How do you like your keyboards: tikkity tak or clackity clack?
Whether you're deep into your final draft or strafing left and right in Valorant, a good keyboard can make or break your desktop experience. It's the thing you're touching the most out of your whole set up, and consequently the thing you'll clean the most. Choosing the right keyboard is important and, unfortunately, complicated. Thankfully, we've simplified your decision with three can't-miss options.
What to know about gaming keyboards
Like gaming mice, you can theoretically use any old keyboard for PC gaming. But with flashes like RGB lighting and sturdy builds that have comfort and endurance in mind, investing in a good keyboard elevates your personal computer from ho-hum to whoa, whoa. With a good gaming keyboard, your fingers' natural oils won't wear out the keys or wipe away the lettering, which is really important.
Keyboards also come in several varieties. There are two main flavors: A mechanical keyboard and a membrane keyboard. This is rooted in the specific build of the keys and how your computers recognize input.
Mechanical keyboards, which utilize metal springs to keep your keys hoisted up, sound like they're ancient. But they're actually preferred by gamers because of the feel of the inputs, as well as the customization options due to the removable keys. (That also makes them way, way easier to clean.) Because of that, mechanical keyboards sometimes come at a premium price.
But membrane keyboards, which layer a plastic "membrane" underneath the keys, have their fans because of their lower cost and quieter typing sound. If you live with other people and don't want to keep them awake with the taktakataktaka of your typing, membrane keyboards are for you.
There are pros and cons to both and it's helpful to recognize which of the two are right for you.
Beyond that, mechanical keyboards also come in several varieties. Truthfully, these are really unnoticeable except for the most detail-oriented aficionados. But in case you're curious:
- Linear are simplest, move up and down without feedback or clicking, and allow rapid input which is preferred for gamers.
- Tactile, true to the name, provide a more obvious tactile feedback with a bump in feedback.
- Clicky, which offer a clicking sound when a key is activated. This is great for those who derive enjoyment out of a clicky sound.
Yeah, keyboards are a lot! But if you're just starting out in PC gaming or simply need a good suggestion for a replacement, we've got three ace choices you can't ignore.
1. The best of the best: Logitech G915
Starting off with a premium choice is Logitech's new G915 wireless keyboard. Like many gaming keyboards, the G915 sacrifices the numeral keys on the right side to maximize your space. What it sacrifices there, the excellent G915 makes up in top-notch performance, slim design, and enviously convenient metal volume wheel and dedicated rubber media playback buttons. Using Logitech's G HUB, you can customize the light display of the keyboard to your liking.
For a mechanical tactile keyboard, the G915 is unbelievably light and portable. Not that you should be going anywhere in a pandemic, but if you must, take comfort knowing you've got a hefty 40 hours of battery life on a single charge. The keyboard also comes with Logitech's LIGHTSPEED functionality, minimizing input report rate down to a speedy one millisecond. For gamers where timing is everything, the G915 simply can't be ignored.
2. Something a little cheaper: Logitech G513
If you want to feel like you're really playing with power, Logitech's G513 is a powerhouse that plays right and feels right. First, there is an included memory foam wrist wrest that is seriously comfortable and seriously welcome. I've personally used this keyboard and the wrist wrest since the start of lockdown, and four months later the padding is as fresh and comfy as when I took it out of the box. And I work on my computer six to seven hours a day or more!
Elsewhere, the keyboard's airbrushed aluminum, matte key texture, and carbon aesthetic is visually stunning, especially in person. And it feels good too. While there is still a distinct typing noise, it is quieter than other keyboards, making it a very appealing option if you share your living space with others or secretly tweet during Zoom meetings.
Finally, there is an unbelievably handy USB port that, while intended for mice, can be used for other USB inputs if your desktop's USB slots are all used up. The G513 does everything and everything well.
3. The best for less: Razer Cynosa Chroma
Finally, for those on a budget, Razer's Cynosa Chroma is an attractive membrane keyboard at an affordable price point. This lil' guy supports customizable macro configurations and RGB lighting that can sync to your games or even your Phillips smart home lights. Cheaper than most premium gaming keyboards, Razer's Cynosa Chroma does exactly what you need it to do, and it does it with style.
Eric's Sick Picks is a weekly column recommending cool gadgets and peripherals in tech, gaming, and culture to improve your lifestyle.