Mechanical keyboards have gained significant popularity due to their superior typing experience, tactile feedback, and overall durability compared to conventional membrane keyboards. A critical component that contributes to these qualities is the type of switch used. Let’s explore the differences between plate-mount and PCB-mount switches to understand how they impact your typing experience.
1. Understanding Mechanical Keyboards:
Before delving into the differences between plate-mount and PCB-mount switches, it’s essential to grasp the basics of mechanical keyboards. Unlike membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards use individual mechanical switches for each key. These switches are responsible for registering key presses and actuating the keystrokes.
2. What are Plate-Mount Switches?
Plate-mount switches are designed to be mounted directly onto a metal or plastic plate within the mechanical keyboard’s housing. The keycap is then placed on top of the switch stem, which, in turn, sits on the plate. This mounting method provides stability and a firm typing experience.
3. Advantages of Plate-Mount Switches:
- Stability: The plate provides a sturdy foundation, preventing the keys from wobbling during intense typing sessions.
- Durability: The plate adds an extra layer of protection, making the switches less susceptible to damage.
- Typing Feel: Some users prefer the typing feel of plate-mount switches, as the plate can influence the sound and tactile feedback.
4. Disadvantages of Plate-Mount Switches:
- Less Customization: Plate-mount switches might limit some customization options compared to PCB-mount switches.
- Slightly Harder to Replace: If a switch needs replacement, desoldering might be required, which can be more challenging than replacing a PCB-mounted switch.
5. What are PCB-Mount Switches?
PCB-mount switches, also known as “plateless” switches, are designed to be mounted directly onto the printed circuit board (PCB) of the mechanical keyboard. The keycap is attached directly to the switch, eliminating the need for a mounting plate.
6. Advantages of PCB-Mount Switches:
- Easier Replacement: PCB-mount switches are generally easier to replace since they don’t require desoldering.
- More Customization: PCB-mount switches offer more freedom for keyboard customization and modifications.
- Smoother Keypress: Some users find that PCB-mount switches offer a slightly softer typing experience.
7. Disadvantages of PCB-Mount Switches:
- Potential Wobbliness: PCB-mount switches may have a bit more wobble due to the absence of a mounting plate.
- Less Firm Typing: The absence of a mounting plate might lead to a slightly less firm typing feel.
8. Plate-Mount vs. PCB-Mount: Key Differences:
The primary differences between plate-mount and PCB-mount switches can be summarized as follows:
- Mounting: Plate-mount switches use a plate for mounting, while PCB-mount switches are mounted directly on the PCB.
- Stability: Plate-mount switches offer better stability due to the mounting plate.
- Customization: PCB-mount switches provide more customization options compared to plate-mount switches.
- Ease of Replacement: PCB-mount switches are generally easier to replace.
9. Which One Should You Choose?
The choice between plate-mount and PCB-mount switches largely depends on personal preference. If you prefer a more stable typing experience with slightly limited customization options, plate-mount switches might be your ideal choice. On the other hand, if you prioritize customization and easy switch replacement, PCB-mount switches are worth considering.https://techkeyboard.com/mechanical-keyboard-suggestions-for-the-office/
10. Factors to Consider When Selecting Switches:
Before making a decision, consider the following factors:
- Typing Preference: Do you prefer a stable typing experience or a smoother keystroke?
- Customization: Are you interested in customizing your keyboard extensively?
- Maintenance: Do you want a switch that is easy to replace in case of damage?
- Keyboard Build: Some keyboards are designed specifically for one type of switch mounting, limiting your options.
11. Switch Customization and Aftermarket Options:
For enthusiasts who love to personalize their keyboards, both plate-mount and PCB-mount switches have various aftermarket options. Keyboards designed with hot-swappable PCBs allow users to swap switches without soldering, making customization much more accessible.
12. How to Replace Mechanical Keyboard Switches:
If you decide to switch out your mechanical keyboard switches, the process may vary depending on the mounting method. For plate-mount switches, you’ll need to desolder the old switches and solder the new ones. For PCB-mount switches, it’s as simple as pulling out the old switch and inserting the new one.
13. Maintenance and Care Tips:
To ensure your mechanical keyboard switches perform optimally, regular maintenance is crucial. Keep the keyboard clean from dust and debris, and consider using a keycap puller to remove keycaps for thorough cleaning. Lubricating the switches can also improve their longevity and feel.
In conclusion, both plate-mount and PCB-mount switches have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Plate-mount switches offer stability and durability, while PCB-mount switches provide more customization and easier replacement options. The decision ultimately boils down to personal preference and the kind of typing experience you desire.
- Are plate-mount switches louder than PCB-mount switches? Plate-mount switches can sound slightly louder due to the mounting plate adding resonance to the typing sound.
- Can I use plate-mount switches on a keyboard designed for PCB-mount switches? It is generally not recommended, as the keyboard’s design might not accommodate plate-mount switches properly.
- Do PCB-mount switches affect the overall typing feel of the keyboard? PCB-mount switches may feel slightly less stable but can provide a smoother keystroke for some users.
- Can I mix plate-mount and PCB-mount switches on the same keyboard? Technically, it is possible, but it might lead to an inconsistent typing experience.