When it comes to building a gaming rig, most people only care about the internal hardware components (CPU, motherboard, graphics cards etc) that will make their games run faster and look better.
There's nothing wrong in this approach.
Who likes a game stuttering due to CPU bottle-necking, after all?
But once you install these components and play your favorite games, you'll realize that your ability to play these games better is equally important.
In order to play these games better, you'll need a gaming keyboard (in addition to a gaming rodent, of course).
Let me clarify at the start this these peripherals won't necessarily make you a better player. In fact, I won't recommend anyone these gaming peripherals unless he/she plays some specific-genre games (such as MMO, and FPS) regularly.
Instead, these peripherals are better suited to some games, they don't make your hands tired after a continuous period of gaming, and they have some other features which certainly gives you a competitive advantage.
Apart from this, you can think of it this way: You don't wear cheap shoes with a premium suit, do you?
The same happens here. It's just ridiculous to use a $15-keyboard on a 2000-buck gaming rig.
With this out of the way, let's come with the main topic: How to choose a gaming keyboard.
It's because whenever you search online or go in your local store, all of these keyboards look like same with some very minor differences (most of these differences are gimmicky in nature) and all claim to be comfortable and durable for continuous gaming.
In this post, you'll learn what are the main factors of a gaming keyboard that actually make a difference. So without any ado, let's start.
Do You Even Need a Gaming Keyboard
As I said, you won't need them unless you play games on a regular basis. Also, gaming keyboards and mice are better suited for first-person shooters and MMOs.
So if all you do is playing 2 matches of FIFA 19 every Sunday, then go get a PC controller instead.
Things To Look For In A Gaming Keyboard
If there's one thing all PC gamers will agree upon, it's that (while gaming) the harder you press keyboard buttons, the better your player will perform.
This is the reason why gaming keyboards should've tough build because typical office keyboard won't be able to take this pounding for so long.
Many high-end gaming keyboards come with a metal back-plate that prevents them from bending in the longer run.
But even if your budget isn't allowing you to go for a $150 keyboards, you can check out some cheaper options that are made with tough plastic. These keyboards use ABS plastic which, unlike typical PVC, is a lot more durable.
Membrane vs Mechanical keyboards
When it comes to gaming keyboards, there are two main types: membrane and mechanical keyboards.
In simple terms, membrane keyboards have two soft plastic membranes below the keys and an electric current runs through them in order to make those keyboards work.
Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, work a lot like the old typewriters. They have a physical switch under each keycap which naturally makes them more reliable, accurate, and comfortable (but also more expensive) than their membrane counterparts.
Other than this, mechanical keyboards also offer way more durability (50+ million keystrokes) than the typical membrane keyboards (1-5 million keystrokes).
Needless to say, a mechanical keyboard should be your first priority when looking for a gaming keyboard. These switches are further classified in different types, like Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Red etc. Check this article out to know more about them.
In terms of backlighting, there are three common trends in gaming keyboards: no backlighting, uni-color backlighting, and full RGB backlighting.
Each of these options is subjective, and there's no hard and fast rule over what sort of RGB your keyboard should (or should not) have.
That being said, most gamers play their games at night time (probably in dim light), which makes full RGB keyboards really helpful. Needless to say though, RGB keyboards are pricier than their uni-backlight and no-backlight siblings.
Many gaming keyboards allow you to remap any key available on that board, through their software.
Moreover, these softwares can help you record an entire sequence of keystrokes and assign that combo functionality to a single key on your board.
Sometimes the manufacturers even put un-assigned macro keys on the board just for this purpose.
The number of key presses that can be successfully registered by a keyboard is called the key rollover. In typical keyboards, there's a 1 or 2-key rollover.
It means those keyboards can't register additional keypresses at that moment. This problem (the failure by keyboards to register extra keystrokes) is also known as ghosting.
Most gaming keyboards, on the other hand, come with at least 6-key rollover, which means you can press up to 6 keys at one time, and that keyboard will register each of that keystroke.
Some manufacturers go too much over the board here and offer way more keypresses at a time, but I don't think there's any combo in any game that requires you to press more than six keys at once.
In terms of pricing, there's no definite standard around which you should get a gaming keyboard. Keyboards from bigger brands are often more expensive than the ones from lesser-known brands, even if both of them have almost the same specs.
On average though, 100-150 bucks is the area where you would get the keyboards that provide the most value.
You can get a decent mechanical keyboard in less than 100 bucks too, but for that, you'll have to look away from the top-tier brands among the gaming community (Razer, Logitech etc).
As far as another extreme is concerned (150+), you shouldn't go for those boards unless you have the budget.
Going for the highly-priced keyboards will reduce the money you've allocated for other accessories, which isn't a good thing to do.