The best cheap gaming keyboards will still give you a proper PC gaming experience without forcing you to spend hundreds of dollars on unnecessary bling. And that's even more important in a world where some manufacturers think charging north of $200 is acceptable for gaming peripherals. All the RGB in the world can't be worth that.
But thankfully there are loads of dependable, robust, and affordable cheap gaming keyboards out there. We don't accept the stigma that you must spend a small fortune on a bunch of key switches to game at your best. You're better off ditching excessive features and getting down to basics.
It's worth noting that when we say 'cheap,' we're talking about pricing, not quality. Most keyboards in this guide are under $50 and, while they might be lacking some of the bells and whistles of their pricier counterparts, they will still perform well and will make a reliable companion for your gaming PC.
When hunting for a budget keyboard, think about what features really matter to you. Some may not include any RGB lighting, while others will provide lighting but no software to control it. Chances are, these keyboards will be pretty barebones, so if you're looking for something with media controls or LED displays, you'll want to look to one of the best gaming keyboards instead.
Another thing you should know is the switches used on cheaper keyboards will most likely be membrane switches. If a super cheap keyboard says it's using mechanical switches, they are most likely knock-off Cherry switches, but that doesn't mean they're guaranteed to fail. Cheaper keyboards will have an overall different feel than your standard Razer and SteelSeries keyboards. But don't worry, these great-value gaming keyboards will still feel good under your fingertips, and your wallet will thank you for it.
If you want to know more about switches, you can read our detailed explanation of mechanical key switches.
Anyway, we've attempted to list as many cheap gaming keyboards as we could to give a range of price points up to $50. We've even added a couple of quality keyboards that come bundled with other peripherals to take some of the sting out of the cost of a new setup. If you do find yourself with some money to burn, however, do check out the best mechanical keyboards for some satisfying clickity clacks.
The STOGA mechanical keyboard switches are pretty much indistinguishable from Cherry MX Blues. They emulate that clicky sound and feel thats sought after by gamers and typists. This model is a compact, no-nonsense tenkeyless design with pre-determined RGB backlighting. Unless you despise clicky switches or desperately need dedicated media controls, it's difficult to go wrong with the STOGA.
This particular Havit Mechanical keyboard features clicky, Kailh Blue switches and RGB underglow. The full-size layout and dedicated media controls do a reasonable job imitating more popular gaming models, but at a fraction of the price. The omission of a wrist rest is a bit disappointing given the inclusion of an oddly specific feature: there's a phone holder for some reason.
The Z-88 from E-Element is definitely on the pricier side when stacked against the competition on this list, but being available in either black or white and offering a variety of Outemu switches provides options that many other budget keyboards don't. However, at this price, an included wrist rest would've been nice.
The exposed hardware and aluminum backplate give this version of the Havit mechanical keyboard a sturdy, industrial look. While only available with clicky proprietary blue switches, this model does come packaged with a wired, optical gaming mouse. Besides the lack of exclusive customization software or dedicated media controls, this package of Havit peripherals leaves little to be desired.
HyperX is a trusted name among peripheral manufacturers. While it typically caters to a more premium brand, the Alloy Core RGB brings extensive features and reliable performance at an affordable price. The price does skirt the definition of a "budget" keyboard, but the dedicated media controls and customization software help justify the MSRP. HyperX has had to incorporate membrane switches for this particular model, but that has the added effect of making the Alloy Core spill-resistant.
If you're looking to incorporate some RGB lighting into your gaming setup, but aren't particular about how your keyboard feels, the Redragon K502 has you covered. At a price that rivals most conventional keyboard designs, the K502 features an integrated wrist rest as well as six different lighting modes that should satisfy just about any motif. While it does use membrane switches, the K502 is quiet and the only low-profile keyboard on this list.
The compact VicTsing RGB mechanical keyboard is excellent for anyone who doesn't have the desk space for a full-size keyboard but needs a tenkey. Even with all the keys crammed in, it still types pretty well.
The built-in keycap puller on the underside of the keyboard is a smart design choice along with storage to wrangle any excess cable. If you can get over the funky looking keycap font choice, this keyboard is a solid budget choice.
Jargon buster - keyboard terminology
The height to which a key needs to be pressed before it actuates and sends an input signal to a device.
A switch that delivers an audible click every time it's pressed, generally right around the point of actuation.
A technique to ensure that only one input registers every time a key is pressed.
The shell that surrounds the internal components of a switch.
The result of the actuation point and reset point in a switch being misaligned. This generally means a key needs to be lifted off of further than normal before it can be actuated again.
A switch that moves directly up and down, generally delivering smooth keystrokes without noise or tactile feedback.
A keyboard built around individual switches for each key rather than a membrane sheath mounted on a PCB.
A keyboard on which all the keycaps are mounted on a membrane sheath; when a key is pressed, a rubber dome depresses and pushes against the sheath and PCB beneath, actuating the key.
The component of a switch on which the keycaps are mounted on a mechanical keyboard.
The physical component of a mechanical keyboard beneath the keycaps on a mechanical keyboard. The switch determines how a key is actuated, whether or not it provides audible or tactile feedback with each press, and more.
A switch that provides a 'bump' of feedback every time it's pushed.
A keyboard that lacks the right-hand number pad.