Membrane Keyboards and similar Mechanical keyboards

GotNoRice

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I'm seemingly one of the few that still uses a Membrane keyboard. My favorite keyboard was my old Logitech G15 (2nd generation) which I'd probably still be using today except that I accidentally spilled water on it. I got a cheap Logitech G105 (also a membrane keyboard) to hold me over and have now been using that for a few years. I would gladly buy another G15 without hesitation if they actually still sold them. I don't really have any issues with membrane keyboards, except for the keys sometimes starting to stick after a few years. I recently "refurbished" my G105 by removing all of the keys, cleaning it, putting a dab of white lithium grease in every key hole, and putting all the keys back. It feels good as new now.

One thing that has kept me away from getting a mechanical keyboard is that there is no longer anywhere I can go and try one before I buy it. Just like I would not buy a pair of shoes without trying them first, I can't really imagine buying a keyboard without trying it first. Fry's Electronics used to be a place I could go to do this but they have been in a quasi "almost out of business" state for about 2 years now where they have almost nothing on their shelves anymore. It seems like my only option is to read about each type of key as much as possible, and then ultimately take a blind leap and buy one without trying it.

Given that I've generally been satisfied with, even happy with with membrane keyboards, what I'm really trying to avoid is getting a mechanical keyboard where the end result is me coming to the conclusion that I should have just stuck with the membrane keyboard. I don't want to feel like I dumped $60-100+ just to participate in a fad.

So with all that said, here are a few questions that I have:

Are there any good membrane keyboards out there anymore?
Which mechanical keyboard type would be the most similar to a good membrane keyboard? ("good" meaning similar feel to what you get with a new membrane keyboard from a reputable brand such as Logitech).
For those who have been in my position (happy with the feel of a membrane keyboard) but "upgraded" to a mechanical keyboard anyway, which keyboard did you get and did you have any regrets?
 

Starfalcon

Limp Gawd
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Jan 7, 2020
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462
I used a MS ergo pro keyboard I got back in the late 90's until around 2015 when it finally died. it was a membrane keyboard also, and did not really feel like one. I ended up upgrading to a Corsair K70 with cherry browns, and I have to say it was like night and day difference between them. I liked it so much I upgraded to a K95 board mainly for the macro keys before they discontinued it with the same cherry browns. Do yourself a favor and get a mechanical keyboard, they are absolutely make a difference and are worth buying.

Just make sure to research the type of keys you want to go with, there are many different types. Some are loud, and some have a lot more travel to actuate when you press them. I settled on cherry browns as they fit what I wanted, and I have no complaints with my choice 5 years later.
 

jerry8169

Weaksauce
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Nov 1, 2020
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If you have a Microcenter close to you, they usually have keyboards out, maybe not all of them, but a good selection you can touch and see if there's one you like.
 

GotNoRice

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Microcenter is pretty far away unfortunately.

I do like some feedback when I press each key, like you get with a membrane keyboard. I think that rules out the "smooth" keys, such as Cherry MX Red. Cherry MX Brown is described as having a "Light Bump" while Cherry MX Blue is described as having a "Tactile Click" but I really don't know how either of those descriptions compares to the keys on a decent membrane keyboard.
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
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Sep 29, 2001
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I recently bought a G815 with the Clicky switches and I really like how it feels when I type. It is kinda pricey though, $200 normal price and $150 on sale.
Best Buy has them on display so you can feel them.

IMG_0149.JPEG


IMG_0372.JPEG
 

GotNoRice

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I managed to find a Best Buy where they had a key tester with all of the Cherry MX variants. None of them really seemed to line up with what I am looking for. What bothered me is that all of them were way too easy to press - at least part of the way, before there was any tactile feedback whatsoever. Even with the Cherry MX Blue and Brown variants. I sort of like how it is with my Logitech membrane keyboard where the keys don't really press down much at all until the rubber dome "collapses" at which point the key will basically bottom out. I can safely rest my fingers on the keys without pressing them accidentally because it requires more force than that before they press down at all.

They also had a Logitech board with Romer-G tactile switches and that seemed to be a lot more in-line with what I wanted. The tactile "bump" is at the very top, after which the key basically bottoms out. Now i'm just not sure which Romer-G based Logitech board to get. I like the G513 but it seems way too expensive compared to the G413, with the G413 only lacking a wrist-rest and RGB (single color only for the G413). Then there is also the K840 which is basically the same as the G413 but no LED color at all, but it's only a tiny bit cheaper than the G413. It's probably between the G413 or K840. The only thing i'm still apprehensive about is wondering why so many people online seem to hate the Romer-G switches compared to Cherry MX.
 

kirbyrj

Fully [H]
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Feb 1, 2005
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27,468
I picked up a Razer Ornata Chroma which has a "mechamembrane" switch. I like it. I'd definitely test it before buying one though.
 

vegeta535

Supreme [H]ardness
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If you have a Microcenter close to you, they usually have keyboards out, maybe not all of them, but a good selection you can touch and see if there's one you like.
Mine has at least every kind of switch there is out to try. Not from every brand. I believe they were mostly corsair they had out to try.
 

AVATARAT

Limp Gawd
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GotNoRice I use membrane keyboard too, so just buy something with which you fееl better, but not one that is modern.​

 

cyclone3d

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If you like the hard to press buttons, then take a look at the Cherry MY switches. They literally feel like you are squishing wet newspaper.... ugggghhh.

IBM model M keyboards might meet your needs... except that you need a PS/2 port or an adapter to go to USB. They are membrane but clicky. Better than any other membrane keyboard.. but still membrane.

The late ones also came in a non-clicky version. I have both types and the clicky is way better IMO.

You can even get brand new Model M keyboards from the people that bought the tooling, etc. from IBM.
https://www.pckeyboard.com/

As for mechanical switches... the Gateron switches always seemed really junky to me. Back when I was actually looking at keyboards, the keyboards that Best Buy had on display that had the Gateron switches were always broken in some way.

Personally, I like the Cherry MX Red and the newer variations of that such as the RGB silent and the speed switches... all of which sound like they are exactly the opposite of what you are looking for.

I will say that I can type way faster with mechanical switches than with any membrane switches.

Here is an older video with a bunch of different types of switches:
 

Valnar

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Mechanical keyboards are louder than membrane. If that is a quality you like, take a look at Topre (Realforce) keyboards. They are the "high-end" membrane'ish keyboards. I'm using one now.
 

GotNoRice

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If you like the hard to press buttons, then take a look at the Cherry MY switches. They literally feel like you are squishing wet newspaper.... ugggghhh.

Well I'm definitely not seeking out a mushy keyboard, or a keyboard where there isn't any key travel. I like for there to be some resistance to the initial press - at least enough that I can actually rest my ring, middle, and index fingers on the A, W, and D keys while gaming without pressing the keys accidentally. When I do press the key, I like for there to be a clearly defined point at which the key will depress and for the key to be able to fully bottom out after that happens. As someone who does computer work, I've definitely come across more than my fair share of disgusting mushy membrane keyboards over the years and that is certainly not what I'm looking for. I've had good results with Logitech gaming membrane keyboards though, with the keys generally remaining very crisp. When the keys start to develop an unnatural resistance to being pressed, it's usually resistance from the inside of the socket that each key plugs into. Since I remove my keys and clean my keyboard about once per year anyway, I just use a Q-tip to dab a bit of white lithium grease into each key socket and that makes the keys as good as new again.

Mechanical keyboards are louder than membrane. If that is a quality you like, take a look at Topre (Realforce) keyboards. They are the "high-end" membrane'ish keyboards. I'm using one now.

Sound really isn't a factor for me one way or another. I game with closed headphones and no one else nearby. My computer itself is about as loud as a vacuum cleaner when CPU temps exceed 60C, and that doesn't bother me either. The only thing I'm concerned about is how the keys feel. I may very well end up going back to a membrane keyboard if it doesn't work out. I like how a good membrane keyboard feels and I don't want to "fix something that isn't broken", but I don't want to be a curmudgeon either and just assume that everyone who says mechanical keyboards are better is wrong.

I went ahead and pulled the trigger on a Logitech G413. I'll try it and go from there.
 

GotNoRice

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G413 arrived and wow, the keys felt terrible. I was under the impression that it had the same Romer-G tactile switches as the board that I tried in Best Buy but the only "tactile" feedback I could feel was what felt like plastic sliding against plastic as you pressed each key. Just felt really cheap. Maybe it's just different actually having it side by side with my existing keyboard.

I'm going to investigate the hybrid keyboards. When it comes to other membrane keyboards, do the newer Logitech membrane keyboards (G213 for example) have a similar feel to the older Logitech keyboards like the G15? What about Corsair membrane keyboards like the K55?
 
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