The best gaming keyboard 2018

Best gaming keyboards 2018

Investing in a good gaming keyboard is akin to buying a good steering wheel. No matter how amazing your car may be, it's worthless if you can't drive it properly. A high-quality keyboard can ensure that every one of your commands are executed flawlessly and responsively. In this article, we picked out the best gaming keyboard for every gamer at every price point.

Selecting the best keyboard for you starts with choosing the right switch. There are two major categories to choose from: membrane and mechanical. Membrane switches rely on rubber domes to provide feedback, while mechanical switches use springs and metal contacts to complete a circuit. Between the two, mechanical switches are what most gamers prefer: they're more durable, faster to actuate, and more tactile.

Once you’ve decided on a switch, you’ll need to evaluate your gaming needs and personal taste. Switches aside, you should also consider the keyboard’s features, size, and ergonomics. Some may demand all the macros they can get, while others may favor compactness and portability. We've tried to select a recommendation for every type of gamer.

1. HyperX Alloy Elite

The best gaming keyboard

Switch: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Red | Size: Full size | Macros: N/A | Backlights: Red | Passthroughs: USB | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: Detachable

Great feature set
Relatively affordable
Red backlight only (no RGB)

The HyperX Alloy Elite sports a simple aesthetic while still packing most of the features we expect out of a quality gaming keyboard. It comes in your choice of Cherry MX Brown, Blue, and Red. What it lacks in a dedicated macro column and RGB backlights, it makes up for with an affordable price and quality design.

The HyperX Alloy Elite leaves no box unchecked in features. It’s equipped with dedicated media controls, USB passthrough, a detachable wristrest, and red backlighting. To up its aesthetics, it also includes an extra set of silver keycaps for WASD and the first four number keys. The board supports full N-key rollover, meaning you never have to worry about key presses not registering.

2. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

The best gaming keyboard for big budgets

Switch: Cherry MX Speed, Brown | Size: Full size | Macros: 6 | Backlights: RGB | Passthroughs: USB | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: Detachable

Supurb build quality
Extra set of keycaps
Expensive
Large footprint

When you want to go the extra mile and upgrade to the absolute best of the best, it’s hard to find another option other than the Corsair K95 Platinum.

The K95 Platinum is a big keyboard: its enormous footprint still requires some desk cleaning before it can be nested comfortably. But feature-wise, the K95 Platinum’s got it all. Dedicated media controls and a USB pass-through, a metal volume wheel, RGB lighting. It even comes with an extra set of textured keycaps for the WASD keys.

We also love its detachable wristrest. The rubberized wristpad attaches magnetically and has two contrasting textures: one smooth side and one rough side. Switching sides is as easy as flipping it over. 

3. Logitech K840

Fantastic Romer-G switches at a budget price

Switch: Logitech Romer-G | Size: Full size | Macros: No | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: No

Actually looks good for a budget keyboard
Durable aluminum front plate
No dedicated macros, passthroughs, or even backlights
Shoddy pad-printed keycaps

Logitech’s proprietary Romer-G switch is where the magic lies. Designed in collaboration with the Japanese switch giant Omron, it was traditionally reserved for Logitech’s high-end boards. Now, they’re served with the budget-friendly K840 for the first time.

Because you’re scoring the Romer-G switch at such a low price point, you’re not going to find any extras on the K840. Nevermind dedicated macros and USB passthroughs, there isn’t even any backlighting. The keycaps also come with cheap, fragile pad printed lettering that's likely to wear off over time.

4. Corsair K68 RGB

The most durable gaming keyboard

Switch: Cherry MX Red | Size: Full size | Macros: No | Backlights: RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: No

IP32 water and dust resistance rating 
Needs to stay perfectly still throughout the cleaning process 

The K68 RGB may look like a standard mechanical keyboard at first glance, but try as you may (or don’t), you probably won’t be able to destroy it with spills, food stuffs, or whatever other particles and liquids that you have in your house. Its secret is an additional rubber layer placed on top of the backplate. In addition, each switch is surrounded with a rubber flood dam to keep liquids out. In case of a major spill, the dams form channels to help guide the liquid out of the bottom of the chassis. The rubber layer also helps to make the mess a little easier to wipe off.

The K68 has a respectable list of features in addition to its insane tolerance for being mistreated. Though it only has Cherry MX Red as its sole switch option, it does come with RGB backlights and dedicated media controls. But a word of caution: If you do get liquids into the K68, don’t rush it to the sink. Make sure it stays perfectly still as to not shift the liquid over the dams and into the switches.

Read more about the K68 RGB's spill resistance here. 

5. Das Keyboard 4 Professional

Best keyboard for typing enthusiasts

Switch: Cherry MX Blue, Brown | Size: Full size | Macros: No | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: USB | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: No

Stylish design with thick alloy faceplate
Comfortable volume knob
Magnetic foot bar provides little traction

When it comes to all things productive, we can’t think of a better keyboard than the Das Keyboard Professional 4. Its intuitive volume dial is satisfying to use and looks damn great. When it’s game time, the handy USB pass-through saves a lot of back-bending when hooking up a controller. The front faceplate extends beyond the base, providing leverage point for lifting the keyboard. The manifold of small details all come together and refines its usability.

But nothing is ever perfect, and the Das is certainly no exception. Instead of flip-up elevator feet, The Das Keyboard 4 Professional uses a magnetic foot bar to prop itself up. It’s a unique (and fun) extra, but it provides almost no traction. The lack of backlights and macros can turn off some gamers, but they may not be as important to typists.

6. Kinesis Freestyle Edge

Mechanical switches in an ergonomic package

Switch: Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Red, Silver | Size: Full size | Macros: 12 | Backlights: Blue | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: Detachable

Tons of macros
Right half conveniently stores away when gaming
Expensive
Lift kit sold separately

The unique Freestyle Edge splits open at the center, with the two halves connected using a 20" cable. This allows the user to freely angle the halves to best cater to their natural hand position. The second half can also be pushed aside when gaming, freeing up some extra space for the mouse. In addition to the included wristrest, we highly recommend purchasing the lift kit to further elevate your comfort. The lift kit raises the two halves at the center, supporting the wrist rotation of your hands.

The Kinesis Freestyle Edge can be outfitted with Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Red, or Silver switches. All models come with blue backlighting. It also carries 12 dedicated macros; a rarity even on premium gaming boards. All keys can be programmed on the fly without having to install additional driver software.

7. Ducky One TKL

Small size, premium quality

Switch: Cherry MX Black, Brown, Blue, Red | Size: TKL | Macros: No | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Integrated | Wristrest: No

Phenomenal typing experience
Double-shot ABS keycaps
Expensive
Backlight is a bit dim

If you turn a blind eye to its price, then the Ducky One TKL nails every aspect of a small form factor keyboard.

Looking far from flirtatious, it’s hard to guess that Ducky One TKL is a $140 investment. What you’re paying for is a durable, fine-tuned typing machine. Though I’ve tested a plethora of Cherry MX keyboards, very few could rival the One’s smoothness, especially its stabilizers. Their responsiveness and consistency greatly improve the overall typing enjoyment. Other features include RGB backlights, detachable cables, double-shot ABS keycaps, and a plain black chassis that’s resistant to fingerprints.

Nevertheless, dropping $142 on a TKL keyboard is a bit ostentatious, especially considering that our previous pick was the $79.99 Cooler Master MasterKeys S. Therefore, we’re recommending the MasterKeys S alongside the Ducky One TKL as a more affordable option. 

8. Cooler Master MasterKeys SL

Small, compact, and affordable

Switch: Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Red, Silver, Green | Size: TKL | Macros: No | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: Noo

Phenomenal typing experience
Double-shot ABS keycaps
Expensive
Backlight is a bit dim

With a small, tenkeyless design, the MasterKeys S saves space on your desk and frees up room for your mouse hand. It also has keycaps constructed from PBT plastic—the highest grade of keycaps we've seen included in a mainstreaming gaming keyboard. PBT is more durable and rigid than ABS, the thermoplastic most commonly used for keycaps. 

What's under the hood is equally solid. The MasterKeys S uses the full range of Cherry MX switches including the Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Red, Silver, and Green switches. Like all Cooler Master mechanical keyboards, the MasterKeys Pro S can be programmed without driver software. It even supports Dovrak and Workman layouts in addition to traditional QWERTY.

Its only caveat—the lack of backlighting—can be a turnoff to RGB enthusiasts, but we think it's a small price to pay for such phenomenal keycaps. If you want an RGB upgrade, the MasterKeys Pro RGB can be had for a bit more money.

9. Logitech G213 Prodigy

A membrane keyboard with all the right features

Switch: Membrane | Size: Full size | Macros: No | Backlights: RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: Fixed

Solid membrane switches
Dedicated media controls
Loud for a membrane keyboard
Bottoming out feels harsh

We’ve decided to replace the Razer Ornata with the Logitech G213 for three reasons. First, its traditional membrane switch feels more familiar. Second, it has more features. And third, it’s much more affordable.

While the Razer Ornata Chroma’s Mecha-Membrane switch is unique, we believe that most gamers looking for a membrane keyboard are pursuing a traditional feel. That means a straight travel and a cushioned feel when bottomed out.

Sporting a set of membrane switches, the Logitech G213 certainly meets the criteria. Its switches are silent and stable thanks to their square stems. In addition, it includes a set of dedicated macros, a fixed wrist rest, and RGB lighting to boost its appeal. Finally, because it doesn’t use a fancy switch, the G213 can be had for around $50; a fair bit cheaper than the Ornata Chroma.

10. Redragon K552-N Kumara

Clicky mechanical switches for under $30

Switch: Otemu Blue | Size: TKL | Macros: No | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: No

Acceptable in both looks and build quality
Compact 
Basic in the most literal sense
Loose cable joint 

The ultra low-priced Kumara provides a solid entry point for anyone looking to get into mechanical keyboards on a budget.

Before we talk about what it is, we need to talk about what it’s not. As a keyboard that prioritizes budget above all else, the Kumara is devoid of even the most standard bells and whistles. That means no backlighting, media controls, passthroughs, etc. Switch option is restricted to Otemu Blue, a Cherry MX Blue clone. Its loud click and deafening space bar can definitely annoy those trying to sleep, so play cautiously.

Despite trimming all the features, the Kumara actually feels decently made. It comes with double-injected keycaps and a metal backplate. We wouldn’t call it durable, but it should be able to handle some accidental bumps from time to time. Its only weak point is the loose cable joint. Our advice is to take care when wrapping it up and tugging on it, but we give it a lot of leeway here considering the dirt-cheap price.

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