TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming Keyboards:
1. Corsair K70 RGB MK.2
Best Gaming Keyboard
Corsair K70 RGB MK.2
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Cherry MX Blue, Red, Brown, Speed, Silent ● Features: USB 2.0 pass-through, 8MB onboard memory, three onboard profiles, dedicated media buttons, detachable wrist rest ● Size: 17.24″ x 6.53″ x 1.53″
The Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 (read our review) might look like any old, standard fare gaming keyboard and it absolutely is, but that’s also exactly why it’s the best. Corsair’s mainstay gaming keyboard has been refined over the years to give us this quintessential PC gaming peripheral. Rather than adding superfluous macro keys and an elaborate frame, the K70 focuses on what’s important with a sturdy aluminum body, 104 accurate and responsive key switches, media shortcut buttons with a volume wheel, and full per-key RGB illumination.
Another thing that makes the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 particularly great for all gamers is you can find it with a variety of mechanical switches including Cherry MX Speed, Brown, Blue, Red, and Silent. There are even two low-profile switch versions (Chery MX Red Low Profile and MX Speed Low Profile) of the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 if you find regular keycaps to be too tall for your liking. Throw in extra textured keycaps, USB passthrough, and attachable wrist rest, and you have a keyboard that has everything you could want.
2. IOGear HVER Pro RGB
Best Budget Gaming Keyboard
IOGear HVER Pro RGB Gaming Keyboard
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Red, Brown ● Size: 18.4″ x 7.1″ x 1.18″
The IOGear HVER Pro RGB (read our review) is a surprisingly premium keyboard for an affordable price. While most keyboards at this price range come with caveats like creaky plastic frames, this one features a tough, brushed aluminum chassis.
You also get mechanical switches with per-key RGB lighting at an affordable price on the IOGear HVER Pro RGB. Like many other keyboards on this list IOGear has elected to utilize key switches of its own, which are only labeled as Red and Brown, I used the latter and they have a noticeably large tactile bump. These brown key switches also seem to fight back after you actuate the key to ensure you don’t bottom out while typing.
Overall, the IOGear HVER Pro RGB is a unique and well-built keyboard for its affordable price.
3. Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo
Best Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Roccat Titan ● Features: 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 based processor, 512KB onboard macro and settings memory, dedicated media buttons, magnetic wrist rest ● Size: 18.18″ x 9.25″ x 1.26″
The Roccat Vulcan 120 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 120 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 120 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 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.
4. Razer Ornata
Best Membrane-Mechanical Hybrid Gaming Keyboard
Razer Ornata Chroma
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Razer Mecha-Membrane ● Features: fully programmable keys, on-the-fly macro recording, magnetic wrist rest ● Size: 18.24″ x 6.67″ x 1.3″
If you come to an impasse of choosing between a membrane and mechanical keyboard, why not get one that features the benefits of both. Utilizing a unique mecha-membrane key switch, every key press on the Ornata stops softly on a rubber dome switch, but along the way, you’ll feel and hear a tactile bump and click mid-travel that mimics the typing feel of a mechanical switch.
The Razer Ornata isn’t just loud like a mechanical gaming keyboard, in my opinion, you get louder and more forceful feedback from the Razer Ornata. Another thing this peripheral has going for it is its mid-height keycaps, which help to make typing feel a bit more casual without having to crane your digits over full-size keys.
5. HyperX Alloy Core
Best Membrane Gaming Keyboard
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Membrane ● Features: spill resistant, dedicated media buttons ● Size: 17.45″ x 6.90″ x 1.4″
HyperX’s Alloy Core is a unique entry in this category as it features everything every other keyboard on this list, but then it chooses to utilize membrane keys. As a strange as a gaming keyboard without mechanical switches might sound, some users actually prefer the membrane feel—yes really. Since every key press is relayed through a rubber dome, you don’t get any of the clickety-clack of a mechanical key switch while keystrokes land more softly.
Using membrane keys also helps keep the price of this gaming keyboard below $50 and it even features full RGB lighting with an extra light bar above the function keys. Another shocker is you get dedicated media controls. You can’t really ask for more from a gaming keyboard this cheap.
6. Corsair K63 Wireless
Best Wireless Gaming Keyboard
Interface: 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth 4.2 ● Key switch options: Cherry MX Red ● Features: dedicated media buttons, detachable wrist rest ● Size: 14.4″ x 6.81″ x 1.61″
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.
7. Logitech G Pro Keyboard
Best Tenkeyless Gaming Keyboard
Logitech G Pro
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Romer-G Tactile ● Size: 14.17″ x 6.02″ x 1.35″
Whether you’re looking for a compact gaming keyboard or you just don’t care for a number pad, the Logitech G Pro (read our review) doesn’t disappoint as the best tenkeyless keyboard. It’s so compact because it has also been designed to be portable with a fully detachable cable and rigid build quality, so you don’t have to worry about banging it up on your way to LAN parties and tournaments.
Rather than utilizing Cherry MX switches, the G Pro features Logitech’s proprietary Romer-G mechanical switches, which cut response time by 10ms. Not only do these switches feel faster they use a square bottom that lends it a more balanced and tactile key press.
8. Logitech G513
Best Full-Size Gaming Keyboard
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Romer-G Tactile, Romer-G Linear, GX Blue ● Features: USB pass-through, onboard memory for storing lighting profiles, dedicated media buttons, memory foam wrist rest ● Size: 17.52″ x 8.66″ x 1.4″
The Logitech G513 (read our review) is a full-sized keyboard, but it’s fairly compact for its classification thanks to its frameless design. Instead of having thick housing surround the keys, there’s only a thin sheet of aircraft-grade 5052 aluminum to serve as the top plate for this keyboard while the keys hover above them. This sort of arrangement makes for a clean look and it’s also easier to clean too since there are no recesses for dust and other crud accumulate.
Logitech’s proprietary “Romer-G” switches are also satisfying to use. Thanks to the boxy nature of the underlying mechanism, each key actuates on a balanced mechanism that also adds a bit of dampening so they’re quieter than your typical Cherry MX switch. But that’s just my experience with the company’s Romer-G Linear Switches, you’ll also be able to buy the Logitech G513 with Romer-G Tactile and GX Blue Clicky switches if you prefer.
Logitech’s backlighting is also certainly unique as it only lights up the very top of each key rather than flooding the whole keyboard with RGB. It produces a unique aesthetic and it looks great too.
9. Razer Huntsman Elite
Best Optical Gaming Keyboard
Razer Huntsman Elite
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Razer Opto-Mechanical ● Features: hybrid onboard memory, five onboard profiles, dedicated media buttons, magnetic wrist rest ● Size: 17.24″ x 6.53″ x 1.53″
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. Another bonus is the all-new media control wheel (finally!) that’s actually easy to use.
10. Gigabyte Aorus K9 Optical
Most Durable Gaming Keyboard
Gigabyte Aorus K9 Optical
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Red or Blue Flaretech Optical-Mechanical ● Features: splash proof, swappable switches, fully programmable keys ● Size: 17.3″ x 5.5″ x 1.5″
Razer is far from the only company to introduce an optical keyboard, meet the Gigabyte Aorus K9 Optical (read our review). It’s positioned to be faster than your traditionally analog mechanical gaming keyboard, but its durability is what really makes it stand out.
Not only is this keyboard designed to be splash-proof, but you can also actually fully submerge this peripheral in water or any other beverage you choose and it’ll still work just like it would on your desk. That’s not some wild claim either, I’ve put it to the test of using it underwater for a full workday.
For its first optical gaming keyboard, Aorus designed its own Flaretech switches that reduce the typical 20ms debounce time found in traditional key switches to only 0.03ms. Basically, debounce is the final process of registering your keypress, so with it being so much faster, you can expect this keyboard to be much more responsive.
11. Cooler Master MK850
Best Analog Gaming Keyboard
Cooler Master MK850
Interface: Wired ● Key switch options: Cherry MX Red ● Features: Aimpad technology, 512KB onboard memory, on-the-fly macro recording, dedicated media buttons, magnetic wrist rest ● Size: 18.7″ x 6.1″ x 1.7″
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 control 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.
12. Razer Turret
Best Couch Gaming Keyboard
Interface: 2.4GHz wireless ● Key switch options: Razer Mechanical Green Switches ● Features: Xbox Dynamic Lighting, pull out mouse tray, integrated wrist rest ● Size: 15.35″ x 7.64″ x 1.45″
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 so as to not feel like a bare board on your lap while preventing 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.
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 keypress 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. On the flipside 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 their own 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.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam