Saturday, February 27, 2021

Best Gaming Keyboard 2021: Top Mechanical, Wireless, and RGB Keyboards

Must read


Whether you’re gaming, browsing the web, or doing a bit of work at your computer, a good chunk of your time will be spent using your keyboard. From the ease with which you can type on it to the split-second responsiveness it offers, the best gaming keyboard will offer a well-rounded experience that lives up to its role as a centerpiece in your gaming setup.But, gaming keyboards come in all shapes and sizes, and your needs can play a huge role in which keyboard ends up being the right one for you. A wireless gaming keyboard might give you more flexibility with your setup and a tidier desk space, but a high-end wired keyboard may offer more features and avoid the fuss of needing to find new batteries or recharge regularly. A clicky mechanical keyboard may offer a consistent experience and enjoyable feel, but you should look for something quieter if you have your computer out in a shared living space.

All of these factors go into making a keyboard that’s not just great on its own but also great for you. We’ve tested a wide range of keyboard types, figuring out which truly stand out as champs in different categories. The keyboards here are all worth your consideration, so all that’s left for you is to see which looks like the best fit for the gaming setup you desire. If you’re browsing in the UK, click here to find out where you can to find the best gaming keyboard.

TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming Keyboards:

1. Corsair K70 RGB MK.2

Best Gaming Keyboard

Our Pick

Corsair K70 RGB MK.2

On Amazon

The Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 (read our review) is a keyboard that gets the job done not only with style and high performance but also with plenty of thoughtful features that will make your computing experience that much better. The Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 is available with a variety of Cherry MX key switches, letting you opt for clicky, linear, silent, low-profile – whichever you prefer.

The keyboard is complete with a number pad, dedicated media playback controls (including a volume wheel), USB passthrough to conveniently connect your mouse or other peripherals, and even a detachable palm rest. All the keys are backlit, and you can customize their colors individually. Corsair also makes it easy to jump between keyboard profiles quickly, change the lighting, and set the keyboard to game mode (disabling certain keys, like the Windows key) with dedicated buttons for each. The whole thing is built on a sturdy aluminum frame that’ll help ensure your investment lasts for years to come.

2. SteelSeries Apex 5

Best Budget Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

SteelSeries Apex 5

On Amazon

You can get cheaper keyboards than the SteelSeries Apex 5 (read our review), and you can even get cheaper mechanical ones, but you’d be missing out on a lot of what SteelSeries has to offer with this keyboard. By using hybrid switches, SteelSeries is able to offer much of the feel of mechanical key switches while saving on the cost.

By keeping the cost of the switches low, SteelSeries manages to offer some great value everywhere else. You get a magnetic wrist rest, full RGB lighting that you can customize on a per-key basis (and SteelSeries has some of the snazziest RGB lighting effects around, and a sturdy aluminum build. You won’t find many other keyboards offering this much for $100.

3. Roccat Vulcan 121 Aimo

Best Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Roccat Vulcan 121 Aimo

On Amazon

The Roccat Vulcan 121 Aimo (read our review) is arguably one of the most unique looking gaming keyboards you’ll find on the market. Rather than having keycaps that cover up the key switches, the Roccat Vulcan 121 Aimo only has keycaps over the top of the key, leaving the rest exposed. This way the top of the keys looks like they’re just floating above the clear switch housings full of RGB lighting like some sort of cyber-age typewriter.

Of course, Roccat didn’t just make the Vulcan 121 Aimo look like this just for the hell of it. Its reduced keycaps only weigh half as much as regular ones, allowing them to reset more quickly. In terms of feel, Roccat’s Titan tactile switches fall somewhere between the speed of a Cherry MX Red mixed with stronger tactile feedback than you would get from a typical Cherry MX Brown. Roccat recently introduced a linear speed switch that removes the tactile bump and reduces the actuation distance from 1.8mm to 1.4mm

4. Razer Ornata V2

Best Membrane-Mechanical Hybrid Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Razer has updated its already quality Razer Ornata to continue offering a valuable option for gamers on a budget. The Razer Ornata V2 replaces the more-or-less unused space in the top right corner of the original keyboard with dedicated media controls, including a volume wheel. Having quick access to media controls is surprisingly handy once you get used to it, and it can be hard to go back.

Beyond that update, you’re still geting the same hybrid Mecha-Membrane key switches that combine the feel of mechanical with the affordability of membrane. You’ll also find a thoroughly cushioned wrist rest that attaches to the keyboard with magnets. And, there’s no shortage of RGB LEDs to make the keyboard shine. That’s per-key RGB lighting, so you can customize it at a granular level, but Razer naturally has a number of fanciful effects already baked in.

5. Razer Cynosa V2

Best Membrane Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Razer Cynosa V2

On Amazon

Mechanical keyboards can be almost painfully expensive, but for all the hype they get, they’re not always that much better an experience to use than a membrane keyboard. In the long run, membrane keyboards may not offer the same lifespan, but they can still be plenty responsive, have stunning RGB lighting effects (sometimes looking even better than their mechanical counterparts), and come at more affordable prices.

That all rings true with the Razer Cynosa V2 (read our review). This gaming keyboard has the looks of a mechanical keyboard, but it’s got a $60 price tag that makes it much easier on the wallet. In gaming, it performs admirably with a 1,000Hz polling rate and full N-key rollover, and its light show is spectacular. An extra perk of its membrane design is that it actually can hold up if you accidentally spill your drink onto it. So, not only will you be saving money by choosing this over a mechanical option, but you won’t be at as high of risk of having to pay even more to replace it if it gets a bit wet.

6. Logitech G915

Best Wireless Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

The Logitech G915 (read our review) is a pretty amazing wireless gaming keyboard all told. It’s was made from the ground up to be low-profile between chiclet keyboard-style keys to its ultra-slim chassis that’s sits so low you don’t even need a wrist pad. It also uses low-profile GX switches (basically customized Kailh switches) that offer a satisfying click, tactile bump, or smooth linear action despite their short height. As a wireless board, you can have it connected to up to three devices including over its wired, 2.4GHz wireless, and Bluetooth interfaces.

Logitech’s latest wireless peripheral also offers the longest battery life out of any wireless gaming keyboard with up to 35 hours with lighting turned on at full brightness and about 1100 hours with all lighting turned off. Of course, all this wireless gaming keyboard splendor is going to cost you as the Logitech G915 launched with a $250 price tag.

7. Logitech G Pro X

Best Tenkeyless Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Logitech G Pro X

On Logitech

Tenkeyless gaming keyboards are a great option for gamers who don’t need a numeric keypad or have a lot of desk space, or simply want to play with their hands closer together. The Logitech G Pro is a stand out option in its class largely thanks to it’s detachable key switches, which allow to install a mix of clicky, tactile, or linear switches anywhere you please—even on the arrow keys. It’s the first gaming keyboard that truly allows customize the keyboard and put different feeling keys right next to each other.

Beyond the astounding level of customizability you won’t find anywhere else, the Logitech G Pro keyboard is built like a tank. This keyboard was also designed to brought to gaming events with its fully detachable cable and inner steel frame. You don’t have to worry about banging it up on your way to LAN parties and tournaments..

8. Corsair K63 Wireless

Best Wireless Gaming Tenkeyless Keyboard

commerce artwork

Corsair K63 Wireless

On Amazon

Wireless gaming keyboards are far and few in between, but I picked the Corsair K63 Wireless (read our review) because it’s just as reliable as its wired version and makes almost no compromises to ditch its said tether. The Corsair K63 Wireless is about as small as tenkeyless keyboards get, yet it still features full media controls and a battery that’s good for 10-25 hours of gaming with its blue backlight turned on—75 hours with lighting turned off.

You can also connect this gaming keyboard to more than one device by using both its wireless dongle and Bluetooth connection. Corsair also released a lapboard made specifically for the K63 Wireless that turns it into one of the best gaming keyboards for couch gaming.

9. Glorious Modular Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Best Customizable Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Most gaming keyboard have you choose between a single key switch and live with it for the rest of peripherals life, however, the Glorious Modular Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (or Glorious GMMK for short) is one of the few that lets you swap out your mechanical keys whenever and however you like. The Glorious GMMK may only come with Gateron Brown switches but you can easily swap any of them out for Cherry, Kailh, or other types of Gateron switches.

The Glorious GMMK features hot swap bays under each key switch that makes replacing them as easily as adding custom key cap set. Aside from not having to dissasemble or solder anything, the easy swap capacity of this keyboard also lets you mix and match different types of key switches right next to each other.

Aside from the ability to customize the Glorious GMMK however you please, it’s built on a strong platform with full LED backlighting, a aluminum faceplate. On the software side you also get full macro programing on all the keys.

10. Razer Huntsman Elite

Best Optical Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Razer Huntsman Elite

On Amazon

Razer’s Huntsman Elite (read our review) is expensive at $199, but it’s a top-of-the-line keyboard through and through, with plenty of great amenities. Its big feature is that it uses an optical switch instead of a purely mechanical one, so you’re basically typing at the speed of light as every keystroke trips a beam of light rather than a mechanical mechanism. Since there are fewer moving parts it’s also supposed to be more durable.

Optical switches aside, the Huntsman has gorgeous RGB lighting on all the keys as well as perimeter lighting that even extends to the magnetic wrist rest. If you’re a fan of adding color to your gaming setup, this is the gaming keyboard for you. Another bonus is the all-new media control wheel (finally!) that’s actually easy to use.

11. Corsair K100 RGB

Best High-End Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Corsair K100 RGB

On Amazon

The Corsair K100 RGB delivers the high-end with features you won’t find elsewhere. The most notable feature on the Corsair K100 RGB is its 4,000Hz polling rate, which promises to give you unmatched responsiveness. A powerful, on-board processor will also ensure all of your inputs are registered even as you take advantage of the full, per-key RGB lighting regardless of how complex your lighting effects are.

The keyboard itself features either Cherry MX Speed RGB Silver switches or Corsair’s own optical mechanical switches. There are also dedicated media controls, macro buttons, and special integration with Elgato Stream Deck. USB passthrough offers the perfect spot to plug in your mouse, and a plush wrist magnetically attaches to the keyboard to give your palms that extra bit of luxury.

12. Cooler Master MK850

Best Analog Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Cooler Master MK850

On Amazon

Optical keyboards are cool and all, but if you wanted to go in the opposite direction with an extra analog keyboard, look no further than the Cooler Master MK850 (read our review). This is Cooler Master’s latest flagship gaming keyboard and it introduces what the company calls Aimpad for full analog control. Eight keys (Q,W,E,R,A,S,D,F) on this peripheral are equipped with an IR sensor that measures precisely how far each key is being pressed along a 4mm axis.

This analog precision can come in handy for an extra touch of precision like carefully adjusting your moving speed in a stealth game, turning rate in racing games, or how far you’re leaning in a first-person shooter. The whole system is designed to give you the smooth analog control of a gamepad without the need for an actual controller.

13. SteelSeries Apex Pro

Most Customizable Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

SteelSeries Apex Pro

On Amazon

The SteelSeries Apex Pro (read our review) is a unique entry into the gaming keyboard world. Instead of using mechanical or optical elements, SteelSeries proprietary OmniPoint switch uses magnetic fields to track the position of each key. With this technology, this peripheral can essentially tell how far you’ve pressed down on every key, which in turn allows you to to set the actuation distance of each key. That includes everything from your main WASD keys and the other important letters surrounding it to the almost never used arrow keys.

At 0.4mm, each key will act as a hair-trigger, meanwhile, you can set 3.6mm as the longest actuation distance if you find yourself bottoming out all the time. Fancy key switch tech aside, the Apex Pro is just a responsive, well-designed keyboard with a premium magnetic palm rest. At the top right there’s also an informative OLED screen, which is used for changing profiles and settings.

If you like the look and design of the Apex Pro but don’t care for the tuning your actuation distance, SteelSeries Apex 7 comes with the same design and features, but with traditional Red, Brown, or Blue switches and a much lower $160 price.

14. Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB

Best Ergonomic Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB

On Amazon

PC Gaming can be hard your hands and RSI is a terrible thing to experience. If you’ve ever felt fatigued or pain while playing, please take a break and consider getting an ergonomic gaming keyboard like the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB (read our review).

It’s split into two parts to let your hands naturally sit at an angle rather than parallel with one another. Additionally, if the keyboard feels too flat with your table to comfortably use, you can also buy an optional $25 lift kit that raises the keyboard halves at 5, 10, and 15-degree angles.

Ergonomics aside, the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB is still a full-on gaming keyboard with fully programmable macros—up to three macros on any key—and per-key RGB illumination.

15. Razer Turret

Best Couch Gaming Keyboard

commerce artwork

Gaming PCs aren’t the only devices that let you game with keyboard and mouse now that the Xbox One has added support for them. The Razer Turret (read our review) has been designed specifically with the Xbox One—though it’ll also work with any PC too—and ultimate couch gaming.

On its underside, it features a soft, waxy material that helps prevent it from sliding around. Then on the right side, you can pull out a mousepad tray that’s also slightly magnetized, so the included gaming mouse won’t slip off—well at least up to a 14-degree angle anyway.

The Turret also includes Razer’s fantastically clicky Green switches to round out this smartly designed keyboard for Xbox and PC gaming on a couch.

Where to Get the Best Gaming Keyboard in the UK

Completing your set up with the perfect gaming keyboard could be one of the most important steps. Thankfully, those in the UK have plenty of brilliant keyboards to choose from, as the vast majority included in the article are also available from select retailers.

K70 RGB MK.2
HVER Pro RGB
Vulcan 121 Aimo

Roccat

Vulcan 121 Aimo

Best Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Ornata V2

Razer

Ornata V2

Best Membrane-Mechanical Hybrid Gaming Keyboard

Alloy Core
K63 Wireless

Corsair

K63 Wireless

Best Wireless Gaming Tenkeyless Keyboard

GMMK
Huntsman Elite
Master MK850
Apex Pro

SteelSeries

Apex Pro

Most Customizable Gaming Keyboard

Turret
Aorus K9 Optical

Gigabyte

Aorus K9 Optical

Most Durable Gaming Keyboard

What to look for in a Gaming Keyboard

Before you even start looking at gaming keyboards you should consider what type of key switch you want, after all, you’ll be typing and gaming with this peripheral every day.

When it comes to key switches there are two major types: membrane and mechanical.

Membrane keyboards employ a rubber or silicon dome at the end of every key press to register a keystroke and provide the user with a small amount of tactile feedback. Due to the simplicity of a membrane keyboard, they usually are more affordable than mechanical keyboards, so they’re suitable for users on a budget. On the flip side though, the rubber or silicon used as a membrane will inevitably break down faster than a mechanical switch.

Mechanical key switches are known for delivering a much stronger and satisfying amount of feedback. Unlike membrane switches, this type involves many more components including a stem, spring, and metal contacts leaves, the last of which is what actually registers a keystroke.

There’s a wide variety of mechanical key switches to choose from, so we’ll start by looking at the most common ones available, Cherry MX.

  • Cherry MX Red: Linear action that delivers fast actuation with very little tactile feedback.
  • Cherry MX Black: Cherry’s other linear switch that offers a bit more resistance.
  • Cherry MX Silver: Otherwise known as Cherry MX Speed, this type of key switch offers linear action with a shorter actuation height and lower resistance than a Cherry MX Red.
  • Cherry MX Brown: This type of switch actuates with a tactile bump for a noticeable amount of force feedback.
  • Cherry MX Blue: Actuates with an even greater amount of tactile feedback and an audible click.

At this point though almost every major gaming hardware maker has moved onto developing its own key switches including Razer, Logitech, SteelSeries, Cooler Master, and Roccat. All these companies have developed their own keyboard switches designed specifically for gaming. They all have varying actuation force and points as well as a distinct travel distance. For the most part, all of these unique key switches all act like variations of Cherry MX switches usually with shorter debounce rates that make them feel faster.

Another thing to consider about gaming keyboards is the height of your keycaps. For the most part most keyboard use full-sized or regular height keycaps, which sort of require you to curl your fingers over to reach the top of the keys. Mid-height keycaps like on the Razer Ornata give you a slightly more relaxed typing experience. Lastly, low-profile keycaps as found on the Logitech G915, Cooler Master KS-series, or Corsair K70 MK.2 Low Profile are perfect for users who prefer to have their fingers hovering over their keys like they would on a gaming laptop.

More Expert Tech Roundups

Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark



- Advertisement -

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest article