Flat Key Keyboards Explained And Are They Good For Gaming?

Typing on a keyboard for several hours a day can cause a myriad of problems and using a keyboard for gaming can put even more stress on your fingers, wrists, and arms. To make gaming more enjoyable and comfortable, gamers often use flat key keyboards, referred to as low-profile keyboards with flat keys. 

Flat key keyboards, such as a gaming keyboard with flat keys, are designed with low-profile keycaps which sit almost flush with the keyboard plate. These low-profile keycaps make for good gaming keyboards as they have short actuation distance and provide high precision typing.

Flat key keyboards are becoming increasingly popular among gamers and are considered to be more comfortable to use and better than those with raised keys. 

We will be discussing the advantages of using a gaming keyboard with flat keys and the reasons low-profile gaming keyboards are considered to be better than raised keyboards for gaming. 

Flat key keyboards for gaming are considered to be more comfortable for long hours of work or gaming.
A flat keyboard has low-profile keys that have a short travel distance when typing. Image Source: Amazon.

What Is a Flat Gaming Key Keyboard?

When choosing the right gaming keyboard for you, it is essential to do some research on different types of keyboards before purchasing one. As flat key keyboards have become a hot topic of discussion among gamers, maybe it’s finally time to replace your raised keyboard with a low-profile one. But first, let’s look at what flat key keyboards are. 

A flat key keyboard is a type of keyboard that is designed with a low profile and shorter actuation distance, making them more comfortable to use for long periods of time and offering better portability and a more precise typing experience. 

It is often assumed that gaming keyboards are bulky keyboards like this with raised mechanical key switches. In reality, these features do not always make keyboards better for gaming. Our guide to what a gaming keyboard is takes a look at the features that are typically associated with gaming keyboard styles and designs. 

This video review by Randomfrankp explains a bit more about slim mechanical gaming keyboards.

Depending on your preferences and gaming style, you may find it more convenient and comfortable to use a low-profile keyboard. Although flat key keyboards feature a much more minimalistic design that might not really blend well with the overall aesthetics of your gaming setup, they do offer various benefits that are worth considering. 

Gaming keyboards do not have to be big and bulky, they can also have a lower profile with flat keys.
Flat key keyboards are low-profile keyboards with a relatively shorter actuation distance compared to keyboards with raised keys. Image Source: Amazon

Advantages of Using a Gaming Keyboard With Flat Keys

The additional strain on your wrists when using a high-profile keyboard might result in wrist discomfort and more serious problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which is very unpleasant. As a result, a flat keyboard is preferable in the long run to decrease the risk of injury and to alleviate discomfort while typing and gaming.

The advantages of using a gaming keyboard with flat keys are better accuracy, improved gaming comfort, and a short actuation distance for a quicker response time. Gamers often favor them as they can be more responsive and provide more tactile feedback.

This article from the International Journal of Ergonomic design takes a look at the geometrics of four different keyboards to investigate the stress on typists’ wrist, and determines that the design of a flat keyboard provides neutral wrist alignment when typing for prolonged periods. 

In case you are still skeptical about replacing your regular key keyboard with a low-profile gaming keyboard, we will discuss some of the unique advantages that will make your gaming experience more enjoyable and boost your in-game performance. 

Here are some of the advantages of using a gaming keyboard with flat keys:

Flat Key Keyboards Are More Accurate Due to Short Travel Distance

While having the right gaming mouse like this for your needs is essential, using a suitable gaming keyboard is just as important. When selecting a keyboard, always pay attention to the travel distance of the keys, which is the distance the keys need to travel after pushing it down to depress and send a command to the computer. 

In the case of raised keys, the travel distance is 3.0mm or more and they are more often than not noisier. While some gamers find such keyboards convenient to use, not everyone enjoys the sound of these keys, and having to push keys that far down while gaming. In that case, you should consider getting a low-profile gaming keyboard with a 1.0mm to 2.5mm travel distance. Speaking of noisier keys, be sure to have a look at our article that explains how to make a mechanical keyboard quieter.    

When playing with a flat key keyboard, you can enjoy increased accuracy due to the short travel distance, meaning that you will not have to punch the same keys over and over again. 

Flat Key Keyboards Are More Comfortable When Gaming

Another major benefit of flat key keyboards like this is that they can be much more comfortable to use compared to keyboards with raised keys, especially when gaming for extended periods of time. This can be explained by the fact that low-profile keyboard keys promote natural finger positioning, which significantly reduces strain. 

While a gaming keyboard with flat keys may feel comfortable to some gamers, others might find traditional keyboards more convenient to use. So, at the end of the day, whether or not flat keys are more comfortable than raised keys or vice versa, depends on your personal preferences and hand positioning. 

Flat Key Keyboards Allow for Better Performance Due to Short Actuation Distance

Increasing your in-game performance is all about having fast and accurate responses and opting for a low-profile keyboard may help you achieve this goal.

A gaming keyboard with flat keys has a shorter actuation distance, allowing the key switches to travel less before activating, resulting in faster in-game command input. 

This article by Sim et al. studies the relationship between the unique characteristics of keycaps (the physical layout, shape, size, and labeling/symbols) and typing performance on keyboards.  

Flat Key Keyboard Are Visually Appealing When Gaming

The majority of gamers, especially those playing on a competitive level, really care about the overall aesthetics of their gaming setup. Some gamers might prefer having bulky equipment, while others prefer a more minimalist arrangement. While featuring a sleek design, low-profile gaming keyboards like this one often include RGB backlighting, making them comfortable to use and also aesthetically pleasing. 

Flat Key Keyboards Have Ergonomic Advantages Over Traditional Keyboards

Flat keys for gaming keyboards offer various ergonomic advantages. First of all, a flat design ensures that gamers do not bend their wrists upwards and, therefore, reduces the risks of putting too much stress on your wrists causing injuries, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Make sure you check out our article about how to reduce and treat hand pain while gaming.  

To make keyboards even more ergonomically friendly, some manufacturers even add wrist wrests to flat key keyboards, like this one. This makes the angle you bend your wrists less intense while boosting your gaming experience. 

A flat key gaming keyboard can have all the features that a regular gaming keyboard has.
A flat keyboard design can also have backlighting and a wrist rest for improving gaming accuracy and comfort. Image Source: Amazon.

Examples of Flat Keyboards From Amazon

Keyboard Name  Why You Should Consider Buying It Shortcomings Price
Redragon K618 Horus Wireless Low-Profile Gaming Short actuation distance and low actuation force increase in-game accuracy.  A bit expensive and the color change feature drains the battery quickly.  ~$85
Corsair K70 rgb Mk.2 Rapidfire Low-Profile Gaming Keyboard 1.2mm actuation distance allows you to improve the speed of your in-game responsiveness and overall performance.  No macro keys and complex software that is not beginner-friendly. ~$75
Razer Ornata V3 Low-Profile Gaming Keyboard Ergonomically friendly design and added wrist rest make the low-profile keyboard comfortable for long gaming sessions.  Cheaper overall quality and mecha-membrane switches that are heavy to press make the keyboard less comfortable.  ~$70
Fiodio Rainbow Membrane Gaming Keyboard Affordable and pretty much silent keyboard that offers durability and comfort.  May not be suitable for professional gamers.  ~$25

Are Low Profile Keyboards Better for Gaming?

Laptops were first fitted with flat key keyboards and then other types of laptops started featuring flat keys. You may not be comfortable using an external keyboard on a laptop if you work exclusively on a laptop—especially when it comes to mechanical keyboards, where the keys have a prominent profile. 

Low-profile keyboards are better for gaming because low-profile keys have a shorter travel distance and thus activate faster. Flat key keyboards also improve ergonomics and reduce finger strain and wrist injuries allowing a gamer to play for longer periods.

Our article that explains the benefits of gaming with a keyboard on your lap offers tips for transitioning to a gaming keyboard if you are thinking about changing your gaming setup. There are a few reasons why more and more competitive gamers are switching to flat-key gaming keyboards. But are they better than raised-key keyboards for gaming? 

Below are the reasons low-profile keyboards are widely considered better alternatives to traditional raised key keyboards for gaming: 

Reason 1. A Flat Key Keyboard Allows For Faster Activation 

Fast response time is absolutely crucial for performing well in computer games. As a beginner, you may find low-profile and raised keyboards equally beneficial. However, as you gain experience and start playing for longer periods, you will notice that raised keys like this keyboard need more time to activate or send signals to the computer than keyboards with flat keys. This is thanks to the short switch distance of the flat keys on a low-profile gaming keyboard like this. Our article about how to choose the fastest gaming keyboard for typing discusses factors like switch distance which can improve speed and accuracy when gaming. 

Reason 2. A Flat Key Keyboard Requires Less Force 

As flat key keyboards feature shorter travel distances, you need less force to push the keys down and send commands to the computer. While this may not be noticeable when playing 30 minutes a day, the necessity to apply less pressure to the keys during long gaming sessions is game-changing. This is one of the primary factors that makes low-profile gaming keyboards more comfortable than those with raised key switches. Our article comparing USB cables on gaming devices may also be helpful for you to read.

Reason 3. A Flat Key Keyboard Won’t Tire the Wrist and Fingers

Whether you are playing on a competitive level or you just spend a few hours playing your favorite video games, you should ensure that you don’t put too much stress on your wrists and hands. Ideally, you should opt for an ergonomically friendly keyboard that will make gaming more comfortable. Since flat-key keyboards feature a more ergonomic design than those with regular keys, they don’t tire the wrists and help you prevent gaming injuries, especially during and after long gaming sessions. If your hands get tired quickly when typing, it may be because your keyboard is too large, and we recommend reading our article about choosing a keyboard for small hands to reduce your discomfort when typing. 

Reason 4. A Flat Key Keyboard Has a More Comfortable Design Than a Regular Keyboard

A flat key keyboard, also known as a low-profile keyboard, is designed with keys that have a lower profile and less travel distance compared to a traditional keyboard. The overall design and specs of low-profile keyboards make them more comfortable than raised keyboards. Being able to quickly send commands to the computer while applying less force to push the keys down is the key factor making flat key keyboards more comfortable. This article from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society explains the positive effects of using a flat key keyboard when it comes to user comfort and productivity. 

The level of flat keys of a gaming keyboard allows in-game commands to be executed quickly.
Flat keycaps reduce hand strain and improve productivity and accuracy when gaming. Image Source: Amazon.

Be sure to also take a look at our articles explaining how to use the function keys on a keyboard and also how to disable the windows key on your keyboard to ensure you're getting the best performance out of your gaming keyboard.

Summary of Flat Key Gaming Keyboards vs. Regular Gaming Keyboards

Consideration Low Profile Keyboard Raised Gaming Keyboard
Actuation Distance Actuation distance from 1.0mm to 2.5mm ensures that key presses are registered faster than in the case of raised keyboards, enhancing in-game accuracy and responsiveness.  Actuation distance of 3.0mm requires more force and time to send commands to the computer. 
Ergonomics More ergonomically friendly, promoting natural wrist positioning.  Less ergonomic, forcing you to bend your wrists upward when gaming. 
Comfort More comfortable due to shorter travel distance and ergonomic design.  Typically less comfortable to use. 
Dimensions Shorter in height and narrower in width, making them pretty portable.  Bulkier and less portable. 
Weight  Lighter.  Heavier. 
Keycaps & Switches Rubber, mechanical, and optical.  Rubber, mechanical, and optical. 
Visual Features Come with and without RGB backlighting. Come with and without RGB backlighting.
Connection Type Wired or wireless. Wired or wireless.
Noise Almost silent.  Pretty noisy. 
Example From Amazon Corsair K60 RGB Pro Low Profile Mechanical Gaming Keyboard SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard


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