With esports and gaming becoming increasingly popular, many manufacturers have been releasing “gaming” keyboards to draw the attention of gamers, a large audience that keeps growing day by day.
These keyboards are often mechanical, and in fact, they have played a significant role in the mass adoption of mechanical keyboards over membrane keyboards, with more and more gamers deciding to pick mechanical keyboards up to gain an edge.
While there is no denying that mechanical keyboards have advantages over membrane keyboards, the main question is whether a mechanical keyboard gives you as big of an edge as advertised or not.
So, are membrane keyboards good for gaming, or are you doomed against a mechanical keyboard user?
While mechanical keyboards are certainly more comfortable to use in general, using a membrane keyboard doesn’t put you at a direct disadvantage; or any disadvantage at all if you are used to gaming with it.
Even though membrane keyboards have shortcomings in certain areas (such as durability and customizability), they are good enough for gaming without any issues.
Moving on, we will be taking a deeper look into membrane keyboard usage for gaming and discuss the reasons behind gaming with membrane keyboards getting a bad reputation despite them being perfectly usable without disadvantage.
Are Membrane Keyboards Good for Gaming?
With the rise of mechanical keyboards in gaming, membrane keyboards quickly became a thing of the past.
Even gamers who were perfectly happy with their membrane keyboards started switching to mechanical keyboards, with plenty forcing themselves to use mechanical even though they were more comfortable with membrane.
While we certainly won’t deny that mechanical keyboards are better in a fair few areas, the main reason most gamers adopted mechanical keyboards was that they thought they would get an advantage. As expected, this shift in preference also caused gamers to believe that membrane keyboards are bad for gaming.
In reality, considering that a player is equally comfortable with both his membrane and mechanical keyboards, there isn’t a single factor to create a difference in performance, meaning that there is nothing that makes a membrane keyboard inherently bad for gaming.
To drive the point home, let’s look at a few factors that led gamers to believe that mechanical keyboards would give them an edge.
- Comfort – Comfort is perhaps one of the main selling points here, considering that a linear switch is certainly a lot more comfortable to press down than a rubber dome, which in turn would make it also faster to press. That being said, this doesn’t really make a difference for someone who can already comfortably press the keys on a membrane keyboard.
- Feedback – The feedback of mechanical switches is a lot more noticeable compared to rubber domes, making it easier to feel whether you have successfully pressed the key or not. While this is convenient, it’s not an advantage by any means, especially against those who are very accustomed to their membrane keyboards.
- Anti-Ghosting – While anti-ghosting was one of the main selling points of mechanical keyboards, and rightly so, the fact that modern membrane keyboards also have this feature means that there is no advantage to be gained from using a mechanical keyboard in this area.
As you can see, there is nothing that directly affects gaming performance, which is why we can comfortably say that membrane keyboards are good enough for gaming without putting yourself at a disadvantage against mechanical keyboard users.
Is Mechanical or Membrane Better for Gaming?
Earlier, we have mentioned that mechanical and membrane keyboards are equally good from a competitive standpoint.
On the other hand, a mechanical keyboard can make your gaming experience more enjoyable and convenient in the long run, especially if you don’t feel too comfortable with your current membrane keyboard.
Let’s take a quick look at the advantages you will be gaining from using a mechanical keyboard:
- Durability – A rubber dome switch may break because of a heavy press, and keycaps of membrane keyboards often chip due to poor quality. On the other hand, mechanical switches are a lot more durable, and the keycaps of mechanical keyboards are often printed with better methods that prevent chipping.
- Feedback – While gaming keyboards often feature switches that don’t have tactile or audible feedback, the feedback of a mechanical switch is still much more noticeable compared to a rubber dome switch, which can be convenient at times.
- Lifespan – It’s no secret that mechanical keyboards are more expensive than membrane ones, but they also last longer. Mechanical switches have a lifespan of 50 to 100 million keypresses, whereas this figure goes down to around 5 million for rubber dome switches.
- Comfort – Pressing keys on a mechanical keyboard is often considered to be more comfortable due to the way mechanical switches operate, which is quite handy for long gaming sessions.
- Customizability – Mechanical keyboards offer plenty of different layouts, keyboard switches, and keycaps to choose from, making them highly customizable.
- Stability – As mechanical keyboards are heavier than membrane ones, it’s not very possible to move them around by accident.
Mechanical Keyboard vs. Membrane Response Time
The difference in response times between membrane and mechanical keyboards is a topic that is often talked about, with many sources noting that mechanical keyboards have faster response times, and therefore are more advantageous for gaming.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of conclusive research on this matter. While a 6ms response time is accepted to be the average for a standard mechanical switch, we couldn’t find any information about the response time of a rubber dome switch to make a comparison.
That being said, even if we assume that the response time of a rubber dome switch is twice as much, the difference would only be six milliseconds, a figure negligible even for competitive gaming.
Are Membrane Keyboards Good for OSU?
While a membrane keyboard would work just fine for playing OSU (a rhythm game where some keys of the keyboard see excessive usage), you might find yourself having to switch keyboards very frequently due to issues related to durability and longevity.
Because of this, we would recommend investing in a mechanical keyboard as it will be more budget-friendly than having to buy new membrane keyboards.
From a purely competitive perspective, we can safely tell you that using a membrane keyboard is good enough for gaming and won’t put you at a disadvantage against players who have mechanical keyboards.
That being said, it’s undeniable that a mechanical keyboard brings some considerable quality of life improvements in many areas such as durability, comfort, lifespan, and customizability.
At the end of the day, we feel that choosing between the two comes down to personal preference, which is why we recommend using the keyboard you are more comfortable with, without worrying about being at a disadvantage because of it.