Finding the perfect cheap gaming keyboard isn't always easy, but there are things to look out for help make the challenge feel less insurmountable. There's no reason why you can't find yourself a great deck - complete with RGB lighting as well as mechanical functionality for less.
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For well under $100/£100, you can find some high-quality cheap gaming keyboards made from companies such as Corsair, Logitech, HyperX, and even Razer for a modest budget, with the only concession relating to the build-quality which isn't going to be quite as premium - which should be expected at this price point.
We've compiled the best cheap gaming keyboards that have all the essentials for a great gaming experience at a cost that won't break the bank. You can expect everything from quiet membrane-based decks and all things clicky and responsive with mechanical microswitches - with RGB lighting if so preferred, we get it.
If you've realized that you've got a little more cash burning a hole in your wallet than you first thought, not to worry, we've got you covered with our best gaming keyboards roundup which features more high-end alternatives.
Best cheap gaming keyboards
Until very recently, the K55 was my keyboard of choice for well over three years. It may not look like much at first glance, but it's in the quiet execution of all the essential qualities of a gaming keyboard that it shines. There's responsive key action, bright lighting, and rugged build quality. That all combines to give this the edge over its similarly-priced competition.
The K55 is admittedly stripped back in its approach, but it does everything it needs to well without any compromises being made. Keep in mind that it's a membrane device, though - it utilizes rubber under the keycaps as opposed to mechanical switches. That means this isn't likely to be the keyboard for you if you're after something clicky.
Want something a little more advanced? Check out our Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT review.
Much like the K55, the Razer Cynosa V2 is also membrane-based for a quiet and softer feel. The star of the show here - as with other Razer keyboards - is the company's Chroma RGB lighting, which, while a bit more basic than the visual effects found in the pricier models, still looks impressive.
This particular Cynosa is built with the purpose of being dust and spill-resistant, so it's unlikely to short out if you accidentally splash a can of cloudy lemonade over it (as I can, unfortunately, attest to with other keyboards that did not survive contact with drinks).
Ultimately, if you're after a Razer device and don't want to spend a C-note or more (preferring a quiet but responsive feel), the Cynosa V2 can certainly fill that gap.
- Read more: Razer Cynosa V2 review
The HyperX Alloy Core RGB is another quiet keyboard, but this time it is decidedly understated - even with all the flashing lights. Speaking of that RGB, things are a little more straightforward. This is ideal for those who would prefer to set something quickly that looks good without tweaking things endlessly like with the aforementioned Chroma software.
Also included as standard are the dedicated media keys, featuring easy access to volume and playback control in a place that's unobtrusive.
The Alloy Core isn't a keyboard that's going to turn many heads, but it's more than serviceable about everything it does.
You may think that getting a mechanical keyboard for this kind of money would yield poor results, but this Havit model shows that it can be done. The blue microswitches make for that typical loud and clicky feedback that's exactly what you're after in a device like this.
Its form factor is something to note as well; it takes up only the essential space needed to accommodate the keys with little room for anything else, resulting in a slender look. You can also bag it with a high-DPI RGB mouse - perfect for those wanting a high-quality setup at an affordable price point.
Here's one for fans of a more subtle approach without RGB lighting, but still benefiting from the advantages of microswitches over membrane at the core. This Logitech build is constructed out of aluminum with a sturdy frame, as well as a full row of function keys and a bright white backlight (which can be customized).
The K845 comes in three different variants based on the color of the switches, resulting in differing responsiveness - red (best for typing), brown (clicky but quiet), and blue (unashamedly loud and clicky). Whatever your preference, whether purely for gaming or doubling up as a working keyboard, there's an option for all tastes.
We know that calling a $90 gaming keyboard 'budget' might not gel with some people, but given that the mean price of mid-tier to high-end options typically ranges from $150 onwards, this isn't too bitter of a pill to swallow. Plus, the all-white design and slim look help set the Lite out from Razer's other offerings.
If you're familiar with laptop keyboards, the majority of those don't feature the number pad to the right of the arrow keys. Obviously, for their size, that's done to keep things as small as possible, but for desktops, it's becoming more of a trend these days and is known as TKL (Tenkeyless). What this means for the user is that the Lite is compact but doesn't concede on features of the full-size models, especially with its orange microswitches for a tactile but quiet feel. If you're after something mechanical that stands out from the crowd and don't mind spending a little extra, this could be something really special in your setup.
It seems like finding a mechanical keyboard at such a low price point was entirely out of the question a few years ago, but not anymore. Enter Redragon, a company that's been making entry-level peripherals for years now and has built up quite a solid reputation doing it. In fact, it proves that you can get a neat-looking and fully-functional TKL keyboard without selling a limb.
This unit does everything that you would hope of it, featuring red microswitches for quiet operation and various modes of RGB lighting (something that first-time builders and the old guard like ourselves can definitely appreciate). Although it's not going to be the most premium keyboard you ever type on, there's a lot here to recommend for what you're paying.
Klim has proved that budget wireless options do in fact exist, and can boast a similar build-quality to other RGB-enabled membrane keyboards without hiking the price up. It's also lightweight and rugged enough to be thrown into a rucksack without fear of scuffing or damage.
The company claims that this keyboard takes approximately four hours to reach its full battery charge, which means it should have enough juice to carry you through your next gaming session. It's worth remembering the quiet and soft touch action of the keys themselves as well.
However, it lacks mechanical tactile feedback or clickiness, which is something to bear in mind if that's an essential selling point for you in this price range.
Sometimes the thick, clunking thunder of mechanical keys isn't for everyone. For those more used to laptops in their day-to-day use, seeking something that's flat and compact, this slim budget deck from Redragon keeps a low profile that's perfect for switching between your desk at work and your home gaming setup; especially with the wrist rest.
As with other membrane gaming keyboards, this model is splash and dust resistant, being built predominantly from plastic, so it'll be quiet when in use. The main drawback, predictably, is in the build quality.
For a keyboard that's as dirt-cheap as it is, don't expect a high-end boutique feel. Given how little raise there is the keys themselves, the travel and key feel may feel a little soft for some; something to be aware of if you're interested in picking this one up.
If you can sacrifice the clicky feel and tactile feedback of a mechanical deck, then there's a lot to recommend about the Apex 3. At first glance, there's the stellar ten-zone RGB lighting and the magnetic wrist rest for a comfortable gaming experience. The fact that it clings to the keyboard ensures less slipping and sliding around when typing or gaming. This is something that some models from other manufacturers don't include, and certainly not in this price range.
As you may expect from a membrane-based gaming keyboard, the Apex 3 is dust and water-resistant which is ideal for those who fear an unfortunate encounter with a soft drink while kicking back with a game. It's a little big, bulky and heavy, but it will sit sturdily on your desk of choice for thousands of hours.
If you've had a thorough look through and found that the BlackWidow Lite and Cynosa caught your eye, we have the perfect roundup to accommodate your next steps with our best Razer keyboards guide, featuring the best of the house of green.