The keyboard is your shield, shoes, items, typewriter, and everything when it comes to gaming, writing, note taking, or researching. Your keyboard probably even got you here.
Unfortunately, keyboards don’t last forever.
Some parts of the keyboard last longer than others. Mechanical switches, aluminum frames, and custom keycaps all have a lifespan, which we will discuss in detail in this article.
We’ll take a look at the parts of the keyboard that last the shortest, which materials are the best in terms of longevity, and discuss what to consider when shopping for a quality, long-lasting keyboard. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how long do keyboard last and how to pick the one that’s going to last you the longest.
Different Keyboard Materials and Their Longevity
More often than not, keyboards are made out of plastic, sometimes you see metal, and rarely you’ll see wood.
Other than that, the materials used might be for aesthetic and not practical use, so for this case, we’ll just be looking at plastic, metal, and wood.
In most cases, it would seem like plastic is a good material as it is strong, cheap, and easily contorted. This makes it great for devices like keyboards.
While plastic is great, for something with structure and something that needs strength, metal is nearly always better for longevity.
With the downsides of being heavier, more difficult to contort in some cases, and more expensive, it has the upsides of being stronger, more reliable, and can survive more impact and rage-quits.
You obviously don’t need to have a full-metal keyboard, but keyboards with a durable metal frame will always last longer than all-plastic keyboards. This is especially true if you travel or move your keyboard often.
The next to look at is wood. Wooden keyboards are hit or miss. While there are some high-quality wooden keyboards, you’ll often run into cheap keyboards that won’t last longer than an average plastic keyboard.
However, high-end wooden keyboards hold a similar lifespan to plastic and metal keyboards of about 15 years, depending on the quality of the wood, how it is taken care of, and how it was prepared.
Overall, when it comes to keyboard materials and their longevity, a good mix of metal frame and high-quality plastic is your best bet. That’s not to say you can’t buy a quality all-plastic or wooden keyboard that’s going to last a long time, but opting for a metal/plastic mix is the safest way to get a long-lasting keyboard.
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How Long Do Keycaps Last?
The world of keycaps is no stranger to anyone with a keyboard, especially if you have a mechanical keyboard. There are thousands of keycap designs that can be interchanged and customized, allowing for some incredible and unique aesthetics.
However, if you’re not careful, keycaps could also be one of the shortest-lasting parts of the keyboard
Keycaps can last anywhere from a few months to a few years. It all depends on whether you get quality, double-shot keycaps or regular ones with printed characters.
Double-shot PBT keycaps use two pieces of plastic molded into each other; therefore, the characters cannot fade, no matter how much you try.
Trustworthy brands like Corsair, Razer, and Logitech have nearly perfected this craft and comfortably make double-shot PBT keycaps that will last the life of your keyboard.
However, even if you have high-quality keycaps, your mileage may vary based on how much you use your keyboard and certain keys. As a hardcore gamer, you’ll have to replace your W A S D keycaps once every couple of years, maybe even more, if you want to maintain a certain level of aesthetics.
If you’re a casual user and don’t need to have new and shiny custom keycaps every year, then you should be able to go years without ever having to worry about buying new ones.
All in all, the keycaps should never pose a big problem when it comes to keyboard longevity. Make sure you’re getting quality, double-shot PBT keycaps, and you are good to go. Quality keycaps like these will easily last 20+ years.
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How Long Do Keyboard Switches Last?
Switches are, without a doubt, the most important part of any keyboard. Switches are the key factor in your keyboard’s performance (along with a couple of other factors) and are responsible for the sound your keyboard makes and the feedback you receive every time you press a key.
Speaking of feedback, there are generally three types of mechanical switches you can choose from that will determine the sounds and feel of your keys. These include:
- Linear mechanical switches (smooth stroke, no feedback)
- Tactile mechanical switches (tactile bump, quiet feedback)
- Clicky mechanical switches (tactile bump, audible feedback)
It’s important to note that the type of switch you choose (either linear, tactile, or clicky) for your keyboard will only result in different feedback, not a longer or shorter lifespan.
More important in terms of longevity is the manufacturer you choose and, even more importantly, the technology inside the switch.
In recent years, some of the biggest keyboard manufacturers (Razer, for example) started implementing a brand new technology for gaming keyboard switches–Optical switches.
These switches are much better compared to traditional switches in nearly every category–They are faster, easier on the fingers, and have a much longer lifespan.
You can even choose from the same feedback types as the mechanical switches–Linear, Tactile, and Clicky.
The only real drawback is the price. As a ”new technology”, companies aren’t afraid to charge anywhere from 20-50% more for a keyboard with optical switches.
So, generally speaking, if you’re specifically looking for a keyboard that’s going to last the longest, consider a keyboard with optical switches.
To help you out, we put together a list of the most durable switches available on the market. Have a look at the table below:
As you can see, the longest-lasting mechanical switches are made by CherryMX, one of the most, if the most popular switch manufacturer on the planet. They guarantee a lifespan of 100 million+ clicks. Given that the average user presses the keyboard, let’s say, 5000 times every day, these mechanical switches should last approximately 50 years.
Not bad, right?
With that being said, our recommendation still is and will be optical switches. Besides being much faster and better for gaming (not so much for typing), there is also fewer mechanical parts inside the switch and, therefore, a lesser probability of the switch breaking or malfunctioning.
The bottom line is, if you want your keyboard to last at least a couple of decades, make sure to invest in mechanical switches from a reputable vendor such as CherryMX or Kailh. If you want to take it a step further, get a quality keyboard with optical switches–These have the potential to last you the longest.
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How Long Do Keyboard Cables Last?
Something thought less about, but still extremely important, are keyboard cables. If you are like us, then you have a wireless keyboard.
However, chances are you’re not. There are still significantly more wired keyboards being sold than their wireless counterparts. And, if you don’t have a detachable cable (and therefore easily replaceable), you can easily run into issues if your cable is low-quality on not being handled properly.
Cables come in many sizes and designs, and the material market is not as big as others, but you can get a couple of different kinds of cables.
You can get a straight cable, coiled cable, rubber, braided, double-sleeved cable with a gold-plated USB connector–There are a bunch of options, and even more when you start customizing your keyboard.
In terms of lastingness, some cables are definitely more durable compared to others. But generally, if you handle your keyboard well while traveling–Not bending the ends of your cables–Then you don’t have to worry about the cable being the reason why you have to replace the keyboard.
Cables can last tens of years if you treat them right and don’t bend them into oblivion. Especially keyboard cables, as you don’t have to move them often.
But, if you know you’re not gentle with your peripherals or you travel frequently, get either a wireless keyboard or one with a detachable cable: This way, you won’t have to worry about twisting, bending, or damaging your keyboard’s cable any other way.
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So How Long Do Keyboards Actually Last? And How to Buy a Long-Lasting Keyboard?
In theory, there are a lot of factors that can directly affect the lifespan of your keyboard–The chassis can break if your gaming sessions get intense, the cable might stop working if you bend it frequently, the characters on your keycaps might fade after some time, and the switches can break after a week if you simply get unlucky.
So, where does that leave us? And how long do keyboards last then?
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t skimp out on your keyboard if you want to get serious mileage out of it. If you’re looking for a new keyboard, make sure the keyboard has the following:
- Detachable cable – so you can easily swap it for a new one if it stops working
- Double-shot PBT keycaps – so the characters on your keyboard won’t ever fade
- Durable metal chassis or backplate for extra durability
- Quality switches from a reputable manufacturer, preferably optical switches
If you buy a keyboard equipped with all features above, you can expect it to last 10-15+ years, or even longer than that if you get lucky.
A keyboard like that will obviously cost you way more than a regular one. Speaking from experience, however, it’s much better to buy a quality keyboard that’s going to last years than to buy a crappy one every other year.
Lastly, make sure you treat your keyboard well and clean it regularly. That alone adds significantly to the lifespan of any component!
We really hope you enjoyed this article and learned a thing or two. If you have a question or need a hand with anything, feel free to ask in the comment section below, and we will be more than happy to help you out. We love hearing from you!