Making the jump into PC peripherals can seem daunting if you're unfamiliar with shopping for gear. Costs can range from low to high, and you might wonder if you need gaming products vs. standard office-grade products. Does the amount of money you spend on your gear directly impact your level of skill?
Well, yes and no.
There are a lot of things to consider before jumping in, whether you're individually upgrading specific items (like a headset, keyboard, or mouse, or picking up a full set of PC peripherals.
Surreal from r/setups
A little backstory...
Like many people, I grew up playing games on the family computer using the included mouse and keyboard, or whatever options were found at the local electronics store.
As I grew older and spent more and more time gaming, I simply adapted to what was available to me at the time. I shamelessly played MMOs, RTS, and FPS games using the built-in keyboard and trackpad of my Macbook, or whatever mouse or headset that was available in the computer lab.
In the mean time... from r/starcraft
To be honest, I didn't have much of a budget for "fancy" gaming gear. That money was better spent on food and other things.
I was grinding up the StarCraft 2 ladder, and could not get myself past diamond rank. I had essentially hit a performance ceiling. One big thing that was holding me back was that I was playing on the entirely wrong gear.
Using the wrong or low quality peripherals meant that my APM (actions per minute) could only go so far. I had to do so much more work to accomplish the same speeds as my friends. Sometimes keyboard buttons or mouse clicks just wouldn't input, and I just felt that my "gear" was generally tripping me up and slowing me down.
After years of playing like this, I finally hit a point where I realized that it was time to get some actual peripherals meant for gaming.
Ultimately, you are in charge of your own skill. But the right gear does make a big impact on your performance, especially if your current gear is tripping you up or creating a skill ceiling.
Luckily, making a substantial gear upgrade doesn't necessarily need to cost a ton of money.
The best value headsets
Arctis 1: $49,99
Arctis 1 Wireless: $99,99
These headsets are the ultimate multitaskers. They can easily swap from being your PC headset, to your console headset, and also your commuting headphones. Not just versatible, they were built to sound great, be comfortable, and super durable.
"I can just use a cheap Bluetooth headset for everything", you might be thinking. You're not wrong, but even if you manage to get it set up across your devices, Bluetooth is not ideal for gaming due to lag and other audio quality issues.
If I had to choose between the two, going wireless is absolutely worth it if you can afford the slightly higher price point. I can't tell you what a life-changer it is to not have to deal with a cable when I'm gaming or commuting. I can just spin around in my chair or go grab a drink without having to take my headphones off. My rate of "brb"ing in Discord is a thing of the past.
If you need one headset to do it all: choose the Arctis 1 or Arctis 1 Wireless.
The best value keyboards
Any brand can slap some RGB onto an otherwise standard/cheap office keyboard and call it a "gaming" keyboard, but for us, that wouldn't cut it.
We sought to capture the premium performance and features that gamers need in a keyboard, from the overall durability to performance and quality.
With the Apex 3, we sought to really elevate the performance of a membrane keyboard:
- It is IP32 water and dust resistant, so you don't need to worry about liquid spills killing your keyboard.
- Instead of the standard membrane switches, we used reinforced switches for added durability. Unlike virtually any other membrane keyboard, the switches are actually rated for 20 million clicks (compared to the standard 5 million clicks of an office membrane keyboard).
- It comes with premium features that you would expect from a more expensive gaming keyboard: 3-way cable routing, anti-ghosting, dedicated multimedia keys, 10-zone RGB, and a premium magnetic wrist rest.
If you're looking for something a little fancier, the Apex 5 hybrid mechanical keyboard brings the mechanical experience to everyone:
- Instead of just adding a superfluous plastic leaf which just makes a click sound when a key is pressed (similar to putting a playing card in your bike tire), we used the same keypress mechanism as a mechanical keyboard to create a true hyrbid mechanical switch.
- It performs just like a traditional mechanical switch, so you get the satisfying tactile click that you'd expect from a blue mechanical switch, with an added smoothness from the underlying membrane.
- Like the Apex 3, it comes with premium features that you would expect from a more expensive gaming keyboard: 3-way cable routing, anti-ghosting, dedicated multimedia keys, a premium magnetic wrist rest, as well a customizable OLED screen and per-key RGB customization.
The best value mouse
Rival 3: $29,99
The difference between your standard office-quality mouse and a true gaming mouse is probably the most noticible upgrade to your gaming performance. Regardless of what your budget is, you want a mouse that will be dependable and reliable. This means your cursor lands exactly where you intend it to, every time. Ideally, it would look and feel premium too.
Enter the Rival 3:
- Super durable premium materials that look and feel great
- Guaranteed for 60 million clicks (vs. the standard 10-20 million in most $30 mice)
- A performance gaming sensor with the same true 1-to-1 tracking as our professional mice
- Redesigned RGB that shines brilliantly in 3 customizable zones (vs. the standard 1-zone in most $30 mice)
The Rival 3 looks, feels, and performs like a mouse at twice the price. More importantly, you'll feel like you can really rely on this mouse for a long time.
You can get a $30 mouse, a $50 headset, and a $50 keyboard, with the quality you'd expect from gear at twice the price. Our long history and pursuit to develop the top premium professional gear has also given us the ability to reimagine our technology for everyone.
I work here at SteelSeries. I have access to all of our most premium and expensive products that cost hundreds of dollars each.
But the products I actually use every single day? The Apex 5 keyboard ($99), Arctis 1 Wireless headset ($99), and Rival 3 mouse ($29,99). Quality doesn't always need to cost an arm and a leg.
What Makes the Rival 3 a "Gaming" Mouse?
What are Hybrid Blue Mechanical Switches?
What is IP32 Water and Dust Resistance?
Spilled Water On Your Keyboard? Here's What To Do (And Not Do)