Your laptop’s keyboard provides a perfectly average typing experience. Depress a character all the way, two membranes connect, and a letter appears on the screen. It’ll let you write what you need to, but the buttons feel—and sound—wimpy. Mechanical keyboards do it better. The devices employ switches that register your inputs and create satisfying feedback and the distinct clacks that aficionados love. This trio has you covered for any task or setting.
Fast-paced video games require your computer to detect a high volume of strokes as quickly as possible—sometimes up to 10 actions per second. Press a key down on the Razer Huntsman Elite by 1.5 millimeters, and a laser passes through the switch to an optical sensor on the other side, registering the button push. You’ll hear a pleasing metallic thunk too.
At the office, you need keys that operate at a modest volume so you don’t bother neighboring colleagues. While some switches contain a plastic piece that produces a tap, you can opt for ones in the WASD Code V3 that lack that, keeping them quiet. Depress the letters by 2 millimeters and two gold-plated connection points snap together, noting your choice.
It takes 1.7 ounces of force—that’s a lot, for a keyboard—to use these buttons. But the payoff is big too. For your extra effort, the noisy variant of switches inside the Varmilo VA87M rewards you with tactile kickback and thunderous clicks as one plastic component smacks into another. You can make a racket as you finally pound out that epic novel.
This story originally published in the Noise, Winter 2019 issue of Popular Science.