Written by Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)
Primarily, I’m a console gamer, so my main tool of choice is the mighty controller. However, I really do envy those that have the skills and competence to properly use a keyboard and mouse for gaming. As far as peripherals go, the keyboard and mouse can make a big difference in how you play a game.
While your skill level won’t change overnight by using a different keyboard, the options available on the market vary massively and give different advantages to players. There is also a huge range in price for keyboard peripherals from the very cheap to the very expensive.
I’m not going to go into detail as to why you should choose a mechanical keyboard over a membrane keyboard as my knowledge isn’t good enough on the subject and beyond anti-ghosting and general feel, it’s not my place to say!
What I will say is that comfort is key when it comes to gaming with a keyboard. I have a cheap, plastic feeling ‘gaming’ membrane keyboard. It’s fine. It does the job but it’s not particularly comfortable so even when PC gaming I often choose to play with a controller despite the fact I’m playing at a disadvantage (in some games…).
Every so often I consider upgrading to something decent and usually that comes with visiting the EGX show as there are a lot of gaming peripheral stores where you can test, play and just admire the different keyboards. Every year I go along and almost buy a keyboard but there is SO much choice and they can be pretty expensive, even with the generous show discounts.
As a bit of PC gaming noob, when I do have a play with the keyboard, I’m usually looking at 3 key things: comfort/feel, style and price.
At this point, it’s worth saying that I pretty much only look at the mechanical keyboards and for the most part, that’s what’s on offer!
This is usually the most important aspect for me. Firstly, having something with a proper wrist rest would make a HUGE difference. If I’m going to spend hours sat in front of the monitor, I want something comfortable in regards to the keyboard.
As well as the wrist rest, the feel of the keys including height, pressure and general feel is really important. If the keys are a bit high up, they can be awkward to press as you skim over the board to different keys. Equally, if the pressure is a bit hard, you lose valuable time when pressing the keys to take action in the game.
Then comes the feel – I don’t really like anything super plastic feeling and sounding – in fact, I LOVE the loud click of a key, you know, the sort of click you get with Cherry MX Blue switches. That’s the stuff!
Style shouldn’t matter that much but for me, it really does play a part. Gaming accessories in general have a bit of a image problem. They can just look a bit… vulgar. Often chunky with random bits sticking out here and there. Then comes RGB. Although who are we kidding? We all love RGB lights.
In fact, what I often look for in terms of style on a gaming keyboard is a sleek body with RGB lighting – something Corsair and Razer both do very well. I want it to look fairly ordinary when not in use and even when just being used for non-gaming activities and then I want it to light up and do crazy shit when I’m in a long-session!
It’s probably not surprising to hear that a decent mechanical keyboard will likely set you back £100+. That’s not always the case but for some of the well-known brands, that’s what you’re likely to pay.
However, as the gaming industry grows and the culture expands with it, there are more 3rd-party keyboards coming into play, and some of them aren’t half bad! Depending what you’re looking for, you might even choose to buy one of the slightly cheaper options and then upgrade in the future.
On the whole, gaming keyboard are a really interesting peripheral and it’s worth testing different options to see what suits you. For me, it’s an endless game of ‘should I? shouldn’t I?’ and with EGX fast approaching once again, I might soon be writing about how ace my new keyboard is!