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Best Gaming Keyboard for the PC

Updated on March 26, 2013
Logitech G15 Gaming-Keyboard - one of the first gaming keyboards to incorporate an LCD screen.
Logitech G15 Gaming-Keyboard - one of the first gaming keyboards to incorporate an LCD screen. | Source

Do you use a gaming keyboard?

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Why do I need a Gaming Keyboard?

As a hardcore PC gamer of 30+ years I know the benefits of getting a quality keyboard. The feel and touch of a keyboard and its responsiveness can mean the difference between success and failure in many games. As I stealthily creep past that huge bear in Skyrim I understand that without a decent keyboard I’d probably be reloading the game after a quick but deadly encounter with the lumbering beast.

So what elements are important when picking the best keyboard for playing games?

  • Mechanical or not? - Some gamers love the mechanical click of a keyboard – the solid feel ensure they know their movement or command will happen – however, many modern keyboards are more tactile and are aimed at the gamer who wants to know that their rapid tapping of the fire key will be picked up without error. It comes down to personal choice; for me I prefer the non mechanical keyboard as it gives me more control over my on-screen actions.
  • Layout – I’ve been playing games on the PC so long that my fingers automatically align themselves around the WASD keys even when I’m typing a letter! While layouts vary from keyboard to keyboard, with customization you’ll find that you can generally setup the way you want – your fingers will eventually align themselves no matter what peripheral you own.
  • Customization – this is probably the most important factor, especially for online games. In some games I have set moves where I start off by firing a bow from a distance then quickly whip out my short sword and prepare a healing spell in my free hand. While many games allow you to set these up, it can still take a few keystrokes to switch. Therefore the ability to create a macro and add it to a key is very important and allows me to switch stances seamlessly.

The peripherals listed below are in my opinion some of the best for gamers. There are others available that do a similar job but I feel that the quality, price and usability make these stand out above the rest.

The best gaming keyboard: Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard

Authors Note: I consider this keyboard to be the best available currently. As a geek I simply must have the best. While I admit the LCD isn’t a must-have item, it does add a nice touch and can be useful occasionally – it’s not widely used yet, but one day I feel it will be important. Can I justify the additional $90? Probably not, but then can I justify the mega-PC I bought simply to be able to play the best games?

Logitech have a long history of creating top quality keyboards and their gaming keyboards are simply the best. Essentially they’ve taking their basic keyboard, added plenty of keys for macros, adding an LCD display and backlighting to create a multi-purpose keyboard that is particularly useful for online games.

The G19 has removed mechanical switches allowing for repetitive motions such as quick keystrokes to be less stressful on hands and also to ensure that the mechanics do not fail due to this repetition. The macro keys are essential to MMO fans allowing them to setup standard keystrokes and enabling them to quickly and easily use these keystrokes by pressing one button – with easy setup these macro keys really enhance many online games and give the user a slight edge of other gamers.

While many games do not currently support the LCD screen I suspect that this will become an important factor in the future and therefore you may want to invest the extra $90 rather than opting for the cheaper non LCD version of this keyboard. I note that many feel the LCD is useless, and I agree to a certain extent – it is small and isn’t supported much but there is a potential for it to become an integral part of future gaming experiences.

Other top Gaming keyboards:

Authors Note: If I didn’t have to have the best then I’d pick one of the following keyboards depending on how much my budget could stretch to!

Logitech Gaming Keyboard G110

This is another great keyboard from Logitech. It’s one of the more accurate and sharp keyboards with a surprisingly soft touch. It’s pretty much a standard keyboard in looks and feel and isn’t particularly designed for comfort, however with the customizability that allows you to change the back lighting color, assign macros to keys and even control volume from the keyboard it does become a decent gaming keyboard.

Like most Logitech peripherals it is sturdy and well built and should last many hours of tough online game play. It’s basic but good!

SteelSeries Merc Stealth Gaming Keyboard

I’ve seen this keyboard get many bad reviews but in my opinion it’s one of the best gaming keyboards available. Perhaps the biggest problem with the keyboard is that with the separate game key clusters that have been added to the left of the main keyboard, the rest of the keyboard is cluttered and thus it takes a while to get used to using it – accuracy, which is all important on online games, is diminished for a while.

The separate cluster of keys is a great idea and it does help for standard first-person shooters but overall I’m not sure that all gamers will benefit from this. The keyboard is very customizable though so you will be able to preset commands for any game using the software that you can download – the software can be a little difficult but with perseverance you should be able to do what you want – if not you can always use one of the preset custom mappings.

The keyboard is well constructed and definitely feels good however there is a learning curve and even after that the keyboard could feel awkward to gamers who don’t play every day. I’ve played PC games for 30 years and my fingers are fully trained to use the mouse and WASD keys – it took several months to get used to doing this and several years to master. Moving to a new system is difficult and you have to retrain your fingers - this isn’t that easy to do!

The Merc Stealth is an innovative keyboard and if you plan on staying with the series over time then I expect it will enhance game play – if you’re a casual gamer then I’d probably give this a miss.

Sharkoon Skiller

Not all of us can afford the top of the range keyboard however if you’re on a budget this keyboard is perfect. With 20 additional keys that can be assigned macros, this is an ideal keyboard for those who have limited funds. It’s a functional keyboard which is sturdy and practical – it’s not the best gaming keyboard out there but for the price it is well worth it.

This is another keyboard that abandons the mechanical keys – some gamers prefer the feel of mechanical keys but for me it’s the ease of use that is more important. This keyboard doesn’t quite have the same touch as the Logitech but it is responsive and generally performs well.

With the software that allows you to customize every key on the keyboard and setup several profiles so you can easily switch between a standard keyboard, a Microsoft Office keyboard or a Skyrim keyboard you soon realize how much of a bargain this keyboard really is!

Other good Gaming Keyboards:

Microsoft SideWinder X4 Keyboard
Microsoft SideWinder X4 Keyboard

A great keyboard for hardcore gamers with anti-ghosting technology and a repetitive macro key. Sturdy and stylish, this peripheral has plenty of customization options. Not the most stylish keyboard out there but is very functional and is reasonably priced.

 

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