Since we’re a gaming-related website and everyone likes cheap yet “good enough” stuff, today’s article is about the best budget gaming keyboards. I bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? So, after our previous article about the best budget gaming mouse in the universe, let’s see about the second most important PC peripheral for a gamer running low on cash. Why is a keyboard so important, you asked?
Well, that’s an easy one: if you’re serious about gaming, and we bet you are since you’re reading this article, you must learn that a high-quality gaming keyboard will streamline your gameplay and boost your effectiveness, not to mention that nice feeling of using high end (ok, we’re exaggerating a bit) gear while doing your favorite thing. Also, if you already own a cool gaming rig for which you paid top dollars, or, why not, one of those strange gaming keypads, it would make zero sense to use a bland office keyboard for your binge gaming sessions or anything in between.
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How to Choose the Best Budget Gaming Keyboard
That’s the question that drives any respectable gamer: how to make the most of your hard-earned dollars? Don’t worry, you’ve landed in the right place, and here’s TL;DR version: read the whole article. Joke aside, choosing the best budget gaming keyboard is relatively straightforward.
First, you must decide how much you are going to spend on a gaming keyboard: around $50, under $100, you know where this is going. Also consider this: it would make zero sense to pay $100 for a cool keyboard just to play League of Legends occasionally. If you’re not a “pro-gamer”, you won’t need fancy lighting (RGB) and mechanical switches, i.e. you should choose the right tool for the job in the first place.
The next thing to contemplate is membrane vs mechanical switches. The more ambitious gaming keyboards are going full-mechanical nowadays, and obviously, more expensive. However, you may find older-generation gaming keyboards featuring quality mechanical switches for under $100, provided that’s your cup of tea. Generally speaking, proper mechanical switches have a nicer/firmer feel and they’re more reliable than membrane variants. Lower end/cheaper gaming keyboards use mushy plastic membranes instead of mechanical switches, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker if you’re not a maniac.
Just as a fun factoid, you must learn that Germans are God’s chosen engineers, and besides making the best cars in the world, they’re also behind the legendary Cherry MX keys, which incidentally make for the golden standard in the mechanical-switch industry. There are many Cherry MX varieties, but the most popular are Brown, Red and Blue. The reds are soft-touch and quiet, the browns are firmer yet also quiet, while the blues are resistant and clackety.
Mechanical switches aside, you’ll have to choose between two main types of keyboard design: there are generic-looking gaming keyboards, all-purpose models of sorts which look like regular office keyboards, and they’re perfect for RTS, FPS, MOBA or any other action/adventure variety. On the other hand, if you’re into MMO gaming, you should go for an MMO-centric keyboard that’s designed with up to 18 extra-keys for micro-management fanatics. Nota bene: if the space on your desk is severely limited, look for a slim/tenkeyless keyboard, you’ll thank us later.
Next, the fancy lightning factor comes to mind, and here you can choose between one color, full RGB illumination, and none whatsoever. Truth be told, illumination (or the lack thereof) on a gaming keyboard is hardly a deal-breaker in our book, so don’t sweat it too much in this regard. Finally, look for that Gestalt thing, i.e. if you already own a gaming mouse from, say Logitech, it would make sense to buy a Logitech gaming keyboard to match your setup, i.e. there’s a thing called software synchronicity or unified gaming software, and that stands true for big brands like Logitech, SteelSeries or Razer.
With all these in mind, let’s take a look at the best budget gaming keyboards available on the market, in no particular order.
Best Budget Gaming Mice
The Best Budget Gaming Keyboard Overall
Our first pick for today comes from Logitech. The G213 is a gaming keyboard which delivers advanced gaming-grade performance as it’s part of Logitech’s G Prodigy series. Even if this keyboard is relatively cheap, don’t let the “affordability” to blind you from the truth: the G213 is one of the company’s best sellers and for good reason, as it can be best described as “membrane for the masses” with RGB on top.
Even if you won’t get those glorified Cherry MX mechanical switches, this Logitech keyboard is pretty damn’ good, as it features Logitech ‘Mech-Dome’ switches and dedicated media controls, not to mention the fact that it’s spill-resistant (coffee anyone?) and boasts fully RGB backlit keys. Another thing we like about the G213 is that it weighs almost two pounds. You know that saying: heavy is good, heavy is reliable, if it doesn’t work, you can always hit your opponent with it.
Bottom line, if you’re on a tight budget, the Logitech G213 ticks all the important boxes and makes for a great gaming keyboard.
- amazing value for money
- impressive gaming performance regardless of the title
- in-house made hybrid mechanical-membrane key switches
- well built
- good design
- RGB illumination
- endless software customization via Logitech Gaming Software
- looks solid and it’s also great for typing
- syncs instantly with other Logitech G gear
- pretty close to a mechanical keyboard feel-wise
- non-removable braided USB cable
- huge footprint (you’re going to need a big desk for this one)
HyperX Alloy Core RGB
The Best Gaming Keyboard Under $50
HyperX are known for crafting kick-ass gaming paraphernalia, and their budget Alloy Core RGB stands true to this “standard” of sorts, making for a silent and comfy, not to mention spill-resistant gaming keyboard. Considering the price-point, it’s pretty obvious that you won’t get high-end mechanical switches, as the Alloy Core RGB retails for around “fiddy bucks” give or take, but nevertheless, you’ll get a lot of bang for the proverbial “dolla” asked.
To make it short and sweet, the HyperX Alloy Core RGB features a simple and clean design, and it comes with high-quality membrane keys, but truth be told, one of its main attributes is being very aesthetic. Basically, if you’re a fashion-conscious gamer on a tight budget, the Alloy Core RGB has your name on it, and even when it comes to performance, HyperX didn’t pull any punches with this budget gaming keyboard.
The membrane switches perform dubiously well, being highly responsive and accurate, and as far as entry-level gaming keyboards go, this is one of the best out there.
- comes with anti-ghosting technology and 6 key rollover
- fantastic design
- looks and feels premium
- well built
- good gaming performance
- suitable for typing
- it’s worth every penny
- awesome feel and response time for a “membrane”
- rather silent
- great mix of performance and luxury for tight budgets
- easy to setup (plug and play basically)
- light and easy to carry around
- full RGB lighting
- strangely enough there’s no support for HyperX Ngenuity software
Razer Cynosa Chroma
Reliable Low-Profile Gaming Keyboard
Next in line, we have the Razer Cynosa Chroma, which incidentally makes for the best-selling membrane gaming keyboard in the United States. And yes, that’s one of the reasons for which it made it on our best budget gaming keyboard list. Now, if you’re wondering why Americans are buying this gizmo in massive numbers, here’s a shortlist of reasons: first, it currently retails for about fifty bucks; and yes, we’re talking about a Razer gaming product, which is quite amazing. Next, it comes with individually backlit keys featuring customizable Chroma RGB lighting, along with a spill-resistant design and programmable macro functionality.
Are you sold yet? If not, check this out: the Razer Cynosa Chroma can execute up to 10 commands simultaneously as it features built-in ten-key rollover anti-ghosting. On top of that, the membrane switches support up to 80 million keystrokes, i.e. if durability is important in your book, the Cynosa Chroma has you covered in this regard.
- no-nonsense gaming-grade keyboard
- has everything a gamer needs
- features programmable soft cushioned individually RGB lit keys
- feels and looks more expensive than it is
- spill-resistant design
- low profile build
- Razer Synapse allows you to assign macros, rebind buttons and save profile config files in the cloud
- cool RGB implementation
- features 10-key rollover anti-ghosting
- very quiet
- good tactile experience
- amazing value for money
- lacks dedicated MACRO keys
SteelSeries Apex 3
An Excellent Combination of Performance and Price
SteelSeries Apex 3 is an affordable, feature-rich gaming keyboard that brings an excellent 10-zone RGB illumination, and first and foremost, provides a highly comfortable work.
It is very quiet and grants a great level of customization that allows for easy setup, not of only the already mentioned lighting, but macros and every single key on the keyboard. However, this only works only on Windows and Mac, while on Linux, you will get only partial support that doesn’t include keyboard remapping.
SteelSeries Apex 3 comes with durable and comfortable switches that, although not mechanical, allow for more than 20 million clicks and offer a premium feel. The keyboard itself is water-resistant and is made following IP32 water-resistant standards. Moreover, it comes along with a magnetic wrist rest, dedicated multimedia controls, and above all, it delivers everything expected from one of the best cheap gaming keyboards out there.
- Excellent RGB lighting
- Durable build
- Comfortable to use
- No mechanical switches
- No USB passthrough
CORSAIR K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard
Cheap Yet Sturdy Keyboard for Gaming
Next in line we have another interesting option, this time from Corsair, and yes, we’re talking about a cool looking budget gaming keyboard which currently retails for a tad under $50. To describe it in a few words, the CORSAIR K55 RGB punches way above its weight (in dollars), i.e. it offers features which are literally unexpected considering the price tag. Obviously, since we’re in $50 territory, the K55 RGB uses membrane switches, but they’re well implemented and whisper quiet.
Under the hood, you’ll discover 3 RGB lighting zones (there’s no per-key lighting this time, for cost-cutting reasons), but then again, this innovation is well implemented and the colors have a cool glow and manage to fill up space rather nicely. Despite being made of plastic, the K55 doesn’t feel or look cheap, as it’s sturdy and oozes quality. A nice touch from Corsair is the presence of six MACRO keys located on the left side, which can be programmed to execute/assign macros via the Cue software or even on-the-fly. There’s a dedicated button for that, a recording button respectively, placed at the top, and using it is super-easy.
- well built
- feels sturdy
- RGB lighting
- clean and eye-catching design
- dedicated MACRO buttons
- comes with detachable rubberized wrist rest
- Corsair’s Utility Engine (CUE) software is among the best out there
- surprisingly good gaming performance
- amazing value for money
- ideal entry-level gaming keyboard
- none really at this price
Cheap Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
With the Redragon K556 we’re entering uncharted territory, i.e. mechanical switches in a gaming keyboard which retails for just a bit over fifty bucks. It’s hard to believe, but the Redragon K556 managed to create a gaming keyboard featuring so-called mechanical brown switches and a high-quality aluminum base, not to mention RGB LED backlighting, at an impossibly low price-point. How did they do it? We have no idea, but at least on paper, the Redragon K556 sounds awesome.
How about real-life? Well, to begin with, the keyboard is pretty heavy and well built, and it’s backed by an 18-month manufacturer’s warranty, hence there are no unpleasant surprises in the workmanship department. The mechanical switches are the Chinese equivalent of the Cherry MX Brown, and truth be told, they’re surprisingly good. Overall, the K556 is a solid gaming keyboard, and offers quite a lot at an incredibly low price. Our advice is: definitely worth trying.
- mechanical switches
- aluminum base
- RGB LED lighting
- 8 spare switches included in the retail box
- anti-ghosting keys
- IP 67 certified (read waterproof)
- 18 backlit modes
- one hundred percent anti-ghosting
- adjustable brightness levels and pulsing rate
- 12 multimedia keys
- interchangeable WASD/arrow keys
- all non-conflict keys
- amazing value for money
- well built
- MACRO functionality via proprietary software
- too good to be true (just kidding)
A Solid Full-Sized Gaming Keyboard
If you are seeking an affordable, yet capable gaming keyboard that includes a solid build and good overall gaming performance, AUKEY KM-G12 mechanical keyboard is the thing for you.
This device comes with very good Outemu Blue switches that make a characteristic “clicky” sound, which may be a problem for some users. Nevertheless, these switches offer great durability, give a tactile feeling, and bring excellent responsiveness. In other words, every aspect important for good gaming performance is there.
AUKEY KM-G12 is fitted with 104 keys with anti-ghosting feature, and it comes with very good RGB lighting that provides 7 color presets and 12 lighting configuration presets, and can be fully customized through the G-aim software, which is unfortunately a bit buggy. Also, this gaming keyboard allows for saving of up to five different profiles on its built-in memory and offers great durability, not only because of its blue switches but also thanks to its ABS keycaps, and before anything else, sturdy steel body. These are the key reasons for its longevity.
All in all, if you need a solid gaming keyboard that can deliver a lot for its price, and you are willing to accept a few of its flaws, AUKEY KM-G12 is without a doubt the best affordable gaming keyboard available on the market.
- Blue switches
- Excellent durability
- Anti-ghosting feature
- A decent build quality
- Attractive-looking RGB lighting
- A bit loud
- Not the best software
AmazonBasics Mechanical Feel Gaming Keyboard
Today’s article would not have been complete without an in-house made Amazon product, hence here it comes: the AmazonBasics Mechanical Feel Gaming Keyboard. As far as inspired marketing goes, this product will definitely put a smile on your face, because after all, who can expect mechanical switches in a thirty dollar keyboard with AmazonBasics written all over it?
We’re just being mean, because this gaming keyboard is not bad at all, as it’s built to last and allows you to program custom macros via AmazonBasic’s proprietary gaming software. You also get dedicated MACRO keys, G1 to G5 respectively, and three mode keys, which means you’ll be able to use fifteen different macros. The switches feel pretty good and offer adequate tactile feedback, being rated at 10 million life cycles. On top of that, the AmazonBasics Mechanical Feel boasts its anti-ghosting technology, which allows you to press no less than nineteen keys at once.
Finally, the cherry on top so to speak, the keyboard features customizable backlighting, i.e. you can easily switch between three color profiles, provided that’s your thing.
- very affordable
- comes with all the important features in a gaming keyboard
- dedicated MACRO keys
- anti-ghosting technology
- looks nice
- decent build quality
- good value for money
- strobe, pulse, breath lighting effects via software
- pretty good for typing too
- there are some complaints from users regarding quality control
An Excellent Mechanical Gaming Keyboard for the Price
If you are willing to enter the world of mechanical gaming keyboards and are searching for a solid, well-built device that will give you the most for your buck, VicTsing Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is made for you.
However, don’t expect miracles, because certain compromises had to be made for this price, and one of them is the lack of dedicated customization software. Of course, there are other ways to cross that obstacle; but still, the existence of such software should give this keyboard even better value for the money.
VicTsing Mechanical Gaming Keyboard can work with both Windows and Mac; it has splash-resistant design and includes very good durability that comes as the result of its steel body, ABS caps, and of course, the inclusion of very good “clicky” Outemu switches that allow for some 50 million clicks and deliver a much-needed pleasant use and tactile feeling.
VicTsing Mechanical Gaming Keyboard comes with nine backlight modes; it is fitted with LED backlighting and offers an Anti-Ghosting feature that is a guarantee for smooth gaming.
In other words, everything needed for good-quality gaming is there and all you need to do is go get this without a doubt great device and one of the best budget-friendly gaming keyboards available on the market.
- Outemu Blue switches
- Splash resistant
- Anti-ghosting feature
- Durable build
- No customization software included