Mechanical keyboards are the holy grail when it comes to keyboards.
A mechanical keyboard offers a better typing experience overall. It uses spring-loaded mechanical switches that have unmatched tactile feedback for coders.
With the ability to program keys, remove keycaps, back light options, improved typing and high reliability – it’s easy to see why mechanical keyboards are better for coding.
However, a mechanical keyboard won’t make you a better programmer by any stretch of the imagination, but it will make coding more enjoyable experience.
The build quality of a mechanical keyboard is second to none. They feel much nicer to use. The keys respond faster when you type. They look and sound fantastic.
Simply put, regular keyboards are just no match for a mechanical keyboard. And so, are mechanical keyboards better for coding? With many years of coding under my belt, In my opinion, yes they are.
When you talk to a skilled craftsman they will talk passionately about the importance of their tools. When you’re coding and programming a keyboard is your main tool, so why would you settle for using a regular keyboard?
What Is The Best Mechanical Keyboard For Coding?
The best mechanical keyboard for coding is the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT keyboard.
This full-sized keyboard is packed full of features including a choice of Cherry MX mechanical switches and PBT double-shot keycaps.
This is a very versatile keyboard that is not just limited to coding. It will serve you well as a gaming keyboard or a keyboard suitable for school and college too.
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT specs.
|Microsoft Windows, macOS
|Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Speed Silver with PBT double-shot keycaps
|Full size 104 keys
|Dedicated macro keys, detachable, soft textured cushioned leatherette palm rest
Best Mini Mechanical Keyboard
BOYI 61 Mini
BOYI 61 Mini specs.
|Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Red with PBT keycaps
|Mini size 61 keys
|Anti-ghosting keys and ergonomic design
Best Budget Friendly Mechanical Keyboard
|Custom Mechanical Switches(Cherry Blue equivalent)
|Full size 104 keys
|Adjustable RGB backlighting
What Makes A Good Coding Keyboard? (5 Top Programmer Keyboard Features)
Now that we have established that mechanical keyboards are better for coding, what makes a good coding keyboard?
There is no right or wrong answer here, and the order of importance may vary between programmers, however, there are a handful of important features you should consider when exploring what makes a good coding keyboard.
Comfort And Form Factor
Comfort is a personal thing. What’s comfortable for one programmer may not be comfortable for another. That being said, keyboard comfort does boil down to deciding on a few common features.
When you are at your keyboard writing the latest killer code do you prefer your keyboard to be of a low-profile or a high-profile frame? Do you prefer something more ergonomic like a split or an angled keyboard design or do you prefer the addition of a simple wrist cushion that offers support?
Keyboard comfort and form factor are typically there to enable putting your hands in a more natural position when typing to avoid any unnecessary aches, pains and strains, so it’s important to know what works best for you before deciding on your new mechanical keyboard.
Build Quality And Reliability
So why are mechanical keyboards more expensive? The main reason for being more expensive is the individual mechanical spring-loaded switches that are beneath every keycap. Also, the material choice and construction of the keyboard case and keycaps are of better quality therefore improving the reliability.
The real selling point of a mechanical keyboard is the ability to replace almost every part, therefore, giving it a much longer life span than a cheap rubber dome keyboard.
The initial cost of purchasing a good quality mechanical keyboard may seem expensive, however, if you consider maintainability and being able to replace parts then the total cost of ownership over multiple years will be insignificant compared to purchasing multiple cheaper keyboards.
Responsiveness And Performance
If you have ever used a mechanical keyboard, you will be familiar with the switch click you hear and feel when typing. For those readers who have not used a mechanical keyboard, this feature truly sets mechanical keyboards apart from typing with a regular keyboard.
It’s important to understand that there are three types of mechanical keyboard switches, tactile, clicky, and linear.
- Tactile – when the key is pressed the user receives tactile feedback
- Clicky – when the key is pressed the user receives both tactile and an audible click
- Linear – when the key is pressed the response is neither tactile or clicky
So at this point, you might still be wondering which switch is best for coding? Well, it boils down to preference again. To actuate a tactile switch you only have to press the key halfway down whereas to actuate a linear switch you have to press the key all the way down before it registers the keystroke and if you enjoy a clicky sound when typing opt for a clicky-type switch.
Cherry MX mechanical switches are among some of the most popular switches available. You can choose from a combination of tactile, clicky, and linear:
- Cherry MX Red – linear switching, smooth and direct
- Cherry MX Brown – tactile switching, focused and noticeable
- Cherry MX Blue – tactile switching, clicky and noticeable
One final point on performance to consider and that is key rollover. Key rollover is the number of keys that can be pressed and registered on the computer at any given moment. N-key rollover, or NKRO, implies that there is no limit to the number of keys that can be pressed at the same time. On mechanical keyboards, NKRO is usually a premium function and will most likely be found on more expensive versions.
Keyboard Layout And Size
Much like keyboard comfort and form factor, keyboard layout and size are a personal choice. When it comes to layout there are several variations, however, QWERTY is the most common and is the most popular choice of keyboard layout amongst programmers. When choosing between sizes there are three choices that really stand out.
- Full – this is your classic 104 keys that includes all alphanumeric, number pad and directional arrow keys
- TKL (Ten Keys Less) – this is a full keyboard but without the number pad, hence the name TKL, consider it a more compact keyboard
- 60% – this is and even more compact size keyboard. As the name suggests it has 60% of the keys found in a full keyboard
Ports And Programmable Keys
Modern keyboards will come equipped with either a USB or USB-C type connection, the latter connection type being much faster when transferring data and delivering more power to and from the keyboard.
Programmable keys offer the ability to execute repetitive actions using one click of a key. This ability can be a useful feature when coding and therefore having this available certainly adds value to a programmer.
Why Should You Code With A Mechanical Keyboard?
Throughout this article, I have compared mechanical keyboards to regular keyboards and I agree there are good quality regular keyboards available to buy. Yes, you can find regular keyboards with a number pad, yes you can find some with programable keys, however, none of them in my opinion can beat the feel and feedback you receive when typing on a mechanical keyboard. This feel and feedback will only be found when using a mechanical keyboard.
Looking at this from a coder’s perspective, regardless if your are an adult or a kid learning to code, you will be pounding on the keys potentially for many hours. The tactile feedback you receive from a mechanical keyboard starts to become important and is something you begin to rely on.
Additionally, the precision of the actuation of the mechanical switches is no match for a regular keyboard. Having the flexibility to fine-tune the actuation of the keystroke or even install different switches altogether that have alternative characteristics is another feather in the mechanical keyboard’s hat.
Corsair K95 RBG Platinum XT Mechanical Keyboard
Backlit RGB LED, Cherry MX.
How Long Do Mechanical Keyboards Last?
Given that most of the parts on a good-quality mechanical keyboard are serviceable, replaceable, plus mechanical keyboards are easy to clean, there is no reason why your mechanical keyboard should not last for many years.
The build quality and reliability of mechanical keyboards are second to none. And yes, this quality and reliability perhaps may come at a higher cost when compared against a regular non-mechanical rubber membrane-style keyboard – but in my opinion, what you get in return makes it worth the additional cost. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for!
Frequently Asked Mechanical Keyboard Questions
Hopefully, I have answered all of your questions related to, are mechanical keyboards better for coding. However, you may still have other questions surrounding mechanical keyboards. If you do, below I have answered some common frequently asked questions.
Do mechanical keyboards really make a difference?
Do programmers use mechanical keyboards?
What is the best mechanical keyboard size for coding?
Is a 60% keyboard good for coding?
Do you need arrow keys for coding?
Final Thoughts On Are Mechanical Keyboards Better For Coding
There you have it. While a mechanical keyboard won’t make you a better coder, it can improve your overall coding experience. Are mechanical keyboards better for coding? In my opinion they are.
A keyboard is one of the most important tools you have has a coder. Having a long-lasting, reliable quality keyboard that can offer feedback when you type just makes sense, and having the ability to change the switches and the keycaps is just the cherry on top of the cake.