What is the N-Key Rollover in mechanical keyboards?


If you are looking for a mechanical keyboard, you will probably come across the term “N-key rollover”. You may also see it written as “NKRO”. You’ll definitely feel like it’s a good thing to have because it’s the kind of thing marketing departments like to shout.

But what is the N-key rollover? And when and why is this a useful feature to have in your mechanical keyboard?

What is the N-Key bearing used for?

Before even considering what rollover is, let’s get right to the point. If your keyboard has an N-key rollover, each key you press is recorded as a separate entry, regardless of how many keys you press.

close-up of keyboard keys

Hovering basically refers to the number of keys you can press at the same time before you run into issues. Cheaper keyboards don’t have unlimited N key rolls. Some may only have a two key roll, while most good keyboards will have at least a six key roll.

What happens if you go past the keyboard scroll?

A few problems can arise if you press or hold more keys simultaneously than your keyboard can handle.

One is blocking (also known as jamming), where certain keys are simply ignored. So, for example, let’s say you have a keyboard with a five-key rollover. You open a text file and simultaneously press number keys one through six. Instead of seeing six digits, you’ll see five because one of the keys is stuck.

Hands typing on an illuminated gaming keyboard

Another problem you might run into is ghosting. This is where a key that you have not pressed is saved as an entry. In our example, you might see an eight on the screen, even though you’ve never pressed that key.

With N-key rollover, these problems never occur. For example, press six number keys and you will see six digits on the screen. Press 20, and you’ll see 20 and so on, depending on how many keys you can press at the same time without hurting yourself.

You can test the rollover of your own keyboard using web tools such as Microsoft keyboard ghost interactive demo.

Is the N-Key rollover really useful?

That’s the million dollar question. Obviously ghosting and blocking are bad, but do you really need an N-key rollover to prevent them?

Granted, if you’re a gamer, advanced typist, or fan of typing games, the limited key roll could be a problem.

Let’s say you are playing a PC game. You might be in a hurry Change run while holding down W and A to move diagonally. You can then press Space jump and R to reload. You already have up to five keys pressed on the keyboard with one hand.

If your other hand isn’t on your mouse, then you can bring it up and press an F key to trigger a quick action or spell. But your keyboard has a five-key rollover, so that sixth key isn’t recorded at all.

Your enemy kills you, and it’s over.

But is this a common problem? Maybe not. Once you get past the 10 or even six key rollover, is there really a benefit to going further? Surely you will never need to press all the keys on your keyboard at the same time?

So, do you need an N-key rollover?

In short, no. If your keyboard has it, that’s certainly not a bad thing, but it’s not something you should use as a deciding factor when choosing a keyboard. You definitely shouldn’t pay extra for it.

Other features are much more important, such as the comfort of using a keyboard, the sound that mechanical keys make when you press them and if the keys light up, as well as gaming features, such as macro keys. .

So if you find a mechanical keyboard that you like that has a 20-key roll, 100-key roll, or something similar, don’t rule it out. Ultimately, the best thing about mechanical keyboards is how they feel when you type or play on them, not how many keys you can press at the same time.

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