Gamers tend to spend a large chunk of their budgets on the essential bits — the CPU, GPU, mobo and RAM. However, the keyboard and mouse invariably tend to get ignored as an afterthought. This is a travesty because your gaming experience is only as good as the weakest link, which — more often than not — happens to be these very peripherals.
You see, spending a fortune to maintain 60 fps at the highest settings is a pyrrhic victory, if you can't harness that fluidity to score headshots. Although this feat is largely dependent on your skill level, it is nonetheless unattainable without a good keyboard-mouse combo. You'd be surprised to know how often it's a glitching mouse — and not your mistake or fatigue — that makes you to miss a shot.
Nevertheless, don't fret even if you have been ignoring this important man-machine interface. Just read on to witness an ideal selection of keyboards, mice and mouse pads to suit your pocket. This guide brings together the best devices money can buy in their respective categories.
Keyboard and Mouse: Razer Cyclosa Bundle
MRP: Rs 2600
Mouse Pad: Razer Goliathus Fragged Standard
MRP: Rs 800
Who says poor people can't score headshots? At Rs 2600, the Cyclosa bundle is the perfect choice for gamers with a cash crunch. It includes the Cyclosa keyboard and Abyssus mouse. The Cyclosa is a membrane-based (polydome switches) keyboard and it's no slouch spec-wise. Its 1 ms response time and anti-ghosting feature is a godsend for games involving judicious usage of control modifiers that entails multiple, simultaneous keystrokes. The keyboard is fully programmable — a feature that's been well implemented with the included driver suite. A handsome braided cable seals the deal by endowing it with a premium look.
The Cyclosa bundle is perfect for budget gamers
The Abyssus mouse sold with this bundle doesn't feature the 3500dpi sensor found in the standalone retail version. Interestingly, the same sensor is also shared with the DeathAdder (which is why it's also recommended for gamers with slightly deeper pockets). However, the reduced DPI count should not affect you much unless you're a really high-sensitivity gamer.
Nevertheless, the Abyssus shares every other aspect with its retail cousin, such as 1000Hz (1ms) polling rate, on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment and slick Teflon feet for smooth motion. The ambidextrous mouse provides a good feel and is light enough for those who prefer it that way. The rodent plays really well with the Goliathus cloth surface, which is available in Control (rough) and Speed (smooth) variants to suit your play style.
The Goliathus mouse pad pairs pairs optimally with the Abyssus and the DeathAdder
The bundle may be relatively more expensive than your average keyboard-mouse combo, but the level of performance it offers is worth every paisa. The overall fit and finish, customizability and the high quality micro-mechanical switches (Abyssus) and membrane keys (Cyclosa) employed in the bundle makes it an ideal starter kit for gamers on a budget.
Keyboard: Razer BlackWidow
MRP: Rs 4600
MRP: Rs 2800
Mouse Pad: Goliathus Fragged Alpha
MRP: Rs 950
Both BlackWidow and DeathAdder have a few niggles typically seen in a Razer product. The former requires the Space Bar to be sanded down and some of the larger keys to be removed and reseated, whereas the mouse is known to exhibit issues with the mechanical switches after a year's worth of abuse, which unsurprisingly happens to be the limit of its warranty cover as well. However, all that doesn't stop this combo from providing the best performance for the price.
The BlackWidow has a typically Russian overbuilt feel to it
Don't let its modest price fool you; the DeathAdder's 3500 DPI infrared sensor is the best in the business. It has all the desirable features such as no angle snapping (prediction), while keeping negative/positive acceleration at bay, even during really quick mouse movements. Unlike more expensive laser sensors, this rodent doesn't exhibit jitter or an aversion to more cost-effective cloth surfaces. Its slick Teflon feet and the ability to sustain high acceleration make it especially ideal for low-sensitivity gamers.
The design may not be ambidextrous, but the DeathAdder is quite comfortable for right-handed users. It looks well worth the asking price with its rubberized non-slip surface and a 7-foot long braided cable. If the reliability issues are the cause of your hesitation, well, this is how I look at it: I'd rather replace a really kickass mouse every year or so, than be stuck with a mediocre one for three.
The DeathAdder's IR sensor is the best in the business
The BlackWidow is among the cheapest gaming-grade mechanical keyboards money can buy. However, its build quality is so surprisingly good that it belies the price. It's built tough enough to bludgeon someone to death and more, which is partly due to the presence of a huge hunk of metal across the keyboard just to prevent trampolining (the tendency of the keyboard to buckle under pressure in the middle of the chassis). The overall build quality of the chassis incorporating ABS plastic is remarkable. The keyboard has a typically Russian overbuilt feel to it, which is always a good thing.
The DeathAdder's Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches require minimal actuation force and provide a satisfying tactile feedback in the form of an audible click. The BlackWidow may not be backlit, but it has all the bells and whistles in the form of five programmable macro keys, anti-ghosting capability, braided cable and a great software suite that lets you customise all keys and save them onto 10 profiles that can be switched on the fly.
Keyboard: Corsair Vengeance K60
MRP: Rs 5900
Mouse: SteelSeries Xai Laser
MRP: Rs 5999
Mousepad: SteelSeries Experience I-2
MRP: Rs 3000
If money is no object, the Corsair Vengeance K60 and Steelseries Xai provide a great blend of eye candy, features and performance that will satisfy the most uncompromising gamer. K60's brushed aluminium chassis looks gorgeous, while its unique frameless mounting system makes it ridiculously easy to clean the keys. The mechanical keyboard is tailor-made for FPS gamers and features an ergonomic wrist pad for the WASD key cluster. The cluster itself, along with the weapon selection row (#1-6 keys), can be replaced with spare colour-coded keycaps, with the bundled key puller — all of which is stashed away in the hidden compartment within the wrist pad.
The Corsair Vengeance K60 is surprisingly easy to clean
The keyboard employs Cherry MX Red switches, which are the non-clicky kind calibrated for reduced actuation force. The tactile feedback is best in the business, while the keycaps themselves are solidly built. The integrated electronics implement anti-ghosting and a whopping 20-key rollover (6-key is the norm for good USB keyboards) by the means of dedicated diodes for each switch. That sounds overkill — and it frankly is — but it does come in handy in the rare game requiring players to hold down several keys at the same time. The media control cluster looks classy with chunky playback controls and a high-quality jog dial bearing a positive analogue feel.
The SteelSeries Experience glass mat is a must for the Xai
The SteelSeries Xai reminds me of the Fairbairn-Sykes combat knife used by the British SAS commandos. Just like the F-S knife is designed for the singular purpose of killing men as efficiently as possible, the mouse exhibits a similar purpose-built philosophy behind its design. The Xai chooses performance over gimmicks evident in gaming mice these days. It eschews all fancy elements such as elaborate lighting, adjustable weights and edgy design cues for a simple ambidextrous implementation focusing on precision and manoeuvrability. The mouse tracks really well with the Experience I-2 glass mouse mat, and is therefore highly recommended for it.
The SteelSeries Xai is purpose-built for precision and manoeuvrability
When paired with the right mousing surface, the Xai's laser sensor is rated to work at 12000 frames per second, providing impressive tracking speeds of 150 inches per second. The mouse features all the bells and whistles of the Avago ADNS 9500 sensor, such as adjustable lift-off distance and surface calibration. Like all expensive mice, it features a slick and comprehensive driver suite in addition to onboard memory for saving settings between computers. However, the cherry on the cake is its own LCD screen for a driver-less setup. Since laser mice don't play well at all with soft surfaces, it makes good sense investing in the SteelSeries Experience I-2 Gaming Mouse Pad.