How to Choose the Best Keyboard for PC Gaming: Know Which Keyboard Layouts and Features are Best

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The Keyboard - a staple of writing tools since about 1864. If you think our current keyboards come from the start of the computer industry, you’d be overlooking a very important primitive writing device: the beloved typewriter - a favorite of film noir writers and self-proclaimed narrators. So, before we get started talking about which keyboards are best for gamers, let’s talk a little about the history of the keyboard and where the key arrangement came from.

Admit it - the first time you laid eyes on a computer keyboard something wasn’t quite right. Reading from left to right on the 2nd row of the keyboard read Q-W-E-R-T-Y. Logic would dictate that perhaps the best way to arrange this would be in alphabetical order, starting from A to Z, and at least it would be easy for people to learn to use. The only thing is, the key arrangement has been around since the dawn of the typewriting age, back then, technology wasn’t exactly what one would call “good”. Typists could type at incredible speeds on older keyboards, making it a problem for the mechanical type writers back then to keep up. What would happen was that the typists would break or jam the typewriter’s typing bars by moving too quickly. In order to avoid this problem, a special QWERTY setup was eventually established that would make the typers slow down in order to work the typewriter without breaking it.

And that’s how the current key arrangement came about, the rest is history. It’s almost ironic in a horrible way that the keyboard we use today was developed to slow us down in an age where computing speed is very important… The keys in a keyboard now work on a spring loaded system in almost all cases, that’s how they bounce back right into position after each keystroke - and they have since electric typewriters, long before computers.


So, what does the keyboard mean to the gamer? It’s only the most crucial part of your gaming set up. The way I look at it, and this should make it simple for you console gamers to understand, the keyboard plays the role of the face buttons in the keyboard-mouse setup. The keyboard serves to move your character in space while the mouse typically controls the camera. In other setups, the keyboard functions as a command center for all your units and for movements on a map.

The best keyboards for the PC gamer have to be those that allow for custom-setups. Beyond that, the essence of buying a keyboard comes down to only two things: Ergonomics and Response Times.

Bluetooth or Radio-enabled keyboards will have a very slight delay in response, and could even turn off as they run on battery - meaning that most gamers who have the room will avoid them, working with wired keyboards instead.

Ergonomics play a huge role as well. Keep in mind that you’ll be resting your hands on the bottom part of the keyboard for most of the day, and even while you play, your left hand will always be on the board. This means that for some people, ergonomically designed cushions at the bottom part of the board, or a separate cushion below the keyboard, work best.

Your keyboard, much like your mouse, is an extremely personal choice, and if at all possible, you should try to test one out at a local electronics store (even if you don’t end up buying it there). By looking and feeling how the board feels on your fingers and wrists, you’ll be able to efficiently pick which one will work best for you. And that’s all there is to it - follow my advice and you should be on your way to gaming nirvana in no time - with no Carpal Tunnel Syndrome either.

This post is part of the series: Building the Perfect Gamer PC

Articles that will help you build the perfect gaming rig!

  1. Understanding and Choosing Video Cards and Components
  2. What to Look and Listen for in a Sound Card
  3. Review of the Best Sound Cards
  4. Choosing the Right Speakers for PC Gaming
  5. The Best Speakers for Computer Gaming
  6. The Basics Behind a Computer Processor
  7. The Best Computer Processors for PC Gaming
  8. What a Hard Drive Is and How it Can Help Your PC Gaming Machine
  9. How Power Supplies Keep Your Gaming PC Up and Running
  10. The Top Power Supplies for PC Gaming Computers
  11. Differences Between CRT and LCD Monitors for PC Gaming
  12. Top Monitor Choices for PC Gaming
  13. Why the Right Mouse Matters for PC Gaming
  14. Reviewing the Field of Mice for PC Gaming
  15. Finding the Right Keyboard for PC Gaming
  16. Tips to Keep in Mind When Building a Gaming PC