You’re a gamer. You rely on twitch reflexes and split-second decision making. Often, millisecond differences decide whether you—or the other guy—comes out on top. And the best gaming keyboard makes all the difference.
Aside from your PC, your mouse and keyboard are two of your most valuable weapons when wading into any virtual arena. They are extensions of yourself, the way you control each and every action. Naturally, this control must be precise and consistent if you stand any chance of winning.
That’s why we’re bringing you this buyer’s guide on the 15 best gaming keyboards on the market. Read on to find your next companion.
- 1 Zoom Out: A Comparison Table of the 15 Best Gaming Keyboards
- 2 Zoom In: A Closer Look at the Top 15 Best Gaming Keyboards for 2021
- 3 Gaming Keyboard Guide Part I: How do I Find the Best Gaming Keyboard for Me?
- 4 Gaming Keyboard Guide Part II: Advantages of a Gaming Keyboard
- 5 Gaming Keyboard Guide Part III: Gaming Keyboard Switches
- 6 Gaming Keyboard Guide Part IV: Popular Brands of Keyboard Switches
- 7 Gaming Keyboard Guide Part V: Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge Video Review
Zoom Out: A Comparison Table of the 15 Best Gaming Keyboards
Here are our top gaming keyboard picks of this year. For a closer look at each board, head to our Zoom In section below.
|Razer Ornata Expert||Membrane||Mecha-Membrane|
|SteelSeries Apex M400||Mechanical||QX1 Linear|
|Havit KB390L||Mechanical||Kailh Blue|
|HyperX Alloy FPS||Mechanical||Cherry MX Blue, Red, Brown|
|Corsair Gaming K70||Mechanical||Cherry MX Blue, Red, Brown, Speed|
|Logitech G Pro||Mechanical||Romer-G|
|Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro||Mechanical||Cherry MX Blue, Red, Brown|
|Glorious PC Gaming Race GMMK||Mechanical||Gateron|
|Razer BlackWidow Elite||Mechanical||Razer Green, Orange, Yellow|
|Corsair Gaming K95||Mechanical||Cherry MX Speed, Brown|
|Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge||Mechanical||Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Red, Silver|
|SteelSeries Apex Pro||Mechanical||OmniPoint|
Zoom In: A Closer Look at the Top 15 Best Gaming Keyboards for 2021
Like anything, you can get an excellent gaming keyboard if you’re willing to fork out the cash. This list is composed of a variety of keyboards at different price points starting from low price and ascending to high. You’ll find it matches the order of the comparison table in the section above.
Manufacturer: Redragon | Design: TKL | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Outemu | Price: 💰
The K552 is hands down one of the best priced mechanical gaming keyboards available. It uses Redragon’s custom mechanical ‘Outemu’ switches for excellent tactility. They’re surprisingly responsive and often compared to the Cherry MX Green switches in terms of overall performance. You can even hear the audible click sound with these next-level switches.
In addition, Redragon gives you three backlighting options with the K552. Choose the red backlight, RGB backlight, or no backlight. A fantastic gaming keyboard at an unbeatable price.
✔ LED adjustable lighting
✔ Metal & ABS craftsmanship
✔ Custom mechanical switches
✘ Very loud
✘ Occasional double keystrokes
Manufacturer: Razer | Design: Full | Type: Membrane | Switches: Mecha-Membrane | Price: 💰
The Ornata uses Razer’s new Mecha-Membrane tech for its keys. These switches fall somewhere in between a squishy laptop keyboard and a stubborn MX black switch. In terms of ergonomics, the keys sit about mid-height, allowing you to register actions in reduced time.
This keyboard comes with a wrist rest built-in, which helps keep those nasty pains and aches at bay. If it doesn’t sit right with you, it is easily removable. This keyboard is compatible with the Razer Synapse software, allowing you to get data on your gaming as well as control lighting. However, Chroma runs about ten more bucks than the standard green backlit version.
✔ Leatherette wrist rest
✔ Anti-ghosting & 10KRO
✔ Individually backlit keys
✘ Mild key wobble
✘ Wrist pad is squeaky
Manufacturer: Logitech | Design: Full | Type: Membrane | Switches: Mech-Dome | Price: 💰
The G213 is Logitech’s entry board. But don’t let the bargain-basement price fool you. This full-size keyboard comes with clean RGB LED backlighting, a dedicated media control center, and so much more.
Our favorite feature of the G213? Its superior customizability. At such an affordable price, you get programmable F keys, dynamic lighting, and endless competitive enhancements via the Logitech Gaming Software. Plus, the tactile Mech-Dome performance keys excel in-game, and the wrist rest is a major ergonomic boon.
✔ Customizable F Keys
✔ Brilliant RGB LED backlighting
✔ Logitech Gaming Software Suite
✘ Loud keys
✘ Materials are nothing special
Manufacturer: SteelSeries | Design: Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: QX1 Linear | Price: 💰
The SteelSeries Apex comes in a few different build options, but the M400 is our favorite. The QX1 Linear switches deliver optimal gaming performance and are perfect for casual and pro gamers alike. Moreover, each key has its own individual blue LED illumination (no RGB on this one).
Indeed, this keyboard is aimed at the eSports crowd with its performance switches, full anti-ghosting, and 104-key rollover technology. Plus, the reinforced steel backplate is built to last. This keyboard is bolstered by the SteelSeries Engine Software, allowing you to program keys, set up macros, and play around with other settings. A great offering from SteelSeries.
✔ Steel construction
✔ Full anti-ghosting & NKRO
✔ Programmable w/ SteelSeries Engine
✘ No RGB
✘ Lesser-known switch brand
Manufacturer: Havit | Design: TKL or Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Kailh Blue | Price: 💰💰
Weighing in at just over a pound and measuring 13.9 x 5 x 0.9, this is one of the most compact mechanical gaming keyboards available. Fairly priced, you can pick this one up for about $60. While you don’t get full RGB unless you pay another $20 bucks, you do get a nice ice blue backlight color that is sure to please.
This keyboard is plug in play, and you can opt to control the backlighting features with key commands (although there is software you can download from Havit’s site if you prefer). This keyboard uses excellent Kailh PG1350 Blue Switches, the latest low profile blue switch for Kailh. 6mm ultra-thin suspended keycaps, 11.5mm switch height, 3mm key travel distance, and 45±10gf actuation force deliver on what gamers need in terms of performance. Overall, this is a well put together package from the lesser-known brand Havit.
You can read our hands-on review of this keyboard for more of the particulars.
✔ Red backlit keys
✔ Solid steel frame
✔ Game Mode, anti-ghosting, and NKRO
✘ No RGB illumination
✘ Requires 2 USB ports
Manufacturer: HyperX | Design: TKL or Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Cherry MX | Price: 💰💰
Pleasing design enthusiasts everywhere, this mechanical keyboard is the most compact full-size keyboard on our list. The reason for this unique design? The compressed form factor is ideal for competitive action thanks to easy-to-reach keys and overall ergonomics.
The great part is that this compact keyboard doesn’t sacrifice anything when it comes to quality. It sports a specialized Game Mode, NKRO functionality, 100% anti-ghosting, and so much more. Also, a big selling point for us is that HyperX offers this keyboard in several different Cherry MX Switch variations. If you’re looking for an exceptional keyboard worthy of competitive gamers, look no further. At about $80, the HyperX Alloy FPS is an attractive value proposition. And that’s ‘nuff said.
✔ Red backlit keys
✔ Solid steel frame
✔ Game Mode, anti-ghosting, and NKRO
✘ No RGB illumination
✘ Requires 2 USB ports
Manufacturer: Corsair | Design: Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Cherry | Price: 💰💰
Widely considered to be one of the best gaming keyboards for the price, the Corsair K70 MX is a mighty mechanical keyboard with best-in-class construction. The strong, black brushed aluminum chassis cradles a swath of Cherry MX Red mechanical switches, which have fantastic actuation whether you’re sweet spotting the key for multitaps or just typing out a paper. There is just something about that sexy black anodized, brushed aluminum frame that makes it hard not to stare. The keys feel great, and the backlighting is pleasant without being overpowering.
The K70 sports 6 dedicated multimedia keys. The contoured WASD and 1-6 keys assist gamers in finding the right keys while minimizing keystroke mistakes. Of course, Corsair has included full key rollover and matrix anti-ghosting, so input is 100% accurate even if you’re mashing out that consistent 200+ APM. A textured removable wrist rest completes the keyboard.
Even though Corsair is relatively new to manufacturing gaming peripherals, they got this one right. High-quality components. Simple design. The K70 delivers excellent performance, and most gamers couldn’t ask for more. It’s a fantastic introduction to the world of mechanical keyboards, and may well end your search for a solid keyboard before it even truly begins.
✔ FPS and MOBA keycaps
✔ NKRO & matrix anti-ghosting
✔ Detachable soft-touch wrist pad
✘ Maybe a bit too responsive
✘ CUE Software could be improved
Manufacturer: Logitech | Design: TKL | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Romer-G | Price: 💰💰
The G Pro is our favorite gaming keyboard appearance-wise, as the sleek & slim design turned out incredibly well. The Romer-G mechanical switches are no joke either. They type like a mushier version of Cherry MX Browns with very short travel distance and an excellent all-around feel. That said, if you like the feeling of Cherry MX Reds (with long bottoming out travel distance), they may not be for you.
Switches aside, Logitech packs a ton of features into this compact keyboard. Programmable F-keys, 26KRO, anti-ghosting, a dedicated game mode, and of course, RGB backlighting. The dedicated control app is pretty cool, too, and gives you plenty to play around with.
✔ Dedicated game mode
✔ Compact & durable design
✔ RGB lighting with over 300 built-in lighting profiles
✘ No keypad
✘ Not wireless
Manufacturer: Cooler Master | Design: TKL or Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Romer-G | Price: 💰💰💰
The MasterKeys series is Cooler Master’s step up from the QuickFire Rapid line. Gleaming RGB LEDs, buttery Cherry MX Switches, and a sleek layout with minimal logos make this mechanical keyboard a standout. You also get on the fly macros, anti-ghosting, and profile support. One thing we really dig is that this model is that it’s available in small (compact), medium (tenkey), and large (full size) flavors. Hence the Pro S, Pro M, and Pro L naming convention. On top of that, you can choose Cherry Red, Brown, or Blue switches.
For a comprehensive take on the MasterKeys Pro S with Cherry MX Red Switches, see our full review.
✔ Anti-ghosting & NKRO
✔ On-the-fly macros & profiles
✔ Minimal design w/ sleek RGB LEDs
✘ No USB passthrough
✘ Keycaps aren’t very durable
Manufacturer: Glorious PC Gaming Race | Design: TKL or Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Gateron | Price: 💰💰💰
This keyboard from startup brand Glorious PC Gaming Race is unique. The GMMK (Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard), is an excellent idea if you’re looking to experiment with a variety of switches and keycaps. You can hot-swap all flavors of Cherry, Gateron, and Kailh branded switches on this keyboard. Pretty neat!
As Glorious PC Gaming Race states, “This is the last keyboard you will ever need to buy.” We have a full write up on this keyboard here.
✔ Clean, minimalist design
✔ Modular, mechanical keys
✔ Sandblasted aluminum faceplate w/ RGB LEDs
✘ Fairly expensive
✘ Noisy stabilizers
Manufacturer: Razer | Design: Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Razer | Price: 💰💰💰
We had to make room for another Razer product. They hold a special place in our hearts, and most of their gear backs up the hype. If you’re the type of person that has to have the best, the BlackWidow Elite is a serious contender along with Corsair’s and Logitech’s top offerings.
The BlackWidow Elite is the best and brightest in Razer’s lineup of keyboards. Powered by Razer Chroma tech, you can choose from over 16 million color combinations. The keyboard sports a sleek look that is a staple of all Razer products and looks great when coupled with a Razer mouse.
Choose from Razer Yellow, Razer Green, or Razer Orange switches. And if you’re ambitious, Razer offers this keyboard in several product bundles. If you want a mouse mat and mouse, or just one or the other along with this keyboard, they offer discounts when you buy them at the same time.
✔ Built atop Razer Chroma
✔ Ergonomic & magnetic wrist rest
✔ Military-grade metal construction
✘ Subpar cable management
✘ Depends on Razer Synapse Software
Manufacturer: Logitech | Design: Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Romer-G | Price: 💰💰💰
Logitech has been in the computer peripherals business for a long time, and it shows in their premier mechanical gaming keyboard, the G513. It is one of the best-built gaming keyboards out there, with an industrial look and feel that is just plain solid. It is a pretty spendy keyboard, but Logitech packs in a ton of great features.
Logitech chose to go with Romer-G switches, which make this keyboard a joy to type with. The keys are tactile, with non-clicking switches that result in relatively quiet mechanical keys. The backlighting system is very functional and straightforward, with vivid colors and excellent customizability.
A detachable memory foam palm rest and key rollover/anti-ghosting round out this keyboard. If you’re big on programmable features, a fan of Logitech gear, or just looking for something to match your snazzy Logitech mouse, this premium keyboard fits the bill. At $120, the price isn’t anything to sneeze at. But for the money, you’re getting one well-engineered gaming keyboard that is built to last.
✔ Memory foam wrist rest
✔ Convenient USB passthrough
✔ Stunning RGB LED backlighting
✘ No media controls
✘ Requires two USB ports
Manufacturer: Corsair | Design: Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Cherry MX | Price: 💰💰💰💰
If money is no issue, the K95 from Corsair Gaming is at the pinnacle of keyboard greatness. There are no compromises here—you get it all. Plus, if you’ve been itching to try the new Cherry MX Speed Switches, here’s your chance! With an actuation point of 1.2mm, it is Cherry’s fastest switch ever.
The brushed aluminum frame, vibrant RGB backlighting, and gunmetal gray looks rugged and built to last. This keyboard has 8MB onboard storage, so you can take your profiles with you without needing to log into cloud software. Functional LightEdge software, 6 dedicated macro keys, 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover, and detachable wrist rest round out this keyboard nicely.
✔ 6 Dedicated G keys
✔ 100% anti-ghosting & NRKO
✔ Aircraft-grade brushed aluminum frame
✘ Requires 2 open USB ports
Manufacturer: Kinesis | Design: TKL | Type: Mechanical | Switches: Cherry MX | Price: 💰💰💰💰
Where do we begin? This unique keyboard from Kinesis is unlike anything else on the market. It boasts a split design that takes ergonomic typing to the next level. Moreover, the novel form factor doubles as a gaming keypad that delivers an insane competitive edge.
It also features top-notch wrist rest, 8 dedicated gaming keys, immersive RGB lighting, and plug-and-play functionality. Moreover, all the Cherry MX keys are fully programmable and designed to work flawlessly with Windows, Mac, and Linux. Comfort, control, and precision are all just a keystroke away with the Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge.
Interested? You can read more in our dedicated review.
✔ Brilliant RGB lighting
✔ 8 dedicated gaming keys
✔ Split ergo design that doubles as a keypad
✘ Very expensive
✘ Spacebars are a non-standard size
Manufacturer: SteelSeries | Design: TKL or Full | Type: Mechanical | Switches: OmniPoint Adjustable | Price: 💰💰💰💰
We are a big fan of SteelSeries products, and you definitely can’t go wrong with one of their keyboards. The Apex Pro is the world’s fastest mechanical keyboard thanks to SteelSeries’ next-level OmniPoint Adjustable Switches. Not only that, but it also boasts a stunning OLED Smart Display with an integrated command center. The display lets you make settings adjustments and multimedia commands on the fly for unrivaled competitive performance.
Throw in aircraft-grade alloy construction, a premium wrist rest, and RGB illumination, and you’ve got one of the best gaming keyboards around. The greatest part? It comes with an impeccable software suite called the SteelSeries Engine, which makes macro creation and managing configuration profiles a cakewalk.
✔ OLED Smart Display
✔ Premium magnetic wrist rest
✔ Ultra-fast response time with OmniPoint Switches
✘ Incredibly expensive
✘ Not liquid resistant (be careful)
Gaming Keyboard Guide Part I: How do I Find the Best Gaming Keyboard for Me?
When you’re shopping for a gaming keyboard, there are a few factors you should consider.
Most gamers herald mechanical keyboards as the gold standard, but we have included a few non-mechanical keyboard options on our list. Long story short, each key in a mechanical keyboard is paired with a spring-loaded switch. Many claim that the superior audio and tactile feedback give users an edge. Rubber-dome keys, on the other hand, typically feel a bit mushy when pressed down. But some people like that.
To learn more about mechanical keyboards, check out our helpful mechanical gaming keyboard guide.
Features take on a whole new significance with gaming keyboards. Some features provide robust functionality and, when utilized, can provide a competitive advantage over your adversaries.
Swappable keycaps, backlighting, separate lighting zones (such as highlighting the WASD keys), extra programmable keys, statistic tracking, and touch screens are some of the features incorporated into select gaming keyboards. Heck, in a couple of years, you might be able to get one with a coffee and energy drink dispenser.
That said, you may be the type of gamer who prefers the no-frills, minimalist designs that some peripheral manufacturers offer. You’ll find a fantastic mix of both types in our list of gaming keyboards.
The aesthetic is another thing to take into consideration when shopping for the right keyboard. Some could care less as long as the keyboard performs well and is responsive. Others, however, want a keyboard that looks good with their gaming set-up.
Some gamers want a keyboard that matches the brand of their mouse, and others must have the flashy backlighting options. From the industrial design of Logitech keyboards to the sleek look of Razer keyboards, there are a variety of styles out there. Obviously, all of this comes down to personal preference and whether something “looks cool” is a matter of subjective opinion.
If you’re spending a great deal of time on computers for school or work, day-to-day tasks, and entertainment (who isn’t?), an ergonomic factor is something you should seriously consider.
Nobody wants a drawn-out battle with carpal tunnel that ends up getting them sidelined for a few weeks. Take care of those wrists, mate.
Gaming Keyboard Guide Part II: Advantages of a Gaming Keyboard
Sure, a good gaming keyboard is not a replacement for having mad skills. But two equally skilled gamers going toe-to-toe, with one using a high-quality gaming keyboard and the other using cheap pack-in peripherals, results in a huge discrepancy. The former absolutely has the upper hand.
Here are some of the most notable advantages of using a gaming keyboard.
- Supports concurrent key presses. Most cheap keyboards support, at the very most, 3 simultaneous presses. If you’re playing a game like Starcraft 2 or an FPS/Fighter/MOBA where you need to execute multiple commands in the blink of an eye, anti-ghosting technology ensures every key you press registers simultaneously and accurately.
- More responsive. Gaming keyboards reduce the delay between keystroke and action. In high levels of play, every millisecond counts.
- Longevity. Many of these gaming keyboards are built to last (about 10x longer than your average keyboard), making the extra cost a worthwhile investment. Most gamers put their keyboards through a lot of punishment, and keys must remain as responsive as possible. Some manufacturers guarantee their boards for over 50 million keystroke cycles. That’s a lot of keystroking!
- Ergonomically designed. Not every gaming keyboard puts ergonomics first (or even last) in their design scheme. Nonetheless, some gaming keyboards do a great job of taking care of your wrists. If you’re someone who likes marathon gaming sessions, this is something to consider.
- Tactile and auditory feedback. This is a significant factor, particularly for mechanical boards that assist gamers in feeling and hearing every command. Some gamers rave about mechanical switches and how they even make typing a more enjoyable experience. We do know this: once someone has tried a mechanical keyboard, they usually never go back.
Gaming Keyboard Guide Part III: Gaming Keyboard Switches
The switch is the magic underlying each key (aka keycap). This mechanism delivers the input—the keypress—to your computer, and this results in visible action on your monitor (hopefully a well-thrown grenade or other successful outcomes). As such, the switch is the most critical component of a gaming keyboard, and care must be taken when selecting the right type.
As more newcomer brands pile into the gaming keyboard space, there’s been tremendous growth in the number of switches available. Currently, there are three broad categories of keyboard switches:
- Mechanical Switches. The neat thing about mechanical switches is that you can get extremely granular with your customization. You can customize both the feel of the switch (linear, tactile, clicky), the actuation force (how hard you need to press the key), as well as other specs like the actuation point, noise level, and total travel distance. Actuation force is measured in gram-force (gf) but is often shortened to grams (g). Mechanical switch actuation force typically ranges from 40g to 60g, but there are some outliers.
- Rubber Dome Switches. Also known as membrane keyboards, the rubber dome switch is usually found in less expensive keyboard models. A lot of gamers do not like rubber dome switches because they feel “mushy” (as one gamer put it, “it feels like typing into mashed potatoes), have a lot of “drop,” and generally aren’t as durable as mechanical switches. Depending on the quality of the electrical contacts, membrane keyboards may wear down and stop registering key presses (or register one press as a double-tap). Nevertheless, some folks prefer the soft landing of membrane keys, and there are some quality rubber dome switch models out there, e.g., the SteelSeries Apex 150.
- Scissor Switches. Technically speaking, the scissor-switch is a subcategory of the rubber dome switch. You’ll often find these types of switches in keyboards because they are space-efficient. Scissor switches are also found on low profile keyboards and have a much shorter travel distance than a traditional rubber dome switch. Macbooks before 2016 use the scissor-switch design, though many Apple products now employ butterfly switches that allow for an even shorter travel distance.
- Proprietary Switches. Whether in the pursuit of gaming perfection or to stand out with their marketing messages, some of the heavyweights of gaming peripherals have developed their own proprietary keyboard switches. Examples include Razer’s Mecha-Membrane switch and Logitech’s Romer-G switch.
Gaming Keyboard Guide Part IV: Popular Brands of Keyboard Switches
Here are some of the most popular switch brands currently. There’s no one best switch for gaming, but you’ll still find plenty of opinions on which is better. Much of it comes down to personal preference, so you may want to experiment with a few flavors yourself before settling on just one.
A German manufacturer that launched their first switch in 1983. They are generally considered the gold standard of mechanical switches. To dispel confusion, Cherry marks each of their switch types with a unique color.
A Chinese manufacturer that makes mechanical switches similar to the Cherry MX. Many claim that there is no noticeable difference between the two.
Another Chinese manufacturer that makes MX-stem switches like those of Cherry. Colors also classify their switches.
Yet another, even larger Chinese manufacturer that builds their own switches and develops custom switches for partner brands. Their switches power a surprisingly large portion of the mechanical keyboard market.
Razer Mecha-Membrane & MX
Proprietary switches by San Francisco based gaming peripheral goliath Razer. Razer promotes their Mecha-Membrane and MX switches as the best of both worlds: “a soft touch with a crisp tactile click.”
You’ll find these switches in Razer’s relatively new Ornata Chroma keyboard and higher-end models. Razer keeps the specs of their switches under wraps, so the actuation force and other such details are unknown.
Logitech Mech-Dome & Romer-G
Proprietary switches from Swiss company Logitech. Logitech has created four proprietary switches: the Mech-Dome, the Romer-G tactile, the Romer-G linear, and the GX Blue. They claim their Romer-G mechanical switches have speedier actuation times (5.0ms compared to the average 6.7ms of most mechanical switches). Their Romer-G’s use 45g of actuation force and 3.2mm of travel distance; their GX Blues a 50g force and 4.0mm travel.
SteelSeries QX1 & OmniPoint
Proprietary switches from SteelSeries. SteelSeries is a Danish gaming accessories manufacturer, and with the help of Kailh, they introduced their exclusive QX1 switch in 2015 and their OmniPoint switch a short while later. The QX1 switch requires 45g of actuation force and offers 3mm of travel distance, while the OmniPoint boasts an adaptable design for next-level gaming.
Gaming Keyboard Guide Part V: Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge Video Review
Still searching for the best gaming keyboard? If so, we want to highlight the features found on the Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge.
You’ve got to check out this video from Linus Tech Tips over on Youtube. He takes you through the ins and outs of the Freestyle Edge and shows you why it’s a force to be reckoned with in the competitive gaming scene: