The best gaming keyboard should be responsive, reliable, and possibly plastered in RGB lights, if you're into that sort of thing. Throw in some funky media controls, volume wheels, keycaps, dazzling lighting options, and sometimes even replacement switches, and your fingers are in for a serious treat. Aside from your gaming mouse, you'll interact with your gaming keyboard more than any other piece of hardware on your desk, so it pays to get it right.
There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all gaming keyboard because preferences vary from gamer to gamer. The number of options you have these days for gaming keyboards can feel overwhelming. Even keyboard switches come in all colors and types, which means you might want to read up on the best mechanical keyboard switches before heading to checkout.
The next question is whether you go for a 60% board or tenkeyless (TKL) offering to save precious desk space or go for a full-sized keyboard packed with media controls? Are you more a Cherry Red or for Razer Green type of person when it comes to switches? If you're still confused or just unsure what you want, we can help determine what keyboard style is right for you.
Below we've picked out the best gaming keyboards to accommodate most gamers' particular needs and wants. These are all gaming keyboards we've tested personally and extensively on team. Furthermore, we've also tested out the best cheap gaming keyboards that won't upset your bank account if these choices are a bit out of your price range.
Best gaming keyboard deals
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum | Cherry MX Speed | RGB LED Backlit |
$199.99 $148 at Amazon (save $51.99)
The Corsair K100 may be the new king on the hill, but the usurped K95 is still an incredible board and one that will serve you for years flawlessly. You'll find everything you want here, and plenty more that you didn't realize you needed as well. A truly awesome keyboard.
EVGA Z20 | Optical Mechanical linear switch | 4K Hz polling rate | Per-key RGB lighting |
$174.99 $64.99 at Newegg (save $110)
This EVGA keyboard is a bit of a steal at that price, as it's one of the more recent arrivals from the company and fully mechanical. That said, it has tracked at this price for a few months on Amazon, but that doesn't make it any less of a deal today if you're in the market.
EVGA Z20 and X20 gaming keyboard and mouse bundle |
$294.98 $104.98 at Amazon (save $190)
If you need the complete set, this EVGA bundle offers gaming keyboard and a wireless mouse for not much more than the price of some gaming keyboards.
Best gaming keyboards
When you want to go the extra mile and upgrade to the absolute best of the best, it's hard to find a more premium option than the Corsair K100 RGB. Be warned, though; this is a big keyboard: its enormous footprint still requires some desk clearing before it can be nested comfortably. But feature-wise, the K100 RGB's got it all. Dedicated media controls and a USB pass-through, a metal volume wheel, RGB lighting. Speaking of RGB, there is an aggressive amount of RGB in this keyboard.
During our tests, we noted excellent key responses, 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, and that's why it's top of the list.
Read our full Corsair K100 RGB Optical review.
All things to all people, that's almost what the Mountain Everest Max gaming keyboard represents. And it's one of my favorite designs since it first landed on my desk. I don't always need the numpad on a full-size keyboard, but it certainly comes in handy sometimes during the workday. When I'm gaming though, all I want is a compact TKL board to get my mouse and keyboard hands closer together and give me more desktop real estate to fling around my rodent.
That's what the Everest Max offers; the flexibility to have your TKL cake and eat your numpad. Use your numpad. Whatever. Basically, the magnetically attaching numpad module can be attached to either side of the base mechanical TKL board and is completely hot-swappable.
The admittedly costly $270 (£230) complete Everest Max kit also comes with a plush magnetic wrist rest, a media module with discrete controls, and an LCD screen.
It's also a board for the keyboard enthusiast, with a base that allows you to pull out switches at will and replace them as easily as just pushing them in. You can also go for the barebones board, picking your own switches and keycaps from the start to create a truly custom option.
My only reservations with the Everest Max are its high price and the initial immaturity I experienced with its config software. 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.
Read our full Mountain Everest Max review.
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.
If you can't cope with your gaming board not 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.
This TKL board is basic, but what it does, it does very well. It's solid, well-built, reliable, and looks pretty decent too. There's no wrist rest, no passthrough, or media controls, but I'll happily give it a pass in favour of affordable functionality.
If you've got your heart set on a wireless keyboard, then the Logitech G915 is a great example of the genre. 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 brush aluminum. There are some smart media controls in the upper right-hand corner of the board, including a lovely volume wheel, 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.
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.
Read our full Logitech G915 TKL review (that's the slightly smaller version).
The Keychron K2 redefines affordability for wireless gaming keyboards. It starts out at just $69, and for that you get a decent-sized gaming keyboard with great wireless functionality and Gateron mechanical switches.
Its build quality is decent overall, 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.
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.
The Wooting Two HE has a trick up its sleeve: 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 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 is analog at its very best, and if you want heaps of customisability, this is the gaming keyboard for you.
Read our full Wooting Two HE review.
For a board that can be illuminated in up to 16.9 million colors, the HyperX Alloy Elite sports a relatively simple aesthetic while still packing 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, it makes up for with its reasonable price and quality, durable design.
The HyperX Alloy Elite RGB leaves no feature box unchecked. It's equipped with dedicated media controls, a USB passthrough, a detachable wrist-rest, and full RGB backlighting. It also includes an extra set of silver keycaps for WASD and the first four number keys to up its aesthetics. The board supports full N-key rollover, meaning you never have to worry about key presses not registering.
The new HyperX Alloy Elite 2 has now been launched, featuring some gorgeous ABS pudding keycaps, but it only seems to be available on the HyperX website right now. It is damned pretty, but you don't get the wrist rest... you win some, you lose some.
Read our full HyperX Alloy Elite 2 review.
If even mecha-membrane keys don't suit you, and you demand a full membrane typing/gaming experience, 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.
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.
Gaming keyboard Q&A
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 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 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.