Four Keyboards And Four Mice For LAN Party Gamers, Rounded-Up

Results: Ghosting And Key Rollover

Of our tests, the ghosting and key rollover metrics are probably the most applicable to gaming. Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group does a particularly good job of explaining the phenomenon of ghosting:

"Ghosting is the problem that some keyboard keys don't work when multiple keys are pressed simultaneously. The key presses that don't show up on the computer or seem to have disappeared are said to have been "ghosted". On most keyboards, even some that are explicitly marketed as "Anti-Ghosting," this happens with many three key combinations. Imagine playing your favorite video game and not being able to, say, run diagonally and fire your weapon at the same time (say pressing a, w, and g simultaneously). This is a result of the internal design of most existing keyboards...

Typically, ghosting is the result of one or more of following three limitations: the hardware can't read the given key combination, the software on the computer doesn't support multiple simultaneous keys, or the communication protocol between the hardware and software limits the maximum number of simultaneous keys reported."

Source: Microsoft Applied Sciences Group

In the image above, from the same Microsoft Applied Sciences Group blog, each row and column intersection corresponds to a key. Ghosting surfaces as a problem when the keyboard cannot distinguish which combinations of rows and columns are being shorted, which would otherwise register as a keystroke. You can see how pressing just one or two keys would be easy to interpret. Hitting three keys gets problematic, however, when the third key shares a row and column.

Key rollover is inter-related in that it measures the number of keys that a board can register at a time. Typically, USB keyboards are able to register six regular keys. A keyboard offering true n-key rollover is able to overcome such limitations and recognize any number of key presses correctly.

For each board, we held down combinations of three (and then all four) W, A, S, and D keys, while pressing each of the other test keys in succession. Only the Siig board had trouble with W, A, S, D, and combinations of Tab, Caps Lock, Shift, and Control. All of the keyboards, except Razer's, had trouble once we introduced the number keys. For example, Logitech's K800 would not register 7, 8, 9, or 0 with either W, A, D or A, S, D depressed. Similarly, Kensington's solution had issues with '~', 1, and 2, plus various auxiliary keys like Q and Z. 

Further, Siig's JK-US0412-S1 exhibited the worst issues with ghosting. It wasn't able to register W, A, S, and D at the same time. Pressing A, S, and D blocks W, while W, A, and D block S. In fact, the keyboard wouldn't even recognize the fairly common combination of Q, A, and W. These results certainly call into question the board's utility as a gaming peripheral.

The BlackWidow had almost no trouble in this test. We say almost because the board has a specific gaming mode. When that isn't activated, it can be tripped up. The only advantage to using standard mode is that the Windows key remains enabled, so we'd be inclined to leave gaming mode on most of the time. With it active, we ran into zero issues with ghosting and observed 12-key rollover, even though Razer only claims 10-key performance. These impressive results certainly support the enthusiasm surrounding mechanical keyboards right now.

  • Hadoe
    "high-quality console graphics"

    Heh, good one Toms... good one.
  • atavax
    i wonder at what dpi's they tested acceleration. It was my understanding that a lot of mice have acceleration issues at different dpi's. I have seen multiple sources that say the G9 has negative acceleration at low sensitivities.
  • samwelaye
    I've had my g9x for quite a while now, love this mouse!
  • Trewyy
    G9x now down to $55 on Newegg :) I should mention that it was a good review, as always!
  • ShadyHamster
    Five programmable buttons near the thumb rest, a mechanical button below the scroll wheel, and a battery indicator set the G500 apart from standard mice.

    That should be DPI indicator not battery.

    And whats up with pitting 1 mechanical keyboard up against 3 membrane keyboards? Before even reading the article i knew that the mechanical keyboard would be the clear winner, who would care about the loudness of the keys at a lan party, 99.9% of people would have headphones.
  • Swordkd
    Before I bought my Razer mouse(Imperator 2012), I read reviews on newegg and decided to discount the issue that they seemed to be having. After a few months of use, the mice would start to double-click from a single "click". Sure enough, less than 6 months of light to moderate use, my mouse now suffers from this malady once out of every 20 clicks or so. Enough to annoy me.

    I will not recommend that brand mouse to anyone ever again.
  • Soda-88
    No 6Gv2?
  • kitsunestarwind
    Logitech G9X is a fantastic mouse, been using mine since they first came out, never a complaint and has led to me having very sharp and accurate aim in games like BF3. Buy one it is worth it!
  • alidan
    das keyboard professional
    razor naga

    that's my setup...

    that said, sound and weight to press are not lower or higher is better... they are prefferences, i personally love the sound that a cherry blue makes and wish it was a bit louder because i make more sound on each key by bottoming them out apposed to activating the switch.

    and weight, i hear it more often than not that for gaming heavier presses are better because its less likely to accidently activate.

    now, impersonally just because of prior things i have had, i can never recommend razor... but at the same time i use a razor because i want that 12 key pad, and Logitech mouse is even smaller than the already small naga, and i cant get use to its bad form factor... its really the only razor anything i recommend just because there is no other competition that i can tell people to go with outside the small logitech and only if they have small hands.

    also, i dont know if it was mentioned, but the razor keyboard from what i remember has such a strict policy, that if you remove a key cap, you void the warranty. there are story's of the s and j key switched, but because of razors warranty, they have to send it in and get it replaced that way, and its a razor product, you know it will fail... the keyboard doesn't have a mounting plate, so its more likely to fail than other mechanical keyboards because of the solder point stress before the keys naturally give out.
  • blubbey
    'The G500 was reported to be too long,'

    I know of course this is personal preference and everyone's different, but either their hands are small or mine are of reasonable size because I can almost cover the entire mouse (fingertips and base of my hand can just about hit the mouse mat at the same time). Unfortunately I don't have much else to compare it to, only random mice however it is larger than any I can remember, so I might just have larger than 'normal' hands.

    Something else you might want to consider that others have found is that the scroll wheel is very 'light' to use. I'm indifferent about it seeing as I'm used to light scroll wheels but a few people have raised that point in reviews that I saw before buying it (~$45 on sale). I've also found that the weights are prety much useless, it's already quite a weighty mouse so an extra few grams really didn't matter for me.