If you game on a PC, a good gaming keyboard is essential. Especially for competitive games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, or Valorant, you cannot do without good accessories. You could have read our list of the best wireless gaming headsets and best gaming chairs for some time, but now is the time we told you about the best keyboards for gaming.
Whether you prefer the firm click of a mechanical gaming keyboard, a giant gaming keyboard with all kinds of special features, or a smaller non-mechanical gaming keyboard, this list has something for everyone. Each of our choices has something special to offer.
Best gaming keyboard 2021
What should I pay attention to when buying a gaming keyboard, and what do the technical terms mean? Don’t worry, we will explain everything to you as briefly and clearly as possible.
What are the best gaming keyboards in 2021? All our favorites, including an explanation of why we like them so much!
SteelSeries Apex Pro / Apex Pro TKL
- The keys are adjustable for both gaming and typing
- The RGB lighting is beautiful, and the design contains a stunning extra OLED screen
- Excellent quality and a lot of features
Thanks to its strong fundamentals and valuable perks, the SteelSeries Apex Pro undoubtedly deserves second place on our list. The first thing you will notice is an OLED screen at the top right of the gaming keyboard! With this, you can see your statistics in games, see the Discord interface or play music. A volume wheel nearby also lets you adjust settings. Even the smaller and cheaper version TKL This keyboard has these features.
Every switch in this gaming keyboard has magnetic sensors so that the actuation point – the point at which a pressed key is registered – can be adjusted between two extremes. 0.4 is insanely short, while 3.6 is very deep. That way, you can effortlessly switch between extremely fast response times for gaming and a slightly more normal feel for typing. It’s like having two keyboards in one!
This is also a beautiful gaming keyboard in terms of design and feel. There is an aluminum frame, bright RGB lighting under each button, elegant cable use, a comfortable place to rest your wrist … The Apex Pro is a solid keyboard.
- Full size, with extra buttons for multimedia, a volume wheel, and a wheel for extra functions
- The Cherry MX Speed or OPX optical, mechanical switches are perfect for intense games
- The best software on the market for macros and key bindings to adjust and modify your RGB lighting to taste
Corsair has been making great mechanical gaming keyboards that have very progressive features since 2011. The K90 and K95 were both great previous models, and the K100 now takes that one step further. The K100 has a special new feature: a wheel that you can use for multiple functions and that has some surprises to offer.
The K100 is an oversized keyboard: a Numpad and a series of macro keys on the left, multimedia keys on the right, and a volume wheel on the top right. As mentioned, however, it is the extra wheel (top left) that is really innovative. It allows you to zoom in and out, scroll vertically or horizontally, launch applications, switch between apps, and more. Each mode has a different color, and everything can be customized thanks to Corsair’s iCUE software, which remains the market leader. There is no other program that lets you adjust macros, RGB lighting, and keys so easily and extensively.
The new optical OPX switches feel great when typing with lightning-fast response times. If you prefer Cherry MX Speed switches, they are also available as an alternative. Traditionally, the exposure is also excellent.
Razer Cynosa Chroma
- Membrane keys are soft to the touch, quiet, and can withstand some water
- Good RGB lighting and integration into the Razer ecosystem
- Fairly expensive for a non-mechanical gaming keyboard
If you prefer the softer touch and silence of non-mechanical gaming keyboards, Razer’s Cynosa Chroma is the best option. These keys feel very solid and are resistant to water. Razer’s software to adjust keys and change RGB lighting is also extremely easy to use and powerful. Certain games even have unique backlighting features. If you play Overwatch, your keys will light up, for example, when your cooldowns are ready!
Corsair K60 RGB Pro
- Stylish keys and a very sleek aluminum design
- Cherry Viola switches are quiet but very responsive
- Compact, despite the complete layout including Numpad
Corsair is a gaming brand, but the K60 RGB Pro is a more austere version of the great K-line. The chassis consists of aluminum and has stylish keys and optional RGB lighting. The new Cherry Viola switches give you a lot of feedback while at the same time remaining very fluid with their 2mm of travel distance. An unexpected bonus is how quiet this gaming keyboard is.
The K60 RGB Pro has a full layout, including Numpad, multimedia keys, Windows Lock, and more. Nevertheless, the Function layer ensures that this is a much smaller gaming keyboard than, for example, the K100. The quality of the materials here is also excellent; everything feels solid. Also, the price is very reasonable for such a solid product.
There are three other variants of the K60. The ‘normal’ K60 has less spectacular RGB, the K60 Pro SE has a wrist rest and PBT keycaps, and the K60 Low Profile has almost a laptop feel. All of them are worthwhile.
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
- Stable optical switches with a soft, linear feel
- Modern design with a USB-C cable that is removable
- Macros and adjustable lighting, both with and without software
- Larger (Huntsman, Huntsman Elite) and smaller (Huntsman Mini) versions
Tenkeyless (TKL) gaming keyboards are popular because they omit the Numpad. Since this part is not used much for gaming, you get more space to move your mouse and place your arms more ergonomically. The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is the best TKL gaming keyboard we’ve tested, with a nice modern design that features RGB PBT keys on an aluminum surface. The switches are very special: soft ‘linear’ switches comparable to the Cherry MX Red. These register a keypress via an optical sensor, eliminating the debounce delay of traditional switches. Each key also has a stabilizer, which you normally only find on large keys such as space and enter.
The Huntsman TE has a normal layout to replace the keys with new ones over time, and no space is wasted thanks to alternative functions on the F buttons. With this, you can record and replay macros, adjust the RGB lighting, and control multimedia. The Synapse software from Razer is a big plus for extra adjustments.
If you want the Huntsman TE in a larger version, there is also an edition with a Numpad. The Elite even goes one step further and has a nice palm rest, volume wheel, keys for multimedia, and RGB lighting – well worth it given the small price differences.
Finally, there is the Huntsman Mini. This mechanical gaming keyboard measures 60 percent of the full keyboard size and is ideal if you want more space for your mouse or often go to LAN parties.
HyperX Alloy Elite 2
- The unique shape of keys gives a beautiful look.
- Extra keys to adjust multimedia and lighting, as well as a volume wheel
- Full layout, but no palm rest
The HyperX Alloy Elite 2 has uniquely designed keys that beautifully accentuate the RGB lighting. The result is a mesmerizing sea of rainbow colors. But while the keys are beautifully designed, this Elite 2 lacks some of the features of the original Elite. There are no replaceable keycaps for WASD, and the palm rest is not included.
And yet, the HyperX Red switches provide a soft and linear feel that’s ideal for gaming, and there are unique keys for backlighting and multimedia, and there is also a volume wheel. There are no macro keys, but the Ngenuity software lets you easily change other keys and choose from many light effects or change the backlights to a static color.
Corsair K57 RGB Wireless
- The membrane switches are soft and silent.
- Full layout with keys for volume, multimedia, and macros
- Long battery life
Premium non-mechanical gaming keyboards are rare these days, but that’s what the K57 delivers with gusto. This keyboard also uses Corsair’s low-latency Slipstream wireless technology, with Bluetooth and standard USB as backups. This means you can use this gaming keyboard for a whole range of devices. The battery life is unimaginable even for the wireless modes: a whopping 170 hours, even with the RGB lighting active.
The non-mechanical membrane switches are soft and very quiet. The layout is complete, except for a volume wheel. There are also only six macro keys. Corsair’s iCUE software will, of course, remain available and offers in-depth options for exposure patterns and interactions with apps and games. The wrist rest is great, too, resembling that of the much more expensive Corsair K70 MK.2.
Buying a gaming keyboard: what should I pay attention to?
Your playing behavior and the right gaming keyboard
Like with the best gaming mouse, choosing the best gaming keyboard also has a lot to do with your personal preference. If you like to play competitive games and maybe want to build your own eSports career, you will do well to get a keyboard where the buttons are arranged quickly and efficiently. Keyboards with linear switches and extra buttons are also a good choice. If you mainly play single-player games, on the other hand, you have much less need for special gaming keyboards, and you might be able to stick to a simpler model. So always think carefully about what you are playing and which gaming keyboard best suits your playing style.
Mechanical or not
Gaming keyboards with mechanical switches have a precise feel. Everything feels more ‘clicky’ and often more responsive. At the same time, they are also quite loud and costly. It is important to think: what is your playing style, and do you really need a mechanical keyboard? If you also need to type or code a lot and gaming, it might be a good idea to go for a mechanical keyboard. Also, note that a mechanical keyboard can disturb your roommates because of its loud volume.
TKL or not?
See also the explanation below. A TKL gaming keyboard is handy for those who, in addition to gaming, also want to be busy with productivity, such as working with spreadsheets and coding. Since this part is not used much for gaming, you get more space to move your mouse and place your arms more ergonomically. This way, you can also keep your playing surface limited. See the comment above that everything has to do with your gaming behavior.
As you can read in this list, some of the best gaming keyboards on this list have very innovative features and handy extra buttons to program yourself, for example. But again, you have to decide for yourself whether you can really use that or not. Do you multitask a lot, and do you often use media such as music and film? Then it is useful to have a gaming keyboard with dedicated ‘media’ buttons, with which you can easily control volumes. But if not, you might benefit more from a simple gaming keyboard that focuses on the basics but does it very well.
With or without wire
Are you going for a traditional wired gaming keyboard, or do you prefer wireless (wireless)? The choice seems limited but has important consequences. Wireless playing means a lot of flexibility for your gaming set-up, and it also means fewer cables. At the same time, however, it is often accompanied by a considerable extra cost. You also have to make sure that your gaming keyboard in question supports a ‘low latency’ connection. After all, it is essential for gaming to press a key into action on the screen as quickly as possible. That is why the producers of gaming keyboards often have their own technology to enable high-speed connections. However, beware: this consumes the battery life of your wireless gaming keyboard very quickly.
Buying a gaming keyboard: the technical terms explained
The pressure required to register a keypress. The different types of tests provide different levels of actuation. They are expressed in grams. The heavier it is, the harder you have to press to register for the test. Much depends on personal preference.
Cherry MX switch
The standard type of ‘switch’ used in the keys of modern mechanical keyboards. This type is very responsive and pleasant to use.
‘Membrane’ gaming keyboard
With a ‘membrane’ keyboard, the keys are not separate, moving particles. Instead, this type of gaming keyboard works with pressure plates on a flat, flexible surface. Here there is almost no tactile feedback.
In this guide, when we talk about the “clicky” feeling, we are referring to the audible effect of pressing a key. Most people appreciate that kind of feedback as responsive. Please note: a very ‘clicky,’ loud gaming keyboard can disturb your roommates if it makes a lot of noise.
RGB: This is the abbreviation for ‘Red Green Blue,’ namely the basic colors with which you can form almost endless combinations of other colors. Gaming keyboards with RGB lighting can therefore light up in many colors. Often there is also accompanying software with which you can further personalize those colors and choose patterns in which the colors light up.
“Linear” VS “tactile”
A major debate among gaming keyboard enthusiasts revolves around “linear” versus “tactile” keyboards. “Linear” refers to switches that have a smooth sense of pressing: you can push them from fully depressed to fully depressed in a smooth motion. There is no ‘click’ and no ‘tactile’ feedback when you press these keys. Tactile switches are the opposite. Here there is a small buffer in the actuation that ensures that the smooth movement is interrupted. Which kind is ‘better’ now depends on your personal preference, but many gamers are more fans of linear switches, while people who have to type a lot prefer ‘tactile’ switches.
This is short for ‘tenkeyless.’ Gaming keyboards that are TKL do not have a ‘number pad’ (also called a ‘numpad’), being the ten keys on the right allow you to type numbers very quickly. See also the explanation above for the pros and cons.
This refers to a gaming keyboard with the ‘full’ design of a keyboard. That means a ‘number pad’ on the right and a full row of ‘function’ keys (the F1 to F12 keys). This type of keyboard is sometimes referred to as a 104-key or 105-key.