Gamers are serious when it comes to performance. Most need the best stuff, whether it’s the fastest mouse, the slickest mousepad, or the most powerful graphics card, and keyboards are no exception. Recently, we’ve seen the gaming sections of stores stock up on keyboards: some with 50 extra keys, and others intense World of Warcraft graphics on them. But if you really break it down, there are only two real types of gaming keyboards: mechanical and non-mechanical. Here is a list of the top 5 mechanical gaming keyboards ranked by availability.
SteelSeries 6Gv2 / 7G
The SteelSeries 6Gv2 and 7G are a favourite amongst FPS (first person shooter) players, and can easily be found in any electronic store with a PC gaming section (Eg. BestBuy, Futureshop, NCIX, etc..). Both of the SteelSeries boards use Cherry MX Black switches, which are non-tactile, non-clicky, and require about 70g of force to actuate a keypress. Out of all of the boards mentioned in this list, the SteelSeries is probably the most game oriented since the layout has been slightly modified to prevent in-game mistypes. For those who are a fan of wirst rests, SteelSeries has you covered with the 7G model.
Dealbreaker: The SteelSeries boards are undoubtably “stiffer” compared to the other ones mentioned on this list due to the Cherry Black switches. Depending on your casual and gaming style, you might notice some fatigue in your fingers.
The left “Windows” key is replaced by an unbindable SteelSeries media key that controls various alternative functions for the F keys. This is a big disadvantage for Mac users since you cannot rebind it to “Option”. The “Enter” key has been enlarged which shifts the “\” key between “?” and “Right Shift”. Although this might make it more accurate for gaming, it does make it trickier to use the keyboard casually on a daily basics as you might find yourself accidentally typing “|” on several occasions instead of instead of “?”.
Check out the SteelSeries 6Gv2 / 7G Keyboards.
Razer BlackWidow / BlackWidow Ultimate
The Razer BlackWidow is the probably the best “bang for your buck” mechanical keyboard. The price tag is under $100, and, like the SteelSeries models, can be found in most PC gaming sections. The BlackWidow utilizes Cherry MX Blue switches, which are both tactile and clicky, and require about 50g of force to actuate a keypress.
In addition to media controls, the BlackWidow is the only keyboard on this with with additional macro keys, which are ideal for games such as World of Warcraft and possibly Starcraft 2. The “Ultimate” version of the BlackWidow has cool glowing blue backlit keys allowing users to have an edge in tactile accuracy in “lights off” style game play.
Dealbreaker: The design of the BlackWidow may be the deal breaker for some people. There’s a rather thin line between being cool and being tacky. With the Widow, it’s hard not to appear tacky with a board that looks like it’s from space.
Check out the Razer BlackWidow Keyboards.
Das Keyboard Professional / Ultimate / Silent
The Das Keyboard is popular amongst RTS (real-time strategie) gamers for it’s simplistic design, additional USB side ports, and it’s use of MX switches. Das Keyboard models are a little bit trickier to find, but they are available in store depending on stock and region. Although there are 4 different models, there are essentially to different versions: The click version, which uses Cherry MX Blue switches, and the silent version, which uses Cherry MX Brown switches (the first one on the list!). In terms of tactile feedback, the Cherry Brown switches are similar to the Blues. However, they require only 45g of pressure to actuate and they don’t click.
Das offers an “Ultimate” pure black version for both their Professional and Silent models, which seriously increases the “awesomeness” factor of these boards ten-fold.
Dealbreaker: The Das Keyboards are extremely solid, no question about that. The only real deal breaking factor would be the availability of them. This isn’t an issue if you live in the US since Das offers the option to order online (with free shipping). All you have to worry about would be whether or not $129.00 is worth it to potentially improve your game.
Check out the DasKeyboard Keyboards.
Ducky DK9000 / DK9008
“Ducky” is a taiwanese company and the DK9000 and DK9008 are popular amongst many Asian pro gamers. Don’t let the quirky and cute name fool you, Ducky keyboards are the most technical keyboards on this list. Ducky offers keyboards with uniformed switch types (Black, Blue, or Brown), as well as a version with an interesting mix switched types. The mixed switches are arranged in optimal positions that allow for a good balance of casual daily usage and heavy gaming.
Ducky offers a custom colored keys that allow for customization, trumping the selection of the ones available for Das Keyboards. If needed, you can make your keyboard look like this:
Dealbreaker: Ducky keyboards are insanely hard to find in regions outside of Asia, and almost always require to to buy it online or through a forum. Not to mention, Ducky’s are a little bit on the pricier side.
The Filco Majestouch and all of it’s technical names (Eg. Filco FKB 104, FKBN 104, etc..) is one of the more sought after keyboard by hardcore gamers and mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. Like the Das Keyboard Silent models, the Filco keyboards favour the Cherry MX Brown switches for it’s tactile and non-clicky properties. The Filco’s have a steel chasis interior surrounded by a thick layer of blackened textured plastic. They are rugged, reliable, solid, and stable, without a need for fancy media controls or extra macro keys.
Dealbreaker: Like the Ducky boards, the Filco’s are difficult to find (possibly even more so).
Mechanical Keyboard Overview
To get a better sense of the various types of cherry switches, check out this video below by HotHardware.
Different Cherry MX Switch Types
Cherry Black: Non-tactile & non-clicky
Cherry Blue: Tactile & clicky
Cherry Brown: Tactile & non-clicky
Whether you’re a casual FPS gamer who plays during the weekend, a seasoned StarCraft 2 gamer with 300+ APM, or just someone who types a lot, you definitely need to check out some mechanical keyboards. The experience is really indescribable and can only really be compared to that of a typewriter’s. Once you’ve tried mechanical, everything else just sort of feels.. Well.. cheap.