How to buy a gaming keyboard


When you build a gaming rig, you’re going to find yourself talking a lot about numbers. Higher and bigger are generally better, especially when it comes to stuff like processor speed, amount of RAM and the size of your hard drive. But when it comes to finding the perfect keyboard, you’ll be confronted with a whole new set of metrics, along with shapes and colors that won’t initially make much sense. What the hell is a dome switch? And why are we talking about green cherries?

Most people don’t give a lot of thought to key mechanisms. We usually just stick with whatever came built into our laptops. Portable machines used to be the domain of membrane switches, which are basically pressure-sensitive pads that are prized for their low profile and quiet key press.

But they generally suck for serious typing and gaming. Some machines and tablet keyboards still use them, but for the most part laptop makers have switched to scissor switches like Apple’s sometimes finicky butterfly mechanism.

Scissor switches are a type of dome switch: a hybrid button that puts a folding mechanism under each key that then presses down on a membrane when you push on it. This way, you get the tactile feel of mechanical keys along with the quiet typing and slim profile of a membrane. Most consumer keyboards these days are dome switches — not just the ones built into laptops but also some of those included with desktop purchases.

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