There are a lot of considerations when buying a new PC or creating the perfect desktop setup. But one that should never be overlooked is the keyboard ̵
Some keyboard functions are more important than others
The keyboard is one of the two main ways we interact with our computer. For that reason, investing in a good one with great features is an excellent idea. But not all keyboard functions are must-haves. It largely depends on personal taste such as wired or wireless, numeric keypad or not (tenkeyless) and size.
However, other features can make a world of difference to your typing experience. Below are our recommendations for the five keyboard functions everyone would want to have.
Stop using that cheap keyboard with the soft domed switches you got for free with your new PC. It doesn’t serve your hands. Mechanical switches usually require less force to register a keystroke. Once you get used to it, you usually put less strain on your fingers and wrists when typing.
The leading brand in mechanical switches is Cherry, a company based in Germany. The switches are called Cherry MX and are color-coded in brown, blue, red and black. Most people are happy with the general purpose options, such as MX Blue, which provides a nice “click” sound, or the quieter MX Browns.
There are also native mechanical switches from companies like Logitech and Razer; however, these almost all try to imitate Cherry MX products.
Mechanical switches can also be found on laptops, but these are generally reserved for gaming models.
RELATED: If you haven’t tried a mechanical keyboard yet, you’re missing out
A USB pass-through
USB-powered desktop peripherals pose two annoying problems: they create a clutter of cables and they can be tricky to plug into the back of your PC. With a USB passthrough you can connect an important peripheral device to a USB port on the keyboard.
The ability to connect a peripheral or even a USB stick via USB passthrough is incredibly useful. Plus, it’s easier to manage a cable or use something with a shorter cable.
However, just because a keyboard has a USB port doesn’t mean it supports passthrough: some ports are just for charging. If you’re looking for a pass-through port, make sure the box or product description states that it is supported.
Backlight per key
Backlight per key is a very useful feature for laptops and desktops. If you’re using a laptop in a dark location – be it your own living room, an airplane, or outdoors – a backlit keyboard is a definite advantage.
On desktops, it’s useful for the same reasons, but if you get a keyboard with RGB backlighting, it’s even more convenient. For example, you can create color-coded keyboard areas to make it easier to find a specific set of keys while gaming or for almost any other productivity use that requires the keyboard.
Spill resistant designs
If there is an advice that exactly zero people follow, then it is certain that you do not have any drinks with your computer. We all do. And no matter how much equipment we’ve thrown out through it, we’re just telling ourselves the eternal lie, “I’ll be more careful this time.”
Since we all like to live on the edge, it’s best to buy items that can protect themselves. You’ll find lap and desktops with spill-resistant keyboards. Different manufacturers use different solutions.
For example, Lenovo spill-resistant laptops usually have strategically placed drain holes that allow liquids to escape without damaging essential components. However, this approach also means you have to let your laptop dry before you can use it again.
Waterproof keyboards also exist, but spill resistance is more common.
Media keys and a volume roll
A function key combination is a bad substitute for media keys. Yes, it works, but it is just as convenient as using a smartphone instead of a smart speaker. In other words, it’s stupid.
Dedicated media keys make life easier for controlling web players such as YouTube and Netflix as well as built-in apps such as Spotify or VLC. This is because you can operate them without taking your hands off the keyboard.
Finding dedicated media keys is easy enough, but few keyboards come with a volume roll. We use the term ‘roller’ as a replacement for wheels, studs and horizontal rollers. Sure, you can keep slamming those volume up and down buttons, but a quick twist or turn of a volume scroll is much easier.
Adding this to a keyboard is a nice feature, although it looks a bit strange at times. If you can’t stand a strange-looking wheel on the edge of your keyboard, a nice alternative is a sound card that comes with an audio control module or an external DAC with a volume scroll.
RELATED: Your keyboard’s media keys work in all modern web browsers
A quality keyboard is a must for anyone who spends all day at a computer. When you find a keyboard with all these indispensable features, you have a great addition to your PC that you can’t afford to miss.