11 Best Gaming Keyboards in 2017

Best gaming keyboards of 2017
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 key caps.
  • Mechanical keyboards are usually more durable and many are constructed with metal back plates. 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 less 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 the best wireless keyboard or the best 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 includes:

  • 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 best 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 a 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 best gaming keyboard options have customizable lighting effects so you can program your keyboard to match your other peripherals, such as your gaming mouse and PC tower.

11 Best Gaming Keyboards of 2017

Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2

High-Quality Gaming Keyboard with Color Options

razer blackwidow chroma v2
The Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 features a large, padded ergonomic wrist rest for keeping you comfortable during long gaming sessions. It’s also fairly durable, but it has a high price point based on its many extra features.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Razer Green (Cherry MX Blue, Razer Orange and Razer Yellow also available)
  • Multimedia Keys: With Function Key Only
  • Macro Keys: 5 keys
  • Lighting: RGB/Razer Chroma
Pros:

  • High durability switches
  • Comes with ergonomic wrist rest
  • Headphone jack pass-through
Cons:

  • High price point
  • Heavy

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Steelseries Apex M500

Nice Gaming Keyboard with Blue LED

steelseries apex m500
The Steelseries Apex M500 is a fairly affordable mechanical gaming keyboard that can be completely programmed to suit your needs. It also features unique blue LED lighting and a simple design for casual gaming.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Cherry MX Red
  • Multimedia Keys: With Function Key Only
  • Macro Keys: None
  • Lighting: Blue LED Backlit
Pros:

  • Great for small desk
  • Simple, clean design
  • Highly customizable with software suite
Cons:

  • No color choices
  • No USB port for pass-through
  • Thicker design than most keyboards (sits higher)

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Logitech G413

The Best Budget Gaming Keyboard from Logitech

logitech g413
The Logitech G413 is a good option for gamers on a budget without the desire for excessive features and LED lighting. With its simple and stable design, you can game distraction-free.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Romer-G
  • Multimedia Keys: With Function Key Only
  • Macro Keys: None
  • Lighting: Red backlit
Pros:

  • Top layer of keyboard is aluminum
  • Very easy to clean off dust and crumbs
  • Feet are sturdy and help stability
Cons:

  • No number lock indicator
  • If pressing the key hard and/or fast, hitting the bottom makes a metallic sound
  • High actuation point might make this keyboard uncomfortable to type on

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Das Keyboard 4 Professional

The Best Mechanical Gaming Keyboard for Mac OS X

das keyboard 4 professional
The Das Keyboard 4 Professional is a high-end gaming keyboard that includes dedicated media control and an oversized volume knob. This keyboard is designed for Mac OS X, so may not be ideal for everyone.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Cherry MX Blue (Brown also available)
  • Multimedia Keys: Dedicated
  • Macro Keys: None
  • Lighting: None
Pros:

  • 2 USB – 3 ports on top right of keyboard to be used as a HUB
  • Mac-specific keys
  • Comes with an extra-long cable
Cons:

  • No backlighting
  • High price point for amount of features
  • Angle of keyboard is not ergonomic and may cause discomfort

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Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

Great Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with a Wrist Rest

corsair k95 rgb platinum
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is a hardcore keyboard designed for hardcore gaming. Not only does it include lots of lighting personalization options, it also features a textured duel-sided wrist rest for added comfort.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Cherry MX Speed (Brown also available)
  • Multimedia Keys: Dedicated
  • Macro Keys: 6
  • Lighting: RGB
Pros:

  • Onboard storage for 3 profiles including lighting and macros
  • Dual-sided wrist rest
  • Highly customizable lighting effects and macros through software suite
Cons:

  • Expensive
  • High actuation point, may be bad for people who rest hands on keyboard
  • Has a larger desk footprint than most keyboards

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Razer Ornata Chroma

The Best Gaming Keyboard with Mecha-Membrane Construction

razer ornata chroma
The Razer Ornata Chroma is a unique and impressive gaming keyboard made with a hybrid design between membrane and mechanical. It’s comfortable to use and even has programmable backlighting.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Razer Mecha-Membrane
  • Multimedia Keys: With Function Key Only
  • Macro Keys: None
  • Lighting: RGB/Razer Chroma
Pros:

  • Mid-profile keys for quick typing
  • Very comfortable wrist rest
  • Very light and compact
Cons:

  • No USB pass-through
  • Clicking sounds of keys may get annoying to some as they are a cross between mechanical and membrane switches
  • Fingerprints and oil/grease show up easily on keys

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Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum

Keyboard with Great Functionality

logitech g810 orion spectrum
The Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum is a high performance and very responsive gaming keyboard that collaborates with Logitech Gaming Software. This is a great customizable keyboard choice if you’re a fan of Logitech products.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Romer-G
  • Multimedia Keys: Dedicated
  • Macro Keys: None
  • Lighting: RGB
Pros:

  • Media keys have same feel as the rest of keyboard
  • Very durable keys
  • Able to disable any amount of keys when turning on game mode using software suite
Cons:

  • No USB pass-through
  • Very difficult to buy replacement keys due to Logitech exclusivity if any fail
  • Only able to set F1-12 as macro keys through software suite

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HyperX Alloy FPS

Good Keyboard under $100 for LAN Parties

hyperx alloy fps
The HyperX Alloy FPS is lightweight yet durable and comes with a detachable cable so you can take it with you to LAN parties. You can also get it in three different Cherry MX types.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Cherry MX Blue (Brown and Red also available)
  • Multimedia Keys: With Function Key Only
  • Macro Keys: None
  • Lighting: Red backlit
Pros:

  • Detachable cable for portability
  • Plenty of accessories
  • Very durable with steel frame
Cons:

  • USB port is not a pass-through port, only for charging
  • No color options
  • Distinctive branding logos may not match rest of your setup

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Cougar Attack X3 RGB

The Best Gaming Keyboard Under $100 for MMO Players

cougar attack x3 rgb
The Cougar Attack X3 RGB is a gaming keyboard made to have high accuracy and response times for enhanced gaming. It also has plenty of macro functions, making it a good choice for MMO players.

Specs

  • Switch Type: Cherry MX Red (Blue also available)
  • Multimedia Keys: With Function Key Only
  • Macro Keys: None
  • Lighting: RGB
    • Pros:

      • Very sturdy design with solid aluminum plate
      • Can switch modes and profiles on the fly
      • Very lightweight
      Cons:

      • No USB pass-through
      • Minimal lighting customization compared to other RGB keyboards
      • Requires 2 USB ports, one for function, one for full rollover

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      KrBn Mechanical Keyboard

      Good Cheap Gaming Keyboard with a Wrist Rest

      krbn mechanical keyboard
      The KrBn mechanical gaming keyboard is a very affordable keyboard that includes a phone holder for maximum functionality. It’s also fairly durable considering the low price point.

      Specs

    • Switch Type: Cherry MX Green equivalent
    • Multimedia Keys: With Function Key Only
    • Macro Keys: None
    • Lighting: 9 different colors
    Pros:

    • 3 spare switches and keycap puller included
    • Waterproof and easy to clean
    Cons:

    • No USB pass-through
    • Cannot change colors on keyboard, each row is fixed to a certain color
    • Large desk footprint due to wrist rest and phone holder

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    Corsair STRAFE

    Good Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Under $100

    corsair strafe
    The Corsair STRAFE is a highly functional mechanical gaming keyboard with great features for FPS and MOBA gamers. If you’re willing to pay a little extra you can also get this keyboard with RGB LED lighting.

    Specs

    • Switch Type: Cherry MX Red (Blue, Brown and Silent also available)
    • Multimedia Keys: Volume keys
    • Macro Keys: None
    • Lighting: Red backlit
    Pros:

    • Comes with interchangeable textured QWERASD keycaps
    • Minimalist design
    • Comprehensive software suite which allows full customization
    Cons:

    • Extra thick USB cord
    • Thick – resting your hands on the keyboard or typing might be uncomfortable
    • No color customization

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    How to Choose the Best Gaming Keyboard for the Best Investment

    If you’ve already chosen the best gaming motherboard, good graphics card and the best gaming mouse, you’re going to want to choose the best gaming keyboard to complete your ultimate gaming setup.

    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.

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