N-key rollover, also known as NKRO, is a feature found in many mechanical keyboards. Allows the user to press multiple keys simultaneously, with each keystroke being recorded separately. This is especially useful for gamers who press keys at the same time.
What does N-Key Rollover do?
If your keyboard contains NKRO, this means that each key you press is registered individually. So, in a text document, if you press three character keys at once, all characters will be displayed on your screen.
However, there may be limits to the number of keys you can press. This is represented by the “n” in n-key rollover which is replaced by a number, for example 6-key rollover (6KRO).
Full n-key rollover keyboards allow you to press all keys at once; mechanical keyboards make more use of this feature than membrane keyboards.
Common Types of N-Key Rollover
Mechanical keyboards are manufactured with different types of n-key rollover. This can range from two to unlimited. Here’s an overview of the most common types:
- 2KRO (2 key rollover)
- 6KRO (6 key rollover)
- 10KRO (rollover with 10 keys)
- 14KRO (14 key rollover)
- NKRO (full n-key rollover)
Is N-Key Rollover the same as anti-ghosting?
It is common for NKRO keyboards to include anti-ghosting. If you press more keys at once than a keyboard can handle, an unpressed key can accidentally register. Anti-ghosting prevents this by preventing additional keys from being registered.
For example, on a 3KRO anti-ghosting keyboard, if more than three keys are pressed simultaneously, a fourth will block registration. If the keyboard didn’t have anti-ghosting, you could potentially see five keystrokes, even though only four were pressed.
Which keyboards are equipped with NKRO?
Previously, NKRO was only possible with a PS/2 connector. Now PS/2 connectors are much less common, but they can still be used with NKRO keyboards if you use an adapter. Modern mechanical keyboards instead have the option to use NKRO over USB.
How NKRO helps gamers
Mechanical keyboards for gamers often include NKRO, as some game genres, such as combat and FPS, require extremely precise keystrokes and multiple keys to be pressed at the same time.
Tekken 7for example, requires key combinations such as F, D, 2, and 1 to be pressed simultaneously to perform an attack. If your keyboard is limited to 2KRO or 3KRO, it would not be possible to unleash this move.
Aside from feeling more immersive, NKRO-less keyboards is one of the main reasons why fighting game fans choose a fighting stick.
While most high-end mechanical gaming keyboards have a full n-key rollover, this isn’t necessarily a selling point that gamers should accept. Few games require more than 6 KRO, and unless you’re using your multiplayer keyboard, you don’t need more than 10 KRO since you only have 10 fingers.
NKRO can be used outside of gaming
While there are a limited number of applications that require you to press multiple keys at once, NKRO has its place outside of gaming.
An example is music making software. If you don’t have a MIDI keyboard, you can use your PC’s mechanical keyboard as a replacement. This allows you to hold down multiple keys at the same time, allowing you to make and produce music.
How to test NKRO on your keyboard
Aside from checking the manufacturer’s specs to see which n-key rollover your keyboard has, you can easily test this by using a text application like Microsoft Word.
Start by pressing two keys at once, record the keys you press, increase by one and compare with the keystrokes registered on your screen.
If you expect NKRO from your keyboard, but you don’t notice the correct number of keystrokes, make sure NKRO is activated. Some keyboards require you to enable the NKRO function with a key combination or through the keyboard software.
NKRO can help you
If you’re already planning to invest in a mechanical keyboard, chances are you’ll find one that fits your needs that also features n-key rollover.
Even the most affordable mechanical keyboards can use NKRO; you just need to decide if a mechanical keyboard is the way to go. If you’re a typist or gamer, it’s worth spending a little more on an NKRO keyboard to ensure accurate response.