If you’ve gamed for an extended period, you know that long hours of gaming can lead to wrist and finger fatigue. What if we told you that there’s a simple solution to your body aches?
A split keyboard can improve your body’s posture and make long hours of gaming a satisfactory experience. Since this keyboard layout prioritizes ergonomics, using this board allows your hands and arms to be positioned more comfortably and reduces physical stress. This keyboard is recommended for those who game in longer sessions.
If you’re interested in improving your gaming experience, read further on. In this article, we will be taking you through why the split keyboard came to be and why so many gamers opt for this ergonomic option. We will also be discussing our top three split keyboard picks.
What is a Split Keyboard?
Split keyboards apply a specific layout in their keyboards, which alleviates wrist and finger cramps when typing. As the name implies, the keys of split keyboards are cut into two halves that position your hands in a more natural form, allowing you to endure long hours of play and work once you get used to its unorthodox layout.
This type of board can be compared to the Alice layout, which also seeks to improve body posture by having the keys split into halves and staggered in a wingspan shape. However, unlike the Alice keyboard layout, the split keyboard is present for both mechanical and membrane keyboards, making it a much more accessible option and a cheaper alternative if you find that the costs for a custom Alice keyboard are too high.
There are two kinds of split keyboards. There are split keyboards with a fixed split, like the Kinesis Advantage2 Keyboard, where a single keyboard case still integrates the two halves. On the other hand, there are boards with fully split halves, and two keyboard modules called the adjustable split. This is seen in keyboard models like Mistel’s BAROCCO MD770.
For adjustable split keyboards, you can choose from two placements—the split and the splay. The split positioning is a straightforward placement of the two modules, where there’s ample space in between so that your hands rest at a natural shoulder’s width apart while typing. The second type is the splay positioning. The two keyboard modules are rotated at an angle, granting a comfortable position for the wrists and allowing your elbows to rest on your gaming chair’s armrests.
Adding to the personalization of this keyboard layout is the fact that this unique layout can be found in most sizes of keyboards, from the compact 60% to the full-sized form factor.
Perks of Using a Split Keyboard
It’s no surprise that spending a lot of time on your computer or laptop can lead to debilitating conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. This is because of the unnatural positioning of your hands and wrists from typing on your keyboard. Additionally, some users report pain and fatigue in other parts of the body, such as the arms, shoulders, and neck, after prolonged computer and keyboard use.
The original keyboard comes from the typewriter’s design and doesn’t improve much on it. Manufacturers saw this gap in the existing keyboard models, and thus, the split keyboard was born.
The split keyboard’s unorthodox layout of keys prioritizes a more comfortable and natural positioning of hands and wrists while typing. This keyboard design tailor fits itself to your body, especially with adjustable split keyboards which allow you to angle and position your keyboard modules to your liking.
The science of the split keyboard comes from two key terms in the ergonomic community: ulnar deviation and forearm pronation.
Ulnar deviation happens because your wrists are bent outward, causing your carpal tunnel to constrict. This reduces blood flow and increases the risk of muscle fatigue.
Forearm pronation, on the other hand, happens because the conventional keyboard is too flat for your natural arm posture. Prolonged typing on your typical flat keyboard forces your wrists to rotate uncomfortably, increasing pressure on your forearm muscles and hampers blood circulation. Over time, this can lead to sustained fatigue and even injury of the ligaments.
Using a Split Keyboard for Gaming
Gaming with split keyboards can allow you to endure long hours of playtime. The natural posture that you can get from this keyboard design helps prevent injuries from using a standard layout keyboard.
If you’re using adjustable split keyboards, you can also opt to use just one module at a time. This can be extremely helpful for first-person shooter games since you can focus on your mouse movements with your other hand.
Another provision of this keyboard layout is its accessibility; whether you’re a fan of compact form factors for desk space or utilize the numeric pad for game controls, you can find an ergonomic option by acquiring this design.
Split Keyboards In MOBAs
MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games include Heroes of the Storm, multiple iterations of DOTA, and League of Legends (LoL). These are strategy games that rotate through various characters during gameplay.
In this game genre, letter keys Q, W, E, R, D, and F, and the numbers 1 through 6 are often used. Depending on your chosen character, additional keys may also be employed for game controls.
Using a split keyboard in MOBA games can be more efficient since you can use only one module for game controls.
Split Keyboards In FPS/Shooting Games
Mainstream shooting games include Doom, Call of Duty (CoD), and Valorant. These games fall under action video games and primarily rely on the defeat of other players by using various weapons.
This game genre typically uses the arrow cluster and W, A, S, D keys for character movement. Player attacks are often integrated into mouse movement or other such alphanumeric keys.
The split keyboard is extra helpful in shooting games, especially if they’re fully adjustable since you can use the space between the two modules for your mouse. This grants you easier access for attacks, though it might take some getting used to. However, note that disregarding the other half of a Split keyboard means that your in-game chat communications are uncompromised. You do not have a complete set of alphanumeric keys.
Split Keyboards In MMORPGs & RPGs
Famous examples of RPGs (Role Playing Games) include Torchlight and Fallout, while well-known examples of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs include World of Warcraft (WoW) and Star Trek Online.
These games use a lot of keys for their controls. For example, keys 1 through the equals sign (‘=’) are often used for attacks, while the function keys are often used for the hot bars. Select letter keys may also be used, such as I, M, J, and Q. Arrow keys or the W, A, S, and D cluster may also be used for character movement.
Depending on the game, a split keyboard may not be ideal, given that most of the time, MMORPGs and RPGs utilize most of the alphanumeric keys. This being the case, discarding one or the other half of a split keyboard may significantly compromise your gaming experience.
Split Keyboards That we Recommend for Gaming
KINESIS Freestyle 2 Ergonomic Keyboard
- Membrane Keyboard with 75% Layout
- Choice of 9 or 20-inch separation
- Additional Hotkeys (cut, copy, paste, and multimedia keys)
- Plug and Play
- Tenting accessories
If you’re looking for a cheap yet fantastic ergonomic option, this board might be for you! The KINESIS Freestyle 2 Ergonomic Keyboard is a remarkable membrane keyboard jampacked with hot features like office hotkeys, tenting options, and a fully adjustable split with two cable options. This keyboard is plug-and-play with low-force membrane key switches, which are quickly registered by your computer. This board combines the best aims of work and play with excellent ergonomics.
Cloud Nine C989 Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard
- 100% Split Mechanical Keyboard
- Alice Layout
- 8-inch separation
- Programmable macro buttons
- Smart control dial
Want the functionality of a full-sized keyboard? The Cloud Nine C989 Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard boasts of its use of the 100% form factor with magnetic modules that can be snapped in place if you want to use it as a regular keyboard. But, this doesn’t take away from its ergonomics since this board integrates a smooth and comfortable wrist rest through its case. Other great features include your choice of Cherry MX Switches, a full numeric keypad, ten programmable macro keys, a programmable scroll wheel, and a USB pass-through.
- 65% Split Mechanical Keyboard
- RGB backlighting
- Enhancement Kit (keycap and switch puller, thin and thick translucent o-rings, microfiber cloth, and test switches)
- Travel case with multiple cable options
The Dygma Raise is the best keyboard for the job if you want a new custom build to upgrade your gaming setup. This keyboard integrates the use of Kailh Speed Copper switches designed for rapid action with tactile feedback. But, if you’re not contented with these switches, you can also swap them out because of their hot-swap PCB. Moreover, you can employ your physical modifications to personalize your gaming experience by including a handy enhancement kit. You can likewise personalize its backlighting using the Bazecor software.
A Split keyboard is an excellent keyboard for some game genres but is not generally ideal for games falling under the MMORPG and RPG category. Even then, you are still allowed to use a Split keyboard under these circumstances.
Split keyboards are designed to ultimately contribute to better keyboard ergonomics that allow users to game and work for extended hours without discomfort. If ever you are interested in getting one, you must see to it that your case usage will adopt its unconventional design, which, after some time, will translate your efforts to a more comfortable work and play.