How to find cool-looking keyboards
Looks might seem like an odd criterion to choose computer components by. Even if it’s something external to the machine, like a keyboard or a mouse, some might find it even immature or shallow.
But considering that there aren’t really so many things to judge a keyboard by — after all, it won’t affect your system’s performance in the slightest — while it does sit neatly in our peripheral vision every time we use our computer, and we’re even forced to look straight at it when searching for some obscure key, the keyboard’s looks become all the more important. They rise above such trivialities as durability, ease of maintenance, typing speed, and even ergonomy, which is closely linked to cool looks anyway.
Besides our own glimpsing pleasure, a cool-looking keyboard can serve for impressing friends. Every time people come over, or we post a picture of our work station on some social network, that’s an opportunity to receive praise for our good tastes in keyboards and our close familiarity with keyboard aesthetics. Our friends don’t use as many words, though. A “cool keyboard bro!” is often enough to convey all of the above.
With the importance of having a cool-looking keyboard firmly established, what are some things to have in mind when choosing one?
How we chose the coolest keyboards
The first thing to consider is that your keyboard blends well with the rest of the work station. Even if the item itself looks good, it will give a very poor impression if it clashes with the monitor, mouse or chassis. Since you will not be buying your whole system around a keyboard, the visual style it employes should be the first basis for elimination.
Black/polychrome keyboards with rounded lines, lots of red lights, cut-outs and an aggressive look to them — the type that looks like a black metal album cover — generally go well with any monitor and gaming mouse. A white chassis might make them appear too bulky and loaded, however, and this style isn’t really popular anymore outside of places like SE Asia and China.
If you haven’t put any thought into how the rest of your system looks and just go with a plain chassis and mouse, your best bet is to look for a keyboard that gives off a professional vibe.
There are a lot of square and compact keyboards out there, with a very serious and expensive look to them. These are cool in the same way that a neatly dressed 90’s movie villain is: they exude coldness, keeping weaker, more colorful people (or in our case keyboards) at a distance.
Another good choice in this regard will be mechanical keyboards. Appearance-wise, it harps back to the 80s and 90s, so it’s boxy enough to look okay next to anything equally restrained.
A keyboard with a cyber-punk feel to it — black, straight lines and lots of sleek neon — might go well with any chassis and mouse, as long as they are equally sleek.
While it can make for some of the coolest keyboards out there, our advice is to avoid steampunk aesthetics if you aren’t prepared to “tune out” your mouse and chassis accordingly.
Lights and cut-outs
The way your keyboard is lit up and decorated makes the difference between how flashy or restrained it would seem. Arguably, none is better than the other, and outside of a few considerations, you should go with what feels natural.
You can have lots of colorful LED lights illuminating just underneath the keys, sleek and cold bands of “neon” to sharpen the keyboard’s contours, lit up key markings for gamers, or no lights at all — except of course for the working LED greens.
A lot of lighting of different colors, generally associated with lots of sharp angles, cut-outs of dragons or lions and other stuff like that, will give your keyboard either a very “metal” or a very “street” look, depending on slight variations in styling. If this is your thing, or you want to impress some hip-hop performer or a Chinese teenager, go wild with it!
If you’re aiming for the approval of a design student or a Starbuck’s barista, an overloaded style is not the way to go. Cold neon lights look very sharp and they do a good enough job at serving their purpose (illuminating your keys in the dark) without being too flashy. Bands of light on the top and bottom side of the keyboard make for the same sleek effect, as long as they are dim enough.
Most good looking gaming keyboards employ a combination of the two design approaches above and generally come with a similarly styled mouse.
Lines, edges, and prints
Same as above, a lot of angles, lines and strong details might make the keyboard look too loaded, even if they otherwise blend well. In certain limits, straight edges and a lack of detail will make the keyboard look “professional”, but only if the item comes with the manufacturing quality to back it up.
Extremely slick keyboards, that generally come in light silver and white are usually favored by hipsters and people who like to see themselves as artsy in general.
Prints can add a lot of character to your keyboard if properly employed. They’re best used to describe shapes you couldn’t otherwise get with light or relief, so if they’re used to define the straight edges of the keyboard or anything like that they might appear redundant.
Keeping the keyboard looking good
Our once cool-looking keyboard might quickly end up resembling something out of a hobo’s supermarket trolley if we don’t regularly put in the effort to clean it.
Maintenance features, such as how easy it is to take the keyboard apart and put it back together again for cleaning shouldn’t be overlooked. Of course, more traditional looking keyboards tend to have an edge in this regard, but not necessarily.
Just check the best keyboards reviews online for how easy your prospective product is to maintain before making a purchase.