Could a Mechanical Keyboard Be Too Noisy for Office Use?

If you’re using a mechanical keyboard in your office, you’ll want to consider how your work environment & company culture will impact how loud it is.

The most important factor to consider is whether the noise of your keyboard will bother your coworkers. If it will, you’ll want to do one of several things to make it more-quiet:

1. Linear Switches

Linear switches are a popular choice among typists and gamers because they provide a smooth, consistent bump-free feel throughout each keystroke. This feedback is ideal for fast-paced gaming where tactile feedback could slightly reduce speed and increase response time.

The smoothness and consistent feel of linear switches also makes them a good choice for users who want to type faster without sacrificing accuracy or reliability. While there are a few concerns with this switch type, such as the bottoming out issue, it is still an excellent choice for those who prefer to use mechanical keyboard for typing and gaming.

Tactile switches are another option for those who prefer to get an immediate, tangible feedback on each keypress. These types of switches are also less noisy than other types of mechanical switches. This makes them a great choice for those who spend a lot of time in a quiet space and want to avoid annoying others with noise while they type.

In addition to being able to type faster, tactile switches can also offer some additional benefits to gamers who may want a more immersive experience with their keyboards. The bump of the switch can also help to ensure that each key is pressed correctly, which can reduce mis-typing and increase overall accuracy.

2. Tactile Switches

Tactile switches, like Cherry MX Browns, provide an immediate bump that tells you when a key has been pressed. This means that you don’t need to bottom out the key or tap it on a tabletop to know that it has registered, making them ideal for keyboarders who want instant feedback without losing accuracy.

Tactile switches are also a great choice for beginners who want to get used to the feel of a mechanical keyboard. They are much more satisfying than membrane or laptop keyboards and offer a noticeable upgrade in feel.

However, they are not recommended for office use since they can be quite loud, especially if you’re using them in a noisy environment. While most desks are rated for 50 to 60 dB, they can easily reach as high as 75 dB during aggressive typing.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options available that are quiet enough for office use. Linear switches are the most popular, with tactile switches being a close second.

Linear switches are quieter than tactile switches because they don’t provide a bump midway through pressing a key, and they don’t have an audible click sound that some people find annoying. They can also be more comfortable for those who have small hands and type lightly.

They’re also a good choice for beginner users because they don’t have that clickety clack-ness of clicky switches, which makes them safe to use in public places. They’re also perfect for anyone who’s new to mechanical keyboards because they’ll give you a nice upgrade in feel without having to spend much money.

3. Rubber Rings

The loud clicky sound made by mechanical keyboards is a big part of their appeal for some, but not for others. If you work in an environment that is prone to noise complaints, you may want to consider other options for quieting your mechanical keyboard.

One option is to install rubber rings on your switches. These will dampen the noise each keystroke makes, which can make your keyboard less noisy overall. However, they can also cause the switches to become sloppy over time.

If you’re interested in trying this out, you can find a variety of different types and sizes of O-Rings to suit your needs. If you have the space and budget, you can even get some that are designed specifically for use with a mechanical keyboard.

Another option is to simply place a sound-dampening mat on your desk. This will absorb a lot of the vibrational noise and keep it from being heard by anyone else in your office.

This is an excellent option if you have a large open desk or workspace and want to avoid disturbing others. It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to install, and it will help reduce any other sounds your mechanical keyboard might be making.

Alternatively, you can try installing sound-dampening foam between the base of your keyboard and the PCB. This is an inexpensive and easy way to reduce the noise level of your keyboard, but it will take a significant amount of time to apply the foam and will not be as effective as some other methods listed here.

In addition to using foam, you can also try replacing your current switch with a silent switch. These are typically more expensive than their squeaky counterparts, but they will dramatically cut down on the noise your keys make.

Aside from these, there are a number of other ways you can quiet your mechanical keyboard down without changing the switches. These include changing the placement of your keyboard, adjusting the surface on which you’re typing, or using a desk mat to dampen any vibrational noises it might be producing.

4. Sound-Dampening Foam

If you want to dampen the sound of your mechanical keyboard for a quieter typing experience, it’s best to look for keyboards that include pre-installed case and plate foam. These foams are made out of EVA or neoprene, and they offer efficient sound dampening qualities that can help you achieve the quietest possible typing experience.

Aside from making your mechanical keyboard more quiet, sound-dampening foam can also reduce key vibration and make it easier to type on. However, it’s important to note that this mod can be difficult to implement and requires a lot of time, effort, and skill.

For example, some keyboards are able to absorb more than 50% of sound with minimal reflections. This is because of the soft and spongy air bubbles that can be found in many types of foam.

Foam also absorbs low-frequency sounds like thumping, tapping, and clapping. This is beneficial for rooms with low ceilings, especially those that are prone to vibrations from neighbors.

Another good way to reduce sound is to add some mass loaded vinyl (MLV). This is a material that’s typically used for flooring but can also be installed on walls or ceilings. It’s much more dense than drywall and is more resistant to cracking or breaking.

You can find this material in a variety of sizes and textures, from pyramids to egg cartons to checkerboard patterns. You can even buy panels in a variety of colors for a more appealing look.

Adding a layer of shelf liner to the inside of your keyboard can muffle some of the sounds that it generates, but it doesn’t perform as well as packing foam or mass loaded vinyl. This material can be easily obtained at a hardware store or ordered on Amazon, but it may require cutting into pieces that fit within your case.

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