BEST GAMING KEYBOARDS

BEST GAMING KEYBOARD BUYING GUIDE

Savvy gamers know that a good keyboard guarantees better playing comfort. With this in mind, you must choose a gaming keyboard that complements your choice of games. In this guide, we will show you how to choose the best gaming keyboard for you.

Format

Format

First, we have Full gaming keyboards. This is the most common format on the market.

Then we find TKL (tenkeyless) gaming keyboards also called compact. This is a type of keyboard that eliminates the numeric keypad. Most gaming keyboards are tenkeyless models. Their reduced size means that your hands are closer together.

Type

There are mainly 2 types of keyboards depending on the switch technology they use, namely membrane and mechanical.

Mechanical keyboards

Mechanical keyboards

These are the best gaming keyboards and a one-way street if you are serious about gaming or you are doing it competitively.

The benefits are:

  • Extreme precision
  • Shorter reaction time
  • Better typing comfort

But not all mechanical switches on the market are created equal! So let’s dive into…

Mechanical switches

Mechanical switches

Although there are several manufacturers of mechanical switches, the most famous is German giant Cherry, which produces the most used mechanical switches worldwide. They are so good that brands like Gaote, Kaihua, and Greetech, among others, have copied Cherry’s mechanism. This doesn’t mean that their switches are worse. Gateron and Outemu, for example, produce solid mechanical switches, but we will treat this subject in another post.

Now let’s talk about the specific models Cherry makes and their features. Cherry MX mechanical switches are basically divided into three categories: linear, tactile clicky and tactile silent.

Linear switches

Linear switches are the most straightforward. When pressed, the key moves down till it bottoms out, and then returns to its starting position. Thus it doesn’t offer any tactile feedback whether or not the keypress has been registered. The two most common linear switches are Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX Black.

Cherry MX Red

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation force required: 45cN
  • Auditory feedback: no
  • Key Activation Run: 2mm
  • Total Travel: 4mm

This linear switch has a low actuation force, which makes it ideal for FPS games, but less so for MOBAs, as it is very light and gives no feedback of being pressed, thus it is very easy to mistype.

In theory, the Cherry MX Red should be quiet, but since it is very light and also linear, the impact of the key every time it bottoms down is very loud. Thankfully this is something that can be solved with the use of O-rings.

Cherry MX Black

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation force required: 60cN
  • Auditory feedback: no
  • Key Activation Run: 2mm
  • Total Travel: 4mm

The Cherry MX Black was developed back in 1984 and is basically the older sibling of Cherry MX Red. The only difference between them is the higher actuation force, which makes it a heavier switch. This also makes it more difficult to mistype. So this makes it a good choice for FPS games and for MOBAs. However, if you type a lot the higher actuation force could be tiring in the long run.

Cherry MX Silent

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation force required for Silent Red: 45cN
  • Actuation force required for Silent Black: 60cN
  • Auditory feedback: no
  • Key Activation Run: 2mm
  • Total Travel: 3.7mm for both

Remember the suggestion of using O-rings for Cherry MX Red’s “noise problem”? Well, the Cherry MX Silent is basically the same switch as the MX Red and Black (there is a Cherry MX Red Silent and a Cherry MX Black Silent version), but with a patented Cherry system that minimizes noise to a minimum and eliminates the need of O-rings. Also, the total travel is slightly shorter on these switches.

Tactile switches with no click

These switches have a tactile bump each time a key is activated so you always know whether or not a key has been pressed.

Cherry MX Brown

  • Type: Tactile
  • Actuation force required: 45cN
  • Auditory feedback: no
  • Key Activation Run: 2mm
  • Total Travel: 4mm

This is a switch everyone likes and the one to choose if you don’t know what you like. The Cherry MX Brown is basically a Cherry MX Red with a tactile bump that lets you know that you pressed a key. It is good for both typing and gaming, and for whatever it matters my personal favorite.

Clicky tactile switches

These are tactile switches that add auditory feedback to the mix.

Cherry MX Blue

  • Type: Tactile
  • Actuation force required: 50cN
  • Auditory feedback: yes
  • Key Activation Run: 2mm
  • Total Travel: 4mm

Despite having an actuation force greater than Cherry MX Brown, the MX Blue is still a very light switch and extremely pleasant for typing. If you like hearing the classic “clickety-clack” sound of typing on a keyboard then this is the type for you. Just make sure you don’t bother everyone else!

Which one is best for me?

Well, we will give some suggestions as to which type is better for what but ultimately there is no switch better than all the other and most of the time choosing is a matter of personal taste.

Pick Cherry MX Red if you:

  • Plays a lot of FPS games
  • Like light keys
  • Not doing any task that requires a lot of typing
  • You don’t care about miss clicks

Pick Cherry MX Black if you:

  • Like slightly heavier keys
  • Play all kinds of games
  • You are partially bothered by miss clicks

Pick Cherry MX Silent if you:

  • Would like a Cherry MX Red or Black, but quieter.

Pick Cherry MX Brown if you:

  • If you are new to mechanical keyboards and want to avoid disappointment
  • Like light keys
  • Want an all-round keyboard good for both typing and gaming
  • You want to know if a key has been pressed or not;
  • Like silent keys

Pick Cherry MX Blue if you:

  • Loves the clicky noise
  • Like slightly heavier keys
  • Typing is the most important thing
  • You don’t care about noise

Membrane keyboards

Membrane keyboards

Most “ordinary” keyboards use a membrane. However, as of late there are many manufacturers that have decided to use this technology for a gaming keyboard. These are budget models that are targeted to gamers that play for fun. These keyboards are less reactive, lack precision, and can cause fatigue after prolonged gaming sessions…

Features

A good gaming keyboard isn’t just about switches. It needs to have other features that set it apart from a productivity-oriented model. Let’s list the ones you need:

Anti-ghosting

Many times while you game you may need to press multiple keys simultaneously. For example, you move around using the WASD keys and at the same time press a key to jump and another to shoot your opponents.

With a regular keyboard, you may have ghosting issues. That is, your keyboard can no longer manage the number of keys that are activated simultaneously. As a result, some keys simply fail to activate.

Anti-ghosting allows you to fix that.

N-key rollover

This feature indicates the number of keys that can be activated simultaneously. A keyboard with a 6-key rollover is a good start. A 10-key rollover is ideal, but nowadays there are models with “N” or Full-key rollover which means that all the keys can be pressed simultaneously!

Key programming

Do you know what a “Macro” is? It is the result of key programming.

Every time you program a sequence of keys to be executed in order you end up creating a macro. Once programmed you can bind this macro to a single key and thus execute the whole sequence in-game with the press of a single key… handy no?

RGB lighting

How important is RGB lighting? Not at all… since it is a purely aesthetic addition. It’s like painting your sports car. Whether you paint it red or keep it black, it will not change its performance.

BEST GAMING KEYBOARDS