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Best gaming keyboards 2021 - find the right one for you

Best gaming keyboards
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If you're trying to find the best gaming keyboards that'll give you an edge in everything from single-player adventures to the likes of Fortnite, you've come to the right place. We've gathered our favorites here, and there's something to suit every kind of gamer on the list. Not only are these products exceptionally responsive, they all have special functions that leave ordinary keyboards in the dust. 

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're not sure 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 (this is why they feel squishy to use). They're not as accurate as a result, but they are quiet. 
  • Mechanical keyboards: Each key on a mechanical keyboard has a switch beneath it for greater accuracy, a bump of resistance, and a 'click' sound. You can either get linear switches that must be pushed all the way in or tactile ones that require less force. There are also fast optical switches where your input is registered by laser.

You'll find both kinds below. No matter what, your choice 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 such as the Razer Cynosa. They're normally cheaper and ease you in gently. Meanwhile, those who want to upgrade their gear should definitely check out mechanical decks like Corsair's excellent K95 RGB Platinum XT. It's one of the best gaming keyboards out there and snapped up the top spot in our GamesRadar Hardware Awards 2020

Let's get started, shall we?

Best gaming keyboards - top 10

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1. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

The best gaming keyboard overall

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Extended | Switches: Cherry MX Blue or Cherry MX Speed | Keycaps: Double-shot PBT | Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume roller | Wrist rest: Detachable, leatherette | USB passthrough: USB 2.0 Type-A

Excellent build-quality
Aircraft-grade aluminium frame
Large, comfortable wrist rest
Expensive

For PC gamers that want 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 ever let you down.

It has all the trimmings, too. As well as dedicated media controls and USB passthrough, the Platinum XT sports 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 coated with a ‘Double Shot’ material. Built from two layers of colored plastic, they offer a distinctly premium typing sensation (not to mention durability). 

All of that comes together to make a truly top-tier product. Frankly, the K95 Platinum XT is worth every penny.

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2. Razer Cynosa V2

The best budget gaming keyboard

Type: Membrane (wired) | Size: Full | Switches: Rubber dome | Keycaps: ABS plastic | Media keys: Dedicated keys | Wrist rest: None | USB passthrough: None

Feels great to type on
Quiet membrane keys
Affordable
Some keys can sound 'squeaky'

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. In other words, it's perfect in a busy household or at work where you don't want to cause too much noise.

It's excellent under stress, too. More specifically, the speed and resistance of each key is spot on. Your fingers will fly across them in use, but they don't ever feel cheap. The smooth plastic keycaps are satisfying to type with, too. Considering the Cynosa V2's low cost, that's an impressive feat.

Macro settings which allow you to program each key add further value, while a smaller footprint means you won't have trouble fitting it on your desk. Once there, it certainly looks the part; RGB lighting adds a pop of color to its sleek black shell.


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.

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3. SteelSeries Apex 5

The best mid-range gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Switches: Hybrid blue | Keycaps: Double-shot ABS | Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume roller, OLED display | Wrist rest: Detachable, magnetic | USB passthrough: None

Soft matte key caps
Tactile and responsive
Powerful software
OLED display is underused

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.

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Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

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Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

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Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

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4. Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

Best premium gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Switches: Optical | Keycaps: Double-shot PBT | Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume dial | Wrist rest: Detachable, magnetic | USB passthrough: USB 3.0

Analog function
Satisfying click
Comfy, bezel-less wrist rest
The price

The elevator pitch for this keyboard is right there on the tin - it exists to replicate the feel of an analog stick. That isn't something we've seen before when it comes to the best gaming keyboards, and the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog makes quite the impression as a result.

Designed with first-person shooters, racing games, and flight-sims in mind, the Analog achieves its goal via variable actuation points. That means you can use degrees of pressure to get a different response. In essence, push harder on a key and your character will run faster. 

This might not sound like a big deal, but it is. Although many keyboards struggle with nuance when it comes to in-game movement (changing from 'run' to 'walk' normally requires a hotkey, for example), the Analog imbues the WASD keys with a sense of precision they've never had before. You can gently amble around the map instead of pinballing across it, or get the drop on your foes by sneaking up on them slowly.

None of this is 'necessary', yet it feels borderline essential once you've gotten used to it. Because this is also one of the nicest keyboards we've ever gotten our hands on, it's a real contender if your budget can stretch that far.

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ROG Strix Scope RX

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ROG Strix Scope RX

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ROG Strix Scope RX

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5. ROG Strix Scope RX

The best gaming keyboard for first-person shooters

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Switches: ROG RX Optical Mechanical | Keycaps: PCB | Media keys: Integrated with function keys | Wrist rest: None | USB passthrough: Yes

Visually awesome
Super-fast switches
Great build-quality
Keys can be noisy

Asus has done it again: the new ROG Strix Scope RX is a measured refinement of the already excellent Scope keyboard, retaining all the best features of the original while introducing new optical key switches. Speedy actuation with almost no lateral wobble means that accidental keystrokes are brought to a minimum, both in gaming and typing.

The only criticisms we can level at the Scope RX are trivial at best. There’s no included wrist rest, and the keys can be a bit loud at times (though still quieter than your average blue-switch keyboard). Overall, though, this is a stunning keyboard with top-notch build quality and a clean, appealing aesthetic.

Wondering what makes it such a winner for FPS games? Besides a compact design, it features a large Ctrl key to make crouching behind cover easier. In addition, the 1.5mm actuation point keeps mis-types to a minimum. It's easily one of the best gaming keyboards as a result.

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6. Corsair K57 RGB Wireless

The best membrane gaming keyboard

Type: Membrane (wireless, wired) | Size: Extended | Switches: Rubber dome | Media keys: Dedicated | Wrist rest: Detachable, soft touch | USB passthrough: None

Quiet keys
Plenty of features
RGB up to 60% brighter
Lacks USB passthrough

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.

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7. Razer Ornata V2

The best hybrid gaming keyboard

Type: Mecha-membrane (wired) | Size: Full

Mixes membrane and mechanical switches
Low actuation
Pleather wrist-rest
Keycaps get greasy

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.

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8. Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition

The best compact gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Tenkeyless

Exceptional responsiveness
Cheaper (and better?) than the Elite
Durable, customizable keycaps
Loud

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.

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9. Alienware 510K

The best low profile gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full

Bouncy, responsive keys
Low profile
USB passthrough
A bit plain

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.

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10. Corsair K63 Wireless

The best gaming keyboard for wireless fans

Type: Mechanical (wireless) | Size: Tenkeyless

Satisfying to use
Compact
Reliable brand
Short battery life

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.

Best of the rest

best gaming keyboard: Corsair K70 RGB TKL

Corsair K70 RGB TKL

A tournament-ready keyboard with plenty of extra features

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: TKL | Switches: Cherry MX Speed / MX Red / MX Brown / MX Blue / MX Silent / MX Low Profile Speed / MX Low Profile Red | Keycaps: Double-shot PBT | Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume roller | Wrist rest: Sold separately | USB passthrough: No

Wide range of switches available
Incredible speeds
Portable and convenient
TKL design does limit dedicated macro keys

The K70 is one of Corsair's most successful lines of mechanical gaming keyboards, so it makes sense for them to bring the speed of the full deck to a TKL form factor. The result is a deck that feels tailor made for tournament play, boasting 8,000Hz hyper-polling and 4,000Hz key scanning rates and a feather-light actuation response. You'll be flying across these keys with very minimal effort, but there's enough grip and anti-rollover at play here that we rarely had any trouble with multiple key presses. 

While you are losing out on some dedicated macro controls due to the TKL design here, every key is programmable itself. However, a quick flip of the new Tournament switch can also reset your keyboard to competitive standards as well. That new TKL size makes for a far more ergonomic feel, and thanks to the detachable cable you're all set up for travelling as well. The build could be a little lighter to fully make the most of this competitive use-case, but you're getting a stunning and durable brushed effect on top that's not to be missed either. 

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Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO

The best gaming keyboard for typing

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full

Great mechanical switches for typing
Durable
Drop-dead gorgeous lighting and design
Wrist rest isn't very useful

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.

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.

To keep your new setup as safe as possible, don't forget to grab the best antivirus software either!

As one of our Hardware Editors, Benjamin looks after many of the tech reviews, board game features, deals, and buying guides you’ll see on GamesRadar+.