One of the must-have tools for a good gaming setup is the keyboard. Nowadays there are a large number of them and each one has specific characteristics that adapt to the demands of every gamer use. There are mechanical, membrane, wireless, backlit keyboards, and more. In this article, we look at a selection of gaming keyboards so that you can decide which one best suits your gaming experience needs.
- Mechanical or Membrane?
- What Is Backlighting Used For?
- Wireless or Wired Keyboard?
- Which Keyboard Layout Should I Choose?
- With Wrist Rest and Lifting Temples?
- General Gaming Keyboard Shopping Advice
Mechanical or Membrane?
Mechanical keyboards have a specific system consisting of switches. Switches allow the keys to be activated even if they have not been fully pressed, this being one of the main differences compared to membrane keyboards. Thanks to this system, the keys are precise and offer a fast response and durability. Plus, they have an anti-ghosting system (detection of keys pressed simultaneously without causing problems) and are easier to clean and repair. There are different types of switches, which we will see later in the section: Types of Switches.
Membrane keyboards do not have this mechanism but are formed by a thin layer of silicone that separates the key from the electrical circuit responsible for sending the command to the computer. In this case, for it to work, it is necessary to press the key down so that the membrane makes contact with the surface of the circuit and closes it. The advantages of these keyboards over the mechanical ones are that they are more ergonomic, less noisy, thinner, and cheaper.
A midway option is the semi-mechanical keyboard. These feature the membrane system but the feel is similar to that of a mechanical keyboard.
Types of Switch
There are several types of switches and each of them has its features and is characterized by color. Several brands are developing this technology. And while Cherry MX used to be the only one, now brands such as Razer, Logitech, and Kailh have joined the market.
All the switches’ keyboards share the same basic characteristics regarding the brands, so once we understand what each of them implies, we can figure out any model and choose.
- Linear: The arrival at the actuation point (when the keystroke has been recognized by the computer) is not recognized by the user.
- Double click: They make the first sound when the key is pressed and a second sound when the command has been recognized. The user will notice this both acoustically and physically on the keyboard.
- Rapid rise: These are characterized by a very sensitive tactile sensation when the actuation point has been reached.
- Maximum travel: They all feature a similar trip, which consists of the maximum distance the key can travel from the time it is pressed.
- Keystroke recognition: Equivalent to the required distance the switch has to travel to reach the actuation point. Again, in the case of Cherry MX, equal in all of them and equivalent to half the maximum travel.
- Force of pulsation: This is the force required to be exerted on the key for it to actuate. It is usually indicated as the required weight in grams.
- Loudness: The sound emitted by the keys when pressed. The model that emits more noise is the blue Cherry MX, while the one that emits less is the black Cherry MX.
- Use: For which users it is intended according to the task they are going to perform with the keyboard. A '+' indicates those for which it is recommended and a '-' indicates those for which it is not.
Occasional gamer and occasional typing: If this is your case, we recommend a membrane keyboard. It is enough for infrequent keyboard use. It is also the most pocket-friendly.
Regular gamer and occasional typing: Here we recommend a mechanical keyboard. If you spend hours playing video games, your priority will be the speed and precision of the keys.
Occasional gamer and frequent typing: In this case, the priority is comfort and avoiding typing fatigue. For this reason, we recommend a membrane keyboard and, if you like the characteristic sound of mechanical keyboards, a semi-mechanical keyboard.
What Is Backlighting Used For?
In addition to the aesthetic function, it offers the possibility of detecting and displaying the keys correctly in low-light environments. Another advantage is that the lettering of the letters will never wear off, as they are marked by internal light emission. RGB (Red Green Blue) illumination allows more colors to be obtained from the combination of these three. The vast majority of keyboards with this feature allow customization of the LEDs.
We recommend getting a keyboard with backlighting because if at some point it bothers you, in most models it can be disabled. This way, if we ever need extra light, we won't have to worry about it. As we have mentioned, we will not have any problems with the wear of the letters on the keyboard either.
Wireless or Wired Keyboard?
Wireless USB or Bluetooth keyboards offer the advantage of wireless operation. This can be more convenient than conventional keyboards, as you will not have problems with tangles, large distance limitations and you will get a greater sense of order.
It should be noted that these devices need to charge their battery or have their batteries changed from time to time, as they do not use the computer's power supply to operate, so be prepared.
USB wireless keyboards have a receiver (the USB itself) that allows communication between the peripheral and the computer. This must function correctly. If for any reason this device fails, the keyboard will stop working.
In terms of convenience: The winner is the wireless keyboard. But the limitations outlined above must be taken into account. Besides, one must consider the fact that being able to carry it from one place to another, there are more chances of losing it somewhere.
That is why, if you have a good table or desk, you are going to work near the computer and the cables are not going to be an issue, we recommend a wired keyboard. It should be noted that these devices are also usually less expensive.
Which Keyboard Layout Should I Choose?
There are a large number of keyboard layouts that affect the size, number, and layout of the keys, number pad, etc. To distinguish them from each other, manufacturers usually use a percentage as a notation:
- 100% or Full Size:This is the most complete keyboard with 105 keys in ISO format. It is divided into four zones separated by spaces.
- 1800 Compact: Same number of keys as the previous one but a much more compact format with fewer divisions.
- 80% or TKL: They do not have the extra numeric keypad located to the right of the surface in the previous ones. They are so-called because they are approximately 80% of the size of the Full-Size keyboard.
- 75%: They are similar to the previous ones but the layout of the keys varies slightly to reduce their size. They also retain the upper area of the full keyboard.
- 60%: Eliminate the upper area and the right numeric keypad.
- 40%: Eliminate all numeric keys and have only basic keys.
- Ten Key or Numeric keypad: Only have numeric keys and some with special functions.
Here it is mainly the use that the user is going to give it, so each one must assess which keys are essential for the performance of their activities, as well as the space available to place the keyboard.
For the use of video games, we recommend the 100% format, since more keys will be available to execute the different commands. However, if you have limited space for the keyboard and mouse, the 1800 Compact may be the best option.
We recommend taking into account that, from the 75% format and below, it may take some time to get used to the layout of the keys, as it is not usually the usual one.
With Wrist Rest and Lifting Temples?
Wrist rests are accessories designed to support our arms and wrists while using the keyboard. They are usually covered by a fabric surface and have pads that make them more ergonomic. They vary in materials, sizes, thicknesses and some have magnets to attach them to the keyboard or a non-slip gel surface.
The elevation pins modify the tilt of the keyboard. There are three main types of tilt:
- Neutral: The first row of the keyboard (closest to the user) is at the same height as the last row (furthest from the user).
- Positive: The last row is higher than the first row.
- Negative: The first row of the keyboard is higher than the last row.
As for the wrist rest, we recommend mainly those made of materials that do not cause perspiration and that have a non-slip surface.
We recommend adapting the size to the size of the keyboard. For example, if the keyboard to be used is in 100% format, we recommend that it be approximately 47 cm. and for those who are going to use the 80% format, the ideal is 35 cm.
As far as the elevation pins are concerned, it should be noted that most people think that the positive inclination is the most advisable to have a correct position on the wrists, but this placement is the most used because it is the one that facilitates the reading of the keys. However, experts advise having the wrist aligned with the forearm or even tilted downwards, with the help of the negative tilt.
General Gaming Keyboard Shopping Advice
If you want to buy a mechanical gaming keyboard, we recommend the Corsair and HyperX brands. Through their websites, you can access their extensive catalogs of keyboards that have different switches and features. Corsair also has several models of wireless mechanical keyboards.
If you finally opt for a wireless membrane keyboard with Bluetooth, the Logitech K380 keyboard is a good choice.
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