What Is Keyboard Ghosting?

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Updated July 29, 2022

If you’ve ever lost your voice, you know how frustrating the failure to communicate is. Well, the same can happen even to the best keyboards. To help our readers understand what this means, below, we’ll be explaining what is keyboard ghosting and how the industry has attempted to combat it.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Keyboard ghosting is when a user attempts to press a key, and the command doesn’t register.
  • Ghosting often happens when a user presses simultaneous keystroke combos, making it a prevalent concern for gamers.
  • Many modern keyboards have developed anti-ghosting keyboard hardware and software to combat this issue.

For anyone experiencing other keyboard issues, we have extensive coverage of solutions, like our article on what to do if your keyboard is typing backward. We also have a lot of great reviews, such as this one that compares the Anne Pro 2 vs the Ducky One 2 Mini.

Insider Tip

You can run a quick key ghosting test by holding down both shift keys and typing any sentence.

What Is Ghosting on a Keyboard?

Keyboard ghosting is when a user tries to press a key or combination of keys, and the command doesn’t register.

This problem widely affects gamers because they often use key combinations consisting of keys that are near one another. And for anyone in the market for a gaming keyboard, check out our article comparing Apex 7 vs Apex Pro.

Ghosting occurs because a network of wires is running underneath the keyboard. Each time a key is pressed, it sends signals to the software to input commands. These wires create a grid of interconnected columns and rows. Therefore, when a user presses multiple keys, the matrix of column wire signals can get crossed. The result is that not all the keystrokes register.

It typically doesn’t affect those who use primarily single or double keystrokes. However, suppose you are experiencing issues with an individual key. In that case, we have guides on examining these problems, such as explaining how to remove the spacebar on a mechanical keyboard.

For gamers, ghosting can be a significant issue. Fortunately, manufacturers have created anti-ghosting technology to help combat this problem. And another point for gamers to be aware of is how keyboard backlighting can optimize gameplay. For those interested, we have an article explaining what a backlit keyboard is. And in a separate report, we cover the question: what is RGB keyboard technology?

What Is an Anti-Ghosting Keyboard?

Unfortunately, ghosting is a phenomenon that’s prevalent with inexpensive keyboard models. Therefore, purchasing a higher-end keyboard is the primary way to prevent it.

Warning

Clean your keyboard regularly, and do not eat over it. Crumbs and debris also cause key ghosting.

Many keyboard manufacturers have also developed technology to address the problem directly. So, if you see a keyboard marketed as “anti-ghosting,” this could mean a handful of things. It could mean that the manufacturers used more complex wire systems to register more keystrokes, or they could have installed an individual diode into each key, negating any ghosting effects.

STAT: The term 6-key rollover indicates that a user should be able to press down six keys at once without experiencing ghosting. (source)

What Is Keyboard Ghosting FAQs

What is N-key rollover?

N-key-rollover is an anti-ghosting technology that means there is no limit to how many keys may be pressed down at once.

Does key ghosting affect all gamers?

Casual gamers hardly notice the effects of key ghosting.

Does anti-ghosting increase gaming performance?

Anti-ghosting tech will only increase performance if you are already experiencing ghosting.
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