If you're looking to maximise your PC setup, getting hold of the best gaming keyboard should be a high priority. Besides improving your performance in games via programmable keys and increased responsiveness, they look awesome and are a delight to type with. Have a go on a mechanical deck to see what we mean. We've got our fingers crossed lots of our favorites will be discounted in our Black Friday gaming deals roundup too.
What's the best gaming keyboard for you, though? It all begins by figuring out whether you want a mechanical or membrane device. If you've got no idea what the difference is, don't worry - let us explain.
- Membrane keyboards: The majority of 'normal' keyboards are membrane ones, and their keys sit on a single rubber strip. Pushing them presses that strip down, activating your chosen input. This is why these keyboards feel a bit 'squishy' to use. Even though that means they're not as accurate as mechanical alternatives, they are quieter as a result (and a fair bit cheaper).
- Mechanical keyboards: Each key on a mechanical keyboard has an individual mechanism (or 'switch') beneath it that allows for greater accuracy and a more satisfying experience. This is because pressing them usually offers a bump of resistance and a 'click' sound. There are a couple of types, broadly speaking - smooth linear switches that must be pushed all the way down or tactile ones that require less force. You can also get optical switches, where your input is registered by a laser for quicker responses.
You'll find both kinds in our list below. No matter what you go for, your choice should be a big improvement on 'standard' keyboards and will make a good companion to the best gaming mouse or the best wireless gaming mouse.
If you're new to all this, we'd recommend starting with a membrane option like the Razer Cynosa range (our budget choice). They're normally cheaper and ease you in gently. Meanwhile, those who want to upgrade their setup should definitely check out mechanical decks like Corsair's excellent K95. It's easily one of the best gaming keyboards out there, and it snapped up the top spot in the GamesRadar Hardware Awards 2020.
Regardless of what catches your eye, you can rest assured that all of the recommendations listed here have been chosen because we enjoyed using them ourselves. Our reviewers test products thoroughly to make sure they surpass a certain threshold of excellence; we like to spend at least a few days with every keyboard as a full-time replacement for our current decks. That involves stress-testing them with the latest games (ranging from Call of Duty: Warzone to A Total War Saga: Troy) and through many hours at the GamesRadar office.
Let's get started!
Best gaming keyboards
For the PC gamer that wants it all, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is the only choice. A handsome, luxurious design joins forces with satisfying clicks for one of the best gaming keyboards around. Yes, it's expensive. But this is a phenomenal piece of kit that won't let you down.
It has all the trimmings, too. As well as dedicated media controls and USB passthrough, the Platinum XT's got gorgeous RGB lighting, six dedicated macro keys, compatibility with Elgato's Stream Deck technology, and a comfortable faux-leather wrist rest. A textured spacebar and alternate WASD caps build on that sense of luxury.
However, it's the tactile feel of pressing a key that will win you over. Unlike the older K95 models, these keycaps have been replaced with ‘Double Shot’ keys. Those are built from two layers of colored plastic for a distinctly premium typing sensation, not to mention durability.
As a truly top-tier product, the K95 RGB Platinum XT is worth every penny.
- Read more: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT review
Gaming keyboards are an essential purchase if you play on PC, but they can break the bank. That's why the Razer Cynosa V2 is a godsend. Although it's not the best gaming keyboard on offer, it still puts in a very respectable performance at an affordable price.
As a 'membrane' device, this version of the Cynosa is much quieter than the competition. That's because its keys are pressing down on a rubbery sheet, meaning you don't get the distracting typewriter 'clack' of mechanical decks. That makes it perfect in a busy household or at work where you don't want to cause too much noise.
It offers a good performance, too. The smooth plastic keycaps are satisfying to type with, macro settings allow you to program each key, and its smaller footprint means you won't have trouble fitting it on your desk. What's more, RGB lighting adds a pop of color to its black shell.
- Read more: Razer Cynosa V2 review
Alternatively, you can try out the slightly cheaper Razer Cynosa Chroma. It's a bit older but is still an excellent choice for those hoping to save money. The main differences between this and the newer Cynosa V2 are layout and media keys, not to mention the V2's brighter, per-key RGB lighting.
SteelSeries is well known for making some of the best gaming keyboards, but many of them are pricey. This is where the SteelSeries Apex 5 swoops in. It offers a stripped-back version of everything that makes the expensive models great. More specifically, you're getting a slimline design, snappy actuation, and an OLED smart display in the upper right-hand corner to go with its affordable cost. The mini screen is underused, but it's a cool touch nonetheless.
Although this model doesn't have customizable per-key actuation like the Apex Pro, it's still satisfying to game or type with. Its linear keys only require the smallest amount of pressure to activate, and your fingers will be flying across the deck once you're used to its sensitivity (that's thanks to hybrid switches which bring together mechanical and membrane tech for the best of both worlds). What's more, the matte keycaps are pleasingly soft to the touch. It's a memorable experience and the build quality never feels sloppy despite the lower price tag.
All this exudes the patented SteelSeries quality, but for much less than normal. It's superb value for money and a great keyboard all-round.
- Read more: SteelSeries Apex 5 review
There have been a glut of shooter-focused keyboards over the last year or so from Razer, ROG, and beyond, but this is the best of them all. Despite a relatively sparse appearance, the HyperX Alloy FPS RGB makes up for it with exceptional performance. It's a fantastic gaming device for those who play competitive shooters like Apex Legends or Warzone.
What makes it such a winner for FPS games? As a compact and portable keyboard, everything is within easy reach so you're not stretching to hit keys like the left shift. Secondly, its Kailh Silver Speed switches are both responsive and satisfying to use. They're bouncy enough that your fingers will fly from key to key.
A reasonable price and USB passthrough for charging your phone seals the deal. This is a versatile bit of tech with no wasted parts. Even though it's not flashy, the Alloy FPS RGB is phenomenal at what it does and more than worthy of sitting amongst the best gaming keyboards as a result.
Even though mechanical options take the lion's share of attention when it comes to the best gaming keyboards, membrane alternatives are still worth considering. For starters, they're much quieter. Secondly, they're often a lot cheaper. And you know what? They're still excellent.
The Corsair K57 RGB Wireless is one of the best we've tried. Comfortable, tactile, and reliable, it proves that you don't need mechanical switches to impress. It'll also light up any room with LEDs that are potentially 60% brighter than the competition.
That isn't what makes this deck stand out, though (well, in anything other than a literal sense). Its membrane keys are almost as satisfying to use as mechanical ones, and they don't have the noisy 'click' of the latter. Additionally, the K57 has all the features - dedicated media controls, wireless functionality, and macro keys - of a much more expensive keyboard. It's a winner.
New to the world of gaming keyboards? It can be tough to know whether you should choose a mechanical or membrane switch. That's why the Razer Ornata V2 exists - why decide when you can have both?
This mecha-membrane device blends the two approaches to great effect; it has a mechanical 'click' with the feel of membrane switches. To translate, that means its keys feature a rubber dome along with the mechanisms from a mechanical keyboard. As Razer itself says, the Ornata V2 "combines the best of both worlds by providing a soft cushioned touch for gaming comfort, along with a crisp tactile click".
It's responsive yet easy to use as a result, especially because the keycaps are such a comfortable distance from each other. You won't need to contort your hands into unwieldy shapes to press ctrl or shift with the Ornata V2, for example. That's good news if you're a fan of shooters.
- Read more: Razer Ornata V2 review
Let's be clear from the start - the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition gaming keyboard is not just a Huntsman Elite minus the number pad. Instead, the main differences are in its keys. Underneath, you're getting Linear Optical switches here instead of the clicky Optical switches found on most Elites. With lower actuation points (now 1mm) and even less force required, you'll find that this is one seriously responsive keyboard. It's great once you get used to the sensitivity, but does take some getting used to for typing.
Elsewhere, Razer has finally opted for a standard bottom row (so you can customize the keys if you want to change things up) and glorious Doubleshot PBT keycaps instead of cheaper ABS ones found on the more expensive Elite. These more durable keycaps won't end up wearing out as eaily, so no more telltale glossy WASD keys for you.
And if you're hoping to use the Hunstman TE as a regular day-to-day keyboard? It'll do the job admirably. It's worth noting that this keyboard isn't quiet by any means (there's also a metallic 'ping' from the base that rings out whenever you stop typing), but if you're not a particularly heavy-handed typist, you'll be fine. At the end of the day, this is not just one of the best Razer keyboards you can get, but one of the best gaming keyboards full stop.
- Read more: Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition review
The Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO is a keyboard that turns heads. It's absolutely gorgeous to look at thanks to its durable aluminium frame, exposed key stems, and vibrant RGB lighting. Much like the original Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO, our test-copy consistently drew compliments whenever anyone saw it on our desk.
It's not just a pretty face, either. The Vulcan 121's performance is every bit as good. While the bottom row's unusual convex shape won't suit everyone, we found this deck to be comfortable, reliable, and satisfying to use. It particularly shines for typing. Its switches provide a pleasant click (with the Cherry Red variety, anyway) and tactile bump with each press. Meanwhile, those exposed stems give it an air of a ye-olden-days typewriter. That special, transparent housing minimises wobble, too.
What's more, its Titan switches actuate between 20-30% faster "than standard" depending on the version you go for. That makes it a great companion for the equally quick Roccat Kain 120 AIMO mouse. Throw in an easy-clean design to avoid dust buildup and you're left with something special with one of the best gaming keyboards which is great for day-to-day use too.
The Alienware 510K isn't much to look at, but any criticisms about that appearance melt away the moment you get your hands on it. Those low profile Cherry MX Red switches are a delight to use, offering a lively bounce thanks to less travel time and low actuation force.
This allows your fingers to jump from key to key without much effort at all, resulting in a satisfying flow when typing or gaming. It's a worthy contender for the title of 'best gaming keyboard' as a result, and it'll exceed expectations in everything from shooters to strategy epics.
The subtle design makes this Alienware deck a great choice for office use, too. In spite of sci-fi sensibilities that give it a futuristic air, it lacks obnoxious RGB lighting or sharp, 'edgy' angles. That makes it a good stablemate for the Alienware 610M mouse or Alienware gaming PCs like the Aurora R10 - it was designed to be used in tandem with them.
- Read more: Alienware 510K review
Alright, so it isn't normally the best idea to go wireless when it comes to keyboards. The potential for latency between key-presses and action rises without a wire to ferry your signal. But if you do? Corsair's K63 Wireless is the deck to pick up.
The reason is simple - it works as well as, or better than, a lot of its wired competitors. Its Cherry MX Red switches are just as satisfying to use as they are on wired keyboards, while USB passthrough and the dedicated media controls help round out a respectable feature-set. In addition, it's rather handsome. The backlight is a calming shade of blue (though the keyboard's battery life will last around 50 hours longer if those RGB lights are switched off), and its frame is constructed from anodized brushed aluminum. The K63 is a looker.
Being tenkeyless means it's much more compact, too. In fact, there isn't a better choice if you want a wireless mechanical keyboard that doesn't take up much room. Speaking of ditching those cumbersome cables, be sure to take a look at our wireless gaming mouse guide.
Complete your setup
Want to get the best possible PC gaming setup? Be sure to check out our full list of guides listed below. You'll find recommendations on everything from monitors to pre-built gaming rigs.
- Best gaming PC
- Best gaming laptop
- Best gaming monitor
- Best gaming chair
- Gaming mice
- Best computer speakers