Is your laptop boring? The solution is a mechanical keyboard.

Are mechanical keyboards worth it? You might be surprised by their benefits
(Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

The keyboard I use for work every day is covered in pixel-art wizards, dragons, and knights. It’s like a little dopamine boost every time I sit down to start working. Everything about this keyboard makes me want to start typing and find a reason to tap away to the satisfying “pop” of each keystroke. 

This quirky, colorful keyboard is my favorite part of my desk setup. And you deserve to have that experience, too. Mechanical keyboards aren’t just for typing enthusiasts, gamers, or coders. 

Everyone should experience the little burst of joy that comes from the phenomenal typing experience and limitless personalization of mechanical keyboards. Whether you want a calming botanical keyboard or one covered in neon keycaps or anything in between, there’s a unique keyboard for you. 

At first glance, a fun mechanical keyboard might seem like a frivolous addition to your workspace. However, there are some real benefits to swapping out your standard-issue keyboards for something more colorful and unique. From mellow retro-style keyboards to clicky pops of color, here’s a look into the weird and wonderful world of mechanical keyboards – and why you deserve one, too.  

What mechanical keyboards have that your office keyboard doesn’t 

Keycap types explained

The Endgame Gear KB65HE gaming keyboard and Epomaker x Leobog Hi75 with custom keycaps (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

People new to mechanical keyboards often wonder what makes them worth upwards of $100. It’s a fair question. After all, you just need a keyboard with all the main keys that can get the job done, right? You might be surprised to learn how you’re missing out.

Mechanical keyboards offer something basic office keyboards and laptop keyboards don’t: Joy. Everything from the color of the case to the sound of the switches comes together to create a typing experience and desk setup that’s unique to you. 

Everyone should get to experience the little burst of joy that comes from the phenomenal typing experience and limitless personalization of mechanical keyboards.

Most laptop and office keyboards use chiclet or membrane designs, which means the keys sit on top of flat rubber domes. Chiclet keyboards have flat keys like those on a laptop keyboard, while membrane keyboards have taller plastic keys, similar to those on a mechanical keyboard. Both types are usually not customizable and are often difficult to repair. Some laptop chiclet keyboards can be satisfying to type on, but you’re still stuck with whatever design your laptop comes with.

In contrast, mechanical keyboards have a physical mechanical switch under each key. Different switch designs create different sounds and tactile feedback. While most membrane and chiclet keyboards sound essentially the same, any two mechanical keyboards can sound drastically different. 

An array of different mechanical keyboard switches

There are hundreds of unique mechanical keyboard switches (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

With so much variety, you can choose a keyboard you enjoy typing on instead of using whatever’s available and simply ignoring it. Your basic membrane or chiclet keyboard might not be holding you back, but it isn’t going to inspire you the way a fun, personalized mechanical keyboard can. 

Plus, most mechanical keyboards are fully customizable. Good ones are “hot-swappable,” which means you can replace the switches, whether because one broke on you or you just want to try out a different sound and feel. You can also change the keycaps to give your keyboard a new look whenever the mood calls. None of that is possible with a basic membrane or laptop keyboard. 

Popular mechanical keyboard YouTuber TaeKeyboards sums up what makes the mechanical keyboard experience so special, explaining: “Getting something that feels good to you and serves your needs can potentially impact [your] efficiency, performance, and just straight up enjoyment. Now, that’s a pretty big word when you think about it. Doesn’t it just sound right to turn an otherwise boring daily tool into something that’s more enjoyable to use?” 

A fun mechanical keyboard can help your mental health 

Akko 5108 Gudetama Special Edition mechanical keyboard design

The Akko 5108 Gudetama Special Edition could brighten up any desk setup (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

The colorful designs and tactile feedback found on mechanical keyboards are undoubtedly fun, but those features can provide real everyday benefits, too. If your work-from-home setup or desk in the office triggers feelings of stress or boredom, a fun mechanical keyboard could be just what you need to take the dread out of your workday. 

For example, adding a colorful keyboard to your desk can help fend off depression and anxiety. Research on color psychology shows that different colors have different effects on your mood and mental health. Bright colors can help you feel more energized, and warm colors can encourage relaxation. 

If you often find your mood declining when you arrive at your desk in the morning, a fun mechanical keyboard could be the perfect pop of color to ward off those negative feelings.

Shades like green, blue, and purple are beneficial for brightening the mood in your workspace since they stimulate feelings of serenity, calm, and creativity. In contrast, black, the most common color for office gear, is connected to feelings of seriousness and negativity.

If you often find your mood declining when you arrive at your desk in the morning, a fun mechanical keyboard could be the perfect pop of color to ward off those negative feelings.

Mechanical keyboards can also be an excellent tool for staying focused. That’s part of why I started using one several years ago. I figured if I got something I loved typing on, it would make me write more. That’s exactly what happened.

I love the sound and feel of my favorite keyboard so much that just looking at it makes me want to find something to write about. If you’re also someone who struggles with distractions or motivation during your workday, a mechanical keyboard can provide a little nudge to help you stay on track.

The wild west of mechanical keyboard customization 

Cheap and easy mechanical keyboard mods

Mechanical keyboard modifications can be cheap and easy – and fun (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

A fun mechanical keyboard isn’t just nice to look at – it can also be the start of a new hobby. Surveys show that 61 percent of Americans say hobbies are a “very important” or “extremely important” part of their lives, yet finding new ones can be a struggle. Mechanical keyboard customization is a great hobby, especially for creative people or anyone who liked playing with LEGOs as a kid. It’s easier to get started than you might think.

Every aspect of a mechanical keyboard can be customized, from the case to the keycaps and all the electronics inside. It can be as simple as picking a new set of keycaps for your pre-built keyboard or as complex as building a DIY keyboard from scratch. Your mechanical keyboard can evolve as you find new switches and keycaps you enjoy.  

Learning to build and customize mechanical keyboards opens the door for you to make a keyboard like no one else has, one that’s completely personalized for your style and taste.

Building a custom keyboard might sound complicated, but it’s similar to creating a LEGO set. Once you know what order the pieces go together in, everything clicks into place. Learning to build and customize mechanical keyboards opens the door for you to make a keyboard like no one else has, completely personalized for your style and taste. 

If you want to get creative, you can try modding your keyboard to refine its sound and feel. Some mechanical keyboard mods sound downright outlandish, like sticking band-aids under your space bar, but you would be surprised how well some of them actually work. 

Mechanical keyboard expert and YouTuber Glarses shares some encouragement in an interview on the hobby: “Seriously, if you haven’t built your own keyboard, I strongly recommend it. It’s not as hard as you think, and you really end up with this thing that you can really say, ‘I built this thing that I now use to type on every day.’”

Finding your keyboard soulmate 

How to find the perfect mechanical keyboard for you

Whether it's custom or pre-built, there's a perfect keyboard out there for you (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

The dream for mechanical keyboard fans is to find (or build) the perfect keyboard with exactly the right sound, feel, size, and theme. In the keyboard community, we call this an “endgame keyboard.” I think it’s more fun to have a few favorite keyboards you can swap between, but if you’re just getting started, a few tips can help you find a suitable beginner mechanical keyboard. 

First, consider what you like and don’t like about your current keyboard. Do you wish it had more keys, color, or a different sound? If so, jot down a few favorite colors and look at our guide to the types of mechanical keyboard switches to see which type would be right for you. If you’re not sure, start with tactile switches. They feel great to type on but aren’t as loud as clicky switches. 

Next, consider the price. Most premium mechanical keyboards cost around $100 to $150, but there are also gems under $100 that are a great place to start. I highly recommend the Epomaker x Leobog Hi75 for people new to mechanical keyboards who want a good, affordable, pre-built keyboard. If you have more to spend, consider building your keyboard or looking at our guide to the best keyboards of the year for more top picks. 

Regardless of the keyboard you choose, make sure it’s hot-swappable. That will give you the freedom to try out different switches. Changing out the keycaps is also an easy, low-cost way to change up the look of your keyboard and make it just right for you, which is really what mechanical keyboards are all about. 

Why settle for a basic black membrane keyboard when you can type on something creative and colorful, something that makes typing – and maybe even work – fun again? 

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Stevie Bonifield
Freelance Writer

Stevie Bonifield is a freelance tech journalist specializing in keyboards, peripherals, gaming gear, and mobile tech. Outside of writing, Stevie loves indie games, photography, and building way too many custom keyboards