15 Different Types of Keyboards and What They’re Used For

We get a lot of different readers. And so, we get a lot of different questions. We get primarily readers who are gamers but we also get those that are just interested in some of the peripherals that we talk about.

That’s why in this article, I’m going to try and answer one of the most common questions I get and that is, what are the different types of keyboards?

There are at least 15 different types of keyboards. Some are just iterations of others, but the two most common keyboards are the membrane and the mechanical keyboard.

Membrane keyboards are the most common type and they can be found almost everywhere. Mechanical keyboards are primarily for gamers.

In this article, we are going to try and be as informative as possible. So, we are not just going to list the different types of keyboards, we are going to talk a little bit about each of them as well.

So, if you are looking for a specific type of keyboard, I highly recommend that you read this article and when you find the one that interests you, try and read through what we have to say about it.

Keyboard closeup with glowing red lights

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1. Gaming Keyboards

We are going to start this article off by talking briefly about gaming keyboards. After all, this is a gaming site. You can almost instantly tell whether a keyboard is made for gaming or not regardless of what type of gaming keyboard it is.

Most gaming keyboards will have RGB. This is the first thing that you will notice about a gaming keyboard and trust me, RGB makes you a better gamer, Just ask anybody. There are other things that make a gaming keyboard different.

In terms of what makes a gaming keyboard, it really does not matter whether it is a membrane or mechanical keyboard. Once you start playing on a gaming keyboard, you will notice these few things:

  • A gaming membrane gaming keyboard has a lot less travel distance from the keys to either the actuation point or the membrane. On a mechanical keyboard, the travel distance generally depends on the switch that your keyboard has.
  • Almost all good gaming keyboards will have better tactile feedback than regular keyboards.
  • You might have extra buttons.
  • Gaming keyboards generally have some RGB goodness.

So, whether your gaming keyboard is mechanical or not and whether it is flashy or if it just looks like a plain old office keyboard, these slight differences will actually make a difference when gaming.

I would love to be that “edgy guy” that says “it does not matter what you play on…”. In reality, having good peripherals can help you when playing games.

2. MMO Gaming Keyboards

MMO gaming keyboards are very much similar to any other gaming keyboard you would get. A mechanical MMO gaming keyboard is the same as a mechanical keyboard and a membrane MMO keyboard is similar to a normal membrane gaming keyboard.

However, the slight differences between them are very important.

An MMO gaming keyboard will have extra buttons on it and I’m not talking about media buttons or buttons that can be seen as a gimmick. I am talking about buttons that make playing MMORPGs a better experience.

On an MMORPG gaming keyboard, you will have five or six extra buttons to the left of the keyboard. These will be labelled either as M or G. Then each key will have a number. With that said, the name of the label makes no difference.

This keyboard works like any other keyboard would. However, the extra keys are programmable in most cases. This allows gamers who play RPGs, and more specifically MMORPGs, to program a sequence of keys into 1.

This is helpful because MMORPGs usually require a lot of buttons because of all the different skills that you can attach to your character.

3. Membrane Keyboards

Now we are starting to get into more specific types of keyboards and let’s start off with the membrane keyboard. These are the most common types of keyboards. They are generally cheap to manufacture and you will find them in most offices.

A membrane keyboard is quite a simple concept. There is a circuit board that has a silicone membrane on top.

When you press any key, the membrane presses against the circuit board and creates an electrical current. This electrical current is sent to the computer as a signal and that is how the keyboard works.

A membrane keyboard can be either a gaming one or a normal keyboard. Also, the membrane can be used in almost any type of keyboard as it is just the method of sending a signal from an input device to a PC or any other output device.

4. Mechanical Keyboards

A mechanical keyboard is quite complex although we can break it down into a few simple sentences.

Before we get into how a mechanical keyboard works, it is important to remember that a mechanical keyboard is mostly aimed at gamers. With that said, a lot of people use them outside of gaming.

Each key on a mechanical keyboard has a switch. I always say, “think of it as a light switch”. When you press the key down it will reach its actuation point where it will flick the switch. This sends the signal through to the computer.

Mechanical keyboards are the best keyboards for gaming. They offer so much more than what you get on a regular non-mechanical keyboard. The diversity of mechanical keyboards is amplified when you consider all the different types of switches that you get.

Here is a list of the most switches:

  • Blue
  • Red
  • Speed Silver
  • Brown

Each switch has its own pros and cons.

5. Hybrid Keyboards

Within each keyboard type, you get the budget, mid-range, and premium version of each. So, to explain what a hybrid keyboard is, I would say it’s the mid-range type of keyboard in terms of gaming.

It is not a budget membrane keyboard and it is also not a premium mechanical keyboard.

In fact, a hybrid keyboard is a cross between or a combination of a membrane keyboard and a mechanical one.

You still get the tactile feel although not as prominent as you get with a mechanical keyboard. You also get the travel distance and the audio feedback that you would get with any mechanical keyboard.

However, the base of the keyboard is a membrane. So, you do not get the exact same advantages that you get when using a mechanical switch. That is very important to remember. Basically, you will not get the faster speed that a mechanical keyboard offers.

Some gamers swear by the hybrid keyboard and it is easy to see why, although I don’t necessarily agree. I will always prefer mechanical keyboards but if I was to choose between a membrane or a hybrid keyboard, I would always go hybrid.

For those of you who care about the looks of your keyboard, you will be happy to know that a hybrid, because of its tall keys, can really stand out especially when RGB lighting is added to the keyboard. It stands out in a way that a normal membrane keyboard cannot.

6. Wireless Keyboards

Before we start, it is important to remember that we are not talking about Bluetooth keyboards. I bet a lot of you are wondering whether or not there is actually a difference and yes, there is. First, let’s take a look at what a wireless keyboard is.

A wireless keyboard is normally battery-powered. When you open the box that your keyboard comes in, you will find a little dongle that plugs into a USB port. This is the wireless receiver for the keyboard.

You plug the receiver into your USB. Now, normally in my experience, once you plug the receiver in, the keyboard will almost instantly start working on your PC.

If it doesn’t, you might need to run through a little setup but it isn’t difficult and your PC will run you through it so that there are no hassles.

The receivers that come with wireless keyboards are usually proprietary. In other words, you can only use that receiver with that keyboard or in some cases, with that brand of a keyboard.

The keyboard draws very little power so you can often expect to receive two years of battery life if you use a decent battery. This means that you do not really have to worry about your battery running out and you only need to replace it rarely.

7. Wireless Gaming Keyboards

I decided to slightly separate the two sections, wireless keyboards and wireless gaming keyboards from each other. This is because up until recently, you couldn’t really find a wireless gaming keyboard.

This is because they were not really seen as being all that good.

The reason for this was because of the latency between the keyboard and your PC. Even with today’s technology and as fast as wireless gaming keyboards are, I still prefer using wired peripherals except for my headset.

I’m busy playing three games at the moment. These games are COD, Battlefield 5, and Rocket League. These games are extremely fast-paced and if I were to use a wireless keyboard, I might be at a slight disadvantage.

With all of that being said, I do acknowledge that a few companies have made some serious strides in the technology that they use to minimise the latency between the keyboard, the receiver, and your PC.

8. Bluetooth Keyboards

So, remember I said you should not confuse wireless keyboards with Bluetooth keyboards? Well, in this section, We are going to find out why they are actually quite different from each other. Let’s take a look at the differences.

Generally, a wireless keyboard uses a proprietary receiver whereas a Bluetooth keyboard has built-in Bluetooth and can work with any Bluetooth receiver whether it be a dongle or built into another device.

Bluetooth keyboards can come in many different forms. You get the small multimedia ones that connect to your TV. You also get your general membrane keyboard that again, can connect to any device with a built-in Bluetooth.

While you still do get quite a lot of battery life with a Bluetooth keyboard, it is not as efficient as wireless ones. This is because Bluetooth is known to drain battery power.

I am sure as technology advances we will see Bluetooth draw less and less power. In fact, we have already seen this with Bluetooth 5.0 and higher.

If you need a multimedia keyboard for your Smart TV or for your Android box, I highly recommend looking at one of these Bluetooth keyboards.

You get ones with touchpads on or you can just get a normal Bluetooth mouse and keyboard setup and it becomes so easy to control your tv.

9. Flexible Keyboards

I am sure that most of you have by now seen those ads where people roll up their keyboard. They do so as to maximize the amount of desk space they have when they are not using the keyboard. 

With that said, flexible keyboards are a simple concept but it works basically in the same way that your normal mouse and keyboard work.

Flexible keyboards use the same type of connections as regular keyboards. The only difference is that these fold away or can be rolled up without breaking. How companies add all the circuitry into the silicone keyboard is a mystery to most people.

For gaming, flexible keyboards can be great especially if you carry your tower around with you a lot. Also, they are great if you game on a laptop. However, you are not going to get the same gaming experience as you would with a regular or mechanical keyboard.

Something just doesn’t feel right when gaming on a flexible keyboard. The silicone doesn’t really give you much feedback. Other than that, it can be better to use it as a keyboard than most gaming laptop keyboards.

11. Ergonomic Keyboards

You could say that ergonomic keyboards are for people with disabilities but they actually aren’t. While a lot of ergonomic keyboards do accommodate people with certain disabilities, they aren’t actually built for that specifically.

Ergonomic keyboards are built for a lot of different reasons. One of the main reasons is to help people with medical conditions. See, some people struggle with carpal tunnel syndrome while others might have general wrist problems and so on.

Ergonomic keyboards can take on many different shapes. Each shape aims to help people with specific muscle or joint problems.

It would be impossible to go through every single shape that an ergonomic keyboard can come in. This is because there are just too many. However, if you do have a certain problem with your arms, wrist, or hand I am sure that there is an ergonomic keyboard out there that suits you.

12. Gaming Console Keyboards

Most console game developers are starting to look at the possibility of allowing gamers to use a mouse and keyboard. In fact, there are a lot of games that already allow you to do this. These games include COD, Warframe, Minecraft, Fortnite, and much more.

A lot of console gamers do not have the space that a traditional keyboard and mouse will take up. So, you can get a keyboard that is designed for console users. It is a simple concept. Basically, it is just a keyboard that has been cut into 1/3 or in half.

Only the important parts of the keyboard are there. This includes the WASD buttons along with any other buttons that you would need. For example, all the buttons needed to build and edit in fortnite or interact with something in a game.

Obviously this includes buttons to throw grenades and stuff like that.

You would obviously need a mouse to go along with it but luckily, a lot of these types of keyboards come as a combo with the mouse. And so, all you have to do is look for one of those or even buy a mouse separately.

13. Adaptive Keyboards

Adaptive keyboards are keyboards for people who are disabled and can’t use a keyboard and mouse in the traditional way that most people do. With that being, said there are so many different variations of an adaptive keyboard.

I guess in a sense, the easiest way to describe the basic principle of an adaptive keyboard is like this: An adaptive keyboard will have 2 large pads on them.

They could have other features as well but basically, the thought is that regardless of your disability, most people can either press down on these pads or they can draw patterns on them.

With an adaptive keyboard, you can move the mouse on the screen, you can click down on the pads, draw on them, and do much more. Each keyboard will be programmed so that it suits the needs of its target audience.

14. Braille Keyboard

A braille keyboard can be your normal standard keyboards like a membrane one or a mechanical one. The main difference though is that a braille keyboard has, well, braille on it.

In the current day and age that we live in, almost everybody needs to use a keyboard and this includes blind people or people who are visually impaired. And so, braille keyboards are almost a necessity at this point.

I just want to add something real quick. Most of us can type without looking at a keyboard. We have been taught this from a very young age. Visually impaired people can generally use normal keyboards as they do not technically need to see the keyboard, much like with most people.

So, braille keyboards are not exactly necessary for all visually impaired people as most can type just as you and I can with proper hand placement. However, braille keyboards help visually impaired people who are not used to typing on keyboards.

15. Virtual Keyboards

Everyone knows what a virtual keyboard is. This is because most of us use it every day. A virtual keyboard is any keyboard that is on a display. You have one on your phone if you have a touch screen.

Windows also has one built-in just in case your keyboard stops working in the middle of the day or night.

For gaming, most consoles have virtual keyboards. When you need to type something, it normally pops up on your screen.

This can either be on the console or most games have virtual keyboards built-in. It is mainly used to search for your friends on the platform or for in-game chat such as in Rocket League where telling your teammate “what a save, what a save, what a save” is not enough.

You can find a virtual keyboard on just about any device. You can find one on your TV, on your streaming box, gaming console, phone, tablet, PC, laptop, and much more. People understand that your keyboard is not always going to work and so, you need to make a plan fast.

What Is The Best Keyboard For Gaming?

In general, a mechanical keyboard is the best keyboard for gaming. As for the switches, you get a lot of different switches for mechanical keyboards. The switch in your keyboard can play a significant role in how good the keyboard is as well.

In my experience, the speed switch is the best switch for a mechanical keyboard. So, therefore, a mechanical speed silver keyboard is the best for gaming especially if you are playing first-person shooters.

With all of that being said, your situation can be different so while mechanical keyboards are the best for gamers in general, it is subjective. For example, you might need to use an adaptive keyboard.

You could be a laptop gamer who travels a lot and a mechanical keyboard might be too bulky for you. So, the best is to analyse your situation and take a look at this article again and decide which keyboard is best for you.


Whether you are a gamer or if you are just looking for an office keyboard, hopefully, we have answered all of your questions. My main goal is to be as helpful as possible.

With that being said, if you are a gamer get a mechanical keyboard. If you cannot afford one, get a hybrid keyboard. Trust me, it does make you play better, or at least it helps you play in a way that could make you better in the future.

Continue Reading:

  1. Differences Mechanical And Non-Mechanical Keyboards
  2. Why Do Gamers Tilt Their Keyboard?
  3. Best Standing Desks for Gamers

David Sacks

Dave is a PC and console gamer who got his first console in 1995. He plays FPS games and sports games but also loves ESO. Dave has worked in IT for the last 7 years.

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