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I'm just curious if Apple keyboards are multi-key rollover or not?

And if yes then which models (or how to determine that in OS X)?

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I don't believe any USB keyboard can achieve true n-key rollover. If you take a PS/2 keyboard that is, and give it a USB converter to make it work on your Mac, then it isn't! It's a USB limitation. –  Adam Eberbach Apr 5 '12 at 0:03
The Matias Tactile Pro 3 keyboard for Mac, which uses a USB cable, achieves n-key rollover. matias.ca/tactilepro3 –  Wheat Williams Apr 5 '12 at 3:53
@AdamEberbach it's not a USB limitation, it is a software driver limitation. Notice that a USB keyboard with a PS/2 adapter can be N-Key rollover. AFAIK the 6-Key rollover limitation only applies to USB on Microsoft Windows (i wonder if anyone has tested it on Windows 8 yet?). –  Abhi Beckert Nov 2 '12 at 23:11

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Current Apple keyboards (as of 2012) are not N-Key rollover and as far as I know no recent keyboard they have ever made is. I think some of the really old ones were N-key rollover, but can't confirm it.

You can use this website to test your keyboard - click on the embedded flash app and press several keys simultaneously

Beware that every keyboard has a different electronic layout and will fail in different key combinations. On my Apple Aluminium keyboard if I hold down the W and E keys, then press the D key, the third key press does not register. But there are other key combinations where as many as six keys will register at once.

It is commonly said that true N-Key rollover can only be achieved using a PS/2 keyboard, and that USB keyboards can only achieve 6-key rollover. As far as I know, this limitation only applies to Microsoft Windows.

My mechanical keyboard's spec sheet claims "6-key rollover with USB, N-key rollover with USB to PS/2 adapter". When using it with USB on my Mac, I've confirmed that is in fact 20-key rollover.

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My Apple Wireless Keyboard and the keyboard on my MacBook Air seem to allow pressing all combinations of two keys at the same time, but not some combinations of three keys. So I guess they are 2-key rollover.

Another way to test it is to open the keyboard viewer from the input menu or with open -a KeyboardViewer.

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I was just surprised to see that the keyboard on the Macbook Pro can pass my quick keyboard test. I typed out "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" while holding down both SHIFT keys. Perhaps the internal keyboard is hooked up via PS/2 or something similar.

However, Apple's external USB keyboards cannot do type that out without missing keys.

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Apple Macbook Pro's are 6 Key Rollover, looks like limitation of USB

Hold keys 1 2 3 4 5 6 and then 7, 7 does not register

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