One of the major features to look for when getting a new gaming keyboard is to have mechanical keys . Most keyboards , even high-end models use rubber dome switches for the keys. Under the synthetic rubber dome are two electrical contacts. The shape of the dome pulls one of the contacts upward, maintaining a space between them. When you hit a key, the dome flattens out and the conductive areas are brought into contact, completing a circuit and sending an electric signal to the computer to tell it that a key has been pressed.
Rubber Dome Vs Mechanical Keyboards
Rubber-dome keyboards are cheap to produce and quiet to use however, they have a number of drawbacks. First of all, you need to “bottom out” each key before the keypress will register, which requires extra force. Secondly, the synthetic rubber of the domes will wear out over time, making the keyboard feel mushy and unresponsive. If the dome breaks down enough, the keys simply won’t work anymore. For some, the lack of auditory or tactile keypress feedback is also a detriment.
Mechanical keyboards use a different system , each key has a mechanical switch mounted in a metal chassis underneath it. As well as being more durable, mechanical switches have other advantages. The keys don’t need to be pressed down all the way, enabling a lighter and faster touch. Mechanical keyboards offer more sensory feedback. Many users like the tactile sensation of pressing a mechanical key.
Mechanical gaming keyboards offer superior anti-ghosting capabilities. Ghosting occurs when several keys are struck at once. The keyboard can’t interpret the input correctly and registers only some of the keystrokes, or registers keys that haven’t actually been struck. Mechanical keyboards are less prone to this; even if you hit several keys at a time, the keyboard will register and process them correctly.
Although more expensive, a mechanical keyboard can be a good investment for the serious gamer.
Choosing a Mechanical Keyboard for Gaming
Many factors in choosing a keyboard are a matter of personal taste. Some prefer to use a keyboard that clicks audibly when a key is struck, although opinion is more divided on this aspect.
Some find the noise undesirable or distracting, key clicks can also be heard over TeamSpeak and other audio chat systems, meaning that they can give other players information about what you’re doing. Quiet mechanical keyboards are available for those who want to avoid this. Sensitivity is another consideration. There’s a balance to be struck between a keyboard that responds to lighter taps, saving time and energy, and one which allows you to avoid misclicks.
As with any computer peripheral, you’ll need to ensure that the keyboard is compatible with your computer. Check that your operating system will be able to support the model that you’re interested in.
5 Top Mechanical Keyboards to Consider
SteelSeries 7G Gaming Keyboard
At prices upwards of $140, the SteelSeries 7G Gaming Keyboard isn’t a budget option, but for a hardcore gamer, it’s well worth the big price ticket. Thanks to its generous wrist support, the 7G is very comfortable to use – even during those long raids. It has a metal inner chassis, making it remarkably durable. The keys are fairly sensitive, allowing lighter, faster typing.The 7G also has one of the most sophisticated anti-ghosting systems on the market: you can literally press every single key at the same time and the keyboard will register them correctly.
CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
If the SteelSeries is too rich for your blood, you might consider the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid. It’s not quite as impressive but is still a high-end item with plenty of attractive features. It offers anti-ghosting and has both USB and P/S connectors.
The QuickFire is available with either Blue or Brown Cherry MX switches. Both are high quality and offer excellent gaming performance. Blue switches have an audible click while Brown switches are quieter.
Das Professional Mechanical Keyboard
Oriented towards professional computer users who seek a superior typing experience, Das doesn’t pitch its keyboards at the gamer market. However, this high-quality mechanical keyboard definitely merits consideration by gamers. It’s very comfortable, with a satisfying feel and many useful features. Gold-plated key switches resist corrosion and offer better conductivity, while the USB connector speeds up data transfer.
Azio Levetron Mech5
In stark contrast to the understated Das, the Azio Levetron Mech5 screams “Gamer!” from every chunky geometric corner. If you want a keyboard that makes you feel as if you’re on the deck of a particularly rugged space cruiser, this is it. It’s not just an exciting design object, high-grade Cherry keys and a USB connector make this a fast and responsive keyboard. It also boasts programmable keys and a unique modular structure that allows you to customize it by adding and removing elements.
Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 Elite
Razer is one of the best-known names in gaming peripherals. The Razer Blackwidow offers anti-ghosting, fully programmable keys and 10 customizable software profiles. The keys are individually backlit, making this the perfect keyboard for those nighttime raids. The keys respond well to fast and light strokes, helping you keep your tactical edge