What Does Polling Rate Do?

If you have been searching for a keyboard for your gaming rig, you would have ideally come across a term called Polling Rate. The terms Polling Rate is used in the context of input devices and is applicable for both mice and keyboards. We will try understanding what Polling Rate is and what does polling rate do in a keyboard. 

What is the Polling Rate?

The Polling rate refers to how often the input device, such as a keyboard, communicates with the computer. The Polling rate is measured in terms of Hertz or Hz. The polling rate on a keyboard typically indicates how often rows and columns of the keysstroke during the press of a key. If you want a better gaming, higher accuracy and a faster response time.

What is the Polling Rate in a Keyboard?

Your devices, such as mice and keyboard, need to send your location reports to your computer. In the case of a mouse, for instance, the cursor will not move until the mouse communicates its position to the computer. In a similar way, a few of the functions on your keyboard need it to communicate its position to the computer. This is what is determined by the polling rate. 

Photo: Hardware canucks

The polling rate assumes a lot of importance when you have a gaming keyboard set up. You would ideally expect your gear to respond quickly to your commands. In a shooting game, for instance, you would not want to wait till your keyboard reports its position to the computer. 

The Polling rate in a keyboard is a measure of how often your keyboard reports its position to the computer. Measured in Hertz, this is one of the most critical measures for almost all your needs in an efficient and perfect gaming exercise. 

How Does Polling Rate Help in Gaming?

The faster response time or faster polling rate for the keyboard is essentially important. If your gaming keyboard does not respond faster and report the position to the computer faster enough, it should be evident that your game suffers a lot. 

That should ideally explain why gaming keyboards claim a faster polling rate. The faster polling rate in a gaming keyboard will ensure faster response times, quicker responses within your game and of course, a lesser input lag. 

Some of the examples of the polling rate and its relation with the response time should be evident from the following table – 

Polling Rate Response Time
125Hz 8 ms
250Hz 4 ms
500Hz 2 ms
1000Hz 1 ms
2000Hz 0.5 ms
3000Hz 0.33 ms


Is it Necessary to Go With a High Polling Rate on the Keyboard?

From what we have understood about the polling rate, a higher polling rate will ensure that you have access to better gaming. However, using a higher polling rate at all times can put a huge strain on your processor. Under such circumstances, it may be necessary to ensure that you have an optimum polling rate on your keyboard. 

It is not a good idea to configure the highest polling rate on your keyboard and leave it. Ideally speaking, most of the gamers prefer a polling rate of 500 Hz. So, if you are a die-hard gamer and do not want to strain your system without reasons, it would be a good idea to set a keyboard polling rate of 500 Hz or more. A good polling rate would be to pick the one between 500 Hz to 1000 Hz. 

How Does Polling Rate Work on a Keyboard?

 We have already understood what Polling Rate is. The polling rate ideally refers to the number of times that the keyboard sends its position report to the computer. The Polling rate in Hz is a measure of the number of reports about the position per second. For instance, a keyboard with 500 Hz sends the position update to the computer 500 times per second. This will ideally be equivalent to sending position updates once every two milliseconds. 

The keyboard polling rate for gaming would involve a lot of importance under ideal conditions. Given the fact that every second – or even a millisecond counts in gaming – it is quite essential to focus on a good value. If you are looking for maximum gaming performance, it is quite advisable to use the highest polling rate available. Most of the avid gamers prefer a polling rate of 1000 Hz for a consistent gaming performance. 

What is the Best Polling Rate for Gaming?

The poling rate you would utilise in a gaming setup will ideally depend on the type of gaming you are into. If you are using a wireless keyboard, it would be advisable to use a keyboard for saving your battery. 

However, if your game lags too often, it may be necessary to lower the polling rate a little. In any case, we would not advise to reduce your polling rate below 500 Hz. It should also be noticed that most of the keyboard does not support more than three keystrokes simultaneously. That is precisely why you should go with a gaming keyboard when you are into gaming. 

Gaming keyboards are capable of handling even five or more simultaneous strokes. This can be a great option that assists in achieving the best possible remedy against ghosting. A few keyboards advertise a capacity for more than ten simultaneous keystrokes. However, that would be useful only if you have more than ten fingers! 

Typical standard keyboards provide you with a polling rate of around 125 Hz.  It can be an excellent option for typing, but when it comes to gaming, that may not be something you would be comfortable with. Most of the popular gaming keyboards are made available with a polling rate of 500 to 1000 Hz and can be a great asset for a perfect gaming experience. 

The Bottom Line 

Whether you are a keener computer user or a gamer, the keyboard polling rate will always remain an important asset. While a higher polling rate can be essential and beneficial in the case of great gaming, it may create issues with your CPU. An ideal polling rate would be between 500 to 1000 Hz. 

Instead of depending on the polling rate alone, it may be a good idea to check it out with other parameters that include keyboard preferences, models, and connections.