Is a Mechanical Keyboard different from a Gaming Keyboard?

Mechanical keyboards have been around since the 1970s but slowly lost their market share due to the cost-effective dome-type keyboards. Nowadays, mechanical keyboard manufacturers are running at 100% potential due to the rising demand. While gaming and mechanical keyboard terms are sometimes used interchangeably, distinct characteristics set them apart. There are mechanical gaming keyboards, mechanical keyboards for professionals, membrane gaming keyboards, and membrane office keyboards. A mechanical keyboard provides typing satisfaction and feedback for gamers and typists. On the other hand, a gaming keyboard has unique features which make them favorable for gaming. This article will explore the commonalities and differences between mechanical and gaming keyboards to help you understand which suits your needs best.


Mechanical Keyboard vs. Gaming Keyboard: What is the difference?

Let's dive into the details of each to find out whether using these terms together or separately is correct. Some aspects overlap between both types. The basic definition of each is based on features; we will discuss them in detail.


Common Features of Mechanical and Gaming Keyboards

Some features overlap between both types of keyboards. These features make them usable under any condition.



The number of keys on a standard full-sized keyboard is 104. Depending on the keyboard's layout, the number of keys can vary. TKL(87 keys), 75%(84 keys), 65%(68 keys), 60% (61 keys), and 40%(45 keys) keyboard layouts are available for any type of keyboard. Depending on its features, we can tell whether it's a mechanical keyboard, a mechanical gaming keyboard, or a simple gaming keyboard.


Input Device

Both keyboards work as input devices, irrespective of their design. Their sole purpose is to provide the computer with input. It can be an input letter, number, direction, or function key. Some keyboards come with multimedia keys to provide changes in volume. This feature is common to both mechanical and gaming keyboards.


Similar Interface

The most popular interface is USB-A which is used in mechanical and gaming keyboards. Computers utilized the PS/2 interface before USB-A. However, the world quickly switched to USB from the PS/2 legacy interface due to its robustness. However, USB-A had one drawback its connector is not reversible. USB-C and thunderbolt connections are gaining the market due to their reversible connection and fast connection speed.


Features Specific to Mechanical Keyboards

The mechanical keyboard's name indicates that the key's movement is based on a combination of physical phenomena. Which is directly related to the way it registers a key press. Here are the features that make a keyboard mechanical:


Key Switches

Mechanical keyboard switches consist of various components that enable their operation. When a key is pressed, the switch's stem moves downwards, pushing against a spring to provide resistance. As the stem moves, it pushes two metal contacts together, completing an electrical circuit. Different switches have varying actuation and reset points, indicated by colors like Red (linear), Brown (tactile), and Blue (clicky). These switches offer precise input, tactile feedback, and faster response times than other keyboard types.


Key Customization

Each mechanical switch has a stem that enables mounting a key cap over it. The keycaps in a mechanical keyboard are designed to be replaceable. Keycaps are available for replacement since mechanical switches are preferred by mechanical keyboard suppliers due to the generic stem design, either a plus, square, etc. Double-shot PBT is the top design for durability, stability, and reliability. In addition, users can go for unique colors and textures to suit their needs.


Tactile Feedback

It is characteristic of a mechanical key switch compared to a regular dome type. A switch usually has distinct tactile feedback owing to the stem design. The spring that works against the stem creates the tactile key registration. A slope with a sudden drop design on the stem makes a mechanical keyboard capable of providing solid feedback. It also assists in avoiding accidental presses.


Audible Click

The tactile feedback and an audible click are distinct features that a mechanical keyboard provides. Users prefer multiple sensory feedbacks to ensure the key has been pressed. The degree of loudness depends on the type of switch used. A premium-grade keyboard like the MEETION Mechanical Keyboard MK007 Pro comes with hot-swappable mechanical key switches and caps. A user can replace the Outemu Blue switches, which are loud by design, with a much quieter Outemu White switch without significant disassembly.

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Mechanical keyboards require a solid base to work because it applies force against the plate, and due to a heavier design than a membrane, it requires an overall solid body. The inherent design feature makes mechanical keyboards durable and long-lasting with maintenance capability. In the case of dome keyboards, repairing specific keys is not possible. In addition, it helps make a keyboard that you are familiar with for a longer time, improving muscle memory.


Features Specific to Gaming Keyboards

Features that make a gaming keyboard are more than just about feel and ergonomics. It's about being fast and aesthetically pleasing. Gamers require Insta-friendly products that look great on screen and perform flawlessly under pressure. Some of the key features of a gaming keyboard are:


Programmable Macro Keys

Sometimes you have to execute a complex maneuver to dominate certain conditions in gaming. That's when macro keys come into play and ease the process. A high-end wired mechanical keyboard like the MK600RD comes with programmable macros. Users can apply macros with the help of software or onboard hardware-based macro applications using a combination of keys. If you want to register specific keys in a sequence, programming your keyboard for macros is the best way to become a pro.

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Backlit Keys and Lighting Effects

RGB lighting has many advantages besides providing a mesmerizing color pattern. It can sync with the game and provide a visual cue like health monitoring and remaining ammunition. The device can be programmed through software to enhance the gaming experience. Gaming setups are usually in a dark room with dim lighting to increase focus. However, the lighting condition can make spotting keys difficult, but with backlit keys, you will always catch an accurate keypress.


Faster Response Time

Gaming keyboards have a higher polling rate compared to traditional keyboards. The aim is to register a key quickly and deliver the data to the computer. In intense FPS gaming, a delay in response (milliseconds) can decide between winning and losing. It comes with high-quality PCB and premium key switches.


Anti-Ghosting and N-Key Rollover

The most vital feature of a gaming keyboard is the ability to register and correctly interpret the simultaneous key presses. NKRO and Anti-ghosting ensure that the multiple key presses are registered individually without any “ghost” or missed keystrokes. N-key rollover (NKRO) allows multiple keystrokes without conflicts and limitations. The limitation posed by the USB interface is removed using these features. Legacy interface such as PS/2 has no limitation on key presses. If your motherboard supports a PS/2 interface, it is a more affordable alternative to USB.


Gaming Keyboard vs. Mechanical Keyboard: Which One Should You Buy?

After going through the above features, it is clear that a gaming keyboard can also be mechanical. It is because most gaming keyboards come with mechanical switches to ensure durability as they can be posed to stress forces while intense gaming moments. So, if you are a gamer at the beginning of your career, ensure the mechanical keyboard you purchase has the gaming-specific features mentioned above.



When deciding between the two, consider cost, typing experience, comfort, and functionality. For example, mechanical gaming keyboards are expensive but provide long-term companionship. In contrast, gaming keyboards based on rubber-dome design have no repair capability and lack the tactile feel required for gaming. Ultimately, it depends on whether the user prefers performance over aesthetics or prioritizes a balance.

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