Is a Gaming Keyboard Good for Programming? Tips To Choose the Right Keyboard for You

Programmers and gamers have a lot in common. Both spend a lot of time on their computers and use different devices to optimize their performance. Having to change equipment for different activities would be inconvenient and time-consuming and so we will be looking at whether a gaming keyboard is good for programming purposes as well.

A gaming keyboard is good for programming because its mechanical keys are more durable, its tactile keys feel better while typing, its custom macros can help shorten programming tasks, and gaming keyboards are ergonomically designed.

Our gaming keyboard recommendations could be a handy resource while you are trying to decide on what keyboard would be best for your needs. 

We will now discuss why gaming keyboards are good for programming in more detail.

Reasons Why a Gaming Keyboard Is the Best Keyboard for Programming 

Most gaming keyboards are very durable as gaming tends to require plenty of vigorous key pressing. Gaming keyboards are often mechanical keyboards, meaning they have protruded spring-activated switches and customizable parts.

Gaming keyboards are the best type of keyboard for programming as they are durable, have fast switches, and are highly customizable.

We will now discuss features of gaming keyboards that make them perfect for programming.

Feature 1. Gaming Keyboards Are Usually Mechanical and Are Preferred by Some Programmers

Unlike membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards like this feature springs located under each key. These springs activate the switches and allow the instant release of the keys. These keys have a low debounce time, meaning they allow for very fast typing. Our discussion on whether gaming keyboards are expensive goes into greater detail about the features of gaming keyboards that affect their price.

Gaming keyboards are good for programming because they allow for very fast typing.
Gaming keyboards are highly customizable and models with RGB lighting even allow commands to be grouped by color. Image Source: Amazon.

Feature 2. Macro Keys Are Great for Customizing the Keyboard To Suit the Programmer’s Needs

Macros keys are keys on a keyboard like this that can be programmed to carry out sequences and commands. When gaming, this gives an advantage, as pressing one button to issue a command instead of pressing multiple keys results in faster action. For programmers, macro keys can be very convenient as using them means fewer keys need to be pressed and fewer commands need to be remembered. 

The macro keys of a gaming keyboard make it a good option for programming.
Macro keys are often located on the far left of the gaming keyboard. Image Source: Amazon.

Feature 3. Tactile Switches Are Versatile and Work Well for Gaming and Programming

Mechanical keyboards are equipped with spring-activated switches. There are three types of switches, linear, click, and tactile. Each of these switch types has unique functions. Pressing a tactile switch, the user will feel a  “bump” alerting them that they successfully issued the command. 

Using tactile switches, the user does not have to press the keyboard button bottom out. Hence, tactile switches allow for fast typing and are well-suited for programming. For more information on tactile switches see  this article by switch manufacturer CUI Devices.

You may also be interested in learning the differences between membrane and mechanical keyboards. If so, be sure to take a look at our comparison for more details.

Why Could a Gaming Keyboard Not Be Good for Programming?

The fact remains that gaming keyboards are designed with gamers in mind, not programmers. Therefore there are some features of a gaming keyboard that programmers might not find suitable.

The RGB lighting of some gaming keyboards may be too distracting for programming in work settings, linear switches, used in many gaming keyboards can be too sensitive for some programmers, and gaming keyboards come in sizes that might be too small for programmers. 

Our article that compares gaming keyboards vs. regular keyboards explains the differences between keyboards that are designed for work and those that are designed for gaming.

A gaming keyboard may not be good for programming for the following reasons:

Reason 1. RGB Lighting May Be Too Bright for a Professional Environment 

RGB keyboards like this allow for selecting over sixteen million colors to light the keyboard with. Color zones of keys based on function can be created. However, the primary use of RGB backlights is to increase visibility in dark environments.

In a work setting RGB lighting can be distracting and might be considered unprofessional. Fortunately, the lighting can be turned off completely in most RGB keyboards. Be sure to read our related article about choosing a gaming keyboard that lights up for more information.

Reason 2. Linear Switches, Commonly Used in Gaming Keyboards, May Be Too Slow for Programming 

The linear switch type is commonly used in gaming keyboards like this. Linear switches do not give feedback when they are pressed, hence they need to be pressed more firmly. This makes them perfect for MOBA games where precision is more important than speed. Unfortunately, linear switches might be too slow for some programmers who are used to typing fast.

Reason 3. 60% Layout Keyboards May Be Too Small For Comfortable Programming 

Programmers sometimes require many keys. Popular small-size gaming keyboard models, such as 60% models, might not have enough keys to satisfy every programmer's needs.

How To Choose a Keyboard for Programming and Gaming

Many programmers also play games. Luckily buying separate keyboards for gaming and programming is not necessary. 

To choose a keyboard for programming and gaming, look for a keyboard with minimal latency, an ergonomic design, and tactile switches. The keyboard should be either 65%, tenkeyless, or full size. Customizable backlighting and programmable keys will help improve both coding and gaming performance.

Consider these tips when choosing a keyboard for programming and gaming:

Tip 1. Choose a Keyboard With Minimal Latency For Coding and Good Response Time for Gaming 

Latency in a keyboard refers to how quickly a keyboard registers a key. A keyboard with low latency means once a key is pressed, action will be taken almost immediately. For gamers, fast action provides a competitive advantage. For programmers, the amount of commands that can be issued in a timeframe is important too. Using a keyboard with low latency ensures that a programmer gets commands registered as quickly as he can click each key.

Tip 2. Look for a Keyboard With an Ergonomic Design for Comfortable During Long Hours of Coding and Gaming 

Both gaming and programming place stress on the body when done for long periods of time. Both programmers and gamers are prone to computer-related injuries, especially RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) which is explained in this article by NHS. 

Ergonomic keyboards are designed to ensure the comfortable use of the hands, wrists, and fingers, thereby reducing the chance of users getting injured due to the long-term use of the keyboard.

An ergonomic gaming keyboard is good for programming and gaming as it allows for use for extended periods of time without causing injury.
Ergonomic gaming keyboards are an excellent choice for programmers who want to reduce the chance of discomfort resulting from intensive typing. Image Source: Amazon.

Tip 3. Opt for a Keyboard That Has a 65% or Tenkeyless Layout for a Balance Between Size and Functionality 

If a full-size keyboard takes up too much space on your desk or is too large to transport, good keyboard sizes for programmers are 65% keyboards, and tenkeyless keyboards. This video tutorial by Hardware Canucks explains more about Tenkeyless keyboards that are suitable for gaming and working,

A tenkeyless keyboard has 87 keys and is smaller than a full-sized keyboard which has either 104 or 108 keys. A 65% is smaller than a tenkeyless keyboard with 66 to 68 keys, it is the smallest size we advise for programming purposes and should only be considered if portability is important for you. 

Our tips for choosing the right e-gaming keyboard layout for you explains more about how to find the best gaming keyboard layout.

Tenkeyless keyboards are smaller, but are designed with macro keys and have almost the same functionality as a full-size keyboard so they can be good for programming.
Some tenkeyless gaming keyboard models have macro keys. Image Source: Amazon.

Tip 4. Find a Keyboard With Quieter Tactile Switches That Still Have a Tactile Bump

Find a keyboard with tactile switches for keys that aren’t as noisy as clicky switches but still have a tactile bump. Tactile switches are fast and silent, making them suitable for both programming and gaming.

Tip 5. Try a Keyboard With Customizable Backlighting To Adapt for Professional and Personal Use

Try a keyboard with customizable backlighting to tone it down at the office but make it bold at home. Backlights allow for working in dark environments. Furthermore, RGB back-light keyboards allow for customizing lighting per individual key, which is useful for both programming and gaming.

Tip 6. Look for a Keyboard With Programmable Keys for Gaming and Coding Shortcuts

Programming and gaming can both require issuing complex sequences of commands. Keyboards that have programmable keys will make issuing these commands much easier and faster.

Summary of What you Need in a Keyboard for Gaming and Programming

What are you trying to optimize? Features to look for in a gaming keyboard Example keyboard Price
Lots of keys Full-size keyboards with macros Redragon K512 Shiva ~ $35
A smaller portable keyboard 65% or tenkeyless keyboards Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition ~ $70
I want a keyboard with customizable backlights RGB lighting Corsair K60 RGB Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Customizable Per-Key RGB Backlighting ~ $70
Long term comfort & health An ergonomic keyboard Ergonomic Razer Ornata Chroma Gaming Keyboard.  ~ $50


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