tasteless and non-toxic, it can be used at extremely low minus 40 degrees Celsius, the melting temperature is as high as 217 degrees Celsius (the thermal deformation temperature is 93-118 degrees Celsius), and it has strong impact resistance and is not easy to deform.
ABS keycaps are the most of all materials, mainly relying on its mature technology and cheap price. ABS keycaps are often used for ordinary keyboards of a few dollars or mechanical keyboards of tens of hundreds of dollars. But its shortcomings are also obvious, the wear resistance of ABS keycaps is poor. Usually a matte layer is sprayed on the ABS keycaps, but when this layer is worn off after prolonged high frequency use, then the ABS keycaps become smooth and greasy, just like a layer of oil is applied on them , the feel will be much worse, which is often referred to as the oiling phenomenon. However, some high-end keyboards still use ABS keycaps. They will spray a layer of wear-resistant material on the ABS keycaps, which can also greatly reduce the oiling of the keycaps.
- PBT keycaps (polybutylene terephthalate)
PBT plastic is a very good material, and most high-end gaming keyboards use PBT as the keycap material. PBT plastic has high hardness, high strength, fatigue resistance, hot water, alkalis, acids, oils, not easy to deform, and not easy to change at high temperatures. It is a semi-crystalline material with very good chemical stability, electrical insulating properties and thermal stability, so it can be said that it is the most stable keycap material.
Based on the excellent properties of its material, PBT keycaps have very good effects in terms of oil resistance, wear resistance, aging resistance, corrosion resistance, etc. It is said that it will never be oiled. However, due to the high hardness of PBT plastic, it is difficult to form, and the material itself is expensive, so the price is very expensive, and the hand feel will be relatively hard.
POM material is rarely used in keycaps, so it will not be described here.
Two-color injection molding process
In the process of daily use of the keyboard, under the long-term pressing and friction of the keycap, the characters will inevitably fade. Especially for gamers, because there are only a few commonly used keys in games, they are pressed very frequently. Over time, the characters printed on the screen will be worn out by us, and they look bare, which affects the use and aesthetics. For example, I often play League of Legends, and the most frequently used key is QWER. After I used it for a year, the characters on these four keys are barely recognizable except for Q, and the other three characters have completely disappeared. gone. In order to solve this problem, “two-color injection keycaps” came into being.
What is a two-color injection keycap? A two-color injection keycap is a two-color injection molding process that combines two different colors of plastic (usually black and white), the white part forms the letter part and the interior of the keycap, and the black part wraps Outside the keyboard to achieve good light transmission of the characters. The main features of this keycap are: smooth and delicate feel, not easy to scratch, characters will not fade, will not wear. However, the cost of this keycap will be relatively high, so it is usually used for mechanical keyboard keycaps.
Conclusion: Why do gamers prefer mechanical keyboards? Because the mechanical keyboard has a longer life, richer and unique key touch, better lighting, and more powerful functions. So, if you have been hesitating whether you should buy a mechanical keyboard to experience it, then I suggest that you can buy a slightly cheaper mechanical keyboard first, it will not be too expensive, the price is $10-30, it can Let most users who love games or love mechanical keyboards bear it.