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Keyboards Unplugged: Differences Between Mechanical, Membrane, and Scissor Frame

Deep look at the keys of the new mechanical keyboard from Kensington.

Exploring the Differences Between Mechanical, Membrane, and Scissor Frame Keyboards

Professionals who spend a lot of time typing understand the importance of finding the perfect keyboard—one that complements workflow and enhances productivity. In this article, we will explore three prominent keyboard types: mechanical, membrane, and scissor frame. Each of these keyboards utilizes different technologies, offers unique tactile experiences, and presents varying levels of durability, customization options, price points, and performance. By understanding the differences between these keyboard types, you can make informed decisions that align with your professional requirements and personal preferences. So, let's dive in and unravel the distinguishing features of mechanical, membrane, and scissor frame keyboards.

Typing Experience

When it comes to the typing experience, mechanical, membrane, and scissor frame keyboards offer distinct characteristics.

Mechanical keyboards are celebrated for their tactile feedback and satisfying click sound. This is due to their utilization of individual mechanical switches for each key, where each key has its own mechanism to register keystrokes. This tactile feedback provides a noticeable click or bump when a key is pressed, resulting in a responsive and engaging typing experience. Furthermore, mechanical keyboards excel in customization options, allowing users to adjust the actuation point, replace keycaps, and program macros according to their preferences. Up until the recent introductions of truly silent mechanical keyboards, such as the Kensington MK7500F QuietType™ Pro Silent Mechanical Keyboard with Meeting Controls, mechanical keyboards were not always suited to noise-sensitive environments. 

By contrast, membrane keyboards offer a softer typing experience. They utilize a membrane layer beneath the keys, which registers key presses when the top membrane layer connects with the bottom layer upon keystrokes. Membrane keyboards are known for their soft and cushioned feel, making them a popular choice for those who prefer a softer typing experience, but lack tactile feedback.

Lastly, scissor frame keyboards, often found in laptops and slim-profile keyboards, employ scissor-like mechanisms that stabilize the keys and provide a better tactile feel than membrane keyboards, but not as noticeable as mechanical keyboards. However, customization options for scissor frame keyboards may be limited compared to their mechanical counterparts.


Durability is an important factor to consider when choosing a keyboard, especially for professionals who require a reliable and long-lasting typing solution.

In terms of durability, mechanical keyboards tend to outshine membrane and scissor frame keyboards. Mechanical keyboards are built with robust construction and employ high-quality materials, making them highly durable and capable of withstanding heavy and prolonged use. The individual mechanical switches used in mechanical keyboards are designed to endure millions of keystrokes, ensuring long-term reliability.

In contrast, membrane keyboards typically have a thinner and more flexible construction, which may make them more prone to wear and tear over time. While they can still offer decent durability for regular daily use, their lifespan may not match that of mechanical keyboards.

Scissor frame keyboards, being commonly found in laptops and compact keyboards, often strike a balance between durability and portability. The scissor mechanism provides stability to the keys, enhancing their longevity compared to membrane keyboards. However, it's worth noting that the durability of scissor frame keyboards can vary depending on the specific design and build quality.

Ultimately, if durability is a top priority, mechanical keyboards are the preferred choice due to their solid construction and long-lasting performance.


Customization opportunities play a significant role in personalizing your typing experience, and the extent of customization varies among mechanical, membrane, and scissor frame keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards excel in this regard, offering a wide range of customization options. With mechanical keyboards, users can often swap out keycaps or program keys to personalize their keyboard, as well as choose from a variety of keycap materials, profiles, and colors. Additionally, mechanical keyboards frequently provide software or firmware support for programming macros, remapping keys, and creating personalized lighting effects. This level of customization allows users to tailor the keyboard to their specific needs and preferences.

In contrast, membrane keyboards generally offer limited customization opportunities. Due to their integrated design, keycaps on membrane keyboards are not easily replaceable, limiting the ability to personalize their appearance. Furthermore, customization options for key mapping and macros are often absent or limited, restricting the ability to fine-tune the keyboard's functionality.

Scissor frame keyboards fall somewhere in between. While they may not offer the extensive customization options of mechanical keyboards, some scissor frame keyboards do allow for keycap replacement, providing a level of personalization. However, the availability of software or firmware support for advanced customization features can vary among different models of scissor frame keyboards. Overall, if customization is a priority, mechanical keyboards are the clear winner, offering the most flexibility and options for personalization. Membrane keyboards have limited customization opportunities, while scissor frame keyboards offer a modest level of customization, often dependent on the specific model and manufacturer.


Price is an important consideration when it comes to choosing a keyboard, and there are notable differences in price points among mechanical, membrane, and scissor frame keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards tend to be the most expensive option. This is primarily due to the higher manufacturing costs associated with their individual mechanical switches and durable construction. The range of mechanical keyboard prices can vary significantly, with entry-level options being more affordable, but higher-end models with premium features and customization options commanding a higher price tag.

On the other hand, membrane keyboards are generally more budget friendly. Their simpler construction and use of membrane layers make them more cost-effective to produce. This affordability makes membrane keyboards a popular choice for those seeking a functional keyboard without breaking the bank.

Scissor frame keyboards typically fall somewhere in the middle in terms of price. While they are generally more expensive than membrane keyboards due to their improved stability and durability, they are usually more affordable than high-end mechanical keyboards.

Ultimately, the price of a keyboard depends on various factors such as the brand, build quality, additional features, and customization options. It is important to strike a balance between budget and desired features to select a keyboard that meets both your functional requirements and financial considerations.


Performance is a crucial consideration for professionals when choosing a keyboard, and mechanical, membrane, and scissor frame keyboards differ in their capabilities in this regard.

Mechanical keyboards are often favored by professionals due to their responsive and tactile feedback, which enhances the overall typing experience. The individual mechanical switches provide a distinct actuation point and quick response time, allowing users to execute commands with precision and accuracy. Additionally, mechanical keyboards are well-suited for rapid keystrokes and simultaneous key presses, making them ideal for macro functions.

Membrane keyboards, while functional for typing, may not offer the same level of responsiveness and precision as mechanical keyboards. The membrane layers in these keyboards require more force to register keystrokes, which can impact the speed and accuracy of input. However, the specific design and quality of membrane keyboards can vary, and some higher-end models may offer better keyboarding performance.

Scissor frame keyboards generally fall between mechanical and membrane keyboards in terms of performance. While they may not provide the same level of tactile feedback as mechanical keyboards, the scissor mechanism can offer improved stability and responsiveness compared to membrane keyboards.

Ultimately, the choice of a professional keyboard depends on personal preference, style, and budget. Professionals seeking optimum performance and responsiveness often gravitate towards mechanical keyboards, while those with a more casual approach or budget constraints may find membrane or scissor frame keyboards to be suitable alternatives.


In conclusion, when comparing mechanical, membrane, and scissor frame keyboards, it becomes evident that each type has its own unique features and characteristics. Mechanical keyboards excel in tactile feedback, customization options, and gaming performance, though they tend to be more expensive. Membrane keyboards offer a softer typing experience but sacrifice tactile feedback and customization options. Scissor frame keyboards strike a balance between the two, providing moderate tactile feel and a slim design. In terms of durability, mechanical keyboards stand out with their robust construction and long-lasting performance. Customization opportunities are abundant in mechanical keyboards, while membrane keyboards offer limited options, and scissor frame keyboards fall in between. Price-wise, mechanical keyboards are generally the most expensive, followed by scissor frame keyboards and then membrane keyboards. Finally, when it comes to performance, mechanical keyboards reign supreme with their responsive switches and precise actuation. Membrane keyboards can still provide adequate performance, while scissor frame keyboards offer a middle ground between the two. Ultimately, the choice of keyboard type depends on individual preferences, professional requirements, and budgetary considerations, ensuring that each user can find the perfect keyboard to suit their needs.

For those interested in mechanical keyboards, the MK7500F QuietType™ Pro Silent Mechanical Keyboard with Meeting Controls was designed for modern professionals and offers everything you need in a professional keyboard:

  • Responsive keys, a quiet typing experience, and n-key roll over (NKRO)
  • Universal compatibility for Windows and macOS
  • Kailh Midnight Pro Silent Tactile switches with sound dampening pads
  • Connects via Bluetooth®, or included 2.4GHz USB receiver, or included USB-A cable
  • 128-bit AES government-grade encryption security
  • Ergonomic design supports all-day typing comfort
  • Built-in meeting controls for video conferencing
  • Customizable keys to support workflow
  • White backlight for easy key identification in low light settings
  • IPX4 spill-proof design protects against accidents
  • Includes washable silicon dust cover
  • Three-year limited warranty

Learn more about the Kensington MK7500F QuietType™ Pro Silent Mechanical Keyboard