Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts: N-Key Rollover in Mechanical Keyboards

April 22, 2024

Have you ever been in the middle of an intense gaming session only to find that your mechanical keyboard isn't registering all the action? How about rapidly tying a lengthy document but some of your key presses are not registering? Is your keyboard doing unusual stuff when you press certain key combinations together? 

No, your keyboard is not possessed with insidious spirits. But this issue is aptly known as ghosting, and it can disrupt your flow.

However, if your keyboard has an N-Key Rollover (NKRO) feature, you're in luck. This will exorcise the spirits haunting your keyboard. Let's check out how this wonderful feature can prevent ghosting.

What Is Key Ghosting

Key ghosting occurs when certain combinations of keys pressed simultaneously fail to register or produce unexpected results. Key ghosting usually happens in older or cheaper models.

The limitations in the keyboard's circuitry and how it processes keystrokes are the culprits of these unwanted spirits. In a keyboard matrix, each key is assigned to a particular row and column. When a key is pressed, it completes an electrical circuit between its corresponding row and column, which the keyboard controller detects and registers as a keystroke.

However, when multiple keys are pressed simultaneously, the keyboard controller may struggle to accurately detect and process all the keystrokes. Ghosting typically happens when three or more keys within the same 'block' of the matrix are pressed simultaneously. For example, if you press the keys W, A, and D together, ghosting might cause the computer to register an additional keypress that you did not make. 

It's easy to see why ghosting can be frustrating, especially for gamers or users who require rapid and precise keystrokes. 

What Is N-Key Rollover and How It Solves Ghosting

N-key rollover (NKRO) is a feature in many mechanical keyboards that allows the keyboard to register and process an unlimited number of simultaneous key presses without experiencing ghosting or key blocking. It ensures that every key press is accurately detected and transmitted to the computer, regardless of how many keys are pressed simultaneously.

This is achieved by using a dedicated diode for each key switch. These diodes prevent the electrical signals from interfering with each other when multiple keys are pressed simultaneously. As a result, each key press is independently registered and transmitted to the keyboard controller, which then sends the corresponding signals to the computer.

With NKRO, users can perform complex key combinations in gaming, programming, or other applications without worrying about keystrokes being missed or misinterpreted. This feature is particularly beneficial for gamers who rely on quick and precise inputs as well as for users who engage in multitasking or require simultaneous key presses for their work.

With NKRO, you certainly won't need to worry about any ghosts!

A Closer Look in N-Key Rollover

an image of a mechanical keyboard

Now that you are starting to understand how N-Key rollover works, let's go more into the details.

Keyboard Classification in Terms of Rollover

Keyboards are categorized based on their rollover capability: 2-key rollover (2KRO), 6-key rollover (6KRO), and N-key rollover (NKRO).

2-Key Rollover (2KRO)

Two-key rollover (2KRO) is a feature found in budget-friendly keyboards, especially older or simpler models, where only two keys can be pressed simultaneously and reliably registered by the keyboard. If you press more than two keys together, the keyboard may not register some of the keystrokes, resulting in ghosting or key blocking.

While 2KRO is better than no rollover at all, it still has considerable limitations on certain key combinations. Keyboards with 2KRO may not be suitable for users who require more complex key combinations without experiencing input issues.

6-Key Rollover (6KRO)

Six-key rollover (6KRO) is found in many mid-range and gaming-oriented mechanical keyboards. Up to six keys can be pressed simultaneously and reliably registered by the keyboard. 

6KRO significantly improves upon the limitations of lower rollover options like 2KRO, providing greater flexibility and reliability. 

N-Key Rollover (NKRO)

N-key rollover (NKRO) is often a feature in high-end mechanical keyboards where every key press is independently registered and processed, regardless of the number of keys pressed simultaneously. NKRO keyboards can handle an unlimited number of simultaneous key presses without experiencing ghosting or key-blocking issues.

With NKRO, users can perform even the most complex key combinations without worrying about missed or inaccurate keystrokes. 

Exceeding a Keyboard's Rollover Limit

When you exceed a keyboard's rollover limit, several things can happen. It all depends on the specific keyboard and its rollover capability:

  1. Key Blocking: If you press more keys simultaneously than the keyboard's rollover limit allows, some of the key presses may not register at all. This is called key blocking where the keyboard is unable to detect additional key presses beyond its limit.
  2. Ghosting: Exceeding the rollover limit can also result in ghosting where unintended keystrokes are registered due to the keyboard's inability to accurately detect simultaneous key presses. The keyboard behaves unusually. For example, additional characters may appear on-screen or commands may be executed unintentionally.
  3. Unexpected Behavior: In some cases, exceeding the rollover limit may cause certain key combinations to trigger unintended actions. This can be problematic in gaming or other applications where precise input is important.
  4. Input Lag: Overloading the keyboard with simultaneous key presses may cause delays between pressing a key and its corresponding action on-screen. This delay can disrupt gameplay, typing speed, or other activities that require real-time responsiveness.

Testing for Rollover

Knowing the troubles that may arise from surpassing your keyboard's rollover limit, you may want to verify your keyboard's rollover limitation. Here's a basic method for testing keyboard rollover:

  1. Open a testing tool: There are various online keyboard testing tools available that can detect and display the number of simultaneous key presses your keyboard can handle. Popular options include websites like or
  2. Press keys simultaneously: Press and hold down multiple keys simultaneously on your keyboard. Start with pressing two keys at the same time and gradually increase the number of keys you press simultaneously.
  3. Observe the results: As you press the keys, observe the on-screen display provided by the testing tool. It should indicate which keys are being registered as pressed. If all the keys you press are accurately detected and displayed, your keyboard likely has N-key rollover (NKRO) or a high rollover limit. If some keys are not registered or are inaccurately detected, your keyboard may have a lower rollover limit.
  4. Repeat the test: Repeat the test multiple times, trying different combinations of keys and verifying the results each time.
  5. Check the keyboard specifications: Read the specifications provided in your keyboard's operating manual to see if they specify the rollover capability. If it's an NKRO keyboard, it should explicitly mention support for N-key rollover.

How To Get NKRO on Your Keyboard

Do you know that you can unlock NKRO on your mechanical keyboard? Yes, you can! It depends on the hardware capabilities of your keyboard. Check out this guide:

  1. Purchase a keyboard with NKRO: The easiest most straightforward way to get NKRO is to purchase a mechanical keyboard that explicitly advertises NKRO capability. Many high-end mechanical keyboards come with built-in NKRO support.
  2. Upgrade your keyboard's firmware: Some keyboards may offer firmware updates that improve or unlock additional features, including NKRO support. Check the manufacturer's website or user manual for information on firmware updates and how to install them.
  3. Use a keyboard adapter: If you have a keyboard with limited rollover capabilities but still want NKRO, you can consider using a keyboard adapter or converter that supports NKRO. These adapters connect between your keyboard and computer and can provide NKRO functionality by bypassing the keyboard's built-in controller.
  4. Customize your keyboard settings: Some gaming keyboards come with software utilities that allow you to customize keyboard settings including rollover modes. 
  5. Consider Mechanical Switches: Mechanical keyboards, particularly those with high-quality switches (e.g., Cherry MX), are more likely to support NKRO compared to membrane or rubber dome keyboards. 

What Should You Look for in a New Keyboard

an image of a mechanical keyboard

When looking for a new keyboard, especially if key rollover capability is important to you, here are some factors to consider:

  1. Specifications: Check the keyboard's specifications provided by the manufacturer. Look for mentions of N-key rollover or the maximum number of keys that can be pressed simultaneously without issues. 
  2. Switch Type: Mechanical switches are more likely to support NKRO compared to membrane or rubber dome switches. 
  3. Testing Before Purchase: Try out the keyboard in person before making a purchase. Test its rollover capability by pressing multiple keys simultaneously and ensuring that all key presses are accurately registered. 
  4. Consider Gaming Features: Look for gaming keyboards that specifically advertise NKRO or anti-ghosting features. These keyboards are designed to handle rapid and simultaneous key presses common in gaming scenarios.


Mechanical keyboards with N-key rollover are definitely ghostbusters. A mechanical keyboard that has an NKRO feature guarantees every key press is registered. No missed characters, no missed actions, no missed response. It makes gaming enjoyable and working more efficient.

Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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