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Mac keyboard showdown: Apple vs. Chiclet vs. Mechanical | AppleInsider


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There are many different keyboards on the market for: mac users, and choosing between them can be complicated. To help you out, we’ve listed the pros and cons of some of the most popular types.

In general, there are three main categories of keyboard that Mac users may want to have: Apple keyboards, chiclet-style keyboards, and mechanical keyboards. Here are the pros and cons of each, as well as some popular models to consider.

Apple keyboards

Chances are your Mac model already came with a keyboard. MacBooks have their own keyboards with a scissor switch, of course, but some desktop Macs also come with an Apple Magic Keyboard.

Apple keyboard benefits

Apple keyboards are lightweight, minimalist devices with a sleek and modern aesthetic. While you can find keyboards that are just as minimal, it’s hard to beat the design synergy of an Apple Magic Keyboard with an Apple Mac.

Apple Magic Keyboard

The typing experience on an Apple keyboard is generally top notch. It is quiet but palpable. There aren’t really any frills here, just a solid typing experience.

More than that, Apple Magic Keyboards are also the only keyboards with Touch ID on some models.

And they can reliably invoke command key combinations on startup. You can get this from Apple’s wireless keyboards by connecting a Lightning to USB cable.

Disadvantages of Apple Keyboard

Compared to similar chiclet-style keyboards, you pay a premium for an Apple Magic Keyboard. They are usually much more expensive than comparable models.

Ergonomically, the Apple Magic Keyboard hits the mark. Some people may enjoy having long typing sessions, but others may be better off going with a different type. For gaming, they also don’t register as many keystrokes as a mechanical keyboard.

The aforementioned Touch ID functionality also only works with Apple Silicon Macs. Like other chiclet keyboards, they are also difficult to clean.

Models to consider

The Apple Magic Keyboard is pretty much what comes to mind when you think of an Apple keyboard. It’s a no-nonsense affair for $99 that also comes in a bigger size with a number pad.

If you can have Touch ID built into your keyboard, expect to pay a premium – they take precedence about $149† They are only compatible with M1 or M2 equipped devices.

Chiclet Keyboards

Apple Magic Keyboards are chiclet-like, but there are also several third-party chiclet keyboards on the market. Chiclet keyboards are generally characterized by flatter and thinner keys.

Chiclet keyboard benefits

Like the Apple Magic Keyboard, chiclet keyboards generally provide a comfortable yet quiet typing experience. For offices and work from home situations, this means your neighbors won’t hate you.

Logitech MX keys

Logitech MX keys

They’re also lightweight and travel-friendly — both things that also apply to the Apple keyboards we talked about earlier.

On the other hand, third-party chiclet keyboards can be much cheaper than an Apple Magic Keyboard. If you’re on a budget, they can provide a similar feel for a fraction of the price.

Disadvantages of chiclet keyboard

Chiclet keyboards are generally difficult to clean, especially if dust or other debris gets under the keys.

Compared to a mechanical keyboard, chiclet keyboards are also not as durable. While most will last for long periods of time, they simply cannot compete with the durability of mechanical key switches.

As with Apple’s own keyboards, chiclet-style keyboards aren’t suited for hardcore gaming either.

Models to consider

The Logitech MX keys is a best-in-class chiclet keyboard that many users love for productivity and content creation tasks. It costs $119.99.

For a simpler and cheaper model, the Dell Wired Keyboard offers great value for its $17 price tag

Mechanical keyboards

Compared to chiclet and Apple keyboards, mechanical keyboards belong to a category all of their own. Instead of a scissor switch mechanism, mechanical keyboards use a true mechanical switch, which offers a range of advantages and disadvantages.

And if you’ve used Apple’s original pair of ADB keyboards, the original Mac keyboard, or the Apple II keyboard, you’ve been using a mechanical keyboard.

Advantages of mechanical keyboard

Mechanical keyboards are very tactile and provide a typing experience that is more like an old-fashioned typewriter than a chiclet keyboard. They also offer a variety of different feelings based on which key switch you use.

Keychron K2

Keychron K2

Key switches are the mechanisms that register keystrokes, and there are several types. For example, the three most common are red switches, blue switches, and brown switches. Red switches are fast and the quietest of the bunch, but not as tactile as others.

Blue switches provide the most audible and tactile feedback, but are also the loudest. Brown switches can be seen as a combination of both.

Mechanical keyboards are also much more durable, with most capable of handling millions of keystrokes. If dust gets in, you can also easily remove the keycap and clean the keyboard. In general, mechanical keyboards are also the standard for professional gaming.

Disadvantages mechanical keyboard

Compared to almost every other modern keyboard on the market, mechanical keyboards are heavy devices. Many of them also don’t look as aesthetically minimal as a chiclet or Apple keyboard.

Mechanical keyboards are also noisy. Some people like the clatter of a mechanical key switch, but keep in mind that it can drive your loved ones or office mates crazy. They are also very loud for phone or Zoom calls.

In general, mechanical keyboards are also more expensive than a chiclet keyboard, depending on the brand you get.

Models to consider

When it comes to mechanical keyboards for Mac, Keychron makes some of the best on the market. The Keychron K2 is an affordable entry into the world of mechanical keyboards and offers great value for money.

For something even cheaper, you might want to consider this Logitech keyboard for $69.99† It’s a wired keyboard and doesn’t have Mac-specific keys, but it works fine with your Apple computer.

Try them out before you buy them

There are three main interfaces between a human and a computer. You need a place to sit, a monitor to watch things on your computer, and a keyboard and mouse to operate it. All three categories are areas where you should spend good money, because in the end they are more than worth it.

So consider a good keyboard for your Mac as a long-term investment. Certain models will last for years and may increase your productivity.

We recommend going to a store and trying out different varieties. While many gamers or typists prefer mechanical keyboards, you may have a different opinion.

Mechanical keyboards are generally heavy, less aesthetically modern and loud. If you work with others in the office or have people in your household sensitive to noise, a chiclet keyboard may be the better choice.

It is also crucial that you think about the ergonomics of the keyboard. A keyboard should never be painful to type on, even during extended writing, programming or gaming sessions. Whether you choose a chiclet or a mechanical keyboard, it’s good practice to prioritize comfort and ergonomics over flashy features.

You may not be able to tell how comfortable a keyboard is for long in-store typing sessions, but see what others have to say about its ergonomics.

There are many different keyboard types on the market, but which one is best for you is largely a matter of personal preference. There is no “best choice” for every user as it all comes down to personal preference.

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