The best gaming keyboard isn't just a luxury item, replete with a blinding array of RGB lighting to impress your friends (or your Twitch audience). A great mechanical deck can actually improve your game (and, if you do any amount of office work, seriously up your WPM) by optimizing your response time and putting all the essential macros you need right under your fingertips. Plus, there's just something incredibly satisfying about using a solid, beautifully designed gaming keyboard. It's a combination of the brushed, anodized aluminum, the plush comfort of a padded leatherette wrist rest, and, most importantly, the premium feel of a proper mechanical switch.
Best deal today
Corsair K70 LUX | $80 at Amazon (save $40)
Our top pick is a fantastic $40 off MSRP right now at Amazon. It's a gorgeous, sturdy, high performance deck, this configuration of which is loaded with quiet, linear Cherry MX Red switches.
So do you begin in your quest for the best gaming keyboard? Well, you've come to the right place - we selected a broad range of decks for different tastes and needs (and different game genres), but all the models on this exceed a certain bar of quality. You just need to decide which suits your needs best. If you're looking for a noisy, clacky board that will give you tactile feedback after every key press, look for something with a Cherry MX Blue or similar switch. On the other hand, if you're often typing on it in a crowded office and don't want to risk annoying your neighbors, something in the Cherry MX Red range might be a better fit, silent, linear keys with a smooth action. In-between are a massive field of choices, of course, from the quiet but tactile Cherry MX Browns, to stuff like Razer's opto-mechanical switches in the Huntsman line, which "actuate at the speed of light."
1. Corsair K70 LUX
Our top pick gaming keyboard to complete your arsenal
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Red LED | Programmable keys: All | Features: Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches, supports Windows 7+
Corsair’s K70 LUX mechanical keyboard is our top pick for an all-purpose gaming keyboard. It features Cherry MX Blue switches, which are very clicky and tactile, great for both gaming and for typing. The board is backlit by a stylish, slightly ominous red (or, for slightly more dosh, full RGB), which can be set to various intensities and to glow behind every key or just a smaller subset of ‘home’ keys.
Every key is assignable via the Corsair Utility Engine suite making for a keyboard that is definitively your own in both form and function. There are also dedicated media controls and an onboard USB passthrough port, which effectively moves an existing USB port from your PC to your keyboard, rather than providing an additional port.
The only major downsides are the price and the fact that there’s no OSX version of Corsair Utility Engine, but the former is mitigated right now by some deep sale prices ($79.99 at Amazon). The keyboard also requires two separate USB connections if you’re hooking it up through USB 2.0 ports rather than a single USB 3.0 slot, which is a little weird and inconvenient but certainly not a deal breaker.
2. Razer Ornata Chroma
The best keyboard for 'feel' thanks to mech and membrane tech
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Customizable RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: Mecha-membrane keys, wrist rest, fully programmable keys
Combo-ing up membrane and mechanical keyboard tech, this Razer deck is a brilliantly tactile experience. The mid-height keys might not be to everyone’s taste but every key press is satisfying and it’s a slick offering that’s ideal for everyday office use before descending into gaming at night. The noise might kill everyone else in the room - although it’s been likened here to rain on a window pane - but it’s exceptionally gratifying and individual keypresses are intuitive and clear.
Once again, you can alter the individually programmable backlit keys using Razer’s Synapse app and the Ornata happily works with both PCs and Macs. So whether you want a fire flickering under your fingertips or to set up specific game profiles, it’s all within reach.
Plus, the fake leather wrist rest is exceptionally comfortable to use especially for intense hours of WASD positioning and it’s magnetic so all you’ll need to do is lift it away if you’re not a fan. Intuitive, stylish and satisfying at a great price, this is easily one of our best gaming keyboards.
3. ROG Strix Scope
Best compact keyboard with a full numpad and a great choice for shooters
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Customizable RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: Range of Cherry MX switches, supports Windows 7+ and OSX 10.8 – 10.11
One of the smaller form factors in a full-size keyboard we've tested, the Strix Scope includes a handful of features designed specifically for gamers, particularly FPS fans. The left Ctrl has been widened out so that it's easy to actuate in the middle of the firefight, so you can duck behind cover and out of danger and give yourself precious moments to heal/recover, or roll out of the way of withering fire to the safety of a half-wall. Or you could map it to a macro of your choice, and the compact key arrangement means it's easy to reach.
The Strix is built with reliability and durability in mind. It's not an overly flashy keyboard, though it does glow with the requisite per key RGB lighting by way of Cherry's MX RGB switches, available in Blue, Brown, Red, or Black, Silent Red, or Speed Silver options. If you crave a keyboard that is purpose built to just work, without a lot of needless extras or gimmicky inclusions, the Strix Scope is a great way to help ensure your dominance of the modern, digital battlefield.
4. Corsair K95 RGB
When you absolutely must have a button for everything
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Customizable RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: 18 dedicated macro keys, Cherry MX Red mechanical switches, supports Windows 7+
For the MMO maverick that wants it all and wants it right now, nothing provides faster access to abilities and macros than Corsair’s K95 RGB gaming keyboard. The K95 RGB takes almost everything great about the K70 RGB Rapidfire and slaps 18 dedicated macro keys on the left-hand side, which can be be used to trigger up to 108 macros.
Beyond that, the K95 features all the same bells and whistles as the K70 RGB Rapidfire, save for the passthrough USB port, which has gone missing. For a keyboard that costs this much though, we’d expect to not lose any features present on cheaper models in the same series.
There’s another slight difference, though whether it’s good or bad is a matter of personal preference. The K95 uses Cherry MX Red switches, rather than the Cherry MX Speed units found on the K70 RGB Rapidfire. Reds have a slightly taller actuation point than Speed switches, and have a slightly longer travel distance, though both require the same amount of force to actuate. Does this mean that MX Red switches are slower or more laborious to use than MX Speed switches? In practice, not really. Reds and Speeds are different, but that difference is measured in tenths of a millimeter. Both types are non-tactile, non-clicky switches and either makes for an excellent keyboard.
5. Razer Huntsman Elite
The lowest actuation delay in any gaming keyboard
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Customizable RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: Dedicated media keys and digital dial, Razer's proprietary opto-mechanical switches, stabilizer bar in each switch
The Razer Huntsman family is the only set of keyboards to feature Razer's excellent opto-mechanical switches, which blend the tactile, clicky feel of a standard mechanical switch with optical actuation, means that actuation delay is almost entirely eliminated. It also reduces the gap between the actuation point and reset point to almost 0mm, which reduces hysteresis to practically nil - striking a key multiple times or frantically spamming it is incredibly easy. These are some of the best switches we've ever tested, and are incorporated into an excellent design.
The Huntsman Elite features a number of nice little quality of life touches, from the leatherette and memory foam wrist rest to the slightly protruding digital dial along the upper right edge of the board, which allows you to adjust brightness, volume, or a number of other settings. Alongside it are a trio of dedicated media keys, and of course, it's backlit by Razer's signature suite of fully customizable RGB lighting.
6. Cooler Master MK850
Best keyboard for replacing your gamepad
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Customizable RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: Aimpad analog controls, dedicated media keys and pair of precision scroll wheels, Cherry MX Red switches, USB passthrough, macro keys, on-board customization options
The Cooler Master MK850 is the best (and probably first) keyboard to really make the case that a mouse and keyboard setup can fully replace your PC gamepad. It takes advantage of Aimpad technology to duplicate the feel and functionality of an analog joystick - the WASD keys are capable of detecting how far you've pressed them down, rather than just detecting a single actuation point. It does a great job of replicating the analog controls that certain genres, likes racing games or flight sims, make practically mandatory.
The MK850 isn't a one trick pony, however - it's loaded up with an impressive suite of other features. It's got dedicated macros and media controls, two precision scroll wheels, USB passthrough, and a nice, comfy wrist rest. And, as is seemingly requisite in gaming keyboards these days, it's got a full 16.7 million color rainbow of RGB backlighting to splash against its anodized aluminum backplate.
7. Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB
The best gaming keyboard for ergonomic customization
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Customizable RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: Cherry MX Blue, Red, and Brown switches, ten dedicated macro buttons, customizable RGB, wrist rests, optional lift kit, tenkeyless
Kinesis' Freestyle Edge RGB takes the bones of an excellent split keyboard and improves upon them in some very welcome ways. Already a great ergonomic deck, the new RGB model adds comfortable wrist rests, a more natural layout, and a bevy of customization options. The dual design means you can set the halves of the board exactly at the width of your shoulders, so you won't hunching forward or straining your back and arms to position them in an unnatural way while typing. It also means that you can set the right half out of the way when you're playing shooters, or park a flight stick in the middle if you want to get deep into Elite: Dangerous.
You can also add a lift kit, which is sold separately, and boost the two halves up to 15 degrees off your desk so they're angled out towards your hands. It's an odd feeling at first, having your hands separated with the board and wrist rests rising to meet them, but after a little adjustment it starts to feel natural and comfortable. Over several weeks of continual use I can confirm that there was noticeably less strain after a fully day of typing. The Edge RGB is also extremely customizable, letting you change the function of every key individually, and includes ten dedicated macro keys on the left half for complicated multi-inputs. It's even got onboard storage to save up to nine user profiles simultaneously so you never have to worry about losing all your carefully programmed settings.
8. SteelSeries Apex M750 TKL
A specialized deck for the eSports professional or hobbyist
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Per-key RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: Linear QX2 mechanical switches, supports Windows 7+ and OSX 10.8+
At its core, SteelSeries’ latest offering is an incredibly solid board, sturdy aluminum construction with competitive switches, and the embarrassment of perks pushes it over the top.
The SteelSeries Apex M750 TKL is the slimmed down version of the full bodied M750, with the numpad trimmed off the edge to maximize desk space for mousepads or other office accoutrement. It also fits more comfortably in your lap for lazy browsing or those who pipe their PCs through their TVs and game on the couch. While it’s designed to cater to eSports professionals (and ambitious amateurs), it’s also an all around sturdy, high performing board with a gorgeous design and very satisfying proprietary switches.
The M750 also boasts a package of the most intuitive but most robust pack-in software available. Alongside the standard SteelSeries Engine, it comes with a programmable lighting app called ImageSync that allows for a host of lighting and reactive typing effects, as well as suites of specialized lighting for games like CS: GO and Dota 2. It even has real-time lighting notification options for Discord.
9. Razer Cynosa Chroma
The best membrane keyboard available
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Per-key RGB | Programmable keys: All | Features: Per key RGB lighting, supports Windows 7+ and OSX 10.8+
If you're still firmly attached to the membrane bandwagon, the Cynosa Chroma is one of the best options available. It has the sort of soft, plush feel membrane diehards crave, nestled in a solid, spill-proof chassis, with low profile keycaps and excellent responsiveness. For very speedy typing and spamming buttons in games, the Cynosa is a great choice.
It also looks great, fully flashing Razer's signature 16.8 million RGB colored lighting in across a massive selection of packages or implemented on a per key basis. But perhaps the best feature of the Cynosa is its price: it retails for a mere $59.99. As you might expect, it's not exactly flush with a ton of extras, like a wrist rest or USB/audio pass throughs, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better membrane board at this price.
10. Logitech G513
Our top mid-range pick - high quality, reasonable price
Interface: Wired USB | Keyboard backlighting: Per-key RGB | Programmable keys: F1 - F12 | Features: Romer-G tactile or linear switches, memory foam palmrest, aluminum alloy construction
The G513 is a sleek, minimalist keyboard, sharp and elegant in either silver or carbon. The carbon version packs Logitech's proprietary mechanical switches in three distinct flavors, the Romer-G linear, Romer-G tactile, and GX Blue options (the silver version only offers the Romer-G switches). The Romer-Gs are both designed for silent running, with the tactile option providing a subtle bump, whereas the GX Blues are both tactile and clicky and roughly analogous to Kailh Blue KTs.
All the switch options feel comfortable and responsive and basically indistinguishable from Cherry or other alternatives; the real strength of the G513 is the design, aircraft grade brushed aluminum alloy, and the per-key RGB if you want to deeply customize the backlighting on your board. It's a smart, attractive package, and while the lack of dedicated media keys feel like an oversight, twelve customizable function keys fill the gap admirably.
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