Gaming. It’s a popular pastime for so many people of all ages these days and gamers want to invest in good quality gaming gear. Whether that be monitors, PCs or peripherals.
If you’re comfortable with your gaming set up, you’re more likely to perform better during online battles. Of course, with peripherals such as keyboards for gaming, it’s actually down to personal preference. There isn’t just one best keyboard for everyone, as there are so many different models and styles on the market today.
It can be difficult to find a decent keyboard for gaming that’s right for you. There are tons of different styles of keyboards for gaming to choose from. With the right keyboard in your gaming set up, you can improve your overall experience – and that all-important ranking! It’s crucial to understand the key features and benefits that different keyboards offer (such as mechanical or membrane, backlighting options, wrist-rests and more). All of these added extras could greatly impact on your gaming style. We’ve come up with some important factors to consider when you’re on the hunt for a new keyboard for gaming.
Wired or wireless keyboards for gaming?
In normal PC set ups, such as the office, its usual to use a wireless keyboard as they’re handy to use and the lack of wires helps prevent desktop clutter. However, in the gaming community, wired keyboards are most preferred. This is because they provide the user with faster responses and reliability. The last thing you want to happen when you’re battling it out, is for your keyboard to disconnect or loose power.
Most gamers prefer a wired keyboard for gaming because it reacts better when connected to their PC. Having a wired keyboard prevents lagging or bad connection during high-speed gaming. They are just more reliable. Wired gaming keyboards are also easier to set up, there’s no need for long set up or installation times, you can just plug in and get back to your gaming session. Although there are wireless gaming keyboards available, they are considered a risky choice by the pro-gaming community.
For new-comers of gaming keyboards, there are some key terms that you might want to look out for. ‘Activation’ means how much pressure the user needs to put onto the key, ‘Depression required’ means how far down the user needs to push the key in order to register. And ‘Level of feedback’ basically means how the key springs back when it is released. These terms could make or break how you enjoy your gaming keyboard.
Mechanical or Membrane: Which gaming keyboard should I choose?
Gaming keyboards come with either mechanical or membrane-based keys, but the choice is usually up to the players personal preferences. Mechanical keyboards are essential for fast-paced gaming. They require less force when tapping onto the keys whilst also providing a noticeable ‘bounce-back’ response. Each key has its own mechanical switch, this enables faster response times and better feedback from the keyboard. Mechanical gaming keyboards are enjoyable to use as they provide a satisfying experience for the player, allowing them to fully immerse themselves within their game. Mechanical keyboards can also be louder when pressing down on the keys, but most users find this adds to the overall gratifying experience.
Should you choose to go with a mechanical keyboard, there are many subcategories within that style which can provide users with a more tailored experience. There is a term called ‘Cherry MX’ which is then followed by a certain colour. Think of it as a colour coding system, each colour provides different specifications and features within its keys. For example, Cherry MX Blue will have an activation weight of 50 grams a light depression weight and a click, tactile bump response.
This option variation means that you can choose the style of keyboard you actually want. The decision for the style often comes down to individual preference. Often, a stiffer and less responsive set of keys is preferred for both gaming and typing. The click noise also provides the typist an audible response while they’re working. For users that are mostly focused on gaming, a keyboard with a light activation weight and depression level with a tactile response is a popular choice.
Membrane keyboards use the same infrastructure below the keys. They tend to need a bit more force in order to push on the keys compared to mechanical models. This can sometimes provide a less responsive key depression, making the keys feel ‘sticky’. The main benefit users gain when they choose a membrane keyboard for gaming is the ease their fingers can go from one key to the next, due to the slimmer keycaps. They can also be quieter than a mechanical keyboard, which might be appealing to those late-night gaming sessions, when you’re meant to be asleep!
What is a backlit gaming keyboard?
Unlike a regular keyboard you might find in the office or at your work desk, a backlit keyboard for gaming provides optimal lighting for each individual key, even when playing in a darkened room. This allows the user to up their gaming potential as they can see the keys properly, ensuring that they can play effectively- even in the dark. Backlit keys are often activated with a gentle touch of the keys or around the keyboard itself and then usually automatically turn off after a short period in order to preserve energy.
They also look impressive and can reflect your own preferences to different specifications. As mentioned previously, Cherry MX variations are colour based, so depending on what style of typing and keys you choose this will be reflected on the colours and patterns shown.
Backlit keyboards for gaming look great and can make a colourful addition to your gaming rig. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, they are also practical for those who like to game in darker rooms. Some backlighting may also involved adjustable colour options so that you can even highlight the keys you use most often. This is an especially valued feature of most keyboards for gaming, as it allows users to game more efficiently.
Does my gaming keyboard need wrist rests?
Sitting comfortably and having an ergonomic set-up for your gaming rig is an essential for long sessions. The last thing you want is an uncomfortable neck or wrist afterwards. A wrist rest could be something you might want to consider if you want to prevent strain to your arm or wrists occurring. A wrist rest usually sits just below the keyboard, and is a padded piece of cushioning that ensures your hands are positioned correctly whilst also providing support for your wrists. This can help to prevent repetitive straining of your hands, wrists and arms as they are more level with the keypad.
Of course, not everyone finds wrist rests comfortable or necessary, and you can usually do without them if you only use your keyboard for minimal usage. But for heavy-duty gaming sessions, you should choose a keyboard that is going to provide you with long lasting support. There’s nothing worse than having aches and pains after a gaming session, that’s why it might be a good idea to choose a keyboard for gaming that has a built- in wrist support.
It’s worth noting that you can find separate wrist-rests that aren’t attached to the actual keyboard. This could be a good option for those who want to tailor their support in order to fully benefit from it.
What are programmable gaming keyboards?
For those of you who play fast-paced games, you’ll already understand the struggle of trying to make complicated keystrokes at a moment’s notice. Macro keys allow gamers to complete a task on the keyboard with just one click, which otherwise can be time-consuming when you’re in the middle battling it out.
By using macro keys, users can program an individual key to be able to complete a specific action in just one hit of a button. This takes out the tedious series of keystrokes and streamlines it into just one click, making gaming battles much easier to win. There are amazing benefits from having a programmable keyboard that the use of macro keys is usually banned from gaming competitions. If you are a die-hard gamer, you might want to consider this feature, especially if your games consist of repetitive clicking and tapping of various keys. Macro keys allow you to fully tailor your keyboard to suit you and your gaming needs.
What is a smart gaming keyboard?
There are now some keyboards for gaming with inbuilt LCD track panels on the right side. They are multi-touch and provide extra information to help you get the most out of your computer. In-game vital stats, such as maps and game notifications are displayed. They are the perfect multitasking tool as you can also use integrated apps, like web browsers or YouTube, without having to take your attention away from the main gaming event.
Serious gamers can benefit from the connectivity options a smart gaming keyboard offer. Of course, all this technology can affect the overall price, but if you believe that a smart keyboard could help you with your gamer score, we think it’s worth the investment.
How much do they cost?
For most of us, gaming keyboards are a long- term investment. We want to ensure that they’re going to be good long-term value for money, whilst still providing good quality typing and clicking! Of course, some features in gaming keyboards can increase the overall price, compared to a standard keyboard. If you plan on using your keyboard every day or for long periods, you might want to consider a keyboard which carries extra useful features, in order to make it more suitable for long-term use. Features such as in-built ports like USB pass-through or mic in / out options or more high-tech features such as LCD track panels could all help to make your gaming easier. But of course, these added extras can bump up the price.
Different features are a personal preference, and it’s important to remember that they might not be suitable for what you need your gaming keyboard for. You should also remember that it is pointless breaking the bank for extras that you’re not going to use. Most keyboards for gaming range between £50 and £200, so you are likely to find a model that’s great for your gaming sessions whilst keeping within your budget. Of course, more expensive doesn’t always mean better quality. You could find a good value budget gaming keyboard that will work and perform well, it just might be lacking some of the key features other models have.
In summary, there are lot’s of different factors to consider when looking for a new keyboard for gaming, and a lot of what you could go for will be dependent on your own individual style and tastes. It’s hard to determine what the best keyboard for gaming is, as it’s often a matter of personal preference. There are loads of models available, all with different features which could make or break your gaming experience. That’s why it’s important for you to understand what you want from your gaming keyboard and do a little bit of research, to see which model will suit you best.