My keyboard doesn't cost THAT much

September 6, 2020 — by Bill Yuan

Most people are fine with using a normal $10 office keyboard from Target.

But may I interest you in a custom-made, fully aluminum keyboard, with mechanical switches and luxurious keycaps?

Internet denizens often tease the mechanical keyboard community for spending hundreds on keyboards with unique designs, bright colors and a typing experience like nothing else. I’ve personally dedicated hours of my time and hundreds of dollars to this hobby, and I can say from extensive experience that such keyboards are well worth their price.

I’m currently writing this on a Klippe T case with Holy Pandas, and am planning to use GMK Nord keycaps (which are due to arrive before next April), which cost me a shameful $375. 

Even though a cheap or built-in keyboard would be sufficient for most people’s everyday tasks, I would highly recommend that you consider purchasing a higher-end mechanical keyboard, for the following reasons.

First, there’s the sentimental value. Having a keyboard that I’ve invested a significant amount of time and money in makes me motivated to use it more. If I spend a few hundred dollars on a piece of equipment, you can bet that I’ll try to get the most value out of it. 

Secondly, and most infamously, there’s the clack. Mechanical keyboards have developed a stereotype of being clicky and obnoxious, but this is merely the tip of the iceberg for mechanical keyboards. There are a plethora of switches that have different feels and unique sounds, and the design of the keyboard chassis can affect the acoustics. 

The sound signature of a board is considered by many to be a crucial aspect to the build, and most desire their keyboard to make a “thock” sound with every keystroke. For me, this “thock” sound is almost addicting, and I often find myself spamming random keys just to hear the beautiful sound.

In all honesty, though, a mechanical keyboard won’t really make you type any faster or better than a cheap office keyboard. The fact of the matter is, a cheap rubber dome keyboard can type characters just as effectively as a mechanical keyboard. However, for me, the difference that a luxury keyboard makes is not only physical, but also psychological.

It’s similar to buying an expensive pair of soccer cleats. There definitely are improvements between a high-end and low-end pair of cleats, but having these won’t magically make the wearer a better player. Most times, the improvement comes from being motivated to play soccer in these cleats, and the practice that comes with it.

If you are looking to get into the mechanical keyboard hobby, I highly encourage you to complete one build. I found that my first build was a fun process because I was able to learn several new skills. If you aren’t looking to build one, however, a prebuilt is not a bad starting point, as it is a step up from membrane keyboards and the start of an extremely slippery slope. 

If you aren’t looking to throw away your money, that is perfectly fine, but just know that once you clack, you can never go back.

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