Being a gamer comes with a lot of additional decisions, once you get into the hobby. You need to know which gaming PC system to get, which workstation set up would be best for you, which chair is the most comfortable… the list goes on.
One slightly more confusing choice for a gamer that does take a little bit of research and looking around, is choosing the correct keyboard. As odd as this may sound in the beginning, there actually is an abundance of different styles and options to choose from when purchasing a keyboard – especially for gamers.
To make your time a little better spent, below I’ll be discussing the buyer’s guide to gaming keyboards, giving you all the information you need to be able to find the best one for you!
Styles of Keyboard
Gaming keyboards are very different from the ones we use in the office at work or at home when shopping online. A regular keyboard would produce ordinary response and performance, fit for our day-to-day tasks. However, a gaming keyboard is considerably faster and more powerful, some even being specially designed for championship gaming use. This results in the keyboard having a far faster response to its input and being able to withstand heavy-duty use.
Each keyboard works differently to benefit the persons use. Whether that be for normal typewriting, personal use, or serious championship gaming!
It is a good idea to start here when deciding on a keyboard as this is somewhat the skeleton of what you will choose – and you want the parts to work! You don’t want to research into a stunning keyboard only to find that it is better suited to someone who isn’t a gamer – so beginning with the very underlying details is a good place to start.
The first style of keyboard is the simple membrane keyboard. This is a light and rather ordinary board. What makes it a membrane is the fact that is is made up of pressure-sensitive pads. This means that each key is not separate, but all attached to the same board, and use pressure to determine which key is being pressed.
If you come across the trouble of your keyboard producing the wrong letter on your screen after you pressed a key, you probably have a membrane keyboard… that also needs fixing. Sadly this keyboard is not known to be great when it comes to gaming or even typing for that matter, due to it being able to gain sensitivity issues like explained above. So, if you’re serious about gaming, this keyboard style may not be for you.
Secondly, there is a mechanical keyboard. This is a very tactile and durable keyboard set up as it is a lot faster. This is because it is spring activated, making the keys able to work better based on the user’s preference. Many gamers, enjoy using a mechanical keyboard for these exact reasons. They also like the confidence of the keyboard, knowing that each key they press will be the one performed on their screen and the keyboard will only be their helping hand in becoming a great gamer.
The last style of keyboard is a dome switch. This keyboard is a hybrid combination of both the membrane and mechanical keyboards. In the circuit, you would see the keyboard bring the two styles together, underneath a rubber mat. This gives it the ‘rubber dome switch’ name. The dome aspect is the part that causes a reaction once a key is pressed.
Instead of using a spring or sensitive pad like the following two keyboards, this one uses a dome-shaped piece of metal or silicone. This acts to move down when pressed, to allow the key to performing on your screen. These are now a very common style of a keyboard as the rubber dome styling has become a popular preference for switch choices.
Another very important aspect of a keyboard is the layout. By this, I mean how many keys you will have, where they are situated and how they will work.
As a basis, most keyboards have between 88 to 101 keys, which is actually quite a large difference when it comes down to use. You don’t want a keyboard full of keys that are never going to be touched. This will ultimately take up more room on a workstation, and valuable space that could hold a key of more significance to yourself. For example, do you want your keyboard to have macro keys? (the small number pad on the right side). If you don’t, then these can actually be removed and replaced, or just left out completely.
One recommendation that many game users would suggest having on your keyboard are the media keys. These are the play, pause, skip and volume buttons. These would be very beneficial to have on your board as they make it possible to adjust your gameplay without having to remove your hands from your keyboard. These keys could ultimately be the difference to whether you win or lose a game.
It is a good point to keep your budget in mind while you are looking for a keyboard. While if you have the ability to move up in price if it comes to it, some people have a set amount that cannot be moved (unless it’s reduced of course). So, instead of looking at keyboards that are far from what you can afford, focus on getting a good quality one in your budget – it’ll be a better use of your time!
Like everything else, many people will head for the best brand of the keyboard to decide which one they choose, as they believe the better the brand, the better performance they will get from their keyboard.
While this can sometimes be the case, non-branded keyboards have just an as good performance for beginner gamers, and they can cost as little as £30. However, if it is definitely branded that you would like to go for, then there are still some cheaper alternatives of mechanical keyboards from the £40 mark.
Many gamers suggest that having a price point of around £80 will get you a really great starting keyboard with beneficial qualities. But, if you want the best, putting aside about £150 would get you a serious gaming board.
Make sure you take the time to research when you are finding the best price for a keyboard. Sometimes we are quick to jump at the first opportunity when we finally find the keyboard that we want. However, looking around a few shops or online stores may lead you to find the one you want at a far cheaper price (which is good for anyone, even if you can afford the best of the best).
Looking around and hopefully saving a bit of money might allow you to buy a slightly more expensive pair of headphones, or mouse to match your keyboard!
Depending on how you will be using your keyboard, will determine how long it will last.
The average life expectancy for a high end, a mechanical keyboard is around 50 million clicks. This can decrease the lifespan if you are using it for heavier duty use, such as intense gaming and pressing on your keys extremely hard due to wanting to win the game!
Really, the more you use your keyboard, and how much pressure you use on your keys will determine how long it lasts and how each key reacts to your input after an amount of time. Saying this, it would be a good idea to decide how you will use the keyboard beforehand. This will help you when deciding what brand, style, and price you are going for.
Also, when researching performances, you can aim to get a higher, more durable keyboard if you will use heavier hand use, to get your money’s worth!
As a whole, when deciding on which keyboard to invest in you should take all of these areas into account. Refrain from buying a keyboard-based solely on brand and price, instead, take time to research which one can bring you the best gaming results!