The right gaming keyboard ultimately comes down to the right feel while you’re playing. Membrane switches are familiar, but often spongy. Mechanical keyboards offer key switches that are responsive when typing or moving in a game, and feel good to push down. That feel is important, because the keyboard is the peripheral you’ll spend the most time with at your PC, and it has to feel right. We tested a wide range of keyboards, membrane and mechanical, to find the ones that felt best for gaming.
The best mechanical gaming keyboard
- Front and back feet and attachable wrist rest make the K70 ergonomically adjustable
- Useful media keys don't require any special software
- Great-feeling mechanical Cherry switches
Corsair’s Vengeance line is a series of mechanical keyboards that are beautifully designed. The keys look—and feel—like they’re floating, due to the open structure of the board’s layout, and the base of the board includes lots of brushed aluminum. They keys themselves have a slightly textured, rubber feel, particularly on the spacebar and replaceable WASD keys (more on that later). The result is a keyboard that feels good on your fingertips.
We like the Corsair Vengeance K70 for its responsiveness, but also for its ergonomics. It includes a textured wrist rest that matches the feel of the space bar. In additional to the two feet stands near the back of the board, Corsair also includes stands near the front, which raises the keyboard significantly and makes typing and general use more ergonomically friendly. It’s a nice touch, and one that the other keyboards we tested neglected.
The best budget mechanical keyboard
- Solid feel despite a budget price
- Detachable micro USB cable makes the QuickFire Rapid conveniently portable
- Not as comfortable as the Corsair K70
- No wrist rest included
It’s not the cheapest keyboard you can get, but Cooler Master’s QuickFire Rapid is a fantastic mechanical gaming keyboard for the price. The tenkeyless version still uses full-size keys, and the Cherry MX Blue switches on the model in our office have a satisfying click when depressed. Most people prefer Blues for typing rather than gaming, but you can also get the keyboard with Brown or Red switches more ideal for gaming.
The entire board has a nice, solid, rubberized feel, with gives the keys a great texture. Media controls are activated through a function (Fn) key down on the right-hand side, but all work at an OS level. Like the Corsair K70, the Storm Rapid I doesn’t require any additional software for its media functions or backlighting programming. We also really love the detachable USB Micro cable, which makes this a great keyboard for LAN gaming.
The best high-end customizable gaming keyboard
- Blue, Brown, Black, Red, Green, and Clear Cherry MX key options
- Customizable key layouts and keycaps
- Totally custom colors and designs
WASD’s keyboards are elegant, so much so that the WASD V2 is our keyboard of choice on the Large Pixel Collider. That elegance comes from the fact that the keyboard is fully customizable, and WASD gives you lots of options when you order.
The WASD V2 on the online store starts gloriously pristine, and it's up to you to fill in everything from key layout to printing.
The best non-mechanical gaming keyboard
- Mappable keys and thumb buttons for gaming
- Membrane keys don't have the same satisfying click
- No dedicated media buttons
If you’re not sold on mechanical switches for your gaming, you still have a lot of options for membrane keyboards. Our favorite for gaming is Razer’s Anansi, which uses the exact same layout from Razer’s Black Widow line, but without the clickity-clack that the Black Widow Ultimate is known for.
The Anansi includes five configurable keys on the left hand side, labeled M1 - M5, as well as seven additional media-like buttons below the spacebar that are easy to reach with your thumb. There are no dedicated media buttons, but you can control volume and playback through Function keys. Razer’s software is easy to use for lighting and binding control, and will also play nicely if you use one of Razer’s many gaming mice.
How we test gaming keyboards and others we tested
Your keyboard is the first point of contact between you and your computer. It’s how you communicate, how you tell your PC to do what you need it to do. For PC gamers, it’s even more: the keyboard is your go-to tool for winning, fragging, conquering. It's the defining component of PC gaming, what separates it from being just another console. Most of the time, we don’t want some proprietary gamepad—we want WASD.
Because keyboards are so subjective, we’ve also also chosen the best alternatives in three categories: high-end, budget, and non-mechanical.
Testing gaming keyboards
We chose our favorite gaming keyboard by typing lots of words (and playing lots of games) on a wide selection of keyboards available today. We scoured message boards and customer reviews to develop an initial list of models, based on real-world feedback. Then we spent hands-on time with our list, testing each keyboard with day-to-day use on work machines, and playing FPS games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and RPGs such as Wasteland 2.
We put our hands on a whole bunch of gaming keyboards in the process of testing for this article. The Corsair Vengeance K70 came out on top, but here are some of the other keyboards we researched or tested before choosing our favorite.
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate:
Razer premium keyboard is a nice full-sized board with extremely clacky keys, but doesn’t offer much for ergonomic support. It’s also premium priced, at $130, and includes no dedicated media keys. It’s a well-loved board, however, and could make a great option if you don’t like the K70.
The most expensive keyboard we tested, at an MSRP of $200. This membrane keyboard includes lots of dedicated keys and a micro-screen that can run system-monitoring apps or work with select games. The keys are far too spongy for our tastes, however, and the screen is not well supported by newer games.
The DeathStalker shares layouts with the BlackWidow and Anansi, but uses chiclet keys that feel more like a laptop or Mac keyboard. It’s cheap, at $50, but most gamers won’t enjoy the keys.
Roccat Ryos MK Pro:
One of the most solidly built keyboards we’ve used. The Ryos keys feel responsive and satisfying, and the MK Pro includes lots of configurable macro keys. The wristpad is not detatchable, however, which means this board will take a lot of space on your desk. It’s also expensive, at $170.
Cooler Master Devastator:
This low-end membrane keyboard has decent backlighting and dedicated media buttons, but no additional macro keys to program. It does come with a mouse and we like the price, but it’s for budget-minded gamers only.
Corsair Vengeance K95:
This expanded version of the K70 includes 18 additional macro keys, along with all of the other features from Corsair’s smaller boards. It’s nice if you need the additional control, but most gamers won’t justify the higher price ($150).
Corsair Gaming K65 RGB:
The tenkey-free version of the K70, along with Corsair’s new multicolored backlighting options. It retails exclusively at Best Buy for $100, but we prefer the volume dial instead of discreet buttons, and miss our tenkey pad.
Corsair Gaming K70 RGB:
The same board as our Best Gaming Keyboard pick, but with Corsair’s new multicolored backlighting switches. Impressive if you take the time to program fancy color options, but at an additional cost ($170).
SteelSeries 6G V2:
We like the no-frills feel for the 6G V2, but prolonged use feels crampy without proper wrist support.
Logitech G710+ (Cherry MX Red):
This is Logitech’s premium mechanical keyboard, but its key layout feels more cramped than the rest of the competition. It’s also one of the more expensive options, with an MSRP of $150.
There are a few popular gaming keyboards we haven't had a chance to test yet, and there will always be new variants on the horizon. Most mechanical keyboards use the same keyswitches, with only small variants in layout and build quality and extra features. The Corsair Vengeance K70 is a safe buy, at this point, but we plan on checking out some of these other popular options in the future.
- Ducky Shine 3
- Filco Majestouch 2
- Das Keyboard
- Max Keyboard Nighthawk X8
- QPAD MK80
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