Five rules to follow when shopping for a new keyboard

Razer Blackwidow
Razer Blackwidow (Image credit: Windows Central)

When looking to save on a new computer keyboard, Black Friday is a popular time to browse around and check out all the deals. It's easy to get caught up in the promotions and discounts and make a purchase that doesn't actually save you money or results in you buying a product that isn't quite what you expected. To help combat buyer's remorse, we've compiled a list of rules you should follow when shopping for a new keyboard.

Mechanical keyboards are better... but more expensive

Most PC owners agree that mechanical keyboards are simply better. This is also backed by the sheer number of advantages these keyboards off compared against older membrane keyboards. Instead of being restricted by a membrane below your keys, mechanical keyboards look to the traditional typewriter with a physical switch located underneath.

This allows for each keystroke (the press of a key) to be registered, something membrane keyboards struggle with. There are also different kinds of switches, some offer a more clicky feel and sound while others feel more like laptop keyboards. No matter which mechanical switch you choose, it'll be an upgrade if you're currently rocking a membrane keyboard.

The only drawback to mechanical keyboards is the price. It's possible to find even well-known branded keyboards at reasonable prices, but if you want the best on the market, you'll need to prepare yourself to part with some serious cash.

Don't buy a keyboard because of the discount alone

SteelSeries Apex Pro

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Using the point above about price usually dictates how many features you'll be able to enjoy on a mechanical keyboard, you shouldn't base your purchase decision on price alone, especially discounts. If you simply bought a keyboard based on how much was slashed off the original listing price, you may have avoided questions such as what kind of switch is used? Is it wired or wireless? Does it have RGB lighting? You know, the essential factors.

You may have saved a large amount of money on this new keyboard, but it may not be built to last like other keyboards, and it may not meet all your requirements. Could you imagine being stuck with a keyboard that just doesn't feel right? That's what could happen if you go in and purchase without considering all bases. Our roundup of the best gaming mechanical keyboards is a great place to see what kind of products you should be considering.

Check the price history of keyboards

Black Friday doesn't mean you will find the best deals on a product. Cyber Monday is another promotion that's focused on tech, and a keyboard may have been discounted at random previously. There's no rule set that a retailer needs to display the best price on Black Friday, which can make it a little confusing for you. Still, luckily, there's a handy website called CamelCamelCamel that lets you enter a product name or URL from Amazon and check the history of prices.

That discounted mechanical keyboard may look like an enticing deal, but if it was previously even more affordable, why waste money just because it's Black Friday?

Try before you buy

GameSir VX AimSwitch

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

If you have an electronics store nearby, pop down and see what keyboards they have on display. There are also some test kits you can purchase online that let you play with the different switch types. They're not expensive either, this AKWOX Four Cherry MX kit is just $10. If you're struggling to work out which switch is for you, this may be just what you need.

Set a strict budget

Keyboards, especially gaming mechanical peripherals, can come with some killer marketing material with flashing RGB lighting. Do you really need to spend more than $100 on a keyboard? Would you take advantage of all the features offered by the excellent SteelSeries Apex Pro, for example? Its highlight feature is the ability for you to customize the actuation point (when a keypress is registered) for each individual key across the keyboard. That's great for gamers, but is it useful to you?

Set a strict budget, and you could make your money go much further. For the same price of this flagship mechanical keyboard from SteelSeries, you could buy a GPU or a more affordable mechanical keyboard with a great mouse. And fear not if you don't spot anything this Black Friday. There's always next year and a whole host of promotions in between.

Shop smart and type away

Black Friday is usually a great time to find deals on keyboards, but don't be dismayed if you don't locate the keyboard of your dreams. There will be plenty of more sales and promotions to come that may see some price drops on your shortlist of keyboards. Bear these rules in mind, and you should come out with a killer keyboard at a reasonable price.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.