What are Chiclet keyboards and are they good for gaming?

  • Keycaps 101
  • Posted by: carson-rutz
  • Oct 11, 2022

The increasing popularity of mechanical keyboards has drawn the attention of both keyboard enthusiasts and general consumers to the various keyboard types. The Chiclet keyboard is one of the hottest trends if you're looking for a new keyboard.

Many people are confused by the word "Chiclet" keyboard and wonder what benefits it has over mechanical keyboards.

In today's post, we will dig more deeply into the definition of Chiclet keyboard. Besides, you will get a list of the top 10 Chiclet keyboards at the end of this post.

Definition of chiclet keyboard

Chiclet keyboards, also known as island-style keyboards, are a type of computer keyboard with distinct, square, or rectangular and low-profile keys that resemble tiny, isolated "islands" on the keyboard surface. Chiclet keyboards are often found on laptops and other portable devices, but they are also becoming increasingly popular on desktop computers.

Chiclet keyboards
Chiclet keyboards

Chiclet keyboards are a modified version of membrane keyboards. Chiclet keyboards contain individual keycaps that rest on top of the membrane layer, in contrast to standard membrane keyboards that have a single, continuous membrane sheet that houses all of the keys. The keys are usually made of plastic or rubber and are named after the popular chewing gum that has a similar shape. These keys are a low profile, typically regularly spaced, and have little space between them. In comparison to some other keyboard varieties, they frequently have a gentle, silent keystroke that makes less noise.

Whether you're a tech enthusiast or just looking to optimize your typing experience, immediately explore the world of keyboard sizes and layouts in our comprehensive guide.

Key Characteristics of Chiclet Keyboards 

Actuation of a chiclet keyboard
Actuation of a chiclet keyboard

Here are some key characteristics of chiclet keyboards:

  • Flat and Flush: Chiclet keys are flat and sit nearly flush with the keyboard's surface, which gives the keyboard a sleek and minimalist appearance. Chiclet keyboards are also simple to clean and maintain thanks to their flat key design, which has fewer gaps where dust and other particles might collect.
  • Minimal Key Travel: Chiclet keys have shorter key travel, meaning they don't require as much vertical movement to register a keypress compared to traditional keyboards. The reduced key travel makes typing more responsive, quicker, and more accurate.
  • Molded rubber keys: Chiclet keyboards feature a single rubber sheet with individual electrical switches under each key. The keys, typically made of rubber or plastic, have a tactile feel with slight resistance and feedback, making typing comfortable and satisfying.

Whether you're a gaming enthusiast or a productivity pro, understanding these switch types can significantly impact your keyboard performance. Don't miss out on optimizing your typing experience. Read our detailed post about the in-depth comparison between Linear vs Tactile vs Clicky Switches now and make an informed choice for the perfect switch that suits your needs.

Now that we have a clear understanding of what defines a Chiclet keyboard let's explore the pros and cons associated with this style of keyboard.

Pros of Chiclet Keyboards 

Pros of chiclet keyboards
Pros of chiclet keyboards
  • Tactile Feedback: When keys are pressed, some chiclet keyboards provide a tactile and slightly springy sensation. This tactile feel offers a comfortable typing experience, easing strain and exhaustion during lengthy typing sessions. 
  • Modern Aesthetic: Chiclet keyboards have a sleek and minimalist appearance thanks to the flat, uniform key design, which may be visually appealing to consumers who value contemporary design aesthetics.
  • Easy to clean: It’s simpler to clean keycaps of chiclet keyboards than mechanical ones due to their flat design and space between the keys. For users who are meticulous about cleanliness, maintenance is easier because there are fewer crevices where dust and debris might collect.
  • Quieter Typing: Due to the shorter key travel and scissor-switch mechanism, Chiclet keyboards tend to produce quieter typing sounds compared to traditional mechanical keyboards. This can be advantageous in quiet working environments, such as cafes and libraries.
  • Affordability: They are often more affordable than high-end mechanical keyboards, making them accessible to a wide range of users.

Cons of Chiclet Keyboards

Cons of chiclet keyboards
Cons of chiclet keyboards
  • Potential Durability Problems: Chiclet keys may be more prone to wear and tear over time due to their low profile, particularly if they are made of thinner or less resilient materials. The labels on the keys may fade with time or become less sensitive from heavy usage, necessitating replacement or repairs.
  • Lack of native N-Key Rollover and anti-ghosting features: Chiclet keyboards frequently lack built-in anti-ghosting and N-Key Rollover (NKRO) functions. They are less suitable for competitive gaming situations since they lack these characteristics, which can be a big disadvantage for gamers who need quick and accurate inputs.
  • Low customization: Chiclet keyboards frequently have fewer programmable keys and may not provide sophisticated software customization possibilities. This may have a different level of flexibility and adaptability than keyboards with greater customization possibilities, which might be a drawback for users who rely on specific key combinations for activities like work or gaming.

What is a chiclet keyboard used for?

A chiclet keyboard can be used for various purposes, depending on the user’s needs and preferences. Some of the common uses of a chiclet keyboard are:

Laptop keyboard: Chiclet keyboards are the standard type of keyboard for most laptops, as they offer portability, durability, and affordability. They also save space and weight by eliminating the need for a separate numeric keypad or function keys.

Chiclet keyboards are used for laptop keyboards
Chiclet keyboards are used for laptop keyboards

Portable keyboard: Chiclet keyboards are also popular for portable devices, such as tablets, smartphones, or smart TVs. They can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth or USB dongle and provide a full-size keyboard experience on a small screen. They can also fold or roll up for easy storage and transport.

Portable chiclet keyboard
Portable chiclet keyboard

Cheap PDAs: Chiclet keyboards are frequently used by inexpensive Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) as a cost-effective input device. Chiclet keyboards offer a practical and affordable alternative, despite not being as sophisticated as some other keyboard types. 

Chiclet keyboard are used for cheap pdas
Chiclet keyboard are used for cheap pdas

Small handheld calculator keyboard: Chiclet keyboards are also commonly used for calculators, especially scientific or graphing calculators. They provide a simple and reliable way to input numbers and symbols without requiring complex mechanisms or electronics.

Small handheld calculator use chiclet keyboard
Small handheld calculator use chiclet keyboard

Remote control keyboard: Chiclet keyboards are also sometimes used for remote controls, especially those that have smart features or internet access. They allow users to navigate menus, search content, or enter passwords more easily than using arrow keys or on-screen keyboards. 

Remote control keyboard
Remote control keyboard

Are Chiclet Keyboards Considered Membrane Keyboards?

Chiclet keyboards and membrane keyboards are both types of keyboards that use a single plate or membrane of electrical switches to register keypresses. However, they have different designs, performance, and aesthetics.

Chiclet keyboards have low-profile, rectangular keycaps that are spaced apart from each other. They also have an extra layer of feedback material that creates a buckling mechanism when the keys are pressed. This gives them a more tactile and responsive feel than membrane keyboards. Chiclet keyboards are also more compact, sleek, and modern-looking than membrane keyboards. They are often used in laptops and are good for typing and gaming.

Membrane keyboards have dome-shaped keycaps that are closely packed together. They have no extra layer of feedback material, so they rely on the contact between the electrical switches and the key tops to register keypresses. This makes them less tactile and responsive than chiclet keyboards, but also more silent and comfortable for long typing sessions. Membrane keyboards are also more durable and resistant to dust and spills than chiclet keyboards. They are mainly used with desktops and are suitable for casual gaming.

Overall, chiclet keyboards are considered a type of membrane keyboard that offers a number of advantages over traditional ones, such as improved comfort, responsiveness and accuracy.

Feature Chiclet Keyboards Membrane Keyboards
Look Modern, sleek keys with less key travel Standard look with bulkier keys and more key travel
Design and Build Sleek and sturdy Bulky and simple
Usage Commonly used in laptops Mainly used with desktops
Sound level Louder Much quieter
Typing Experience More tactile feedback, good for typing Lacks tactile feedback
Gaming Experience Better gaming experience More suitable for casual gaming
Maintenance and Cost Higher cost, requires more maintenance Cheaper, easy to maintain
Lifespan 1-3 years 1-1.5 years with heavy usage
Chiclet keyboards are a type of membrane keyboard
Chiclet keyboards are a type of membrane keyboard

Chiclet vs Mechanical Keyboard 

Chiclet keyboards vs mechanical keyboards: quick comparison 
Chiclet keyboards vs mechanical keyboards: quick comparison
Chiclet Keyboards Mechanical Keyboards
Key Design Flat, relatively low-profile keys Thick and high keys
Key Travel Short travel distances Long travel distances 
Tactile Feedback Minimal tactile feedback Distinct tactile feedback
Maintenance Hard to clean Simple to clean
Durability More susceptible to wear and tear over time More robust
Lifespan 50 million keystrokes Over 70 million keystrokes
Weight Lightweight Heavy
Noisy Less noise Quite noisy
Use Cases Typing, web browsing, content creation, office work, and portable computing Gaming, programming and entertaining
Price $10 - $50 More expensive, $50 - $250

Mechanical keyboards use mechanical switches under each keycap to register keypresses. They have three main types of switches: linear, tactile, and clicky. They also have customizable keycaps that can be made of ABS or PBT plastics. Mechanical keyboards are more tactile, responsive, and accurate than chiclet keyboards. They are ideal for gamers and typists who value precision and feedback. However, they are also more expensive, noisy, and complex than chiclet keyboards.

Chiclet keyboards use a single membrane or plate of electrical switches under the keys to register keypresses. They have low-profile, rectangular keycaps that are spaced apart from each other. They also have no extra layer of feedback material under the keys. Chiclet keyboards are more silent, comfortable, and affordable than mechanical keyboards. They are suitable for casual users who prefer a smooth and quiet typing experience. However, they are also less customizable, tactile, and durable than mechanical keyboards.

If you want to know more about the differences and similarities between them, you can check out our detailed comparison of mechanical keyboards and chiclet keyboards. You can also browse our list of the 21 best PBT keycaps if you are interested in upgrading your mechanical keyboard.

Are Chiclet keyboards good for Gaming?

Gaming brands have also experimented with implementing the chiclet keyboard technology into their keyboards, chiclet keyboards have not been very successful in the gaming keyboard market. 

Are chiclet keyboards good for gaming?
Are chiclet keyboards good for gaming?

Some chiclet keyboards are designed specifically for gaming purposes, such as those from Razer or Logitech. These gaming chiclet keyboards may have some features that can enhance gaming performance, such as Anti-ghosting technology, NKRO features to mitigate issues traditionally found on chiclet keyboards.

However, chiclet keyboards may have a more limited lifespan due to the membrane or scissor-switch technology used in their construction. This significantly affects their durability. So, gamers should be more careful when using their laptop keyboard for gaming.

Therefore, whether a chiclet keyboard is good for gaming or not depends on the individual preference and needs of the gamer. Some gamers may find chiclet keyboards comfortable and convenient, while others may find them unsatisfactory and limiting.

Are Chiclet Keyboards good for Typing?

Chiclet keyboards have proven good for typing-related tasks. They are still not the best, but they are miles ahead of the mushy membrane keyboards that come with basic desktop computers.

Are chiclet keyboards good for typing?
Are chiclet keyboards good for typing?

Chiclet keyboards provide a quiet and comfortable typing environment. They work well for routine tasks like composing documents, emails, and web browsing thanks to their low-profile design and short key travel. Additionally, the evenly spaced keys might lessen typographical errors. 

However, certain chiclet keyboards might not have the tactile feedback and key customization possibilities present in mechanical keyboards, which some users prefer for a more responsive and customized typing experience


What Does Chiclet Keyboard Mean?

A keyboard known as a Chiclet keyboard uses keys that are compact, square- or rectangle-shaped, with straight sides and rounded corners.

Is the Chiclet keyboard better?

Yes. Chiclet keyboards offer some benefits that can beat a traditional keyboard. However, it ultimately ends up with your preferences and tastes.

What is the difference between a Chiclet keyboard and a standard keyboard?

The design of a Chiclet keyboard is similar, but it features an additional upper membrane that uses a buckling mechanism to provide good tactile feedback.

Is a Chiclet keyboard good for gaming?

No. The Chiclet keyboard is not for gaming. The key cannot be turned far enough.

Are Chiclet Keyboards Good For Gaming and Typing?

In fact, the Chiclet keyboard is better for typing but not really ideal for gaming.

Can you replace the chiclet keyboard on a laptop? 

Yes. Most computers include detachable keyboards that can be changed if they break or stop working. It is advised to consult the laptop's user manual or get expert advice to ensure that the replacement process is done correctly. 

Is chiclet keyboard backlit? 

Not all chiclet keyboards have backlighting, many of them have. Therefore, if you are interested in backlighting, it is crucial to review the specs of the particular keyboard or laptop.