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The level 101 gamer keyboard: what must you have to be unbeatable?

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Basic requirements
What's so great about mechanical keyboards?
For a handful of keys
There is still a lot of room for improvement

Some technical requirements


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Let's start with being honest: most keyboards full of stickers, little colored lights and signs to consider it a " gamer keyboard " are, in general, a complete nonsense. Terrible construction materials, delay when pressing the keys, unnecessary functions that you will never ever use, and a long etcetera..

A keyboard is a tool . You have to look for comfort for those long periods of use, usability and practicality; You have to be realistic and recognize that there is no low-end according to which products. Any generic standard works better than a 10 euro gamer toy. That said, let's go there:

Basic requirements

Any seasoned PC gamer has had to deal with good and bad keyboards. Before deciding on a specific model, there are a few preliminary considerations that we must take into account:

  1. Backlit keys. Backlighting is key for those late night games where you're alone in front of the screen and headphones. One thing is a handful of colored LEDs like the Enterprise's control panel, and another is soft, even lighting, preferably in cool tones, white or bluish.
  2. Numeric keyboard. Here it is easy to debate between the comfort of a compact keyboard that, in turn, dispenses with this extra section, and one that carries it. The reason is obvious: to have the mouse closer. Hence, the main manufacturers design their Long and Short versions . It depends on taste, but a numeric keypad is also a great resource for programming shortcuts, as we will see later.
  3. Durability. For this the requirement is simple: we need a mechanical keyboard . Cheap plastic membranes eventually get stuck, lose sensitivity, and their flat angle requires a conscious effort to assimilate where each key is - you don't create such an organic overall image.
  4. Macros Macro keys are a must for gamers . Macros are actions that must be executed with combinations of keys and, in this way, use a single key press. In an MMORPG, where you need combinations to cast spells or give orders, they serve as a shortcut. They consist of one or more rows of keys, programmable even for the audio volume of the chats.

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What's so great about mechanical keyboards?

When you're picking out a good keyboard it's easy to come across the words ' Cherry switches '. This is because a large part of the manufacture of electromechanical components comes from the hand of ZF Electronics GmbH, better known as Cherry Corp., a German-American company that has been manufacturing keyboards since the 1950s.

Currently there are a lot of switch types - and combinations, 'MX', ' double ', etc -, but what has to be clear to us is that, on the one hand, they can be removable and, on the other, they adapt to our needs..

Among all these types we will highlight three: the Cherry Back, with a linear touch and constant force from the beginning of the deep pulsation to the end. The Cherry Brown, soft and balanced performance. Among these, the silent mode stands out , which adds damping pads that reduce loudness when pressing the key. And, between Cherry Blue and Red, we would highlight the latter, with a very soft feel, ideal for experts who know the position of each key .

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One drawback against mechanical keyboards versus membrane keyboards is their weight. Not only are they louder and more expensive, due to the quality of their components, but, consequently, they can easily jump over a kilogram of weight, making them more uncomfortable to move..

Against this, the solution is in compact models. These not only dispense with the numeric keypad but also shorten the 'Enter' key, leaving it in half, in addition to suppressing macros. If your thing is to play at home, with good performance and spend long periods in front of the PC, we do not recommend them.

For a handful of keys

Based on these notes, we can now form an image of the keyboard that we would like for our gaming environment. There are thousands of models with thousands of configurations, so it is convenient to observe, rather than price range, their technical specifications .

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Lenovo strongly bet on the market for specialized peripherals - both for professional e-sport players and non-expert users - at the past CES 2016, with its Gaming Keyboard from the Y series , the brand's gaming family. This model becomes an extension in design of the notebooks also of the Y series.

This is no ordinary RGB keyboard. Under each key there is an independent dimmable LED, with 5 levels of lighting intensity , USB connection added to a 2.5 ”jack input for headphones and another for micro, all gold-plated for greater performance. This " gaming keyboard " is easily the most complete and robust of its kind.

It includes 6 fully programmable macro G keys on the left side, the switches are made up of the advanced 'Kailh Red' system, the entire bottom surface is a great wrist rest - as opposed to the usual fins that often generate more inconvenience than advantage - and the keys add a short delay against double keystrokes or erroneous keystrokes on neighboring keys.

Positioning the modifier keys - they do everything, control, uppercase, alt, command shortcuts - on the left side has a design reason: they are focused for use by the little finger. While other models think about the thumbs, this Lenovo keyboard bets on the other eternally forgotten finger. But, in this case, the performance is more agile because it does not involve a wrist movement , only an extension of the fingers.

This keyboard, by the way, will be followed by a surround headset with professional finishes and a high-performance mouse, 4 adjustable DPI levels - programmable speed - and 4 small 5-gram weights on the lower base to customize the movement and precision of the mouse. .

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There is still a lot of room for improvement

But not everything is perfect. Many designs opt for templates where most of the keys are colored. There is a debate between whether this should be done or not: on the one hand, an expert knows that he does not need to be pointed out the cross made of the letters 'A', 'S', 'D', 'W', and 'X' because, simply put, you already know its functionality in advance. On the other hand, the switch keys should always be highlighted with color groups. Or, in the case of the direction arrows, a lighting independent of the rest .

A good design should be able to offer as much visual aid as possible without compromising the final quality and aesthetics of the design.

A correct decision being made regarding keyboard design is the inclusion of sensitive LED displays. This could expand the horizon of the programmable keys , in addition to adding gestural movements as we are seeing in some pads or tablets, giving more life and interactivity to the keyboards, knowing that more and more transmedia and multidisciplinary games are given.

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Some technical requirements

For the traditional player, seasoned in a thousand battles, from 'Counter Strike' to 'Age of Empires', from 'World of Warcraft' to 'Battlefield', it is convenient to dig a little deeper. There are several additions to consider.

For example, the minimum key travel, 3.5 millimeters. This conditions the speed of our pulsation and writing. The design must also accompany, with a higher point in the center and lightening the slope towards the edges, based on the logical position of the arms.

Although most mechanical keyboards promise to last for years and years, it is always advisable to check if they stand out by the number of keystrokes in their useful life. At least 5 million keystrokes would be a good standard, but ideally just twice that. Oh, and a two-year warranty.

The peak of force. They will have read at some point that of ' charge ' or ' dominant force '. A standard in switches is 55 ± 7 grams. This defines the elasticity and strength of the key and, in turn, is related to the effective distance to press the key . Without going into many technicalities we will say that the less height the finger needs to press, the greater speed we can acquire, avoiding detaching ourselves from the keyboard.

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Gold bath. The gold plating reduces the effect of corrosion and noise filtering, slightly improving the data transmission speed. In addition, cable is recommended, never bluetooth , WiFi or infrared, not even with batteries , and that it does not share too long measurements, between 1.5 meters and 1.8 meters.

Anti-ghosting system. The ghosting effect means that the keyboard is unable to send enough information when 2 or more keys are pressed simultaneously. In these cases, our equipment usually produces a beep until we stop pressing or it simply will not recognize the keys. A good gaming keyboard usually recognizes between 5 to 10 keys pressed simultaneously .

In short, the unbeatable keyboard must meet as many requirements as our favorite game asks us and, incidentally, do it comfortably. Because, first of all, if you don't feel comfortable with something, it's not worth it. Ergonomics is key to avoiding problems like carpal tunnel syndrome. A good solution would be the rubbery or silicone edges.


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