I get asked about WoW hardware strangely often, and I figured it was about time I at least shared my own opinions.
I’m certainly no expert and I have not gone out and tested every option out there (or even most). I have, however, had enough bad experiences that I have a decent idea of what to look for and what to avoid. At the very least I can tell you more than that in Soviet Russia, keyboard binds you!
Just remember, the best gaming peripherals are the ones that work best for you, not necessarily the ones that work best for me.
Rule number one for a WoW mouse is that you do not want wireless. A wireless mouse will eventually kill you — it’s not a question of if, just of when and how often. While the technology is perfectly sufficient for most office uses, when a hiccup of a second or two happens, that is enough to get you dead. And it will happen. Always at the worst times.
Personally I use the Razer Naga and this is without question the best gaming mouse I’ve ever used. It has a full number pad on the side, in addition to a couple of extra side buttons.
Now, with my giant ham hands, I can’t actually navigate all 12 numbers flawlessly during raiding, so I just use the middle button and the ones in the corners to ensure I’m not hitting multiple at once, but that still adds up to a heck of a lot more keybinds than a standard mouse. (It’s worth noting that it looks like some of the newer versions have a pronounced curve on the side of the mouse, which should make it easier to hit those side buttons without double-hitting).
I bind my strafing, aspect changing, and stopcasting to the mouse, letting the mouse handle movement while my other hand pew pews.
Similar to the mouse, you do not want to go wireless with your gaming keyboard. Nothing’s more frustrating than having the occasional keystroke fail to register. Now perhaps this is less of an issue who play with their keyboard closer to the sensor, but I tend to play with the keyboard in my lap (and my feet up on the desk).
In addition to WoW, I also do a lot of writing, so I prefer a keyboard that is at least somewhat ergonomic — hurts less and lets me type faster (once you get used to it). Alas I’ve never been able to find an ergonomic gaming keyboard, and in the battle of WoW vs carpal tunnel, WoW wins.
The two features you generally want for a WoW keyboard are a mechanical keyboard and backlit keys.
A mechanical keyboard just has a crisper feel to it (more like a mouse click) rather than the someway mushy feel that many standard keyboard have. Mechanical keyboards have a mechanical switch under each key, rather than a plastic membrane that spreads beneath the keyboard.
Backlit keys are essential if you play in dim lighting, and are just plain cool.
I have yet to really discover the perfect WoW keyboard, but I currently use a Logitech Illuminated keyboard that works well enough. I lost one of the keys however (number 2) due to a long story, but it makes firing a pain in the butt, so I’m definitely in the market if someone can suggest an awesome gaming keyboard — bonus points if it isn’t a perfectly flat one. It’s worth noting that Razer also makes a bunch of awesome non-ergonomic gaming keyboards.
You only really need a headset if you’re on vent (or host a hunter podcast). When I was first getting a headset everyone told me the same thing: don’t skimp on the headset. I saw the price of the high quality headsets and promptly skimped and went for a vastly cheaper one.
It turns out everyone was right, and that headset was a nightmare. It’s not just quality of sound and mic you’re looking at — it’s comfort. That bloody headset hurt, and by the end of a raid my ears were in pain. Learn from my pain — don’t get a headset that is going to squash your ears; get one that fits over your ears, encases them in cushiony goodness.
The big decision to be made with headsets is digital vs analog. I’m told that analog gives you better sound, while digital gives you better mic. Not being an audiophile, I can report that I can’t hear the sound quality difference, but I do notice the mic quality difference — digital is significantly better. Being a podcaster, that settles the issue for me. But if you don’t care how you sound, analog is just fine.
Personally I use the Logitech G35 headset, which is pretty awesome. It was Hrist’s first recommendation to me (that I ignored, regretted, and then followed). The headset finally died after years of abuse (including being repeatedly knocked on the floor by the cat) and I after looking around some more, I got another one.
I particularly like that the volume & mute is right on the side of the headset (with a light at the mic end so you can tell if it’s muted or not) rather than those obnoxious dangly things that are attached to the cord. This headset is the peripheral that I’m most happy with — while I’d consider another mouse and am looking for another keyboard, I wouldn’t consider another headset at this point in the game.