For those who are planning to create the ultimate gaming setup, a keyboard is a big part of the process. It may not be as important as a top-performing process in your tower or the perfect wide-screen monitor. Yet, for many gamers, the better their keyboard is at supporting them, the better they can dominate in the industry. As you take a look at all of your options in keyboards, including the opportunity to purchase a custom gaming keyboard, it is easy to become overwhelmed. What do you buy? What features really make a difference? Before you invest, consider a few tips and details that can make a big difference in the gaming experience you have.
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How to Buy a Gaming Keyboard
Today’s modern gaming keyboards come with a lot of options. You may choose one based on the size it is or on the features it provides. Some have some nice upgrades with lighting and ergonomic designs to support your play for long hours. Before you make the decision of what to purchase, check out some of the core features that make keyboards worthy of being a part of your gaming experience.
Gaming keyboard sizes
One of the options to consider as you look for the top gaming keyboards is one that is the right size for your needs. Gaming keyboards are available in numerous sizes to ensure there is something for every player. To make a decision based on size, you need to know what form factor you need. The form factor is a description of the sizing. Those that are 100 percent boards are often called full-size keyboards. That does not mean that your keyboard is as big as your hand. Instead, the fingers align with the top row of letters on the laptop with a full-size keyboard. It is much bigger than other models.
A second option is a TKL keyboard. In this option, the keyboards are more the size of the hand. These keyboards also typically do not have function buttons. They do not have dedicated arrows either. Most do not have a keypad. As a result, they are much smaller, without as many features as you may expect. There are smaller options even still, which offer even fewer buttons and keys. Some of these smaller keyboards can limit your overall gameplay.
Which one is best for you? Most often, a full-sized keyboard is an ideal choice for gamers. It provides you with more of the keys you need, a number pad to use, and arrow keys. It also has dedicated function keys that you can use during gameplay. These keyboards have the room needed for dedicated media controls, too. Some go further to include macro keywords. Many gamers prefer the smaller versions because they are easy to use on a routine basis for streamlined function.
If you choose to purchase a keyboard at the 60 percent level, also known as a TKL keyboard, the arrow keys are integrated along with the letter keys. If you need to access additional functions, you need to use the Fn key along with another key. In some cases, that becomes limiting.
Another component found in any of the top gaming keyboards is switches. A switch is the technology that is located under the key. All keyboards have them. There are two main types, a mechanical and a membrane switch. The technology is quite different. However, overall, mechanical switches are a better option in most cases. Membrane switches are still a good overall option, and many people like them.
Most of the time, switch type does not matter unless you are talking about mechanical gaming keyboards. There are a number of different types, such as clicky, linear, and tactile varieties. All of them are good options for gaming. What makes them different is the overall feel of their use, how responsive they are, and the actuation pressure. You may prefer one over the other, and that is really just about personal preference.
You will notice that mechanical switches are louder. If you want to game in quiet without any type of keyboard sounds, you may want to go with membrane switches instead. However, it is possible to find a quiet gaming keyboard that incorporates a feature that can help to improve the sound.
As you look at the best gaming keyboard brands out there, focus on the switch. A mechanical switch is going to be more responsive, more durable, and more tactile. It is also likely to cost a bit more, but that comes with more accuracy. These are also louder than others.
A membrane switch is quieter by far and often is hard to hear anyone typing on them. They have a more sponge-like feel to them, and they tend to be less expensive. They are a more common option on some budget gaming keyboard designs. Many of these are water-resistant (they are not waterproof though!)
The Details That Help Gaming Keyboards Stand Out
There are a lot of things to consider, whether you are designing a custom gaming keyboard or purchasing an inexpensive model. If it is going to be a part of your gaming, you need to be sure it has the ability to function as you desire.
One key component of this is to look at the lighting. RGB backlighting is one of the best options for those who want a keyboard that is going to light up and look sharp. If aesthetics are important to you, you need a keyboard that offers this type of lighting. RGB backlighting has long-blown LED lighting out of the water, though that could be an option for those who want to spend a bit less and still get a fantastic keyboard. Some people do not like RGB. It can be distracting, and some models are simply best without it. You can turn it off as well, or you can buy a budget gaming keyboard that does not have any type of lighting built into it. Lighting is not likely to impact your gameplay unless it contributes to the game environment that you like.
Another important feature that is sometimes overlooked is the inclusion of wrist rests. These provide a place for your arm to sit, with just enough support for your wrists while you use the keyboard. This can add some support so you can play longer hours without tiring yourself the way that is so common for gamers. It can also help to minimize repetitive strain. If you are a gamer who plays a lot of hours, you could develop conditions like a carpal tunnel that come from repetitive tasks like this. Ergonomic gaming keyboards typically provide a lot of support and can be essential to professional players who spend a lot of time playing.
Dedicated media controls
The best cheap gaming keyboard is one that is going to include dedicated media controls along with macro buttons. When you need to adjust sound, having the media controls located on the keyboard often makes it very easy to make adjustments without really interrupting your game pay much. Some people like to have a volume wheel available to them so they can adjust the music as they like. These are not features that you need to have while you are gaming, but they can be nice additions.
Some of the best gaming keyboard brands include macro keys, but not all do. As you take a look at all of the options on the market, if this is something you need, look for specific models that offer it.
Wired and wireless
For many people, the wired or wireless option is really about preference. A wireless model can be great, especially if you like to be able to move the keyboard around with you on a consistent basis, perhaps to a different seat or across the desk. However, many gamers do not like or want a wireless keyboard. To perform their best, they want the wired model.
Wireless technology is fantastic for most needs, but wired systems provide a higher level of responsiveness. They do not have the lag that often comes with gaming systems because there needs to be that transfer of data over the internet network. Another concern with wireless models is that it probably needs to be charged, or it needs batteries to operate. In either case, it can be difficult to enjoy your gameplay if your keyboard battery power runs out in the middle of it.
As you look for the best cheap gaming keyboard out there or consider your options in keyboards that are a bit more expensive, know that it is less important to focus on pricing than it is on features. Buy a keyboard that you like using not just for gaming but for any other needs you have as well. You are sure to spend a bit more with backlighting, but if that improves your experience, then it can be worthwhile. Look for those that offer a bit of support too, which can help minimize the risk of getting tired too soon.
At Lenovo, we offer a wide selection of gaming systems and keyboards to go with them. You will find the best brands of gaming keyboards available and the prices that you need to buy them with confidence. Check out our large inventory of items now and buy with confidence, knowing you are getting a top-tier, trusted brand of keyboard options to choose from on a consistent basis.