The best optical keyboard for gaming you can buy right now is the Razer Huntsman Elite (See it on Amazon). It’s got everything you could possibly want from a flagship $200 keyboard, including tank-like build quality, a nifty volume wheel, fancy RGB lighting, and of course, high falutin’ optical switches.
If you’re not sure what an optical switch is, it’s actually quite simple. Instead of a using a mechanical switch mechanism where a moving part rocks back and forth when tripped, optical keyboards use lasers. That’s right, friggin’ lasers. When you press down on a key it breaks a beam of light, thereby triggering a key press. Though it’s cool to think, “holy cow I’m typing with lasers,” there are some benefits to using an optical switch versus a purely mechanical one. Optical switches can theoretically register keypresses faster than a mechanical switch, and since there are less moving parts, they are generally more durable too. Whether or not you can feel the additional speed of the switch is up for debate, however.
Razer’s opto-mechanical switch. Source: Razer
So far we’ve reviewed a handful of optical keyboards, and based on our hands-on testing here are our picks for the best optical keyboards.
TL;DR – These are the best optical keyboards for gaming.
Razer Huntsman Elite
Gigabyte Aorus K9
HP Omen Sequencer
Best Overall Optical Keyboard for Gaming – Razer Huntsman Elite
From our review: “The Razer Hunstman Elite brings something new to the table with its exceptional optical switches, and useful features like the illuminated wrist rest and programmable wheel. The $200 price tag is a hard pill to swallow though, especially when it’s missing some features found on other boards at this price-point, like the Corsair K95. Still, its really great lighting and features make it an excellent and a very unique keyboard.”
Best Affordable Optical Keyboard for Gaming – Gigabyte Aorus K9
The Gigabyte Aorus K9 is a great choice for an affordable optical keyboard. That doesn’t mean it’s cheap: it’s still more than a comparable tier mechanical keyboard, but among its peers, at $130 (street) it’s affordable. Best of all, it goes on sale a lot, so there’s a good chance you can grab it even cheaper.
From our review: “Die-hard Cherry MX fans might scoff at the idea of yet another proprietary switch, but I appreciated the Flaretech keys buttery presses and fast response. All that combined with well-spaced keys and a premium feel – lack of wrist-wrest and clumsy software aside – make this a great keyboard.”
Best Optical Keyboard With Macro Keys – HP OMEN Sequencer
From our review: “The OMEN Sequencer is a great keyboard, even if it lacks a few of the features and always-intuitive software you’d expect from a keyboard in this price range. That said, its optical-mechanical switches feel noticeably more responsive than standard blue switches, and the red volume roller was a joy to use….”
Best Optical Keyboard With Out-There Design – Bloody B945
The Bloody B945 isn’t the best optical keyboard, but its unique “reverse numpad” design landed it a spot on this list nonetheless.
From our review: “The optical switches in the Bloody B945 are unique and effective, and work exceptionally well for gaming. But even as a more affordable option than the optical-equipped Razer Huntsman, the odd numpad setup, lack of extra features, and horrific software mar what’s an otherwise good keyboard with unique features.”