A typical professional day trading setup is one that includes a pretty comprehensive and complex rig with multiple monitors and a premium PC to keep things running smoothly.
Hence, it would be a shame to not have an equally premium day trading keyboard to go along with it.
The most critical characteristic of a good day trading keyboard is that it lets you set up HOT KEYs for pushing your day trading commands.
In addition to that, a good day trading keyboard should provide comfortable ergonomics and good feedback (clicky or tactile) with key presses as light and responsive as possible.
There are two types of keyboards that are suitable for day traders. The first type includes specialized keyboards with hotkeys that do not look anything like your normal QWRTY keyboards. They are compact and essentially complement your main QWERTY keyboard.
The second type is your normal QWERTY keyboards but with programmable buttons to help you setup the hot keys.
In the following text, I will talk in detail about the best keyboards for day trading and how to find one.
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Hot Keys is the Way to Go
When it comes to choosing the right day trading keyboard, I highly recommend that you look for an option with programmable keys.
You can assign Hot Keys like opening a buy order for 1000 shares, opening a buy order for 500 shares, opening sell orders, canceling all orders, etc.
Each of these commands can be assigned to a dedicated button.
The assignment of Hot Keys is one aspect that almost all-day traders recommend if you ask them for their suggestions for the right keyboard.
You may have to make sure, though, that the broker or your trading platform supports keyboard macros assignment.
Options for the Best Keyboard for Day Trading
As mentioned, there are two types of keyboards suitable for day traders:
- Dedicated Hotkey Keyboard/Keypad
- Full Qwerty Keyboard with Hotkeys
They both have their merits and demerits.
1. Dedicated Hotkey Keypads for Day Trading
These are perhaps the most convenient option for day traders. These are essentially standalone keypads that serve as blank canvases for traders.
Essentially, the keys on these keypads are ALL programmable. Meaning each of the keys can be assigned a separate command.
So you can program one key to Buy 10 shares, another to buy 50, or 100, and yet another to sell 25% of the shares, etc.
They do, however, serve as a COMPLIMENT to your primary keyboard instead of a replacement.
You will need to have a basic QWERTY keyboard for average PC use along with a programmable keypad.
Since the programmable keypads serve as blank canvases, you can program them any way you like and to help you remember, you can either create stickers yourself or get a decent set of day trading-related key stickers.
It is NOT recommended that you use a marker to write on top of the blank keycaps.
On Trading Platforms Either Setup or RECORD Programmable Keys
It should be noted that not all-day trading platforms have support for hotkeys assignment built.
For instance, Fidelity is a day trading platform that DOES NOT support hotkey assignment BUILT-IN. Instead, it has its own hotkeys such as Ctrl + P to launch Positions, Ctrl + O to launch Orders, etc.
In such cases, you can use the record function of the keyboard, or the software that came with it, to set up macros instead.
So for instance, you can assign one of the programmable keys to execute the CTRL+O command when pressed in Fidelity and another to execute the CTRL+P command when pressed.
Quest Trade, on the other hand, allows you to set up hotkeys within the platform itself,
2. QWERY With Programmable Keys
Some call them programmable keys, others call them hotkeys yet others still refer to them as macro keys.
These are dedicated extra buttons on otherwise normal QWERTY keyboards that allow you to set up programmed commands.
You can set these commands using the included software.
While there aren’t a whole lot of dedicated macro keys on a QWERTY keyboard, they are often deemed plenty for many day traders.
Now there are two types of QWERTY keyboards you can go for: membrane-based and mechanical keyboards.
Membrane-based keyboards are cheaper; mechanical keyboards are expensive.
Membrane-based keyboards (with dome-shaped keys) often have a high actuation force and a longer travel distance.
Membrane Keyboard | 6 Dedicated Macro Keys
Operating force = 74 gf (Heavy)
Pre/Total travel = 2.3 – 4.0 mm (long)
With mechanical keyboards, you have a choice depending on the key type you select. The following keyboard is built for speed.
Mechanical Keyboard | Cherry MX Speed Switches | 6 Dedicated Macro Keys
Operating force = 42 gf (Very Light)
Pre/Total travel = 1.1 – 3.4 mm (Short / Responsive)
It has a rating of 9.6/10 overall on Rtings.com
Note: actuation force and travel distance specs taken from Rtings.com.
Choice of Keyboard Type with Regard to Keys
As mentioned there are two types of QWERTY keyboards you can get for day trading.
Mechanical – Expensive Option
Mechanical keyboards are highly preferred by enthusiasts. They are expensive compared to conventional membrane keyboards, but their feedback is phenomenal.
With mechanical keyboards, you essentially get a choice of which switch type you want to go for. For instance, some switches are quiet, some are loud with their clicky noise. At the same time, some switches have deep actuation points others have shallow ones.
To get the best response for day trading, you can look into the likes of Cherry MX Speed switches that are built for quick reaction and quick responsiveness – something that a day trader may find essential.
The tactile bump and the feedback you receive from the switches make these great for day trading as each distinct key press can be felt and registered accurately.
Membrane Keyboards – Budget Option
Membrane keyboards are your average keyboards that represent the vast majority. With these keyboards, there is literally a membrane underneath the keycaps.
These are lighter, generally made out of plastic, and cheaper. Among the membrane keyboards.
There are two types of switches for membrane keyboards”
- Rubber Dome switches
- Scissor switches
Dome switches are larger, heavier, and have a longer travel distance before actuation.
Scissor switches are slim have a short height and are generally more responsive. They are also commonly called chiclet-style keyboards with flat keys.
The choice generally depends upon your budget and whether you want macro keys or not. Dedicated Macro keys on scissor-switch keyboards are nonexistent.
Is Wireless Keyboard Recommended for Day Trading?
You can choose between wireless or wired keyboards. We strongly prefer that you opt for a wired one as it offers a consistent and reliable connection.
It would be a shame if your battery on the wireless keyboard were to die just when you are about to open a very critical order.
It would also be unfortunate if a subpar wireless keyboard presents unnecessary lags in registering the presses.
If you travel as a day trader, it’s okay to go with a compact wireless keyboard. However, again, lag and unreliable connection are something to be aware of.
Day trading demands that you make the most out of the opportunity when it arises. A quality keyboard can help you save crucial seconds which could be the difference between winning and losing a trade.
Thus, it’s an accessory that’s not to be underestimated at all.
We hope that this article on the best keyboards for day trading would help you to find the right tool for executing trades with speed and confidence.