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You are maybe looking for a new keyboard because you don’t feel comfortable with your current one, or maybe it’s starting to have some stuck keys and you are about to throw it through the window. Maybe you just want to buy your first keyboard for your new badass gaming build.
In any case, you have to make a choice, and this can be a difficult process when it comes to choosing a keyboard based on your needs or likes.
If you are looking for a gaming keyboard you would probably have read about the different key switches available in mechanical keyboards. There are also other customization options like RGB Backlit or macro keys.
Here you will find all the information you will ever need to make a perfect choice that fit your needs.
If you see errors, misleading information, or you just don’t agree with me I would really appreciate your comments so we all can improve this post together. Try to be nice with each other and be collaborative.
How To Choose The Best Keyboard
There are two main categories depending on their key types: membrane and mechanical keyboards.
The membrane or chiclet keyboards are commonly used in laptops. They are pretty silent due to the key’s short activation displacement. And for the same reason, they can hurt your fingers in the long term. This depends pretty much on how you hit the keys. Most of the people tend to press the keys with the fingertips (vertically) and is this movement which can damage your fingers after writing for a long time. If you press the keys more with your finger pads and you spend many hours a day writing or playing games you could use a chiclet keyboard without damaging your hand.
The cheapest option is the rubber dome keyboards, which are also known as membrane keyboards. They are pretty similar to the chiclet models so you can expect them to be silent and comfortable for casual users.
The mechanical keyboards are just another world, or a world itself if you want. There is a wide variety of models depending on the key activation mechanism used. They are not only used by gamers but for writers or programmers or anyone who writes many hours on a daily basis. And as you can expect, mechanical keyboards are way more expensive than membrane models. The downside of this keyboard type is that its keys wear out over time and they can loose it’s original feeling after a couple of years of heavy use, but this really depends on the product’s quality.
Mechanical Keyboards Characteristics
Material and Label Printing
The comfort of a key depends primarily on the underneath mechanism, but it also depends on the key’s material. Each manufacturer uses its own material, but in general, the better the keyboard, the better the key feeling. In some cases, the keys are interchangeable, which gives you room for more custom options.
The cheapest keyboards use stickers to label the keys which fade over time. The next quality keyboards level prints the labels via laser, which are more durable. The top notch keyboards use a printing technique called sublimation to inject the ink right into the plastic. This technique offers the most durable labels and the best part is that you won’t notice them.
Choosing the best switch type for your needs can be difficult, especially when there is such a wide variety. You probably would be asking yourself what differentiates one switch type from another:
- Tactile or Linear: tactile switches are those which you can feel the moment where the key acts (close the contact). Otherwise, the switch would be linear.
- Clicky: a switch is considered to be clicky when at the moment the key closes the contact, it produces a sound (a “click”).
- Actuation Force: needed force to be applied to the key to acting.
- Peak Force: needed force to full-travel the key. This characteristic only applies to tactile switches.
Choosing the best switch type is entirely up to you. In case you don’t know where to start, the common recommendations for Gamers are non-tactile Cherry Red switches due to their lower noise levels and low actuation force.
|Type||Clicky||Tactile||Peak Force||Actuation Force|
|Cherry MX - Black||No||No||-||60 cN|
|Cherry MX - Brown||No||Yes||60 cN||45 cN|
|Cherry MX - Red||No||No||-||45 cN|
|Cherry MX - Clear||No||Yes||65 cN||55 cN|
|Cherry MX - Blue||Yes||Yes||60 cN||50 cN|
|Cherry MX - White||Yes||Yes||80 cN||50 cN|
|Cherry MX - Green||Yes||Yes||105 cN||80 cN|
|Cherry MX - Speed||No||No||-||45 cN|
|Razer - Green||Yes||Yes||60 cN||50 cN|
|Razer - Orange||No||Yes||60 cN||45 cN|
|Razer - Chiclet||No||No||-||62±2 cN|
|SteelSeries QS1||No||No||-||45 cN|
The most common switches here for mechanical keyboards are the Red, Black and Brown Cherry MX. The Red Cherry requires less force so they are used in fast games where you need to hit the keys as fast as possible. The Black Cherry is a little tougher and that can help you to avoid unintentional pulsations.
Unless the Red Cherry and Black Cherry, the Brown Cherry is tactile and the required force is between the Red and Black. Those features make the Brown Cherry suitable for both writing and gaming.
Basic – From $10 to $60
The following keyboards covers the casual user’s needs. They do not offer any special feature but they are still good enough for general use.
'Logitech MK270 Keyboard/Mouse Combo'
'Logitech MK520 Keyboard/Mouse Combo'
Here are two of the most awesome mechanical keyboards I’ve seen over the past few years, offering a great build quality and unbeatable prices. You only have to check the user’s reviews to see that they both really worth it.
'Corsair Vengeance K65'
Standard – From $60 to $100
'SteelSeries Apex RAW'
'SteelSeries Apex 350'
'Logitech G610 Orion Red'
'G.Skill Ripjaws KM570 MX'
'Tesoro Excalibur Spectrum G7SFL'
'SteelSeries Apex M500'
'Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016'
Pro – From $100
'Corsair Gaming K70 LUX'
'Razer BlackWidow X Tournament Edition Chroma'
'Cougar Attack X3 RGB'
'Corsair Gaming K95'
'Gigabyte Aivia Osmium'
'Razer BlackWidow Chroma'
'Corsair Gaming K95 RGB Aircraft-Grade Aluminum'
'SteelSeries Apex M800 Customizable'
- May 8, 2017: Corsair Gaming K95, Corsair K63, Logitech G413, Logitech G610 Orion Red
- May 2, 2017: MechanicalEagle Z-77, Corsair Vengeance K65, Logitech MK520
- March 18, 2017: Corsair Gaming K70 LUX
- February 1, 2017: G.Skill Ripjaws KM570 MX, Cougar Attack X3 RGB
- May 8, 2017: Gigabyte GK-FORCE K7, Logitech Keyboard K120
- March 18, 2017: Corsair Gaming K70
How did you find this guide? Do you prefer mechanical or membrane keyboards? Do you use a particular mechanical switch for any reason? Do you have a unique customized keyboard?Comment Below!
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