What is a Backlit Gaming Keyboard?

Mary McMahon

A backlit gaming keyboard is a keyboard which has been customized for use with computer games. In addition to being used for gaming, of course, this type of keyboard can be used for regular computer operations as well, and the design tends to be be popular with programmers in addition to gamers. Typically, backlit gaming keyboards are more expensive than traditional keyboards, but they also tend to be of very high quality, since they are designed to withstand heavy use by gamers.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

The key feature of a backlit gaming keyboard is the backlighting, which illuminates the keys in the dark. Usually, the backlighting surrounds the keys, illuminating the layout of the keyboard to make it easier to find individual keys. The backlighting also often highlights the symbol on each key. Red is a common color choice for backlighting, since it is a color which is friendly to the eyes in the dark. Blue, purple, and programmable colors are also available on some models.

In addition to the lighting, a backlit gaming keyboard is also usually equipped with extra keys which perform special in-game functions. Instead of having to toil through menus and keystroke commands, gamers can adjust volume, move, and perform a variety of other tasks at the touch of a button. These buttons are also fully programmable, allowing gamers to specify unique functions, and some can be linked with keyboard macros, allowing the stroke of a key to execute a complex command.

There are numerous advantages to using a backlit gaming keyboard. Gamers tend to be more accurate with a specialized gaming keyboard, especially one which provides backlighting for visibility in dark rooms. In addition, they tend to be faster, thanks to the programmable and specialized keys. Some people feel that using macros and specialized keyboard commands is not entirely fair, but many gamers argue that these commands give them the split-second edge which can be critical in gaming.

Backlit gaming keyboards also have another critical advantage: they are extremely solid. Many gamers run through keyboards very quickly, because they use their keyboards a lot and they tend to be hard on them. Gaming keyboards are designed to endure a high level of keystrokes, and a lot of abuse. Some gamers feel that the higher price is worth the investment, when one considers the fact that a backlit gaming keyboard may last for years, rather than months, while providing an edge to the user.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@turtlez - I do apologize as I meant no disrespect. I know a lot of kids around where I live that don't really respect their parents or appreciate money and where it comes from. Of course, I think that goes with how you were raised and what kind of culture you were raised in - it is a fairly well off neighborhood here. So, yes, it's good to hear from the other side of the fence and good to know that you can pay for your own top gaming keyboard without having to rely on some one else. That is a great sense of morality and I hope that sticks with you life long.


@ChickenLover - While I appreciate you being the cheerleader for Generation X (or whatever they are called now), I am one of the "younger" gamers (I'm 17) and I have all the latest gear such as the Razer Lycosa Programmable backlit gaming keyboard and I paid for it own my own. I don't think you should discount the younger generation of gamers simply because we didn't grow up with Duck Hunt or Mario (even though we sort of did), but think about what's really going on. A lot of us 16 to 25 year old kids can stand on our own two feet and pay for the things we want and need.


There are a lot of gaming keyboards out there - even slim keyboard versions that are good for conserving space and have a sleek, modern appeal. Backlit keyboards can really provide a cool effect, too. Although a lot of younger gamers use them, the real generation of gamers is about in their 30's and you shouldn't be surprised to see them decked out with the latest gear - especially since they are the ones that can afford it on their own!

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