The 10 Best Gaming Keyboards
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2015. A responsive and resilient keyboard is an important part of any capable gaming setup. But not all typing surfaces are the same, and navigating the vast number of options can become tiresome. Here are some durable and low-latency models, complete with varying levels of backlighting. We've included budget-oriented selections as well as higher-priced and more luxurious ones. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 18, 2020:
You'll notice that we have mostly tenkeyless models in our ranking, and that's by design. Generally speaking, it's more comfortable to omit the number pad, although there are some good full-size options out there. We also stayed away from wireless models, because they're not always reliable, but again, there are definitely some great wireless keyboards to choose from.
In terms of those wired and usually compact models, it's hard to top the Roccat Vulcan Pro due in part to its size and premium construction, although the Razer BlackWidow Elite and SteelSeries Apex Pro are also top-notch choices, with the SteelSeries Apex 7 coming in just behind them. The Glorious Modular is a good choice if you don't want to be locked in to a specific switch type, and the Razer Cynosa V2 is the way to go if you don't care about mechanical switches at all. The Redragon Kumara K552, on the other hand, is a surprisingly quality device, considering its rock-bottom price. In fact, the K552 is the keyboard that this editor's note was written with.
Finally, we had to include the Kinesis Freestyle Edge, which is probably the only gaming-oriented split model, and can improve your ergonomics and comfort levels drastically.
April 27, 2019:
There are a ton of gaming keyboards to choose from, and they have wildly varying levels of quality, so it's important to find one that won't give out on you mid-deathmatch. Old standard Logitech makes an extremely durable model, so if you're prone to using a lot of force while playing, consider it. You'll notice hardware heavyweight Corsair has a few on our list; of note, they make one of the few reliable and low-latency wireless options, so if you're averse to cables, consider that one. All of their keyboards are worthwhile choices, though, and some of them provide macro keys that are ideal for strategy players. SteelSeries is another well-known company that focuses on gaming peripherals, and their Apex is in line with their generally high-quality products. If you want something that's compact and unassuming, check out the RipJaws or Havit. The former is a tenkeyless option that takes up minimal desk real estate, and the latter is one of the most low-profile mechanical keyboards currently available. Patriot, usually known for their internal PC hardware offerings, makes a great foray into the HID category with the Viper V770, which has a number of advanced features not found on cheaper models.
But take a strong look at the top two models on the list, no matter what. The HyperX has been considered one of the best for quite a while, and despite this high regard, it really doesn't cost very much. Meanwhile, the Roccat Aimo is a relatively new option that has a low profile, exceptionally durable construction, low key travel distance, and quick mechanical operation. It's a little bit more expensive than some, but if you're looking for the very best, that is arguably it.
Small Package, Big Excitement
Even with the minimal number of advancements in this area, gaming keyboards are worth your time and money if you are a serious gamer.
The gaming keyboard comes with a few more bells and whistles than the average computer keyboard. It is streamlined, often mechanical, and built with a more ergonomic design. Some gaming keyboards come with the important keys, ‘W,’ ‘A,’ ‘S,’ and ‘D’ already highlighted and close together for easy game play. The best gaming keyboards optimize this layout and place other important keys near these.
Unfortunately, the mouse has been much more developed over the years than the keyboard for PC gaming. It has only been in recent years that the gaming keyboard has begun to catch up. Most gaming keyboards are mechanical in order to provide the fastest possible response times.
Even with the minimal number of advancements in this area, gaming keyboards are worth your time and money if you are a serious gamer. Their ergonomic design helps to reduce fatigue in the hands and cuts back on the risk of injury or carpal tunnel.
They are often built much smaller than average keyboards so they can be easily used while holding them in your lap or on small desktop spaces. They are ideal for serious gamers who live with roommates or are confined to small apartments or dorms with limited space.
Keyboards designed specifically for gaming offer more keys than the average computer keyboard. While they provide all of the standard keys, they also add additional keys for gaming use and place the keys closer together to make them more conducive to fast gaming.
They also provide extra amenities such as easy-to-access volume control buttons, quick keys, and USB and headset ports to create an optimal gaming experience.
How Serious Are You?
While your gaming keyboard options are more limited than what you will find when shopping for a gaming mouse, there are still a few things you will need to consider before you shell out the cash.
First, consider your intended use. Yes, we know you plan to use it for gaming, but what type of games do you play? If your PC game play is minimal or you only play the occasional online games, shelling out for a gaming keyboard isn't worth it. But if you enjoy strategy games or first-person shooters, a gaming keyboard can only enhance your experience.
Finally, and possibly not as important, is the backlighting option.
Second, determine your price range. Budgeting is important when shopping for anything, but when shopping for a gaming keyboard (or other gaming accessories), it is easy to get roped into buying more than you actually need. Gaming keyboards range greatly in price from a basic keyboard on a modest budget to making it rain for all of the latest bells and whistles. The more you are willing to spend, the more features you are likely to get.
Third, decide if you want a membrane or mechanical keyboard. We will tell you right now, the mechanical keyboards are your better option for a high-quality gaming experience, but they tend to be more expensive. Membrane keyboards work by sending an electric current through plastic membranes while a mechanical keyboard works more like the original typewriters and is far more responsive and enjoyable to use. While there are decent gaming membrane keyboards on the market, we strongly recommend a mechanical keyboard.
Next, look into the types of available keyboards. Some look like your basic office keyboard with a few extra amenities and some attractive LED backlighting while others look as if they belong on a space station. Some are small and save space while others pull out all the stops with extra keys and one-touch access buttons.
Finally, and possibly not as important, is the backlighting option. You are only going to run into three basic varieties. Some gaming keyboards have no backlighting whatsoever. Others offer only one color. In this case, you will want to choose the color that best compliments your gaming setup. Still others offer the full spectrum of colors. Ultimately, backlighting isn’t always necessary, but some gamers appreciate the ambience that it creates.
A Brief History of the Gaming Keyboard
Henry Mill received the first approved patent for a typing machine in London, England in 1714. It was originally designed to create and prepare standardized legal documents.
Pellegrino Turri patented another typing machine in Italy in 1808. His machine was intended to help blind people write. Many other typing devices, including the Typowriter, were invented over the next several years, but none of them gained traction or public popularity.
These early typewriters gave way to the creation of computer keyboards as primary input devices.
The world’s first typewriter was invented in 1867 by an inventor named Sholes and a mechanic named Glidden with the help of a printer named Soule. It was commercially produced and sold to the public. Sholes and Glidden sold their invention to a clock-maker named Matthais Schwalbach who then commissioned Remington to manufacture and sell it. Remington removed the foot pedal, making the typewriter much smaller and easier to use in an office environment. Typewriters kept this standard appearance from 1910 until IBM produced the IBM Selectric in 1961.
These early typewriters gave way to the creation of computer keyboards as primary input devices. In 1986, IBM released the Model M keyboard. This keyboard design is used as a base model for modern day mechanical gaming keyboards.
By the mid-2000’s, more and more gamers began to realize the benefits of mechanical keyboards, and thus, the gaming keyboard was born. While many companies offer membrane keyboards specifically designed for gaming, it is widely accepted that high-quality mechanical keyboards are the best option.