A keyboard is an essential part of every computer whether it’s a PC or a laptop. However, not every keyboard is the same.
Some are geared toward a more comfortable typing experience, while others are fine-tuned for high-performance gaming. Finding a keyboard that will let you improve your gaming skills and eliminate discomfort is a must for anyone looking to competitively play video games.
But a keyboard is a keyboard, right? Is it really necessary to shell out the extra cash for a fancy tricked-out keyboard?
The short answer is, yes! When you’re gaming, the keyboard is a main source of input to your PC, so it really is important that you choose one that’s fast and durable.
Otherwise, your gameplay will be adversely affected. All keyboards are not created equal!
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What is a ‘Gaming’ Keyboard?
Before we dive into what makes a gaming keyboard different from other types, we want to give a word of caution: some so-called gaming keyboards are really just regular keyboards with a flashy design and a higher price tag.
That’s right, sometimes it’s just marketing. So don’t let yourself be duped into paying extra for something that ultimately won’t improve your game. Read the fine print before buying the priciest box on the shelf.
Your gaming keyboard should be equipped with the following features:
- N-Key rollover. On a traditional keyboard, only one key at a time will register, even if you’re pressing several keys at the same time. So, you want to make sure that your keyboard will register simultaneous inputs.
- Programmable keys. This gives you the ability to set controls and shortcuts based on which keys you tend to hit the most. A customized keyboard may not be necessary, but it can give you a nice advantage. Just check to be sure that the programming is not frustratingly complicated, or you won’t even want to use this feature.
- Dedicated media keys. If you just can’t play without your favorite playlist, you definitely want to make sure your keyboard offers this media option. That way you can adjust volume or change music without having to leave or pause your game program.
While any old keyboard can work for gaming, when it comes to competitive online games, it’s worth seeking out a unit that has some of these special features to avoid slowing things down or giving your opponents an advantage.
Make Sure It Is Comfortable!
Keyboards that provide a comfortable experience make gaming more fun. Built-in wrist rests or a height that allows for easy typing angles are a must.
Another thing to consider when choosing a keyboard is keycap profile. This refers to the size and shape of your keycaps and keyboard.
There are several different profile options to choose from, and all are designed to be ergonomically comfortable.
There is no official best keycap profile for gaming keyboards, though. It really boils down to which one you personally find most comfortable.
Mechanical is a Must for Consistency
Two basic designs exist when it comes to keyboards: membrane and mechanical.
Membrane keyboards are small and travel well, and they have a quiet, smooth feel. They also are less expensive than other types.
Mechanical keyboards are larger and less affordable than membrane versions, but they have faster feedback and are programmable, making them a good choice if you’re looking for something that will be more intuitive.
If you want to know which type of keyboard will be best for gaming, the answer is mechanical keyboards every time, hands down.
Getting better at gaming requires your equipment to be as consistent as possible. Mechanical keyboard switches have distinct actuation points that maintain consistency.
This means your keys are going to signal reliably every time. A membrane keyboard will not be your friend in a fast-paced gaming session.
You need something that will respond even if you’re hitting multiple keys in rapid succession. So do yourself a favor and spring for a mechanical model.
Backlit Keyboards Make Gaming in the Dark Possible
Okay, so maybe this feature isn’t entirely necessary for gaming performance per se, but if you can find a keyboard you like that comes with LED lights, you’ll be glad you got it!
How many times have you found yourself gaming in pitch dark because you didn’t get up to switch the lights on after sunset? Or maybe you prefer the immersive experience of leaving the lights dim. A backlit keyboard makes navigation much easier.
Some keyboards come with super-cool RGB lighting in all different colors that looks like a laser light show. These are highly sought after by some people, but others find all the bells and whistles distracting.
RGB lighting is a personal preference, and doesn’t in any way make you a better gamer.
Wired is the Way to Go for Gaming
Bluetooth has come a long way, for sure, but don’t be tempted to get a wireless keyboard for gaming, especially if you play online eSports. There is simply too much delay, and sometimes even a fraction of a second makes all the difference.
A wireless connection is a huge disadvantage because of this. There is just too much time lapse between a button being pressed and the signal being registered by the computer.
That’s not to say you have to use a wired connection any time you play a game on your PC, but for competitive online games, you definitely want to be plugged in.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about which keyboards are best for gaming. Do you have a favorite gaming keyboard? We’d love to hear about it. Add your tips, questions and recommendations in the comments below!