Choose a Gaming Keyboard & Mouse

Edited by Batkingnz, Eng, Lynn, Maria

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If you think about it, you use your mouse and keyboard every time that you use your PC. They are the only interface between you and the computer, and therefore your games. Investing in a good keyboard and mouse can change the way you enjoy your PC as well as make a difference between success and failure while in a game. But what's the difference between mechanical and membrane? And should you be looking for optical or laser? If you're in the market for a gaming mouse and keyboard, then you have probably come across these terms. Below we are going to explain all these, and more, so that you can know how to choose the perfect gaming mouse and keyboard.

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Gaming Keyboards

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If you think that a keyboard is just a keyboard, then think again. In the past it was easy to get away with the sub $5 unit that came with your computer, like back in 1997, but the same is not true for the games of today. Many gamers require programmable keys for complex macros, while others want a backlit keyboard so they can easily view it in dark environments. Read on below for all of your options.

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  1. 1
    Wired vs Wireless.
    A keyboard is a part of your gaming setup that usually remains in one place at any time you are using it, so for a gaming keyboard, going wireless doesn't need to be an option. Of course it is your choice ultimately, but you should first be aware of the drawbacks. Going wireless means that you need a Bluetooth keyboard or a keyboard that comes with a USB receiver. Bluetooth can introduce lag, which means that there will be a delay between key presses and the PC registering your actions. This might be unnoticeable in some games, but where timing is key, like for first person shooters or some MMO and fighting games, this could be the difference between life and death in the game. There's also the issue of replacing batteries. In the case of Wired vs. Wireless, wired is your best option.
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  2. 2
    Backlit keyboards.
    A backlit keyboard not only looks good, but it's also a great way to see the keyboard, especially when you are in a dark room. Backlit options are fairly common these days, and while it's not a make or break feature of the keyboard, it doesn't hurt to have one.
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  3. 3
    Membrane vs.
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    You may have heard the term "Mechanical Keyboard" when shopping around for a gaming keyboard, and may not have known what it meat. A mechanical keyboard is a type of keyboard that uses a mechanical movement to make a key press. Ninety percent of keyboards in existence are membrane keyboards, which use a rubber membrane to make a key press. There are two main advantages to mechanical keyboards. The first is that the mechanical movement is more precise and provides tactile feedback when you have completed the press (a membrane keyboard just bottoms out when it is pressed) and many gamers prefer this feel. The second advantage is the lifespan of the keyboard. Many mechanical keyboards have lifetimes up to 50 million key presses, while membrane keys will wear out long before that. The downsides are that the mechanical movement can sometimes be quite noisy and the price can be slightly more than their membrane cousins.
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  4. 4
    Programmable Keys.
    Programmable keys, or macro keys, are one of the most demanded and used features in gaming keyboards today. These keys allow you to program macro commands in to them for quick execution. Imagine you are playing an MMO game where your character has a number of magic abilities. When attacking, you often use these abilities in succession, meaning that you have to make multiple key presses to execute the combo. A macro key can let you program this combination to a single key so that any time you need to perform the complex combination, you just hit the macro key. If you are playing MMO or real time strategy games, then this functionality can be a lifesaver. Some keyboards offer detachable macro keys so you can position them on the left or right of the main keyboard.
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Gaming Mice

  1. 1
    Wired vs Wireless.
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    In the case of a mouse, wireless can often be the best route to take. As opposed to the keyboard, a mouse is always being moved, which means that a cable cluttering your desk space and hindering your movement can become a real possibility. Some high end gaming mice offer rechargeable batteries with charging cradles, so if you have the money to spend, replacing batteries doesn't need to be a problem. The downside is that you can have some slight lag in your response times, although if you're going high end, it's not really noticeable. Your choice can go either way. The big decision you will be making here is convenience over price.
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  2. 2
    Optical vs Laser.
    Laser mice and optical mice have many similarities. They both rely on a light source projecting onto a surface, which is then reflected and read by the mouse to identify movement. They're both much more accurate than the ball mice of the 1990s and they are both excellent choices for gaming. The difference you will find between an optical mouse and a laser mouse is that a laser mouse will give you much higher DPI settings. Without getting into boring technical details, the higher the DPI, the more information the mouse can read per square inch, giving you a higher level of accuracy. If you're not a first person shooter gamer, then this might not be of much concern to you, but if you are looking for a mouse where even the minutest movement is relayed to the PC, go with laser. If it's a good all around gaming mouse you're looking for and you don't need microscopic levels of accuracy, you can still do just fine with an optical mouse. If you want a mouse with switchable DPI settings, there are plenty of these offered too.
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  3. 3
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    Shape is a very important factor of any mouse, be it for gaming, productivity or casual use. Because your hand spends most of its time resting on the mouse, the mouse needs to be comfortable and fit the contours of your hand. Take a look at your hand in its natural resting position. Notice the inside contour as well as the way that your thumb rests beside that contour. Look for a mouse that fits these contours and, if possible, try one out in a store first, just to get a feel for it. The Logitech brand produces some of the most ergonomic gaming mice available today and they can let you get in hours of playtime without developing strains and numbness. Your basic shaped mouse will get the job done, but try to find one that fits the curves of your hand if you want to avoid any unnecessary injury.
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  4. 4
    Additional Buttons.
    Just like with keyboards and macro keys, mouse manufacturers have found ways to improve on the standard two button mouse. Having a scroll wheel is a must, as are two buttons, but there's a lot more to this on mice these days. Some mice have up to 18 buttons assignable to macros or keyboard keys! This might sound like overkill to some but if you're playing a simulation, strategy or role playing game, then this could be just what you need. For more practical usage though, you would probably want to go with a mouse that has as few as three additional buttons, which are easily within reach of your idle thumb. Whichever end of the spectrum you choose, try to ask yourself first if you will really use all the additional buttons? Another consideration is the shape. Adding buttons can add bulk and make the mouse a less comfortable piece of equipment to use.
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Our Suggestions

So now that you know the ins and outs of gaming keyboards and are familiar with the features and terms that you might come across, you might be overwhelmed with all the choices when you head to the stores or start browsing online. We have compiled a few of the most popular and well received models, which you can use as your starting point. If you're not the type to shop around, you wouldn't be putting a foot wrong in choosing any of the below.

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GAMING MOUSE RAZER NAGA EXPERT MMO 18 Programmable Buttons. Laser Mouse. Changeable Ergonomic Comfort Pads. $80 SRP $80 SRP
GAMING MOUSE LOGITECH G400 8 Programmable Buttons. Ergonomic Design. Optical Mouse. $49.95 SRP
GAMING MOUSE LOGITECH G700 13 Programmable Buttons. Wireless. Ergonomic Design. Laser Mouse. Rechargeable Battery Cell. $99.99 SRP
GAMING KEYBOARD DUCKY ZERO DK2108 Mechanical Type. Standard Keyboard Layout. No Macro Keys. $90.00 SRP
GAMING KEYBOARD MICROSOFT SIDEWINDER X6 Membrane Type. Adjustable Backlight. Programmable Macro Keys. Detachable Macro KeyPad/NumPad. $90.00 SRP
GAMING KEYBOARD LOGITECH G19s Membrane Type. Customizable Color Backlight. Programmable Macro Keys. Built In Programmable Screen. $139.99 SRP

Tips, Tricks & Warnings

  • More is not always better. If you can't think of a situation where you would use macro keys and buttons, don't worry too much if the item you settle on doesn't have them.
  • Some mechanical keyboards (depending on the key type used) can be annoyingly loud when pressed. Ask the salesperson or check the website for the key type and description. "Brown Cherry MX" is a great mechanical key for gamers and is almost silent in operation.
  • RSI (repetitive strain injury) is no joke. Always go for ergonomics in a mouse over features or style. Better yet, find a balance of all. Lifelong injury can be caused from poorly designed equipment.
  • SRP is a suggested retail price and may vary by store or locale. Prices are based on US dollars.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Categories : Noindexed pages | Gaming Hardware

Recent edits by: Lynn, Eng, Batkingnz

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