If you’re a gamer, your keyboard is the hub of your gaming activities. Almost everything you need to do in a PC game requires the use of a keyboard, whether you’re moving your character through the battlefield in an FPS game or choosing which spells to cast in an MMO. Without a gaming keyboard, you’d be virtually stranded. That’s why it’s essential that you take some time to find the best keyboard for your needs, personal taste, gaming style and budget.
When attempting to choose the best keyboard for gaming, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your play style? How much desk space do you have?
- Do you prefer keys with lots of tactical response or would you rather use keys that only require a soft press?
- Are you interested in LED lighting and customization options?
- What kind of gamer are you? Do you want to be able to have plenty of macros for a smoother gaming experience or are you more focused on keeping your gaming peripherals as simple and clean as possible?
No matter what your answers may be, you should start your search for the best gaming keyboard by taking some time to understand keyboard specifications, features and functions.
Things to Consider When Choosing The Best Gaming Keyboard
Membrane vs Mechanical Keyboards
In general, membrane and mechanical keyboards have many similarities and the same general features. But in membrane keyboard keys are all connected with pressure pads, while mechanical keyboard keys are made up of individual switches underneath each key. Here are a few things to consider if you’re not sure which one to buy:
Pros of a Membrane Keyboard over a Mechanical Keyboard
- Membrane keyboards usually have a simple, “one size fits all” function and design. Anyone can use a membrane keyboard for basic computing.
- Membrane keyboards are often much cheaper than mechanical keyboards, so they’re a good option if you’re looking for the best budget gaming keyboard you can find. You can even get a membrane keyboard with LED lighting and it may still be cheaper than many mechanical keyboard options.
- Membrane keyboards are usually much quieter than mechanical keyboards (although you can find quieter switch types available for mechanical keyboards). This makes membrane keyboards a popular choice for office work.
- Membrane keyboards have a very soft feel that some people may prefer.
Pros of a Mechanical Keyboard over a Membrane Keyboard
- Mechanical keyboards come with a wide range of options for tactile feedback, audible noise and resistance. Membrane keyboards, however, have very minimal feedback options (most have a “squishy” feel that usually isn’t ideal for gaming).
- Mechanical keyboards can be customizable. You can swap out individual keys for a different set if you want or need to change your key switch types. You can also add personalized keycaps.
- Mechanical keyboards are usually more durable and many are constructed with metal backplates. Although there are some exceptions, membrane keyboards generally wear out much faster than mechanical keyboards.
- Mechanical keyboard users will generally experience less fatigue than membrane keyboard users because mechanical keyboards do not require the user to press all the way down.
- Mechanical keyboards can improve overall commuting experience for gamers based on their range of options for personalization and customization.
Wired vs Wireless
While many keyboards come with an attached wire, there are also several wireless options. Wireless options are beneficial for people who need to move around a lot or game from a chair, couch or the floor. Having a wireless keyboard also means you have fewer cables to clutter up your gaming area. If you’re searching for the best wireless gaming keyboard, always consider connectivity. For example, with Bluetooth wireless keyboards, you can free up USB space.
Wireless keyboards can be convenient and lightweight, but they also have some cons. Wireless gaming keyboards require batteries, and heavy gaming sessions can drain batteries extremely quickly. Wireless keyboards also usually require you to download software and programming to make the keyboard functional.
Many wireless keyboards don’t come with number pads and are usually very small; this means they also lack extra features such as dedicated macro keys that many gamers rely on. Overall, wired keyboards are usually much more functional and reliable. You don’t have to worry about charging it or having connectivity problems. As always, personal preference is a major factor depending on whether or not you want a wireless keyboard or mechanical gaming keyboard.
Key Switch Types
There are three types of switch behaviors:
Linear. This is when the key is just a simple press with force. When it hits the bottom, it quickly comes straight back up due to the spring inside of the switch. There is no extra sound or feedback to let you know when it actuates. Actuation refers to when the key activates and sends the key press to the computer to register it on screen. Linear keys are preferred by gamers because of the ability to press the key rapidly.
Click. This is one of the most commonly known mechanical switch types. Click keys have a loud audible click when actuated and also give a small tactile bump. These are generally preferred by typists because you can hear an audible click noise whenever you’ve successfully entered a key; this can increase typing efficiency.
Tactile. These keys are quieter than the traditional mechanical keyboards and offer a tactile bump when the actuation point is reached. These are the most popular mechanical switch types for offices as they are less noisy but still alert the user when the key actuates.
What are Cherry Mechanical Switches?
The most popular brand of mechanical switches is Cherry. They offer a very wide range of keyboard products and are often considered the best in the market. All major keyboard manufacturers have at least one keyboard with the Cherry MX switches inside them.
The most commonly used Cherry MX switches include:
- Blue: Click Tactile. 50g actuation force. One of the loudest switches.
- Red: Linear. 45g actuation force. Most popular amongst gaming keyboards due to low actuation and linear style. Also, there’s Silent Red version which is the same but quieter.
- Black: Linear. 60g actuation force. Requires more force than Reds so may cause more finger strain in prolonged sessions of typing or gaming. Resets quicker due to stronger spring. Also, a Silent Black version is available.
- Brown: Tactile. 45g actuation force. Like the Blue but without the click noise and softer press required to reach the actuation point. Similar to rubber domes and membrane keys. Great for beginner mech keyboard purchases. Good for typists and office users.
- Green: Click Tactile. 70g actuation force. Identical to Blue but require much more force to press down. As with Black, may cause finger strain with prolonged use.
- Clear. Tactile. 65g actuation force. Similar to Browns but require more force and the bump is considered to be more noticeable.
- Silver (Speed): Linear. 45g actuation force. Has a lower actuation point than all Cherry switches at 1.2mm. Most preferred by professional gamers who need rapid key presses to remain competitive. Not ideal for typists as mistakes can easily be made.
Other Popular Switches
You may notice when looking at some cheaper mechanical keyboards that they state their switches are “Cherry equivalent”, which means they are copies of Cherry switches and not genuine. Two popular brands of keyboards, Razer and Logitech, are branching out into their own switches or commissioning other companies to make switches solely for them.
Razer has their own brand of switches. Their primary types are similar to Cherry.
- Razer Green: Click Tactile. 50g actuation force. Similar to Cherry MX Blue.
- Razer Orange: Tactile. 45g actuation force. Similar to Cherry MX Brown.
- Razer Yellow: Linear. 45g actuation force. Quiet and quick to press in. Similar to Cherry MX Silver/Speed. Same actuation point.
Logitech have employed Omron to create a set of mechanical keys for their keyboards called Romer-G. These keys have a higher actuation point of 1.5mm so they do not need to be pressed as far as normal Cherry MX keys, which require 2mm (with the exception of Silver/Speed). Romer-G keys have an actuation force of 45g. Many users compare them to Cherry MX Brown.
Cherry, Razer or Logitech – which has the best keys? There is a different durability for each. The highest durability rating is the Razer switches at 80 million presses. Romer-G is at 70 million and Cherry MX switches are the lowest at 50 million.
Key Switches and O Rings
Some people use little rubber circles called O rings to put inside the keycaps to minimize the distance the key can be pressed until it hits the bottom. These are frequently used on Cherry MX Blues. Applying an O-ring can help manage noise as well as reduce the time for the key to reset to its natural position.
Finding the Right Keys for You
There are key testers available as cheap as $10 that include all the different key types on one switch. You can purchase one of these and test all the keys yourself to find out what you like the best. This is a great way to ultimately save yourself time, stress and money in the long run. If you don’t want to spend any money to test out keys, you can visit your nearest electronic or keyboard retailer and try out different types of keys in-store.
Keyboard Design and Extra Features
The best gaming keyboard options should come with intriguing designs, extra features and options for customization. Here are a few features to look out for:
- Media controls. Many of the gaming keyboards come with easy-access media controls so you can skip through videos and turn up or down the volume without needing to reach for your mouse.
- Dedicated macro keys and extra buttons. These are helpful for quickly managing controls and dedicating certain keys for specific activities. Having macros is a great way to save time by only needing to press one button rather than attempting a difficult combo just to make one move in a game. However, extra dedicated keys will increase the size of a keyboard. For FPS players, macro keys generally aren’t required. However, for MMOs and MOBAs, macro keys can make gaming much more functional and immersive.
- Appearance. Keyboards come in many shapes and designs; some even have interesting or distinctive fonts and key shapes. There are also many ergonomic keyboards and keyboards with wrist pads to help prevent wrist fatigue.
- RGB lighting effects. With a keyboard that lights up, you’ll never have to worry about gaming in the dark and typing blind. Many of the gaming keyboards have customizable lighting effects so you can program your keyboard to match your other peripherals, such as your gaming mouse and PC tower.
12 Best Gaming Keyboards of 2019
Razer Huntsman Elite
One of the Fastest Keyboards Ever Built
There are not that many products, in any industry, that are bringing something revolutionary, something innovative that should bring a more than beneficial gain to the customer. Such products, although rare, do exist and one of them is the Razer Huntsman Elite keyboard, which introduces a brand new optomechanical switch (uses a light beam for transferring a signal from the keyboard) to the industry. As a result of that, this keyboard offers precise and super-fast typing experience, which exceeds the mechanical keyboards that used to be in the tops of the charts in these areas.
Other than this key feature, there is also an “underglow” backlighting, which is cool but is not always visible, key stabilizer bar, gaudy wrist rest and a lot more.
The device itself looks futuristic and allows for easy customization with the help of the Razer’s Synapse 3 software that is good but demands a more user-friendly interface. Surprisingly for any Razer keyboard, Huntsman Elite comes with discrete media controls (which are completely unusual for this company that used to completely ignore this dedicated media keys approach).
Altogether, Razer Huntsman Elite is a unique, but very costly and power-consuming device (it demands two USB ports). Nevertheless, its premium performance and the overall great typing experience is what makes this keyboard worth every cent.
- Requires two USB ports for power
SteelSeries Apex M750 RGB
A Sleek Mechanical Keyboard for eSports
Gorgeously designed with intuitive illumination and equipped with QX2 linear mechanical switches that are constructed for speed and comfortability, SteelSeries Apex M750 RGB is good, although a bit expensive solution for eSport fans.
Unfortunately, the device itself is nowhere near perfect and has some minor issues, such as the lack of discrete media keys. Also, it is not that great for typing and is a bit loud, but luckily all this is acceptable looking strictly from the gamer’s perspective. The keyboard’s dimensions are smaller than of its competition, but that doesn’t influence its usability and functionality, while its 5000 series aluminum alloy build guarantees for durability.
With the help of the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, SteelSeries Apex M750 RGB allows for easy customization of every single key on the keyboard, creation of custom game profiles and full control over the RGB lighting. Illumination itself offers various options, from static light, to rainbow waves and even synchronization with other useful programs.
Overall, SteelSeries Apex M750 RGB offers a good eSport experience but lacks some of the features that serious gamers would really appreciate. Altogether, it represents a decent choice that would, in general, please most users.
- Great illumination
- Nice software
- Not that great for moving around
- Limitations in RGB customization
One of the First Wireless Mechanical Keyboards on the Market
For a long time, mechanical keyboards have been available only in corded version, but that situation is slowly changing, and CORSAIR K63 Wireless is proof for that, although it is only the second mechanical wireless keyboard ever.
Surprisingly or not, this wireless keyboard has the same characteristics as its corded “brother” and shines in every game scenario type with ease. There is no lag, delay, or anything similar.
CORSAIR K63 Wireless is equipped with Cherry MX Red switches, discrete one-color backlight, 2.4GHz and Bluetooth wireless and comes in a tenkeyless design that surely won’t be fancied by everyone. Its frame is made out of anodized brushed aluminum that guarantees for its longevity, while its battery allows for only up to 75 hours of work, which will force you to charge it on a weekly basis.
Altogether, if you want a wireless keyboard with the precision, durability and top-class game performance of the regular corded mechanical one, CORSAIR K63 Wireless is the only real choice for you.
- Good price
- Wireless mechanical keyboard
- Great wireless connection
- Short battery life
- Single color backlight
Logitech G513 RGB
A Mechanical Keyboard that Guarantees for an Amazing Gaming Experience
Finding a proper keyboard or any other type of hardware that will perfectly suit your gaming is never an easy thing to do. Luckily, there are devices that don’t bring a huge difference compared to the competition, but still offer something different that will make you feel special during your gaming. Logitech G513 RGB is exactly that type of device.
Attractive, comfortable, built to last, with brushed aluminum alloy frame and Romer G tactile mechanical switches that guarantee for a top-notch performance, this keyboard is a dream coming true for any serious gamer. Both playing and typing are amazing with this device, while the RGB lighting brings a completely new dimension when compared to other keyboards.
Thanks to the implementation of the Lightsync function, this keyboard allows for a full game integration of more than 300 titles, including Battlegrounds, Mass Effect Andromeda, Battlefield 1, etc. in a way that the RGB changes according to the events in the game and that way contributes to the overall gaming experience.
In other words, if you are looking for a high-quality gaming keyboard that will bring you a premium experience and rise to an even higher level, Logitech G513 RGB is the right device for you.
- Amazing RGB lighting
- Romer-G Linear switches
- Great build quality
- No dedicated media keys
ROCCAT Vulcan 100
A Unique and Attractive Keyboard Destined for Die-hard Gaming
Finding something unique, but functional at the same time, is never easy. Fortunately, such products do exist and one of them is ROCCAT Vulcan 100 keyboard that offers unusual, but highly efficient design.
This device is expensive, but for the price, you are getting more than a fair value, including ROCCAT Titan switches, great lighting, including RGB backlight and overall premium quality.
What separates this device from the rest is, first and foremost, its appearance: it looks like half of the keyboard is missing because the keys are connected straight to the metal board and look as they are missing protective cover. Although this might look like the keys are more prone to mechanical problems, the fact is that this approach brings more benefits than a classical design. The board is much more accessible, and therefore, much easier to clean, while the keys actually prove to be very sturdy and tough.
ROCCAT Vulcan 100 guarantees for premium performance in both typing and gaming, while its clever Roccat Swarm software allows for full customization of the RGB, including the color of each key individually.
Very strong, with great performance and only a few downsides, such as the lack of macro keys, this keyboard is an exceptional choice and overall a great product that just can’t fail.
- Excellent RGB
- Easy to clean
- Titan switch
- Superb performance
- No media keys
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum
A Keyboard Built for a Pure Gaming Pleasure
CORSAIR K95 RGB PLATINUM is a super-responsive keyboard packed with a ton of features that would delight every gamer. There are Cherry MX Speed mechanical key switches, six programmable macro keys, nice wrist rest, media controls, USB passthrough, great RGB lighting and a lot more.
If you are into hardcore gaming, especially FPS titles or the games that demand the speedy reaction, this keyboard is destined for you. For other game types, this device might be too responsive and could result in unwanted actions, while typing itself looks kinda strange at the beginning and is pretty loud.
Its Corsair Utility Engine software is robust and offers numerous options for customization, especially RGB lighting, but unfortunately isn’t as intuitive as it should be. Also, the keyboard itself comes with its own storage and allows for saving of different profiles on it, which can prove to be very handy.
Altogether, CORSAIR K95 RGB PLATINUM is a superb device, but isn’t for everybody. That’s not just because of the extremely high price, but because it isn’t built for every purpose, but mostly for FPS action games (in which it blasts).
- Great features
- Cherry MX Speed switches
- Excellent RGB lighting
- Quality built
- Not that intuitive software
Razer Ornata Chroma
An Affordable Keyboard Hybrid well Suited for Serious Gaming
A very innovative design, which combines the mechanical switch with a silicone dome, in order to create an equally successful device for both typing and gaming, is the Razer Ornata Chroma’s most important characteristic. These new switches are called Mecha-Membrane keys and supposedly they deliver the best from both the worlds.
In reality, the performance and the whole experience are good, but not perfect. You should be aware that this is not a full mechanical keyboard and as such, it isn’t that sufficient in gaming, but still presents a drastically better performance than non-mechanical devices, while the typing demands for a bit more acclimatization. In other words, if the keyboards with the silicone rubber keypads aren’t enough for you and you want a more affordable option for your playing, Razer Ornata Chroma is the device you should be considering.
This device doesn’t come with a ton of features; on the contrary, it offers only the basics, with the exception of high-quality RGB that allows for numerous customization options and overall great lighting experience thanks to the Razer Synapse software.
On the other hand, there is a 3.5” padded wrist rest and a very convenient 10-Key Rollover Anti-Ghosting function, which allows for simultaneous execution of up to 10 commands.
Overall, Razer Ornata Chroma is an affordable, top-notch performing keyboard that is a superb choice for gamers with a limited budget.
- Good price
- Quality game performance
- Limited features
CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 SE
One of the Best All-around Keyboards Ever
Multipurpose keyboards have become pretty uncommon these days and finding one that offers equally great performance in more than one area, almost impossible to find. Fortunately, these “holy grails” still do exist and the best proof for that is the CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 SE keyboard.
Beautiful and efficient, with a great combination of hardware, this device is an excellent package for various types of users. There are Cherry MX switches that bring supreme reliability and precision, iCUE software, which is, without a question, the best keyboard software on the market, and dedicated media controls. Also, there is 8MB profile storage, per-key RGB backlighting and side lighting with an almost unlimited number of customization options, and much more.
CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 SE is simply a masterpiece that will buy you with its versatility and overall quality. Top-notch performance and components usually lead to a “spicier” price and this keyboard is no exception to that rule, but luckily, it delivers so much that you will very quickly forget about the high cost.
Altogether, this device delivers a great value for the money and surely is the best all-purpose keyboard available on the market.
- Great features
- Excellent RGB
- Premium quality components
HyperX Alloy Elite RGB
A Bit Underestimated High-Performing Keyboard
HyperX Alloy Elite RGB is a keyboard that is trying so hard to be a superb product, but because of more than a few issues, presents only a decent alternative to other same-class devices, but never the first choice. Don’t be fooled, this keyboard delivers great performance and comes with a great hardware package, but it seems as it needs more refinement to be amazing.
There are Cherry MX switches, gorgeous RGB lighting with a ton of customization options, including numerous lighting effects and even the radiant light bar. Also, there are media keys, and a soft-touch coated wrist rest that unfortunately seems a bit outdated.
Regrettably, the list of HyperX Alloy Elite RGB downsides doesn’t end there but also includes an oversized and troubling NGenuity software, rather large design which makes it fairly unpractical, and on top of all that, there is a price tag that is nowhere near affordable.
Altogether, this keyboard looks like a great idea that went a bit off the track during the development. In other words, it is good, but it could have been great.
- Simply design
- Cherry MX switches
- Great performance
- Troubling software
Logitech G613 Lightspeed
A Wireless Mechanical Keyboard that is a Perfect Fit for Both Typing and Gaming
If you are among those who are tired of cables and their limitations but still want the quality and the latency-free experience that the cabled keyboards are bringing, Logitech G613 Lightspeed might be the best choice for you.
Similar to Corsair K63 Wireless, this keyboard offers great lag-free gaming, but also allows for superb typing experience, which is achieved thanks to the use of the special Romer-G key switches that have a shorter travel distance than ordinary keyboards. Unfortunately, this multipurpose design kinda slows this keyboard down a bit and makes it less responsive than the K63, but on the other hand, makes it a great choice for users who are not only into gaming but also productive work.
This keyboard is equipped with an excellent Lightspeed wireless technology, handy Bluetooth, six macro keys, the superb battery life of up to 18 months, discrete media keys and a lot more. Unfortunately, some of the features had to be cut off because of the battery longevity, such as the RGB lighting and a USB passthrough that are increasingly important for today’s gamers, but still, that doesn’t ruin the overall positive feeling about this great device.
To simplify, if you need a great multipurpose wireless mechanical keyboard, Logitech G613 Lightspeed is a great, if not the only choice you have.
- Exceptional wireless connectivity
- No backlighting
- No USB pass-through
HyperX Alloy FPS RGB
An Affordable, but Excellent-Performing Mechanical Keyboard
HyperX Alloy FPS RGB is a great mechanical keyboard that offers great performance at an affordable price. Of course, this means that some of the features, such as the discrete media keys and wrist rest, had to be cut off, but that doesn’t impact the whole gaming experience that much in the first place because they are mainly used to make things easier.
Another thing that influenced the cost reduction is certainly a usage of Kailh Silver switches, instead of Cherry MX Silver ones (that are not just more expensive, but also more responsive and fluid than their Kailh Silver counterparts). In other words, the performance also suffers a bit with these savings, but altogether the HyperX Alloy FPS RGB is still a great product, with ridiculously fast keys and exceptional value for the money.
Its NGenuity software is problematic as always, but that goes with the territory and is something you need to count on when buying HyperX keyboards. On the other hand, HyperX Alloy FPS RGB comes with a detachable power cable, while its RGB lighting is stunning and is one of the best you can find on the market.
With a solid frame, amazing performance and altogether a fair price, this keyboard is a perfect choice for eSport fans and FPS gamers that want a premium quality but are limited with their budget.
- Good price
- Nice RGB
- Excellent performance
- Troubling software
CORSAIR Strafe RGB MK.2
A Second-Generation Keyboard that Comes with All the Needed Upgrades
Making a quality product is never easy, but if you listen to the market and what users have to say, its upgraded version might be great stuff. Such a scenario perfectly reflects the situation with the CORSAIR Strafe RGB MK.2 keyboard that presents an improved version of its predecessor, with each of its major flaws fixed, resulting in an amazing device.
This mechanical keyboard comes with all the features you would expect from a mechanical keyboard of the highest class, such as Cherry MX silent switch and dedicated media buttons. Also, there is a volume scroll bar, braided cable, 8MB profile storage, USB pass-through, and much more.
What makes it stand out from the bunch is RGB lighting that is fully customizable and optional, with an almost unlimited number of available lighting effects, including color selection for each key individually, which can be easily achieved with the help of iCUE software.
What, on the other hand, isn’t that great, is the power cable thickness (which is unusually large) and its need for two USB ports, along with the lack of wrist rest comfortability expected from this class of keyboards.
Overall, CORSAIR Strafe RGB MK.2 is an exceptional product with just a few minor glitches and generally presents a superb solution for various gaming enthusiasts.
- Nice set of features
- Cherry MX Silent switches
- Sleek design
- Thick cable
How to Choose the Best Gaming Keyboard for the Best Investment
If you’re looking to buy the best keyboard for hardcore gaming, we recommend choosing a wired keyboard with mechanical switches that has been optimized specifically for gaming. Among those categories, look for keyboards that are best suited to your gaming style and needs for portability and design. Lastly, think about what you’d like in terms of aesthetics, lighting and customization.
Whether you’re searching for the gaming keyboard under 50 dollars or the mechanical keyboard with all the bells and whistles, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you’re a gamer, consider investing in the gaming keyboard for your needs by finding something that you will actually enjoy gaming with for years to come.