We often don’t give much thought to the keyboard even though some of us use computers all day long at work. The truth is, mechanical keyboards can really spice up your computer usage. It’s all about that feedback you get from using a mechanical keyboard… that tactile feel when pressing the keys and the accompanying sound as you type away.
I’ve been using mechanical keyboards for years now and I can honestly tell you that I’m never going back. Having a mechanical keyboard gets you excited about typing. However, if you’ve used a mechanical keyboard before or have seen them being used, you probably know that they can be a little loud.
So naturally, you want to know if there are some mechanical keyboards on the market that aren’t so loud so that you can use one in the office.
Yes, you can use mechanical keyboards in the office. There are many mechanical keyboards that are designed to be quiet in operation but still provide that tactile feedback as you type. Mechanical keyboards with Cherry MX red or black switches are generally quiet enough for office use. You can also use the a Razer mechanical keyboard that has the orange color switches in the office.
Here’s a summary of different switch types in mechanical keyboards, what type they are, how much force you need to apply to press the key, and whether they are quiet enough for the office. I explain all these things in more detail later on in the article.
|Switch||Type||Force Needed||Quiet For Office?|
|Cherry MX Red||Linear||45g||Yes|
|Cherry MX Black||Linear||60g||Yes|
|Cherry MX Brown||Tactile||45g||No|
|Cherry MX Blue||Clicky||50g||No|
There are a lot of different options available for mechanical keyboards. From ready to go keyboards you can buy at a store or online, to building your own custom mechanical keyboard by sources the different parts. Depending on your passion for mechanical keyboards, you can really dive deep into the mechanical keyboard rabbit hole.
What Are Mechanical Keyboards?
It’s best to explain mechanical keyboards by first talking about the regular, non mechanical ones that most people are already familiar with. Under the key caps of a regular keyboard there is typically a rubber mesh that spans the keyboard. Under each key cap, there is a rubber dome which presses down and contacts the bottom layer when the key is pressed.
Mechanical keyboards replace this rubber mesh and dome with mechanical switches, one for each key. These switches improve the quality of the keyboard as well as how long it lasts. For this reason, mechanical keyboards are more expensive than typically rubber mesh ones.
The switches used in mechanical keyboards come in a lot of different types and from many different manufacturers, given each switch a distinct feel and sound when pressed. Ultimately, it’s a person’s preference on what switch they like the best but there can also be some advantages to certain types of switches.
For example, there are some switches designed for gaming where the key has to travel down a smaller distance to be considered pressed. This helps gamers turn their inputs into actions in the game faster by some milliseconds.
Another example is the amount of force required to press a switch. A typical force amount is 45g but you can get switches that need a little more force such as 60g. Ultimately, it comes down to how hard you prefer to press.
Mechanical Keyboard Switch Types
There are three categories of mechanical keyboard switches. These categories are linear, tactile, and clicky.
Linear switches have a consistent press all the way through the entire travel distance of the switch. Tactile switches have an initial bump before they start to press so you have to put some pressure. Lastly, clicky switches as the name suggests are loud and annoying and I’m not quite sure why they exist.
It’s this combination of feel you get when pressing keys and the sound that the key presses make that make a mechanical keyboard so popular.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Good For Work?
There’s no specific advantage to a mechanical keyboard for work. You can achieve the same results with a regular, cheaper keyboard. However many people prefer using mechanical keyboards over regular ones for the following reasons.
- Mechanical keyboards enhance the feedback you get from while typing using them as compared to regular keyboards. This get’s you excited to type and can keep you typing longer.
- Mechanical keyboards have a superior build quality, are made from more robust materials, and will typically last much longer than typical rubber mesh/dome keyboards.
- Mechanical keyboards don’t wear out at the same rate as regular keyboards. Typing on a mechanical keyboard feels the same after a few years as it does out of the box.
- Mechanical keyboards with low force switches allow you to type faster without as much key pounding effort. This allows you to type for much longer.
For those reasons, mechanical keyboards are good for work. In fact, many people, especially programmers, will bring their own personal mechanical keyboards to use at work. They just prefer them over the regular keyboards that are typically provided at the office.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Bad For Typing?
Absolutely not. Mechanical keyboards actually improve the typing experience through the feedback of the keys. A mechanical keyboard will not deter your typing in any ways.
With the recent traction in popularity of mechanical keyboards, you can actually find many different types of key shapes, keyboard sizes and form factors for mechanical keyboards. Probably more than regular keyboards. It’s safe to say that you will not be missing out on much when using a mechanical keyboard.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Too Loud For The Office?
Mechanical keyboards are very customizable and have a lot of different internal configurations that you can have. Yes, there are mechanical keyboards that are too loud for the office. There are also many that are super quiet and perfectly fine for the office and they still provide the advantages of being mechanical.
Can You Use A Mechanical Keyboard In The Office?
Yes, you can use a mechanical keyboard in the office. The main thing to look out for is to use the right type of switches that are quiet enough for the office. Let’s go through the most common switches of the most common brands. In reality, there are many more brands and switches on the market then I can discuss here.
Cherry MX is perhaps the most popular brand of keyboard switches with their red switches being the most popular.
The red switches are linear switches that require 45 grams of force to press. You can find really quiet red switches to use in the office.
The black switches are also linear but require a little more force to press (60 grams). You can also find these switches in quiet variations.
The brown switches are also quite popular, also with 45 grams of required force to actuate. However, brown switches are tactile switches instead of linear. That mean, you have to exceed some small pressure threshold on the switch for it to start pressing. Brown switches are just a little bit too loud to use in the office. However, you can probably get away with using them if you sit far away from other people.
The blue switches require 50 grams of force and are the ‘clicky’ type. Simply put, they are designed to click loudly and you don’t want these anywhere near your office. Save yourself a ton of embarrassment and don’t bring a mechanical keyboard with blue switches to the office.
Razer is another brand but their keyboards are targeted more towards gaming. They have a few different switch types, with green being their ‘clicky’ kind and orange and yellow being tactile and linear, respectively.
The orange keys are quiet enough for the office, but the yellow ones are a little too loud. Again, you can get away with using the yellow keys in the office if you sit far away from others.
Can You Use A Mechanical Keyboard On A Laptop?
Believe it or not, there are actually laptops with mechanical keyboards built in. If you prefer to use a laptop over a desktop and want to save yourself the trouble of having to carry around an external mechanical keyboard, one of these laptops can be a good option for you.
Can You Use A Mechanical Keyboard With A Mac?
Yes, there are several mechanical keyboards that are designed with Mac’s in mind. You can also use any mechanical keyboard with a Mac, but you will lose the Mac specific shortcuts, and will have to re learn them using with the mechanical keyboard.
Hamid Tahir is a Mechatronics Engineer and founder of WFH Overload. He is currently working from home and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of his home office setup. Hamid has extensive experience setting up workspaces and dealing with the related tech. He hopes to share his knowledge to help you create the most productive and comfortable work from home setup. Read More