N-Key Rollover, Anti-Ghosting And Other Keyboard Features Explained

When you shop for a keyboard — especially a high-end mechanical model — you'll see features on the box like "N-Key Rollover" or "Anti-Ghosting". But what do those mean, and do they matter? Linus from Techquickie breaks it down for us.

Linus breaks down two different features you'll see often:

  • X-key rollover tells you how many keys can be pressed down at once, while still being registered by the computer (6-key rollover, for example, can register 6 keys at once, plus 4 modifier keys). N-key rollover can register any and all keys at once, in theory — though this isn't always true in practice.
  • Anti-ghosting usually means some sort of 3-key rollover, often on gaming keys like WASD. However, this can vary from keyboard to keyboard, since the term ghosting technically refers to phantom keypresses, a relic of older keyboards.

If you're curious what your current keyboard can handle, you can try out Microsoft's rollover demonstration here.

So how important are these features, really? Hardcore gamers might tell you that N-key rollover is crucial, but for most of us — even casual gamers — chances are you won't need more than the usual 6-key rollover, and these have become a bit of marketing gimmick. So, the next time you're shopping for a keyboard, keep this in mind — and be sure the manufacturer's claims match up with real-world experience.


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