6 Compelling Reasons You May Want to Avoid Gaming Keyboards

Hey there! With so many flashy new gaming keyboards hitting the market, you might feel tempted to pick one up for your next upgrade. But before dropping big bucks on the latest gaming gear, let‘s walk through six important reasons why a gaming keyboard may not be the right fit for your needs.

Gaming keyboards come packed with features tailored specifically for competitive gaming:

  • Precision mechanical key switches
  • High polling rates to reduce input lag
  • Programmable macro keys
  • Immersive RGB lighting effects

But non-gamers gain little benefit from these gaming-centric capabilities. The same features that provide a competitive edge for enthusiastic gamers can actually frustrate casual users.

This guide will detail key drawbacks of gaming keyboards for general use – and suggest quality alternatives better suited to a typical user‘s needs and budget.

Overview: 6 Reasons to Consider Alternatives to Gaming Keyboards

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, here‘s a high-level overview of six compelling reasons why gaming keyboards may not suit your needs:

  1. Quality control issues – Many budget gaming keyboards cut corners on construction and components resulting in short usable lifespans.
  2. Higher costs – You pay a premium for gaming-specialized capabilities that most users won‘t leverage.
  3. Unneeded features – Macro keys, system monitors and aggressive styling provide no benefit to non-gamers.
  4. Excess noise – The precise mechanical switches preferred by gamers also make more noise than typical dome switch keyboards.
  5. Distracting RGB lighting – While awesome for gaming ambiance, pulsing rainbow backlighting frustrates users seeking simple static illumination.
  6. Polling rate overkill – Insane 8000Hz polling offers zero real-world advantage outside of professional gaming.

Now let‘s explore each reason in detail, so you can best evaluate if a gaming keyboard suits your personal needs and preferences.

Reason 1: Quality Control Issues Plague Many Gaming Keyboards

Gaming keyboards currently flood the market across a wide spectrum of price points:

  • High-end specialty models with premium materials and customized components to optimize gameplay.
  • Budget keyboards rushed to market to profit from gaming‘s popularity even if build quality suffers.

Unfortunately these inexpensive gaming-branded keyboards frequently struggle with quality control issues that impact functionality and longevity:

Key chatterMultiple characters registering from one keypress reduces accuracy
Software bugsIssues like RGB control app conflicts corrupt lighting programming
Loose jointsWeak structural integrity causes keys or wrist rests to detach
Non-standard layoutsOdd bottom row sizes limit replaceable keycap options

15% of gaming keyboard owners report issues with key chatter or failed inputs within the first year based on a poll conducted by PC Gamer magazine. And hobbyist keyboard communities frequently complain about quality control problems even with top gaming brands.

You take a reliability gamble buying any budget gaming keyboard model. Mainstream mechanical keyboards offer better quality control at similar prices.

Reason 2: High Costs Versus Mainstream Alternatives

Cost presents another barrier separating quality gaming keyboards from mainstream alternatives offering better overall value.

Let‘s compare the price tag of the premium Asus ROG Azoth gaming keyboard against a well-reviewed mainstream competitor, the Ducky One 3 mechanical keyboard:

SpecsAsus ROG AzothDucky One 3
SwitchesCustom ROG NX mechanicalCherry MX Red linear mechanical
MaterialsAircraft grade aluminum alloy framePlastic casing
KeycapsDoubleshot ABS plasticDurable PBT plastic
ExtrasHot swap sockets, media controlsNone

At over $240, the ROG Azoth costs 56% more than the Ducky One 3 – while both offer responsive mechanical key switches in sturdy housings. Yes, the Azoth brings more gamer-centric extras. But for pure typing quality and durability, the One 3 matches or even exceeds it for $90+ less.

You must pay a premium price to access a gaming keyboard‘s specialty features. More affordable mechanical boards offer comparable quality at lower costs while skipping unneeded gaming add-ons.

Reason 3: Many Gaming Features Provide No Benefit to Typical Users

Speaking of unnecessary add-ons, gaming keyboards cram in a number of supplemental features that only aid gaming:

Macro Keys

Macros allow programming complex commands into a single key. This helps execute gaming combos or sequences too long for WASD keys alone.

But for general typing or office work, extraneous macro keys merely take up space. And their placement to the far left can actually disrupt efficient touch typing.

Integrated System Monitors

Some premium gaming keyboards embed tiny waist-high screens that monitor and display real-time system statistics like CPU/GPU temperatures.

No doubt useful for tuning gaming loadouts and monitoring performance. But an absolute waste of money for users who won‘t leverage these metrics outside gaming scenarios.

Aggressive "Gamer" Aesthetics

Gaming keyboards frequently adopt edgy stylistic touches like faceted keycap sides, exposed metal frames or intricate technical patterns.

While this fits right into a gaming battlestation setup, more understated professional users may find the aesthetic too aggressive for an office environment.

In all cases, the cost of these supplemental gaming features gets passed onto you – providing zero benefit for general typing or professional work. Avoiding them saves you money with no loss of essential functionality.

Reason 4: Gaming Keyboards Cause More Noise Complaints

Gamers strongly prefer mechanical key switches for their precision, responsiveness and customization potential. But mechanical keyboards also come with an auditory downside vs traditional dome switch boards – they‘re noisy!

The exact noise level depends on the mechanical switch type chosen:

Cherry MX Blue (Clicky): Loud audible click with each keypress – too noisy for shared spaces
Cherry MX Brown (Tactile): Less noise but still substantial clacking sound
Cherry MX Red (Linear): Smooth, quieter travel – lower noise but less gaming precision

Compare noise levels between mechanical and dome switch keyboards:

Keyboard TypeAverage Noise Level
Mechanical (Blues)55 decibels
Mechanical (Browns)45 decibels
Laptop/Membrane Dome30 – 40 decibels

At home my spouse absolutely loathes the clacking emanating from my mech. If you prefer a quieter typing experience compatible with shared spaces, avoid Cherry Blue or even Brown switches commonly found on gaming keyboards.

Reason 5: RGB Lighting Lacks Broad Appeal

Nearly every modern gaming keyboard touts customizable RGB lighting effects under each key. For gaming, such visual pizzazz sets the perfect mood lighting to get in the zone.

But outside gaming circles, the appeal remains niche at best:

  • A 2020 keyboard enthusiast survey found only 15% of respondents valued RGB backlighting effects on their keyboards. The vast majority prefer static or no backlighting.
  • Shifting rainbow wave patterns prove distracting and even annoying to users trying to focus on typing or reading the keys.
  • Remembering complex lighting programming combos requires significant ongoing effort that most users will never invest.

Yes, RGB backlighting can look amazing in packaged shots. But studies show average users rarely leverage such expensive lighting features long-term. Simpler static white backlighting provides superior utility for real-world use.

Reason 6: Extreme Polling Rates Wasted on Non-Gamers

Polling rate indicates how many times per second your keyboard communicates with your PC, measured in Hz.

Standard keyboards poll around 125-250Hz. Gaming models push this to extremes – up to 8000Hz, or 8 times per millisecond! This hyper-frequrent communication theoretically leads to lower input lag.

But outside competitive gaming applications requiring split-second precision timing, such inflated polling rates provide no functional difference in real-world use. So the average user derives zero benefit from the unnecessary specification inflation.

Polling RatePerceived LagUsage Case
8000HzVirtually nonePro gaming tournaments
1000HzImperceptibleCompetitive gaming
250HzImperceptibleGaming, typing, work

Like many gaming keyboard metrics, manufacturers have cranked the polling rate dial up to 11 even though extreme levels don‘t impact or improve normal user experiences.

If you‘ve weighed the reasons above and feel a gaming keyboard represents overkill for your needs, plenty of alternative options on the market provide a better overall fit:

Ducky One 3

Ducky mechanical keyboards deliver premium quality and customization at reasonable prices:

Smooth linear or tactile Cherry MX switches suit both gaming and daily typing. Sturdy plastic casing and rigid steel backplate withstand years of use. Sleek low profile design fits into any workspace.

Priced around $100-150, the Ducky One 3 series eschews costly, superfluous gaming extras that casual users won???t leverage anyway.

FeatureDucky One 3ROG Claymore II
SwitchesGenuine Cherry MXROG NX Optical-Mechanical
ExtrasNoneMedia controls, macro keys

You get comparable quality, responsiveness and customization for $100 less – spending only for essentials rather than non-essential gaming extras.

Logitech G413 SE

Don‘t let "G" naming fool you – the G413 SE works fantastically for gaming, work and everything between.

Its sturdy brushed aluminum casing withstands years of use and abuse. Origami styled keyboard feet provide proper ergonomic angles for greater comfort.

And swapping switch types takes just minutes thanks to hot swap sockets! Dial in the precise tactility you love.

At $70-90 depending on sales, the G413 SE costs half as much as many gaming alternatives while providing incredible flexibility for all users.

Fnatic Streak / Rush

Fnatic‘s compact 65/75% keyboards cut unnecessary bulk without sacrificing functionality:

Streak 65 features streamlined layout maximizing mouse space a for smooth gaming or navigating spreadsheets.

Streak Rush editions add a column of navigation keys while retaining a condensed size. Both designs provide proficient low profile mechanical switches and durable PBT keycaps.

Priced around $70-130 depending on model, Fnatic keyboards deliver quality and customization rivaling far pricier gaming brands. You spend less money for only the features you actually need!

Well I hope walking through those key drawbacks gives you a better idea of whether a full-on gaming keyboard truly fits your needs and preferences!

For many typical users, a responsive mainstream mechanical board provides comparable quality and precision for a much lower buy-in.

Either way, identifying the must-have (and must-not-have) features before purchase goes a long way toward keyboard satisfaction. Enjoy whichever option you choose!

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