Rinky dink machinery will no longer do in the post-pandemic work-from-home era. Perhaps one of the greatest takeaways I’ve noticed from the past year’s events lies in equipment—oftentimes one really just needs the right gear to get the work done. Those engaged with gaming, coding, and other computer-heavy activities are already privy to this crucial fact, but now the rest of the world is following suit. If you’re upgrading your work setup or seeking a more fulfilling experience for your digital leisure, a quiet mechanical keyboard proves a load-bearing tool in any pleasurable home computer setup.
What is a mechanical keyboard?
Until about the 1990s, computer keyboards bore an impressive amount of technology beneath each individual pad—one distinct keystroke sent its own individual signal directly to the computer. However, technological innovation aims to cut costs, and by the time of the dot com boom, less expensive membrane keyboards (which most of us know today) replaced the widespread mechanical keyboard. Now the default choice for consumer keyboards, this membrane setup entails a rubber-like dome that detects each press of the keyboard’s buttons. Rather than sending a signal directly to the computer itself, this structure filters all signals through its own central mechanism.
Still, mechanical keyboards aren’t without their relative downsides. They’re harder to find, and obviously more expensive than their membrane counterparts.
Who cares? Well, lots of people. First of all, like most cheap throwaway products, modern membrane keyboards generally die out faster. Mechanical keyboards can handle four to ten times as many lifetime keystrokes. That’s because the individual switches are each sturdier in their own right, and easily replaced on an individual basis on the off chance one kicks out. Furthermore, mechanical keyboards provide an enhanced tactile experience with a more satisfying click, and guaranteed accuracy while typing—sometimes the membrane-style gets jammed up at its central interface, as two keys pressed at the same time cancel each other out. A mechanical keyboard doesn’t miss a beat.
Still, mechanical keyboards aren’t without their relative downsides. They’re harder to find, and obviously more expensive than their membrane counterparts. They can appear and feel a little bulkier. Most notably, however, mechanical keyboards make a lot of noise, which makes sense given part of their whole MO is a more satisfying click. If you’re thinking of acquiring a mechanical keyboard for your home, your office, or your gaming setup, keeping your eyes out for a quiet mechanical keyboard ensures you’ll maintain harmonious relationships with those around you and perhaps more importantly, even your concentration.
How Does it Stay Silent?
The secret to finding a properly quiet mechanical keyboard lies in the switch. This is the individual part of each key that actually works to transfer your finger movement into a digital figure or action. There are a daunting plethora of switches available to consumers—partially due to the fact that those who are demographically drawn to this gear seem to be the type of people with the drive and knowhow to complete cool customizations. If you’re new to the idea of a quiet mechanical keyboard, it’ll be best to opt for an item that comes with switches optimized for silence.
Historically, CHERRY has dominated the options for such switches. The CHERRY brown switch trades a very slight amount of noise for increased tactility while typing, but still ranks much quieter than other mechanical keyboard switches on the market. Meanwhile, the CHERRY MX switch has time and again been lauded utterly inaudible. Word on the street is that CHERRY’s patent on the technology expired not too long ago, paving the way for a new renaissance in switch technology. This has led to a slew of new switch options, and a flood of new quiet mechanical keyboards on the market. We’re here to help you sort through the options!
Factors to Consider in Choosing a Keyboard
Sound can be considered not only in terms of pure decibels, but also in terms of pitch. A higher pitched click clack of your mechanical keyboard is likely to carry further and get on your nerves faster. Beyond what you already know about switches, stick to a low pitch switch when selecting your quiet mechanical keyboard.
Different mechanical keyboards are made from different materials to suit different tastes. If you prefer more mobility, then search for lightweight materials like plastic. If you want something sturdier (and often, more durable), then stick to steel. Aluminum straddles both worlds, as it is lightweight and reliable.
Switches get a lot of the glory when it comes to finding a quiet mechanical keyboard, but stabilizers also play their own part. This component of your mechanical keyboard keeps the other keys from rattling when moved. Higher end models often feature more reliable stabilizers. Check the reviews for further intel as well.
Boiling down to a matter of sheer personal taste, keep in mind that your quiet mechanical keyboard is a work and pleasure tool, and that this fact should reflect through its design. Whether you like a little extra wrist padding, curved keypads, or a spacious design with utility keys like the arrows in a particular place, take this opportune moment in the mechanical keyboard marketplace to be choosy with your selection, tailoring your choice until it’s just right.
The average mechanical keyboard seems to shake out to about $150, but there are of course outliers on both ends of the spectrum. Generally, it is an investment that’ll pay its own kind of dividends in the form of your own deepened enjoyment, whether that affects your professional life or leisure life or both.
Depending on the particular purpose you’re purchasing this quiet mechanical keyboard for, there’s a vast array of very niche other additional features you can select for during your search. Some mechanical keyboards sync to gaming servers like Discord, where others provide a built-in light show to keep you entertained and on focus. In this modern era, the world’s all yours.
Our Favorite, Most Quiet Mechanical Keyboards
STRAFE RGB MK.2 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard by Corsair
Many modern mechanical keyboards possess an aesthetic that speaks to their favor amongst gamers. Models like this STRAFE RGB MK.2 by Corsair feature mesmerizing ripples of LED lights in every color of the rainbow, adding visual appeal and actual help seeing. This extra quiet mechanical keyboard utilizes MX Red switches by CHERRY for industry-approved silence, with the additional option to go with Cherry MX Silent as well. With a substantial wrist rest, this oasis of digital luxury travels especially well—it even features 8MB of onboard storage so you can save your preferred keyboard settings and take them with you on the go.
HUO JI E-Yooso Z-88 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Looking for something a little more budget friendly to get you started in the world of mechanical keyboarding? Selling for the startling rate of about $38, Huo Ji has created a respectable mechanical keyboard at perhaps the industry’s most accessible price point. This simple, straightforward design comes with a vast array of lighting modes, but omits extra features like the most basic wrist rest. Still, it’s a sturdy offering that consistently polls well in the product reviews. It’ even fortified with a metal construction rather than plastic, adding an extra measure of durability, and equipped with equivalent CHERRY MX Red switches that make use of those recent developments in patenting. For the price, it’s unbeatable.
CHERRY G80 3000 Silent Keyboard
While CHERRY’s vice grip on the mechanical keyboard market has lightened up significantly, they’re still the go-to GOAT for anyone looking to enjoy the gear’s benefits while ensuring maximum quietude. Not only does this quiet mechanical keyboard feature their MX silent switch, it also comes in a lowkey, streamlined design with a retro aura that speaks to the mechanical keyboard’s popular heyday.
ROCCAT Vulcan 100 AIMO RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Some of the recent contenders to rise to the cream of the mechanical keyboard crop have made a huge splash like this striking new mechanical keyboard from ROCCAT. Their design takes the gaming aesthetic that much further, bringing backlight RGB keys into iridescent edges that glimmer like pure plunder itself. This mechanical gaming keyboard also delivers on the technical front with premium components, lightning fast firmware, and brown switches that balance quietness with a little extra tactile satisfaction. “Being a much less popular and proven brand in the US than larger companies such as Razer, Corsair, and Logitech, I was a bit apprehensive about buying a Roccat,” writes one reviewer. “My fears were unfounded, because this is a fantastic keyboard.”
Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
This top-grade mechanical keyboard from Razer blends a futuristic tech aesthetic with streamlined modernity, resulting in a product that’s both technically invaluable and ergonomically delightful. Razer has designed their own Orange switch to top the quiet mechanical keyboard market, and users have been delighted with the pristine silence of its capabilities. Made with a military grade top level metal plate, you can count on this machine to last you through 80 million keystrokes. Users can even program secondary, more complex uses for a single key. If you’re serious about upgrading your mechanical keyboard game, then this is the gear for you.