Mechanical keyboards are typically believed to last longer than the rubber-dome keyboard, as it is built for heavy usage by professionals and uses high-quality materials. So, the added cost is quite worth it as you end up not needing to opt for a replacement for a longer timeframe.
But still, with good maintenance and protection, you can enhance the lifespan of your mechanical keyboard, and also using it in the proper manner will increase its life. Also, it is suggested to invest in a good quality mechanical keyboard that matches your requirement and usage pattern, so that you can benefit from it for a longer period of time.
The Lifespan of A Mechanical Keyboard
To briefly answer the question “how long do mechanical keyboards last?”, we have found people replacing their keyboards within 2 years, against people who are using the same mechanical keyboard for more than 10 years. A good quality mechanical keyboard with higher durability can easily outlast a duration of 10 years.
One thing that makes mechanical keyboards long-lasting as compared to rubber dome keyboards is the replaceable behavior of the elements (switches, keycaps, etc.) used in them. Even the switches are made to handle the harsh key presses and can last anywhere from 50 million keystrokes to 80 million keystrokes, whereas rubber dome keyboards last only about 5 million strokes.
The key difference is the build quality and material used in its production. Mechanical keyboards are made for advanced level users, hence quality and durability is the prime consideration while manufacturing them.
There are various factors to consider while determining the lifespan of a mechanical keyboard, which include the environment it is placed in, how well maintained it is by the user, the usage pattern, and handling of the keyboard while working or playing games. Let’s have a look at some of these considerations in more detail in the following sections.
How to Identify and Choose a Durable Mechanical Keyboard?
To identify a mechanical keyboard that is durable and long-lasting you need to look into all the different elements and features used in it, along with its overall built material and quality. Let’s have a look at some of those in further detail:
- Switch Quality: Make sure that the switches are from reputed manufacturers like Cherry MX, Gateron, Razer, Kalih, etc. Also, choose a keyboard that offers hot-swappable switches, so that you can just replace the switch or key that has got a problem, instead of changing the whole keyboard.
- Keycaps: PBT keycaps are a good choice as they are considered to be more durable than ABS keycaps, and they don’t break down easily. PBT keycaps also maintain the same feel and look over a longer period of time. In most keyboards, you will be able to replace the keycaps easily. The quality of the legends also matters as poor quality printed legends will start to erase over a period of time.
- RGB Lighting: If you are looking for a keyboard that lasts really long we recommend getting a keyboard that has no or minimal RGB lighting. The more feature-loaded keyboard you have, the more it is prone to encounter issues. The LEDs might stop working after a few years, which will make your keyboard look really odd.
- Connection Cable: We recommend you look for a keyboard that has a detachable USB or type C cable, as you can easily replace it with a new one if it stops working. We recommend you use a braided power cable that has a longer lifespan than non-braided cables.
- Waterproof or Splash Resistant Keyboards: When you are going to buy a keyboard make sure you check for its water-resistance capabilities, as the damages will be minimal in case of spilled water or any other liquid. A splash-resistant keyboard will protect all the vulnerable elements of your keyboard against accidental water spills.
- Keyboard Chassis and Case: The keyboard cases are either built of metal (commonly aluminum) or plastic. The ones made of plastic are not considered durable as they can easily get scratches and cracks on accidental slips and various other reasons. Also, plastic starts getting more brittle over a period of time, which is not the case with metallic frame keyboards. The aluminum base and frames are highly popular as it is heavier and stronger, and doesn’t break, bend or crack easily.
- Ergonomic Design: If you spend a really long time on your computer, we highly recommend you to look for a keyboard that is ergonomically designed. If you are looking for a mechanical keyboard we can easily consume that you are looking to use for a really long time. And for longer durations, comfort and convenience are very important. If you are not comfortable using a keyboard throughout the day you will look to replace it sooner or later.
- Keyboard Warranty: Before purchasing a particular product you should check the terms of the warranty in case there is an issue with your keyboard in near future. Typically, manufacturers offer a warranty period of 2 years to 5 years on their products.
- Gaming Keyboards: There are certain mechanical keyboards that are exclusively made for gaming. These keyboards are made to undergo hard and quick keypresses and have N-key rollover and anti-ghosting features, which allows the user to press multiple keys really fast. So, generally, if you don’t game but are looking for a durable keyboard, a mechanical gaming keyboard is your best bet.
How To Enhance The Lifespan Of Your Mechanical Keyboard
Needless to mention that good maintenance of any sort of machinery or accessory not only increase its life but also keep it in pristine condition to deliver maximum performance out of your investment. It has been recorded that people are using the same mechanical keyboards for more than 15 years, owing to their good maintenance.
You should make sure that you keep it clean, keep it away from fire, dust, and dirt, and keep it away from damp portions and other liquid substances. But, besides that; there are a few other good practices. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can improve the lifespan of your mechanical keyboard:
- Preparation: Choose a clean area to start the process, so that the keyboard doesn’t get any additional dust while cleaning.
- What you need to clean: Cotton swabs, an air blower, an alcohol-based solvent, and micro-fiber lint-free cloth.
- Take a photograph of your keyboard before removing keycaps.
- Cleaning Keycaps: Remove the keycaps gently using a keycap puller. Clean the keycaps using an air blower, and if required use an alcohol-based solvent to clean it and rub it with the lint-free cloth.
- Cleaning Switches: In the same manner, pull the switches out of the board, clean it with an air blower, clean it with a lint-free cloth, and if required use an alcohol-based solvent. If the spring coil feels sticky you can use the solvent excessively to remove any sticky substance. Also, clean the connector pins.
- Over a period of time, you may observe that the keys are not as smooth as before. You can also use certain lubes to make your switches work smoothly again. Lube can be applied to switches and stabilizers after about 8 to 10 months.
- After removing the switches and keycaps clean the keyboard PCB using a lint-free cloth, and you can also wash it using water or alcohol to remove the dirt.
- You can keep the dismantled keyboard to dry up under sunlight, or in front of a fan.
- Before assembling it back, make sure you dry up the keyboard properly along with all its elements, probably wait for 24-48 hours before plugging it back into your computer.
While this process may feel difficult, it is quite important for you to maintain your keyboard. Just like any other mechanical product, regular maintenance can help reduce the risk of breakage and can make your keyboard feel as good as new even after extended periods of use.
How To Take Care Of Your Mechanical Keyboard
There are always a few guidelines to follow when taking care of something for a long time. With that said, here are a few tips you can use to make sure your mechanical keyboard remains faultless for years to come:
- Keep the keyboard away from the reach of children or pets
- If you are using a wired keyboard, make sure the cables are not hanging around too much. You can use cable management clips for this purpose.
- Make sure that area around your work desk stays clean and is free of insects and mice.
- Keep your keyboard protected against water spills by avoiding keeping water bottles or glass on your work desk.
- Don’t eat around your keyboard and avoid using the keyboard while eating, as you may end up touching the keyboard with greased fingers.
- Cover the keyboard properly when not in use, with a good cloth, or a plastic cover, or in a box/carton.
- If you are using a wireless keyboard make sure that you replace the batteries in a timely manner. If you are using old batteries there are high chances that they may leak out, damaging the keyboard. Also, when you are not going to use it for longer periods it is recommended to remove the batteries from the keyboard.
- Always use the right tools to pull out keycaps and switches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is a mechanical keyboard a preferred choice for professional longer usage?
Mechanical keyboards are more durable than membrane keyboards because individual switches can be replaced. Moreover, since they are dust and water-resistant plus have better build quality overall, its a no-brainer that they’re an obvious choice for anyone who wishes their keyboard to last them longer than a few years.
Over a period of time rubber pieces in the membrane keyboards start breaking down due to wear and tear, hence they are not as long-lasting as mechanical switches. Also, in a membrane keyboard, the elements are not replaceable, hence even in case of a minor breakdown, you will have to replace the whole unit.
On the other hand, In a mechanical keyboard, there are absolutely no rubber elements, mostly plastic or metallic elements are used, which are much more durable than rubber or silicone. Also, mechanical keyboards have replaceable elements so you won’t have to replace the keyboard completely with another one. Just remove the part that has broken down with another one.
How To Lube Switches In A Mechanical Keyboard To Increase Their Durability?
Lubricating switches is a good practice as it reduces internal friction and helps you maintain a smooth typing experience:
- Remove the switch and dismantle it completely (spring, housing, stabilizer, etc).
- Take the spring away and apply the lubricant to the spring using a paintbrush with a shiny coat.
- Similarly lube other parts of the switch like top and bottom housing, stabilizer, and stem.
- Assemble the switch back and pin it to the PCB.
There are various type of lubes available to choose from for your mechanical keyboard, based on their type and the level of viscosity. There are oil-based as well as grease-based lubricants available to lube your switches.
For example, less viscous lubes are considered good for tactile and clicky switches, while more viscous lubes can be used for linear switches. A thick lubricant like grease is used for stabilizers.
When lubing your keyboard, make sure that you are using the right kind. Otherwise, you may end up completely ruining your switch which will lead to you needing to dry it out before you can use it again.
How to keep the keyboard when not in use?
There are times when you have to go out on a vacation for a few days and not use your keyboard for the next few days. Or you have got another keyboard and just want to keep your older keyboard safely. So, when not in use, unplug the keyboard from your computer, or remove the cable if it has a detachable one.
Cover your keyboard with a good cloth or a keyboard cover so that the dust doesn’t accumulate over it. If you are not going to be using it for a longer time, wrap it with a plastic cover and place it inside a cupboard safely, so that when you want to use it again in the future or in case of emergency you can just take it out and plug it in your computer.
Do Mechanical Keyboards Wear Out?
No, mechanical keyboards do not wear out. In fact, if you take care of them properly, there is no chance for the switches to be causing issues anytime soon. If dust and grime get in, you might notice that your keyboard isn’t as pristine as it was when you first got it. However, with a few rounds of maintenance and cleaning; it’ll be as good as new!
How often should you replace your mechanical keyboard?
Rated for more than 50-80 million keypresses, you should replace your mechanical keyboard every 5-10 years. Generally, if you take care of them properly, you’ll be able to use them for an extended period of time with no issues whatsoever. If there’s a fancy new feature that you want to get on a newer mechanical keyboard, then by all means, go for it! Other than that, there’s no reason for you to replace your mechanical keyboard often.
Are mechanical keyboards washable and dishwasher safe?
Yes, mechanical keyboards are completely washable using water. Just make sure that you dry it completely before plugging it back again into your computer. Also, be gentle while washing it so that you don’t end up damaging the circuit.
However, it is not advisable to wash them in a dishwasher as the PCB needs very gentle handling. You can use shampoo or any other gentle detergent to wash your mechanical keyboards. But, we recommend using liquids like isopropyl alcohol as detergent or shampoo can cause abrasion.
Mechanical keyboards are really long-lasting due to various reasons, like their better overall build quality, PBT keycaps, replaceable elements, and ability to handle rough usage. Moreover, there are certain features like water resistance, scratch resistance, dust resistance, etc. that you can look for while purchasing a keyboard for a longer lifespan.
If you want to use it for even longer a good maintenance routine and cleaning procedure will keep your valuable mechanical keyboard in pristine condition for many years further down the line. Overall, it is completely justified to go for a high-quality and expensive mechanical keyboard if you are looking for quality and longevity.
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.