When shopping for the best gaming keyboard, it’s hard not to be confused by all of the options and switches available on the market right now. Some keyboards use standardized switches like the Cherry MX or Kailh, while other companies create their own. Generally speaking, a mechanical keyboard is better for gaming but might not be for everyone. Taking your needs into consideration when looking for the best keyboard for gaming, it’s important to take the build quality, your preferences when it comes to switches, and how comfortable the keyboard is for long gaming sessions into account.
We’ve tested over 100 keyboards, and here are our recommendations for the best keyboards for gaming. See also our recommendations for the best keyboards, the best mechanical keyboards, and the best wireless keyboards.
Whether you’re after a speedy keypress for fast-paced games, or you simply want to make the humdrum task of typing a little more enjoyable, this guide will help you find what you need. There is a lot of crossover with the best mechanical keyboards featured on this list—because, for a lot of us, mechanical keyboards are the best gaming keyboards. But because some people (monsters) don’t appreciate the feel or the noise, we’ve also included a couple of less expensive, high-quality membrane switch variants too.
The switch type is arguably the most important choice to make when picking your new gaming keyboard. Cherry mechanical switches are the most common and most recognizable, but there are a host of alternatives on offer, as well a bunch of upmarket, specialist switches to choose from. Other features you might want to consider are some dedicated media controls, macro keys, and whether or not your keyboard of choice has a USB or audio passthrough.
Of course, size is something else you should consider. Full-sized keyboards tend to offer the most features and a Numpad, but if you don’t have space, then all of those extras you paid for will be useless. Tenkeyless boards (the ones with no number pad), and compact keyboards can be a great option too if you don’t care about all the extra bells and whistles, or you don’t have any use for alt codes (how barbaric!).
We’ve listed our top picks of the best gaming keyboards below. Alternatively, if you can’t quite justify the cost of one of these bad boys, the best cheap gaming keyboards may be more to your wallet’s taste.
Our Top Picks
|Razer Huntsman Elite Gaming Keyboard||Check Price|
|SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||Check Price|
|Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||Check Price|
|Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||Check Price|
|Logitech G413 Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with USB Passthrough||Check Price|
Razer Huntsman Elite Gaming Keyboard
The Huntsman family of Razer keyboards is the only place in the world to find their optomechanical switch, and it’s one of the best (and most technologically interesting) switches on the market. The optomechanical build eschews traditional metal contacts and instead actuates by a beam of light that fires through the switch when the key is depressed, meaning actuation is almost instantaneous.
The other major advantage of removing all the relatively frail, slender metal contacts from the switch is that they’re rated as twice as durable as standard mechanical switches, up to 100 million keystrokes. They’re tactile switches that actuate at 1.5 mm and 45g of force, meaning they’re ridiculously easy to spam but still provide tactile feedback. They’re also great for typing for much the same reason.
The rest of the Elite is well designed too, with a comfy detachable magnetic wrist rest, a full suite of dedicated media controls, and a multi-function dial that can be used for anything from altering your PC’s volume to scrolling through lighting suites for the 16.8 million RGB color options. It also features some handy storage on the keyboard, so you can easily save your preferences to a profile that will travel with you if you move it to a different machine. It’s an excellent, fully-featured keyboard with some truly fantastic switches, though you’ll pay a premium for the privilege of using them.
SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The best keyboard for gaming available in full-size that we’ve tested is the SteelSeries Apex Pro. It’s a full-size mechanical board that features unique OmniPoint switches, allowing you to customize the pre-travel distance to suit your needs. This means you can set a lower pre-travel to increase the responsiveness for gaming or set a higher one to improve typing accuracy for productivity tasks. These switches are linear, so they don’t provide any tactile feedback when typing, and they don’t make much noise.
It has full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys, dedicated media controls, and an OLED screen that you can customize to show anything you want. The SteelSeries Engine software is available on Windows and macOS, and it lets you set macros to any key you want. There’s a USB passthrough that you can use to charge your mobile devices, or you can use it to plug in another device such as your mouse, giving you greater control of the cord so you can move the mouse freely.
Sadly, it doesn’t have dedicated macro keys, so you may be disappointed if you’re a fan of these. It works on Linux, but you won’t be able to customize it because of the lack of software support. Despite that, this is the best gaming keyboard available in full-size and it should satisfy casual and serious gamers alike.
Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The best wireless keyboard for gaming we’ve tested is the Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro. This full-sized mechanical board is largely made of plastic but has an aluminum faceplate that exhibits very little flex. There’s a bit of wobble to some of the keys, but otherwise, the doubleshot ABS plastic keys feel stable. It has a straight board design with two incline settings and a detachable wrist rest, making it comfortable during long periods of use. You can pair up to three devices via Bluetooth and its proprietary receiver.
The variant we tested uses clicky Razer Green switches that feel very light to type on. They don’t require a lot of force to actuate, and they give audible tactile feedback when a key is registered. If you don’t like clicky switches, it’s also available with linear Razer Yellow switches, which are much quieter and smoother, although we haven’t tested this switch variant. Through the companion software, you can customize the full RGB lighting, reprogram its volume control wheel, and set macros to any key you want.
Unfortunately, its companion software isn’t compatible with macOS, so some of the keys don’t work on a Mac computer. Also, it takes up a lot of space due to its full-sized design and detachable wrist rest if you decide to use it, so this may cause a problem if you don’t have much room on your desk. However, you can always detach it if this poses a problem. All in all, this is an outstanding gaming model, and it’s one of the best wireless keyboards we’ve tested.
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The best gaming keyboard for MMO games that we’ve tested is the Corsair K95 PLATINUM XT. This wired, mechanical model is an outstanding choice for gaming thanks in part to its clicky Cherry MX Blue switches that give a light and responsive feel. It’s also available in linear Cherry MX Speed switches and tactile Cherry MX Brown switches. Also, there are dedicated programmable macro keys which is great if you’re a fan of these.
It has an amazing build due to its solid plastic base and a metal top plate, and its doubleshot PBT keycaps feel stable and much nicer than its predecessor, the Corsair K95 PLATINUM. It’s fully compatible with the iCUE software, where you can customize macros, RGB lighting, and reprogram every key. You can change the brightness level directly from the keyboard. Also, all customized settings can be saved to the onboard memory or the software.
Unfortunately, the clicky Cherry MX Blue switches make it rather loud and might be irritating for those around you. The switches also have a high actuation point, meaning it could get tiring after long periods of use. Also, the iCUE software isn’t available on Linux, which means the G1-G6 keys are disabled by default. That said, this is still the best gaming keyboard for MMOs.
Logitech G413 Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with USB Passthrough
The best gaming keyboard in the budget category we’ve tested is the Logitech G413. It’s an amazing mechanical model for its price range, and it allows you to set macros to the function keys and customize the red backlighting with effects through the Logitech G HUB. It’s fully compatible with Windows, although the Pause Break and Scroll Lock keys don’t work on macOS.
It uses Romer-G Tactile switches, which have a short pre-travel distance and are quick to actuate, which results in a responsive feel for gaming. However, the keys feel a bit stiff and may cause fatigue quickly if you type a lot while gaming. It has a USB passthrough on the right side, media hotkeys, and you can easily lock the Windows key to prevent you from accidentally minimizing your game. Typing on this board doesn’t make much noise, so it shouldn’t bother those around you during long gaming sessions.
Unfortunately, while it has backlighting, the color is red only, so fans of RGB might be disappointed. Also, there’s only one incline setting, and it doesn’t come with a wrist rest, which might cause discomfort after long periods of gaming. It doesn’t have any onboard memory, so you can’t save your different profiles directly to the board. Nevertheless, this is among the best mechanical keyboards we’ve tested, and it’s an excellent option if you’re on a budget.
Buying Guide: Best Mechanical Keyboard 2020
We are collecting all kinds of information about mechanical keyboards by various manufacturers. The goal with our website is to create an efficient guide for finding the best-fitting keyboard for you. Our keyboard ranking shows the best mechanical keyboards with respect to a unique rating computed from countless reviews from various magazines and tech-experts. It is updated on a regular basis, so you will always find the latest ranking at a glance.
Are you looking for a keyboard with some particular feature set? Maybe a wrist rest is really important for you? Then please, have a look at our tabular mechanical keyboard overview. For each keyboard, the most important features and available switches are listed. Furthermore, for some typical use cases, you will find buying recommendations for 2020 in this article.
Best Mechanical Gaming Keyboard 2020
One of the best, possibly even the very best mechanical gaming keyboard one can buy in 2020 is the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2. The keyboard has really a whole lot to offer:
- Stunning RGB illumination, lots of customization options
- Cherry MX Switches of your choice and a high build quality
- Well placed media controls, USB passthrough and wrist rest
- Extra keycaps for shooter and MOBA games, incl. keycap puller
Obviously, the keyboard is not really cheap, but its price is more than fair considering all its features. If you want to have dedicated macro keys, then take a look at the very similar Corsair K95 RGB Platinum. Moreover, also the low-profile version of the K70, namely the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile, convinces thoroughly and is a great gaming keyboard. In this area though, the great Logitech G815 makes a fierce competition.
If money is no concern, then you can also consider the Razer Huntsman Elite. The keyboard is sometimes dismissed because of all its crazy lighting effects – even the wrist rest is illuminated. Nevertheless, it actually has received lots of positive reviews and is a really great keyboard. You definitely can get a similar set of features for less money, but the others will not have the opto-mechanical switches of the Razer Huntsman Elite, so there is a unique selling point.
Best Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard 2020
The term tenkeyless keyboard refers to a keyboard without a numpad. There are several reasons, why one would prefer a tenkeyless over a standard keyboard. A tenkeyless keyboard requires less space on the desk, has less weight and is usually easier to transport. Moreover, the tenkeyless version is often a bit cheaper than the standard version of a keyboard. One keyboard that provides a particular good value for its money is the Fnatic Ministreak. For about 100 USD, you get a mechanical gaming keyboard with RGB illumination, some media controls, wrist rest and Cherry MX switches.
If for whatever reason you want another choice, you can take a look at the Logitech G Pro. The keyboard was already introduced in 2017, but it received a few updates and it is still a good option in 2020. The price though is a little bit higher than the one of the Fnatic Ministreak (at least right now) and the keyboard features Logitech GX switches instead of Cherry MX switches.
Best Wireless Mechanical Keyboard 2020
For a long time, wireless mechanical keyboards were quite a rarity. The quality and speed of a wireless connection was not high enough to satisfy the high-quality standards that are customary for mechanical keyboards. In recent years however, that has changed and wireless technology fast enough even for high-performance gaming, has been developed. The range of available, competitive keyboards is still rather small though. So, if you want to buy a wireless mechanical keyboard in 2020, the decision making should be pretty simple: If you want the full package with RGB lighting, dedicated media controls and macro keys, then take the Logitech G915. If single-colored illumination is enough and you can live without a numpad (tenkeyless keyboard), then the Corsair K63 Wireless provides a cheaper and more compact alternative.
Which Switches should you choose?
Buying a mechanical keyboard often requires deciding on which switches should be used. At least some of the previously recommended keyboards are available with various switch options. There are essentially three kinds of switches to distinguish:
- Tactile: Switches with tactile feedback
- Clicky: Switches with tactile and audible feedback
- Linear: Switches without any tactile or audible feedback
Typically, clicky switches are recommended for typists, linear switches are recommended for gaming and tactile switches are somewhat in-between. Note that this is merely meant to provide some simple orientation for your first buy, but it is certainly not a rule. It is possible to play just as well with Cherry MX Blue and write just as fast with Cherry MX Red. Each manufacturer builds their switches by their own specifications, so two switches from different manufacturers can be quite different, even when they belong to the same category. More details can be found in our explanation of the most important switches.
What is a mechanical keyboard?
Keyboards that use a mechanical switch under each key are known as mechanical keyboards. There are a wide variety of mechanical switch designs that offer a distinctive feel or sound when pressed, generally identified by the color of the switch itself. Mechanical keyboards are preferred over less expensive “rubber dome” keyboards due to their longer lifespan, customization options, and increased performance in gaming and typing.
Are mechanical keyboards loud?
Not all mechanical keyboards are loud – though the especially clicky IBM Model M certainly helped to develop the noisy reputation. The most popular switch option for a mechanical keyboard is typically a quiet tactile variant – typically a Brown switch. Many factors in mechanical keyboard design can contribute to its overall noise – with steel plates and heavy keycaps often contributing quite a bit.
Which mechanical keyboard is best for gaming?
There is a commonly repeated myth that Linear mechanical (MX Red) switches are suited for gaming.This may stem from a misunderstanding about how switches actuate and an honest guess that less friction might allow for faster presses. In practice – most switches actuate roughly halfway down a keypress and being able to consistently hover and hold above the actuation point will result in better gaming performance. Special Speed switches that are similar to a hair trigger have been developed by Kaihua to actuate earlier and faster than other switches.
Are mechanical keyboards good for typing?
Mechanical keyboards are much better for typing than average keyboards as they do not require you to “bottom out” or press all the way down. Bottoming out results in the application of unnecessary stress on your joints and fingers. Mechanical keyboards typically only require a key to be pressed halfway to send a signal to your computer, allowing for quicker and easier typing.
Do laptops have mechanical keyboards?
Some laptops offer a low-travel mechanical switch using a “Butterfly” mechanism. These switches are technically mechanical – however, most of the advantages provided in a standard mechanical keyboard are lost. Certain gaming brands have released fully mechanical laptop options – but there is more innovation needed before this is a standard option.
Which Cherry MX switch is best for gaming?
Cherry MX offers one variety of Speed switch – Cherry MX Speed Silver Mechanical Switches. These are a linear option with a shorter actuation and are specifically designed for rapid keypresses. For more variety in Speed switches – Kaihua also produces four varieties – Gold, Bronze, Copper, and Silver (Available at Novelkeys). Switches produced by keyboard enthusiast brand ZealPC are also excellent for gaming due to their extremely smooth tactility.
Do mechanical keyboards last longer?
Cherry MX Mechanical switches are typically rated for 50 million keypresses, which under heavy use can last between 10 and 15 years. The average rubber dome keyboard is rated for around 5 million keypresses, which can last for one to two years under heavy use. Large keyboard companies like Logitech, Razer, and Kaihua have released mechanical switches that can last more than 80 million presses. Older, vintage keyboards that make use of Hall Effect technology can be rated for many 1 billion keypresses.
Which mechanical keyboard switch is best?
Certain design features can make a mechanical keyboard switch bad, but in practice no single switch variety is best. Human finger size and muscle density is incredibly variable, as are preferences for how firm or soft a keypress “should” be. Read below for a list of keyswitch manufacturers and designers that are producing quality products.