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Tech Explained: Gaming Keyboards

As the centrepiece of any gamer's gear setup, your keyboard takes a physical beating on the daily. So you really can't have something sub par. Get your head in the game and get a load of our carefully-crafted helpful info below 😉

Key Switch Types

Linear

The simplest of the switches. Moves straight up and down without any tactile feedback or clicking noise. The smooth keystroke allows for more rapid actuation, making them the preferred switch for gamers.


Switch Colours

Tactile

Provides a noticeable bump in the middle of travel to let you know that your key press has been registered. Ideal for typing as you get a slight indication of a keypress without bottoming out.


Switch Colours

Clicky

Similar to tactile switches, but offer a distinct "click" sound when the key is activated. Great for those who want a distinct indication of a keypress and for those who love the "clicky" sound.


Switch Colours

Design

Full Size Layout

The traditional, most recognised form of a keyboard. This layout has around 104 keys in total and offers everything a keyboard has to offer: arrow keys, function keys, number pad.

TenKeyLess (TKL)

A keyboard that doesn't have a numeric keypad. These keyboards have around 88 keys and are narrower and can be more ergonomic. Often abbreviated to TKL.

75% Layout

Smaller than the TenKeyLess but retains more or less the same functionality. The keys are crammed next to each other with no wasted space.

60% Layout

Removes any keys to the right of the ENTER key, as well as the function row of keys. Functions are usually accessed through holding the FN key and pressing other keys. Has around 61 keys depending on layout.

Keys

Key Switches

This is the part of the keyboard that registers the keystroke of the user. It is found underneath the key and can have a variety of response, noise and travel times.

Switch Style

The switch style defines the feel of the keyboard through its key presses. Mechanical keyboards have 3 types of switches; Linear, Tactile and Clicky.

Anti-Ghosting

This allows many key presses at the same time and have them all register. Keyboards without anti-ghosting have a limit to how many keys can be pressed at one time.

Key Rollover

Usually described as N-Key Rollover meaning it can register multiple key presses at once. The N can be replaced with a number to represent a certain limit of simultaneous key presses.

Backlit Keys

A keyboard that contains lights underneath the keys. The backlight illuminates the letters and symbols on the keys making them visible in low light environments.

Marco Keys

Dedicated keys you can set a specific pattern of keystrokes to. Allows you to program common, repetitive actions in games to one simple key press.

Media Keys

Dedicated keys with a special purpose for specific type of applications or operating systems functions. Normally concerning media playback, the media keys are sometimes accessed via the F keys by holding the FN key.

PBT

Polybutylene terephthalate. One of the hardest, most durable materials for keycaps, typically used in more expensive keyboards. PBT keycaps feel more textured and are more durable than ABS.

ABS

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. The cheapest and most common plastic used for keycaps. ABS caps feel smooth and develop a greasy shine over time.

Connectivity

USB Passthrough

The keyboard has USB ports for other devices to be plugged into. Often requires more than one USB port in order to pass the USB through to the PC.

General

Bottoming Out

Pushing the key all the way down.

Activation Point

The key travel distance where the key press is recognised by the keyboard.

Actuation Force

The force required to register a key press. Put simply, it's how hard you have to press the key for it to register.