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Best gaming keyboard 2022: all the top membrane and mechanical decks

best gaming keyboard
(Image credit: Future)

There are so many models competing for the title of best gaming keyboard, which means it can be difficult to work out exactly which features you need and how much you should be paying for them. With brands like Razer, SteelSeries, HyperX, and more all vying for the top spot in a range of different form factors, the hunt for the right gaming keyboard can be overwhelming. We've had our hands on a massive number of decks over the years, and rounded up all our favorite models right here. 

If you're new to all this, you'll need to decide whether you're after a membrane or mechanical deck. Membrane gaming keyboards are generally the best starter option. They're much cheaper than their mechanical siblings, while still packing a lot of the RGB and extra macro features that you'd expect from the best gaming keyboards on the market. 

However, if you're going for an upgrade, the best gaming keyboard for you is likely to be a mechanical model. Each key on a mechanical keyboard has a switch beneath it for greater accuracy, a bump of resistance, and greater durability in the long run. You can get quiet, linear switches, noisy and tactile ones, or optical alternatives where your input is registered by laser (these are the fastest).

No matter what you choose, the best gaming keyboards will make the perfect companion to the best gaming mouse and the best gaming monitor, completing your setup and - if you stick to a single brand - unlocking some particularly cool RGB effects. 

Best gaming keyboards 2022 - top 10

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Razer Huntsman V2

(Image credit: Future)
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Razer Huntsman V2 gaming keyboard

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Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

(Image credit: Razer)

1. Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

The best gaming keyboard overall

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Connection: Wired
Size: Full
Switches: Razer optical
Keycaps: Double-shot PBT
Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume dial
Wrist rest: Detachable, magnetic
USB passthrough: USB 3.0

Reasons to buy

+
Analog function
+
Satisfying click
+
Comfy, bezel-less wrist rest
+
USB passthrough

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires USB-A and USB-C connection

The elevator pitch for this keyboard is right there on the tin. The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog exists to replicate the feel of an analog stick using switches that offer a sliding scale of actuation, rather than a simple on-off clicker. That isn't something we've seen before when it comes to the best gaming keyboards, and this piece of premium kit made a hearty impression as a result. 

That analog design 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. We were surprised by the difference these switches made in Watch Dogs: Legion, for example, giving us precise but subtle movement during our testing, to a level we hadn't experienced before. We were gently ambling around the map instead of pinballing across it, getting the drop on our foes by sneaking up on them slowly.

The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog does something we've never experienced before, and it stands out in any lineup of the best gaming keyboards as a result.

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog review

Of course, we don't think this substitute will match the ease of the best joysticks in something like Elite: Dangerous, but in our testing it was certainly a much smoother experience with the Huntsman V2 Analog in tow. Edging around asteroids and making subtle flight path changes felt incredible compared to the clunkier, sweeping motions we were used to.

Of course, those analog keys will only come in clutch if you're playing a game that supports them. Certain games, or even sections within games, will become convinced that you're using a controller as soon as you hit those variable WASD keys, leaving certain functions mapped to triggers that don't exist. We got around this issue by remapping more commands, but it's worth noting you'll need to spend a lot of time in the Synapse software to really make the most of this feature set.

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.

Read more: Razer Huntsman V2 Analog review

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HyperX Alloy Elite 2 gaming keyboard

(Image credit: Future)
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HyperX Alloy Elite 2 keycaps

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HyperX Alloy Elite 2 media controls

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2. HyperX Alloy Elite 2

The best gaming keyboard for most

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Connection: Wired
Size: Full
Switches: HyperX Red
Keycaps: ABS plastic pudding
Media keys: Dedicated keys
Wrist rest: None
USB passthrough: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth switches with low actuation
+
Powerful RGB lighting
+
USB passthrough

Reasons to avoid

-
Cheaper keycaps
-
No wrist rest

The HyperX Alloy Elite 2 sits in a Goldilocks zone of high end features and reasonable pricing, making it the best gaming keyboard for the majority of users. That's because of the suite of onboard functions (dedicated media keys, USB passthrough, and bright RGB lighting) and the slick design of HyperX's proprietary red switches. It's difficult to find a deck that combines all of these specs into a price point that doesn't stray too far into the $100 bracket, and certainly not with the build quality on offer here. 

We were particularly impressed with the red linear switches tucked away under those pudding-style keycaps. There's far less travel time here, compared to the likes of Cherry MX and Gateron, which means we were able to feel the speed of a more twitch-sensitive switch without any accidental keypresses. Everything feels slick and precise, even in more chaotic Fall Guys and Rocket League testing. Not only do those switches offer up a more precise actuation, though, but we also found them incredibly comfortable for both typing and longer play sessions. 

There are plenty of keyboards vying at this popular mid-range price point, but very few offer this particular experience.

HyperX Alloy Elite 2 review

Unfortunately, the HyperX Alloy Elite 2 isn't without its sacrifices. We were disappointed to find that this model ships with cheaper ABS keycaps. While you're still getting doubleshot legends, which will improve durability, two weeks of testing quickly left oily shine on regularly tapped keys, which made the texture-less caps feel even less sturdy underhand.

Nevertheless, you just don't see this level of performance and features on many keyboards in this price range. If you're running up against a $100 budget, we'd heavily recommend keeping a close eye on deals here, or pushing past that cut-off slightly for far better value for money.

Read more: HyperX Alloy Elite 2 review

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3. Razer Cynosa V2

The best gaming keyboard under $60 / £60

Specifications

Type: Membrane
Connection: Wired
Size: Full
Switches: Rubber dome
Keycaps: ABS plastic
Media keys: Dedicated keys
Wrist rest: None
USB passthrough: None

Reasons to buy

+
Feels great to type on
+
Quiet membrane keys
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Some keys can sound 'squeaky'

Gaming keyboards are an essential purchase if you play on PC, but they can easily break the bank. In contrast to the Hunstman V2 Analog's hefty MSRP, however, the Razer Cynosa V2 is a budget-minded godsend. Although it's not the best gaming keyboard on paper, 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 - a design feature that we particularly appreciated compared to the louder mechanical decks we're used to seeing. That's because its keys are pressing down on a rubbery sheet, meaning you don't get that distracting typewriter 'clack'. In other words, it's perfect in a busy household or at work where you don't want to cause too much noise.

If you've never owned a gaming keyboard before, this is the perfect place to start.

Razer Cynosa V2 review

It's excellent under stress, too. More specifically, the speed and resistance of each key is spot on. Our fingers were flying across them in use, but they never felt cheap - they're much lighter switches than those found in cheaper membrane keyboards, like the Roccat Magma featured elsewhere on this list, so we'd recommend if you're looking for twitch reflex actions without the price tag of a more expensive mechanical option. The smooth plastic keycaps were satisfying to type with, too. Considering the Cynosa V2's low cost, that's an impressive feat.

We did encounter a few squeaky keys in our test unit, and this has long been an issue in our experience with Razer Cynosa keyboards. While this isn't constant, it is certainly noticeable.

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.

Read more: Razer Cynosa V2 review

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SteelSeries Apex 5 gaming keyboard

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SteelSeries Apex 5 media keys

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SteelSeries Apex 5 height

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SteelSeries Apex 5 bezels

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4. SteelSeries Apex 5

The best mid-range gaming keyboard

Specifications

Type: Mechanical hybrid
Connection: 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

Reasons to buy

+
Soft matte key caps
+
Tactile and responsive
+
Powerful software

Reasons to avoid

-
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. We felt that the mini screen is underused during our testing, but it's a cool touch nonetheless.

The Apex 5 keeps everything that makes more expensive models great - from its slimline, borderless design, to its snappy actuation response across the board.

SteelSeries Apex 5 review

Although this model doesn't have customizable per-key actuation like the costly SteelSeries Apex Pro, it's still satisfying to game or type with. Its clicky keys only require the smallest amount of pressure to activate, and, once we got used to the sensitivity on offer here we were travelling across the deck with a kind of speed that's rare to find in similar gaming keyboards.

That's thanks to hybrid switches which bring together mechanical and membrane tech for the best of both worlds. We personally found the matte keys to be pleasingly soft to the touch, but those after a more tactile experience may need to swap out these ABS caps.

It's a memorable experience and the build quality never feels sloppy despite the lower price tag. You're still getting 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

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5. Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO

The best mechanical gaming keyboard

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Connection: Wired
Size: Full
Switches: Roccat Titan (tactile or linear)
Keycaps: ABS low profile
Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume dial
Wrist rest: Detachable
USB passthrough: No

Reasons to buy

+
Great mechanical switches for typing
+
Durable
+
Drop-dead gorgeous lighting and design

Reasons to avoid

-
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.

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Roccat Pyro gaming keyboard

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Roccat Pyro keys

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Roccat Pyro media controls

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Roccat Pyro gaming keyboard

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Roccat Pyro RGB

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6. Roccat Pyro

The best mechanical gaming keyboard under $80 / £80

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Connection: Wired
Size: Full-sized
Switches: TTC Red
Keycaps: ABS
Media keys: Dual-function, volume dial
Wrist rest: Detachable
USB passthrough: No

Reasons to buy

+
Responsive and snappy
+
Wide range of customization options
+
Sleek design

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher actuation point rules out twitch reflexes

It can be difficult to find a mechanical gaming keyboard worth your time for under $100, but that's where this budget brand excels. Roccat produces a wide range of affordable gaming accessories, but its Pyro mechanical keyboard does far more than the bare minimum you might expect. We were seriously impressed by the smooth, responsive TTC switches in here, particularly seeing as the whole experience still remained satisfying and tactile while linear in nature. 

Those new to mechanical boards or looking for a cheaper alternative to fancy, tournament-grade features will be right at home here.

Roccat Pyro review

There's a speedy snap back after each key press which makes gliding across the deck all the more natural, and while you are sharing your media controls with the function row you even get a badass looking volume dial to play with. 

Despite the low price, the Roccat Pyro doesn't skimp on its software either. This is a fully remappable deck, configured through the program Swarm, and Easy Shift functionality can double up your macros for even more customization. 

The chassis itself is a plastic material, which is to be expected at this price tag, but the brushed effect underneath the keys does make the whole experience feel a little more premium than it actually is. The smoother ABS keycaps feel soft under the hand, but unfortunately do tell of this lower price point. There's nothing to grip onto here, which was a small frustration in our testing. 

Read more: Roccat Pyro review

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Mountain Everest Max

(Image credit: Future)
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Mountain Everest Max gaming keyboard

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Mountain Everest Max media controls

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Mountain Everest Max hot-swappable switches

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7. Mountain Everest Max

The best hot-swappable mechanical gaming keyboard

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Size: Full-sized / TKL
Switches: Cherry MX - hotswappable
Keycaps: ABS
Media keys: Modular - display dial, dedicated keys
Wrist rest: Detachable
USB passthrough: No

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile modular design
+
Hot-swappable switches
+
Digital display dial 
+
Premium look and feel

Reasons to avoid

-
Not fast enough for tournament use
-
ABS keycaps on $299.99 base model

If you're after an investment piece that you can continue to customize over time, then look no further than the Mountain Everest Max. We were blown away by the feature set packed into this modular hot-swappable gaming keyboard, as well as the premium build quality. 

The Everest Max comes in a TKL format straight out of the box, with an additional number pad and media control panel to slot into the available USB-C ports. Being able to strip down from a full-sized deck when the heat is on is a particularly useful feature, but we'd thoroughly recommend keeping that digital control dial in your setup. From tracking APM to providing PC info, there's plenty of nifty features baked in here that turn your desk into a full command centre. 

It's easy to see that this is a game-changer for those looking to make a significant investment.

Mountain Everest Max review

Don't get us wrong, this isn't a cheap gaming keyboard. At $299.99 you'll need to know that you'll make the most of the features on offer here. However, this is a rare release that really does live up to its value. There's nothing quite like the Mountain Everest Max on the market right now.

While we had a few hiccups with the Cherry MX Red switches not being factory lubricated, and the ABS keycaps felt a little cheeky on a keyboard this expensive, the sheer customization options open to you mean that you can't go wrong. We simply opened up those switches and had them running smoothly in no time, and swapped in some PBT doubleshot keycaps for an extra level of personalization as well. 

Read more: Mountain Everest Max review

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Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT gaming keyboard

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8. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

The best gaming keyboard for streamers

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Connection: 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

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Chunky design

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.

Brilliant performance and top-notch build quality make this one of the best mechanical keyboards on the market right now

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT review

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. That Stream Deck compatibility is going to come in particularly handy with streamers, especially those looking to maximise their macro use and impress their viewers with high quality production at the drop of a hat. 

However, it's the tactile feel of each key switch that won us over. Unlike the older K95 models, these keycaps are doubleshot (built from two layers of colored plastic), with a distinctly premium typing sensation and long-lasting durability. Throw in a set of Cherry MX Speed switches and we were flying across this deck with particular tactile satisfaction.

We were a little disappointed by the chunky design - a heavy wrist rest and thick, attached USB cable makes it particularly difficult to transport the K95 Platinum XT. However, if you're planning on keeping your setup where it is you should note that we appreciated the sturdy design and the perfect angle of the wrist rest itself - perfect for longer sessions without strain. 

Read more: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT review

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Roccat Magma gaming keyboard

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Roccat Magma RGB

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Roccat Magma keys

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Roccat Magma function shift

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9. Roccat Magma

The best membrane gaming keyboard

Specifications

Type: Membrane
Connection: Wired
Size: Full
Switches: Membrane
Keycaps: ABS
Media Keys: Dual-function
Wrist rest: Detachable
USB Passthrough: None

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastically low price
+
Smooth and satisfying experience
+
Extra macro functionality

Reasons to avoid

-
RGB customization limited to five zones

You're not paying much for the Roccat Magma, and that places it in a particularly popular category. We were impressed by the value for money on offer here. Unlike some other contenders in this space, though, you're still getting a smooth, responsive experience with 26 key rollover, anti-ghosting, extra macro functionality, and customisable RGB lighting zones.

There are some sacrifices to be made to achieve such a low price tag (for example, the RGB lighting is set across ten individual LEDs which means you're not getting per-key customization, and the membrane keys do have a heavier actuation force than more tap-sensitive switches), but if you're not interested in premium speed or aesthetic customization, those setbacks won't encroach on your day-to-day experience. 

The Magma cleverly disguises a drop in aesthetic customization options with a replacement effect that some may even prefer.

Roccat Magma review

There's a real sense of quality to the Magma, and despite initially being put off by that extra heft, we found that each key-press offers a satisfying resistance. However, if you're after something a little lighter, we'd recommend taking a look at the hybrid SteelSeries Apex 5 or the Razer Cynosa V2 - though you'll be paying a little more.

In addition, Roccat's EasyShift macro control is still present and correct with the Magma. This allows you to customize dual-functionality for certain keys, giving greater flexibility that offers a fighting chance against the best gaming keyboards. Not only that, but we were surprised by the durability of the chassis overall as well, while we can forgive the plastic design at this price point there was a sturdiness that impressed us considering the price point.

Overall, you're getting an excellent piece of kit for your cash here - even if you are skimping on the luxuries a little.

Read more: Roccat Magma review

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Corsair K70 TKL gaming keyboard

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Corsair K70 TKL media keys

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Corsair K70 TKL keys

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Corsair K70 TKL height

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10. Corsair K70 RGB TKL

The best TKL gaming keyboard

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Connection: Wired
Size: TKL
Switches: Cherry MX
Keycaps: Double-shot PBT
Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume roller
Wrist rest: Sold separately
USB passthrough: No

Reasons to buy

+
Wide range of switches available
+
Incredible speeds
+
Portable and convenient

Reasons to avoid

-
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 sized model 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. It feels like an understatement to claim that the Corsair K70 RGB TKL is fast.

That's to say nothing of a feather-light actuation response, either. We were moving across these keys with minimal effort, but there's enough grip and anti-rollover at play here that we rarely had any trouble with multiple key presses in our testing.

This is a deck that feels tailor-made for the competitive scene as well, prioritizing speed, grip, and customization in both hardware and software.

Corsair K70 RGB TKL review

While you are losing out on some dedicated macro controls and USB passthrough, every key is programmable itself. However, a quick flip of the new Tournament switch can also reset your keyboard to competitive standards as well. 

Finally, that new TKL size makes for a far more ergonomic feel. However, we were disappointed to find that the wrist rest is sold separately, and the lip of the keyboard itself proved a little harsh on the palms after longer play sessions. Still, there's so much functionality packed into this TKL model - functionality that we shouldn't take for granted in competitors' models - that it's easy to compensate for this minor irritation.

Thanks to the detachable cable, you're all set up for travelling too. Although the build could be a little lighter to fully make the most of this competitive use, you're getting a stunning and durable brushed effect on top as a trade-off that's not to be missed. 

Read more: Corsair K70 RGB TKL review

Best of the rest

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11. Razer Ornata V2

The best hybrid gaming keyboard

Specifications

Type: Mecha-membrane (wired)
Connection: Wired
Size: Full
Switches: Razer Hybrid
Keycaps: ABS
Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume wheel
Wrist rest: Detachable
USB passthrough: None

Reasons to buy

+
Mixes membrane and mechanical switches
+
Low actuation
+
Pleather wrist-rest

Reasons to avoid

-
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 combines the the 'click' of mechanical decks and the feel of traditional membrane switches.

Razer Ornata V2 review

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".

We found it responsive yet easy to use as a result, especially because the keycaps are such a comfortable distance from each other. We didn't need to contort our hands into unwieldy shapes to press ctrl or shift with the Ornata V2, for example - something that came in particularly handy during testing on first person shooters.

Crucially, the keys themselves are of a lower profile than those found on the similarly hybrid SteelSeries Apex 5, a feature that will come down to personal preference. We'd recommend going with the Apex if you're after a more satisfying experience, but the Ornata if you're after pure speed and minimal travel distances.

Read more: Razer Ornata V2 review

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12. Corsair K63 Wireless

The best wireless gaming keyboard

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Connection: Wireless
Size: TKL
Switches: Cherry MX Red
Keycaps: ABS
Media keys: Dedicated keys
Wrist rest: Detachable
USB passthrough: None

Reasons to buy

+
Satisfying to use
+
Compact
+
Reliable brand

Reasons to avoid

-
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 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.

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13. Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition

The best competitive gaming keyboard

Specifications

Type: Mechanical
Connection: Wired
Size: TKL
Switches: Razer linear optical
Keycaps: Doubleshot PBT
Media keys: Dual-function
Wrist rest: Available separately
USB passthrough: None

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Loud
-
RGB can feel flat

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, we found that this is one seriously responsive keyboard. Once we were used to that incredible sensitivity, we were speeding between commands, though it did take us some time to get used to comfortably typing. 

If you actually attend gaming tourneys on the regular, this is the keyboard for you. It’s small, but not too small; robust but still lightweight.

Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition review

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 there were no more telltale glossy WASD keys in our testing.

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 - in fact, we were slightly irritated by the metallic ping from the base that rings out whenever you stop typing. However, 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

What are the best gaming keyboard brands?

If you're looking to narrow your search, or you're looking to build a whole ecosystem of RGB lighting, it's worth sticking to one brand. We've had our hands on a massive selection of keys, and our top three brands are Razer, Corsair, and Roccat. These are the brands that most often appear in our top roundup above, with plenty of range in their prices catering to entry level buyers and pros alike. 

Should you use mechanical or membrane switches in a gaming keyboard?

Switch type is perhaps the most subjective aspect of a gaming keyboard. Before you even dive into the world of different switch types, it’s worth researching whether you’d like a mechanical or membrane keyboard - or perhaps a hybrid version of the two. 

A membrane keyboard is cheaper and generally quieter, but won’t last as long and doesn’t offer the characteristic snap of a mechanical deck. That means actuation will feel a little mushier, and your key presses might not register as quickly. We’d recommend picking up a membrane keyboard if you’re new to kitting out your PC, or if you prefer a softer typing experience and don’t need that twitch reflex speed in the games you’ll be playing. 

A mechanical keyboard is the go-to in the world of PC gaming. That’s because of its durability, customization options, and response speed. Once you start spending a little more cash on your setup, it’s worth investing in a mechanical keyboard that feels good to you. Choosing a switch type is the next step, but for that we’d recommend picking up a cheap switch tester like the Griarrac Cherry MX switch tester ($15.99 at Amazon). 

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL switches

(Image credit: Future)

What size gaming keyboard should you use?

Gaming keyboards come in a range of shapes and sizes. Thankfully these days we’re seeing fewer RGB bricks with jagged corners and a weight that would bend a desk. However, there’s still a good variety of size configurations to choose from. 

A TKL, 60 or 65% keyboard drops the number pad and may even lose your arrow buttons and function keys as well. That’s better for keeping your desk space, and making sure you can still swing your mouse around in the heat of battle, but can limit you functionally. 

If you’re using your desk setup just for gaming, and that happens to be faster paced, more agile shooter titles, this is an excellent option. However, if you’re working on your keyboard as well, or if you can’t do without your macros or media controls, a full sized board may be required. 

What makes a gaming keyboard good?

Some of the best gaming keyboards all share a specific set of features and qualities that make them stand out from the rest of the pack. A good gaming keyboard is one that offers a satisfying and precise typing experience but still packs a high response time (the speed at which the keyboard communicates with the PC) and additional customization options. 

In your search for the best gaming keyboard, you should check three main features; switches, macro programming, and response times

The switches you use will determine how each key-press feels under your hand, but each switch will register that key-press at a different speed. The moment that the keyboard registers that something has been hit is called the actuation point; a lower actuation point is better for gaming because you'll be able to react with faster twitch reflex inputs. The best switch for a gaming keyboard is subjective, but red linear models are generally found in the top decks. 

Macros set the best gaming keyboards apart from other every-day mechanical devices. A good gaming keyboard will offer around six additional keys that can be re-mapped for easy access to in-game actions like reloading, switching a weapon, or aiming down sights. However, some keyboards also eschew these dedicated keys for a fully remappable deck as well. 

The speed of your keyboard is generally measured through its response time. While other aspects of your device can effect the speed of your inputs, like the actuation point, switch debounce times, and layout, the response time measures how long it takes the keyboard to scan each key press and send that information to your computer. A good gaming keyboard should have a response time between 1 and 8ms. 

How we test gaming keyboards

Vissles V84

(Image credit: Future)

Every keyboard that takes up residency on our desks goes through a series of tests to see exactly how it ranks among the best decks on the market. We check everything from the n-key rollover to the keyboard's scan rate to make sure all features are as described, but we also put each set of keys through their paces through a series of genres and titles. We test response times, debounce, switch speeds, ease of macro use, travel, weight of switches, and polling rate using faster first person shooter and action titles as well as strategy, simulation, platformer, and racing genres as well. 

We also pay close attention to how well the form factor lends itself to the useability and speed of each device. That means we're always judging whether the build materials are solid and watching out for flex, keycap wobble, and inconsistent or unreliable switches. We use each model for weeks at a time, bringing them into our daily lives for work and play - so we can gather an early idea of whether any scuffs or scratches will appear from standard everyday use. However, crucially, we keep these keyboards in our rotations far beyond the publication of our final review - which means we can watch out for longer-term durability concerns and update our findings as well. 

Our testing also covers those all-important switches. We check how well the actuation feel, travel distance, and speed comply with the overall design and intended use-case of the keyboard itself. We also fully strip and rebuild any hot-swappable keyboards that we review as well. 

At the end of our testing, we make an assessment not just on performance, but also concerning the overall value of the product itself. That means we measure all of our findings against the price point and competing models within that bracket as well. 

For more information on how we make our recommendations, take a look at our full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy. You'll also find more details on how we test gaming keyboards specifically as well. 

If you're fully upgrading your setup, it might be time to think about diving into the world of the best gaming PCs, or checking out our top pick for the best gaming laptop if you plan on taking your games on the go. 

We're also rounding up all the best gaming chair brands, and - if you're not interested in the best gaming headsets on the market - you'll also find all the best computer speakers right here as well. 

Tabitha Baker
Tabitha Baker

Currently Managing Editor of hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards and mice that come with them), and tracking everything that suggests VR is about to take over our lives.