Everything You Want to Know About Backlit Keyboard

Written by Muqadas Wattoo | Last modified on:

The first backlit keyboard can be traced back to 1983. General Electric created a lighted numpad which was the first instance of a keyboard being backlit to hit the United States. Backlit keyboards are not much different from regular keyboards; the only difference is that the keys are illuminated from underneath. The light helps provide better visibility of the keyboard in darker environments. With laptop usage increasing as the world moves towards a more digitized way of doing this, backlit keyboards are becoming increasingly popular. Keyboards with backlight are especially popular among gamers because of their tendency to play into the long hours of the night. Apart from this backlit keyboards also look very aesthetic, which helps make them appealing for a wider audience.

How do Backlit Keyboards work?

Backlit Keyboards, more often than not employ LED lights to illuminate the keyboard. LED lights provide an energy efficient source of light and are best suited, for this task. Moving on to how these keyboards function, these are programmed to illuminate upon being pressed. Most backlit boards turn off after being pressed to conserve battery. Furthermore, each backlit keyboard will come with settings where you can adjust the brightness level, the delay, and whether you want to let it stay on all the time or not.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to go into the settings all the time, laptops that have backlit keyboards and external backlit keyboards both tend to have unique keys that allow you to control these settings. In certain high-end keyboards, the functionality offered by these buttons is astounding to see.

Why are light up keyboards so popular with gamers?

Backlit keyboards were first popularly seen being used by gamers; the most hardcore gamers would often invest upwards of $150 on these keyboards. Backlit keyboards at their most basic allow for better illumination. The more advanced backlit keyboards even feature multiple color schemes. Multiple color schemes essentially enable gamers to group off buttons that serve similar functions under the same light. In the world of competitive gaming, even the slightest difference in reaction time can make a world of a difference. Aside from this, the keyboards look brilliant with multiple customizable color schemes and can offer gamers a chance to reflect their personality in what they love most. Furthermore, the more advanced boards also allow for some pretty cool animations, with keyboards featuring lights that strobe and change patterns as well.

It is plain to see why gamers would invest in buying a laptop or an external lighted keyboard, but does it hold any advantage for the regular person? If you’re somebody that is confused about whether or not the backlit keyboard is for you, here are a few advantages and disadvantages of owning a laptop that has a backlit keyboard or buying an external lighted keyboard.


Easier to use in low light environments

Backlit keyboard allows for better illumination of the keyboard in darker environments. Regardless of whether you are using it in the comfort of your own home or are working at the office late into night backlit keyboards make a world of a difference. For people that are editors and are proficient at using laptops, a backlit keyboard may not be an absolute necessity. However, most people aren’t as skilled as typing without looking at the keyboard, and illuminated keys can be a great help.

Quality of your preferred device

Due to its nature as somewhat of a novelty feature, backlit keyboards typically feature on higher-end devices. This holds firmly in the case of laptops; the build quality will often be far better than notebooks that don’t feature a backlit keyboard. If you’re somebody that’s not as technologically aware a backlit keyboard can be a great indicator of whether or not you’re buying a high-end device. Gaming laptops also feature glowing keyboards most of the time. The price of external backlit keyboards further reflects their target audience as higher-end PC owners.

Aesthetic appeal

A key feature behind why most people gravitate towards the backlit keyboard, they look fantastic. A laptop featuring a light up keyboard is instantly cooler than a regular laptop. Furthermore, the settings of these keyboards can be adjusted to illuminate while you type which further adds to it. Also, backlit keyboards are getting more advanced, with multiple color schemes and additional animations included.


Energy consumption

While this may not pose problems for PC owners that buy external lighted keyboards, it is a genuine one for laptop owners. Light up boards tend to consume more energy and consequently drain your battery quicker.  The battery can be saved by accessing the settings and turning off the light or decreasing the frequency of illumination. If your requirement is an ultra-portable laptop that you’d use mostly on the go, we wouldn’t recommend getting one with a backlit keyboard.


Due to the addition of more technology and their status as a novelty features, laptops that tend to feature backlit keyboards are more expensive. The same holds for external lighted keyboards; they tend to be relatively higher priced than regular keyboards. This doesn’t mean that you won’t find any laptops or external glowing keyboards at a bargain price. It’s just that the really good ones tend to be pricey.

You can live without it

If you’re proficient at typing without looking at the keyboard, you don’t really need to invest in a backlit board. You’re better off targeting other features that will benefit your PC. Due to their pricey nature, this disadvantage especially holds true for people looking at a laptop or PC with a limited budget.

Gamers are already obsessed with backlit keyboards and it is highly likely that backlit keyboards become a feature in every laptop eventually. Their aesthetically pleasing and can increase functionality for people that aren’t as technically proficient with using laptops. The only thing holding them back currently is the price and expect that to change as technology progresses.