Does a Mechanical Keyboard Improve Typing Speed?

The premise of increasing your typing speed is quite lucrative. Being able to churn out articles quicker or having the edge in examinations is an advantage people seldom want to skimp out on. With that said though, besides just practice, what type of keyboards should you pick up for an increase in your typing speed? 

Factors that impact typing speed:

There are many technical and non-technical factors that can reduce or increase your typing. We will discuss only some of the factors here.

  • Practice: As the popular saying goes, practice makes a man perfect.
  • Familiarity with the keyboard: You must have observed that when you are using someone else’s keyboard you might sometimes get lost in keys and will type slowly than your usual speed. This is also one of the reasons people resist replacing their old keyboard with a new one.
  • Keyboard Response or Feedback: There are certain keyboards that respond really fast. By response we mean it gives feedback to the user that the keypress action has been received, and the key pressed returns to its neutral state. The tactile and audio feedback from your mechanical keyboard might help with that.
  • Usage Comfort and Key Press pressure: The keyboard should be designed to provide the utmost comfort to the user, even if used for hours. One of the important factors here is the level of pressure applied to the keys to register the keypress.
  • Rollover: When you are typing too fast there might be some key presses that the keyboard will miss, and overlapped by the keypresses you performed later. A keyboard not capable of registering all the keyboards will stop you from typing faster. Hence, you need a keyboard with a rollover feature, which most mechanical keyboards have. 
  • Ergonomics: It basically means maintaining a natural physical state while using a keyboard, so that your body feels minimal stress. With reference to the keyboard, the features that define ergonomics are its thickness, keycap profile, size and contours of keycaps, shape, size of the keyboard, etc.
  • Keyboard Size: Not only the physical dimensions of the keyboards but also how well the keycaps are placed so that fingers can reach through all the keys comfortably.

Mechanical Keyboard for Faster Typing

Yes, to some extinct it is true that mechanical keyboards let you type faster. But in order to do that you need to identify the right kind of switch. As you can see from the previous section that there are lots of other factors impacting your speed. 

Unlike membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards provide feedback that signals the user that the key is pressed. Also, in many mechanical keyboards, the user need not bottom out the switch, as the keypress is registered halfway down. Also, it is important to note here that do not expect to see an improvement in typing speed the moment you get hold of a mechanical keyboard. It will take some time for you to get used to it and see the difference. The more you practice, the more you are likely to observe an improvement in your typing speed.

Plus, with the introduction of optomechanical keyboards, the divide is even greater. Now, the switch doesn’t need to be pressed down wholly for the key to be registered as tiny lasers can identify whether a switch has been pressed to a certain extent and instantly activate the key. This helps increase typing speed and also improves one’s performance in gaming too.

Let’s discuss these factors in more detail:

#1. Switch Feedback: It is of utmost importance that you go for a switch that offers clear feedback, and hence a linear switch is not recommended for the new users in order to improve speed. A tactile, clicky, or a combination of both will help you improve your speed if you are a first-time mechanical keyboard user. The popular keyboards that we suggest you try out are Brown or Blue switches by Cherry MX or Gateron.

Once you are used to a mechanical keyboard you can switch to linear or silent switches, as you will have a fair amount of idea when the keypress is registered.

#2. Anti-Ghosting and Key Rollover: In a mechanical keyboard every switch makes the connection to the PCB separately, hence there are fewer chances of any keypress being missed. The mechanical keyboard sends accurate signals even when multiple keys are pressed simultaneously, which means anti-ghosting. Due to high precision and accuracy mechanical keyboards help you type faster.

#4. Swappable Switches: As it is easier to replace the switches in a mechanical keyboard, you can replace all or some of the switches based on your usage pattern to enhance your speed. So, if you aren’t happy with the way your ASDF keys feel, for example, you can swap their switches out for a more tactile / linear / clicky feel. 

All these above features of a mechanical keyboard make for a good investment as an aid to improving typing speed. But there are no sure shot guarantees to improve the typing speed just because of these. You can use a mechanical keyboard as a good start and just need to practice and make yourself familiar with the keyboard, and over a period of time you will find that you are able to type more words per minute.

Important tips to improve typing speed:

  • Buy an Ergonomic Keyboard: You should be comfortable while using a keyboard, and an ergonomic keyboard ensures that you can keep using it for longer sessions without any physical stress. Also, you should purchase a keyboard on which you can cover the maximum number of keys using your fingers with minimum wrist movement.
  • Comfortable Keycaps: Always go for keycaps that are comfortable, and have a suitably wide surface to accommodate your fingers well while you are typing. We personally recommend padding keycaps as they seem to have a more grounded feel.  
  • Aim for accuracy: Without accuracy, a higher speed is of no use. Practice hitting keys accurately every time, and a higher speed will follow.
  • Avoid Bottoming Out: If you are using a mechanical keyboard you need to identify at what level the keypress is registered. In mechanical keyboards it is somewhere midway you will find the actuation point. 

Conclusion:

Let’s get our facts together. We discussed factors that might improve your typing speed and we mentioned some useful tips to improve your speed, but to answer the main question – does a mechanical keyboard can improve your typing speed? Yes, it can, and here’s why –  You can choose any switches you like for your mechanical keyboard – Cherry MX Red, Gateron Blue, Cherry MX Green, etc. Each of these switches has an actuation force.

E.g I have a Keychron Q2 75% Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches and for these switches, the action force is 45g and the bottom-out force – is 75g. For comparison, Cherry MX Blue has a 60g actuation force and 60g bottom-out force. This means I require less strength to push down the key for my laptop/device to recognize that I made this action, which leads to faster writing. 

Those are the facts. My personal experience – I switched from membrane keyboard to mechanical keyboard some while ago and I’m not sure if I improved my writing speed, I’ve never had that goal, but technically speaking it should have improved due to all the facts we discussed above. Most importantly why I made the switch is due to the fact that it’s more enjoyable to write on a mechanical keyboard, I like how easily I can press down a key and I like the sound it makes when I do to let me know the key is registered.

If I ever get bored of my switches and I want them to be a bit louder – I can change them, since the keyboard is hot-swappable.

So if you want to improve your speed just by a little bit or you want to improve your gaming just by a little bit – buying a mechanical keyboard with switches that require less actuation force might help you.

Related Articles:

Best Mechanical Keyboards Under $100
Why Mechanical Keyboards are better for Gaming

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I work from home. To do the best possible job I need the right accessories - the right desk, the right chair, the right keyboard, the right monitor, etc. When I work I want to feel comfortable. I review everything that's related to home desk setup - focusing on Monitors & Keyboards.

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