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The best cheap gaming keyboards in 2020

best cheap gaming keyboard 2019
Even if you're on a budget, the best cheap gaming keyboards can add some style to your set-up. (Image credit: Future)

The best cheap gaming keyboards are dependable, robust, and affordable. We don't accept the stigma that you must spend a small fortune on a gaming keyboard in order to game at your best. In fact, you're far better off ditching excessive features and getting down to brass tacks right away.

When we say 'cheap,' we mean in terms of pricing and not quality. Most of the keyboards in this guide are under $50. While they might be lacking some of the bells and whistles of their pricier counterparts, they can still perform well and will make a reliable companion for your gaming PC.

When hunting around for a budget keyboard, you should make a note of what's being offered and what isn't. Some may not include any RGB lighting, while others will offer lighting but no software to control it. Chances are, these keyboards will be pretty barebones, and if you're looking for something with media controls or LED displays, you'll have to look to spend 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 also doesn't have to mean they're guaranteed to fail either. Cheaper keyboards will have an overall different feel your Razer and SteelSeries keyboards. But don't worry, these great-value gaming keyboards still feel great under your fingertips.

If you want to know more, you can read our detailed explanation of mechanical key switches.

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.

Best Cheap Gaming Keyboards

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(Image credit: STOGA)

1. STOGA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

A great, clicky all-rounder

Switch: Proprietary Blue | Size: Tenkeyless | Backlights: Preset RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: Function Key | Wrist rest: None

RGB Backlighting
Durable form factor
No Wrist Rest
No Software

The STOGA mechanical keyboard uses a facsimile of Cherry MX Blue switches to emulate that clicky sound and feels 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.

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(Image credit: PICTEK)

2. PICTEK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Sturdy with dedicated media controls

Switch: Proprietary Red | Size: Full size | Backlights: Preset RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: Dedicated | Wrist rest: None

Dedicated media controls
Aluminum backplate
Expensive
No Software

The PICTEK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard uses proprietary linear switches that aim to replicate the feel of Cherry MX Reds. This full-size keyboard has preset RGB lighting that can be adjusted with the function key, and also comes equipped with dedicated media controls. Strangely though, the playback buttons are placed on the opposite side of the volume knob. This is only a minor inconvenience, but is a bit of an oversight, considering that this keyboard stretches the budget when compared to the rest of our lineup.

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(Image credit: Havit)

3. Havit RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Kailh switches and RGB Underglow

Switch: Kailh Blue | Size: Full Size | Backlights: Preset RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: Dedicated | Wrist rest: None

Genuine Kailh switches
RGB lighting
Phone holder?
No wrist rest
No software

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.

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(Image credit: Drevo)
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(Image credit: Drevo)
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(Image credit: Drevo)
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(Image credit: Drevo)

4. DREVO Gramr 84-Key

A compact delight for typists and gamers

Switch: Outemu Black,Blue,Brown,Red | Size: 75% | Backlights: White or RGB Preset | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: Function key | Wrist rest: None

Compact layout
Variety of legit Outemu switches
USB-C connection
Bulky, plastic Body

The compact 75% layout, paired with an extensive collection of Outemu switch options, makes the Drevo Gramr an excellent choice for anyone looking to tailor their gaming or typing experience. While the bulky plastic body is something of a disappointment, the USB-C connection is undoubtedly an excellent addition, even if the Type-C connector is only on the keyboard end of the cable.

Best gaming keyboard | Best graphics cards| Best gaming chair
Best VR headset | Best wireless gaming mouse | Best wireless gaming keyboard 

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(Image credit: E-Element)

5. E-Element Z-88 Mechanical Keyboard

A variety of switch types and colors

Switch: Outemu Blue, Brown, Red | Size: 81-Key | Backlights: Preset RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: Function Key | Wrist rest: No

Variety of Outemu switches
Aluminum backplate
Available in black or white
No wrist rest
On the expensive side

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.

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(Image credit: Havit)

6. Havit Mechanical Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Killer combo at a low price

Switch: Proprietary Blue | Size: Full Size | Backlights: Preset RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key | Wrist rest: Yes

Sleek industrial look
Included mouse
Side backlighting
Detachable wrist rest
No software
No dedicated media keys

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.

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(Image credit: HyperX)
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(Image credit: HyperX)
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(Image credit: HyperX)

7. HyperX Alloy Core RGB

A trusted brand made affordable

Switch: Membrane | Size: Full Size | Backlights: 16.8 Million Color RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: Dedicated | Wrist rest: No

Dedicated media keys
Dedicated software
Trusted brand
Spill-resistant
Plastic body
Membrane switches

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.  

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(Image credit: Redragon)
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(Image credit: Redragon)
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(Image credit: Redragon)
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(Image credit: Redragon)

8. Redragon K502

Low profile RGB for everyone

Switch: Membrane | Size: Full size | Backlights: Preset RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: Function key | Wrist rest: Yes

Inexpensive
Low-profile design
Membrane switches
Non-detachable wrist rest

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. 

Jargon buster - keyboard terminology

Actuation Point

The height to which a key needs to be pressed before it actuates and sends an input signal to a device.

Clicky

A switch that delivers an audible click every time it's pressed, generally right around the point of actuation.

Debounce

A technique to ensure that only one input registers every time a key is pressed.

Housing

The shell that surrounds the internal components of a switch.

Hysteresis

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. 

Linear

A switch that moves directly up and down, generally delivering smooth keystrokes without noise or tactile feedback.

Mechanical Keyboard

A keyboard built around individual switches for each key rather than a membrane sheath mounted on a PCB.

Membrane Keyboard

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.

Stem

The component of a switch on which the keycaps are mounted on a mechanical keyboard.

Switch

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.

Tactile

A switch that provides a 'bump' of feedback every time it's pushed.

Tenkeyless

A keyboard that lacks the right-hand number pad.

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