“Benchmarks,” you ask, “for a keyboard?” Yes, it is possible to do such a thing. A keyboard is a fairly simple device in concept, but implementation details can make the difference between one that “just works” and one that “just sucks”. All tests were performed with the following setup:
|CPU||Intel Core i5 2300|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Ultimate, SP1|
|Keyboard 1||Tt eSPORTS Challenger|
|Keyboard 2||Filco Majestouch Tenkeyless Otaku (Cherry Brown keyswitches)|
Our comparison keyboard, the Filco Majestouch, can function in either PS/2 mode or USB mode. Since the Challenger is USB only, we plugged in the Majestouch in USB mode for all tests.
Credit Card Test
This first test is one that anybody can do at home, it requires only a text editor–Notepad will do nicely–and a credit card, library card, or any similar stiff rectangle of plastic. Holding the card above a row of keys with one corner slightly lower than the other, you simply bring the card straight down, guillotine-style, on a row of five keys. If everything is working as intended, you’ll see the letters for the keys you hit, in the order you hit them. If everything is not ok, you may see transposed letters, missing letters, or letters you never even hit. RTS or MMO players who are used to doing “piano-rolls” will appreciate the need for this kind of accuracy.
For this test, I focused on the left-hand side of the keyboard, where you’re likely to use it during gaming sessions. I deliberately chose sequences of five keys, as that is the most you could reasonably expect to piano-roll even with deliberate fat-fingering. Each row is a set of five trials for each key set. I tried each set in left-to-right and right-to-left patterns. Trials where the card slipped were repeated, but the results are otherwise unedited.
|Tt eSPORTS Challenger||Filco Majestouch|
|12345 12345 12345 12345 12345||12345 12345 12345 12345 12345|
|54321 54321 54321 54321 54321||54321 54321 54321 54321 54321|
|qwert qwert qwert qwert qwert||qwert qwert qwert qwert qwert|
|trewq trewq trewq trewq rtewq||trewq trewq trewq trewq trewq|
|werty weryt werty werty werty||werty werty werty werty werty|
|ytrew ytrew ytrew ytrew ytrew||ytrew ytrew ytrew ytrew ytrew|
|asdfg asdfg asdfg asdfg asdfg||asdfg asdfg asdfg asdfg asdfg|
|gfdsa gfdsa gfdsa gfdsa gfdsa||gfdsa gfdsa gfdsa gfdsa gfdsa|
|sdfgh sdfgh sdfgh sdfgh sdfgh||sdfgh sdfgh sdfgh sdfgh sdfgh|
|hgfds hgfds hgfds hgfds hgfds||hgfds hgfds hgfds hgfds hgfds|
|zxcvb zxcvb zxczb zxcvb zxcbv||zxcvb zxcvb zxcvb zxcvb zxcvb|
|bvcxz bvcxz bvcxz bvcxz bvcxz||bvcxz bvcxz bvcxz bvcxz bvcxz|
|xcvbn xcvbn xcvbn xcvbn xcvbn||xcvbn xcvbn xcvbn xcvbn xcvbn|
|nbvcx nbvcx nbvcx nbvcx nbvcx||nbvcx nbvcx nbvcx nbvcx nbvcx|
The Challenger held up reasonably well in this test, only showing occasional transposition errors. Anyone not used to pumping out 150+ APM in Starcraft will likely not notice.
For this test, I went through every combination of three simultaneous key-presses I could think of that left-handed and right-handed gamers might conceivably use. Below is a list of combinations that did not work with this keyboard. No extra, or “ghost” key-codes were generated by these combinations, but when two of the keys were pressed, the third would simply not register.
Left hand chords
tilde+tab+1 – many of these tilde+tab+ combinations would cause the tab key to “stick down”, so that the controller would continue to send the key-code repeatedly until I tapped the tab key again.
4+w+spacebar – No jumping while running forward and switching weapons?
w+f+lalt – Many people choose to bind their push-to-talk key to left alt, however this will not work well in practice with this keyboard.
right hand chords (all done with numlock on)
Some of these key combinations are improbable, but many are not, especially for MMO or RTS gamers. With this many 3KRO errors, I felt a 4KRO test unnecessary, as these combinations would not work any better with more keys pressed. The problems with left Alt are especially troubling, given that one can usually count on the modifier keys (ctrl, shift, alt) to not ghost.
Our comparison board, the Filco Majestouch, did not exhibit any of these problems, registering every key combination I could think of without error.