A complete guide to the mechanical keyboard beginner

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2021-04-05 15:34:17

The mechanical keyboard is one of the best keyboards available today, it offers an immersive, eye-catching typing and sound experience, helping users to work more productive than conventional flat keyboards.

When it comes to mechanical keyboard, people not only think of a regular keyboard, but also the pressing mechanism, keys or even the layout is something worth paying attention to. So for those who are new to the mechanical keyboard or use it for the first time, the basics as mentioned below are extremely useful.

Mechanical keyboard for beginners

Keyboard layout

Before “falling in love” with mechanical keyboards, you should consider the keyboard layout and size. On the mechanical keyboard market there are a number of different layouts, most commonly known as the complete size (Full-size), TKL, 60%, and more.

Complete size (Full-size)

Full-size is the complete size of a traditional keyboard that you are used to using. The full mechanical keyboard has all the standard keys, the arrow keys and the numeric keypad. This is the type you want to use when dealing with digital data.

Full-size keyboard

Layout 96

While 96% layout keyboards are uncommon (e.g., Keychron K4), they actually exist and offer full functionality as a full keyboard, including numeric keypads but with a small design. than. All the keys will be closer together and there is no space in between, which saves space.

Layout 96%
Layout 96%

TKL layout (Tenkeyless)

The TKL layout is like a complete keyboard, but the numeric keypad will be removed. You still have a full range of modifier keys, function keys, arrow keys, …

TKL layout
TKL layout

Layout 65/75

The 65/75 keyboard layout is similar to TKL but has a slightly smaller size, which is more portable. The 75% layout takes the form of TKL, but the spacing between the keys is narrower, and you still have row of function keys (F1-F12). The 65% layout is the same as the 75% layout, but the function key row has been removed.

Layout 65/75
Layout 65/75

Layout 60

The 60% layout keyboard is considered the start of the compact keyboard system. Like the 65% keyboard, the 60% layout removes the row of function keys, but still has a row of numeric keys. However, the arrow keys will be removed on this layout. To use the function of the arrow keys you need to use it in conjunction with the Fn key.

Layout 60
Layout 60

Layout 40

Even smaller than the 60 keyboard it’s a 40%, incredibly compact layout. 40% means that this keyboard removes almost everything, you only have the basic text keys and a few modifier keys. They don’t even have numeric keys, you need to rely on software to add functionality.

Layout 40
Layout 40

Functional class

What is the function class? When you want to use a small, portable keyboard, you have to sacrifice a few features in exchange for compactness, such as the F key, arrow keys, number keys or even a few modifier keys. For some small keyboards you will need to depend on what “class” programs are for your keyboard. For example, if the 60% keyboard does not have an arrow key, you need to press the Fn key and the WASD or IJKL keys at the same time for the arrow key function to work.

Small keyboards are usually great for gaming, but not perfect for study or work. This is exactly why mechanical keyboards work best on PCs, and some keyboard manufacturers don’t have the software available for Macs.

Types of unique keyboard layouts

In addition to the usual keyboard layouts as above, the mechanical keyboard also has some very unique layouts.

Ortholinear keyboards typically have a mesh layout, which is supposed to be more ergonomic than a regular staggered layout, but they’ll usually have a steeper curve.

Ortholinear keyboard
Ortholinear keyboard

There’s also a Split keyboard, which divides the keyboard in double. This type of layout will make your wrists more comfortable to type, but like the ortho layout, it will take time to get used to this unique keyboard style. Some Split keyboards have two halves connected together via cable, others are two completely separate halves.

Split layout
Split layout

Finally, the keyboard is super small (macropad). They are small keyboards that can be programmed and used like a regular keyboard. You can use the software to program frequently used operations, such as rewind videos or even access tools in software applications.

Macropad keyboard
Macropad keyboard

Outer shell

Once you have decided on the layout, next you should pay attention to the material of the keyboard cover. There are a few common materials used for mechanical keyboards such as plastic, aluminum alloy, stainless steel, wood or acrylic.

Plastic

Plastic is the most popular material and also the cheapest, so this is also the first point to consider. The plastic case may have a flat metal inner layer that helps support the structure of the outer shell. However, plastic is the cheapest quality, and at the same time it is also the lowest quality of the materials mentioned above. A common experience with a plastic outer case is that the keys are unstable.

Plastic outer shell
Plastic outer shell

Aluminum alloy

Aluminum alloys are the next evolutionary step in materials, they are heavier and stronger than plastic cases. If you’re new to a mechanical keyboard, start with a keyboard with an aluminum alloy cover instead of plastic as they offer a better experience. Aluminum alloy is also more durable than plastic.

Outer shell made of aluminum alloy
Outer shell made of aluminum alloy

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the starting material for high-end mechanical keyboards. They are heavier than aluminum alloys and are harder to manufacture, so you won’t often see mechanical keyboards with this material on the market. However, stainless steel is impact resistant and bends more easily. Stainless steel material also helps to type keys to prevent bouncing or sticking keys.

Stainless steel outer case
Stainless steel outer case

Acrylic

Acrylic is an interesting material. Although they are a plastic but have a higher strength than ordinary plastic. It is also transparent, like glass. However, unlike glass, acrylic is shock-resistant and can be used in harsh environments, as long as you don’t drop it too hard. This material is also difficult to scratch. Acrylic is a great material if you want your keyboard to display beautiful RGB lights.

Acrylic material
Acrylic material

The wood

Wood is the last material option, it’s uncommon, and mechanical keyboard covers made from this material are often very expensive. Since there are so many types of wood, mechanical keyboards with a wooden exterior will be very unique and cannot be combined with other materials. However, wooden cases usually come with a 60% keyboard layout, other types of layouts will also come in but it is harder to find. The wooden case feels sturdy, luxurious, and unique.

Wood material
Wood material

Keyboard mechanism

The next big issue to consider is which keyboard mechanism you should use. Mechanical keyboards have many types of mechanisms, they are usually categorized into categories such as: Linear, Tactile (Tactile) and Bounce (Clicky). The sound and feel of the keystroke will depend on which mechanism you choose to use.

Linear mechanism (Linear)

The linear mechanism is the smoothest and most silent of the three aforementioned mechanisms. They don’t require too much typing force, so you don’t have to type very hard on the keyboard, so they are often used a lot in gaming due to the advantage of fast response. This typing mechanism is great if you work in a quiet place.

When typing with a linear mechanism, there won’t be a lot of collisions between the keys, which is why they are so smooth and quiet.However, because it’s easy to type and responsive, you will often mistype the first days of use. It will take a while for the user to get used to this linear mechanism and will eventually become an extremely fast typist.

Tactile

The tactile typing mechanism is good on average. Their typing sound is quite light compared to the clicky mechanism but still has good bounce with all keys. This mechanism takes a bit more force to type than the linear mechanism, which will reduce the chances of typing wrong or wrong. The tactile mechanism used in gaming is quite good, but for typing, it will maximize the effect.

Bounce mechanism (Clicky)

The last mechanism option is probably the least popular and it has its reasons. This is the loudest typing mechanism and when typing it takes quite a lot of force. This mechanism is not suitable for gaming, but for typing is great (if you are not working in a quiet environment, or while working while calling someone).

The keyboard changes the order of the keys

If you don’t like the default layout of keys, you can change as you like. If your keyboard is a repositionable version of keys, you can easily remove and change without affecting the printed circuit board (PCB).

The keys

All mechanisms have an upper body, which is the keystrokes you often see. Most of the mechanisms on the market are fake Cherry MX, which means they come with a plus sign. Most key sets are designed to work on Cherry MX, so as long as there’s a plus sign design your keys will fit into the mechanism.

However, a few mechanisms are not compatible with the key cover designed for Cherry MX, for example Topre, Alps, Logitech Romer-G and a few others. If the mechanism of the keyboard does not have a plus sign design, the key set is also quite limited.

The key covers on the mechanism
The key covers on the mechanism

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