Are you tired of using a standard keyboard for programming? Do you find yourself struggling with the keys or experiencing hand fatigue after a long coding session?
If so, you might be thinking about switching to a mechanical keyboard. But are mechanical keyboards good for programming?
Yes, mechanical keyboards are optimum for programming because of their typing accuracy, tactile feedback, consistent keystrokes, durability, great feel, and many customization options.
As a programmer, you'd prefer a keyboard using which you don't make many typing errors alongside improving your typing speed. Well, mechanical keyboards have got you covered in that regard.
A regular membrane keyboard won't bring the best out of you. Contrarily, a mechanical board wouldn't necessarily make you a better programmer, but it'll surely make you enjoy doing your work.
Coding can be stressful sometimes. So, a keyboard with consistency, comfort, and pleasing feedback won't let your fingers get tired or your wrists get strained.
Below I'll discuss what makes a mechanical keyboard good for programming. Secondly, there'll be a comparison between membrane and mechanical keyboards.
I'll also suggest the best mechanical keyboards for programming. So hang tight and read all the way!
Reasons Why Mechanical Keyboards Are Good For Programming
If I say mechanical keyboards are ideal for programming without giving any reasons, you wouldn't believe me.
However, having worked as a programmer myself, and having many friends who code, I can safely say that all of us love mechanical keyboards.
Why do I say that? Because mechanical keyboards help in doing the work much faster as compared to a membrane keyboard.
If you don't like programming, get a mechanical keyboard and you'll start loving your job.
Following are 6 points based on which I believe mechanical keyboards are good for programming.
1. Improved Typing Speed and Accuracy
First things first, you need to be extra accurate while programming. Otherwise, good luck rectifying the errors all night. With mechanical keyboards, you won't get this issue.
Due to their tactile feedback, the mechanical switches are super accurate and you'd know when a particular key has been pressed. This helps with the precision in typing.
Secondly, your typing speed will increase as well using these boards. How? Because the actuation point of most clicky, tactile, and linear switches is around 1.5-2 mm which requires minimal force to actuate.
Psst! you might want to check my article on Which Mechanical Keyboard Is Good For Typing Accuracy?
2. Customization and Programmable Keys
If we remove all other benefits of mechanical keyboards, the customization option is enough to convince someone to buy them.
You can have RGB lights, SMDs, multiple keycap options, different switch options, and much more.
On top of that, the keys are programmable too. What does that mean? For instance, the 60% keyboards don't have arrow keys. So what you can do is program some other keys to work as navigational ones.
As simple as that. You'll never run out of options.
3. Reliability and Durability
Mechanical keyboards are much more reliable than membrane keyboards. First, they have a solid build, and each key is replaceable.
The keys are also dust-resistant, and many have self-cleaning contacts.
Secondly, the switches on mechanical keyboards are bound to last for years. Their lifespan ranges from 50 to 100 million keystrokes.
4. Multiple Layouts Available
There are numerous sizes for mechanical keyboards. However, I'd recommend selecting anyone from the following:
Full-Size: Full-size keyboards are the vintage keyboards that we used when we first bought our computers. These have 104 keys, including the numeric pad, function keys, arrow keys, special keys, and alphanumeric keys.
Tenkeyless (TKL): TKLs are also referred to as 87% or 80% keyboards. They don't have the Num-pad thus containing 87–88 keys. Moreover, their width is 80% compared to a full-size keyboard. That's the reason why they're also called 87% or 80% keyboards.
75% Keyboards: 75% are similar to TKL but lack a few more keys. Apart from that, their width is 70–75 percent of that of a full keyboard.
65% Keyboards: 65% keyboards remove the function key row and therefore give you even more space. They are more compact while still maintaining their functionality.
60% Keyboards: These keyboards are the smallest version that you can use for programming. There's also a 40% version, but I won't suggest that. The 60% boards only have alphanumeric and some special keys. They don't have any arrow keys.
5. Many Switches Options
You'll never run out of switches for your mechanical keyboard. Brands like Cherry MX, Kailh, Akko, and others keep on making the best products for you.
Primarily, there are three categories into which you can divide mechanical switches.
Clicky: They have a clicky sound and are the loudest of the three. Their high tactile feedback means they are the most accurate for typists.
Tactile: These switches have less sound and a little less tactile feedback. However, you'll still know when you've actuated the key. They are also faster than clicky switches.
Linear: These are the fastest mechanical switches, and gamers prefer them. They are silent, have no tactile feedback, and have short actuation points.
6. Comfort and Ease of Use
Due to their compact design, mechanical keyboards take up less desk space. Besides, many of them have wrist rests that keep your hands from straining.
Your fingers also won't get tired due to smooth and consistent actuation!
Mechanical vs Membrane keyboard for programming
Mechanical keyboards are by far the best choice for programming. They perform much better than membrane keyboards and are more durable. Yes, they are more expensive, but you get value for money, without a doubt.
With a membrane keyboard, you don't get the same tactile feedback as you do on mechanical keyboards. Therefore, membranes are less accurate and don't feel very good while typing.
Moreover, you can't replace switches on a membrane keyboard very often. However, you have various switch and keycap choices with a mechanical keyboard.
I'd suggest going for tactile switches, as they have haptic feedback as well as a little sound. Clicky switches are great too, but their high noise can disturb others.
If we look at ergonomics, then again, mechanical keyboards take the lead. They have a great typing angle, wrist rest, compact size, and pleasant look.
To sum up, mechanical keyboards are better than membrane keyboards in all departments. Not only for programmers, but I recommend them to typists and gamers at the same time.
Which type of keyboard is best for programming?
There are hundreds of options out there in every mechanical keyboard layout. People who don't like a full-size or TKL keyboard can go for 75%, 65%, or 60%.
As I have said numerous times, small size doesn't make the keyboard any less usable.
Now the best mechanical programming keyboard, should be durable, efficient, long-lasting, comforting, and customizable. Keeping all of this in mind, I would recommend Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT.
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT
By default, it is a full-size gaming keyboard that comes with Speed Silver switches. However, there's an option to buy the keyboard with Cherry MX Browns which are great for programmers.
The Corsair K95 is ultra-durable with double-shot PBT keycaps and Cherry MX Brown switches that will last for 100 million keystrokes. There's the iCUE software with which you can control the RGB lighting, remap keys, create macros, and more.
The board will also come with a detachable palm rest. Moreover, there are multiple angles at which you can tilt the keyboard for the best comfort. The keyboard isn't wireless and requires USB connectivity.
You can also get Cherry MX Blue switches if you prefer a clicky sound. But in my humble opinion, Brown switches will be just as fine.
Are 60% keyboards good for coding?
Yes, A 60% keyboard can prove to be good for programming, but only if you can compromise on the arrow keys. There are no navigation keys on a 60% keyboard, so you'd need to program other keys for this purpose.
60% keyboards only contain alphanumeric keys. They don't have the function and arrow ones. Also, there's no Num-pad. They are small and portable and can be easily carried to the office or workplace.
Be that as it may, those who are used to moving up, down, left, and right using arrow keys might not have the best of times on a 60% board.
However, if you use it for a month or two and program other keys for navigational functions, then a 60% keyboard can be a great companion for you as a programmer.
It has all the other essential keys needed for coding, and its small size increases your typing speed.
Moreover, combining your 60% mechanical keyboard with tactile switches will make you even more accurate.
Now, if you're someone who can't live without arrow keys, then my advice is to go for a 65% keyboard. It has navigational buttons along with all the keys you'd find on a 60% board.
Is 75% keyboard good for programming?
75% keyboards are definitely good for programming. They are a shrunken version of Tenkeyless keyboards and have 84 keys. Their width is 75% that of a full-size keyboard, hence the name.
These keyboards save you space while being highly functional. We are talking about a keyboard that is small and has all the keys a programmer needs.
Some programmers like to have function keys on their keyboard, so they might not prefer a 60% or a 65% keyboard. That's where the 75% keyboard comes in.
There are all the function and alphanumeric keys on these keyboards.
They also have the arrow and special keys, so you won't need to program the navigation function to other buttons.
They are highly customizable and come with many switch and keycap options. Their own firmware allows the user to make the keyboard as custom as possible.
On top of that, RGB lighting and SMDs will make the keyboard look attractive.
I have personally used 75% keyboards and can guarantee that you won't complain much about using them. Just make sure not to drop it or any other keyboard from a height.
are gaming keyboards good for programming?
Are gaming keyboards good for programming? The simple answer is yes. Gaming keyboards are designed to be comfortable and durable, two features that are essential for programmers.
A good gaming keyboard will also have a range of features that can be helpful for programming, such as customizable key bindings and RGB backlighting.
Do you need a full-size keyboard for programming?
It is not a serious requirement to use a full-size keyboard for programming. You can use any one of the TKL, 75%, 65%, or 60% keyboards as well.
Full-size keyboards have their specialties, but they are not necessary for coding.
If you are getting a full-size keyboard for programming, then make sure you buy a mechanical one. Membrane keyboards are more affordable, but their functionality and durability are much lower.
Full-size keyboards have 104 keys, including the Num-pad, so no keys are left out. Due to this fact, these keyboards will take up a lot of space.
If you have a big desk, then it won't be a big issue. But for those with small work surfaces, full keyboards wouldn't be ideal.
Many programmers prefer typing numbers with the Num-pad. Apart from full-size keyboards, no other variant comes with a numeric keypad.
So, if you like using that 17-key keypad, then your choice is limited to these keyboards only.
Is Tactile better than Linear for Coding?
Tactile switches are better than linear switches for coding. They provide noticeable feedback, so you get notified that the key has been actuated. They also produce a little sound that is satisfying to listen to.
Linear switches don't offer any of this, which makes them the best choice for gamers but not for programmers or typists.
Linear switches are swift, silent, and have no tactile bump. Now, if you are a highly accurate typist, then these might work for you.
But generally, my suggestion would be to go for tactile switches for coding.
You can also check out clicky switches if you like noisy keys. They have even greater tactile feedback and require more force to actuate. Just make sure not to use them in a crowded place.
Psst! for more depth details between linear and tactile read my full article on Linear Vs Tactile Switches
I hope you got the answer to "Are mechanical keyboards good for programming?".
They are an excellent choice if you want a small-scale keyboard with great ergonomics and customization. These keyboards will also improve your typing speed and accuracy.
This is coming from someone who has done coding for a great chunk of his educational career. I have used both membrane and mechanical keyboards, and the latter is way better, hands down. They will be more expensive, but you won't regret spending money on them.
That’s it for today! I'll be covering more insights related to keyboards and switches in the future, so do keep a check on TheTechSetup.