Mechanical keyboards are the need of the hour and an important part of every gaming setup. Without a mechanical keyboard, your gaming setup is practically impossible. The chances are that you have got your hands on a gaming keyboard already.
Although, selecting the right keyboard from a whole pool of options can be tough. However, knowing the key difference between gaming keyboard and regular keyboard can be a lot of help in such scenarios. The gaming keyboard has proven to be considerably faster than a regular keyboard, twice as quick response time.
While a gaming keyboard is designed explicitly to give you a smooth and immersive gaming experience, regular keyboards are more focused on ergonomics for added comfort and a better typing experience. Although both these keyboards can be difficult to differentiate when compared, there are noticeable differences in the overall keyboard layout and the types of switches used.
Choosing the right keyboard is key and largely depends on what you are going to use it for. But before you get to choosing, you need to know the difference between gaming keyboard and regular keyboard. In this article, we will walk you through every possible factor that separates a gaming keyboard and a regular keyboard.
Difference Between Gaming Keyboard and Regular Keyboard
A gaming keyboard, also known as a mechanical keyboard, is designed explicitly to handle those prolonged gaming hours followed by aggressive keystrokes and much more. As compared to the traditional keyboard, a gaming keyboard offers faster action time with significantly less key depression.
Meanwhile, regular keyboards are more typing oriented meaning they are perfect if you are looking for a keyboard to satisfy all your work/business needs. These regular keyboards rely on dome switches (membrane technology) because of why they are relatively cheaper and have a quiet keypress.
Here are some of the parameters based on which you can tell the difference between gaming keyboard and regular keyboard.
1. Mechanical Switches
Gaming Keyboard, also known as a mechanical keyboard, generally come with mechanical switches. The majority is designed explicitly for aggressive use when gaming. If you are looking for a gaming keyboard, you will need to get a keyboard that has strong switches built to handle pressure situations. But mechanical switches are further divided into three types namely –
- Linear Mechanical Switches: Linear mechanical switches generally have a light key feel, smooth compression, and tend to make less noise when clicked upon. If you are a competitive gamer who puts in those long hours when gaming, opt for linear mechanical switches.
- Tactile Mechanical Switches: Majority of the gamers love the clickety feel every time they game. Tactile mechanical switches are the ones that have a noticeable bump when you press them. These tactile mechanical switches are perfect for both gaming and typing.
- Clicky Mechanical Switches: This is the loudest of the three switches. These switches provide a tactile bump along with added click sound. However, gamers generally prefer to look the other way when it comes to the clicky mechanical switches.
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2. Fast Response Time
Designed explicitly for gaming, mechanical keyboards have a faster response than a normal keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are faster than 15-25 milliseconds whereas a normal keyboard has a response time of roughly 30 milliseconds.
While this difference is practical of a few milliseconds, having a faster response time allows you to react comparatively faster than your opponents. People into games such as CS GO, Overwatch, Fortnite, and other relevant games understand the importance of having a keyboard with a fast response time.
3. Programmable Keys
One of the key difference between gaming keyboard and regular keyboard is the programmable keys (macro keys) feature that comes with mechanical keyboards. As the name suggests, these macro keys allow you to assign complex command sequences to a single key. This is actually a handy feature if you are into MMORPG and MOBA games such as WOW, Dota 2, and other such games.
When it comes to programmable switches, you get to set up your customized key bindings that will perform specific actions in the preferred order. This eliminates the need to remember in-game hot-keys or press keys repetitively.
4. RGB Lighting
If you are looking for a more immersive gameplay experience, the majority of the mechanical switches come with a cool RGB backlighting feature. This feature is generally absent in a normal keyboard. This backlighting feature is either single-colored or multi-colored depending on which one you opt for.
The primary reason for RGB lighting is the appeal it brings along. Along with the appeal, these backlights generally allow you to game during any lighting condition. If you are someone who loves to play horror games in a low-light environment, you can opt for a mechanical keyboard with RGB lighting.
5. N-Key Rollover
For those who don’t know, the N-key rollover (NKRO) refers to the number of times at which you can press a certain key simultaneously and have them all registered in the same order in which they are pressed. The NKRO is primarily available with mechanical keyboards wherein each keypress is registered independently and accurately irrespective of how many other keys are held or pressed down
Meanwhile, several membrane keyboards offer around a 6-key rollover; meaning that the keyboard can generally handle around 6 simultaneous keypresses. However, the NKRO is generally irrelevant if you are using your keyboard solely for typing purposes as typing generally includes pressing one after the another.
Although, the NKRO is generally a helpful feature if you are planning to use your keyboard for gaming purposes. Since gaming includes pressing multiple keys simultaneously, a mechanical keyboard or a membrane keyboard with a 6-key rollover can work out wonders for you.
Since a lot goes into the making of mechanical keyboards, they tend to be more heavy and powerful as compared to other membrane keyboards. Ensuring good stability in a keyboard means that the keys don’t slide around easily even when you tend to be a bit aggressive when gaming.
The good thing about mechanical keyboards is that you get instant results without needing to press and hold down on a key. This largely helps in building a muscle memory meaning that you needn’t look down at your keyboard when gaming or typing and can accurately predict when a keystroke is registered.
However, membrane keyboards generally tend to have an actuation force. This actuation force makes it difficult to predict keystrokes and you’ll need to look at your keyboard every time you register a keystroke.
Irrespective of the computer peripheral you buy, you always need to opt for a peripheral that ensures maximum durability. Buying a computer peripheral with questionable durability will only have you shedding out a sizeable chunk of money after every few months. This stands true if you are opting for gaming keyboards instead of a normal keyboard. Gaming generally means you are going to register aggressive and heavier keystrokes.
In simple words, the keys are going to undergo heavy punishment when used for gaming. In such cases, you’ll need to go for a keyboard that ensures a longer lifespan and maximum durability. If you are opting for mechanical keyboards, go for the keyboards fitted with Cherry MX switches that promise a longer lifespan as compared to other keyboards. However, this kind of lifespan is not guaranteed if you opt for a normal keyboard.
Once you have taken care of the basics, you also need to look at how your keyboard will pair with your overall gaming ecosystem. A normal keyboard generally doesn’t go beyond a traditional black and white combination. Meanwhile, mechanical keyboards offer a whole wide array of colors.
Accordingly, you can select the one that pairs well with your overall setup. The majority of these mechanical keyboards also have a detailed key pattern followed by LED lights on their panels. Apart from lights and colors, these mechanical keyboards also come in different shapes and sizes that are more accustomed to the latest “space-age” designs.
Irrespective of your purpose for a keyboard, comfort and functionality always remain the two determining factors. Whether you are using your keyboard for gaming or for work needs, you need to ensure that these keyboards ensure maximum comfort for you to perform their tasks. The majority of the gaming keyboards tend to come with a detachable wrist padding that provides maximum support to your wrists.
This feature largely adds to the keyboard’s ergonomics and overall comfort. Having a keyboard that ensures maximum comfort allows a gamer and a worker to put in those long hours without exhaustion and wrist strain.
Gaming keyboards have keys that are well-spaced which only make it easier to type. In addition to all this, gaming keyboards have tones of convenience features onboard such as dedicated media control buttons, rubberized keys, headphone and microphone jacks, and numerous USB ports.
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When you look at a mechanical and a normal keyboard, there aren’t many differences. However, if you look closely, you’ll notice sizeable differences in terms of features and other numerous parameters.
While a gaming keyboard gives you numerous customization options, a normal keyboard can make your work-life comparatively easier. Although a mechanical keyboard isn’t cheap, it has tones of features to offer that can relatively make both gaming and work easier.