Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

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Steax
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Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Steax » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:40 pm UTC

I'm helping a friend set up a high-end desktop for online gaming purposes. A good chunk of the budget is being spent on "gaming" hardware. Looking at the numbers, though, I'm dubious.

Mice - I definitely understand the value of being able to change mouse sensitivity on the fly, as well as additional buttons. But this "ultrapolling" thing smells dubious. I understand that normal mice polls input every 8ms, while this allows me to poll every 1ms. Sites claim that this adds "10%" to your skill. 7ms is probably invisible to the human eye, and is probably less than 10% of (really good) network latency anyway, isn't it? Is this actually useful to have? I'd probably rather have my friend try out as many mice as possible, and find one with the best grip/position/durability. Or is that additional responsiveness useful?

Keyboards - I'm a fan of solid mechanical keyboards. They're actually cheaper than these so-called gaming things he's buying. The gaming versions don't seem to have any obvious benefits, aside from the clearly useful macro buttons and so forth. Is there any reason to opt for a gaming keyboard? I'd imagine all high quality keyboards are just that. Unless the WASD, space and enter keys were extra-solid or something.

Related question: is it possible to map a numeric keyboard (like those numpad-only things) to run macros or act as other buttons? This would allow us to use one of those, instead of adding $50 to a keyboard for a bunch of macro keys.

Monitors - similar to mice, is the response rate a big deal? I've been attached to Dell Ultrasharps, and they have a 8ms response rate. Is it worth trying to reduce these?
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Queue » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:35 pm UTC

My subjective opinion is that your gut instinct on favouring ergonomic benefits over slightly-better responsiveness is a good one. Long-term and audience-specific, mind...consider the age and gaming habits of your client. I'm well over thirty and I'm just about at the point where it's my body's aging hardware that sets the upper limit for responsiveness and performance, rather than anything to do with mouse and keyboard. A Belkin (now Razer) Nostromo and a R.A.T.7 mouse mean more to me because I can play comfortably with these peripherals.

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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:09 pm UTC

You'd be surprised what affects gaming. I've played video games where the top-tier community can consistently land combos with timing requirements of 16ms (the dreaded one-frame-link). A mouse / monitor that affects you beyond 16 ms starts to screw up the timing of one-frame links considerably. Most fighting game players on that level are _extremely_ sensitive to display lag... for obvious reasons.

Steax wrote:I'm helping a friend set up a high-end desktop for online gaming purposes. A good chunk of the budget is being spent on "gaming" hardware. Looking at the numbers, though, I'm dubious.

Mice - I definitely understand the value of being able to change mouse sensitivity on the fly, as well as additional buttons. But this "ultrapolling" thing smells dubious. I understand that normal mice polls input every 8ms, while this allows me to poll every 1ms. Sites claim that this adds "10%" to your skill. 7ms is probably invisible to the human eye, and is probably less than 10% of (really good) network latency anyway, isn't it? Is this actually useful to have? I'd probably rather have my friend try out as many mice as possible, and find one with the best grip/position/durability. Or is that additional responsiveness useful?


IMO, going beyond a Logitech G500s is a bit much. I can tell a difference between a $20 mouse and the $50 G500s (very easily), but I can't personally tell the difference beyond that. There is an adjustable weight system on this series of mice, and I find it very comfortable. I guess MMO users will opt for the more expensive $60 G600 or $70 G700s (13 extra buttons for macro-goodness), but the G500s is very very good (and you can definitely get away with the well-balanced $35 G100s).

I know there are like... $150+ mice, but I just don't really see the point in it. And I'm OCD about lag and stuff...

Keyboards - I'm a fan of solid mechanical keyboards. They're actually cheaper than these so-called gaming things he's buying. The gaming versions don't seem to have any obvious benefits, aside from the clearly useful macro buttons and so forth. Is there any reason to opt for a gaming keyboard? I'd imagine all high quality keyboards are just that. Unless the WASD, space and enter keys were extra-solid or something.


Hit "asdf" at the same time. I estimate that 100% of keyboards can actually hit all 4 keys at once. When you do this, you'll notice all 4 keys will be struck, and you'll see something like "sdfa".

Now, hit "wasd" at the same time. Notice that your keyboard (unless it is a gaming keyboard) will either lock up, or only press one button. In FPS games, where you are hitting multiple "wasd" keys at once, if you ever hit the "wrong combination" on a non-gaming keyboard, your keyboard locks you out of inputs (and then you die inside of the game)

Only the most expensive gaming keyboards can hit a weird 5-button button combos like "uijkl" at the same time. You probably don't need a keyboard like that... but maybe you do?

The cheapest keyboards will lock up with WASD... almost every time. A cheaper gaming keyboard will focus on allowing all wasd button combinations without locking up (but will fail on uncommon button sequences like uijkl). Even more expensive keyboards can hit _any_ button combination without locking up. Finally, the most expensive keyboards have specially calibrated cherry switches (either Red Cherry, Black Cherry, or Brown Cherry... probably on specific keys).

When you buy a keyboard that advertizes cherry switches, you're not just buying a "gaming keyboard" per se... but more of a customized keyboard. Blue switches are well-known for being the clickity-clackity high-typing speed high-tactile switches that most people associate mechanical keyboards with... but gamers may prefer Brown or Red switches. The important thing here is to try out the various switches, and buy the keyboard that you like. They'll all be expensive, but getting the right keyboard means seeing the right kinds of switches on the right keys. (A gaming keyboard might have WASD as brown switches, and the rest as blue for instance)

Personally, I'm a strategy gamer, so I don't worry about this sort of stuff (yes, the keyboard is important for hotkeys. No, I don't come across wasd issues like the FPS player would). Crappy Dell USB is enough for me, but I can see why a FPS gamer or an MMO gamer would need a higher-quality keyboard. Sorry, I don't have recommendations here... but getting at least a keyboard where you can strike "wasd" without locking up is definitely the #1 priority for most gamers.

Related question: is it possible to map a numeric keyboard (like those numpad-only things) to run macros or act as other buttons? This would allow us to use one of those, instead of adding $50 to a keyboard for a bunch of macro keys.


I'm seeing more of that stuff on the mouse actually. http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Gaming-M ... B0086UK7IQ

But yes, I have in fact seen gamer-specific numpad-sized keyboards. http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-keyboar ... r-nostromo

Monitors - similar to mice, is the response rate a big deal? I've been attached to Dell Ultrasharps, and they have a 8ms response rate. Is it worth trying to reduce these?


Response time is not what gamers care about, but latency instead. No one advertizes latency however, so its pretty much a wash. Expensive monitors can have a latency anywhere between 9ms to 100ms. (CRT monitors are assumed to have 0 ms lag, and often serve as the baseline of these calculations)

This database may aid you in your search for a good gaming monitor. Some low-latency monitors are rather cheap. The Asus VH236H is what I got, and its only $120.

If you're willing to spend more money, I've been hearing good things about the BenQ Lightboost monitors. (They are LCD... but CRT-style. They increase the brightness after they've finished drawing a frame, and then decrease the brightness when a new signal is still being processed. So there is apparently much less blurring. BenQ focuses on gaming monitors, and typically have low latency times as well)

------------------

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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby EvanED » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:14 pm UTC

Steax wrote:Related question: is it possible to map a numeric keyboard (like those numpad-only things) to run macros or act as other buttons? This would allow us to use one of those, instead of adding $50 to a keyboard for a bunch of macro keys.
You could perhaps use Autohotkey for that. Though I wouldn't be surprised if some anti-cheat services will flag that.

KnightExemplar wrote:Hit "asdf" at the same time. I estimate that 100% of keyboards can actually hit all 4 keys at once. When you do this, you'll notice all 4 keys will be struck, and you'll see something like "sdfa".
Just so you have a keyword to look for: the feature that KnightExemplar is talking about here is called "key rollover". The latter link suggests a test which will probably illustrate the worry: hold down both shift keys, and type "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" (or just the alphabet). If you have a typical keyboard (or even a lot of good keyboards), you won't be able to type some letters.

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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:51 pm UTC

IMO, going beyond a Logitech G500s is a bit much. I can tell a difference between a $20 mouse and the $50 G500s (very easily), but I can't personally tell the difference beyond that. There is an adjustable weight system on this series of mice, and I find it very comfortable. I guess MMO users will opt for the more expensive $60 G600 or $70 G700s (13 extra buttons for macro-goodness), but the G500s is very very good (and you can definitely get away with the well-balanced $35 G100s).


Oh yeah... just did a price check...

The G500 is $50. It seems like the G500s is $70.

I've got the G500 personally, and I like it a lot. The G500s is the updated version with better software / apparently better buttons, but I haven't tried it myself. The G500 / G500s are both lighter than the G600 / G700s, its a matter of how many buttons you want on your mouse. The more buttons, the heavier the mouse will get. (+adjustable weight system, so you can make them heavier if you like that kind of feel)
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Xenomortis » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:34 am UTC

EvanED wrote:
Steax wrote:Related question: is it possible to map a numeric keyboard (like those numpad-only things) to run macros or act as other buttons? This would allow us to use one of those, instead of adding $50 to a keyboard for a bunch of macro keys.
You could perhaps use Autohotkey for that. Though I wouldn't be surprised if some anti-cheat services will flag that.

AFAIK, they would never know. They would have to have something client side that searched for AHK and I don't think they could ever hope to analyze the running scripts, so it'd just be a blanket ban.

KnightExemplar wrote:Only the most expensive gaming keyboards can hit a weird 5-button button combos like "uijkl" at the same time. You probably don't need a keyboard like that... but maybe you do?

I don't know how many people remap the movement keys. I personally use QWES (as well as using Alt instead of C/Ctrl - seriously?), but I've never tested it on a "regular" gaming keyboard. I know some people like ESDF as well.

Steax wrote:Keyboards - I'm a fan of solid mechanical keyboards. They're actually cheaper than these so-called gaming things he's buying. The gaming versions don't seem to have any obvious benefits, aside from the clearly useful macro buttons and so forth. Is there any reason to opt for a gaming keyboard? I'd imagine all high quality keyboards are just that. Unless the WASD, space and enter keys were extra-solid or something.

I think this really depends on the game. From what I've seen, "Pro" players tend to just use solid mechanicals. Big MMO players are more likely to benefit from lots of macro keys that are in easy reach of wherever their usual keyboard hand is positioned. Using AutoHotKey to map to the num-pad may not be ideal.

But mechanical keyboards frequently hit exceed the £100 mark (I've no idea what it's like in the States). My own (QPAD Pro Mk-85, brown switches) was something like £120.

Steax wrote:Monitors - similar to mice, is the response rate a big deal? I've been attached to Dell Ultrasharps, and they have a 8ms response rate. Is it worth trying to reduce these?

Genre dependent. Unless he's playing Fighters or Counter-Strike, then probably not.

As for Mice: do people still care about DPI? I don't know what the hype is on these now; been using my MX518 for years. I don't know if there's any advantage PS/2 has over USB now; used to be PS2 could refresh faster, now I don't know (although 8ms is very reminiscent of the 125Hz figure for USB; PS2 could get to 200Hz IIRC).

Also:
HE QUIK BROWN FO JUPS OER HE LA DOG
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(computer at work - cheapo USB keyboard. My keyboard at home has no such limitation.)
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby EvanED » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:56 pm UTC

Xenomortis wrote:
EvanED wrote:
Steax wrote:Related question: is it possible to map a numeric keyboard (like those numpad-only things) to run macros or act as other buttons? This would allow us to use one of those, instead of adding $50 to a keyboard for a bunch of macro keys.
You could perhaps use Autohotkey for that. Though I wouldn't be surprised if some anti-cheat services will flag that.

AFAIK, they would never know. They would have to have something client side that searched for AHK and I don't think they could ever hope to analyze the running scripts, so it'd just be a blanket ban.
And? Warden, VAC, and Punkbuster are three examples of client-side anti-cheat programs, so that is a totally realistic scenario. I'm not saying they do, but there'd be absolutely no technical reason stopping it. And at least for certain things, they could use the presence of AHK to check suspicions of fast reaction times or stuff like that.

According to this thread for example, Punkbuster hands out bans for AHK, and reading around other places it seems that people have gotten VAC banned for it, though those bans may have been later reversed.

I don't know how many people remap the movement keys. I personally use QWES...

You're weird. :-)

I've heard of EDSF, because that leaves Q and A open, but yours seem unusual.

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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Xenomortis » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:40 pm UTC

It's been quite a while since I played a game with PB...
But Google does suggest that it counts AHK running as a violation (which has implications for me: I have an extensive AHK script for Guild Wars 2 that I leave running, even when I close the game, and trashes the idea of an experiment I was going to run with the Mouse Smoothing registry settings, oh well).
Which is hilariously unreasonable, but there we go.

And seriously, Q and E are much more natural resting places for my fingers than A and D.
And whoever thinks the bottom alphabetical row can be easily reached by your thumb must have pretty small hands.
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Queue » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:06 pm UTC

Xenomortis wrote:And seriously, Q and E are much more natural resting places for my fingers than A and D.
And whoever thinks the bottom alphabetical row can be easily reached by your thumb must have pretty small hands.

I'd suggest that WASD is a thing because the middle finger is usually longer than the two next to it, making it so that the middle finger's relaxed position while having ring and index on A and D, is somewhere between S and W if not outright on W. Either way, finger positioning disputes is what the SteelSeries Merc was created to solve.

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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Xenomortis » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:15 pm UTC

Queue wrote:
Xenomortis wrote:And seriously, Q and E are much more natural resting places for my fingers than A and D.
And whoever thinks the bottom alphabetical row can be easily reached by your thumb must have pretty small hands.

I'd suggest that WASD is a thing because the middle finger is usually longer than the two next to it, making it so that the middle finger's relaxed position while having ring and index on A and D, is somewhere between S and W if not outright on W. Either way, finger positioning disputes is what the SteelSeries Merc was created to solve.

I don't know the rational behind the layout for the arrow keys; but WASD was almost certainly chosen because it mimicked the layout. The inverted-T configuration may indeed have been chosen for this reason.
Regardless, when my fingers are in a 'poised' position, my finger tips line up (with the exception of my 5th).*
(I used the arrow keys for a long time).

*Actually, inspecting this more closely, this is only the case on my left hand.
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Steax » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:27 am UTC

Thanks a bunch for all the input, guys. I learned a lot more than I was expecting to!

I'm heading over to the guy's home now, so we'll go over all the posts here together.

For now, I think we're settling on getting that G500s (not that expensive, enough customization, and weights!). As for the keyboard, this badass CODE keyboard just surfaced today for a reasonable price. I want to get one for myself, so I'll probably buy one, and if he likes it, he'll buy the same model.

More feedback when I get them from him!
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby EvanED » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:39 am UTC

I wish more companies would discover the wonders of putting a nice wrist rest on their keyboard and adding supports to raise the front of it:

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Until they do, I suspect I'm likely to keep using my Natural 4000.

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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Xenomortis » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:38 pm UTC

Steax wrote:For now, I think we're settling on getting that G500s (not that expensive, enough customization, and weights!). As for the keyboard, this badass CODE keyboard just surfaced today for a reasonable price. I want to get one for myself, so I'll probably buy one, and if he likes it, he'll buy the same model.


I just read Jeff Atwood's blog post on it.
I don't get it. It was created because Das Keyboard's* keyboards don't have back lighting? I'm curious as to what makes that better that every other keyboard in existence.
Although I don't know how the white switches compare.

*Don't read too much into this, I just looked at the CODE and thought "looks similar, just without the logo and with backlighting".
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby cerbie » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:31 pm UTC

Don't discount the G400s, either, for a mouse. None of that silly acceleration, and it has a plain mouse wheel.

But then again, I still have a working MX510 and MX518, so am slightly biased (the MX500 is the design that eventually became the G400s, and they still use the same basic shape, sensor family, and scroll wheel).
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby poochyena » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:44 pm UTC

Gaming mice and keyboards are better than regular ones since typically gaming mice and keyboards have some sort of lights like LEDs, and its been proven that adding LED lights to parts of your computer increases processing power by up to 30%. Red LEDs have been shown to be the fastest.



seriously though, Gaming mice are definitely better than regular mice, gaming mice have the extra button, are usually adjustable(weights and size), more responsive, ect. As for dpi.. its probably more or less a scam(i guess thats the right word). I honestly don't believe higher dpi = better performance or w/e like they try to say. i really really doubt you'll notice the difference between a mouse with 6,000dpi vs 8,200dpi.

idk about the keyboards

and for monitors, i hear really good monitors do make a huge difference, though, i have no personal experience.

alot of gaming hardware is more for the brand, kinda like clothing.

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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby Iranon » Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:33 am UTC

Gamers may have other needs than other demanding users.

A good typing keyboard may have nice clicky/springy keyswitches that have a clear actuation point to give you proper feedback. Those can feel off when you're gaming and keeping keys pressed.
Quality gaming keyboards often use very smooth, constant-pressure keyswitches that nice in a game but unpleasant to type on.

Also, gaming keyboards care about registering lots of keypresses at once... not all good typing keyboards do.
Then, there's the additional fluff like macro keys and aggressive styling... I consider the first useless as I prefer software solutions and hate the second, but tastes differ.
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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby moiraemachy » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:08 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:You'd be surprised what affects gaming. I've played video games where the top-tier community can consistently land combos with timing requirements of 16ms (the dreaded one-frame-link). A mouse / monitor that affects you beyond 16 ms starts to screw up the timing of one-frame links considerably. Most fighting game players on that level are _extremely_ sensitive to display lag... for obvious reasons.


I doubt anyone can react in anything near one frame, so I wonder if a display with less lag actually represents a significant competitive advantage or if it is just necessary for properly synchronizing muscle memory. I would love to know by how many frames fighting game players generally beat each other.

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Re: Is "gaming" hardware even a thing?

Postby KnightExemplar » Sun Sep 22, 2013 6:04 am UTC

No, of course no one has a reaction speed of 1 frame. But that isn't what I'm claiming. Listen, I've executed one-frame links in high-tier play before, and if a display is in fact low latency, it is simply easier to execute. Calling it "simple muscle memory" doesn't quite cut it, because no fighting game is "dial a combo". Many combos require precise height-control or distance control with the opponent (indeed, position-dependent combos are harder IMO than just "timing" combos). You've also got "hit confirms", where if you notice that the opponent actually blocked the attack, you need to switch it up into pressure. (normally, high-damage "combo" attacks are very very bad from a blocking perspective, and leave you open. You want to use attacks with good frame advantage when the opponent is blocking... but then switch to high-damage attacks when the opponent failed to block)

What matters, is that latencies in that region are definitely noticeable in play. When executing combos, you need as much visual information as possible, when attacks hits, when they miss, when your opponent is blocking, etc. etc. Any delay of that information greatly changes how the game is played. Lots of "fair" setups become downright unblockable as you lose 1 frame or so of reaction time.

Its less "People have a reaction time of 16ms", and more "When there is an input delay of 16ms... correctly reacting to that 200ms throw becomes much much harder, and damn near impossible". (Having a ~200ms reaction window vs ~180ms reaction window). When your game is almost at the limits of what is humanly possible, losing those 16ms of reaction speed changes things.

Everyone here knows Tetris, right? You might be surprised what is within human limits (Note: it gets faster as the "grand master" mode continues. Its actually much slower at the beginning than at the end). When you play competitive games against people who have that level of reaction speed... a difference of +/- 20ms of input latency can create a big difference.
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