Most modern peripherals come in two flavors: wired and wireless. Both are great options and have little to no trade-offs. So as a consumer, which one should you choose?
Both wired and wireless mechanical keyboards are great options. The better one comes down to personal preference. Users who want a cleaner setup and a portable keyboard should consider wireless keyboards, while those who want more features and more options in terms of layout should consider wired keyboards.
In this article, we will be going through all the basics of wired and wireless mechanical keyboards. Other key aspects, such as the advantages and disadvantages of each keyboard type, will also be discussed. And hopefully, by the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of which mechanical keyboard type best suits you.
Introduction to Wireless Mechanical Keyboards
Since the advancement and development of technology is the only constant thing in this world, it is not surprising that keyboard manufacturers have come up with an idea to eliminate the wire on keyboards. The results are the light and portable mechanical keyboards that we have in the market.
Wireless mechanical keyboards are not different from any other keyboards we have now, except for the fact that instead of typical cords or wires, these keyboards make use of infrared beams and radiofrequency such as Bluetooth. With the help of infrared beams and radio frequency, the user’s keyboard is not glued to their desk anymore, enabling them to work comfortably and with enough distance from their monitor.
Wireless keyboards in the past used to have a bad reputation due to various issues that we will be discussing later. In fact, most manufacturers shied away from implementing wireless technology in mechanical keyboards. However, this is mostly a thing of the past since most wireless mechanical keyboards today are very reliable,
Do Wireless Keyboards Introduce Lag?
Technically speaking, wireless keyboards are more prone to lags simply because they rely on their connectivity to signals and should be used within their range only. Most wireless keyboards in the past are prone to various issues such as latency.
Signal interference can also trigger lags when using wireless keyboards. Having any other wireless devices within the range of these keyboards can cause signal interference that will either give the keyboard a hard time connecting or have lag.
But when talking about high-end tournament-grade mechanical gaming keyboards, most of these issues aren’t noticeable. Manufacturers have found creative ways to bypass most of the issues that plague regular wireless keyboards and are now as reliable as wired mechanical keyboards. Of course, these kinds of keyboards command higher price tags.
Bluetooth vs. 2.4 GHz Dongle Wireless Keyboard Technology
The most common type of wireless technology used for mechanical keyboards is Bluetooth. This is the same Bluetooth protocol that is being used by most devices such as smartphones and wireless earbuds.
The main advantage of Bluetooth-enabled mechanical keyboards is compatibility. Since most devices already have Bluetooth chips, you can easily connect your keyboard to them. Also, the pairing process is fairly quick, and you can pair your keyboard with multiple devices.
Additionally, Bluetooth keyboards are space-efficient since they don’t eat up another USB port. Of course, in the event that your device does not have Bluetooth, you can always purchase a Bluetooth receiver that is very similar to the 2.4GHz dongle.
Lastly, this keyboard is indeed travel-friendly. You can bring it anywhere and everywhere without worrying about cords or dongles. You can just quickly put it in your bag, travel freely, and face your workload anywhere.
With that said, there are still some drawbacks to consider when using Bluetooth wireless mechanical keyboards. Since Bluetooth has a lower bandwidth, they usually have higher latency. This may not be noticeable when typing but will certainly be perceived in fast-paced competitive video games.
Of course, wireless mechanical keyboards can still be used in wired mode during gaming. However, this defeats the purpose of owning a wireless keyboard. Keep this in mind if you plan on using these for gaming.
2.4 GHz’s Dongle
The other common type of wireless technology used in mechanical keyboards is 2.4 GHz radiofrequency. Compared to Bluetooth, the 2.4 GHz is considered to be more traditional since it is older. But despite its age, 2.4 GHz is still more reliable than Bluetooth.
Most mechanical keyboards utilizing this technology are considerably faster, with just a flat 1ms delay. Bluetooth keyboards, on the other hand, has over 1.3ms delay. Some people may consider that it is just a small difference, but for gamers which requires a lightning speed of inputs, it can be a very big difference.
The fact that it is also easier to set up is another reason why people prefer this type of wireless connectivity over Bluetooth. In setting up this type of connectivity for your wireless keyboard, you just need to plug the 2.4 GHz dongle into one of your device’s USB ports, and then it will automatically detect your wireless keyboard. On the other hand, Bluetooth connectivity has plenty of steps since you need to pair your device first to your wireless keyboard itself.
Dual Wireless Mode
Both 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth have their own sets of pros and cons. Luckily, you don’t always have to decide which is better. Some mechanical keyboards offer both types of wireless technologies giving consumers more flexibility in terms of how they want to use their keyboard.
These kinds of keyboards will give you the best of both worlds. You will be able to easily use your keyboard on a multitude of devices while having the option of using a dongle for lower latency. And if you ever run out of juice, most of these keyboards still allow you to use them in wired mode, giving you lots of options.
Advantages of Wired Mechanical Keyboards
Now that we have gone through most of the things that you need to know with wireless keyboards let’s see how they stack up with wired mechanical keyboards. Let us first talk about the advantages of wired mechanical keyboards.
Compared to wireless mechanical keyboards, wired mechanical keyboards are considerably more affordable. The reason for the lower price tag is because you do not have to pay the very expensive tax of having complex wireless technology inside your device.
Both Bluetooth and the 2.4 GHz dongle require extra effort from the keyboard manufacturers to make the concept of “wireless” possible. Thus, in the market, compared to any other wired keyboards, the price of wireless keyboards is undeniably pricey.
Wired mechanical keyboards are known by gamers, programmers, and typists because of their responsiveness that they can rely on. With that, you can be sure that it has less input lag. Some even have almost zero input lag and high polling rates.
If you are a competitive gamer, a meticulous typist, and a person who has a heavy workload that requires the assistance of your keyboard, having a wired keyboard that is as responsive as your fingers when typing is the best keyboard for you.
For people who love sitting right in front of their computers or laptops so that they can flawlessly work, a stable wired mechanical keyboard could be your companion. Since it is connected to one of your device’s USB ports, the stability of your keyboard while you’re working or playing is ensured by this keyboard. You will also not be interrupted because this keyboard does not require you to charge it, enabling you to play and work without interruption.
Advantages of Wireless Mechanical Keyboards
If wired mechanical keyboards have their advantages, wireless mechanical keyboards also have their own advantages that may or may not convince you to go out and buy one. This includes:
Wireless mechanical keyboards always equate to a clutter-free desk or workspace. If you easily get annoyed or distracted because of the different wires in your desk/workspace, reducing them through purchasing wireless devices could be your life-saver. After all, who doesn’t want a clean and wireless set-up?
Another advantage of wireless mechanical keyboards is how convenient they are to use. You can literally bring it anywhere you go without thinking about the wire that always causes troubles in our bags. The fact that you can move around while working and with your hands on the keyboard is also one of its best features. You can literally type or play while you’re laying in your bed.
Not to mention that there are also foldable wireless keyboards available in the market that will indeed take your keyboard experience to the next level and even to the next place.
Disadvantages of Wired Mechanical Keyboards
Wired mechanical keyboards can cause a cluttered desk that will more or less affect your productivity while working. If you easily get annoyed because you feel like the wires of your computer desktop are getting in your way while working, then a wired mechanical keyboard is not recommended for you.
Plenty of people may claim that the keyboard’s wire is not really that long for it to cause chaos in your workspace, but for those people who prefer a neat and aesthetic working space, a single wire can make them less productive and can even make them bother for the rest of the day.
In order to use a wired mechanical keyboard, you need to connect it first to one of your computer’s USB ports. Considering that fact, all wired computer mice are also required to connect first to one of your computer’s USB ports; that is, two occupied USB ports already.
A computer may be built with multiple USB ports, but it is indeed a great disadvantage when the user is using a laptop with a very limited USB port, while a single dongle can do if both the keyboard and mouse are wireless, thus saving a USB port for more important purposes.
Disadvantages Wireless Mechanical Keyboards
Despite the good advantages that wireless mechanical keyboards offer to people, there will always be a disadvantage using such device, and that includes:
Disadvantages of Wireless Mechanical Keyboards
Since wireless mechanical keyboards operate through signals, they have a small radio transmitter that needs the power to operate. Yes, the power source of the wireless mechanical keyboard is separate from the power of your device, so it needs batteries to operate. If you are always using your wireless keyboard, it is expected that you change your batteries more often.
Storing batteries for your keyboard is a must if you own a wireless mechanical keyboard unless you prefer panicking in the middle of the night because your wireless keyboard ran out of power.
In addition, you have to sacrifice some features such as RGB lighting when using your keyboard in wireless mode. Most wireless mechanical keyboards either have dimmer RGB or no RGB lighting at all.
Using a wireless mechanical keyboard along with other technology that also makes use of radio waves can be a problem. WIFI, computer mouse, and other wireless devices used within the range of your wireless keyboard can cause interference problems. This interference problem, then, will result in lags.
In addition to that, putting your keyboard in a metal desk or any metal computer case can also trigger such interference.
Which Keyboard Should You Choose?
Choosing between wired and wireless mechanical keyboards may not be a big deal to some people since they are both mechanical keyboards anyway. But for people who consider a thing or two before choosing which one they should purchase, it is indeed a big deal.
If you are a gamer who wants to crush your opponents with the help of how fast you and your keyboard can get, then a wired mechanical keyboard is the right keyboard for you. On the other hand, if you are just an average keyboard user who still wants the best for you and your computer or laptop, then you can always choose between these two, but you should consider purchasing a wireless mechanical keyboard.
The KBE team is dedicated to sharing our knowledge and creating useful resources about computer keyboards. This article was written as a team collaboration, combining our knowledge and years of experience using, building and modding keyboards. Meet the team here.