A keyboard is an essential piece of hardware for your personal computer build. Without one users will not be able to carry out some of the most basic functions of computing. The keyboard is necessary for telling the computer what you would like it to do. Whether you're surfing the web, sending emails, looking up cat videos, or typing documents (such as the one you are reading right now), your keyboard is needed for any job requiring alphabetic or numeric user input.
Membrane keyboards get their name from the way the keys are set into the unit. These keyboards contain no gaps between keys, making them easy to maintain as the design keeps debris from clogging up the keyboard. Membrane keyboards are a great choice for basic computer input functions and are suggested for users who may not have the time or knowledge of proper keyboard maintenance. The downside of this type of keyboard is that all of the keys are considered one unit, so blind typing is a bit harder than on other types of keyboards because of their lack of tactile feedback.
A dome-switch keyboard (also called a direct-switch keyboard) is a hybrid of membrane and mechanical-switch keyboards. These are the most common type of keyboards and chances are it's what you're using right now. Dome-switch keyboards work by connecting metal or plastic domes to the circuit board beneath a rubber membrane. Dome-switch keyboards have a more tactile response, which allows for easier blind typing than a traditional membrane keyboard. The domes under each key collapse when pressed, allowing for the circuits to connect and the symbols to appear on the screen.
The scissor-switch keyboard is very similar to a dome-switch keyboard in that it contains a collapsing dome under each key to allow for circuit connectivity. The difference is that a scissor-switch keyboard contains two plastic parts that intersect in a scissor shape which allows for a shorter distance between the keys and the circuits below. These types of keyboards are typically found in devices with built in keyboards, such as laptops. The downside of this type of keyboard is that they are harder to clean, as the scissor shaped mechanism adds multiple attachments points and the keys have less mobility. However, the upside to having less mobility is that these keyboards have less gaps between the keys and this helps to combat debris build up.
These types of keyboards have a more complex system under their keys compared to the others we've gone over in this guide, but this complexity makes their shelf life longer than their more traditional counterparts. Mechanical-switch keyboards feature a base, a spring, and a stem under each individual key that gives users more tactile and audible feedback than other types of keyboards. The mechanical-switch keyboard is well loved among computer enthusiasts and PC gamers as they offer a wide range of customization regardless of the manufacturer and easily outlive the other types. They keyboards do not wear out quickly and it is easy to replace a single key, as opposed to replacing an entire keyboard for one broken key. The only downside to mechanical-switch keyboards is that they can be loud. Each key gives off a very distinct ???clack??? sound that some users may find disruptive, though many manufacturers have designed their keyboards to make this sound more muted.
While QWERTY keyboards are the standard for English speaking countries, there are several other types of key layouts that make typing easier for different languages and keyboards that are laid out to combat muscle strain for those who spend a lot of time typing.
Some keyboards come with additional programmable keys in order to create shortcuts. They can be used in many different ways or not at all. Determine whether you will need them or not.
Soft key and mechanical keyboards are a matter of user preference, but they are maintained differently from each other. Some keyboards even offer both as an option by utilizing a switch to change between the two.
It's important that the keyboard you choose is compatible with your PC. Is it a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 connection? Is it bluetooth? Make sure you know which will work with your computer before purchasing.
Your keyboard is going to get dirty. It's important to know how to be able to keep it clean in order to ensure it has the longest life possible. Make sure you choose one that will best suit your lifestyle.