The best gaming keyboard is more than a dull plank of keys. For one, most of the best keyboards come plastered in RGB LEDs, so they're anything but dull. There's more to a great gaming keyboard than flashing lights, however, and the real key to success is excellent response. Most of the time that's mechanical, but hey we're in the camp that there are some times when a well-made membrane might be the best option on a budget.
Gaming keyboard preferences vary wildly and the number of options can be overwhelming. Media controls, volume wheels, keycaps, macro keys, and the actual switches used are just some of the things you need to consider. And keyboard switches come in such a cornucopia of colors and types that it's enough to make the layman cry. Read up on the best mechanical keyboard switches (opens in new tab) if you're feeling like a deep dive, but it basically boils down to three types: linear, clicky, and tactile.
The other thing to consider is keyboard size. The option of a 60% gaming keyboard or going tenkeyless (TKL) will help you reclaim precious desk space, whereas a full-sized keyboard is more likely to come packed with media controls akin to a high-tech space station. If you're not caught up with the keyboard types, we can help determine what keyboard style is right for you (opens in new tab), too.
Below we've compiled a list of the best gaming keyboards for every kind of gamer, whether you're a Cherry Red or a Razer Green person. These are all gaming keyboards each of us has tested vigorously, in our home and work life; our Alan's key presses alone are violent enough to check a board's integrity, for sure. And we've also tested out the best cheap gaming keyboards (opens in new tab) for anyone on a budget looking for further options than those budget boards listed below.
The Wooting Two HE looks decent, but it doesn't appear all too different from the mechanical gaming keyboards we've come to know. In fact, it's a little more boring than most in appearance, with some nowadays taking 'extra' to a whole new level.
This one has a trick up its sleeve, though: analog action. What this means is if you depress a key, say the W key, rather than send a simple on/off signal to your PC, the keyboard will measure the full range of that key's motion. This is especially useful in games that blend gameplay that best suits both analog and digital inputs on a regular basis, such as Red Dead Redemption 2, GTA V, or Mass Effect.
Wooting helped usher in the analog age of gaming keyboards, and it's still ruling the roost with every new keyboard it designs. The latest, the Wooting Two HE, uses magnets and the Hall effect to achieve what is an incredibly accurate analog movement across every key on the keyboard. And because every key is analog, you can use the analog functionality to your advantage in heaps of interesting ways.
The Wooting Two HE differs from the Wooting One and Wooting Two in how it measures analogue input, however. Where the older Wooting boards relied on optical Flaretech switches, the newer HE board uses the Lekker switch, made by Wooting with popular switch maker Gateron, and relies on the Hall effect (hence Wooting Two 'HE') to achieve analogue input.
In the Wootility v4 (opens in new tab) software (amazing), a game will need to register this switch actuation as either DirectInput or Xinput. That means you'll largely want to set your left analogue stick up, down, left, right to your WASD keys on the Wooting, in order to replicate the best bits of analogue controller movement.
Of all the peripheral-specific applications out there, and boy are there a lot of them, I don't mind the Wootility one bit, either. It's simple, well put together, and has only improved since I last used it. It puts some other larger manufacturers to shame with how easy and smart-looking it is, in fact.
Do you want to have your entire moveset mapped to a single power key in-game? It's certainly possible. You could chain skills, moves, or spells in-game by applying them all to a single keypress. Or if you're really accurate, have a key do two different things depending on how far you press it.
The keyboard is solid, well-built, and comes with a two-year warranty. If a switch breaks, you can swap it out, as the board itself is hot-swappable. That's one benefit of there not really being all that many mechanical moving parts with a magnetic Lekker switch, and another is that there's less to break in the first place.
The Wooting Two HE is analog at its very best, and if you want heaps of customisability, this is the gaming keyboard for you. There's also the superb Wooting HE60 (opens in new tab), which we're big fans of but it is admittedly not for everyone due to its compact size.
Read our full Wooting Two HE review (opens in new tab).
Answer me this: why the hell has everyone been sticking the Numpad on the right-hand side of their gaming keyboards? The new Mountain Everest Max gaming keyboard means I can instead jam it onto the left-hand side, and that makes a whole lot more sense to me. It gives me all the benefits of a TKL keyboard design, but with the utility of a full-size board. And that also means this is now my new favorite slab. Especially in its fresh hot-pink trim. Gotta love those RGB LEDs.
You probably haven't heard of Mountain (opens in new tab), a fresh-faced upstart in the cutthroat world of PC peripherals. After all, it's maybe not the most memorable of names for a keyboard and mouse manufacturer, but then it doesn't also have the offensive overtones of other PC gaming race-related nomenclatures.
That comparison is important though because the Mountain Everest is a gaming keyboard aiming to take on the big boys, and most especially at the enthusiast level in which Glorious has been making a name for itself. Crafting completely modular gaming keyboards, which can house any hot-swappable mechanical switches you can buy, is something Glorious has been doing for years, bringing once-niche custom keyboard fun into the mainstream.
I've reviewed a whole lot of keyboards in my time as a tech journo, and I always know when I've found a good one because it doesn't get unplugged the instant I hit publish on the review and dropped atop the heap of discarded peripherals that now fills my house.
And the Mountain Everest Max is going to remain on my desktop for the foreseeable future. I'm probably going to play around with the keycaps (G.Skill's recent Crystal Crown pudding caps (opens in new tab)) have a strange draw to me) and I might even hook out the switches in the Logitech G Pro TKL keyboard for my 16-month-old son uses to emulate his dear ol' dad.
Sure, modular keyboards are nothing new; Logitech's been in the game recently with hot-swappable switches, and Glorious' GMMK (opens in new tab) has been a quality option for years. Indeed removable numpads aren't either, though none have been able to be solid enough to look and function well on a high-end board. But, high pricing aside, the Everest Max has the edge on all of them for me and is going to be my keyboard of choice from here on.(opens in new tab)
I've had not a single issue with the Everest software either, not in use anyway, and I've been messing around with it a whole lot, from adding in new images and program-launching buttons, to customising the media dock with my own gurning DOOM face.
That said, updating the app and the Everest's firmware fills me with dread. The last Base Camp update failed for no given reason, and the latest firmware update has been sat at 100 percent for the past two hours. That's been ironed out now for the most part, and I'm still using my sample on a day-to-day basis as it totally suits how I game and work on my PC.
While you might not have heard of Mountain (opens in new tab), a fresh-faced upstart in the cutthroat world of PC peripherals—it's maybe not the most memorable of names for a keyboard and mouse manufacturer—we've been impressed with the products it's produced so far. The Everest Max is just as excellent, too.
Read our full Mountain Everest Max review (opens in new tab).
There is a trend towards $200+ gaming keyboards in the market at the moment, but that doesn't mean there aren't quality mechanical switch boards available at a more reasonable price. Often you'll find these more budget oriented options offering cheap switches from other manufacturers, but the G.Skill KM360 comes featuring the classic Cherry MX Red linear switch out of the gate and doesn't cost a bomb.
To pick up legit Cherry switches you could run up quite a bill with the largest, most fully-featured gaming keyboards. The G.Skill does away with that, though. It's simple, mechanical, great for gaming and work, and still offers backlighting for better visibility in darker rooms.
If you can't cope without your gaming board being lit up like a rainbow then you may be disappointed with the single-colour option, but damn, the white LEDs on this G.Skill board are the brightest I've ever seen. Normally I like to keep at max brightness all day long, but the KM360 would burn out my retina if I did.
It is very bright, but at least the lack of rainbows has helped to keep the price at a more reasonable level.
This TKL board is basic, but what it does, it does very well. It's solid, well-built, reliable, and looks pretty decent too. I was a little disappointed at the lack of wrist rest, and the fact there's no passthrough, or media controls, but I'll happily give those a pass in favour of affordable functionality. The detachable USB Type-C is a real boon to the longevity of this board, too.
It's a simple and reliable option all-round.
If you've got your heart set on a wireless keyboard, then the Logitech G915 is a great example of the genre. It's not a peripheral we believe requires wireless functionality; we much prefer a wireless gaming mouse (opens in new tab) or wireless gaming headset (opens in new tab). But there are a few moments when a wireless keyboard is helpful, like gaming on the couch or if you regularly move your keyboard between devices and locations.
You'll be required to spend that little bit more for wireless functionality than what we tend to see for wired mechanical keyboards with similar features—the Logitech G915 is $250 (£210). There's a slightly cheaper TKL version, but not so much so that we'd instantly recommend it over the full-size model.
What you get for that significant cash investment is a sleek and sturdy board plated in brushed aluminum. There are some smart media controls in the upper right-hand corner of the board, including a volume wheel that feels great to twizzle, and there's a handful of macro keys down the left side of the keyboard. These can be programmed to whatever you see fit on a per-app or per-game basis within the Logitech G software.
Macro functionality has been shifted to a secondary program of the Function keys, can be flipped via the Logitech G gaming software in order to prioritise macro functionality in which case the Fn key will revert F1-12 back to the original input.
Beneath that stylish exterior lies fantastically responsive Kailh-made GL key switches. You can pick from linear, tactile, or clicky, and we recommend the latter if you really want to make a racket.
It packs in all this without a massive overall footprint, too, coming in as one of the sleeker boards of the lot today. The wired Cherry MX 10.0 has it beat there, though, for better or worse.
Yet there's a reason that I use this keyboard most days when I'm working from home. It feels great to type on over the course of an entire day, and its low-profile standing takes some of the strain off my wrists. I don't feel the need for a wristrest when I'm leaning my wrists on the desk, either.
Read our full Logitech G915 TKL review (opens in new tab) (that's the slightly smaller version).
The Keychron K2 redefines affordability for wireless gaming keyboards. It's marked itself out, in the eyes of generalists, as a marvelous entry-level keyboard that can act as a gateway into the wider world of mechanicals. Starting out at just $69, you get a decent-sized gaming keyboard with great wireless functionality and Gateron mechanical switches for your money.
Its design is simple with grey ABS keycaps and a slightly more compact 84 key layout that only skimps out on the numpad and offers a slightly squashed nav cluster. Whilst I’ve previously argued that 60% compact keyboards may be the way to go if you’re a space-savin' gamer, the Keychron K2’s 75% offering may just make me rethink that decision.
You're also looking at decent overall build quality, and the triple device connectivity definitely makes short work of switching devices or locations through the working day. With that said though, sometimes it can feel like a cheap keyboard—the switches aren't the best around, but they're pretty impressive nonetheless at this price.
As for backlighting, there are four levels of lighting to choose from, and a load of standard lighting effects. It's nicely vibrant and crisp and offsets the darker keycap coloring nicely, but it's a little bit of a pain having to cycle through all the presets to get to the static lighting mode.
And with the battery at a 4000mAh capacity, the K2 can go the distance with or without backlighting. You’ll get 68 hours with full lighting and 240 hours without, meaning you can go weeks without touching the charging cable—that's USB Type-C in case you were wondering.
All in all though, if you’re looking for an entry-level mechanical keyboard, this is a good choice, especially if you’re working from home and using multiple devices. That's not even considering its wireless capability, which really feels like the icing on the cake of the already impressive Keychron K2.
Read our full Keychron K2 review (opens in new tab).
Ducky has one helluva reputation in the mechanical gaming keyboard world. Even in an age of dazzling keyboards plastered in flashing lights, it's kept up its no nonsense design philosophy (which it calls "Quack Mechanics"—no joke). But even dear ol' Ducky is also leaning into the weird and wonderful a little more; the Ducky One 3 Fuji is prime example of a more stylised and vibrant Ducky at its best.
Look no further than the One 3's wonderfully colourful design for proof. This is Ducky's latest flagship keyboard and it comes in many different colours and styles, but this one is called Fuji. Every key you see in my images of the One 3 is included in the standard Fuji design, which makes it feel like I've received a keyboard with a custom keycap set pre-installed.
Every keycap on the Ducky is made from strong PBT plastic. Unlike ABS plastic, PBT tends to last a little longer, reject stains, and keep its colour-matched legends from rubbing away.
From the superb quality keycaps to the rest of the board the Ducky continues to impress. The blue underbelly of the Ducky contains cable runs for the included (and removable) braided USB Type-C to Type-A cable. The cable on the One 3 Fuji is a perfectly matched shade of pink to the rest of it, of course.
There are also four DIP switches that offer a couple of hard-coded shortcuts for various keyboard modes, however, I couldn't get them to work. I tried unplugging and waiting a little while before trying again, but couldn't get them to do anything at all.
That aside, the One 3 is build like a tank and there's absolutely no flex to it whatsoever. Perhaps it wouldn't love a drop from a high place, but I don't dare to try it with this gorgeous review unit.
You have a wide choice of Cherry MX switches to choose from with the Ducky, depending on where you buy it from. I opted for Cherry MX Speed Silver switches, which are some of Cherry's finest for gaming. They offer a smooth press with only 1.2mm of travel before actuation and a total distance of 3.4mm. The swift actuation helps with the sort of snappy response I want while gaming, while the linear press without a tactile bump or click makes for moderately low-noise operation.
The Ducky barely rattles whatsoever as I'm tapping away at its positively pink caps. The spacebar and enter keys have a certain tell-tale thud to them, but beyond that the switches, including those with stabilisers, are impressively uniform in sound. There's a whole lot of sound dampening going on with the Ducky under the surface, and that satisfying mechanical thud as a result is amicable to my ears for a day's worth of constant typing, or gaming with a microphone nearby.(opens in new tab)
But I haven't mentioned the best bit yet: the Ducky One 3 is hot-swappable. A key switch breaks? Swap it out for another. You bought some new key switches online because they looked nice even thought you'll never really see them once they're installed? Just pull the old ones out and slot the new ones in.
Plenty of gaming keyboards are hot-swappable nowadays, but this particular inclusion with the Ducky One 3 really feels like a win overall. You do have to forgo RGB lighting, or backlighting of any sort, with the Ducky. But honestly I don't mind that. The One 3 looks absolutely stunning and it's a dream to type on. Plus it's a bit cheaper than some other flagship boards of this high standard today.
Read our full Ducky One 3 review (opens in new tab).
Let me start by saying that while I was impressed by Corsair's previous offering, the K95 RGB Platinum, I struggled with the price. Struggled. No matter how good it is, $200 is a lot for any keyboard. It really was a good keyboard, taking the top spot in our best gaming keyboard guide for the last few years. That's a brief bit of context for the K100, which costs even more than its predecessor. At $230, it is 15 percent pricier, but will you get the 15 percent more out of it? Possibly. Possibly even more.
The fundamental core of the K100 is very much like the K95, with the same premium quality throughout, the same overall design, the same macro keys down the left-hand side, the same metal roll in the top right corner, and the same media keys just below it, and the same double-shot keycaps. USB passthrough is easy to access and you get a comfortable wrist rest that snaps on magnetically just like before.
The K100 also has more of that lovely RGB lighting that Corsair knows we love so much. In total there are now 44 zones for you to throw light out of (it spills out of the sides as well as out of the back too). And having rippling, wavy patterns play off your keyboard can be every bit as distracting as you can imagine.
As for the switches themselves, they are Corsair's new OPX optical-Mechanical switches. It's worth noting from the outset that the OPX switches are still digital units, not the variable analog type that can be found in the likes of the Wooting keyboards, which can detect how far down the key is pressed and respond by turning harder (for example).
These switches feel great for typing, with a 1mm actuation point and 45g actuation force, bottoming out at 3.2mm. If those figures don't mean much to you, they're very sensitive. I found myself watching my fingers in games as I turned left and right without realizing I'd actually started pushing down on the keys. This is a sensitive keyboard and needs to be treated as such. After a week of use though, it feels incredible to work and play with.
At the backend you have Corsair Axon Hyper-Processing Technology doing the grunt work of actually keeping the keyboard up and running. This new engine supports a native polling rate of 4,000Hz, although the benefit of this isn't obvious, and by default, it is set at the more standard 1,000Hz anyway.
When it comes to software, Corsair Axon Hyper-Processing Technology supports a native polling rate of 4,000Hz, though it's set to 1,000Hz by default. You can even use the little iCue wheel on the top of the board to play around with the lighting.
All in all, you're looking at an excellent key response, a decent spread of keys for most hand sizes, a satisfying tactile click to each press, and wonderfully dimpled keys to help you rest your fingers when you're not actually pressing down. While this all seems quite obvious, it shows that the K100 RGB nails the basics, as well as including the fancy extras, though it'll cost you.
Read our full Corsair K100 RGB Optical review (opens in new tab).
If even mecha-membrane keys don't suit you, and you demand a full membrane typing/gaming experience for whatever reason (no judgement here), the Razer Cynosa is the deck for you. I know there are people out there who prefer the soft embrace of a pure membrane switch, and that's fine—each to their own.
The Cynosa has some of the best feeling, low profile membrane keys I've ever tested, and at a retail price of $60, it is one of the most affordable gaming keyboards out there (well, past a certain threshold of quality). While it may lack some of the features several gaming boards pack in, stuff like a dedicated wrist rest or media controls, it does boast Razer's extensive RGB lighting, which can be programmed on a per-key basis or applied by zones.
Compared to a lot of membrane boards out there, the Cynosa Chroma is still pretty barebones, but coming from Razer you can bet it's heaps cooler than those ones you used to type on at school.
It's a solid, no-frills, nice-looking keyboard that's the best membrane option of a huge range that I've tested. There is a step-up version of the Cynosa available. Still, for $20 extra, the only real addition is under-glow RGB, so unless that kind of 'ground effects' package is massively appealing to you, I recommend you save your cash and invest in the base model.
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Best gaming keyboard FAQ
What is the big deal with mechanical switches?
We can talk for hours about the feel of mechanical switches versus membrane switches, but ultimately that's a personal choice. What makes mechanical switches objectively superior, however, is their far extended life span. They can take far more punishment and keep responding long after a membrane switch has collapsed in on itself.
What is the most important thing to look for in a mechanical gaming keyboard?
The switch type (opens in new tab) is arguably the most important choice to make when picking your new gaming keyboard. Cherry mechanical switches are the most common and most recognizable, but there are a host of alternatives on offer, as well a bunch of upmarket, specialist switches to choose from.
Are dedicated media controls a deal-breaker?
Only you can make that call, but we would suggest that at least having the option to toggle the top row between function and media controls would be our choice. Having a discrete volume wheel can be super useful, however.
What size of keyboard do I need?
Keyboard size (opens in new tab) is absolutely a defining factor. Full-sized keyboards tend to offer the most features and a Numpad, but if you don't have space, then all of those extras you paid for will be useless. Tenkeyless boards (the ones with no number pad) and compact keyboards can be a great option, too, if you don't care about all the extra bells and whistles or you don't have any use for alt codes (how barbaric!).
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 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.
This is a type of mechanical switch which instead of a physical metal contact switch uses light to measure when actuation takes place. These can be more configurable too, allowing for not just off and on states, but more analog designs, and even dual actions for a single key depending on how far the switch is pressed down.
A switch that provides a 'bump' of feedback every time it's pushed.
A keyboard that lacks the right-hand number pad.