Best gaming keyboard 2018 | PCGamesN

Best gaming keyboard 2018

Best gaming keyboard

What is the best gaming keyboard? We’ve tested all the top boards around with the inevitable conclusion that yes, mechanical keyboards are just the best. Obviously.

Whether full-size, membrane or mech switch, full RGB or just simple single-colour backlit, we’ve rigorously tested each and every gaming keyboard that has crossed our desks. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to spend all day gaming hard just to test them out…

We’ve picked the best Logitech, Corsair, and Razer keyboards, as well a host of options from established, and some up and coming, manufacturers, to help you choose the perfect gaming keyboard for your setup.

The keyboard is only one half of the PC’s perfect control system, you’ll also need the best gaming mouse too.

The humble keyboard is an intrinsic part of the PC gaming experience, it's even set to become part of the console experience too, with Microsoft repeatedly claiming official support is coming to Xbox One and One X. Despite that support still remaining resolutely unofficial, coming via third-party adapters, right now... 

Together with a gaming mouse the keyboard forms the perfect peripheral partnership, one that offers us PC peeps the most accurate and most immediate control system of any gaming machine out there. It doesn't matter whether you're rocking even the best controller, anyone playing FPS games on their PC is going to need the level of control you can only get with the classic ol’ WASD/mouse combo.

But what makes the ultimate in gaming keyboard supremacy? There are essentially two schools of thought on that front: mechanical keyboard or non-mechanical switch keyboards. The first school of thought is obviously correct and the second woefully misinformed. From there it's just a straight up fight over which different mech-switch type you prefer. 

The best gaming keyboards are:

Check out the best gaming keyboard prices on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

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Best gaming keyboard - Corsair K70 Rapidfire

Corsair K70 Rapidfire

Winner: Best gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Cherry MX Speed | Anti-ghosting - N-key

Approx. $100£100

Corsair’s K70 boards are the absolute best gaming keyboards I’ve ever used. Since they first launched back in 2013 I’ve been a massive fan, and haven't seen anything since which has changed my mind. Not even Corsair’s later boards, like the Strafe, or the overly-bling K95 Platinum, have been able to replicate the same mix of simple industrial design and sheer pleasure to use.

They have evolved over the years, now fully mech-switched (the original used non-mechanical switches for some of the keys) and offering multiple Cherry MX options and RGB LED backlighting, but the classic design has remained more or less the same since their inception. The simple brushed aluminium base gives the board a robust feel and with the keys floating above it the light bleed from the per-key illumination gives a pleasing under-lit glow.

I’m also a big fan of the discrete media controls too. Too many boards hide their controls behind the F keys, requiring some digital gymnastics to press two distant keys at the same time. In the middle of a game that’s almost impossible to do quickly and/or easily. The large, scrolling volume wheel is the best part about that, and has been copied by many other boards, though never bettered.

I’ve picked the Rapidfire edition of the Corsair K70 as the top board because the light touch Cherry MX Speed keys mean seriously hardcore gamers might get a slight boost in actuation speed from their button clicks, and the rest of us don’t have to be so heavy-handed (and loud) when we’re gaming or typing. The Speed switches are almost the same as standard Red switches, just with a shallower actuation point.

I also prefer this non-RGB version for the aesthetic alone. The RGB switches have a clear plastic base which stands out under the keycaps and frankly detracts from the K70’s otherwise clean design. You still get LED backlighting, but it’s red only... though it is also often cheaper than the RGB version.

Read our full Corsair K70 Rapidfire review. 

 

 Best gaming keyboard runner-up - Wooting One

Wooting One analogue keyboard 

Runner-up: Best gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical analogue | Switch - Flaretech Optical | Anti-ghosting - N-key

Approx.  $140 / £129

The Wooting One is unlike any other gaming keyboard currently available. Don't let the per-key RGB LED illumination fool you, under those keycaps are some of the most advanced mechanical switches on the market. The Flaretech optical switches allow for complete analogue input and, once you're used to them, they can make a huge difference to your mouse and keyboard PC gaming.

That means sneaking is now possible by lightly holding down the 'W' key and steering your way around Far Cry 5 shouldn't be a jerky, drunk-driving sim experience either. The software that allows you to add in analogue support is smart and well-designed as is the actual keyboard itself. The package gives you a bunch of spare switches you can easily replace yourself if you somehow manage to top their rated 100 million keystroke lifetime.

And it's only getting better. The Wooting team is committed to improving the board, and have recently added RGB effects to make with the pretties. And what makes all this all the more amazing is that it's a small team that have brought the Wooting One all the way through from humble Kickstarter beginnings to make a great product.

Read our full Wooting One review.

 

 

Best gaming keyboard runner-up - Roccat Vulkan 120

Roccat Vulcan 120

Runner-up: Best gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Roccat Titan | Anti-ghosting - N-key

Approx. £150

Roccat has done something not often seen in the gaming keyboard market, it's created something actually unique. From the floating, pseudo chiclet design of the keycaps to working with TTC to creat the new Titan mechanical switch, the Vulcan is  a breath of fresh air in the market.

And it's a great board too. The switches aren't quite   the same as a Cherry MX, but the difference is so slight that the other features of the Vulcan outweigh any mild issues we may have with it.

Read our full Roccat Vulcan 120 review.

 

Best gaming keyboard - runner-up - Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum

Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum

Runner-up: Best gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Logitech Romer G | Anti-ghosting - 26-key

Approx. $97£90

If you’re not a fan of the various shades of Cherry MX switch, Logitech offers its own Romer G option. The Romer G switches are a little shallower than the standard Cherry MX switches, though not quite as much as the slightly speedier Speed switches of the Rapidfire. Their action feels a little deadened compared with the Cherry alternative, but that does make them a quieter option. The G810 Orion Spectrum has a simple, elegant design which makes it my favourite of their mech switch options – the G910 just feels a little showy for my taste. The G810 also has similar discrete media controls to the K70 which is always a big plus for me.

 

 

Best gaming keyboard runner-up - Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2

Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2

Runner-up: Best gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Razer Green/Orange/Yellow | Anti-ghosting - 10-key

Approx. $130 £130

Razer utilises its own switches in its gaming keyboards. They’ve got green, orange, and yellow switche options, which are more or less analogous to Cherry MX blue, brown, and silent switches, respectively. The Blackwidow Chroma V.2 is available with your choice of these three switches. We’ve been using the Razer yellow switches, and they are very responsive and pretty quiet compared to similar Cherry MX reds.

The Blackwidow Chroma V.2 features the same sunk-in design of the first iteration, leaving the slimmer floating design to the Blackwidow X. Unfortunately, the Blackwidow still does not feature media keys, preferring to integrate these with the function keys. In some ways, the keyboard retains a surprising sleek style thanks to the lack of implemented controls and the clean font, but we have seen many other manufacturers implement these keys in stylish and fitting ways, and for a gaming board, Razer doesn’t have much of an excuse for leaving them out. Despite this one issue, the Razer Blackwidow Chroma V.2 is a fantastic keyboard, and the included wrist rest is simply superb, making it a great addition to any gamer’s arsenal. 

 

 

Best gaming keyboard runner-up - Logitech G513

Logitech G513

Runner-up: Best gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Romer G tactile or linear | Anti-ghosting - 26-key

Approx. $142£150

And we thought the Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 had a sexy wrist rest... Logitech have fashioned a glorious memory foam palm-cuddler and it makes it feel like you're typing on air, especially with the new linear Romer G switches. Though sadly there's no attempt to connect it with the board, which is a pain.

It's still got the same brushed aluminium aesthetic we liked about previous G413 keyboard, and that gives it a serious, solid look. It makes the keys look like they're floating above the metallic surface and aids the RGB looks. It's beautifully engineered and has a more subtle design than most gaming peripherals, which we can't really help but admire.

There are no discrete media controls on this board, unlike the G810 above, but Logitech's quality software means you can switch the rarely used function keys around to favour their secondary function first.

Read our full Logitech G513 review.

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Best compact gaming keyboard - Wooting One

Wooting One analogue keyboard

Winner: Best compact gaming keyboard 

Type - Mechanical analogue | Switch - Flaretech Optical | Anti-ghosting - N-key

Approx.  $140 / £129

The Wooting One isn't just a great compact gaming keyboard it's very nearly the best gaming keyboard around. Those Flaretech optical switches allow you to turn what is normally a very digital controller into a completely analogue device. Who needs those fiddly Xbox controllers now? The keyboard and mouse combo has just got even better.

And so has the Wooting One since its launch. The small team is continually listening to user feedback and updating the device, making it more usable, adding in new features, and delivering wider compatibility.

It's a great little keyboard, with a genuine unique selling point, and solid software too. Made all the more remarkable because of its humble Kickstarter beginnings.

Read our full Wooting One review.

 

Best compact gaming keyboard runner-up - HyperX Alloy FPS

HyperX Alloy FPS

Runner-up: Best compact gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Cherry MX Red/Blue/Brown | Anti-ghosting - N-key

Approx. $80 £85

There are smaller boards, which miss out the the numpad on the right, but thanks to the way the HyperX team has designed the Alloy FPS its desktop footprint isn’t that much greater than those cut-down keyboards. And for a good many gamers missing the numpad can be a real deal-breaker. That makes it a great option for those craving a more compact design but don't necessarily want to sacrifice keys.

As a compact gaming keyboard it doesn’t have the discrete media controls I’d normally prefer, instead using modifiers on the function keys, and HyperX have made an odd choice in adding a charging port rather than a full pass-through data and  power connection.

As it is, the Alloy FPS still makes for a great compact gaming keyboard, delivering all the mechanical switch control you’d want, with almost all the features of its broader competition. It’s a great first go at the board market and proves to have been well worth the wait.

 

  

Best compact gaming keyboard runner-up - Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro M

Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro M

Runner-up: Best compact gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Cherry MX Red, Blue, Brown | Anti-ghosting - N-key

Approx. $97£76

Those RGB LED switches are all well and good if you want to paint a rainbow across your board, but if you're after the cleanest, brightest, retina-searing white then Cooler Master's MasterKey Pro M has got you covered. This small-scale version also nails the compact design while still retaining a full numpad.

That might seem like some sort of ergonomic voodoo, but Cooler Master have simply ditched the discrete navigation buttons and integrated them in their familiar configuration within the numpad. By virtue of its onboard ARM processor, the Pro M can run sans drivers to give you the full complement of on-the-fly macros and lighting effects without having to wait for the OS to catch up.

The Cooler Master MasterKey Pro M comes with either Cherry MX Red, Blue, or Brown keys. In terms of actual design it's super-basic but that means it's also fuss-free, with a detachable USB cable, solid footing and no messing around.

 

 

Best compact gaming keyboard runner-up - Razer Blackwidow TE

Razer Blackwidow Tournament Edition Chroma V2

Runner-up: Best compact gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Razer Green/Orange/Yellow | Anti-ghosting - 10-key

Approx. $140 / £120

The Razer Blackwidow Tournament Edition Chroma V.2 (...phew) follows the same design as it’s larger sibling, except for the lack of a number pad. The all plastic build is retained from its predecessor, unlike the very pleasing designs of the HyperX and Corsair boards, but it does offer a choice of three mechanical switches - either green, orange or yellow. The switches feel great and well-made, the backlighting is vibrant, and the wrist rest is incredible.

With the lack of media keys a little disappointing, at least the Razer is very compact in return. It’s a great board, and one that we were particularly sad about retiring once the next board was due for review.

 

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Best cheap gaming keyboard - Logitech G213 Prodigy

Logitech G213 Prodigy

Winner: Best cheap gaming keyboard

Type - Membrane | Switch - Logitech Mech-Dome | Anti-ghosting - 13-key

Approx. $50 / £38

Buying a really  cheap keyboard will leave you on a hiding to nothing. A $20 board is likely to very quickly start to lose functionality, whether that's a few sticky keys or a total meltdown. It's often a bit of a false economy. Maybe spending $50 on a gaming keyboard is still too much, but the Logitech G213 Prodigy is a great example of a more pared back design still offering a lot.

Because of the lower price you're not getting mechanical switches or a rigid metal frame. Instead, you get Logitech's own Mech-Dome switches and a resolutely plastic feel. They may be membrane switches but they have the travel and almost the same speedy response of a mechanical switch. In fact, they feel a lot like Logitech's Romer G switches. However, they're spongier and feel a little more dead in comparison.

Despite its all-plastic design the G213 is still pretty robust. There is a certain amount of flex if you press firmly in the middle of the line of function keys, but otherwise it feels rather sturdy on the desktop. It also comes with a built-in wrist rest and discrete media controls too. And for you RGB LED fans out there the G213 comes with five lighting zones you can colour to your heart's content.

The G213 Prodigy might be slightly above what you'd call a budget keyboard, but its still smart design and solid build makes it worth keeping an eye on in the sales especially.

 

 

Best cheap gaming keyboard runner-up - Vava gaming keyboard

Vava Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Runner-up: Best cheap gaming keyboard

Type - Mechanical | Switch - Kailh Blue | Anti-ghosting - N-key

Approx. $59

Vava might not be a brand you are familiar with when it comes to computer peripherals. With only a single mouse, and a single keyboard - the aptly-named Vava mechanical gaming keyboard - they keep things short but sweet. 

The Vava keyboard is a great all-round board, you’d hope it would be, they have no alternatives after all. There are no media keys or volume wheels, but in return you get rock-solid Kailh blue switches, which are a great alternative to Cherry MX switches, especially on a budget.

The keyboard’s finish is great, the RGB LEDs are vibrant due to the white backplate the switches sit on, and it doesn’t overdo it with gamer font on the keycaps. I do have a few gripes however, although exclusively with the top right indicator LEDs. Possibly the only part of the board that absolutely screams cheap, and it doesn’t help that two of the three indications have ‘LOCK’ in all caps, while the third is in lowercase… it doesn’t bother me at all… NOPE… not at all. 

Despite the slight design oversight, the keyboard is a real contender at that price point somewhere in between mech-brane and high-end gamer boards. Unfortunately the Vava doesn’t seem to be available in the UK right now, so for gamers in ol’e Albion, one of the other budget boards are your best bet (or wait for a good deal on HyperX Alloy FPS).

 

 

Best cheap gaming keyboard runner up - Cooler Master MasterKeys Lite L combo

Cooler Master MasterKeys Lite L combo

Runner-up: Best cheap gaming keyboard

Type - Membrane | Switch - Mem-Chanical | Anti-ghosting - 24-keys

Approx. $45 / £47

There's a tremendous sense of value to this Cooler Master bundle even if the ambidextrous mouse feels a little lightweight. The keyboard itself comes with a suprisingly effective pseudo mechanical switch design. Ok, even writing down Mem-Chanical makes me want to vomit all over this simple, elegant keyboard, but they genuinely feel more robust and comfortable to use than a standard membrane switch. They're actually very similar to Logitech's Mech-Dome keys and come with twice the life cycle of traditional membrane switches and a higher click force to hit the actuation point.

The mouse is a little bit of an afterthought, with an Avago optical sensor and a maximum DPI of 3,500. But if you're looking for a decent package that won't break the bank the Cooler Master's li'l bundle is well worth a look.

GOTW
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icheyne avatarDave James avatarxNuke avatarAnakhoresis avatarAyuOichi avatarThatThereTim avatar+3
icheyne Avatar
223
1 Year ago

Any budget picks?

1
Dave James Avatar
627
1 Year ago

Fear not, I will be updating the guide with non-mechanical switch and budget boards in the future.

1
icheyne Avatar
223
1 Year ago

Thanks! :-D

1
xNuke Avatar
519
1 Year ago

No CoolerMaster? You can't get better quality from Corsair or Razer.

I've recently upgraded from Logitech G710+ to the MasterKeys Pro L and I see why CM is praised so much in the world of mechanical keyboards.

1
Dave James Avatar
627
1 Year ago

Fingers crossed they're on their way to the test bench...

2
Anakhoresis Avatar
685
1 Year ago

I really wish that I could find a setup of all the kinds of mechanical keyboard switches to test out, because I've tried a few friend's mechanical keyboards... And I very much dislike them.

I find it hard to believe I'm magically the only person who doesn't like mechanical keyboards, but I'm not going to order an expensive keyboard I don't think I'll like.

1
Dave James Avatar
627
1 Year ago

You're absolutely not the only one! Personally I love a good mech switch, but I know a lot of gamers who really don't get on with them at all.

It might be worth seeing if you can get a feel of the Logitech G213 Prodigy - it's a membrane switch board with the travel of a mechanical switch.

Or try Logitech's Romer G based ones (like the G810) - they're still mechanical switches but have a different, less harsh, feel than the Cherry MX option.

2
Anakhoresis Avatar
685
1 Year ago

I'll look into those if I get a chance! By far my favourite feeling keys are scissor switches like they use in laptops. I'm not a big fan of the 'chiclet' style they do now, but it's still not bad.

1
AyuOichi Avatar
2
1 Year ago

I got Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum and i think its the best keyboard i have ever owned easily.

1
Dave James Avatar
627
1 Year ago

It's a great little board - the one I've got plugged into the PCGamesN test bench :)

1
ThatThereTim Avatar
32
1 Year ago

No mention of Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate? http://www.daskeyboard.com/daskeyboard-4-ultimate/ ...it is *the* best mechanical, high end, gaming keyboard I've ever owned (and I've owned a few over the last 25 years!)

1
DustyGerkin Avatar
198
1 Year ago

Loving the K70, especially the flat form under the keys which means no dust and dirt gets stuck between the keys!

Individual lights is good for gaming in the dark just highlighting the keys you need.

1
Dave James Avatar
627
1 Year ago

I am all about the K70 love. Best keyboards I've ever owned :)

1
fturla Avatar
3
1 Year ago

Yes, I agree the Cherry MX red switches are the best in playing FPS type games but can be rather cruel to players that need typing accuracy and have heavy hands or fingers since the level of mistyping might be intolerable especially with anti-ghosting features are on.

I would recommend the Cherry MX browns or blues as being the best for strict typing quality but they sacrifice speed in order to reduce inaccurate inputs.

I don't usually recommend the non-standard Cherry MX clones or even the officially sanctioned Cherry MX variants by Logitech, Corsair, or Razer because they are all variants designed to speed inputs and not accuracy, comfort, or compatibility was in mind when they were designed. If you want additional speed regardless of what type of Cherry MX mechanical keyboard you have then why not install o-ring dampeners underneath your keycaps. These will reduce the distance for input executions, reduce the noise, and may also make the inputs more comfortable. You can always remove them whenever you want.

For the most comfortable keyboard inputting using a mechanical keyboard, I would recommend using Topre Capacitive Switches. Those keyboards cost a lot and the feeling is quite different than membrane or Cherry MX switch keyboards. They don't click but they thunk in the way they input your commands.

1
Jac Atax Avatar
205
1 Month ago

I've had boards with more keys than I knew what to do with, lights that made my fingers think they were tapping on a dance floor, media sliders, wrist support, weird angled monstrosities that hogged the desk and not one of them compares to my butt ugly plank the Steelseries 6Gv2. Cheery Black MX keys that make you feel like your fingers are falling off a cliff and hitting the bottom with every stroke, you don't gently tap this board you treat it like chopping a tree. This board has never let me down, no lights to go out no keys that get stuck, no wimpy wrist plate that breaks off, no annoying windows key to freak me out at the wrong time, it just works. It's an ugly brute but I love it.

1