Gamers place high demands on gaming keyboards: The keys must be triggered precisely, reliably, quickly, and comfortably. Gamers also want additional functions such as special keys for macro programming or colorful RGB lighting – ideally with programmable individual key lighting.
Mechanical switches: robust but expensive
If you expect the highest precision and durability from a keyboard, then you cannot avoid mechanical switches. The industry leader is the manufacturer Cherry with MX technology. In combination with the so-called “gold crosspoint contact technology” and a metal spring, these switch modules can withstand 50 million keystrokes. The modules themselves are available in different versions to meet different preferences: Depending on the color of the switch, the buttons release with more or less force, after a longer or shorter switching path or linearly (without a noticeable pressure point) or tactile (with a noticeable pressure point).
Meanwhile, however, there is also strong competition for the Cherry MX switches from various manufacturers: The Romer-G from Logitech (in cooperation with Omron), the QS1 from Steelseries, or the Kailh modules from Kaihua – Razer also leaves the latter manufacture his bright green switches. Which switch is ultimately the right one for you is decided by your very own taste. So go to the nearest shop to try out the different switches!
Mechanical keyboards cost more than traditional keyboards. Cheap models use the rubber dome technology or variants thereof. However, this variant is to be blamed for not having the durability and precision of the mechanical modules. But if you don’t call yourself a hardcore gamer, but just venture into a leisurely game from time to time, you will be well served with it.
Ghosting and key rollover
In games or in other applications it is often the case that the user has to press several buttons at the same time in order to carry out certain actions. With rubber dome or cheaper models, however, it can happen that the keyboard adds either additionally or instead forwards incorrect, nearby keys to the system – this phenomenon is called “ghosting”. To avoid this problem, you should look out for the term “anti-ghosting”.
However, this is not a real guarantee of error-free input: Manufacturers often only equip certain keys or groups with anti-ghosting, such as WASD. The so-called key rollover describes the maximum number of keys that you can press simultaneously so that the system can still recognize them correctly. A full key rollover describes that you can press all keys at the same time; a number before the key rollover limits the number accordingly.
RGB key lighting: expensive addition
Enthusiasts and gamers who value a uniform look on the desk choose models with RGB key lighting. In some cases, it is even possible to have each individual key shine in a different color. Effects such as pulsating lights or a rainbow, which can be programmed in the drivers, provide variety.
Sometimes the lighting can also be useful. Depending on the version, the LEDs can, for example, show the state of health or the countdown until the potion or spell is available again. However, this type of lighting usually costs a hefty premium. Cheaper models therefore only have single-color lighting or do without it completely. If you don’t need the play of colors, you save hard cash!
Of course, there are also cheaper RGB keyboards like the MK25 mechanical gaming keyboard which offers a full keyboard RGB lighting design with a variety of lighting effects.
Comfort functions: macros and multimedia control
If you know what macros are, the chances are high that you will use them too. So keep an eye out for keyboards that have separate macro keys for programming your own key combinations. MMO or MOBA players, in particular, like to use macros to execute sequences of spells and other things with just one touch of a button.
Further equipment: Braided cables and additional connections
Pay attention to a braided (sleeved) cable – this is much more robust because a cable break can happen quickly. If your PC is hidden or located further away, it benefits from USB and audio connections on the keyboard – these are often only available on more expensive gaming keyboards.
As you can see there is a lot to pay attention to when buying a gaming keyboard. Of course, a lot also depends on the budget because better keyboards are obviously more expensive.