Snagging a keyboard with that sick gamer aesthetic doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. Our picks for the best cheap gaming keyboards will give you the look and feel you crave without breaking the bank. The manufacturers on this list may not carry the same clout as the best gaming keyboards from Razer or Logitech, but they can definitely replicate the look and feel of the more popular brands.
When we're talking cheap, we're looking at stuff we wouldn't mind adding to our personal collections if we had less than $50 to our name. These keyboards may not be bristling with features like their more expensive cousins, but they are still well rounded and bring something to the table that we think merits mentioning.
When shopping for a budget keyboard, it's just as important to notice what's missing as well as what's there. One of the first things to get the ax when talking about budget keyboards is software, which can occasionally be something of a blessing in disguise. On the one hand, you don't have yet another third-party application mucking op the works, but you lose the versatility that some external software can offer, such as fine-tuning RGB lighting or assigning macros.
The second and probably more apparent exclusion is the switches these keyboards use. Not all of them utilize mechanical key switches, and those that do are likely using knock-off Cherry switch designs. Bottom line is, if you find a keyboard that mentions that it has "blue" switches, they're probably not Cherry MX Blues, so don't be surprised if they feel a bit different from what you were expecting.
The keyboards on this list are arranged in no particular order, but we've tried to include as many as we could that encompass a variety of price points up to and including $50. There are even a couple of quality keyboards on this list that come bundled with other peripherals to sweeten the deal. While these may not qualify as some of the best mechanical keyboards around, they'll still make for solid additions to your arsenal, especially if you're on a budget.
Best Cheap Gaming Keyboards
1. STOGA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
A great, clicky, all-rounder
Switch: Propietary Blue | Size: Tenkeyless | Backlights: Pre-set RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function Key | Wristrest: None
The STOGA mechanical keyboard uses a facsimile of Cherry MX Blue switches to emulate that clicky sound and feel 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.
2. PICTEK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Sturdy, with dedicated media controls
Switch: Propietary Red Switch | Size: Full size | Backlights: Pre Set RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: None
The PICTEK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard uses proprietary linear switches that aim to replicate the feel of Cherry MX Reds. This full-size keyboard has pre-set 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 definitely a bit of an oversight, considering that this keyboard stretches the budget when compared to the rest of our lineup.
3. Havit RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Kailh switches and RGB Underglow
Switch: Kailh Blue | Size: Full Size | Backlights: Pre Set RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: None
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.
4. DREVO Gramr 84-Key
A compact delight for typists and gamers
Switch: Outemu Black,Blue,Brown,Red | Size: 75% | Backlights: White or RGB Pre Set Backlighting | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key Integrated | Wristrest: None
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 certainly a nice addition, even if the Type-C connector is only on the keyboard end of the cable.
5. E-Element Z-88 Mechanical Keyboard
A variety of switch types and colors
Switch: Outemu Blue, Brown, Red | Size: 81-Key | Backlights: Pre Set RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function Key Integrated | Wristrest: No
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.
6. Havit Mechanical Keyboard and Mouse Combo
Killer combo at a low price
Switch: Propietary Blue | Size: Full Size | Backlights: Pre Set RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: Yes
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.
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 | Wristrest: No
HyperX is slowly joining the ranks of Logitech and Razer as a trusted name among peripheral manufacturers. While it typically caters to a more premium brand, the Alloy Core RGB brings extensive features and solid performance at an affordable price. The price does skirt the definition of a "budget" keyboard, but the dedicated media controls and customization software definitely help justify the MSRP. This does mean that HyperX has had to incorporate membrane switches for this particular model, but that has the added effect of making the Alloy Core spill-resistant.
8. Redragon K502
Low profile RGB for everyone
Switch: Membrane | Size: Full Size | Backlights: Pre Set RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function Key Integrated | Wristrest: Yes
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 only use membrane switches, the K502 is quiet and the only low-profile keyboard on this list.
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 everytime 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.