How to choose a gaming keyboard

Nowadays video games have been standardized. By removing exclusive titles, all console games come out on PC, and native gamepad support is a standard on computers.

But there are certain genres where the extra accuracy and the greater speed of game offered by the keyboard and mouse , are unrivaled. The shooters , strategy games in real time, or titles associated with dozens of functions to buttons, like the MMO (massively multiplayer online games), play better gaming keyboard and mouse.

It is no coincidence that many shooters do not allow PC and console players to play together, since those who play with mice have an advantage. Or that most of the games that are used in eSports, are played on PC with keyboard and mouse.

If you are going to play a lot online, you have the goal of becoming an eSport player, your dream is to become a millionaire by streaming video games , or you simply want to achieve maximum performance in games like  PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds , Fortnite , League of Legends, Overwatch, Destiny 2 , DotA2, Heroes of the Storm , etc., it’s time to buy a gaming keyboard .

In other types of hardware, adding the gaming tagline basically means faster , or more powerful . But speaking of keyboards, the technology changes completely. The keys work completely differently.

Let’s see how to choose a gaming keyboard , so you know how to buy exactly what you need.

Membrane vs. mechanical keys

Today you can get a PC keyboard  for just € 8 or € 10 , which serves both for playing and working. They are called membrane keyboards because they have a soft rubber sheet with a conductive material:

How to choose a gaming keyboardWhen you press the key the membrane yields and closes the circuit between the key and the keyboard itself that communicates with the computer, detecting the pulsation.

How to choose a gaming keyboard

This system has been maintained for decades (with different evolutions, such as the dome or rubber dome of the previous image) because it is very cheap to manufacture, reliable, and endures a lot. These keyboards can supportfive million keystrokes without problems. But when playing, they are limited.

By requiring pressure on a soft part they have a slow path, and there is no feedback with the user. You do not know if you have pressed the key a lot or a little. In addition, based on a connector that closes a circuit, in most of them only recognizes one or two keys at the same time. This is not acceptable in video games that require pressing many keys at the same time.

They are sufficient for office tasks, but they are not very good for gaming. Even so, you will find membrane gaming keyboards , with dome or rubber dome, like the previous image. They are very cheap but their performance is limited. There is also a hybrid , the metal membrane, which can be found in the Razer Ornata . 

For that reason the mechanical keyboards were born . Each key has a metal switch that closes when that key is pressed, establishing the connection that lets you know which key you have pressed.

Here you can see different types of metal keys. The red does not bounce back, and does not click. The brown offers resistance, which lets you know how hard you have pressed it, and the blue, in addition to bouncing, makes a clicking sound, which serves to know when you press keys, and the speed at which you do it:

How to choose a gaming keyboard

Keep in mind that the mechanical keys, even those that do not make sound, are noisier than membrane keys. Mechanical keyboards are not suitable for typing in environments where there are other people, as they can be very annoying.

The main advantage of metallic gaming keyboards is that each key has a separate switch, so the computer recognizes them even if you press all at once. They are more precise, faster, and more resistant, when using metal switches and springs, instead of silicone or plastic membranes. A membrane keyboard holds 4 or 5 million pulses. One mechanical, can exceed 50 million and continue to work perfectly. Its casing is also more resistant to shock.

The importance of colors

The previous GIF shows us one of the key points of metallic gaming keyboards. The colors of the keys. It is not a decorative issue, but refers to its function, and is better suited to certain types of games.

How to choose a gaming keyboard

The different types of metallic keys are grouped into three, depending on the type of switch (switch): linear, tactile, and audible.

The linear (linear) switches offer no resistance and do not make noise. The keys are pressed very fast, so they are efficient in action games where you have to react very quickly, but they also produce more errors because a slight touch causes them to be pressed. They are usually red and black. The gaming keyboards with black or red switches are used in type shooters Call of Duty .

The tactile switch offer resistance and do not click. They let you know if you press a key or a little, so they are used in games that demand precision when moving, or giving orders. They are slower but more precise, so they must be chosen if that is your style of play, or if you play many strategy games in real time , where accuracy is more important when you press, than speed . They are brown. 

The sound switches (Clicky) also offer resistance, but they also sound. They are designed to type or press the keyboard without looking. They are blue or green.

There are many more colors, but they are usually exclusive to brands, with small variations. The gaming keyboards with brown switches are the most popular.

When choosing a gaming keyboard , the first thing you have to decide is the type of keys you want, according to your favorite games or your style of play. It is best to try them somewhere, so you can see the differences. Keep in mind that there are keyboards that allow you to mix different types of switches. For example you may be interested that the arrow keys are tactile, and the rest linear.

Soon we will publish an article where we will explain in detail the differences between the different switches.

The brands of switches

In addition to the colors, there are also very popular brands of switches, such as Cherry, that are used by different keypad manufacturers. So it’s normal to find some gamer who is looking for ” a Cherry MX keyboard “.

How to choose a gaming keyboard

Keyboard manufacturers such as Razer or Logitech have their own brand of switches, although in some models they also use Cherry. Some well-known ones are Topre, Roger-G, Kaih, Steelseries, etc.

As in cars or football, consensus does not exist when deciding which is better. It’s a matter of taste.

Activation force and materials

The obsession with the detail of gamers goes so far as to consider aspects such as the strength you have to do to move a key. In the specifications of the keyboards you will see a field called Operating Force or similar, which indicates the weight that the key supports before registering the keystroke. It is measured in gram force ( gf or simply g ) or centiNewton (cN).

For example, a red Cherry MX switch  has an operating force of 45 g, while a blue one reaches 60 g. The higher this number is, the harder the key is, and it requires more force to press it. There are some that reach 80 g.

The activation time is also taken into account , which is the time it takes from when a key is pushed, until the pulsation is detected. It can be less than 2 ms. The route is the space that runs between your natural position and the position when you press.

If you are not very precise, you may be interested in having a high activation time or a high travel, so as not to press keys unintentionally.

You must also take into account the materials . The standard keyboards are made of PVC, which break with a strong blow. The quality gaming keyboards are made of metal or ABS plastic , much more resistant, and are able to withstand the sweat of the fingers (the keys are not erased) and even extreme blows against the wall. Some are also resistant to liquids.

Some gaming keyboards have interchangeable keys . You can literally remove and put keys to your liking, so you can customize them or use certain switches on the keys you use most.

There are even keys with different types, to differentiate them by touch, or with touch screens that allow you to put a text to each key.

The  rollover key

We have talked about pressing several keys at the same time, but that in the keyboards is regulated. It’s called Key rollover . Standard keyboards have a key rollover of 1 or 2 keys, and is called 1 / 2KRO . It means that they only recognize 1 or 2 keys at a time, with exceptions such as CTRL or ALT, which accept three at a time. If you press more than 2 at the same time, you will not recognize them. That ‘s what is called ghost pulsations or  ghosting . 

The best gaming keyboards are usually at least 6KRO , that is, register up to 6 keys at a time. The high-end models are NKRO, able to recognize all keys (yes, all), pressed at the same time.

The controversy of the LED

Almost all gaming keyboards include some LED function (key illumination). From single-color keys to support 16.8 million colors on each key, to create all kinds of customizable effects.

How to choose a gaming keyboardThere are players who hate LEDs, and others like it. Beyond the decorative element, some keyboards have utility LEDs, which illuminate the keys used in each game , so you do not have to memorize them, or produce a dim light to play in the dark. The Steelseries keyboards allow things like associating a counter to the lighting so that the respawn will not catch you by surprise, when they kill you in a multiplayer game.

It is convenient to check the LED functions of a keyboard, and see if they can be disconnected.

Cable or wireless?

Professional gamers often use cable gaming keyboards , via USB , because it is the fastest connection, and it never fails. But nowadays the wireless connection has improved a lot, and there are wireless gaming keyboardswith almost zero response time. Check the quality of the connection in gamer s forums before buying a wireless keyboard.

Software and macro keys

If you are going to play seriously, you also need to analyze the software that uses the keyboard. Its most common function is to create macros , that is, a series of keystrokes or mouse clicks that perform an action. You can create macros that assign complex combinations of keys to a single press, or that start up Steam, or a specific game profile.

How to choose a gaming keyboard

If you like to use macros, look for a keyboard that has many additional macro keys.

The keyboard software is also used to reconfigure all keys, activate LED functions, etc.

The price

Finally, we must value the price we pay for a gaming keyboard . They are more expensive than conventional ones, but a good gaming keyboard lasts you a lifetime.

There are very good models from € 100, and if you are not a professional player you will not notice differences with one that costs double, beyond some extra function.

Some gaming keyboards that we recommend are the Corsair K95 RGB , or the Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum , with own Romer-G switches, which now has a rebate of 40% and stays at only € 119 . The keyboards Razer gaming use their own switches green, yellow and orange, supporting up to 70 million keystrokes. The keyboards Steelseries gaming also have a good reputation.

The keyboards gaming Krom  have become very popular in recent years because they offer the advantages of a mechanical keyboard but at more affordable prices, from 70 €.

Here you have other quality gaming keyboards .

Choosing a gaming keyboard takes time, but it’s worth it. You will notice how improvements in the games and the experience will be much more pleasant, thanks to the perfect response, macros, and back lighting.


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