The complete guide to mechanical keyboard switches for gaming

From MX to Mecha-Membrane, here's what you need to know.

A quintessential part of any setup—be it gaming rig or otherwise—is a good keyboard. It’s your trusty aide when you’re pounding your opponents in Counter Strike and commanding your army in Starcraft. As such, it deserves as much recognition and respect as the graphics card you have in your case. With more switches now available in more keyboards, we've refreshed our guide to let you know what's what.

There are two core keyboard types: Mechanical keyboards have individual key switches and metal springs. Rubber dome keyboards—most modern, cheap keyboards—have a sheet of rubber that provides the resistance, tactile feeling, and registers the keypress to the computer. Mechanical key switches give an unmistakable, stronger feedback as you type in the form of feeling a bump, hearing a click, and/or feeling a smooth bottom out to the keyboard’s base. Not only does it feel more satisfying than a rubber dome keyboard, it can be more precise, too.

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Gaming mouse myths busted

Optical is more accurate than laser. Higher DPI is always better. Acceleration is the devil. Wireless mice are laggier than wired. Your Windows mouse sensitivity setting must be set to 6. If you understand any of that, chances are you’ve spent some time reading about gaming mice, trying to figure out what actually matters in a gaming mouse.

When I wrote about the best gaming mice, I explained how I tested them and defined some key terms like jitter, acceleration, and CPI (counts per inch, a more accurate descriptor than DPI). But defining those terms is just scratching the surface—there are lengthy, extremely detailed articles and forum posts about the minutia of gaming mice online, many of which are filled with outdated information, techno-voodoo and internet folklore. To separate out the fact from the fiction, I talked to François Morier, a senior engineer at Logitech for 15 years. And in this case, ‘senior engineer’ is a bit of an understatement: when it comes to designing mouse sensors, Morier is The Guy at Logitech. He knows more about mouse sensors than just about anyone else on the planet.

From my interviews with Morier and Chris Pate, the senior product manager of Logitech’s gaming division, I’ve tried to address some of the most confusing elements of gaming mouse technology, and correct some of the most common misconceptions.

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