- Mechanical switches have experienced a resurgence in recent years, offering comfortable typing and audible feedback.
- Scissor switches, commonly found on membrane keyboards, are still a viable option.
- Scissor switches are generally quieter than mechanical switches, while mechanical switches can have a pronounced sound.
- Scissor switches are easier to use for touch typing, while mechanical keyboards can lead to faster and more accurate typing.
- Mechanical keyboards are easier to maintain and clean compared to scissor switch keyboards.
Which type of keyboard wins between scissor switch vs. mechanical switch mechanisms? Mechanical switches have experienced quite a resurgence in recent years, becoming a hot item for users looking for comfortable typing and audible feedback.
However, there is still some merit to the scissor switch, which is commonly found on membrane keyboards. You’ll often hear mechanical purists espouse the merits of switching to an all-mechanical setup, but membrane keyboards are still perfectly viable.
If you’ve been curious about how these two separate mechanisms stack up, you’re in the right place. Before you purchase your next keyboard, let’s take a deeper dive into how these mechanisms perform and sound.
Scissor Switch vs. Mechanical Switch: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Scissor Switch||Mechanical Switch|
|Audible Feedback||Minimal||Pronounced with some switches|
|Key Travel||Minimal||Can vary depending on the switch type, some switch types have less overall travel|
|Maintenance||Dusting and debris removal might require special tools||Dusting and debris removal are easily done with a keycap puller and switch puller|
|Cost||Lower cost on average than a high-end mechanical keyboard||Can be a higher cost, but there are low-cost options available|
|Comfort||Some users prefer the minimal noise profile and key travel||Some users prefer the pronounced audible feedback and tactile response|
These are two very different keyboard mechanisms, but they both have their following. You’re more likely to find mechanical switch variations readily compared to scissor switches, however.
Scissor Switch vs. Mechanical Switch: What’s the Difference?
So, with a broader overview of how these mechanisms stack up out of the way, how do they really perform? There are some selected criteria that will be used to see how they directly compare to one another.
Scissor switches are generally quieter, as the mechanism has less overall travel time. Membrane interfaces for keyboards rely on a rubber sublayer beneath the keys to transmit a digital signal. As such, the noise profile of scissor switches is not nearly as noticeable. You can hear it in the video embedded below.
Mechanical switches can vary in terms of the overall noise profile, but some switch types like clicky or tactile have a very pronounced sound. Clicky switches, in particular, can be quite noisy — especially if you’re a particularly fast typist.
This isn’t a bonus for some individuals, especially those with sensory issues who might want to avoid excess noise. However, some users love the constant din of sound you’ll experience when using certain mechanical keyboard switches.
You can listen to how a mechanical keyboard sounds in the video embedded below.
Ease of Use
- CNC aluminum body
- Anti-ghosting features
- Two adjustable angles
- Wired cable for lower latency
Both keyboard mechanisms are easy to use. You’ll likely have a less pronounced adjustment period to a scissor switch keyboard. This is thanks in part to less travel time needed to actually actuate the switch beneath the keycap.
For some typists, this is going to result in far speedier touch typing. If you have a particularly light touch when typing, it can be an absolute treat to use a scissor switch mechanism over the course of long typing sessions.
As such, if you’re a writer or programmer, you might find plenty to like with a scissor switch keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards can have an adjustment period of sorts. You’ll have to adjust to more pronounced key travel, which might take a few days to get down the feel. However, mechanical keyboards are quite popular for good reason.
Once you get past the initial adjustment period, you might find yourself a faster and more accurate typist.
What is it like to maintain these keyboards? Any long-term typist will understand the difficulties things like dust and debris pose to your overall typing experience. You might experience less stable actuation of the switch, which can result in errors while typing.
Scissor switch keyboards certainly falter here, as it is quite difficult to clean them without inflicting potential damage. There isn’t really a third-party market behind scissor switch replacement, so you’ll likely be leaning on specialized tools or compressed air to clean the keyboard.
This can work just fine but isn’t foolproof for removing any potential grime. Mechanical switches are quite a bit easier to maintain.
Most keyboards of this type will come with something like a switch puller or key puller. Depending on the type of keycap and switch, you can also just order replacement parts.
As such, you get access to the bed beneath the keys more readily, which makes cleaning and maintaining a mechanical far easier.
Typically speaking, most keyboards are going to be compatible with just about every operating system on the market. You might have to take some special care to adjust settings for something like MacOS, but any tech-savvy user can readily figure that out.
However, there is quite a bit more breadth and scope when it comes to mechanical keyboard switches. Some options come with built-in support for multiple operating systems, which just takes the flip of a switch to activate.
Scissor switch keyboards are much the same when it comes to overall system compatibility. Some keyboards are explicitly designed for Mac or iOS compatibility. However, you should generally be able to use any keyboard with any operating system.
It’ll just take some time and effort to get shortcuts and mapping down, but this isn’t a time-consuming process.
- Tenkeyless design
- Program macros and keymaps are fully adjustable by the user
- LED backlights for visibility in all conditions
When it comes to overall longevity, it is hard to beat a mechanical keyboard. The same things that make a mechanical keyboard so easy to maintain are the very same things that lead to an increased level of longevity.
Damaged keycaps and switches can be replaced easily. However, you’ll also find that the overall life rating for mechanical keyboards can range into the decades for higher-end units.
Scissor switches can last quite a while as well, but nowhere near the same degree of longevity as a mechanical keyboard. Parts aren’t readily replaced on a scissor switch. While it is a lower-cost option, you’ll end up buying replacement keyboards more often than with a mechanical choice.
Scissor Switch vs. Mechanical Switch: 6 Must-Know Facts
- Scissor switch keyboards use a membrane, similar to a laptop keyboard.
- Scissor switch keyboards aren’t designed to replace parts readily.
- Scissor switch keyboards are often cheaper than comparable mechanical keyboards.
- Mechanical keyboards use mechanical switches, hence the name.
- Mechanical keyboards are modular by design, meaning parts are easily replaced.
- Mechanical keyboards can be higher cost, but generally are longer-lived.
Scissor Switch vs. Mechanical Switch: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Choose?
So, which of these keyboard switch mechanisms is the best fit for you? There really isn’t an easy answer to this particular dilemma, as it will really come down to user preference.
If you aren’t huge on noise and prefer less travel on a keypress, a scissor switch is a great option. Users who love hearing the clack of keys as they hammer away at their work would do well to choose a mechanical keyboard. Whatever option you choose, do make sure you try it before you buy.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©ceconds/Shutterstock.com.