The keyboard is an important device for both gaming and ordinary computer work. Among the models of the general category, there is an impressive range of prices in several thousand. What’s the difference – what’s the difference between an expensive and a cheap keyboard, apart from the brand? We will try to answer this question.
Service life and durability
Each type of keyboard has a certain keystroke resource – developers usually indicate this information in the description. Membrane models have the minimum resource, while mechanical keyboards are the most durable. However, in each group, depending on the model, there is a variation.
For example, the cheapest membrane models have a modest resource of 1-5 million clicks. More expensive keyboards use hard-wearing silicone that wears off at a slower rate, providing longer life. A similar situation with mechanics – there are several varieties of branded switches, which may differ not only in the way they are triggered, but also in the resource.
If you type a lot, do not skimp on a keyboard with a higher click-through rate in your chosen category.
Another nuance that can affect the cost is the way characters are applied to the keycaps of the keyboard. There are several technologies.
Laser marking. One of the most common ways is to use a laser beam to apply characters to the surface of the keys. Despite the fact that each manufacturer does not declassify the exact application technologies, the principle is the same.
Charring. The laser carbonizes the light-colored keys, creating ashy characters. The technology is usually used for keyboards in light colors.
Foaming. A specially tuned laser slightly foams the material and produces bright, slightly raised lettering. Typically used for black keyboards.
Coloring book . A masked laser beam burns one of the dye layers to form a symbol of a specific color, while the remaining dye forms the background.
Ablation . Small indentations in the form of symbols are burned out on the keys, which can then be additionally filled with dye. The technology is quite complex, but at the same time the characters are practically indestructible.
Double shot (double casting). The most sophisticated technology, in which the symbol is actually imprinted into the keycap structure. These are expensive, but extremely durable keys.
Laser engraving is usually the cheapest, while coloring, ablation, and double-molding all add up to a slightly higher price tag on the keyboard.
When choosing from a specific category of keyboards, pay attention to the material, as it makes a significant difference to the price tag.
The cheapest is ABS plastic. This material is relatively easy to manufacture and shape. Plastic is durable and lightweight, but not the most durable and can crack from strong physical influences. Cons – in places of accelerated wear, the material is overwritten and begins to shine.
Some keyboards are made of stronger and more durable PBT plastic. The material is not afraid of ultraviolet rays, and the branded slightly rough surface is practically not erased. However, the material is more expensive than ABS plastic, so it is usually used in high-end models.
Most of all, the difference in the price tag is made by the use of metal in the construction of the case. Some keyboards have one or more panels made of aluminum. It looks more prestigious and has a positive effect on the durability of the gadget. With the same functionality, plastic models are usually cheaper than products using metal.
Number of simultaneously pressed keys
This parameter only slightly affects the cost of the keyboard and is usually relevant for budget models. The cheapest have the 3KRO / 4KRO parameter – it says that the gadget recognizes three or four simultaneously pressed keys. More expensive devices support up to six simultaneously pressed keys – KRO6. This limitation is largely due to the saving of signal paths internally and the USB specification.
The most expensive models have NKRO – an unlimited number of simultaneously pressed keys. This is typically accomplished by creating multiple USB HIDs in Task Manager to bypass the limitation.
Switches on the keyboard
If we talk about mechanics, then in many respects the cost of a gadget is determined by the type and manufacturer of the installed switches. What it is and how they differ, we told in more detail in this material. The most expensive switches are from Cherry. Slightly cheaper switches from Logitech, Steel Series and A4tech.The classic keyboard includes 104 keys. However, developers often supplement this scheme with function or soft keys. With the help of them, you can switch videos or music tracks, adjust the volume, and also assign whole combinations to individual keys. As a rule, this is true for game models. The addition of new buttons increases the cost of the keyboard, since not only has to be wasted on material, but also to create more complex commutation, taking into account additional keys.Wired keyboard Corsair K63 [CH-9115020-RU]
The complexity and modes of operation of the backlight
Backlit and non-backlit keyboards can immediately be categorized into different categories, so the price difference is natural. However, where do the different price tags for nearly identical backlit models come from? Much depends on the type and number of active zones.
In inexpensive models, a group of diodes, which are located along the area or perimeter, are responsible for the backlight. Plexiglas can also be used in the design, through which the light from the diodes is distributed. A typical problem is the uneven distribution of the glow, which can create inconvenience during work.
In more expensive models, the backlighting of each individual key is used – this also opens up a number of additional possibilities. These include adjusting the color for each zone and flashing effects. The more such modes, the more expensive the model usually costs. Also, the increased price tag is due to the need to develop specialized software, with the help of which such RGB backlighting is configured.Availability of additional connectors
In more expensive keyboards, in addition to all of the above items, additional connectors can also be built: one or a pair of USB ports, headphone or microphone input. If you have USB, you can connect flash drives, which is extremely convenient if the system unit is far away or inconvenient.
Power cord length and quality
One way for developers to reduce the price of a keyboard is to save on the power cable. Typical wire length is 1.8 meters. Cheap keyboards have a wire length of 1–1.5 meters. Also, the cost is partially influenced by such nuances, whether there is a rubber seal at the junction of the cord with the case, whether a braid is provided, how reliable is the USB mount.
Other minor nuances
Expensive keyboards usually have small but very useful bonuses. For example, such a common thing as rubber anti-slip pads. Cheap models may not be equipped with them, or the quality of the material will be so poor that such gaskets will come off after a few months of operation. Also, expensive models usually have small anti-slip strips even on retractable legs.
Budget models may not have the best build quality. As a result, the gadget is unstable on a flat surface. This also includes the dim glow of the built-in LEDs for CapsLock, NumLock and ScrollLock.
Ergonomics can be taken out as a separate item. In an attempt to save money on the case, some manufacturers do not “glue” buttons in the best way. For example, the Shift and Ctrl buttons are small, which makes them inconvenient to press while working. Quite often the PrtScr, Delete, Home and Insert keys are located in an inconvenient place.