Optical vs Mechanical Keyboard Switches: Which is Better?

  • Post published:January 2, 2023
  • Post category:Switches
  • Post author:
  • Reading time:22 mins read

Optical vs mechanical keyboard switches, These are two different technologies used in the construction of keyboards. Optical switches use a light-based actuation system, while mechanical switches use a physical contact-based system.

Both types of switches have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, and the best choice for an individual will depend on their personal preferences and needs.

If you are interested to use for casual typing And for General use, then Mechanical keyboard Switches are best for you. On the other side, if you need for gaming or you want a fast responsive keyboard, then optical switches are a good choice.

Let’s Start! and briefly talk about both of them.

First of all, Start with Optical Keyboard Switches.

What are Optical keyboard Switches?

If we talk about optical Keyboard Switches. These switches use a light beam to register a key press.

When a key is pressed, the switch activates a light beam, which is then detected by a sensor. This registers the key press and sends a signal to the computer to register the input. These switches use infrared light and photoelectric switches to detect a key press

One advantage of optical switches is that they are more durable and have a longer lifespan than mechanical switches since they do not have any physical contact points that can wear out over time.

They also tend to be more responsive, since the light beam is activated almost instantly when the key is pressed.

But Keep in mind that, optical switches are generally quieter than mechanical switches since there is no physical mechanism that generates noise when the key is pressed.


Are optical switches really better?

Actually, Optical switches are batter for gaming, because they provide fast response time and a smooth typing experience. They also tend to be more responsive, since the light beam is activated almost instantly when the key is pressed.

Optical switches are generally more durable and have a longer lifespan than mechanical switches since they do not have any physical contact points that can wear out over time.

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How much faster are optical switches?

Optical switches are generally considered to be more responsive than mechanical switches since they use a light beam to register a key press rather than a physical mechanism.

This means that the key press is registered almost instantly within 5 milliseconds when the key is pressed, which can make typing feel faster and more responsive.


How do Optical keyboard switches work?

Optical vs mechanical keyboard switches

Optical keyboard switches use a light beam to register a key press. When a key is pressed, the switch activates a light beam, which is then detected by a sensor. This registers the key press and sends a signal to the computer to register the input.

As I mentioned above The key press is registered almost instantly when the key is pressed since the light beam is activated almost instantly and does not have to travel through any physical mechanism. This can make typing feel more responsive and faster.


What are the Pros and Cons of Optical Keyboard Switches?

Pros of Optical Keyboard Switches?

Longer lifespan:

Optical switches do not have any physical contact points that can wear out over time, so they are generally more durable and have a longer lifespan than mechanical switches.

Faster and more responsive:

The key press is registered almost instantly when the key is pressed since the light beam is activated almost instantly and does not have to travel through any physical mechanism. This can make typing feel more responsive and faster.

Quieter:

Optical switches are generally quieter than mechanical switches since there is no physical mechanism that generates noise when the key is pressed.

Cons of optical keyboard switches:

More expensive:

Keyboard with Optical switches is generally more expensive than those with other types of switches, due to the cost of the technology and the higher quality.

Limited availability:

Optical switches are not as widely available as mechanical switches, so there may be fewer options to choose from when shopping for a keyboard with optical switches.

May feel less tactile:

Some users may find that optical switches do not have the same level of tactile feedback as mechanical switches, which can make them feel less satisfied to type on.


What are Mechanical keyboard Switches?

Mechanical keyboard switches are a type of switch that uses a physical mechanism to register a key press. When a key is pressed, it activates a spring-loaded plunger that presses down on a contact point to register the key press.

The spring then pushes the plunger back up to its original position, allowing the key to be pressed again.

How do mechanical keyboard switches work?

Mechanical keyboard switches use a physical mechanism to register a key press. When a key is pressed, it activates a spring-loaded plunger that presses down on a contact point to register the key press.

The spring then pushes the plunger back up to its original position, allowing the key to be pressed again.

The spring-loaded plunger is the key component of the mechanical switch. It is held in place by the spring, which provides the resistance that the user feels when pressing the key.

When the key is pressed, the plunger is pushed down against the spring, compressing it and allowing the plunger to make contact with the contact point.

This registers the key press and sends a signal to the computer to register the input.


What are the Pros and Cons of Mechanical Keyboard Switches?

Pros of mechanical keyboard switches:

Durable and long lifespan:

Mechanical switches are known for their durability and long lifespan, due to their high-quality construction and the use of a physical mechanism to register a key press.

Customizable:

Mechanical switches are generally more customizable than other types of switches, as users can choose from a variety of different switch types with different actuation forces, travel distances, and tactile feedback.

Tactile feedback:

these switches Provide a satisfying “clicks” sound, they are known for their tactile feedback and satisfying “click” sound when the key is pressed, which can make typing more enjoyable and satisfying.

Cons of mechanical keyboard switches:

Louder:

Mechanical switches tend to be louder than other types of switches, due to the physical mechanism that generates a “click” sound when the key is pressed. This may not be suitable for use in quiet environments.

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Optical vs Mechanical Keyboard Switches:

Price: Mechanical Switches are Low Price

The winner for “the price difference between optical and mechanical keyboard switches” are Mechanical switches. Because they are less expensive.

So, keyboards with optical switches tends to be more expensive than those with mechanical switches, due to the cost of the technology and the fact that they are not as widely available.

However, there are also many high-quality mechanical keyboards available at a variety of price points, so it is possible to find a good mechanical keyboard at a reasonable price.

Variety: Mechanical Switches have More varieties

Mechanical keyboard switches have generally more variety available when it comes to than optical switches. Mechanical switches are available in a wide range of different types, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits.

Some common types of mechanical switches include Cherry MX, Razer Green, Logitech Romer-G, and Kailh Speed.

Each of these has its own actuation force, travel distance, and tactile feedback. This allows users to choose the switch that best meets their needs and preferences.

Optical switches are not as widely available as mechanical switches, so there may be fewer options to choose from when shopping for a keyboard with optical switches.

However, there are still a variety of optical switches available, and the specific features and characteristics of each type can vary.

 Some optical switches may have a different actuation force or travel distance than others or may offer different levels of tactile feedback.

Typing Experience: Optical switches are More Responsive

Optical switches are generally more responsive than mechanical switches since they use a light beam to register a key press rather than a physical mechanism. This can make typing feel faster and more responsive.

Optical switches are also generally quieter than mechanical switches since there is no physical mechanism that generates noise when the key is pressed.

However, some users may find that optical switches do not have the same level of tactile feedback as mechanical switches, which can make them feel less satisfied to type on.

Mechanical switches, on the other hand, are known for their tactile feedback and satisfying “click” sound when the key is pressed.

They are also generally more customizable than other types of switches, as users can choose from a variety of different switch types with different actuation forces, travel distances, and tactile feedback.

But don’t forget that, mechanical switches tend to be louder than other types of switches and may not be suitable for use in quiet environments.  

Actuation Force: Optical switches Are faster

When you are typing on any keyboard, its needs a specific actuation force for typing. Normally Optical switches require less actuation force because they don’t have physical switches, they work with laser.

Mechanical switches tend to have a higher actuation force than optical switches since they use a physical mechanism to register a key press rather than a light beam.

This can make them feel more “tactile” and satisfying to press, but may also require more effort and be less comfortable to use for long periods of time.

Durability: Optical Are More Durable

Optical switches are generally more durable and have a longer lifespan than mechanical switches since they do not have any physical contact points that can wear out over time.

The lack of physical contact points also makes optical switches less prone to failure due to dust or debris.

Mechanical switches, on the other hand, use a physical mechanism to register a key press, which can make them more prone to wear and failure over time.

Typing Noise: optical switches have Less Noise

Mechanical switches are generally louder than optical switches, due to the physical mechanism that generates a “click” sound when the key is pressed.

Optical switches are generally quieter than mechanical switches since there is no physical mechanism that generates noise when the key is pressed.

The key press is registered almost instantly when the key is pressed since the light beam is activated almost instantly and does not have to travel through any physical mechanism. This can make typing feel more responsive and faster, but it also means that there is less noise generated when the key is pressed.

Satisfaction: Mechanical switches have Better Tactile feedback

Optical switches are generally more responsive than mechanical switches since they use a light beam to register a key press rather than a physical mechanism. This can make typing feel faster and more responsive.

But what about the clicking Satisfaction, in this case, the Mechanical keyboard Provides clicky feedback and bumpy response while typing.

So, the winners are mechanical switches, because optical switches do not have the same level of tactile feedback as mechanical switches, which can make them feel less satisfying to type on.

Availability: Mechanical switches are Widely available

Optical keyboard switches are not as widely available as mechanical switches. They are made by fewer manufacturers and are used in fewer keyboards, so there may be fewer options to choose from when shopping for a keyboard with optical switches.

However, the number of optical keyboard switches available has been increasing in recent years, so there may be more options available in the future.

Mechanical switches, on the other hand, are more widely available and are used in a wider range of keyboards. They are made by a variety of different manufacturers and are available in a wide range of actuation forces, travel distances, and tactile feedback.

Design: Optical switches has a compact design

Optical switches are generally more compact and have a simpler design than mechanical switches since they do not have any physical moving parts. This can make them more durable and less prone to failure due to dust or debris. Some users may prefer the compact and simple design of optical switches.

Mechanical switches, on the other hand, have a more complex design due to the physical mechanism that is used to register a key press.

Some users may find the tactile feedback and satisfying “click” sound of mechanical switches more satisfying, while others may prefer the simplicity and compact design of optical switches.

Easier to Mode: Mechanical switches has more Modes

If we talk about the modes of these two switches, Mechanical keyboard witches has easier to mod than optical switches.

Because optical switches have a more complex design that includes physical moving parts. There are many ways that mechanical keyboard switches has more modes, depending on the specific switch and the desired modification.


Which is Better? Optical or Mechanical Switches?

Optical SwitchesMechanical Switches
Few mod options            Easier to mod
Less variety        More options
FasterSlower
Louder Quieter
100 million keystroke lifespan   50-100 million keystrokes  
Which is Better? Optical or Mechanical Switches?

Optical switches are generally more responsive and Louder than mechanical switches since they use a light beam to register a key press rather than a physical mechanism.

They are also generally more durable and have a longer lifespan since they do not have any physical contact points that can wear out over time.

Mechanical switches, on the other hand, are known for their tactile feedback and satisfying “click” sound when the key is pressed.

They are also generally more customizable than other types of switches, as users can choose from a variety of different switch types with different actuation forces, travel distances, and tactile feedback.

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Conclusion:

According to our opinion and keep in mind all the factors that we mention above that, Mechanical switches are best. Because they are known for their tactile feedback and satisfying “click” sound when the key is pressed.

They are also generally more customizable than other types of switches, as users can choose from a variety of different switch types with different actuation forces, travel distances, and tactile feedback.

Raisaleem

I am Rai Saleem (MSc. Computer Science). Worked with Different Tech StartUps. I have 4+ Years of Working Experience in the Computer Industry. On This platform, I share My Experience and Providing Solutions for Computer problems.

I Started This Journey From 2G internet with 30KB downloading Speed to This modern 5G World. Now Sharing My IT Experience With loving People Like You. I am addicted to This Drug of Computer Science since My Childhood When I Got my first core 2 duo Pc.