PC peripherals have become a hot market in the last decade or so, and nowhere is that more obvious that in the gaming sub-sector, which means anyone shopping for the best gaming keyboard in 2019 has a massive number of options at their fingertips. We're seeing an incredible array of products across all sorts of switches and feature sets, from keyboards that act more like gamepads than traditional decks to boards that flash a Christmas in Rockefeller Plaza level of colored lighting spectacle. While this means that there's a range of choices at the both the top and bargain tier, it can also breed a level of marketplace confusion, so we've tested dozens of decks both new and old to help you sort through the heap.
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Gaming PC build guide for 2019
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The first step to finding the best gaming keyboard to fit your needs is educating yourself. First, you need to figure out whether you want the durability and responsiveness of a mechanical keyboard of the plush softness of a membrane deck (or some option in between, like Razer's mecha-membrane offering). If you do opt for a mechanical board, you then need to figure out which switches you prefer. Want to type stealthily away in your office without alerting/annoying your co-workers? Try a Razer Yellow, or Cherry Red or Silent Red. Or, if you want to replicate the feeling (and noise) of a traditional typewriter, something like the Razer Orange or Cherry Blue switch will get you the closest. Outside of those core families, there are also options like Razer's opto-mechanical switch which 'actuate at the speed of light' and can only be found in their Huntsman line, or alternative manufacturers like Kailh or Logitech.
1. HyperX Alloy Elite
The best gaming keyboard
Switch: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Red | Size: Full size | Backlights: Red | Passthroughs: USB | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: Detachable
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. While there is an RGB variant of the Alloy Elite available, the base model can regularly be had for around $60, whereas you'll pay in excess of $100 for some colored lighting on the pricier version.
2. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum
The best large, premium priced gaming keyboard for strategy fans
Switch: Cherry MX Speed, Brown | Size: Full size | Backlights: RGB | Passthroughs: USB | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: Detachable
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
The best budget keyboard
Switch: Logitech Romer-G | Size: Full size | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: No
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. ROG Strix Scope
The best compact keyboard for shooter enthusiasts
Switch: Cherry MX RGB Blue, Brown, Red, Black, Silent Red, Speed Silver | Size: Full size | Backlights: RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: No | Wristrest: No
Asus' ROG Strix Scope is a keyboard made for function over form. While it's festooned with the typical array of RGB lighting, the solid aluminum top place sports an understated, industrial design that's welcome in an era where flash and spectacle too often take precedence. The Scope is a solid, durable, reliable keyboard that works exactly as advertised without the bloat of unnecessary gimmicks or unwelcome bloat. And with a wide range of Cherry's RGB switches, replacing their less even 3mm LED solution for RGB, you can find the Scope in practically any flavor you'd like.
It also has a few quality of life features to appeal to fans of shooters. Full macro customization is available, and the left Ctrl key has been broadened to make it easy to hit during a tense firefight without accidentally actuating other keys. The more compact form factor of the Scope also means that it (and all the other bottom row keys so often critical in FPSes) is really easy to reach down and smack when you need it.
5. Das Keyboard 4 Professional
Best keyboard for typing enthusiasts
Switch: Cherry MX Blue, Brown | Size: Full size | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: USB | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: No
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. Cooler Master MK850
Best keyboard to replace a gamepad
Switch: Cherry MX Red | Size: Full size | Backlights: Full RGB | Passthroughs: USB | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: Yes
Cooler Master may not be the first name that springs to mind when you think of gaming keyboards, but the MK850 may very well change your mind. The headline feature of their latest peripheral offering is the aimpad technology built into a subset of the deck's keys, which transform them with the push of a button into analog inputs not unlike the analog stick on a gamepad. This means that you can push a key part of the way down and it'll register the input differently than pushing it all the way to the floor, the way you can tilt an analog stick slightly forward to walk in a 3rd person shooter or tilt it all the way to run. It's a useful feature, particularly in stealth or racing games, where analog input is an important factor and a traditional mouse and keyboard setup hasn't sufficed.
It's not just the aimpad that makes the MK850 a great board, though. It's packed with the additional features that elevate a gaming keyboard, stuff like a row of dedicated macro keys and media controls (including two independent scroll wheels for controlling things like system volume or RGB brightness), USB passthroughs, and Cherry MX Red switches. And it's an attractive deck, with raised keycaps to highlight the backlighting, and a supportive magnetic wrist rest and anodized aluminum backplate.
7. Kinesis Freestyle Edge
The best ergonomic keyboard for gamers
Switch: Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Red, Silver | Size: Full size | Backlights: Blue | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: Detachable
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.
8. Razer Huntsman Elite
Features Razer's opto-mechanical switches for incredible performance
Switch: Razer Opto-mechanical | Size: Full size | Backlights: 16.8 million color RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: Detachable magnetic
The Huntsman family of Razer keyboards is the only place in the world to find their opto-mechanical switch, and it's one of the best (and most technologically interesting) switches on the market. The opto-mechanical build eschews traditional metal contacts, and instead actuates by a beam of light that fires through the switch when the key is depressed, meaning actuation is almost instantaneous. The other major advantage of removing all the relatively frail, slender metal contact pieces from the switch is that they're rated as twice as durable as standard mechanical switches, up to 100 million keystrokes. They're tactile switches that actuate at 1.5 mm and 45g of force, meaning they're ridiculously easy to spam but still provide tactile feedback. They're also amazing for typing for much the same reason.
The rest of the Elite is well designed too, with a comfy detachable magnetic wrist rest, a full suite of dedicated media controls, and a multi-function dial that can be used for anything from altering your PC's volume to scrolling through lighting suites for the 16.8 million RGB color options. It also features some handy storage on the keyboard, so you can easily save your preferences to a profile that will travel with you if move it to a different machine. It's an excellent, fully-featured keyboard with some truly fantastic switches, though you'll pay a premium for the privilege of using them.
9. Cooler Master MasterKeys SL
Small, compact, and affordable
Switch: Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Red, Silver, Green | Size: TKL | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: No
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.
10. Razer Cynosa Chroma
The best membrane option available
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Per-key RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: Per key RGB lighting, supports Windows 7+ and OSX 10.8+
If even mecha-membrane keys don't suit you and you demand a fully membrane typing/gaming experience, the Cynosa is the deck for you. It has some of the best feeling, low profile membrane keys I've ever tested, and at a retail price of $59.99 is one of the most affordable gaming keyboards out there (past a certain threshold of quality). While it may lack some of the features a number of gaming boards pack in these days, 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.
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, but for $20 extra the only real addition is underglow 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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