Gamers have been debating on which input device is the best for gaming. This debate has been going on ever since the home consoles, and PC gaming hit the mainstream. Console gamers have sworn by controllers, while most members of the PC Master Race exclusively use a mouse and keyboard setup.
Both controllers and mouse + keyboards will work very well for PC gaming. It just depends on which form factor the user prefers and which genres he/she will be playing. It also depends on the user’s budget since controllers are significantly more affordable than a mid to high-end mouse and keyboard setup.
With how divided the community is, it is extremely hard for newer gamers to decide on which setup to get. It even becomes more complicated when asking on places such as Reddit and game forums since most gamers will tell that it is all about preference.
And while that is true, that doesn’t help those who are new to gaming. Fortunately, we own both devices and have experienced both setups in action.
In this article, we will be aiming to help those who are having a hard time deciding on which of these two setups to get. We’ll be narrowing down our discussion by talking about the cost of each setup, the selling points of each setup, and which setup best fits certain game genres. And by the end of this article, gamers should have a clear idea of which input device to get.
Costs of Each Setup
The first thing that we will be comparing is the cost of each setup. This alone can help users determine which setup to go for.
Mechanical Keyboard and Gaming Mouse
Price Range: Anywhere from $60 to $200 (Pre-built Gaming Keyboard), $150 to $2000 (Custom Keyboards)
Keyboard and mouse setups have drastically evolved in the past few years. This is largely thanks to the popularity of Esports and the breakthrough of the custom keyboard hobby. Unfortunately, this also means that the price of gaming mice and keyboards has gone up.
For gaming keyboards, users can expect to spend at least $100 on a decent mechanical gaming keyboard. And if you want premium features such as low latency wireless connectivity, high-end gaming keyboards can easily reach the $200 price point. These prices are based on the offerings of brands such as Razer, Logitech G, Steelseries, and Corsair.
Custom keyboards, on the other hand, are even more expensive. A complete entry-level custom mechanical keyboard build can easily range from $100-$200 depending on the kit and components used.
Midrange to high-end builds can easily range from $300 to $1000. Many custom keyboard kits found on the aftermarket can easily sell for up to a thousand dollars without the switches, keycaps, and other components.
The reason why custom keyboards can become extremely expensive is due to a lot of factors such as availability. We have a number of different articles discussing these issues along with other custom keyboard-related topics here on our website for those interested in learning more about the custom keyboard hobby.
Of course, there are also budget custom keyboards and pre-built gaming keyboards. Gaming brands tend to use more affordable keyboard components, such as membrane key switch technology, for their entry-level offerings. Budget custom keyboards, on the other hand, can use lower quality components such as a plastic chassis and unbranded mechanical keyboard switches.
So far, we have determined that mechanical keyboards are pretty expensive. However, the keyboard is only half of the setup. Users will also need a competent gaming mouse to complete their rig. Fortunately, mice are much more affordable than gaming keyboards.
Budget gaming mice that can perform decently can be acquired for as low as $40-50. Industry-standard wireless gaming mice, on the other hand, can range anywhere from $60 to $150.
Lastly, there are also bundles/combos that include both a gaming mouse and a gaming keyboard. Some even include gaming headsets and gaming mousepads. But, of course, the quality of these bundles won’t be as good as keyboards and mice that can be individually bought.
So overall, gaming keyboards and mice are very expensive. Yes, the pricing is flexible since gamers can opt for more budget options, or they can choose to spend more money on either a gaming mouse or a gaming keyboard. But the bottom line is, going this route is a lot more complicated, and the costs can easily spiral out of control if you are not careful with the items you buy.
Price Range: $20 to $150
Compared to gaming keyboards and mice, controllers are pretty straightforward. They have been standardized in game consoles and have been manufactured for years. Their prices are pretty stable and rarely face shortage issues.
There are plenty of types of controllers. There are first-party controllers made specifically for their respective game consoles. These include Sony’s controllers for their Playstation systems, Microsoft’s controllers for their Xbox systems, and Nintendo’s Joycon and Pro controllers for the Nintendo Switch.
Both Microsoft and Sony’s controllers are widely used in PC gaming. But for those who want more customizability, grip styles, and other features, there are also third-party brands such as 8Bitdo, Razer, Logitech G, Hori, Nacon, and many more.
In terms of pricing, most game controllers retail for around $60-100. More budget alternatives can even go for as low as $20. And, of course, some pro controllers from third-party brands can go up to $150.
For PC Gaming, some users may have to buy additional adapters, especially when using controllers originally designed for game consoles. But overall, the cost is going to be way less than a gaming keyboard and mouse setup.
Selling Points of Controllers and Gaming Keyboards/Mice
As we have already established earlier, choosing between a keyboard + mouse and controller setup comes down to personal preference. However, each setup has their own unique set of perks. These should make the purchase decision for those who do not know what they prefer a lot easier.
Selling Points of Mechanical Keyboards and Gaming Mice
For users who work and game with their PCs, mechanical keyboards and gaming mice are a good investment. Outside of gaming, these peripherals can potentially help increase your productivity thanks to their more ergonomic design and additional functionality.
In addition, most modern mechanical keyboards and gaming mice are known to be extremely sturdy. Nowadays, the main reason why users choose to upgrade is because of feature-related concerns rather than due to issues with the build quality.
In addition, mechanical keyboards will give the user plenty of customization options. We have thoroughly covered most of the customization options available to users. But just to give readers an idea, here are some things that can be done.
For both gaming mechanical keyboards and custom keyboards, the user can freely replace several aspects such as the keycaps and the cable. For custom keyboards, users can even choose their switches to help achieve the best possible working or gaming experience.
Selling Points of Controllers
Of course, controllers also have their own set of perks. Most controllers are more versatile. Both first-party and third-party controllers are usually compatible with different devices. This is perfect for those who own both a game console and a gaming PC/laptop.
Also, the ergonomics controllers have pretty much been perfected. Game controllers, especially those coming from first-party manufacturers, will have a shape that will alleviate any hand cramps or even any issues that users can encounter with prolonged use.
Also, in terms of customizability, users will also have a lot of options. These include various color options from the manufacturer or shell swaps from third-party manufacturers. The thumbsticks can also be modified with grips.
Better For Gaming
Lastly, we will be talking about what kind of genres these setups work well. For competitive gamers looking to hone their skills, this section should help you decide which setup to get.
Better For FPS (First Person Shooters)
For FPS games, may it be casual or competitive, keyboards and mice are hard to beat. They are more accurate and have proven to unleash the full potential of players with a high skill ceiling. They have been the standard for Esports titles such as CS: GO and Valorant.
Of course, there are still plenty of FPS titles that were designed to be primarily played with a controller. These include the Call of Duty and Halo series. But for the rest of the competitive FPS scene, keyboard and mice is the way to go.
Better For Fighting Games
Fighting games originally found their home in the arcades and the game consoles. And while many fighting game titles such as Street Fighter and Tekken are now available on Steam, their game design are still arguably based on the control schemes of their roots.
What this means is that for fighting games, many players still recommend going with a controller or a fight stick. Of course, these games are still certainly doable with a mechanical keyboard, provided it has N-Key Rollover and Anti-ghosting features.
Having different mechanical keyboard switches to choose from can also help gamers dial in the proper feel for fighting games. But for those who want to improve and emulate the pros, controllers and fight sticks are the way to go.
We also highly recommend checking out our comparison of fight sticks and mechanical keyboards for a more in-depth discussion regarding the best input device for fighting games.
Better For RPGs (Action RPGs, JRPGs, etc.)
When it comes to RPGs, it isn’t about the accuracy of the controls. It is more about the feel and the experience of the game. These titles are generally more laid back and do not require lightning-fast reflexes like other competitive titles.
Instead, RPGs are all about letting the players experience the world around them. For these kinds of games, both controllers and keyboards + mice setup work well as long as the port properly accommodates the control schemes of each setup.
For traditional JRPGs, especially turn-based RPGs that mostly rely on selecting different menus, we believe that controllers are a better option. Like fighting games, these kinds of games were born on game consoles and were originally designed for game controllers. Therefore, controls will have the best experience for JRPGs.
Better For Racing Simulators
Just like with fighting games, both controllers and a keyboard + mouse setup are not the most optimal for racing sims. While both can do the job, they will not be able to give the accuracy and immersion of a proper racing wheel setup.
For casual gamers, any of the two setups can do the job. But for more serious players, a proper racing wheel setup is the way to go.
Best For Retro Games (Via Emulators or Official Ports)
For this category, controllers are without a doubt the clear winner. Retro games are, of course, originally designed for game consoles. Thus, the entire DNA of these games revolves around the system they were originally intended for. This includes the controls.
Many, if not all, retro games can easily be played with a keyboard and mouse. But for most of these games, the feel just isn’t right. For these types of games, we highly recommend getting a controller that best emulates the feel of the controller or control layout found on the games they were originally released with.
Conclusion: Which is Better?
As expected, there is no clear winner between these two input devices. Both mice and keyboards, and controllers have their unique charms. And both options will certainly have their specialized use cases.
To narrow down which one suits you best, we recommend investing in the right setup for your needs. For those who will be playing competitive titles and PC exclusive games, a mechanical keyboard and gaming setup will suit you better. And for casual gamers who will be playing mostly casual titles and console ports, a good wireless controller will be the way to go.
With that said, we recommend getting both a controller and a mechanical keyboard and mouse. This way, you get the best of both worlds. Of course, this setup will be costly, However, the end results are certainly worth it.