How to Choose a Gaming Keyboard

Now that we have built or chosen the gaming computer for you, it's time to think about the peripherals. First up, we will start with the keyboard. We all need one to be able to interface with any computer. Keyboards are a must have whether you want to type or play on your computer. But you're not here for any old keyboard. You want to game. The gaming keyboard has come a long way and is littered with features, some outrageous, some almost essential. But where do we start? Do you want it to be wireless or not? Should it light up? How many USB ports do you need? What about macros? To start off lets look at the two main differences in gaming keyboards, mechanical and non mechanical.

Non Mechanical Gaming Keyboards

If you're using a laptop or a cheap keyboard that your parents bought years ago, chances are it's not a mechanical one. These keyboards are very common and cheap to buy. Most wireless keyboards are non mechanical and can come with many extra features. If you're looking for something that will get the job done then non mechanical is the way to go. There's plenty of non mechanical keyboards out there to choose from but one that caught my eye was the Microsoft ANB Wired Slim Keyboard. Cheap and comes with some extra functional buttons to make life a little easier.

Mechanical Gaming Keyboards

A keychain to take the sound of your mechanical keyboard with you.

Most gamers will say that mechanical keyboards are the only gaming keyboards out there. The difference is that each button has it's own switch underneath it, giving you very precise keystrokes. This may not seem that big a deal but it helps a lot. If you are looking for a gaming keyboard then 99% of them will be mechanical. If you want to splash the cash then SteelSeries has their Apex M800 keyboard available. It comes with what you'd expect for the price, multi colour back lit mechanical keys, USB ports, and macros on the side. My all time favourite though has to be the Razer BlackWidow Chroma gaming keyboard. Macros on the side with all the mechanical multi colour keys you need. This keyboard has been a staple for a lot of gamers and it's easy to see why.

Wired VS Wireless

When looking at buying a gaming keyboard, a lot of people look past the wireless option. This is due to the latency problems you can encounter when using wireless technology. Wired keyboards have a direct link to your gaming PC and are considered a better gaming keyboard for it. But some builds just aren't made for wired keyboards. For example, a media PC connected to your TV would be better off with a wireless keyboard and mouse. Logitech has the answer with their MX800 wireless mouse and keyboard pack. It comes with the slim, wireless keyboard as well as an ergonomic mouse which is part of the great MX line. If that seems a bit too much for you then check out the Logitech MK550 wireless set. This comes with a simple mouse and a weirdly curved keyboard, packed with extra multimedia buttons for ease of use.

Backlighting

The white backlighting helps you see all the keys whether it's light or dark.

Backlighting isn't just for showing off or seeing yourself in your monitor during load screens. It helps users see each key more clearly in all situations. Of course you can get all showboaty and go for crazy multicoloured lights if you would like. The Razer BlackWidow does just that and is fully customisable through the Razer application. A lot of Apple Mac users will be familiar with the standard white backlighting. This is found in most of their laptops and helps users see each key. A lot of gaming keyboards will have this feature as well, to help gamers see the buttons they need in any lighting situation.

Extra Features

There are other little things you might want to consider when looking at getting a new gaming keyboard. So many gadgets are clogging up our USB ports these days. One solution to this is a USB hub but some keyboards come with extra USB ports in them, helping eliminate the lack of USB ports. You can even get keyboards with USB 3.0 capability in them, meaning faster access at the end of your keyboard. Macro keys are prevalent on a lot of gaming keyboards these days. These aren't part of your everyday keyboard and can be programmed to do whatever you want. You might want to quickly tell your opponents that they played a good game. Or you might want to open a few windows in chrome at anytime. Macros allow you to do a lot of useful things with the press of a simple button.

The Insane

I bet you've never seen a keyboard like this before.

If you're really looking to go crazy on the features of your keyboard, then this is the part for you. Do you want to get all the style points from your peers? Then the wireless fully wood keyboard (not wood style finish, actual wood) from Orée is for you. Razer has something not quite insane but very rare for your average gamer. The Razer DeathStalker Ultimate gaming keyboard comes with an inbuilt LCD touch screen that boasts a ton of apps to help gamers. The reason I included this paragraph was for the Optimus Popularis Keyboard. Some of you might have heard of this keyboard before as it is truly insane. Each key is actually an LCD screen and can be fully customised. The keys can change depending on what application you open, creating endless keyboard configurations. Check out Unbox Therapy's review in the video below. How about we bunch a whole lot of these features together in a single keyboard with even more features? The Mad Catz Cyborg S.T.R.I.K.E 7 brings together a touch screen, hi speed USB ports, RGB lighting, 24 customisable macro keys, all in to one modular gaming keyboard. Now that is truly insane.

So what gaming keyboard should I pick?

Well that's a hard one to decide on. There are so many different keyboards out there and of course each person is different. Different budgets, different needs, different style choices. Hopefully through this article you have a better idea of exactly what you are looking for. If you aren't still sure then I suggest going with a classic, the Razer BlackWidow. If you haven't noticed yet, I have mentioned it quite a bit in this article, but for good reason. It is a great gaming keyboard for old and new users. It introduces you to a new way of looking at keyboards with it's multiple features and it comes at a pretty decent price. If that is too big a leap for you though, just buy any cheap keyboard that works for you and slowly incorporate more of what you want. Head down to Office Works or JB Hi-Fi and try a few out there to see what you like. There's so many different styles and features on keyboards out there, it's just about finding the right one for you and your situation.