Best Gaming Keyboards for 2021
The keyboard is your biggest connection to your computer, since it’s the part that you touch the most. Therefore, getting a better one can mean a more instantly noticeable difference than upgrading your CPU even. If you’re a gamer, your choice in keyboard is even more critical. You need something that can team up with your natural gaming skills and is comfortable for long gaming sessions and typing too. Appealing design choices to accompany your rig wouldn’t hurt either.
With school starting back up soon, a good keyboard is must-have tech for students, so why not make it fit for fun too? Whether you’re battling in a first-person shooter or just want a better typing experience all around, the following are the best gaming keyboards we’ve tested. They offer a premium combination of responsiveness, features and styling.
Best gaming keyboards at a glance
- Patriot Viper V765
- HyperX Alloy Origins
- Corsair K100 RGB
- Logitech G915 TKL
- Cooler Master CK552
- Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro
- Razer Huntsman
- Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT
- SteelSeries Apex Pro
- Hexgears Impulse
- MSI Vigor GK50 Elite
- MSI Vigor GK50 Low Profile
- Razer Huntsman Mini
- HyperX Wrist Rest
When hunting for the best gaming keyboard, remember the following:
- Mechanical or bust: Don’t even consider a non-mechanical keyboard. Only mechanical keyboard switches offer a truly worthy experience.
- RGB or not? You can save a little money by getting a keyboard with a single-color backlight, but you’ll miss out on a spectacular light show.If you opt for something with no backlight at all, make sure you’ll be gaming in a well-lit area or are a touch typist.
- Pick your switch: The best gaming keyboards use a number of different mechanical switch types that determine the feel and sound of each key press. There are even new ones coming this year, such as the Cherry Viola switch. The type of switch you choose depends on your personal preferences for typing and gaming.
Here are some of the most common:
A.) Clicky Tactile: Blue, Green, White
B.) Quiet Tactile: Brown, Clear
C.) Linear (quiet and go straight down): Red, Silver
Don’t want to commit? Check out our article on how to change mechanical keyboard switches easily.
- Full-size, tenkeyless or smaller? Tenkeyless boards drop the numpad, while 65% ones eliminate navigation keys and 60% boards also cut the arrow keys. While some users want every possible key, others prefer a smaller keyboard that gives them more space on their desk.
Best Gaming Keyboards You Can Buy Today
Patriot Memory is known more for its RAM and storage than its peripherals, but the Viper V765 provides a key feel that’s second to none in an attractive, very-affordable package, making it the best gaming keyboard for most. It’s the only mass-market keyboard we’ve seen that uses Kailh Box White switches, which actuate faster than regular Blue or Green switches thanks to their slightly reduced travel of 3.6mm (versus 4mm on competitors). The keys are the most responsive we’ve tested and even make a more-pleasant click sound than you’ll find elsewhere.
The awesome switches alone make the Viper V765 worth buying, but it’s also a great looking peripheral. The full-size keyboard has an aluminum top-surface with tapered edges that make it look like a metallic space ship. The vibrant RGB keys offer dozens of different light combinations, along with the ability to create your own color patterns. The Viper Software is nothing to type home about, but you don’t even need to install it in order to use most of the lighting effects.
Best of all, this IP56 water and dust-resistant keyboard sells for about $80 as of writing, when most competitors cost a lot more. While we wish that it taller flip-out feet and a slightly-better app, the Viper V765 is our favorite gaming keyboard right now.
Read: Patriot Viper V765 review
The HyperX Alloy Origins’ compact and quality build make it the best gaming keyboard for mainstream gamers who just want to get down to gaming. It’s comfortable with a premium look and feel, from its keys to its frame and vibrant RGB lighting. If you’re familiar with linear switches, you’ll feel right at home with this keyboard’s red switches. We’ve also tested the clickier version with HyperX aqua switches, which is available on Amazon and HyperX’s store.
But for over $100, you can find gaming keyboards with more luxuries, like media control buttons, a USB pass-through port (for easily plugging in another accessory, like your best gaming mouse) or more advanced software. But what the Alloy Origins does offer, it executes excellently.
Additionally, HyperX has a tenkeyless (no numpad) version of this keyboard that’s cheaper, the HyperX Alloy Origins Core, and an upcoming 60% version.
Read: HyperX Alloy Origins review
The Corsair K100 RGB packs more features than most need, including some you’ve never even fathomed a keyboard could have. There’s an SoC with multi-threading, a 4,000 Hz polling rate (instead of the usual 1,000 Hz), the debut of Corsair’s homegrown optical-mechanical switches and an RGB-clad media wheel that’s as fun to use as it is to look at.
We found that wheel extra helpful for productivity tasks, such as zooming in and out of Photoshop. It proved less useful for gaming, however, as did some of the other features that make this keyboard so expensive.
Of course, the K100 RGB still makes for one of the best gaming keyboards. We could actually tell the difference offered by the optical mechanical switches’ shorter travel and actuation point. Of course, if you’re not into the optical mechanical trend, you can also opt for Cherry’s Speed Silver switches.
If you’re looking for a splurge solely for gaming, your better bet is like the Corsair K95 Platinum XT that’s also on this page. While also expensive, it offers more gaming-obvious luxuries, like a macro key bank and support for the Elgato Stream Deck.
Read: Corsair K100 RGB review
The Logitech G915 TKL is definitely one of the best gaming keyboards you can get when going cable-free. The keyboard offered great wireless performance during our testing. You have the option to connect via Bluetooth or a USB Type-A dongle powered by Logitech’s Lightspeed technology. For mainstream gaming, the keyboard seemed as responsive as a wired one without dropouts.
The G915 TKL is a smaller and cheaper version of the full-sized Logitech G915 Lightspeed, which is currently about $40 more than the TKL version and includes programmable G keys and a numpad. But the G915 TKL frees up more desk space for your mouse and makes a very expensive mechanical keyboard a tad more accessible.
You can find the G915 TKL with three different types of mechanical switches: either tactile, clicky or linear. Regardless, the switch will be from Logitech’s low profile GL line and have 2.7mm travel rather than the traditional 4mm. That means quicker actuation while gaming and typing. However, without a wrist rest your wrists will feel neglected on the G915 TKL, especially when remembering the price.
For more cable-free keyboard recommendations, check out our Best Wireless Keyboards article.
Read: Logitech G915 TKL review
Some of the best gaming keyboards come with a hefty price tag. If you’re not willing to break the piggy bank for a keyboard, the Cooler Master CK552 is for you. You get a full-sized keyboard with an aluminum top plate, which is often reserved for pricey keyboards and points to welcomed longevity. The CK552 also comes with multiple switch options. Available with Gateron-brand linear, clicky or tactile switches, you should enjoy a great mechanical experience even if the finicky may find it not as stable or premium as other mechanical switch brands, like Cherry MX.
When it came to gaming, the Gateron Red switches we tested occasionally resulted in mis-presses, and that’s an issue with typing too. But the CK552 also has up to four profiles of onboard memory and on-the-fly macro recording, plus per-key RGB to make up for any feelings of subpar when it comes to gaming. Cooler Master’s CK552 can also work with the Cooler Master Portal software, although that’s not as advanced as competitor peripheral software.
Still too rich for your blood? You can find more mechanical keyboard recommendations under $80 on our Best Budget Mechanical Keyboards page.
If you want the same experience as your typical full-sized mechanical gaming keyboard but just want to cut the cord, the Razer Black Widow V3 Pro is the best wireless gaming keyboard for you. While some wireless keyboards are built for traveling, the BlackWidow V3 Pro offers all the size, bulk and functionality of a full-sized mechanical, including a tactile and premium volume dial, additional media keys, an aluminum top plate and doubleshot ABS plastic keycaps.
Razer didn’t skimp on this gaming keyboard, packing it up with four profiles of onboard memory and vibrant per-key RGB lighting. However, RGB doesn’t stick to profiles, so advanced RGB fanatics will have to rely on software for pairing RGB, including custom effects, to profiles.
During testing, we had no issues with Razer’s dongle connection, and you can also pair the keyboard with up to three computers via Bluetooth. With RGB at max settings and no dimming effects, our BlackWidow V3 Pro test unit averaged about 14 hours, but you can get up to 25 hours with RGB using power saving settings. You’ll want to plug it in by the time battery life hits 3%, as power saving settings kick in at that point and make the keyboard act a little wonky.
If you’re looking for a more portable full-sized wireless gaming keyboard, the Logitech G915 Lightspeed is fantastic and reliable with low-profile switches that some will enjoy for gaming and others will enjoy for travel. But for more of your typical mechanical gaming keyboard experience, the BlackWidow V3 Pro is a premium choice.
Read: Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro review
Razer has shaken up the mechanical keyboard scene with its Opto-Mechanical switches that bring lightning-fast activation by use of an optical light sensor. And we can expect to see more of these. Interest in optical mechanical switches has grown so much that Asus announced this week that it’s growing its own optical switch line with linear ROG RX Red switches.
With any optical mechanical switch, pressing a key activates a receiver through a light signal. The Huntsman uses Razer’s Purple optical switches, which actuate at just 1.5mm with 45g of force. In our testing, we quickly fell in love with the light and clicky switches’ sound. They also had the ideal amount of resistance and a delightful noise when bottoming out. Beware: This light-powered clickiness is loud.
We’ve tried other optical mechanical keyboards, like the IOGear HVER Pro X and Razer Huntsman Tournament, but only Razer’s Huntsman nails this tech while still delivering stable, reliable keys and keycaps. When gaming, the Huntsman brought a lot of noise but also rapid actuation that didn’t exhaust our digits. It was particularly handy in twitchy, fast games, like Quake Champions.
We’ve also used the Razer Huntsman Elite , which offers an excellent experience but feels even more premium with an RGB and leatherette wrist pad (requires an additional USB Type-A port) and much-missed media controls. However, it’s quite pricey, going for around $183as of writing. For the gamer who can live without those luxuries, the Razer Huntsman is a fantastic gaming companion at a more accessible $96.
Read: Razer Huntsman review
If you’re willing to spend on a premium mechanical gaming keyboard, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT won’t let you down. It’s one the best gaming keyboards we’ve tested but is expensive (on sale for $177at the time of writing), partially thanks to features that some won’t find necessary.
It’s the latest iteration of Corsair’s flagship K95, and this time Corsair’s upped the ante on luxuries, like double-shot keycaps and a padded leatherette wrist rest. Streamers even get support for Elgato Stream Deck software, which is usable with the keyboard’s six macro keys. That also means you can save over $100 on a separate Stream Deck. Corsair tops it off with familiar high-end mechanical keyboard choices, including a brushed aluminum build, volume wheel and per-key RGB lighting.
The board comes with Cherry MX Brown (tactile and quiet), Silver Speed (fast and quiet), but we tested the Blue (tactile and clicky) version. The switches were great for daily typing, but we’d prefer either the quieter or short-actuating switch choices for gaming. There are no linear options, like Cherry MX Red, here.
Read: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT review
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is the best gaming keyboard for RGB, boasting some of the most brilliant per-key RGB lighting we’ve ever seen. The colors pop against the keyboard’s dark gray frame and light up the rest of the chassis. Raised keycaps heighten the experience even more. Plus, software and on-the-fly controls make the possibilities feel endless.
This keyboard also has the innovative ability to set the actuation point for individual keys for a highly custom feel. This is a rare trick and one that the Apex Pro delivers in an effective fashion. There’s also the popular OLED screen, where yyou can display a small image or GIF you upload. Not only is the Apex Pro highly customizable, it makes doing easier than even a hot-swappable keyboard.
Those who like, clicky, tactile typing should consider something else, due to the linear feel of the Apex Pro’s switches. Although, you’ll still hear plenty of noise from banging on the aluminum frame. If you want a keyboard you can easily put your mark on (literally), look no further.
If you’d like a smaller version of this keyboard, consider the SteelSeries Apex 7, which is also cheaper at $130 as of writing.
Read: SteelSeries Apex Pro review
It’s far from a perfect gaming keyboard, but the Hexgears Impulse (available with Kailh Box White switches here) is the best gaming keyboard if your priority is typing performance. In fact, typing on this keyboard is the best I’ve ever experienced, surpassing even my old-school IBM-style keyboard and others I’ve used with Cherry MX Blue or Razer Green switches. And at a starting price of just $80 for the more-attractive white/gray model, the Impulse won’t break the bank.
Hexgears made the bold choice of putting a Blue-style switch under the spacebar only, arguing that the largest key (which most people hit with their thumbs) should be a bit stiffer. At first, we thought that having a different switch under just one key was a weird choice, but eventually found the added resistance helpful. As a result, we enjoyed typing on the Impulse more than on the Viper V765, which has White switches under every key, including the spacebar.
Read: Hexgears Impulse review
The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite is another great keyboard for typing and is a little bit easier to find online than the Hexgears Impulse. Like the Impulse, the Vigor GK50 Elite offers the excellent Kailh Box White switches. You can also get this keyboard with Kailh Blue switches, meaning this clacker will be loud and clicky no matter what.
While the plastic keycaps here aren’t too fancy, they did a great job of fighting off fingerprint smudges during our testing. MSI also included a premium top plate, but skimped a bit on the cable, which is rubber that doesn’t have much reinforcement for durability. But at just $80, this is a well-priced, simple keyboard with a premium typing experience.
Gamers will miss out on lavish premium features, like bonus macro keys or onboard memory. Additionally, the Vigor GK50 Elite is only available with clicky, tactile switches that can be exhausting to hit rapidly and repeatedly.
Read: MSI Vigor GK50 Elite review
If you can’t find the Hexgears Impulse above, the MSI Vigor GK50 Low Profile is another one of the best gaming keyboards for those who prioritize typing. Its low profile Kailh Choc switches brought back memories of typewriters with its shamelessly loud clicks. We also liked the fast response, which made our fingers want to get moving even faster.
It’s not the perfect keyboard. In fact, we found the stiffer shift key to be a hindrance and the stiffer spacebar to affect our ability to use it rapidly while gaming. On top of this, the accompanying software doesn’t download properly at the moment, so RGB and other customization is limited.
However, this clacker is also cheaper than most of the others on this list. It has the speedy switches that gamers need with a design they like, plus a typing experience that made us feel nostalgic and eager to get to work.
Read: MSI Vigor GK50 Low Profile review
If you have a small desk or make a lot of big swipes with your mouse, a small keyboard is a godsend. You’ll have to live without a numpad or even arrow keys, so this is a hard adjustment for productivity. But if you can get down with this small form factor, the Huntsman Mini (also available in black) is one of the best.
Like the larger Razer Huntsman listed above and the rest of Huntsman line, the Huntsman Mini uses the brand’s optical mechanical switch technology. You get two choices. Razer’s Clicky Optical switches are good for gaming because they’re so light, only requiring 45g of force (Kailh Box Whites require 50g and Cherry MX Blues 60g). But if you don’t want loud clicky switches or prefer gaming with smooth traveling linear switches, you can opt for Razer’s 2nd generation Linear Optical switches, which proved quieter than the prior generation found in the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL keyboard.
If you want more switch options in your 60% keyboard, the Ducky One 2 Mini is a longtime fan favorite, and the Anne Pro 2 offers arrow functions by lightly pressing the Windows, Fn, Ctrl and Shift keys.
Read: Razer Huntsman Mini review
Why not pair the best gaming keyboard with the best wrist rest, improving the experience with amplified comfort? Most keyboards come with hard, unpleasant wrist rests — if they come with one at all. If you’re looking to give your keyboard a boost, the HyperX Wrist Rest is our favorite in this category,
With the smoothness of cooling gel wrapped around a core of memory foam, HyperX’s wrist rest offers the perfect balance between softness and support. It has a subtle, but stylish, design featuring a black cover with bright red stitching and a nearly invisible HyperX logo. No matter which keyboard you have, this product will upgrade your typing experience.
Read: HyperX Wrist Rest hands-on
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