The 3 best keyboards for hardcore PC gamers

Building a gaming PC is an art. It’s a fine balance between power, cost and aesthetics, and if done correctly, it’s more rewarding than any console on the market. Certain online directories give builders the tools to design, customise and order any gaming rig imaginable, and countless blogs give counsel on the hottest hardware and best deals around. From CPUs to GPUs, no detail is too small when assembling a thousand-dollar or more machine.

And then there’s the accessories: mice, keyboards and speakers. They’re an afterthought. And it’s a shame, because when it comes to gaming, hardware as seemingly simple as a keyboard can actually make or break the whole experience.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate (US$140)

Razer is one of the top brands in gaming accessories, and with it comes a premium price tag. But is any keyboard worth US$140? If you value a pure experience, yes. The first thing you’ll notice after unboxing the BlackWidow is it’s durability. You should never hurl your keyboard across the room after a WoW raid fails 90 percent through the dungeon — but if you do, this Razer might withstand a couple of throws.

They keys are mechanical blues to a nice tactile response, and it has a 10-key rollover, meaning you can press 10 keys at once and the keyboard will response to each of them (this is handy for two-player games on one board). The green backlight is bright and vibrant, with a smooth matte-black finish that gives this board a simple yet refined look. The BlackWidow has the standard USB, microphone and headphone pass-throughs you expect from a gaming keyboard. This is hands-down the best for a bigger budget.

Microsoft Sidewinder X4 (US$55)

On the other side of the budgeting spectrum, Microsoft is known for affordable gaming accessories. The Sidewinder series gives gamers with less pocket change the chance to work with some gear that’s designed for gaming but light on the wallet. The biggest and best similarity to the BlackWidow is the X4’s clean, matte-black finish and backlit keys. It features an n-key rollover which means the board reads any amount of keystrokes pressed at once. There are also programmable macros, but games have been banning their use lately (both WoW and LoL have bans, and shooters like BF4 could do the same).

But the keyboard isn’t US$55 for nothing — the drawback to this board is its membrane keys, similar to those on a MacBook keyboard. Gamers love that clicky, tactile response of mechanical keys. Still, for the price, it’s a solid option.

Logitech G510s (US$85)

Here’s a middle-of-the-road board packed with features, including a LCD display perfect for toggling voice chat without interrupting gameplay. Like the Sidewinder, the G510s has membrane keys with the less tactile response, but it’s loaded with programmable g-keys and an anti-stick coating for sweaty hands.

If you’re looking for clean and simple, this isn’t it. The G510s is bright, loud and certainly stands out when it sits on a desk. It is, however, the most feature-rich of the boards in this list, and it’s perfect for customise-freaks who want endless options.

Image: mondalaci via Flickr

Image: Leucius via Wikimedia Commons

Image: yo via Wikimedia Commons



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