How long are millions of keystrokes and clicks, in years?

When you look at the technical specifications for modern gaming keyboards and mice, do you notice that many manufacturers provide life span estimations like: this keyboard will last 80 million keypresses or this mouse will last 30 million clicks? But what do these metrics actually mean? Can you use them to estimate how many years these products will last? I wanted to answer these questions and I have performed my own experiments, using software that tracks my day-to-day computer usage patterns. Here’s what I have learned:

What kind of computer user are you? Learn with WhatPulse!

I am the kind of computer user who writes a lot and plays regularly on his computer. I do lots of standard work in Microsoft Office, just like any other business user, lots of web browsing and I also play games like League of Legends, Diablo 3, Company of Heroes, The Witcher, Age of Empires and Transistor.

During working hours, I tend to use the keyboard a lot more than the mouse and I press many keys on the keyboard. However, the most used keys are Space and Backspace, which makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. When I play games, I press just a few keys on the keyboard that allow me to control my in-game character. For example, in League of Legends, I often press the following keys: Q, W, E, R, D and F. When I play shooters or role playing games, I press a lot the following keys: W, A, S, D.

In order to know how much you type and you click, on average, per day and what keys you tend to press more often and which mouse click buttons, you need to install a specialized app and monitor yourself for at least a week, if not several weeks. We recommend that you try WhatPulse and use this application to understand more about your typing and clicking habits. Then, based on this data, you can realistically estimate how much your next keyboard or mouse will last. If you need some help learning how it works and how to use it, read this guide: How many key presses and mouse clicks do you perform in a day?.

How long is 50 million keypresses in years?

After using WhatPulse for a month, it has revealed that I press on average, 11698 keys per day or 4.2 million key presses per year. Obviously, I don’t press the same key 11.000 times a day and you need to look at the key that you press most often. In my case, it’s Space and it represents 12% of the key presses that I make on average, in a day. This means 1404 key presses per day.

How much is this in years, if I were to buy one of the best gaming keyboards on the market? Let’s find out:

  • BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth 2016, which we reviewed here, promises an 80 million keystroke life span. This would mean 56.980 days or 156 years. Obviously, that’s a lot of time and the keyboard will stop working earlier than 156 years. Its failures won’t be generated by the lifespan of its switches.
  • Many mechanical gaming keyboards like the ASUS Strix Tactic Pro or Cooler Master Storm QuickFire Ultimate promise a lifespan of 50 million keystrokes. This means 35.612 days or 97 years. Again, that’s a lot of time and your keyboard most probably won’t break down because of the switches used, because they are very durable.

How long is 20 million clicks in years?

When it comes to mice, and especially gaming mice, some manufacturers communicate the expected life span of the mouse in how many clicks it was created to resist. After a month of usage, WhatPulse has revealed that I make 7985 mouse clicks per day or 2.9 million clicks a year. 95% of those clicks are left clicks and it means that I press the left click button 7586 times a day.

How much is this in years, if I were to buy one of the best gaming mice on the market? Let’s find out:

  • SteelSeries promises a life span of 30 million clicks for their Rival 100 gaming mouse. This means an expected life span of 3954 days or 10.5 years.
  • Most companies promise a life span of 20 million clicks for their mice. Popular examples of such mice are ASUS ROG Spatha or Logitech G303 Daedalus Apex. This means 2636 days or 7.2 years.

What should we learn from this?

After making this experiment on my own, understanding how much I type and click on average, and looking at the technical specs of many keyboards and mice, I would like to draw several conclusions:

  • The life span of the switches used in modern keyboards and mice is measured in key presses and clicks because a time based measure would not apply to all users. Different users have different usage patterns.
  • Depending on how much you type and click, the same mouse and the same keyboard will last a different time than for other people. Sometimes, these differences can be significant, based on usage patterns.
  • The switches used in gaming accessories tend to be extremely durable and most probably they won’t be the cause of your keyboard or mouse failing. Drivers are a lot more likely to fail than the hardware, while the electronics used in a keyboard and a mouse will last a lot less than the switches.
  • Life span estimations in keystrokes and clicks are just marketing buzz with no real value in estimating the true life span of what you are about to buy. These estimations only tell you that the manufacturer is using high quality switches that are very durable. However, the lifespan of the keyboard (or that of the mouse) is as long as that of its weakest component. The electronics inside a keyboard or mouse are likely to fail years before any switch will cause the most minor issue.
  • Manufacturers should provide other metrics for estimating the durability of their devices that take into consideration the other components inside a keyboard or mouse, which are likely to fail years before the switches that are used.

What do you think?

Now that you know my view on this subject and what I have learned while trying to estimate how much my keyboard and mouse are going to last, I would like you to share your view on the subject. What do you think about the life span metrics used by manufacturers for their keyboards and mice? Are they useful to you? Do you take them into consideration when buying such products? Let us know in the comments below.