What is a gaming keyboard?
Firstly, we need to look at what the words “gaming keyboard” actually mean. Well, I will tell you that it is exactly what you think it is. It is a keyboard for gaming. With most people, it stops there because they think that just because it is a gaming keyboard, it can only be used for gaming and nothing else. They don’t realize that a gaming keyboard can be used for much more than just gaming. So this article is aimed at giving some advice in regards to choosing the right gaming keyboard for you.
I remember my first programmable gaming keyboard (the Logitech G15) and how I struggled with it. The only reason why I wanted it was because it was the best on the market at the time, and I felt for that reason I needed to own one. I had absolutely no idea what to do with it or what I would use it for. However, I did almost add another feature to its already impressive list of pre-installed features by illustrating just how effective the keyboard can be in a game of cricket or anything involving a bat. It really irritated me because I did not need it for all the functions and because they were there, I felt I had to use them all. I did use them all in the end, but that was only because I advanced my gameplay and, in doing so, required more functions out of the keyboard.
Let’s take a look at some of the aspects that we will have to deal with when looking at gaming keyboards.
The features installed on a gaming keyboard and what they actually do.
The terminology used in gaming keyboards
What are the best types of gaming keyboards?
How do we know which is the right type of gaming keyboard for us?
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Many people are already gamers, serious or not, and know exactly what the features are and what they can do. But there are as many people out there that don’t know what the features are supposed to do and whether the features are, in fact, what they actually need. So I have put together a list of the features that you will find on gaming keyboards, and below I will explain each of them more clearly.
Here is a list of the features that you will find installed on gaming keyboards. I want to add that not every gaming keyboard has all of the features mentioned below installed simultaneously.
- LCD Display screen
- Programmable G-keys (for macros and macros on the fly)
- Back Lighting
- In-game mode switch
- Media controls
- Detachable Key Pad
- High-Speed USB Ports
- Automatic Profile Switching
- Cruise Control
Now, as we can see, there are many features that you will find installed on a gaming keyboard, but the important thing now is to know what they can do and when to use them. Let’s take a closer look at the features and see how they can be used for gaming but also outside of gaming.
The LCD Display screen is a screen at the top of the keyboard (typically in the middle), displaying a host of information to you during gameplay. An example of the information displayed is; vital game statistics, system statistics, VOIP communication data, and you can even see what server your friends are playing certain games on, such as World of Warcraft. You can also watch photo slide shows on the screen and YouTube videos (this feature is only on the Logitech G19). So there we can see how good the LCD screen is. You can still see system statistics displayed outside of gaming, but only on the Logitech G19 can you watch videos and photo slide shows.
Programmable G-Keys (or game keys) are keys that can be programmed to execute certain commands. You can program multiple keys to be executed with a single keypress. So, in other words, if you have a command which you would like to execute, but it has more than one keystroke required, then you would program a G-key to perform all those keypresses for you. Now, this is vital in game playing, especially in strategy and role-playing games. But programmable keys can also be used in everyday computing. I own the Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard, and I use the programmable key feature to program my passwords and small snippets of text, which is normally login information. This is a great feature for those that work with databases or anything where numerous logins are required. It is also good for designers and editors where numerous keypresses are sometimes required.
Back Lighting is a really cool feature. This is standard on all gaming keyboards, irrespective of all the other features mentioned above. Basically, what this feature does is illuminate the keys from underneath. There are typically three levels of brightness for the backlighting. However, all through the backlighting is standard on gaming keyboards, not all of them have the same colors or colors as others do. The Logitech G19 and G510 are gaming keyboards with a host of different colors, whereas others have only three or just one. This is not only good for gaming, especially if games are played in low lighted or even dark areas, but also a great asset to changing the style of your workstation. There are people out there that want a new look for their workstation, and backlit keyboards do the trick.
Anti-Ghosting is a feature whereby missed keypresses are, in fact, actually recorded and not voided. This happens with multiple keypresses, albeit not frequently, but the keypresses won’t be recognized without anti-ghosting.
In-game model, the switch is a feature that disables the Windows/Context key during gameplay, so you don’t accidentally get kicked out of your game. Which I am sure has happened to all of us at some point.
Media controls, this feature is great as you can control volume, playback, and mute from the keyboard itself. This feature works for headsets connected to the keyboard and the sound emitting from the computer itself. So there is no need to find the controls on the screen if you want to turn down the volume quickly.
Detachable Key Pad. This is also an elegant feature as you can move the keypad to either the left or the right side, depending on which hand you are more comfortable using for operating. Again, this feature is another feature you can use outside of gaming.
High-Speed USB Ports are a great advantage as you can Plug and Play with comfort. Through this feature, you can transfer data between devices, such as MP3 Players and Flash Drives, and you can do all this while charging your battery-powered devices. Another great feature that can be used outside of gaming.
Automatic Profile Switching is a feature that allows you to automatically or manually change the profile you are in or want to be in. With the automatic function, the keyboard detects the application you are running and automatically applies the previously set profile for that application. A really cool feature, especially if you like to play in different modes (Microsoft Sidewinder X6 had this feature).