How to Choose Between Gaming and Office Laptop Keyboards

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How to Choose Between Gaming and Office Laptop Keyboards

There are many different options in laptop keyboards for buyers to choose from. Deciding on which configuration of keyboard is best for specific applications can be a challenge for consumers. When considering purchasing a new laptop, computer buyers may want to study the different keyboard options that are available so that they select the one that is most appropriate for the manner in which they intend to use the computer. Laptop keyboards do not interchange as easily as desktop keyboards, so the laptop is generally purchased with the desired type of keyboard already installed on the unit.

Using a conventional desktop keyboard plugged into a USB port on the laptop is a method of swapping keyboards for consumers that use their laptop for two entirely different purposes such as gaming and general office work. One can purchase laptops at computer stores, electronics retailers, some discount department stores, and directly from some manufacturers. Sellers on eBay offer a large selection of laptops with different style keyboards.

Common Office Laptop Keyboards

Office laptop keyboards are designed for basic office tasks and contain very conventional key layout designs. There are some differences in the total number of keys based on the size of the laptop. The following list provides a summary of common office keyboard designs.

Limited Space Keyboard

Laptops that have smaller screens, such as 33-cm and 36-cm (13-in and 14-in) widths, have a limited amount of space on the keyboard for characters. To conform to the smaller size of these laptops, the number keypad is eliminated and the remaining keys are spaced closer together. Dual function keys are common on limited space keyboards and it is quite common to have a hidden numeric keypad set amongst the letter keys on the right side of the alpha layout. The hidden numeric keypad is only active when the num lock feature is activated, otherwise the alpha keys operate normally. The most common keyboard for office laptops is the standard QWERTY design where these are the first six letters on the top row of alpha keys beginning with the first key on the left.

IBM Standard Keyboard

In 1984 IBM introduced the standard 101 keyboard, which was the business standard for many years. With the numeric keypad on the right side of the letter layout, this design is still found on some 38 cm (15-in) and 43 cm (17-in) laptops.

Microsoft Windows Keyboard

Microsoft developed a keyboard based on the standard 101 keyboard but with extra keys that were designed to function with Microsoft's Windows Operating System. Two keys that bring up the Windows Start menu are added on both sides of the space bar. One context menu key that performs a function similar to a right mouse click is added to the bottom row of keys to the right side of the space bar to arrive at the special configuration. This Windows keyboard, or 104 keyboard, is used on wider laptops but the second Windows key on the right is often omitted and the context key is positioned in its place.

Less Common Laptop Office Keyboards

In the European community the standard QWERTY design is often replaced with keys positioned to favour typing in a language that is common to the region. These specialised keyboards can make typing in French or German easier than using the standard English keyboard.

QWERTZ Keyboard

The QWERTZ keyboard swaps the position of the Y key and the Z key, while the remainder of the keys are the same as a standard English keyboard. German speaking individuals and Slovakian language typists usually find the QWERTZ keyboard easier to work with.

AZERTY Keyboard

The keys on an AZERTY keyboard are arranged in a pattern that French language typists appreciate. A completely different alpha design that is more conducive to the most used letters in the French language make the AZERTY keyboard a definite departure from the English standard.

Features of Gaming Laptop Keyboards

Laptops do not afford users the ability to easily swap keyboards like a desktop; therefore gaming keyboards on laptops are incorporated into the design of the machine. There are certain features that gamers look for in keyboards and some of the features correlate to the types of games the user plays. The following chart lists features of gaming keyboards and provides a brief explanation of each.

Keyboard Feature

Design Advantage

Backlit Keys

Lighted keys, some keyboards allow different sections of the keyboard to be backlit with different colours for easier identification in low light conditions

More Rugged Keys

Heavier duty keys and keyboard construction to take more abuse than a standard office keyboard

Customizable Keys

Keys can be programmed to frequently used game commands

Built in LCD Screens

The LCD screen displays game details without taking space away from the action in the monitor.

Macro Keys

A single key can be programmed to run a series of game commands.

Windows Key Disabling

The Windows key can be disabled in game mode to avoid accidentally opening a new window


Allows for more keys to be hit at the same time without dropped keystrokes.

Thicker Paint Coated Keys

Keeps frequently used keys from wearing off the painted on symbols that identify the keys

Keyboard responsiveness is important to gamers and usually not much of a concern to office users. Keyboard durability while important to gamers may present a problem to office users due to the different structure and feel of the keys.

Popular Gaming Laptops

While office laptop keyboards are very similar except for the key layout designs mentioned; gaming laptop keyboards that are incorporated into the design of the PC are often very different and certainly unique to the computer. The following gaming laptops are some of the more popular designs on the market. Each brand offers different keyboard features that gamers find useful.

Alienware M17x R4-7263BK

Alienware is a popular gaming computer for the quality of the graphics cards and the overall design of the laptop. The M17x offers a backlit keyboard that has customizable colours and the keyboard can be separated into four different sections with unique colour schemes. The M17 comes with AlienFusion software that allows the feel and function of the keyboard to be adjusted up for gaming or toned down for normal use; a nice feature for multi-use laptops. Users that prefer a touch pad instead of a mouse find the AlienTouch software and its ability to adjust touchpad sensitivity another helpful feature of the M17.


Not one of the bigger names in the computer laptop industry but MSI is gaining popularity with gaming enthusiasts. The keyboard on the MSI GT70 is fully programmable so it can be customised to the user's preferences. Backlit with three colours that are also user selectable from a large choice of colour options. An added feature of the MSI GT70 is a dual hard drive system; a 128 GB solid state drive with no moving parts can hold the operating system and offers much faster performance for system operations.

Asus G75VW

Asus is known for producing affordably priced laptops for a number of uses. The Asus G75VW has a 44 cm (17.3-in) LED screen, so there is more than enough room in the chassis for a full keyboard. The keyboard is backlit and the keys are raised slightly higher that office keyboards so access to the keys is improved. The G75VW comes with 16 GB of RAM standard which gives the system excellent response times.

Razer Blade RZ09-00830100-R3U1

Razer produces a line of popular gaming mice, and their entry into the gaming laptop market has a unique keyboard feature. A full-sized customizable trackpad is positioned to the right of standard keyboard keys on the chassis of the laptop. The trackpad has 10 buttons that can be independently programmed to the user's preferences. The button preferences can be switched for different games such as Battlefield 3, Counter-Strike, or Team Fortress 2. When not gaming the trackpad can be converted to a 10 key number pad.

Buying Office and Gaming Laptops on eBay

Sellers on eBay's online marketplace are eager to earn your business, with quality products at competitive prices. A large selection of available laptops to choose from means that laptop buyers can enjoy the convenience of shopping from home, easily selecting the machine they want with the click of a mouse, and having the computer shipped directly to their home or office.

Shoppers can find the laptop they are looking for by entering keywords such as 'Asus laptop' into any search eBay search bar. Buyers can narrow search results by using specific keywords such as 'Asus gaming laptop' to see just the computers they are interested in purchasing. Buy with confidence from eBay sellers by reviewing feedback ratings, which allow buyers to see comments from individuals who have purchased items from a particular seller previously. Feedback comments indicate the level of satisfaction sellers provide to their customers. Pay for items bought on eBay with PayPal and be assured of the safest and most secure means of completing your online purchase.


The choice between an office and gaming laptop computer does not have to mean buying separate machines. With advances in technology, office workers who enjoy gaming can adapt their laptop from office mode to game mode with software features. For individuals who prefer a dedicated gaming machine, there are a number of laptops on the market that provide impressive gaming features.

Understanding the different features that are available on gaming laptop keyboards can help buyers to make an informed buying decision as to the machine that best meets their needs. Office laptops are offered by a number of different computer vendors and replacement keyboards with alternate letter formats can be found for some of the more popular models such as Dell and HP. Keyboard replacement may be out of the comfort level for many laptop users; however, one can purchase laptops with existing keyboards in the different language configurations. Office laptop keyboards also come in various combinations of touchpads for users who don't like to carry a mouse.

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