Are you into gaming and gaming hardware and have been shopping around for a new gaming keyboard and noticed a mention of N-Key Rollover among its specifications? What is N-Key rollover? What does it do? Is it important?
This article has got you covered, so read on.
What Is N-Key Rollover?
N-Key Rollover (or NKRO) is a feature we would see for computer keyboards that enable them to read a series of keystrokes pressed at the same time.
NKRO is managed by the keyboard itself as opposed to the key presses being registered and processed by the computer itself.
In other words, the keyboard will send a signal to your computer for each key pressed, which is basically like any other keyboard would do, but this will even work when pressing multiple keys at the same time. This is when the NKRO steps in.
You can see it as the keyboard doing the leg work for the computer, which would help in the precision and execution time, giving you an edge in your gaming or your WPM (Word per minute) typing speed.
Sometimes keyboards will also feature anti-ghosting which goes hand in hand with N-Key Roll-Out.
What is anti-ghosting?
The term ‘Ghosting’ refers to when pressing several keys at once, one or some keys do not get processed as if the input got lost or ‘disappeared’ out of the keypress sequence. So by disappears is much like a ghost, therefore the term ‘ghosting’.
The anti-ghosting feature fixes that issue. This ensures that every key pressed is processed by the keyboard and sent to the computer without fail and in the correct order.
This only triggers when pressing simultaneously multiple keys instead of pressing one key at a time, as this would simply be called typing.
Is anti-ghosting the same as N-key rollover?
No. Although they seem similar to making sure every keypress is registered in their own way, they are not the same.
The NKRO enables the keyboard for a greater number of keys that can be pressed at the same time, while anti-ghosting makes sure no input has been left out when pressing several keys at a time.
So basically, one affects the range of keys that can be pressed at the same time, while the other affects the processing of those keys, making they are all accounted for and in the correct sequence.
How do I know if I have N-key rollover?
A quick test that you can do is to press several keys simultaneously and see if they display on the screen.
You can open any text editor and place your fingers on several character keys, let us say 4 on each hand, and press them all at the same time.
If all 8 keys show up in your text, then you do in fact have n-key rollover.
If you have less than 8 characters, then you may have a limit of keys you can press at a time, like 6 keys, which would be called a 6 key rollover (or 6KRO).
There are also free online tools that you can use if you wish to test out your input device for NKRO.
Testing your keyboard with the N-Key Rollover test
If you are looking for an interactive way to test out your keyboard for NKRO, whether it is equipped with the feature or not, then you can use Microsoft’s own keyboard ghosting demo.
While testing, you will be able to see how your keyboard reacts to simultaneous key presses and see which ones register and which do not.
It is worth checking out.
Do you really need N-Key Rollover?
If your gaming does not rely on pressing multiple keys at the same time and by multiple we are talking about more than 4 to 6 keys in one shot, then NKRO is not something you would necessarily need, but you could see it as a nice to have.
The N-Key rollout feature would be more for those competitive ‘intense’ online gamers.
If you see yourself as a more casual gamer or a more ‘normal’ paced typer then I would say skip it, especially if you would be saving on the cost of the peripheral, seeing as it is more common on high-end keyboards.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand what is n-key rollover and its usage whether it is for gaming or simply for those who like to speed type.
In online games, where every move is calculated and crucial, where one wrong move could be your downfall. Having those fingers pressed on the W-A-S-D keys and having to jump, crouch, and throw an object, you want to make sure everything is done accordingly.
If that is something that you would be interested in, make sure you look for N-Key Rollout when shopping around for your next keyboard, while also keeping an eye on that nice to have anti-ghosting feature.
Time to rise to the next level and game on.