Typing Speed Boost: Do Mechanical Keyboards Hold the Key

By Rob Orr / Last updated: Nov 29, 2023

programming mechanical keyboard

Is it possible that the use of a mechanical keyboard will increase your typing speed? The answer is yes and no. It depends on what you mean by “typing speed”.

A mechanical keyboard can increase your typing speed because serious typists have found that they’re easier to type on because of the switches a mechanical keyboard uses. A mechanical keyboard enhances the feel and feedback that you receive while you’re typing resulting in greater comfort and more accurate keystrokes. Mechanical keyboards provide not only tactile feedback as you type, but some models also provide audible feedback as well, creating an accurate and immersive experience while typing that allows you to focus on what you’re typing instead of wondering whether you completed a keystroke or not.

If you’re looking for an upgrade to your current keyboard so that you can type faster, then a mechanical keyboard might interest you.

Mechanical keyboards use individual keys instead of switches. The advantage of using these types of keyboards is that they offer better tactile feedback and faster response times. They also tend to last longer and are pretty easy to maintain and customize.

Mechanical keyboards are extremely popular among people who spend lots of time typing (e.g.,  programmers, writers and typists) because they offer better tactile and auditory feedback than traditional membrane keyboards.

If you’ve been using a traditional keyboard for years, the difference you experience can be downright dramatic. So, does a mechanical keyboard improve typing speed?

BTW – before before we get started: if you want to get more great ideas for your home office and connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Battle Station Setup here.

Mechanical Keyboard Carpal Tunnel

Does a mechanical keyboard help you to type faster?

Does a mechanical keyboard really make you actually type faster?

It’s true that most mechanical keyboards do provide a substantial improvement over standard membrane keyboards in many ways. However, if you want to know if a mechanical keyboard makes you type faster, then the simple answer is no.

Mechanical keyboards are a special type of computer keyboards that use mechanical switches under each key instead of the rubber membranes common mass-market, inexpensive keyboards use.

The advantage of using mechanical switches is that the experience when you press down on a keyboard with mechanical switches – a real physical switch – is substantially different than when just pressing down a key on membrane keyboards.

You get a much better feeling for where you’ve hit the keys and how hard you’re hitting them. It’s this feedback that helps you to type faster and with less mistakes.

And that is where the speed increase comes from: better response and feel with less mistakes.

It’s impossible to say definitively that a mechanical keyboard will make you type faster. There are too many variables involved.

But ultimately, it boils down to your typing style, comfort and personal preference.

And if you’re looking for something that gives you better overall feedback that will help increase accuracy and be more comfortable to use, then keep reading because that could make all the difference for your typing speed.

How does a mechanical keyboard work?

The first thing to realize is that there are two primary types of keyboards: membrane and mechanical. Mechanical keyboards have physical switches under each key. When pressed down, these switches close an electrical circuit which sends a signal to the computer. This type of keyboard has been around for many years and is still in use today.

Membrane keyboards have keys with rubber domes under them. When the user presses down on a key, the spring pushes up against the underside of the next key on the keyboard. This causes the second key to be depressed as well. In this way, all of the keys can be activated simultaneously. A mechanical keyboard is generally considered more durable than a membrane keyboard.

Membrane keyboards often feel more “squishy” or “mushy” than mechanical keyboards, and while for some people that may be an attractive feature, for serious programmers, writers, and typists, the feedback just isn’t good enough or accurate enough.

typing mechanical keyboard

Are mechanical keyboards harder to type on?

Mechanical keyboard keys provide more distinct and clear feedback than their membrane powered competitors do; each key provides a distinct tactile feedback response so you know exactly and precisely which key you’re operating, and you know whether or not you’ve actually executed the keypress or not.

This makes typing on a mechanical keyboard much easier for most people, who find it difficult to type on a standard keyboard without looking at the keyboard itself.

Is there any evidence that a mechanical keyboard improves my typing speed?

Here’s where things get nuanced.

There are no definitive studies that show that typing speeds are increased simply by using a mechanical keyboard.

In fact, one study we found showed there was no substantive difference between mechanical keyboard and and a membrane keyboard.

However, the participants in the study, with the exception of two participants, had never used a mechanical keyboard before.

And it’s common for those who are switching from a membrane keyboard to a mechanical keyboard to experience a time of transition where it takes time to get accustomed to the feel of a mech keyboard.

What that study did show though, that mechanical keyboards require less effort.

And that’s a really big deal.

Less effort can mean greater comfort.

Greater comfort can mean greater endurance and the likelihood of greater focus and concentration due to the tactile and auditory feedback one receives while typing.

The greater comfort that mechanical keyboard users report is a solid basis for believing that mechanical keyboards can increase your typing speed, not only because of the comfort, but also for a couple different reasons.

Mechanical keyboard users report the ability to focus longer on their work when using a mechanical keyboard vs. a traditional rubber dome keyboard.

Greater accuracy of keypresses is also reported by mech keyboard users too. The key travel combined with the tactile feedback make registering keystrokes easier.

In addition, the n-key rollover capability of many mechanical keyboards means you are less likely to miss keystrokes by quickly and sequentially pressing keys, so you’re able to type and operate your keyboard much faster on a keyboard with an n-key rollover feature than a standard membrane keyboard.

(N-key rollover means that every key press is scanned individually and is registered by the keyboard as opposed to your computer, which means if several keys are operated at the same time, each keypress will register.)

Many report the actuation point of a keypress on a mechanical keyboard being a significant factor in that you don’t have to fully press the key all the way down in order to execute and register a keystroke, but only until the tactile sensation is felt.


Mechanical keyboard hands & fingers

Are Mechanical Keyboards Good For Touch Typing?

One thing I advise every programmer to learn, in addition to their coding skills is touch typing.

Touch typing is where you learn how to type on a keyboard and type without looking at the keys.

I took a typing class early in my high school years and it’s probably the only skill I retained from high school and use every day!

The typing experience of touch typing is much better than the hunt & peck so many people use.

Combine that with a high quality mechanical keyboard and you’re likely to see an increase in your typing skills.

Key travel on a mechanical keyboard can be custom-fit to be exactly what a user would want.

What kind of keyboard switches are best for typing?

One of the most popular mechanical keyboard switches for typists is Cherry MX Blue switch.

Cherry MX blues have characteristics that have been incredibly popular with typists.

They feature both tactile and audible switch-operation characteristics, which means that you get both tactile and audible feedback and the key travel is ideal for those spending a lot of time on their keyboard doing composition work.

For those who are looking for something that crosses over between a gaming switch and something more in line with what typists need the Cherry MX brown switches are a popular choice.

Are mechanical keyboards better?

What other things factor into typing speed on a mechanical keyboard?

The shape of your keycaps is another important consideration.

There are three main categories of keycap styles: flat, spherical, and cylindrical.

Flat keycaps are flat and smooth.

Spherical keycaps are fully rounded, front to back, and left to right.

Cylindrical keycaps are rounded top and bottom but not left to right.

The shape of your keycap is important because it affects, when it comes to this aspect, it’s all about personal preference and feel. And getting the feel right ultimately affects your typing speed.

What keyboards do professional typists use?

Each person’s typing style is going to be a little different and so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for a new keyboard.

Some will prefer keyboard layouts with fewer keys like a 60% keyboard, while others want the full 104 key layout.

However, here are Home Office Hacks’ recommended keyboards that are popular with programmers, writers and typists.

Next Steps

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Join my brand new free private Facebook group, Battle Station Setup to connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best!

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Rob Orr

Rob is a graduate of Florida State University and the founder and Senior Editor of HomeOfficeHacks.com, a website dedicated to helping people navigate the unique challenges of working from home. As a remote working veteran with over 10 years of experience, Rob has developed a deep understanding of the strategies and solutions that can help people thrive in this environment. He is a respected expert in the field, renowned for his clear, engaging, and informative content. An award-winning web designer, developer, and digital marketer, Rob is also the owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties. His dedication, resourcefulness, and creativity have earned him a reputation as a respected leader in the remote work and digital media communities, inspiring others through his work and passion for lifelong learning.

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