A Step-By-Step Guide To Connect a Gaming Keyboard to a Laptop

Having a gaming laptop offers the convenience of taking your games on-the-go. However, using the built-in laptop keyboard for gaming can become an issue due to its sensitive nature, making it difficult to withstand firm keystrokes. To enhance your gaming experience, it’s highly recommended to connect a gaming keyboard to a laptop. 

The way to connect a gaming keyboard to a laptop depends on the type of keyboard you have, wired or wireless. For a wired gaming keyboard, simply connect the USB cable to any of the USB ports on your laptop. For a wireless gaming keyboard, there are two options for connecting, either via Bluetooth or by using a USB dongle. To connect using the USB dongle, plug it into the USB port of your laptop, install the batteries in the keyboard, and then test it to ensure it is functioning properly. 

Both laptop keyboards and external gaming keyboards have their pros and cons. When deciding on a keyboard, consider the quality of the keyboard, how frequently you play games, and the amount of pressure you exert on your keys. For more information on what's available check out this gaming keyboard video review by Best Gadget Hub.

The advantages of an external gaming keyboard like this are its strong construction and the numerous customization choices it provides. The disadvantages include the additional expense and weight. Our article about external gaming keyboards versus laptop keyboards takes an in-depth look at all the pros and cons of both these keyboard options when using a laptop. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to connect a gaming keyboard to a laptop.

Connect a gaming keyboard to a laptop to protect the laptop from unnecessary damage while still enjoying your games.
Connecting an external gaming keyboard to a laptop ensures the laptop keyboard doesn’t get damaged from excessive key presses during gameplay. Image Source: Amazon.  

How To Connect a Wireless Gaming Keyboard to a Mac Laptop

Wireless keyboards add even more portability and flexibility to any gamer’s setup. 

To connect a wireless gaming keyboard to a Mac laptop, plug the USB dongle into a USB port of the device, install the batteries into the keyboard, and test the keyboard. 

Our article that compares wireless vs. wired keyboards for gaming explores all the pros and cons of these keyboard types and will help you choose the right one for your needs.

Follow these steps to connect your wireless gaming laptop:

Step 1. Plug the USB Dongle Into the USB Port of the Device

Plug the USB dongle that came with the keyboard into the USB port on your laptop. Our article about the ten best wireless mechanical keyboards lists the most popular wireless keyboards for gaming on the go. 

Connect a wireless gaming keyboard by inserting the dongle into a USB port.
The first step is to plug the USB dongle into the USB port. Image Source: GroovyPost.

Step 2. Install the Batteries Into the Keyboard

Open the keyboard’s battery compartment, usually located on the side, and install AA batteries. Rechargeable batteries like these are handy to have when using wireless devices because they charge quickly and allow for uninterrupted gaming. This article from the Apple Support website is a great resource for instructions on how to change batteries on a Mac wireless keyboard or any other Apple product. 

To get your wireless laptop working make sure it is connected via the dongle and insert charged batteries into the required slots.
Install AA batteries into the Mac keyboard. Image Source: Apple.

Step 3. Test the Keyboard

Press a few buttons and test the keyboard - we suggest you start testing with the "Z" or the "?" key. Try until you see that the keyboard is connected. 

You will find more information on how to connect a wireless keyboard to an iPad, Mac, or iPhone in our article, so make sure you check it out. 

Test the gaming keyboard to make sure that it is connected and working properly.
After you’ve installed the batteries, test the keyboard to make sure it’s connected and working properly. Image Source: switchingtomac.com.

Related articles:

Step-by-step guide on how to use a custom gaming keyboard builder

How to change switches on a keyboard

How To Connect a Wireless Gaming Keyboard to a Mac Laptop Without a USB Dongle

Sometimes, the keyboard doesn't have the necessary USB dongle, and you have to find another way. The good news is that many keyboards can connect to a laptop via Bluetooth.

To connect a wireless keyboard to a Mac laptop without a dongle, the wireless keyboard has to be turned on so that it can be paired with the laptop. 

To connect a wireless gaming keyboard to a Mac laptop without a dongle, you will need to use Bluetooth connectivity. First,  turn on the keyboard and put it into pairing mode. On your Mac, go to System Preferences, click on the Bluetooth icon and then select the keyboard from the list of available devices. Click Pair to connect the keyboard to your Mac. Once paired, the keyboard should be ready to use.  

Follow these steps to connect a wireless keyboard without a dongle:

Step 1. Turn the Wireless Keyboard On

The first step is to turn on the wireless keyboard. Many wireless keyboards have a small button on their underside or on the top row that switches them off and on like this one does. 

Step 2. Click the Menu and Choose System Preferences

Click on the Apple logo in the corner of the screen. Once you've done that, select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu.

Step 3. Click the Bluetooth Icon and Connect With the Keyboard

When the System Preferences window opens, you’ll see the Bluetooth icon which should be selected. Activate your device’s pairing mode. This pairing step may differ depending on the keyboard type, so it's best to check if your keyboard has special instructions.

Without a dongle, a gaming keyboard can be connected to a Mac laptop via a Bluetooth connection.
Navigate to “System Preferences” and select the Bluetooth icon. Image Source: Macworld.

Step 4. Click the Device’s Name When It Pops Up on the Screen

Finally, when the device's name pops up on the screen, click it and connect. Remember to check that the keyboard is in pairing mode. You’ll have to click a few keys on the keyboard before the laptop recognizes it. 

Step 4. Turn the Bluetooth On

Now slide the Bluetooth button to “ON.” If you see that ON is already set up, leave it like that. Depending on your system’s preferences you may be able to see the Bluetooth icon in the lower right corner of your menu bar. If it doesn’t appear there this article from Microsoft explains how to pin it to the system tray so that it is easily accessible at any time. 

Step 5. Select “Add Bluetooth or Other Devices”

Now that you have turned on Bluetooth click “Add Bluetooth or Other Devices”. It's the first option you'll get when you open the window. Then click the Bluetooth button and select your keyboard's name. 

Once “Bluetooth & other devices” has been selected all available devices will show and you can select your gaming keyboard to connect it.
All available devices in the vicinity will appear in the Bluetooth options menu. Image Source: Microsoft.com.

Step 6. Click “Pair”

Then all that is left to do is to click to pair the devices. Also, you may have to enter a PIN code to connect, but this depends on the specifications of your laptop. Just follow the instructions on the screen and finish with “Done/Close”.

How To Connect a Wireless Gaming Keyboard to a Windows Laptop

A gamer can use a wireless keyboard from up to 30 feet away from the laptop thanks to the radio frequency (RF) technology that they feature. 

To connect a wireless gaming keyboard to a Windows laptop, first turn on the keyboard and then insert the USB dongle into one of the laptop’s USB ports. Next, install batteries into the keyboard. The laptop will detect the keyboard and automatically install any necessary drivers, allowing the gamer to use the keyboard wirelessly. 

Go for a wireless gaming keyboard like this one if convenience and portability are important for your gaming needs.

Follow these steps to connect a wireless keyboard to a Windows Laptop:

Step 1. Turn the Keyboard On

The first step is to turn on your keyboard. If you have a keyboard where you have to click the Connect button to get it ready to pair, do that. The connect button might be located in the top row of the F-function keys. 

Our article about how to use the function keys on a gaming laptop like a pro, explains all the function keys and when to use them. 

When connecting a wireless gaming keyboard to a windows laptop press the function key to get the laptop to pair with the keyboard.
First, press the appropriate button on the windows laptop to connect the gaming keyboard. Image Source: LifeWire.

Step 2. Connect the USB Dongle to the Laptop

Connect the USB dongle to your laptop by inserting it into a USB port.

The dongle for the gaming keyboard should be connected to the laptop via a USB port.
Connect the USB dongle to your laptop. Image Source: Linksys.

Step 3. Check if Your Wireless Keyboard Has Batteries

Make sure the keyboard has batteries or that it's charged. Turn the keyboard over, and on the bottom, you’ll see that there is a switch button that should be turned on. Our article about how to charge a wireless keyboard has tips to quickly and properly charge your Bluetooth keyboard like this and prevent gaming interruptions. 

A wireless keyboard needs to be fully charged or to have charged batteries, to work properly.
Always keep an eye on the battery’s power level. Image Source: Amazon.

Step 4. The Device Will Automatically Install the Software for Connecting the Keyboard

Your laptop should automatically install the necessary software. If, for some reason, it doesn't, then check the instructions provided with the device to see how to proceed. Our article about what a gaming keyboard is and how to choose one explains the benefits of having dedicated keyboard software to program a keyboard like this one to perform specific in-game functions.

Step 5. When the Software Is Installed, the Keyboard Is Ready

Once the software has been installed, the keyboard is connected and ready to use. Using the proprietary software from the manufacturer of the keyboard provides access to many programmable functions and shortcuts that can be handy when gaming. Our e-gaming keyboard layout tips and tricks offer some useful suggestions that can speed up your response when playing games. 

How To Connect a Wireless Gaming Keyboard to a Windows Laptop Without a USB Dongle

If you have a Windows Laptop and don't have a USB dongle, don't worry. There is another reliable way for you to connect your laptop to a windows keyboard. 

To connect a wireless gaming keyboard to a Windows laptop without a dongle, start by turning on the keyboard and enabling its pairing mode. Next, go to the start menu, click on the devices tab, and select the Bluetooth option. Turn on Bluetooth and wait for the laptop to detect the keyboard. Once the keyboard is detected, select it and click on “Pair”. The keyboard should now be connected to the laptop. 

Follow these steps to connect a wireless gaming keyboard to a windows laptop without a dongle:

Step 1. Turn Your Keyboard On

To begin, turn your keyboard on and set the pairing mode. The ON switch is usually located on the back of the keyboard. And in newer versions, it’s an on/off slider switch. Turning a wireless keyboard like this on initializes the pairing operation. 

Step 2. Click the Start Menu on the Device

Turn the laptop on and click “Start”. The Start menu will display the various options that are available on the laptop. Older laptops may require you to go to the “Control Panel” to locate the devices option. 

Step 3. From Settings Go to “Devices” and Select “Bluetooth & Other Devices”

From the Start Menu, go to “Settings”. Select the “Devices” option and then click on “Bluetooth & Other Devices”. 

Navigate from the laptop “Settings” to “Devices” to connect the gaming keyboard via Bluetooth.
To pair a wireless laptop without a dongle you will need to locate the devices tab in the settings menu. Image Source: HelpDeskGeek.

How To Connect a Wired Keyboard to a Laptop

A keyboard can be connected to the laptop in the usual way that always works, which is a cable. Such a connection is a connection with a USB cable. This procedure is the same for both Mac and Windows laptops. 

To connect a wired keyboard to a laptop simply plug the USB connector into the USB port on the side or back of the laptop. The laptop will automatically detect the keyboard and install any necessary drivers, enabling you to start gaming right away.  

Follow these steps to connect your wired gaming keyboard to your laptop:

Step 1. Connect the USB Cable 

Connect the wired keyboard to your laptop's USB port first. You can also use a USB hub like this one. However, if you want a stable and secure connection, it’s better to connect the device directly to the keyboard. Our article comparing USB 2.0 and 3.0 and the types of USB cables used for gaming devices explains the difference between these two common types of connections when it comes to data transfer speed and stability. 

Insert the USB connector of the gaming keyboard cable into a USB port of your laptop.
Connect the wired keyboard to the USB port of your laptop. Image Source: NetZwelt.

Step 2. The Keyboard Should Automatically Be Detected

When you connect the keyboard, the device will automatically detect the keyboard. If you are having trouble connecting your keyboard to the laptop then take a look at our guide that provides quick fixes if your gaming keyboard is not working, for some troubleshooting advice. 

We all know that laptops can be portable, but what about your gaming keyboard? Be sure to read our related article explaining how to choose a case for your custom gaming keyboard.

Why Should You Connect a Gaming Keyboard to a Laptop?

If you’re a passionate gamer, using a  laptop keyboard could be quite challenging and frustrating. This is due to the fact that laptop keyboards have many limitations that won’t allow gamers to give their maximum in the game. That's why connecting a gaming keyboard to a laptop would be useful.

It can be beneficial to connect a gaming keyboard to a laptop because it provides enhanced functionality, such as programmable macro keys, which can make gaming easier and more enjoyable. It is also helpful to connect a gaming keyboard to a laptop because many keyboards are made of robust materials, which makes them less likely to break compared to laptop keyboards. Additionally, if a gaming keyboard becomes damaged, it is typically easier to replace than repairing a laptop keyboard, which often requires professional assistance. 

Gaming keyboards like this have specifications that help gamers play better, click faster, be more comfortable, and offer many other benefits. 

These reasons make it a good idea to connect a gaming keyboard to your laptop:

Reason 1. Gaming Keyboards Have Macro Keys

A laptop is a device that’s made to be portable, practical, and simple for everyday tasks. Because of this, the keyboard that comes with the device isn’t the most suitable for playing games. The laptop has a cramped keyboard, with little space between the keys and no macro keys. On the other hand, gaming keyboards like this are larger, with a larger distance between the keys, and they have macro keys. Macro keys are crucial for every player because they can be programmed to perform complex actions with a single keypress. This can help gamers to perform in-game actions quickly and efficiently. 

The macro keys of gaming keyboards make them a better option for gaming with a laptop.
Gaming keyboards have macro keys that enable quick reactions. Image Source: pbblogassets.s3.amazonaws.com.

Reason 2. The Gaming Keyboard Has Customized Control Pads

Gaming keyboards can have additional control pads or buttons that can be customized for specific in-game actions. This can provide gamers with more control options and a better gaming experience. The customized control pads are usually on the left side of the keyboard and help gamers to better control the characters in the game.

Connecting a gaming keyboard to a laptop provides better customization options for serious gamers.
Most gaming keyboards come with custom control pads on the left side of the keyboard. Image Source: Dot Esports.

Reason 3. Using a Gaming Keyboard Preserves the Laptop’s Keyboard

Gaming keyboards often have a spill-resistant design, which provides extra protection against accidental spills and reduces the risk of damage to the keyboard. If it is too late and you have already spilled something on your laptop keyboard check out our guide on how to clean a laptop keyboard after a spill

Using a gaming keyboard on a laptop can also help preserve the lifespan of the laptop’s built-in keyboard, as it takes the strain of heavy gaming use away from the laptop’s keyboard. 

Reason 4. An External Gaming Keyboard Is Replaceable

Replacing a gaming keyboard is much easier and less expensive than replacing the entire laptop if the built-in keyboard breaks. Additionally, gaming keyboards are often designed to be durable and withstand heavy use, reducing the risk of damage and the need for replacements. 

Furthermore, having an external gaming keyboard also offers the flexibility of being able to use the same keyboard with multiple devices, which can be useful if you switch between different laptops or computers. 

You may also be able to choose a gaming keyboard that is cute. Be sure to read our related article if this is something of interest to you.

Can I Use an External Keyboard if My Laptop Keyboard Is Not Working?

If your laptop keyboard isn’t working, there are several ways you can solve the problem. Try restarting, turning on and off, physically cleaning the keyboard, and checking if the problem is in the system. The best solution is to use an external keyboard if it doesn't work. The external keyboard should work perfectly on your laptop, regardless of the laptop keyboard. This article from Gold Touch explores the advantages of utilizing an external keyboard. 

If a laptop keyboard is not working, using an external keyboard can provide a temporary solution until the laptop’s built-in keyboard can be repaired or replaced. You can connect an external keyboard to a laptop via a USB cable, a wireless USB dongle, or via bluetooth connectivity. 

A USB cable like this is a basic solution if other options aren’t possible or don’t work for some reason. This way, you’ll be able to use the new keyboard until you repair the laptop’s keyboard. 

Given that gaming is much better when using a gaming keyboard, using an external gaming keyboard won’t be that bad.

Summary of External Gaming Keyboard Recommendations for Laptops

Example  Features That Make It Ideal for Pairing With a Laptop Price
Roccat Vulcan II Max – Optical-Mechanical Pc Gaming Keyboard  The durable aluminum top plate makes this keyboard robust and strong. On-board storage for up to 4 user profiles makes this keyboard customizable. ~$230
Logitech G915 Tkl Tenkeyless Lightspeed Wireless Rgb Mechanical Gaming Keyboard The tenkeyless design makes this keyboard extremely portable and lightweight. ~$160
SteelSeries New Apex 9 Tkl – HotSwap Optical Mini Keyboard – Tkl Esports Design The hot swap keys make this keyboard easy to clean and replace when on the go.Its small size also makes it ideal to slip inside a laptop bag when traveling. ~$120
Cherry Mx 3.0 S Wired Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Aluminum Housing  The detachable cable with a mini–USB B connection allows gamers to play wirelessly as well as when the keyboard is charging.  ~$100
K840t Retro Typewriter Mechanical Keyboard Wireless 2.4G/ Bluetooth/Wired, 84 Key 75% The retro round keys give an aesthetic look for on-the-go gaming, and the keyboard's small size means it can fit into any luggage. ~$80
Redragon K552 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Rgb Led Rainbow Backlit Wired Keyboard with Red Switches Compatible with Windows laptops, this 87-key design is compact and easy to store when traveling ~$40


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