What is a Membrane Keyboard? How to Choose a Gaming Keyboard

What is a Membrane Keyboard How to Choose a Gaming Keyboard

When it comes to finding a gaming keyboard, the term “membrane” is going to come up as well as the term “mechanical.” These two different types of keyboards can transform your gaming experience and based on personal preference, one may be better than the other.

If you’ve spent a lot of time playing on a mechanical keyboard and you’re looking for a membrane one instead, it’s important to consider what they are and what you should look for when you’re buying your first one.

Three Layers of Membranes

The first thing that makes a membrane keyboard different from its traditional mechanical counterpart is the fact that it is constructed using three different layers of membranes. Each of the layers is incredibly flexible, which gives keys the breathing room they need to register as accurately  and as quickly as possible.

The first layer is known as the “top membrane layer” and this is connected to the bottom of the keys themselves. Underneath that, you have the bottom membrane layer, and then finally the conductive traces.

In comparison to mechanical keyboards, membrane keyboards do not have physical switches underneath each keycap that tells the computer that a specific button has been pushed.

How Do Keys Register on a Membrane Keyboard

How Do Keys Register on a Membrane Keyboard?

If you’re questioning what a membrane keyboard is, you’re undoubtedly wondering how each key that you push is registered and the answer is simple: with the help of the membranes and conductive traces. Each time that you press a key, it moves through the top and second layer of membranes and this movement pushes the pressure pads to the conductive traces on the very bottom layer of membranes. This electrical synapse then alerts the computer that a specific key has been pushed.

What Type of Membrane Keyboards Exist?

In reality, there is only one type of membrane keyboard that you can use for computer gaming, however, there is a second type that is used for other electronic equipment such as kitchen scales, microwaves, and even stovetops. Unfortunately, the second type of membrane keyboard is never used for gaming, as it doesn’t offer any type of physical feedback, only a pressure pad. Imagine, you’re setting a timer on your microwave on an enhanced digital touchpad, and then picture yourself trying to type on the same surface, it would be relatively impossible.

For gaming, we have what is known as a dome switch keyboard. The “domes” also known as keycaps will have your letters either laser-engraved or printed on their surface and instead of having individual keys, as you would with a mechanical keyboard, it’s more of an entire plastic keyboard placed on top of the membrane layer.

What to Look for in a Membrane Keyboard

What to Look for in a Membrane Keyboard

It’s important to note that if you’re thinking about what a membrane keyboard is, before getting into PC gaming, you’re going to want to try a mechanical keyboard first, as there are plenty of reasons as to why they are the gaming accessories of choice for professionals and beginners alike. However, if you are truly set on using a membrane keyboard there are a few very important features to look for, as they can make or break your gaming experience.

Strong Tactile Feedback

One of the first things you need to have is strong tactile feedback as, without it, you’ll never really know if you’re pressing the right keys, or pressing the right key with enough force for it to register. There are some companies that design membrane keyboards specifically for gaming that have a reliable amount of physical feedback, but with the quiet noise level that you would expect from a membrane keyboard.

Portability

Another huge reason as to why people opt for membrane keyboards for everyday use is that they are substantially lighter than mechanical keyboards. Most of the technology behind a membrane design is technological, rather than physical, and as a result, the product is substantially less heavy. This makes them the perfect partner for travel or if you have  to commute to and from work every day.

Affordability

The bridge between mechanical and membrane keyboards is always getting smaller, but at the end of the day, a membrane design should surely be less expensive than a mechanical keyboard. This is because, during the manufacturing process, membrane models are constructed using readily available materials and modern technology, which is simple to create and reproduce, as a result, lowering retail costs.

Easy Maintenance and Cleaning

It’s important to remember that accidents do happen and the last thing you’ll want to deal with is a spilled beverage that’s going to short circuit your keyboard and force you to pay for it to be replaced. Ideally, your membrane keyboard should come with some type of insulation to protect the conductive traces and membrane layers from liquids and if not, it should offer easy maintenance and cleaning instructions.

FINAL VERDICT

No matter how you look at it, each gamer is different and everyone has their own array of desires that their gaming equipment needs to have. You might find that although the majority of people prefer mechanical keyboards, you might be in the market for a membrane design. They offer plenty of benefits and are far easier to bring with you on a long trip and as such, finding the perfect model for your needs can revolutionize the way you game.

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