All you need to know before buying a mechanical keyboard if you are a gamer, a writer, or just someone who spends a lot of time typing!

In a world of ever-evolving tech, there’s something timeless about the sound of mechanical keyboards. For me, they’re more than just tools for typing; they’re a reflection of one’s personality, preferences, and creative flair.

I remember the first time I tried one. It was a sensory change and sparked a craftsman’s urge to build one myself. From that moment on, I dived into it, started watching countless reviews, and experimenting with different switches and keycap sets.

So, Let’s Dive...

A mechanical keyboard is a type of computer keyboard that uses mechanical switches to register key presses. These switches are typically more durable and provide a more tactile and satisfying typing experience than the membrane keyboards that are commonly used.

They typically have a higher price point than membrane keyboards, but they are also more customizable, with a wide range of sizes, switch types and keycaps available.

If you are already familiar with all variants of mechanical keyboards and know the difference between layouts, switches and keycaps, you may skip this first part and go straight to a more exciting part where I will describe my personal experience with different kinds of mechanical keyboards.

How Keyboard Sizes Speak Volumes

Mechanical keyboards come in various sizes to cater to different preferences and use cases. Here are some common sizes:


The most common traditional keyboards. They come with a number pad, home cluster, function and arrow keys. The most significant advantage of a full-sized keyboard is the number pad which is helpful for data entry and calculations.

SteelSeries Apex Pro

Tenkeyless (TKL)

Unlike a full-sized keyboard, Tenkeyless does not have a number pad, making the keyboard more compact and comfortable.

Razer BlackWidow V3

60% Keyboard

Probably the most popular one in the enthusiast keyboard community and for custom builds. They lack a number pad, navigation cluster, and function row.

Glorious GMMK Compact


The one with the smallest layout in the list includes only the most essential keys. Some functions are accessed through layers and/or function keys.

Vortex Core

… But, of course, there are more sizes, and they include different combinations of keys like 50%, 65%, 75%, and 1800 compact.

Exploring Mechanical Keyboard Layouts for Ultimate Typing Comfort

The ISO and ANSI keyboard layouts are two standardized keyboard layouts used in different parts of the world. The main difference between the two layouts is the size and shape of the Enter key and the placement of some special characters on the keyboard.

  • The ISO keyboard layout, which is used in most European countries, has a larger Enter key, a smaller left Shift key, and a shorter left Control key.
  • The ANSI keyboard layout, used in the United States and Canada, has a smaller Enter key shaped like a horizontal line. The ANSI layout includes a few special characters not present in the ISO layout, such as the grave accent (`) and the tilde (~).

If you are more into customizing your keyboard, you should choose the ANSI layout since there are more options for keycap sets, and many popular keyboard models are available with the ANSI layout.


  • Linear switches are smooth and consistent, with no tactile bump or auditory feedback. They are popular with gamers who prefer a soft and quiet keyboard.
  • Tactile switches have a small bump or tactile feedback when the switch actuates. They are popular with typists and people who want a more satisfying typing experience.
  • Clicky switches have pronounced tactile feedback and a loud clicking sound when the switch actuates. They are popular with people who want a loud and satisfying typing experience.
Linear, tactile and clicky switch
  • Silent mechanical switches are keyboard switches designed to minimize the noise generated when the switch actuates. These switches are popular with people who want a mechanical keyboard but do not want the loud clicking sound that is typically associated with mechanical keyboards.

The actual sound can also be influenced by factors such as keycap material and keyboard construction. It’s advisable to try out different switches or listen to sound tests to find the one that suits your preference.


Hot-swappable and soldered switches are two types of switches used in mechanical keyboards. The main difference between the two is how they are installed on the keyboard.

  • Hot-swappable switches can be easily removed and replaced without soldering. They have a special connector that allows them to be plugged into the keyboard PCB (printed circuit board) without the need for soldering. This makes it easy to customize the switches on a hot-swappable keyboard and try out different switch types without any specialized tools or skills.
  • On the other hand, soldered switches are permanently installed in the keyboard by soldering them to the PCB. This makes it more difficult to customize the switches on a soldered keyboard, as it requires soldering skills and specialized tools. However, soldered switches can potentially provide a more stable and durable connection, as they are not subject to the wear and tear of being plugged and unplugged.

Both hot-swappable and soldered switches have their advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice will depend on users’ needs and preferences. Hot-swappable switches are a good choice for users who want the flexibility to try out different switch types or customize their keyboard easily. In contrast, soldered switches are a good choice for users who want a more stable and durable connection.


The removable plastic caps that cover the key switches on a mechanical keyboard. They are essential to the keyboard’s appearance and can be customized to suit the user’s style.

Keycaps are typically made of ABS plastic or a more durable PBT plastic. ABS keycaps are generally cheaper and have a slightly smoother texture, but they are also more prone to shine and wear over time. PBT keycaps are more durable and have a slightly rougher texture but are also more expensive.

They come in a wide range of styles and colors, and many mechanical keyboard users like to customize their keycaps to suit their personal style or to match the color scheme of their setup.

Keycap profiles comparison

Now, when you are familiar with the most important parts of a mechanical keyboard, you can either buy a prebuilt or assemble your own custom keyboard.

My Collection and Reviews

  • MS Industrial Thunder 40$

One of the cheapest full-sized mechanical keyboards you can find on the market. It was my first mechanical keyboard, and I bought it from my friend, who won it as a prize for winning at the Hearthstone tournament. It is an entry-level keyboard, and it has poor build quality. With OutemuBlue switches and rattly stabilizers, it is very loud and uncomfortable for typing. A wrist rest is included in the box, which could improve the typing experience, but it is not very stable if you are not using a desk mat. Pads do not have a good grip. RGB is there, but from this perspective, I would rather skip it and consider the Redragon Kumara K552, which is slightly more expensive but still affordable.

  • Gamakay LK67

I bought this keyboard on Aliexpress for 65$. It is a barebone kit, so it does not include switches and keycaps. The first choice for switches was GazzewBobagum silent linear switches. They are very good for the price of 6.5$ per pack of 10 pieces and ideal for an office since they are less noisy than the average membrane keyboard. Later I replaced them with the noisiest switches ever, Kailh Box Jade. They have an enjoyable clicky sound, but they are acceptable only for home and if you live alone.

Don’t even think about bringing this keyboard with this kind of switch to the office! 🙂 The keyboard supports wireless connection with USB (type A) dongle and Bluetooth. I need this feature to connect it to a smart TV, for example. Even though the build quality is surprisingly good for the price, I broke the power switch when I tried to disassemble the keyboard. Unlike most keyboards, it has a rotary knob for volume control (volume up, volume down and mute), which I found very useful here since the keyboard does not include a row of function keys.

  • Akko Ocean Star 3084 SP

Currently, I use this keyboard on a daily basis. It does not have a wireless connection, but it always stays in my office.

With cherry red mechanical switches, it is acceptable for an office environment with many people. It is a 75% size, but it does not require a lot of space on a desk, and it still has a function key row which I sometimes use. Switches are soldered on a PCB, so I had to decide which switch type I liked the most. I would rather not spend a few hours soldering and risk damaging the PCB for switch replacement. I especially like the design of side printed labels on keycaps.

  • Epomaker TH80

Another barebone kit that remains on the shelf until I buy switches and keycaps. It should replace the previous keyboard in my office so it must be with silent switches.

I have not decided yet which one, linear or tactile. I’m trying to find a black and yellow-themed keycap set that would match the NovaLite logo. It must be compatible with 75% size and also available to order from Serbia without pricy shipment.

This is Not The End…

… but just the beginning of one of the most captivating hobbies, and I hope that you’ve gained some valuable insights to enrich your understanding and appreciation for mechanical keyboards, too. 😉

Marko Stanić

Marko is Scala developer who has a keen interest in all things tech, with a particular fascination for mechanical keyboards. When he's not coding or hitting the gym, Marko enjoys expanding his knowledge of programming and cloud technologies, always eager to learn and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in these areas.