How Many Keys on a Gaming Keyboard?

Navigating the world of gaming peripherals can be a bit like entering a maze for the uninitiated. Among the most essential tools for any serious gamer is the gaming keyboard. But, have you ever paused mid-game and wondered just how many keys your gaming keyboard has? The answer is not as straightforward as it might seem at first. In this article, we're delving into the details, analyzing different gaming keyboard layouts, and exploring the functionality behind each key. By understanding the number of keys on your gaming keyboard and their functions, you can optimize your gaming experience and take your skills to the next level. Join us as we embark on this exciting exploration.

The Basics of a Keyboard

Keyboards, as we know them today, have evolved greatly since their inception. The first computer keyboards, created in the 1960s and ’70s, were modelled after the traditional typewriter and featured a “QWERTY” layout. This design has largely remained unchanged, becoming the standard layout for keyboards worldwide. A typical standard keyboard has 104 keys, including alphanumeric keys, function keys, and a numeric keypad.

However, keyboards are not one-size-fits-all, especially when it comes to their construction. They come in various types, the most common being mechanical and membrane keyboards. Mechanical keyboards, which offer tactile feedback and are often preferred by gamers and typists, use physical switches under each key. Membrane keyboards, on the other hand, have keys that press down on a rubber or silicone dome to register a keystroke, providing a quieter and smoother key press.

The choice between these types often depends on user preference, with each offering distinct advantages. Understanding the basics of keyboards and their evolution can help you better appreciate the complexity of the gaming keyboard, which we will explore next.

How Many Keys on a Gaming Keyboard? Anatomy of a Gaming Keyboard

Gaming keyboards are a breed apart from standard keyboards. They are engineered to provide competitive advantages for gamers. Gaming keyboards often feature mechanical switches for precise, rapid response. They also include backlighting, often customizable, to enhance gaming experiences in low-light settings. Moreover, some gaming keyboards are designed with ergonomic considerations to ensure comfort during extended gaming sessions.

One distinctive feature of gaming keyboards is the presence of additional keys. These can include programmable macro keys that allow users to execute complex command sequences with a single keystroke, providing an edge in high-speed competitive games. Multimedia keys for controlling volume or navigating tracks are another common feature, letting gamers adjust their settings without needing to exit their game.

Breaking down the layout of a typical gaming keyboard, we start with the standard 104-key setup found on most keyboards. However, on top of that, gaming keyboards often add extra keys for macros, sometimes numbering up to a dozen, and a few multimedia keys. Some gaming keyboards even include a dedicated game mode or lock keys to prevent accidental key presses that might disrupt gameplay. With these additional keys and features, gaming keyboards are designed to offer enhanced utility and performance for avid gamers.

How Many Keys are on a Gaming Keyboard?

The standard key count on a traditional full-sized gaming keyboard typically starts at 104, mirroring the layout of a conventional keyboard. However, this number often increases due to the addition of extra keys designed specifically to cater to gamers’ needs.

Extra keys on a gaming keyboard come in different forms. Macro keys, for instance, are programmable keys that gamers can customize to perform complex actions or sequences of actions with a single keystroke. These are incredibly handy in games where quick, complex commands can make a significant difference in gameplay.

Then we have multimedia keys, which allow you to control various aspects of your computer’s audio and video functions, such as changing the volume or skipping tracks. While not directly affecting gameplay, these keys provide convenience by enabling gamers to make adjustments without having to exit their game or switch windows.

The utility of these extra keys is manifold. For competitive gamers, they can be the difference between victory and defeat, providing a crucial advantage in response time. Casual gamers, meanwhile, can enjoy enhanced comfort and customization, shaping their gaming experience to their personal preference. It’s important to remember that while more keys can offer more functionality, the “best” keyboard ultimately depends on your individual gaming style and needs.

Variations in Gaming Keyboards

In the world of gaming peripherals, one size definitely does not fit all. From the traditional full-sized layouts to the sleek, minimalist designs, the variety in gaming keyboards is truly expansive. With different gamers having different preferences and needs based on their playing style, game genre, desk space, and portability requirements, manufacturers have created a multitude of keyboard types. This section will delve into the various types of gaming keyboards available on the market and discuss the key counts, features, and ideal use cases for each type.

Examples of Different Gaming Keyboard Models and Their Key Counts

Different gaming keyboard models offer various key counts to cater to different gaming styles:

  • Standard Full-Sized Gaming Keyboards: These keyboards generally come with 104 keys plus additional keys, like multimedia and macro keys. An example of this would be the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum, which comes with 110 keys, including six programmable macro keys.
  • Tenkeyless Gaming Keyboards: These keyboards, like the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro, exclude the numeric pad and usually have around 87 keys.
  • Compact or 60% Keyboards: These have even fewer keys (around 61), omitting not just the numpad but also function row, home cluster and arrow keys. The Ducky One 2 Mini is a popular model in this category.
  • MMO Keyboards: Keyboards like the Razer Tartarus Pro have a completely different layout and key count, featuring an array of programmable keys and a thumbpad.

Discuss Gaming Keyboards With Fewer Keys (Tenkeyless, Compact, etc.)

Tenkeyless (TKL) and compact gaming keyboards are increasingly popular among gamers for their space-saving designs and minimalistic appeal.

  • Tenkeyless (TKL): As the name suggests, these keyboards exclude the numeric keypad, leaving typically around 87 keys. This design is favored by gamers who never use the numpad and prefer more desk space for mouse movement, or those who want a more portable keyboard.
  • Compact or 60% Keyboards: These keyboards take space-saving to the next level, stripping away the function row, home cluster, and arrow keys, typically leaving just 61 keys. For gamers who prefer the minimalist approach and maximum desk space, these can be an ideal choice.

Discuss Gaming Keyboards With More Keys (MMO Keyboards, etc.)

On the opposite end of the spectrum from compact keyboards are MMO keyboards, such as the Razer Tartarus Pro or Logitech G600, which feature additional keys for complex commands.

MMO Keyboards: These keyboards can have an excess of 100 keys, as they include a significant number of additional programmable keys. These keyboards are ideal for gamers who play complex MMO games that require many key bindings. The extra keys can be used to execute complex command sequences, enhancing gameplay in fast-paced scenarios.

Customization Options for Gaming Keyboards

In addition to a variety of keys, gaming keyboards often offer extensive customization options. Customizable key bindings and macros allow gamers to assign specific actions or a sequence of actions to a particular key. This functionality can provide a significant edge in games where rapid and complex commands are required. Software suites provided by the keyboard manufacturers, such as Logitech’s G HUB or Corsair’s iCUE, enable easy management of these customizations.

Beyond software customizations, there are also numerous hardware customizations that can help personalize your keyboard and enhance your gaming experience. These can include interchangeable keycaps, allowing you to switch out standard keys for ones that are textured, colored, or have a different shape. RGB lighting is another popular feature, which not only adds aesthetic appeal but can also be programmed to provide game-specific cues or highlight key bindings. These layers of customization make gaming keyboards adaptable tools that can be tailored to individual gaming preferences and styles.

How to Choose the Right Gaming Keyboard

The gaming keyboard is your primary tool of interaction with the digital worlds you explore, and choosing the right one can significantly enhance your gaming experience. However, with a market flooded with options, making this choice can seem overwhelming. This section aims to demystify the process of selecting the perfect gaming keyboard for you. We’ll discuss the critical factors to consider, such as your gaming style and the types of games you play, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of keyboards with different key counts. This guide will equip you with the knowledge to make an informed decision tailored to your specific gaming needs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Gaming Keyboard

Choosing the right gaming keyboard is a decision influenced by several factors:

  • Personal Gaming Style: How you play games will greatly influence your choice. If you play MMOs or strategy games that require complex commands, a keyboard with more keys and macros might be ideal. Conversely, if you primarily play first-person shooters, a compact or tenkeyless keyboard might be a better fit to free up desk space.
  • Type of Games Played: Certain keyboards are designed with specific game genres in mind. MMO keyboards, for example, have many extra keys perfect for games with complex control schemes. On the other hand, a compact keyboard might be enough for a casual gamer.
  • Comfort and Ergonomics: If you play games for extended periods, ergonomics should be a key consideration. Some keyboards have wrist rests, adjustable feet, or other comfort-enhancing features.
  • Customizability: Consider how much you want to customize your keyboard. If you like having personalized key binds and macros or enjoy changing up your RGB lighting, look for a keyboard that supports these features.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Keyboards with Different Key Counts

Keyboards with different key counts offer various advantages and disadvantages:

  • Standard Full-sized Keyboards: They offer a comprehensive range of keys, including a number pad, which can be useful for games requiring many key bindings or for everyday typing tasks. However, they do take up more desk space.
  • Tenkeyless Keyboards: TKL keyboards offer more room for mouse movement and are generally more portable, making them great for gamers with limited desk space or those who often travel for gaming events. However, the lack of a numeric keypad may be a disadvantage in some games or for general use.
  • Compact Keyboards: The smallest option, these keyboards maximize desk space and are extremely portable. However, their reduced key count could be a disadvantage for games that require more key bindings.
  • MMO Keyboards: These keyboards offer a plethora of keys for complex commands, perfect for games like MMOs. However, they can be overkill for casual gamers or those who play simpler games, and their unique layout may take some getting used to.

How Many Keys on a Gaming Keyboard? Final Thoughts

Choosing the right gaming keyboard is more than just deciding on the number of keys—it’s about understanding your specific needs and preferences as a gamer. From full-sized keyboards equipped with macro keys to compact 60% keyboards that save desk space, the market offers a plethora of options. Each comes with its own unique features and customization opportunities to enhance your gaming experience.

Whether you’re a competitive player needing complex macros or a casual gamer seeking a simple, streamlined setup, there’s a keyboard out there that’s tailored to you. Remember that the most expensive keyboard with the most keys is not necessarily the ‘best’—the best keyboard for you is the one that fits your gaming style and comfort the most.

We hope this article has demystified the world of gaming keyboards for you and will assist you in making an informed decision. As you delve deeper into the world of gaming, the right keyboard can truly be a game-changer. Happy gaming!

How Many Keys on a Gaming Keyboard? FAQs

  • How Many Keys Does a Standard Full-Sized Gaming Keyboard Have?

    A standard full-sized gaming keyboard typically starts with 104 keys, similar to a regular keyboard. However, many gaming keyboards add extra keys such as macro keys and multimedia keys, which can increase the total count.

  • What Are Macro Keys on a Gaming Keyboard?

    Macro keys are additional keys found on some gaming keyboards that can be programmed to execute a series of commands with a single press. These keys are especially useful in games that require complex commands and rapid response.

  • What Is a Tenkeyless (TKL) Gaming Keyboard?

    A Tenkeyless (TKL) gaming keyboard is a keyboard that lacks the numeric keypad found on the right side of standard keyboards. By omitting the numeric keypad, TKL keyboards typically have around 87 keys, saving space and providing more room for mouse movement.

  • What Is an MMO Keyboard and How Many Keys Does It Have?

    MMO keyboards are designed specifically for MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games that require complex commands and key bindings. They feature additional programmable keys, with some models having well over 100 keys to cater to the extensive input needs of these games.

  • How Important Is the Number of Keys When Choosing a Gaming Keyboard?

    While the number of keys on a gaming keyboard is important, it’s not the only factor to consider when choosing a keyboard. The right keyboard for you also depends on your personal gaming style, the types of games you play, your comfort and ergonomics needs, as well as your preferences for customization.

Picture of Lukasz Zaborski
Lukasz Zaborski
I'm a big fan of gaming and have been playing video games for over 30 years. I love playing on the latest gaming consoles like the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X, and I still play games every day. To me, playing games is the most fun thing in the world!

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