Using a wireless keyboard has so many useful benefits such as being able to game from any location in your room, better cable management, and being able to easily switch between devices. The question is, are wireless keyboards good enough for gaming?
We’ll go over wireless vs wired keyboards, test their speeds, and see how much of a difference it really makes.
With a wireless keyboard you will see an increase of about 79 milliseconds in reaction time versus a wired keyboard. The difference is noticeable in games that require a fast reaction time, such as Fortnite, Valorant, and Apex Legends.
We’ll dive a little deeper into our testing and talk about situations where we think wireless keyboards may be a good substitute for a wired keyboard when it comes to gaming, and look at other applications as well such as typing.
Wireless vs Wired Keyboard Speed Test
In order to test the difference in speed between a wired keyboard or wireless keyboard, we used a reaction speed test online. The test is designed to track how fast your reaction speed is, so we decided to try 5 tests, one with a wired keyboard and another with a wireless keyboard.
The theory is that our reaction time will stay constant between each test, but the input lag of a wireless keyboard will increase the reaction time. By taking the difference of the average from both tests, we can get an idea of the overall input lag of a wireless keyboard.
To make the test consistent, I used the same keyboard for both tests. The keyboard has both wireless/wired functionality so that’s the only factor changing. The keyboard is the Keychron K6, which comes with Bluetooth 5.1, one of the newest versions of Bluetooth at the moment.
Here are the results from both tests:
As you can see, the average reaction time for a wired keyboard is 0.2552 seconds, while the average reaction time for a wireless keyboard is 0.3342. If you take the difference between both tests, you should get the overall lag time of the wireless keyboard, which comes out to:
0.3342 – 0.2552 = 0.079 seconds or 79 milliseconds.
The extra time it takes for a wireless keyboard to register is 79 milliseconds versus a wired keyboard.
We got this idea from a Taekeyboards video where he was testing how fast a wireless keyboard works.
Are Wireless Keyboards Good for Gaming?
The main sticking point for most people is whether or not wireless keyboards are fast enough for gaming. With video games being more competitive than ever, you want a keyboard that doesn’t handicap you in any way.
We figured out earlier that the extra time for a wireless keyboard to register is 79 milliseconds. The question is, is that amount of time noticible, and does it make an impact in gaming?
Wireless Keyboards DO Make A Difference
I tested the wireless keyboard in several games to see how it felt. And let me tell you, I noticed the difference almost instantly. I could feel the difference in how slow the reaction was between clicks, it felt like I was at an unfair disadvantage compared to everyone else.
I would not recommend using a wireless keyboard for any game that requires a lightning fast reaction time. Games such as Fortnite, Valorant, Call of Duty, Apex Legends, League of Legends, are all difficult to play when using a wireless keyboard.
Wireless Keyboards for Non-Competitive Games
If you play games that are strictly turn-based or story-driven, I wouldn’t worry too much about what type of keyboard you have. The fact is, there are a ton of gamers out there that just play games to kick back, relax, and have some fun with their friends. Not everybody wants to grind out the ranked ladders to try and reach the very top.
For these poeple, a wireless keyboard would work wonderfully, and you get all of the awesome benefits of going cordless. I will say though, for competitive games, I would always recommend a wired keyboard. The 79 milliseconds makes a too big of a difference not to. We recommend going with a keyboard that has both wired and wireless funcationality so you can have the best of both worlds.
Why Use a Wireless Keyboard?
We’ve gone over if you should use a wireless keyboard for gaming, but what about general usage? There are a ton of cool reasons to use a wireless keyboard over a wired one. We’ll go over some of the pro’s and con’s really quick.
The main upside to a wireless keyboard is the mobility! No longer will you be stuck to your desk. You can type from anywhere in the house or workplace and not worry about being tether to your computer. It’s also much easier to pack a wireless keyboard with you and take it on the go if you enjoy typing on your keyboard at your local Starbucks or don’t enjoy typing on a laptop keyboard.
Some people may be concerned about the range of the device, but you should be able to type comfortably from across the room without any issues. To verify the distance I would look at the product specifications of your specific keyboard.
If electrical cables are cluttering your workstation and you are having a bit of trouble neatly routing everything, a wireless keyboard will help alleviate your cable management problems. By getting rid of the keyboard cable, your workstation will look much more tidy and aesthetic.
On the flip side, however, some people enjoy buying customized power cables for their keyboard and that can also add to the aesthetic. It’s also possible to make and design your own from scratch with little equipment and cost requited.
So whether you have the power cable or not, the way your keyboard looks is entirely objective, so do whatever you like best!
Con: Speed Limitations & Interference
Wireless keyboards can have slight lag and latency issues resulting in slower or sometimes missed keystrokes. While a slightly slower response time may not be a big deal for the everyday user, this can often be a dealbreaker for gamers because those missed keystrokes can take away from their competitive edge.
If you tend to play competitive games that rely on milliseconds of reaction time, wireless keyboards may not be for you. In addition, having other wireless technologies in close proximity to the keyboard can create interference issues and your keyboard may experience difficulty connecting. Items that are close by such as wireless mice, wireless routers, cell phones, and even metal objects can cause interference issues.
While interference is an issue, most people don’t experience this problem too often, but when it does it can be frustrating to deal with. So keep an eye out around your workstation for any possible culprits that may cause connectivity issues.
Con: Time to Setup
Unlike wired keyboards which only require you to plug in a USB port and your to start typing away, wireless keyboards require you to fumble around with the settings on your computer to try and pair the devices. While this may not sound too difficult for some people, less tech-savvy individuals may have trouble setting things up.
Once the keyboard has been paired, you don’t need to worry about routing the keyboard cables anymore or be in close proximity to your PC, which makes it much easier to move around and use.
Since the wireless keyboard is USB-less, that means the keyboard no longer has an infinite power source so you’ll need to install some batteries. Since the batteries will drain over time, you will always need to be prepared for a little maintenance in case they run out of juice. Wired cable benefit from the fact that they never need to worry about running out of power.
There are two main battery types, disposable and reusable. Going the reusable route is usually more recommended as you don’t constantly need to replace the batteries. The cost of disposable batteries can add up over time. A reusable battery generally requires being charged more often but comes with the upside of not needing to go to the store to buy batteries.
Con: Price Tag
Most of the time, wireless keyboards will be more expensive than a wired one. The wireless keyboards require extra hardware for connecting to the computer via bluetooth, including the bluetooth technology itself, and some form of independent power supply.
There are very affordable wireless mechanical keyboards available for purchase and I would recommend looking at models such as Keychron. Keychron’s have the option to be purchased with a wireless configuration and are relatively inexpensive.
Another good option is browse the wireless keyboard section on Amazon to find the exact keyboard you are looking for. They have a comprehensive selection of keyboards priced anywhere from relatively cheap to expensive.
Other Ways to Improve Gaming Reaction Time
There are some other ways besides switching to a wired keyboard to improve your keyboard for gaming. The biggest improvement you can make is moving to a switch with a lower actuation distance. A super popular keyboard at the moment is the Razer Huntsman, because the optical switches are ideal for gaming due to the low acutation distance and how much faster the optical switches register your keystroke.
Another option is the Apex Steelseries Pro, which allows you to customize and change what actuation distance you want on the switch. This allows you to tweak which setting actually boosts your perfomance the most in-game. Pretty cool, huh?
The cold hard truth is, wireless keyboards just don’t cut it for competitive gaming. We would love for Bluetooth technology to get to a point where it’s just as fast or faster than wired, but we aren’t quite there yet. A 79 millisecond delay with a wireless keyboard is just too much extra time for a key to register in the heat of the moment.
A wireless keyboard can be a great purchase for anyone who does not rely on a super fast reaction speed for gaming and will work perfectly fine for most of the keyboard users out there. Wireless keyboards offer excellent mobility and allow you to type from positions that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. They also help with keeping your workstation decluttered and clean as you’ll have one less wire to deal with routing.
You also need to look out for issues such as connectivity, interference, and battery usage. If you’re not the most tech inclined it may also be difficult for you to configure and setup the keyboard, so keep that in mind before purchasing.
Thanks for reading. Happy typing!