What Is A Semi-Mechanical Keyboard

 

A semi-mechanical keyboard, or also known as a half-mechanical keyboard, is a membrane-based keyboard, using a combination of rubber domes and faux mechanical switches. 

 Faux switches provide tactile linear feedback that feels similar to a mechanical keyboard. Like in a membrane keyboard, the key rests above a rubber dome. This plastic housing helps to create a straighter motion keystroke that you would feel with a typical mechanical keyboard. Though, the rubber dome also prevents that crisp switch feeling with one more spongy, as expected with rubber. 

But it also depends on the type of semi-mechanical keyboard that you get. Some membrane switch types are made with a different method to bring said membrane sheets into contact with the switch and key. A semi-mechanical keyboard is pretty much a membrane keyboard when you get down to it.

What Is A Semi-Mechanical Keyboard

Some of the upsides to the semi-mechanical keyboard is the sound. Depending on what type of switch you have, your mechanical keyboard may be rather 'clicky'. You know... the type of sound that resonates through your microphone when you're playing with your friends or annoys your co-workers in the cubicle next to you. I personally experienced that and can say that I was definitely made fun of, though lovingly and playfully. (Yet, I still went out and bought one with silent switches so they couldn't make fun of me anymore.) 

The sound of a semi-mechanical keyboard is not the same as what you would encounter with a regular switch. It is notably different. There is, of course, still sound especially compared to the typical membrane keyboard. If you're looking for a quieter keyboard than what you have now, but what a mechanical feel too, this may be a cheaper option that some of the high priced silent switches.

These keys pack a dense resistance. One of the many reasons that mechanical keyboards became so popular was the shorter range of motion, resulting in better typing and quicker responses. Membrane keyboards become exhaustive after long bouts of typing (a lot like the heavier switches such as black or green). The travel distance for the semi-mechanical is longer, which feels more comfortable, but it also means that your key needs to bottom out for your computer to register you have hit a key.

The rubber domes are weaker over time, unfortunately. This means the actuation force is subject to change and can slow down your speed. However, you do get a lot of the same attributes you would get with a mechanical keyboards, some aspects like the RGB background, anti-ghosting or even a metal plate which a lot of mechanical-keyboards have, i.e. Corsair or Roccat. You can also change the keys to your preference, as many of us like to personalize based on our tastes. It's a good stepping stone who don't want to dish out a lot of dough for a mechanical keyboard, especially if they aren't sure if that's what they want. The price is much lower than a mechanical keyboard, roughly ranging around $40.


Semi-mechanical keyboard Pros and Cons
Pros Cons
It's more affordable It won't last as long – it's not as durable
RGB lighting and 'mechanical' look The resistance of typing is greater
It's quieter than most mechanical Can still result in finger exhaustion
Key customization also included You have a full bottom out to activate


As a gamer myself, I will always prefer a mechanical keyboard. As a writer, I also still prefer a mechanical keyboard. Of course that's just my opinion. Turn to my friend, for instance, who is both a writer and gamer, too. She prefers the semi-mechanical keyboard in comparison to a full fledged one.

The Rundown:

Regardless of my opinion and looking at this objectively... I still wouldn't recommend one. There are three main reasons:

  1. The membrane degrades faster so the keyboard is less durable. Every mechanical keyboard I have had has lasted years (except for the ones I accidentally spilled drinks on... sorry Corsair and Redragon, I was a noob and I've learned my lesson).

  2. You are not going to get the same feel as you would with some true switches, such as Cherry MX, Gateron or Kailh. There will be a difference in speed and reaction if you are in a more precision required game.

  3. Redragon is a very well known and very affordable company that sells some pretty awesome mechanical keyboards with software to change your settings for the same price. Though they aren't the only one, it's just the one I am very familiar with and feel confident recommending.

Though, if you aren't gaming and you want this for the cool looks and mechanical type feel, then I say go for it. Try it out! And if you really like it, hit me up with a comment and tell me why and what brand you've found. I'm super curious about people's reactions and evaluations of this semi-mechanical keyboard. Who knows, it could change my mind. 

If you liked this article, then you should read my other article on this site called “What are blue switches?” You might be surprised at the answer to the question.

References: Photo by FOX from Pexels

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