Can You Use Any Keyboard and Mouse for Gaming?

So, you enjoy gaming but you’re wondering if a gaming keyboard and mouse is worth your hard-earned cash?

That’s a good question.

But the answer isn’t as simple as you might imagine.

And in this article we’re going to cover the types of questions you need to ask yourself before you drop several hundred dollars on a gaming peripheral you might not need.

Let’s get to it.

Should I buy a gaming keyboard or a normal keyboard?

The type of keyboard you buy will depend on whether or not gaming is a priority for you. If you play a lot of online or offline games then, yes, a gaming keyboard makes a lot of sense.

But if you’re just a casual gamer who plays a few hours of RTS games once or twice a month then a normal keyboard should be more than enough for you.

Gaming keyboards offer features like programmable keys, faster response times, and customizable backlighting – these will directly improve your gaming experience.

So unless you specifically need (or really want) those types of features then a gaming keyboard probably isn’t necessary. 

With that said, gaming keyboards are usually mechanical and offer a far more comfortable and accurate typing experience.

A gaming keyboard can do double duty as an office keyboard but the same can’t be said of a regular keyboard.

Just something to think about.

  • Usage: If gaming is a priority, a gaming keyboard is your obvious choice.
  • Price: Normal keyboards are often more affordable, but gaming keyboards offer additional features.

Work: Some gaming keyboards can be suitable for work-related tasks as well, especially those with quieter switches.

What types of games do you play?

The types of games you prefer playing can also dictate what type of keyboard you eventually spend your money on.

Anyone who is seriously into RPGs, MMORPGs, and realistic space flight sims (think Elite Dangerous) will benefit from owning a gaming keyboard that has programmable keys. You’ll probably want to own a programmable gaming mouse too – more on that later in this post.

But if you only play real-time strategy games, scrolling platformers, chess, or other types of games where you spend more time thinking about your next move than frantically mashing the keyboard to avoid dying, a regular keyboard will probably do you just fine.

What are the differences between a gaming keyboard and a normal keyboard?

Most gaming keyboards use mechanical switches, which provide faster response times, N-key rollover, consistency of key presses, stability, modularity, and versatility.

In short, they’re designed to respond faster, and more accurately and to stand up to a lot more punishment than any standard keyboard. 

In contrast, regular keyboards typically use rubber-dome switches, which don’t offer the same level of tactile response or longevity.

What are the differences between a gaming mouse and a regular mouse?

Gaming mice are different in a lot of ways.

The first of these is adjustable sensitivity – this is measured in DPI (dots per inch) and is how far your on-screen cursor or prompt moves for every physical inch of mouse movement.

The average mouse you’ll buy in an office supply store for $10 – $15 will have a “resolution” of around 1,000 DPI.

That might sound impressive until you notice that a good gaming mouse can be adjusted to a DPI of up to 4,000.

This makes gaming mice far more accurate and far more responsive, and you can adjust the DPI on a gaming mouse to your exact preferences.

Most regular mice don’t offer that level of functionality.

Gaming mice also have higher polling rates, ensuring increased responsiveness. Regular mice typically have lower polling rates of around 125 Hz.

This is enough for general usage and some gaming.

Gaming mice, on the other hand, have polling rates of up to 1,000Hz, making them far, far more responsive than a standard office/home mouse.

Most gaming mice come with a handful of additional programmable buttons that you can bind to specific gaming functions. This means you can perform additional actions without moving your hands away from the WASD cluster.

This is a definite bonus for gamers.

More recent gaming mice also feature RGB lighting, which is nice but not absolutely necessary. It can actually be a bit of a pain if you have a different brand of gaming keyboard and mouse because they’ll both have their own customization software – this can get messy.

So where possible, buy a gaming keyboard and mouse of the same brand.

Do You Need a Good Mouse for FPS?

Yes, you need a good mouse – ideally a gaming mouse – when playing FPS (First Person Shooter) games. These games require incredibly fast reaction times so every tiny advantage you give yourself will count.

A gaming mouse will offer better performance, sensitivity, and comfort for extended gaming sessions.

Gaming mice are also specifically designed for long hours of gaming. This makes them more durable and a lot easier on your hands for any marathon matches or gaming sessions that lie ahead of you.

Ergonomics and Design

Let’s explore some aspects of ergonomics and design, such as keyboard layouts and different mouse shapes and sizes.

Keyboard Layouts

There was a time when owning a gaming keyboard basically meant owning a keyboard that used mechanical switches.

There’s been a slow evolution since then to bolt on additional features like N-key rollover, RGB lighting, programmable keys, and more.

But gaming keyboards are now also available in different form factors such as:

  • Tenkeyless – these don’t have a number pad (numeric keypad) but retain their Fx keys, the cluster of 4 navigation arrows, and the PrtScr and Pageup/Pagedown cluster.
  • 60% – these keyboards strip away the navigation arrows, PrtScr cluster, and the Pageup/Pagedown cluster as well as the row of Fx keys.

75% – these share the same key configuration as tenkeyless keyboards but are just far more compact.

Budget and Pricing

Let’s keep this part short and sweet.

Regular keyboards cost between $10 and $40 each. Standard mice cost between $5 and $20 each.

Gaming keyboards cost anywhere from $50 to $350, depending on what brand you buy. A good gaming mouse will have a sticker price of between $25 and $350.

So price is most definitely going to be a factor in the type of keyboard or mouse you buy.The reality is that very, very few people need to spend $300 on a gaming keyboard – they’re either for people with a lot of disposable income or people who game professionally i.e. they get paid to do it.

Do games use full-size keyboards?

No, most gamers do not use full-size keyboards when gaming either casually or professionally. The reason for this is that very few modern games use the number pad or arrow keys on a keyboard.

So while some gamers might prefer to use a full-size keyboard for stability and just because they’re used to it, the vast majority of gamers have moved/are moving to tenkeyless (TKL), 60% or 75% keyboards.

Choosing between a  full-size and compact keyboard largely depends on the games being played and individual player preferences.

Do gamers use wireless mice?

No, most gamers do not use a wireless mouse because of the additional latency involved in either the Bluetooth or RF connection between the mouse and the computer. 

This additional latency (lag or delay) might only last for a fraction of a second, but that difference is enough to result in you losing online matches.

The latency issue can also be made much worse if the dongle or wireless mouse has a brain fart and just stops responding.

Or runs out of battery and your connection becomes erratic.

I’ve lost count of how many online gaming sessions have been ruined by these types of problems. 

Yes, there are newer wireless gaming mice appearing that promise to reduce or eliminate the wireless connection latency issue, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

A wired gaming mouse isn’t as slick looking and the cable gets in the way at times, but you are guaranteed that it will never just randomly stop responding.

And that’s why most gamers prefer a wired mouse.

Do gamers prefer wired or wireless keyboards?

Most gamers prefer to play using a wired gaming keyboard because they have no latency issues, don’t suffer from random disconnects, and are more responsive than their wireless counterparts.

Every millisecond matters in gaming so it simply makes more sense to use a wired gaming keyboard. 

Wired keyboards also tend to be a bit more affordable than wireless gaming keyboards, so that’s an additional plus in their favor. 

Wireless keyboards offer the advantage of a clean and clutter-free setup, making them aesthetically pleasing and ideal for users who can’t stand a mess of cables. 

But no gamer in their right mind would choose a tidier desk over a competitive advantage in their favorite online game.

Does your mousepad matter for gaming?

Yes, the type of mousepad you use does have an impact on your gaming, and several companies, such as Razer, have created gaming-specific mouse pads.

Basically, you need a smooth and non-reflective surface for your mouse to glide over. Yes, you can use a sheet of paper or a flat wooden surface but you’ll have a much better experience if you use a mousepad designed for gaming.

Gaming mouse pads are often slip-resistant, preventing them from sliding around on your desk.

You’ll also find that your aim improves just a little bit when you use a gaming mouse – simply because the optics in your mouse are tracking against a consistent surface.

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