There are several types of keyboard that work well for gaming. Basically there are three types. The membrane are the cheapest and most common. Rubber dome keyboards are more expensive, but they offer a superior response to prevent ghosting. Mechanical keyboards are the most expensive but also the best for gaming because they provide excellent tactile feedback and less chance of ghosting since there is no need for “wiping” due to build up of dirt or moisture.
With that said, if you have money to spend and want one keyboard that will work well at any game, go with a mechanical keyboard which will cost around $120-170 depending on what features you get with it (programming keys, LED lights).
One of the most common questions is which mechanical keyboard, and there are a few popular brands you should know about (Razer, Logitech, CM Storm). There’s also Cooler Master and Ducky.
The next question is to decide if you’re going to go with Cherry MX switches. They offer several types of switches that can vary from tactile to clicky to silent. The most common type people opt for is red for tactile and black for the clicky version.
Cherry MX Red: A linear switch that does not have an actuation point (no bump). This means you can rest your fingers on them without having to press down. The actuation point of the Cherry MX is on the bottom cap or keycap.
Cherry MX Black: These switches have a bump on the bottom, and have a shorter travel distance that the linear switches. This means you can type fast and accurately with these keyboard.
Cherry MX Blue: They’re like the Cherry MX Red in fact they are just like it but with different coloring. The Blue switches have a tactile bump to them and has a slightly longer travel distance than the reds. This type of switch is more commonly used in laptops, though some gamers prefer them for their tactility.
Cherry MX Brown: These are known as the middle ground between the tactile and linear switch types. They have a clicky sound but less stiff than the blues. They’re a good choice for gaming.
Cherry MX Clear: This is like the Cherry MX Brown, but it has no tactile bump to it and it’s lighter than all other Cherry MX switches. It has less travel distance than its siblings mentioned above.
Cherry MX White: These have no bump or click, and they’re very light to press down too. Not recommended if you want to game competitively because you need precise control over your key presses.
Cherry MX Blue: These are great for gamers that play on desktop computers, and they’re still heavier than other switches out there. They have a longer travel distance (2 mm) than the Cherry MX Clear (0.4 mm), but clicky sound with tactile bump.
Cherry MX Red: These are difficult to press down, which is good for gaming because you know you’ve engaged the switch and it won’t accidentally get activated when your finger accidentally touches it. For typing, these are recommended for people who type fast or have small hands because if your fingers hit the keycap 2 times first before you can type the correct character, this could cause misspelled words to appear on screen.
There are also a few different brands of mechanical keyboards out there for people who want to try them out. My personal favorites are the Cooler Master Storm QuickFire and the Corsair K70 . The Cooler Master has great switches, and is very durable compared to cheaper keyboards. It’s worth every penny it costs, and is definitely a good choice for gamers. Corsair also makes excellent quality stuff, and its K70 offers even more customization options than the keyboards from Cooler Master. Both of these make excellent starter keyboards. The only negative point about these two brands is that they’re not designed specifically for gaming like many other gaming oriented mechanical keyboards are.
The other brands that are popular for gamers since they are designed with gaming in mind are the Das Keyboard 4 and the Razer BlackWidow .
The Das Keyboard is held together by screws unlike other keyboards that have clips, and this means it’s much easier to take apart if you need to clean your keyboard. The switches have gold plated contact points, and its design and features such as the USB ports on it make it an ideal keyboard for gaming purposes. It also has a Windows key lockout feature, and this is very important if you’re playing a game where you could be tricked into pressing the Windows key at a crucial time during the game.
The Razer BlackWidow is an excellent keyboard, it has anti-ghosting keys for up to 16 keys, it has a sharp looking geometric design, and its backlight makes the good for gaming. What I like most about the Razer BlackWidow is that you’re able to customize your keycaps. Also since you’re able to program the keycaps, and set macros on them without having to replace them as often, this makes these keyboards very long lasting. The only thing that I wished they added is an in-line headphone/mic jack like many other gaming keyboards have instead of just using your USB port on the back but apart from that its an excellent keyboard.
Another brand that’s worth mentioning is the Ducky One . It offers Cherry MX Switches with a very affordable price range, and it has LED lights underneath each key. The keyboard in itself is eye candy because of the brilliant RGB LED lights that go on at night. This makes it very ideal for gamers who would like their keyboards to look good too.
Another thing is when you start looking into mechanical keyboards be aware of the keycaps because they could get damaged easily if you’re not careful. The best thing you can do is buy keycap sets for your mechanical keyboards, or buy a complete set if you want to save some money on this accessory. I personally like to look at the complete sets because you will get around 80-100 extra keycaps and they will last a very long time if you take care of them like you should. I’ve had my extra keycaps from my Cooler Master for over 4 years now and they still look brand new, except the one that I broke while trying to remove it from my keyboard.
Another thing about mechanical keyboards is that they’re not ideal for people who live in very humid/humid conditions. The switches are made up of metal and this could cause corrosion on the contacts inside the keyboard if it gets too humid or humid often. The long term effects of this could be that you will never be able to use your keyboard and it will just give out after a while.
When buying your mechanical keyboards, avoid the cheap ones as much as possible because they will break easily. The best thing you can do is stay away from cheap chinese made keyboards because they’re not manufactured in very strict quality standards. Some people also prefer brown switches over the blue ones, but this isn’t recommendable for gamers since there’s less tactile feedback on the keyboard with brown switches. The tactile feedback is important for gaming because the extra tactile bump tells you if you’ve pressed the key down enough so that it registers your input. If your keyboard doesn’t have enough travel distance, you will feel like you’re pressing the keys down but they’re just not registering at all.
Personally, I use a Cherry MX Blue gaming keyboard but if I were to buy a mechanical keyboard from a brand that makes gaming keyboards, I will go with the Corsair K70 or Cooler Master competitors.
The last thing that I want to mention is the pricing of mechanical keyboards because some people think they are very expensive. The cool looking ones with RGB LED lights are the priciest ones, but you could buy a standard one, and mod it yourself for much less. I modded my Cooler Master by adding LED lights myself because I found out that they floodlit the WASD keys which is where I like to hold hands on during gameplay. When I bought my Cooler Master keyboard it was around $100 dollars, and after adding some custom keycaps, and LEDs I ended up spending only around $20-$30 more on it.
You can easily find mechanical keyboards from these brands at http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList .
I hope you found this article helpful in understanding how mechanical keyboards work and their benefits.