How to Choose the Best Gaming Keyboard of 2016

razer-mechanical-switches-banner-1First of all, when it comes to choosing the best gaming keyboard for you – you need to decide on a switch type. As far as key types go, mechanical switches are king. Nearly every keyboard the comes bundled with your laptop,  desktop, or tablet comes with rubber domes that barely scrape by as “that’ll do”. These are so cheap and easy to mass produce for consumer products that they are used in everything from Blackberry phones to TV remotes. These rubber domes are terrible for gaming because they lack tactile feedback so the key must be depressed completely to register.

 “Without tactile feedback it is very difficult to type without bottoming out every keystroke, causing over-exertion and finger/hand fatigue that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.”

Das Keyboard

Some companies, Steelseries in particular, are trying to resell these subpar setups as “gaming” keyboards (see Apex). Do not settle for these cheap and overpriced products.

We need to find out what kinds of keys fit your play style (what kinds of games you play!). This is why we highly recommend you try out each key type using this easy to use sampler kit. O-rings are also included in this particular kit since some people prefer to mod the keys on their gaming keyboard to give them a shorter traveling length to bottom out.

Cherry MX Sampler Kit

Mounted on PCB to simulate actual key feeling. Includes the switch types Cherry MX Red, MX Black, MX Blue, and MX Brown

So…you don’t want to try out the kit? Check out this video, take a look at the chart below, or find a friend who has a keyboard with a switch you want to try. (Joining a local LAN event can be a great opportunity to try out different switches). In general, the Brown and Red switches on gaming keyboards are most preferred for MOBAs (League of Legends, DoTA), RTSs (Starcraft 2, Civilization 5), or MMOs (World of Warcraft, EvE, Guild Wars 2). While Black switches are best for FPSs (CounterStrike, Destiny, Call of Duty). Cherry MX blue switches are better for typing than the previous three while still being good for gaming. The only downside is that the Blue switches can be annoying due to the clicking.

Most Common Cherry MX Switches (Cherry MX refers to the “+” shape of the key holder)

Switch Types Force of Actuation* Sound Style Characteristics
Cherry MX Red 45 cN – Linear Quiet Lighter Typer Smooth with no tactile bump; a lighter variant of the Cherry MX Black linear switch.
Cherry MX Black 60 cN – Linear Quiet Heavy Typer Smooth with no tactile bump; a stiffer variant of the Cherry MX Red linear switch
Cherry MX Blue 50 cN – Tactile & Clicky Loud Heavy Typer Tactile and clicky switch. You can feel the tactile bump and hear the "click" that occurs when the activation point is hit.
Cherry MX Brown 45 cN – Tactile Quiet Lighter Typer Softer and lighter tactile bump. The tactile point is much less pronounced.

* Minimum force required to register as a keypress

Hopefully this guide has helped you make an informed decision in choosing the best gaming keyboard. You can check out our Most Recommended League of Legend Keyboard List for popular keyboards.