What is Keyboard Ghosting?

Do you ever wonder why your character suddenly stops responding to the keys you’re hitting during gameplay?

Or why your car would suddenly steer to the right and get stuck turning right even after hitting the right keys to change direction?

Getting the ideal keyboard for yourself requires a lot of consideration. There’s the need to consider several keyboards’ sizes, types, layouts, and ergonomics to make the ideal choice. 

However, there’s also the need to consider the likely negative features of the keyboard options you have, and one of these is “keyboard ghosting.”

It sucks having your keyboard ghost you. And while many people may not be aware of what ghosting means, it isn’t as scary as it sounds. It sure causes undesirable results, haunting several keyboard users but nothing you can handle. 

Now to the main question: What is keyboard ghosting, and how do we prevent it?

Keyboard Ghosting Definition

Keyboard ghosting is a problem with specific keyboards. A keyboard fails to register one or two keys when a user presses multiple keys simultaneously. The keys don’t work and don’t display on the computer screen. Given that the keys were pressed but didn’t display on the screen, it implies they’ve disappeared. 

Most of the time, keyboard ghosting is an issue faced by gamers. Playing a game requires pressing multiple keys simultaneously to execute actions like shooting while running or swapping guns while strafing. 

In situations like this, the keyboard might not register a key preventing one of the actions from being executed β€” much to the annoyance of the gamer.

N-Key Rollover

Another term you may have come across in your search for an ideal keyboard is N-key rollover. Generally, the term is inscribed on gaming keyboards and some gaming laptops, but what does N-Key rollover mean? 

A keyboard that supports N-key rollover means you can press unlimited keys simultaneously on such a keyboard, and they will be registered. This implies that if you’re to press every key on such a keyboard at the same time, they will register and function properly. 

However, the N-key rollover won’t work if anti-ghosting techniques are not installed on such a keyboard. For N-key rollover to work, a keyboard needs to have anti-ghosting to adequately support the melting pressing of keys without false positives or any problems. 

So, if what you need is a gaming keyboard, N-key rollover is a feature you don’t want to miss out on. This is especially true if the games you play need to enter multiple keys to execute various actions during gameplay.

Ghost Hunting

Ghost hunting refers to simple tests one can take to determine keyboard ghosting. The first test involves opening up a word processor or text document editor and inputting different combinations of 2 to 6 keys simultaneously. 

We advise you to make various keystroke patterns, and don’t forget that not all patterns are the same. If any of the keys does not display, your keyboard is likely a regular one. 

Another testing method is to use an onscreen keyboard and carry out the same testing procedure discussed above. The keys pressed will be highlighted so you can quickly check the unhighlighted keys on the onscreen keyboard once you simultaneously press the keys. 

Another option is the Microsoft test for keyboard ghosting. It works similarly to that of the onscreen keyboard test.

How to Prevent Keyboard Ghosting

Now that you’re in the market to buy a new keyboard, making sure ghosting does not occur is vital. So what can you do? 

An excellent strategy is to search for “anti-ghosting” keyboards. These keyboards generally list the number of keys that support the anti-ghosting feature. A “25-key anti-ghosting” keyboard will not cover the real keys for anti-ghosting. Instead, it will target keys that are mostly pressed simultaneously with other keys. 

Another option is getting a keyboard designed to support specific numbers of keys entered. These are identified with the term “number-key rollover.” For instance, a keyboard allows one to press four keys simultaneously is a 4-key rollover keyboard. 

Lastly, your best bet to prevent keyboard ghosting is N-key rollovers. N-key rollovers are not related to the physical N keyboard key; instead, it is a mathematical symbol for an infinite set of numbers. 

The N-key is a relevant name since keyboards with N-key rollovers have an unlimited key limit. With each keypress registered singly, no ghosting is possible on such keyboards.

Anti-Ghosting Keyboards

Anti-ghosting keyboards are keyboards that help reduce or eliminate ghosting episodes. Many key manufacturers describe their keyboards as anti-ghosting, but that’s not usually the whole story. Most of these keyboards only solve the ghosting issue for common key combinations. 

This implies that the ghosting issue persists for other key combinations that are not as popular. That seems fine until you need to combine those keys and realize you still have the same ghosting problem. 

Hence, most anti-ghosting keyboards do not eliminate ghosting issues completely. Only keyboards with the N-key rollover are guaranteed to help solve ghosting problems completely. 

So, if your anti-ghosting keyboard is not N-key rollover, there’s a higher chance that the ghosting issue will persist. Although not as often as ordinary or cheaper keyboards.

Final Thoughts

Keyboard ghosting does not affect every user. The occurrence of keyboard ghosting is now declining compared to time past, and fewer people now have to worry about it. Even cheaper mechanical and membrane keyboards now have a 6-key rollover or more. 

However, it can be pretty frustrating and annoying for those still affected by keyboard ghosting. This is especially true if you are a gamer and need to press 4 or 5 keys simultaneously and your keyboard only allows three simultaneously. 

So, if you need to change your keyboard to anti-ghosting, ensure you prioritize getting an N-key rollover keyword. This will guarantee you a smooth user experience, and you’ll fall in love with your keyboard once again.

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