Gamers have some excellent options to enhance any gaming experience without being prohibitively expensive, but is going to be different for every style of gamer.
Gaming enthusiasts’ preferences vary widely, from a preference for backlit devices to a penchant for a clicky switch. Then there are those who insist on a wireless gaming keyboard, while others desire a wired keyboard. Some gamers need a detachable wrist rest, while others cannot survive without a dedicated macro key or linear switch. There are even monsters who enjoy a quiet gaming keyboard (I kid!). Luckily, there are options out there for everyone.
One of the current best mechanical keyboards that won’t make too much of an impact on the wallet is the Redragon K561 Visnu. This cheap mechanical sells for around $40. However, you’ll have to consider shelling out more money for features such as easy macro key setup, per-key RGB lighting, high-performance key switches, fully programmable buttons, discrete media controls and the best build quality to make your gaming experience even better. And that’s not even getting into things like a palm rest, detachable wrist rest and other ergonomic design features.
Don’t know membrane from mechanical switches? Head to the buying advice section below. Also, if you think any other mechanical gaming keyboard belongs here, let me know in the comments. Truly, the best gaming keyboard for your needs is right at your fingertips. Now all you need is the rightand you are going to destroy every game that you play.
Our current top ten-key-less (TKL) gaming keyboard. A step up from the standard G Pro, the Pro X has swappable switches, letting you choose the exact feel you want with Logitech’s GX switches available in blue clicky, red linear and brown tactile sets for $50 each. Removing and replacing the switches is simple, making it easy to customize your experience if you’ve got the money. It’s modding made easy.
The keyboard’s overall design doesn’t differ much from the G Pro, though, which would be our runner-up pick. It’s made for esports, and its small, sturdy build and removable braided cable makes it good for travel. Logitech’s G Hub software is straightforward to use so you don’t spend a lot of time hunting for settings or control options. Attaching macros to the function keys is painless as well.
Just a good, solid keyboard design for fast responsive gaming and typing. The linear Kailh Speed Silver switches are quiet and smooth with a low actuation force and short actuation point so quick double and triple taps weren’t a problem. Plus, swapping the stock keycaps for the new white pudding double-shot caps make it look amazing.
The NGenuity software is easy to use with game presets and custom setups. You can store up to three profiles to the keyboard’s memory, too. At just over $100, you don’t get a wrist rest or discrete media controls, but it’s one of the only ones here with a removable braided cable, and there’s a USB pass-through for charging a phone.
One of the best gaming keyboards for shared spaces, the K70 uses quiet, linear Cherry MX Red RGB low-profile switches. That means you get the fast responsive performance of regular Red switches but without the high-profile keycaps, for a thinner, compact keyboard. In other words, it looks and feels more like a modern office keyboard with a more parallel hand position than your average mechanical gaming keyboard.
There’s per-key RGB lighting as well as textured keycaps for gaming, including one for the extra-large spacebar. There are LED backlit media controls along the top, so you can find them in the dark. And there’s a USB pass-through. About the only place it feels like Corsair skimped was the included plastic wrist rest.
Corsair’s iCue software is one of the better packages for controlling lighting and programming keystrokes on the keyboard. Plus, if you have other iCue-enabled peripherals and components in your PC, you can control them all from this one application.
If you’re going to spend nearly $200 to find the best gaming keyboard and are into mechanical keyboards, oh do we have the device for you. This mechanical gaming keyboard is our top pick at the moment for a great gaming experience, and a lot of it has to do with the lighting effects. It’s a solid keyboard in design and performance with Razer’s Purple optomechanical switches delivering fast response time performance and good typing experience if you like clicky, tactile feedback. There are media controls (though it would be nice if the icons on them lit up, not just the outside) and they’re programmable just like all the other keys.
Razer’s Synapse software gives extensive control over the full-sized keyboard’s setup, though you can stick to presets if you’re not into tweaking settings. Along with the per-key lighting, there’s also a band of light that goes around the outside of the keyboard and the included padded wrist rest, which magnetically attaches to the keyboard.
It’s a wired keyboard, so it does eat up a second USB port on your computer, though, and there’s no USB passthrough on the Huntsman Elite to make up for it. If that’s important to you, go with Razer’s BlackWidow Elite, which is about $50 less with a choice of switches.
Whirlwind FX made a splash a few years back with its Vortx, a black box that, put simply, uses audio and video cues from the PC game you’re playing and immerses you in the experience by blowing hot or cold air on you, e.g. a nearby onscreen explosion will trigger a burst of hot air from the Vortx. The company’s Element keyboard brings that same idea to your keyboard.
With the included software, you can set the keyboard’s per-key RGB lighting to have different effects during regular use and when media is playing including various games. For example, I tested it out with the newly released effects for Minecraft: Dungeons, which essentially reproduces whatever’s onscreen with the keyboard lights. It does add an element of immersion, but the integration is better with games like Fortnite where the keyboard lights are immersive and helpful by fully changing to pink and red when you take damage, purple when you add experience, and green when you heal, among other things. And if you really like to tinker, you can create your own integrations using the company’s open-platform lighting software.
However, while there are lots you can do with the lights, you can’t set macros or remap keys aside from setting the F1-F4 keys to launch your choice of applications. The keyboard itself is slim and sturdy with Kailh switches, and you have your choice of Red (linear) and Blue (clicky and tactile). And if you really want to enjoy the lights, you can swap the matte-black keycaps for a set of black pudding caps or lightcaps that are translucent white on top with black bottoms and the markings on front.
Roccat developed the switch for this mechanical keyboard, called Titan. It’s a quiet, tactile switch with a well-defined bump when actuated with no wobble and is firm and responsive for gaming. The shallow keycap and switch design make it seem like the keys are floating above the metal chassis top, giving it the look and feel of an island-style keyboard. The Vulcan is fine for typing, too, but I liked it more for gaming.
The company’s Swarm software isn’t as straightforward to use as others, but you’ll find all the same sort of design tools for creating custom lighting setups and macros with different profiles. You can even make your key presses sound like laser blasts or a typewriter, among other things, through your speakers or headphones. And if you have other AIMO devices, the lighting can be matched between them.
Other extras on this mechanical gaming keyboard include a knob that adjusts volume and the brightness for the RGB per-key lighting, and a wrist rest, although the latter is hard plastic and attaches loosely, so it can shift around some while gaming.
If you’re big into notifications and just generally doing more with the lights on your keyboard, the Apex M750 is worth a look. The company’s Engine software lets you do all the typical lighting customization you’ll get with other keyboards, but you can also install apps to give you light notifications for game chat platform Discord, display effects for your music or even convert an animated GIF for playback using the lights.
The mechanical keyboard uses the company’s linear QX2 switches, which I found good and fast for gaming and quick typing, thanks to their short actuation point and low force. However, while the switches themselves are quiet, there’s a lot of clack when the keys bottom out, along with some noticeable wobble.
The rest of the keyboard is fairly unremarkable, lacking higher-end touches like a braided cable, USB pass-through, discrete media controls or even adjustable feet.
Just like Cherry MX Red switches, don’t have that tactile feedback, but because of their low force and smooth actuation they’re preferred for gaming, especially where multiple taps of the same key are necessary., getting the right gaming keyboard has a lot to do with personal preference (and budget). For instance, I like tactile switches — ones where you can feel the actuation point — but I don’t care for clicky key switches that make a sound when actuated. Linear switches, like
Also, some keyboards might feel great for gaming experiences, but you might not like them for day-to-day typing. For example, those same Cherry MX Red switches that are great for gaming might be too light for some typists. If you have a chance to test out different types of switches before you buy, I highly recommend it. You can check out this glossary of keyboard terms to help narrow your preferences.