One of the great things about gaming is the fact there is a rig and peripheral for everyone. Whether you are searching for the best gaming keyboard for the road or a full-sized beauty, rest assured there is an option out there for you.
How to Choose the Best Gaming Keyboard
The first question you’ll want to ask yourself is the same question that comes into play with all gaming peripherals. What types of games do you play?
While a high-end RGB mechanical keyboard is easy on the eyes, you may want to spend more money on a good gaming mouse if you are a casual gamer or play the occasional shooter. If you spend most of your time with MMOs, you will definitely need a trusty keyboard on hand.
Mechanical or Membrane Keyboard?
This one is easy. If you want the best gaming keyboard, pick up one that’s mechanical. This style has individual “switches” that sit under each key. When you hit a key, the switch instantly sends that information to your PC. It’s simple and very effective as it allows you to type quicker and with more accuracy. In gaming, accuracy and responsiveness are crucial.
Keyboards sporting a rubber-dome system are typical and what you’ll generally find with PC bundles. They are cheaper to produce and use rubber domes and switches to create a circuit which sends a signal to your machine. They are quieter and lighter than their mechanical counterparts but don’t offer up as much tactile feedback.
Another significant difference lies in the design itself. Mechanicals keyboard will last considerably longer which make them a worthwhile investment for serious gamers. On the flipside, they cannot deal with liquids the same way a membrane keyboard can which means a split soda will bring your night to an end rather quickly or do serious damage.
If you are already sold on the idea of a membrane keyboard, you can skip this section it’s all about the switches. Cherry switches are by far the most popular brand around, and what you will find in top of the line gaming keyboards. They use a color-coded system which lets you know what to expect from their keys although gamers only need to focus on a few select hues.
- Red – These switches are smooth and responsive with very low resistance. They aren’t as loud as others, and ideal for some gamers although there’s no tactile bump.
- Black – This is another excellent linear switch for gamers and much firmer than the reds. The actuation force is set to 0.60 N whereas it’s 0.45 N on the Red, Browns and speed Silvers.
- Brown – If you prefer a tactile switch that’s similar to the Reds but with more resistance, the Cherry Brown MX switches are well worth a look. They are also the best option for consumers that game and work from their rigs.
- Blue – These have low resistance and are loud switches which give you an audible click. Fans of tactile keys will appreciate the Blues, especially if you’re a chatterer that enjoys in-game conversations or Discord groups.
- Green – The Cherry Red Green switches are similar to the Blue ones but are considered high resistance. This tactile key is popular, but not as prevalent as the Reds or Blues in gaming keyboards.
While there are other colors to consider when it comes to mechanical switches, these are the ones you’re most likely to encounter. Other manufacturers have also copied their system, so look for the Cherry moniker when colors are involved. They are the leader for a reason.
Whether you’re spending $50 bucks or $150 on a gaming keyboard, you want it to look cool. It needs to be comfortable to use as well, but not many gamers want a basic black keyboard when all their friends rock RGB systems. When it comes to the design, the first thing to focus on outside of its overall appearance would be the lighting.
RGB lighting is the most popular option in the gaming world today, and something you will find on all the best gaming keyboards. The differentiating factor lies in the software and how easy it is for you to customize the lighting to suit your needs. Some manufacturers handle this better than others, and shoddy software is not something you want to deal with.
As for the ergonomics, all the best gaming keyboards are built for comfort and speed. Just how comfortable it is for you depends on your style. We can’t help you with your posture, but a good wrist rest will help keep those fingers fresh during gaming sessions that last into the wee hours of the morning.
Wired or Wireless
This is an area that boils down to personal preference although there are a few factors that may sway your decision between a wired or wireless keyboard. The main advantage of wired models is the fact they don’t require batteries and are simply more responsive. You will never need to charge them up or cut a gaming session short when the juice runs out.
Technology has advanced to the point where manufacturers can make “reliable” models although the best wireless keyboard still can’t hold a candle to wired ones. In a nutshell, unless you detest cables or want to go wireless to game on the big screen, we highly recommend getting a wired keyboard for gaming.
Other areas to consider
Regardless of your price point, there are a handful of features that should remain high on your shopping list, and the first would be the cable. Ideally, you’ll want one that’s removable or braided USB pass-through is nice to have as well, but both of those features are hit or miss on even the top models.
Something that’s far more common are the feet. You can adjust across the board, but the quality and angles are important. The keys themselves are another area that is frequently overlooked. They should always be sturdy, but some come models with extra keycaps that are colored or textured to give you a competitive edge.
9 Best Gaming Keyboards to Buy in 2018
The Best Gaming Keyboard for MMORPG
This mechanical marvel comes from Corsair and is built to take a beating. It has a brushed aluminum frame for durability and comes with a detachable dual-sided wrist rest for comfort. The K95 RGB will keep your fingers fresh and is the perfect choice for traveling through the Maelstrom or Black Marsh.
The Corsair K95 RGB has everything you could want from a gaming keyboard. It’s responsive and quick enough for FPS games thanks to Cherry switches which come in either Red or Brown. There are a series of G-keys on one side and a gaming keypad on the other. Multimedia controls reside along the top as does a 19-zone light edge which pairs nicely with the RGB backlighting.
If you’re interested in the K95 RGB, there are several bundles to choose from although none are in the budget class. There are keyboard and mouse combos, and you can choose between Gunmetal or Black for the frame. There is really no weak point with this one aside from the price. It’s one of the more expensive keyboards on the market, but we have an excellent alternative if you find that price tag is too steep.
The Corsair Strafe RGB comes with Cherry Red MX keys and is quiet as they are linear in nature. You’ll also get USB pass-through to go along with a full set of keys and a set of MOBA and FPS keycaps. The Strafe has two variants as well with the RGB LED MK2 and a model with Red backlighting.
- Aircraft-Grade aluminum frame
- Cherry MX switches
- 100% anti-ghosting with rollover
- Cue Profiles w/ 8MB storage
- Detachable wrist rest
- Steep price tag
Very Durable Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Gamers that have large desks are going to love the HyperX Alloy Elite. It’s one of the bigger keyboards on the scene and one of the best. It is also an ideal choice if you’re looking to go from rubber-domed keys to mechanical ones.
As the name implies, the HyperX Alloy Elite has an RGB lighting system on board. It can reproduce any color you’d like and allows you to store three profiles for gaming on the go. To say its durable would be an understatement with a solid steel frame and a weight of 3.3 pounds. We’re also fans of the keycaps and the Cherry switches that lie beneath.
The HyperX Alloy Elite RGB is one of the company’s flagship keyboards, so you can expect dedicated media keys, USB 2.0 pass-through, and N-Keyroller with anti-ghosting tech. This keyboard is available in three finishes with your choice of MX switches from Cherry in Red, Blue or Brown.
- Radiant Light Bar
- Steel frame
- Cherry MX switches
- USB 2.0 pass-through
- Size and Price
A Beast in Tournament Play
Logitech pulled out all the stops for the G Pro Keyboard, and it is widely regarded as one of the best gaming keyboards on the market today. It’s built for tournament play and pairs nicely with the company’s G Pro FPS mouse and pad combo as well.
The first thing to note about this keyboard is the size. The Logitech G Pro measures 14.2 x 1.4 x 6, which is compact although it has a nice heft. It’s not going to slide around on the desk, and while it does not have Cherry switches, the Romer-G’s are responsive and similar to the browns. Other standout features to note include a removable braided cord, Game Mode, and an RGB lighting system capable of 16 million colors.
Gamers in need of a tenkeyless board will love this one. While the lack of a numeric pad will turn some away, the trade-off is well worth it if you’re into the tournament scene. It’s fast, portable, and looks great when the lights are on full display.
- Game Mode
- Compact Design
- Great Software
- Onboard Profile
- No USB pass-through
- Lack of macros
- No palm rest
A Colorful Full-Sized Keyboard
Versatility is key in the gaming world as what works for one, may not work for another. Razer knows this, and the Black Widow Chroma V2 brings something for everyone to the table whether you like clicky keys or prefer to run silently.
Razer opted for their mechanical switches instead of using Cherries, but that’s not a bad thing as they are guaranteed for 80,000 strokes. The Green V2 is our top choice as it has 1000Hz ultrapolling and 10 key anti-ghosting. This full-sized keyboard has a slick Chroma RGB lighting system which puts on quite the show.
The “Green” version of the Chroma V2 is tactile and clicky while the Orange model is still tactile but deemed silent. If you prefer a linear experience, the Yellow switches are silent as well. All three have similar tech specs and carry the same price point. The Widow certainly isn’t the best cheap gaming keyboard, but one to consider if you need a top-tier device.
- USB Pass-through
- 3.5mm audio jack
- Padded wrist rest
- Great software
- Macro keys
- No media keys
The Best Gaming Keyboard Under $100
If you loved what Logitech did with the G Pro gaming keyboard, but need something full-sized, we have just the thing for you. The Logitech G810 Orion takes full advantage of the company’s tech and is an excellent all-arounder for games and average folk alike.
The G810 Orion has the same slick lighting system found on the G Pro, but with some extra bells and whistles. The numerical pad is back and so are media keys which allow you to control playback. Need to adjust the volume on the fly? That’s easy thanks to the volume roller, and there’s a mute button for when you need to kill the sound as well.
Logitech went with Romer-G switches for this model, so you won’t find the Cherry MX’s under those caps. It’s still very responsive, however, with a great-looking lighting system and provides a lot of bang for your buck.
- Media and volume keys
- 26-key rollover
- Solid performance all-around
- Great value
- Cable doesn’t detach
- No pass-through
- Windows only
Style and Speed
This funky keyboard stands out from the rest due to its design which incorporates floating keycaps. The MK750 can put on quite the light show while the macro system allows you to make adjustments in a matter of seconds.
Cooler Master has produced a quick, capable keyboard in the MK750. It’s mechanical with an RGB lighting system and sports a padded removable wrist rest. The USB-C cable is braided and removable as well. Tech specs for this board include a 32-bit ARM processor, 6/N-key rollover, and a set of purple PBT gaming keycaps.
While full-sized, the company kept the dimensions down on this one so it won’t take up much space on your desk. It’s also suitable for all styles considering it’s available in three different options with Cherry MX Brown, Red or Blue switches. If you don’t dig the floating keycap design and prefer something smaller, the MasterKeys Pro M RGB is a solid tenkeyless device that will wreak absolute havoc in tourneys.
- Floating keycap design
- Excellent lighting system
- Great software
- Durable replacement keycaps
- No Pass-through
- Wrist rest hides the bottom light bar
- Similar alternatives with a better price
An Interesting Hybrid
Mechanical keyboards aren’t for everyone, and it can be tough to make the jump. The Razer Ornata Chroma will help ease those transition pains with its hybrid mecha-membrane key system which looks great alongside the company’s Chroma lighting array.
Mecha-membrane keys are a revamped version of the old rubber-domed keys, but with a twist. That twist is a little switch that makes a “clicking” sound when you press a key. It’s not quite as useful as we’d like considering the keys still bottom out with that click, but a step up from traditional domes. Aside from that, it has a similar style and features set to BlackWidow Chroma V2 – definitely not a bad thing.
- Unique Mecha-Membrane keys
- 16.8 Million color options
- 10-key rollover anti-ghosting
- Comfy wrist rest
- Price compared to mechanical keyboards
- No pass-through
- Lack of extras
A Quick, Colorful Keyboard
SteelSeries has been a fan favorite for years, and the company has done an admirable job with the Apex M750. It’s a full-sized keyboard with a metal shell, but one that’s a little light when it comes to flagship features.
The highlight of this keyboard would be the RGB lighting system and the frame. You can set up the system to keep you in the loop countless ways, and the floating key design really allows those colors to pop. The frame ensures the lights and switches stay safe, but they did not use Cherries. Instead, you’ll get QX2, their linear answer to the leader in switches.
When it comes to performance, the SteelSeries M750 won’t disappoint although it will be an acquired taste for some. It’s a bit light on features compared to other models at this range although the lighting and build quality may be an even trade-off for some gamers.
- Easy on the eyes
- Metal frame
- 100% anti-ghosting
- Amazing lighting system
- Basic features for the price
- Lack of media keys
- No pass-through
The Best Budget Gaming Keyboard
Logitech has always been great about providing gaming gear at a discount while still catering to hardcore gamers needs. The Logitech G413 falls into the budget-friendly category which makes it the perfect option for beginners or gamers looking for an affordable mechancial option.
This is another full-sized keyboard although one that leaves a light footprint behind. The G413 Carbon has a full array of function keys to go along with the classic numerical keypad. It has a nice design as well with a brushed aluminum top which is highlighted by lighting from below. The keyboard uses Romer-G mechanical switches, which aren’t Cherries but will get the job done.
Logitech may have left out a few features on the G413 although the biggest drawback is an inclusion. That would be the lighting system, which is limited to Red; something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a more colorful keyboard.
- Game Mode
- USB pass-through
- Additional keycaps
- Backlighting limited to Red