I really have a hard time typing fast and pain-free on the keyboard of my laptop, and this is where a mechanical keyboard comes to mind. Although it means bringing an extra mechanical keyboard, it’s 100% worth it. I did some research and experimented by bringing a mechanical keyboard to work with me to use to see. Is bringing a separate mechanical keyboard for my laptop worth it? Should you get one?
Bringing a separate mechanical keyboard to use with your laptop is worth it because it will enhance your typing or gaming experience. The keyboard that comes with most laptops do not have extra features such as N-key roller, mechanical switches, and make you type awkwardly because of the positioning.
Mechanical keyboards can be positioned wherever you want, the switches will be personalized for you, and you can decide to add other things such as dedicated media keys, productivity macros, and a dedicated number pad if you do a lot of number entry. A key benefit is being able to position your keyboard and mouse further away from the laptop screen to decrease neck strain and awkward wrist and finger positioning.
We’ll be going more in-depth about what N-key roller over and different positioning tips to improve the ergonomics involved with using a laptop computer. Many people that type a lot or use their laptop for gaming opt to bring a separate compact mechanical keyboard for many reasons.
The Benefits Over a Mechanical Keyboard Over Laptop Keyboards
Imagine this. You are planning on going to the local coffee shop to write a blog post or type up some paperwork for work. You take your laptop out of its sleeve, place it on the table, and you realize that looking at the monitor requires you to crane your neck down.
The next step may be to place your laptop on top of a textbook you have lying in your backpack. That helps a little bit. But now you must reach your hands up higher to type. It’s a little awkward, but you think, “This isn’t so bad, it’s just for a little bit.” Or you go back to craning your neck, it’s one or the other.
Mechanical Keyboards Improve Your Screen Positioning When Using a Laptop
Having a separate keyboard is going to let you place the laptop further away and on the stack of books so you’re looking straight ahead instead of down.
It also lets you type in an ergonomic position with your elbows at 90 degrees and wrists are not in extension (or tilted up.)
Mechanical Keyboards Lessen Your Risk of Repetitive Strain Injuries
Many laptops also have short, flat keys that have awkward spacing, so you may have to spread and stretch your fingers out more to type on them. With a mechanical keyboard, the switches are at the same distance and since you happen to use one at home, you’re already used to the layout. Alongside that, you also know exactly the distance you need to press to register each key press.
Usually on a laptop, the switches make you bottom out so that you know the key has registered. Bottoming out keys increase the pressure on your fingers and joints each type you do it. With a mechanical key, especially tactile ones, you know the point to stop pressing and never press the key harder than it needs to be pressed.
Mechanical Keyboards Decrease Your Risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, also called CTS, is when the nerves within your carpal tunnel (the area right below the palm and wrist) get compressed or irritated. There is a nerve that runs inside there called the median nerve. It is responsible for the sensations of your thumb, index and middle finger.
When this nerve is pinched, you may feel tingling or burning in the fingers affected. If the nerve is compressed for too long, the muscles may begin atrophying (or getting smaller), resulting in a weak hand and decreased sensation in the most important fingers.
People who do a lot of work with their wrist extended or on a keyboard that is not positioned properly, the risk of CTS is increased.
Okay okay, my occupational therapist side is coming out. But enough about the science, we know that having a mechanical keyboard can improve your wrist positioning, enabling you to type with a neutral wrist position. Also, it’s possible to get ergonomic keyboards.
We wrote an in-depth guide to ergonomics, desk positioning, and the top ergonomic keyboards in another article if you’re interested in that.
Mechanical Keyboards Improve Your Productivity When Working with a Laptop
Many people who switch to using a mechanical keyboard say, “Once you go mechanical, you won’t go back to your laptop keyboard.” I’ve had enough of using a laptop at work with the short, small keys with a ton of space in between each key. I mean, why?
Due to the key layout, I have to stretch my fingers out and not every key registers when I press it. The backspace is often overused because of the mistakes.
My typing speed on a mechanical keyboard average around 110wpm. However, when typing at work, it goes down to about 80wpm (even if I know what I’m typing about).
The reason here is, with research and self-experimentation:
- The space between each key is too wide and maybe increase the amount of typing mistakes
- The keys do not have N-key rollover (This means that you can press more than 1 button at a time, and it will also register) – Sometimes it won’t capitalize when I tell it to
- The touchpad in front of the keyboard OFTEN interferes with the typing experience and may be touched accidentally, moving my position on the screen somewhere else
Also, if you’re already bringing an external mouse for your laptop, might as well improve the positioning even more and have an external keyboard as well.
Mechanical Keyboards Are Still Super Portable and Convenient
Just because you’re bringing around a separate device doesn’t mean it still isn’t portable. There are so many different mechanical keyboards that you can pick from.
There are different sizes (that we explained in another in-depth article as well) such as 40%, 60%, 65%, TKL, a separate number pad, full-sized, and more). They can go small. You can ditch the number pad, ditch the function row, ditch the arrow keys if you don’t need that.
There are also wireless mechanical keyboards too that connect via Bluetooth or a USB receiver. If you’re interested in some of our recommendations, we wrote a guide to those too.
If you still enjoy the short keypresses, there are mechanical keyboard versions of that called low profile keyboards. We also looked at the best low-profile keyboards if you’re interested in those.
The options are almost endless, and you can bet you’ll be able to find the perfect mechanical keyboard to pair with your laptop.
Increasing Laptop Resale Value
Using a separate keyboard can improve the resale value of the laptop because you’re not messing around with the keys. If, when typing on a laptop, you happen to be eating chips or drinking soda and oops, something bad happened. The laptop is basically done for.
Laptops are difficult to open and the electronics inside it can get damaged easily with water spills. Mechanical keyboards are different.
Mechanical keyboards are much easier to clean. You can choose between different plastics, colors, and designs. It’ll increase the overall hygiene of the user too.
There are also waterproof or water-resistant mechanical keyboards. We also covered this subject in a more in-depth article if you are interested in learning about IP rating and different water-resistant keyboards.
Laptop keys are made of cheap plastic and can accumulate grime and nastiness easily. By choosing not to use the laptop keyboard, you are keeping it more pristine and thus, keeping its resale value higher. No more shiny finger oil stains, no dust, no hair, none of that stuff that could turn away a buyer from a good product.
Summary and More
For some of our most-recommended keyboards that we’ve done thorough reviews on that may be good to pair with your laptop, check out:
- Massdrop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard (TKL)
- DIERYA x KEMOVE DK61 60% Keyboard
- Anne Pro II 60% Mechanical Keyboard
- HyperX Alloy Origins Core (our personal favorite)
- Keychron K6 – a new and upcoming 65% wireless mechanical keyboard
If you have any additional questions, please post a comment down below. We love doing research for you guys and providing quality content. If there’s anything we can improve, shoot use an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, happy typing!