Think all gaming keyboards are created equal? Think again. While most gaming keyboards operate in a similar manner and have the same components on the inside, each manufacturer packs in hidden features that will change how your game. From programmable keys to ergonomic features, no two gaming keyboards are the same.
In this epic post, we have come up with a gaming keyboards buyer’s guide to top all other buyers guides!
First up let’s take a look at some of the best gaming keyboards on the market, along with our own mini reviews of each of them.
What’s the Best Gaming Keyboard in 2020? Our Picks
As esports becomes increasingly popular among gamers and people outside the gaming community, there has been an increase in the number of gadgets that are dedicated to addressing this growing demand. The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition happens to be one of these.
The Razer Huntsman Tournament would make its way onto this list based on novelty alone, being one of the few gaming keyboards available on the market that are dedicated to esports. That said, this keyboard has a few other things going for it that equally make it stand out from the crowd.
For example, it is comfortable, compact, easy to reposition, and possesses keys that are highly sensitive to even the slightest touch—all of the above are ingredients for a great gaming keyboard.
Whether you are an esport enthusiast or just a regular gaming interested in fast keyboard response times, you can be sure that the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition has the potential to give your gaming the needed input to take it to the next level and beyond.
One of the first things you are going to enjoy about this gaming keyboard is the relatively smaller amount of space it takes up, as compared to other keyboards. This is a “tenkeyless” keyboard, meaning that it has no number pad hugging up precious space. At 1.5 by 14.2 by 5.5 inches, with this keyboard you have just enough space to include the keys you care about and little else.
There are no spaces for lights, logos, media keys, and the like. For branding, the manufacturers resorted to printing the Razer name above the arrow keys and left it at that.
As you would expect, this compact, unpretentious body design makes it easy to take the Razer Huntsman to gaming tournaments. Not only is the device small, it is lightweight and comes with a detachable cable for increased portability.
The detachable cable is kept secured in the USB Type-C port because of security railings that hold it in place. With this arrangement, you never have to worry about someone mistakenly pulling your keyboard cable away; but as a tradeoff you only get to use Razer’s cables and no other if you ever need a replacement.
The Asus ROG Strix Scope is designed and built with a focus on function, rather than form. What does that mean? Well, this is not the most beautiful keyboard on our list. But it works like a dream, making gaming for hours on end as comfortable and easy as possible.
And this is an interesting point to note about this particular keyboard: in an age where aesthetics, spectacle, flash, and gimmicks often take precedence over function and substance, you find a keyboard that is all about the things that really keep gamers up at night.
The Asus ROG Strix Scope works exactly as promised. It is solid, sturdy, and reliable, and, in spite of the non-reliance on bells and whistles, comes with a nice array of RGB lights—enough to find a unit in any color you may want.
In terms of performance, there are a few features that are particularly interesting to gamers who love first-person shooters. There is also full macro customization incorporated, and the left CTRL key is built to be broader than usual to make it hard to miss when you decide to hit it while you are on the edge of your seat engaged in an intense gunfight. The compact form of the keyboard also makes it easy to hit other buttons on the far reaches of the keyboard while you are involved in gameplay.
The Asus ROG Strix Scope is a keyboard worth looking into if you don’t mind simple, practical design, and particularly if you are a fan of first person shooters.
This is a budget gaming keyboard for under $100. Given that is easily one of the toughest, sturdiest, slickest keyboards around the block, you would be getting value for your money if you decided to make a purchase.
As a budget keyboard, there will be some features lacking which you would expect if you had paid twice or thrice the price. But you can still expect dedicated macro keys and satisfying aesthetics. This is a keyboard that has the basics locked down and looks good enough to be shown off to your gaming buddies when they come around.
Design-wise, the Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard AW768 maintains the iconic futuristic look which Alienware has been known to use in the design of its gaming PCs. The AW768 has an angular appearance that is jam-packed with RGB lighting. And what’s more, underneath you have Cherry MX Brown switches, dedicated macro keys, and a 1millisecond polling rate.
Seeing this keyboard from a distance would leave you with the impression that it is made of smooth aluminum, and that should give an idea about the care and thought that Alienwave put into this. In truth, it is made of plastic, and remains very sturdy in spite of that surprising fact.
Stuck on a tight budget? No worries. Go for the Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard AW768 and get a reliable keyboard that will perform decently and last many years.
The Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB brings top of the line ergonomic features to your fingertips, so that you never again have to worry about minding your hands and wrists while you game for hours on end.
Any true gamer or esport enthusiast knows that the punishment to the hands can be grueling after a few hours into your gaming marathon. And usually that’s when common sense tells you to stop and take a breather.
Kinesis throws that idea out the window by introducing split keyboards so that gamers can have the best of both worlds: endless gaming hours and comfortable wrists. This is not the first split gaming keyboard from Kinesis to attempt this noble task, but the Freestyle Edge RGB improves on its predecessor in significant ways.
For example, the Freestyle Edge RGB comes with customizable backlights for the keys. It also offers other features like customizable profiles, macro keys, and colorful lights accessible, so that, unlike with its predecessor, you don’t have to give up on the finer things of life simply because you want or need more comfort for your wrists.
These are just a few of many ways in which the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB is an upgrade on its predecessor. But like the original, the two halves of this gaming keyboard are separated by about 20 inches of braided cable so that you have leeway to configure the boards the way you see fit.
Obviously, while this keyboard is one of the most ergonomic options available on the market, you would require some time to adjust to the realities of a split keyboard if this is your very first time of using one. Expect a learning curve of a few weeks before becoming able to wield this device like a master.
Slender, elegant, minimalist in design, the SteelSeries Apex Pro has been described by fans as ‘svelte’. The bright, multicolored OLED display doesn’t do the overall aesthetic either. This is one of the best gaming keyboards available on the market, and—for all that it offers—it is also among the more expensive.
So what do you get when you shell out the coins for the SteelSeries Apex Pro? You get a solid build that is sure to last for years, custom actuation, comfortable magnetic switches, and incredible performance.
For example, the SteelSeries Apex Pro first quickly leaves the competition in the dust with its user adjustable key switches. By this we mean you can actually customize and fine tune the actuation of most of the keys you find on this gaming keyboard, deciding for yourself how you want your gaming and typing experience to go.
That single feature on its own puts this keyboard in rarefied space and somewhat justifies the high price tag.
In terms of design, also, the thoughtfulness of the manufacturers is not hard to observe. Most gaming keyboards are large and clunky, taking up a lot of precious space on your gaming table. But the SteelSeries mercifully goes down a different road with its minimalist design.
The aluminum frame spreads out just enough for the keys to fit and no further. There is no excess here and no space is wasted. The keyboard ends where the keys stop, and if it weren’t for the wrist rest that juts out at the base, the SteelSeries Apex Pro would be about the same size as any regular keyboard. Worth noting, though, is the fact that you can remove the wrist rest if you want. It is magnetically attached so you have that option. But the faux rubber material that envelopes the wrist rest is so comfortable underneath your skin that you would probably never want to detach it anyway.
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is for gamers who would settle for nothing other than the best, and are willing to pay the necessary price for it. There is hardly a better performing premium gaming keyboard option than this beauty from Corsair.
However, there is one caveat: this is a big keyboard, one requiring space on your gaming desk in order to sit comfortably. You want to clear some things off your table, or, better yet, get a gaming table that is wide enough to accommodate all your devices and accessories for a great price.
In terms of features, Corsair K95 RGB Platinum really shines and stands apart. Within the setup you get dedicated media controls, as well as a USB pass-through, a metal volume wheel, and RGB lighting.
You even get an extra set of textured keycaps to replace the WASD keys if need be. There is a detachable wrist rest at the bottom of the setup that keeps you comfortable so you can focus on the game you’re playing for hours on end. MMO players and strategy gamers would love how comfortable the wrist rest rubber feels, but if you would rather not have it underneath your wrists keeping you cozy you could simply take it off—or flip it, since it attaches both ways.
One of the first things that anyone notices when they first put their fingers to the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is the rapid key responses. There is zero lag. The large spread of the keyboard means that no matter the size of your hands, you need not worry about your fingers finding a home on the device. In fact, the keys are dimpled downwards in order to better accommodate your fingers while your fingers are at rest and not pressing down on keys.
Long story short, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is spot on with the basics that make a great gaming keyboard. In addition to that, there are a bunch of fancy features thrown in to sweeten the deal.
One would be forgiven to think there is nothing specialThe HyperX Alloy Elite RGB…that is until you realize it is a board that is lit up by up to 16.9 million colors. And that panoramic display only serves to brighten the extra features that come with this gaming keyboard.
In terms of features, this gaming keyboard is pretty thorough. It comes with dedicated media controls, USB pass-through connections, full RGB backlighting, and also a wrist rest you can detach at any time.
In addition there is an extra set of silver keycaps for WASD and the first four number buttons. This device also supports full N-key rollover, which would make your worries about pressed keys not registering a thing of the past.
Now, if you are not a fan of RGB backlighting, you can find versions of the HyperX Alloy Elite that do not feature it. These are priced slightly less and may present an attractive option for some people out there.
Whatever version of the HyperX Alloy Elite you choose to go with, you can get it in different colors and finishes, like Cherry MX Brown, Blue, and Red.
Stuck on a budget? Worried that that might prevent you from having a proper gaming keyboard to take your game to the next level? Worry no more. The K840 by Logitech is the keyboard you’ve been looking for.
Logitech is one of the biggest and most well-known brands in the computer accessories space, and usually their products are on the pricier end of the scale. Well the K840 shows us that sometimes, just sometimes—not too often—the manufacturing giant sticks its neck out for the little guy, bringing its quality products to those who usually might not be able to afford it.
For example, this gaming keyboard comes with Logitech’s proprietary Romer-G switch technology. The Romer-G was designed in collaboration with the Japanese Switch giant Omron, and is usually reserved for Logitech premium keyboards. But by getting the K840, you can enjoy it for a fraction of the usual access fee.
On the flip side, this remains a budget keyboard so don’t expect too many frills. You won’t get any dedicated macros or any USB pass-throughs. Neither will you get any RGB backlighting to light up your world. But you can be sure of enjoying the basics which are the very building blocks that place gaming keyboards above regular keyboards.
The Razer Cynosa Chroma has been described as the best gaming keyboard to get if you are a membrane enthusiast. If you simply need the soft feel of membrane keys to the extent that even mecha-membranes would not do, then you simply have to take a look at the Razer Cynosa Chroma. We’ll not judge.
With this keyboard, you get the coziest embrace you have ever come across on a membrane keyboard. And what’s more, given the low price, this is also one of the most affordable keyboards available on the market.
Naturally, the budget nature means you will not get some of the bells and whistles that are present with the premium hardware like media control and a dedicated wrist rest. But, in addition to membrane keys, you get a considerable amount of RGB lighting which can be programmed to per key or per zone.
This is a sturdily built, aesthetically-pleasing keyboard that might be the best membrane keyboard ever. It is certainly an upgrade from its predecessors, and certainly worth checking out if you are a fan of membrane keyboards or working with a low budget.
The Huntsman set of keyboards is the only family where you can get access to their optomechanical switch technology. This is one of the most sophisticated and most interesting switches available on the market today.
The optomechanical switch goes its own way in design by skipping traditional metal contacts and actuating instead by way of a beam of light that fires through the switch whenever you hit a key. Given the speed of light, the resulting actuation is nigh instantaneous.
Another good thing about taking away all the clunky, frail, metal contacts from the optomechanical switch is that the resulting switch is twice as durable as your standard mechanical switch-usually lasting for up to a hundred million keystrokes.
In addition to that, these are tactile switches that actuate at 45g of force and 1.5 mm. This makes them quite easy to hit in quick succession and still receive tactile response. As you can imagine, this is as great for regular typing as it is for fast-paced gaming.
The Razer Huntsman Elite also comes with the Opto-linear switch that was first introduced in the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition which is on our list. This switch also uses lasers, so it is fast, yet it lacks the tactile feedback that makes the optomechanical switch so delightful.
Other aspects of the design of this keyboard give away the diligence that went into building it. It comes with a gentle, comfy detachable wrist rest, for example, and also a complete array of media controls and a multi-function dial that regulates everything from PC volume to scrolling through different shades among the 16.8 million RGB colors available.
You also have the option of saving your preferences to a profile which you can access from another machine if you move.
All in all, the Huntsman Razer Elite is a solid machine with enough features to satisfy many gamers. But all this comes at a premium price, which may be beyond the budget of some people.
Gaming Keyboard Buyer’s Guide
Here are the things you need to look for when on the hunt for a gaming keyboard:
Ergonomic isn’t just a fancy buzzword: It’s one of the most important things to look for in a keyboard if you’re someone who plays games for hours at a time. An ergonomic keyboard helps reduce muscle fatigue and strain in not just the short term but the long term as well; when your gamer buddies are complaining about sore wrists and injured hands, your body will feel good as new.
An ergonomic keyboard can manifest itself in many forms, with the most common being a wrist pad attached to the bottom of the keyboard. You’ll also find curved keyboards, split keyboards and many other adjustments to the shape of a keyboard all falling under the ergonomic banner.
Despite what any manufacturer will tell you, there is no particular medical study that 100 percent backs an ergonomic keyboard as the solution to resisting carpal tunnel syndrome. However, doctors will agree that ergonomic keyboards will at least help your wrists, though the key to totally avoiding any debilitating diseases like carpal tunnel syndrome will always be good posture and taking frequent breaks. In other words, having an ergonomic keyboard is nice but hardly a necessity for a gamer if you need to cut some features to save cash.
If you’re a gamer and a night owl, a backlit keyboard is a necessity. The ability to clearly see your keys even in pitch-black conditions is of the utmost importance no matter which genre of gaming you love to play. By default, almost every gaming keyboard will have a backlight function, with the only difference being color; for example, some backlit keyboards boast bright whites while others go for more muted reds and blues. Whichever style of backlight you choose comes down to personal color preference.
Gamers with sensitive eyes and those who like to tweak every part of their computer will want to keep an eye out for customizable backlights, such as those that let you change the brightness or even the color.
If you’re an avid online role-playing game player, programmable keys are a necessity. In fact, it’s likely that every game you play will find some use for programmable keys. With these keys, it’s possible to make macros: a string of commands that will execute at the push of a button. It’s rare to find a gaming keyboard without some programmable keys; in general, you’ll usually find a minimum of five programmable keys while some high-end gaming keyboards boast up to a maximum 60 keys. While these keys aren’t a necessity, especially for casual gamers who have no interest in macros, it’s likely that whatever gaming keyboard you purchase will have them on it. Consider programmable keys a test of sorts: Does this keyboard have programmable keys? If not, it’s likely not a gaming keyboard at all.
Like programmable keys, multimedia keys are a staple of gaming keyboards. At their most basic, multimedia keys let you control the volume on your speakers, including raising it, lowering it or muting it completely. Some keyboards even have multimedia keys to let you pause, fast forward and rewind videos, though it’s unlikely you’ll find these on many gaming keyboards. While you may think these keys aren’t essential, being able to change the volume on your speakers quickly without taking your hands off the keyboard is a must for any serious gamer.
Microsoft defines the term “ghosting” as it relates to keyboards as “the problem that some keyboard keys won’t work when multiple keys are pressed simultaneously.” In other words, when you go to press two or three keys simultaneously, only one key is recognized. In gaming, this is a huge problem, as many games will prompt the player to push two buttons at the same time on a regular basis. Without the ability to push multiple keys together, you’ll find yourself at a massive disadvantage in online games; not only that, some single player games could wind up unbeatable, such as games that require players to push multiple keys during quick time events. Anti-ghosting capability on a gaming keyboard is a must-have requirement; quite frankly, it’s not a gaming keyboard at all if it doesn’t have this feature.
Wired or Wireless Gaming Keyboard?
For nearly every computer accessory, this is one of the first asked questions: wired or wireless? Almost every time, the answer is the same: it depends on your personal needs.
First, let’s debunk the myth that wireless products are nowhere near as good as their wired counterparts. For many accessories, including gaming keyboards, recent advancements in wireless technology have shortened the quality gap between wired and wireless. However, the gap isn’t closed completely, as wireless keyboards still lag slightly behind wired ones regarding response times.
For a gaming keyboard, this can mean your key presses on a wireless keyboard may register a millisecond behind a wired one. For many gamers, this isn’t an issue, and they’ll love the freedom that not having to deal with wires affords them. However, for professional players where even a millisecond delay can mean the difference between victory and defeat, stick to wired gaming keyboards.
The Gaming Mode feature on the keyboard is almost self-explanatory: This function will disable the Start menu key, ensuring you don’t accidentally close your game. Whether you’re a casual role-playing game fan or a hardcore MOBA player, gamers of all stripes can benefit from this feature.
The digital display, seen on only the most high-end gaming keyboards, can give you a huge advantage when it comes to multiplayer games. For example, you can configure the digital display to give you a readout of your current health, armor and ammunition in an easy-to-read format without needing to scan the entirety of your HUD. This feature is far from essential, but it’s a nice perk for those who are into professional gaming and want every legitimate edge they can get.
What About Mechanical Keyboards?
Are you interested in learning about mechanical keyboards? Check out our gaming mechanical keyboard buying guide to learn the ins and outs of this technology, including what specific features you need to be on the lookout for when buying a gaming mechanical keyboard.