The Best Gaming Keyboards (February 2020): Razer, Steelseries, Logitech, HyperX, And More
Keyboards are a ubiquitous part of the 21st century. Whether you’re hammering out texts on your phone or mashing the WASD keys while testing out a new keymapping for Escape From Tarkov, typing is a constant in our lives. And if you do a lot of typing, you may as well buy a great keyboard that can make it fun to write the next great novel and make you a better gamer, however slightly. With so many great games available on PC–and major hits like Doom Eternal, Half-Life: Alyx, Cyberpunk 2077, and more on the way–it’s worth investing in a good keyboard for gaming.
When it comes to finding the right keyboard and mouse setup, you have to know what you want. Some like their keyboards small, flat, and quiet, while others prefer the tactile key switches, larger profile, and satisfying sounds of a mechanical gaming keyboard. High-end keyboards get more elaborate every year, too, which means there are more factors, like keyboard backlighting, ergonomic design, and response time to think about.
If you’re serious about your gaming experience on PC, especially for action-heavy games like shooters or real-time strategy games, then a dedicated, mechanical gaming keyboard can come with a host of advantages. They can provide better ergonomics for increased comfort over a standard keyboard, making them a better purchase in the long run; they can provide a more defined (and potentially faster) response time due their better key switches, to make sure you know you did the thing; with a good backlight, they can potentially play host to an extravagant light show that might let you know when something bad (or good!) is happening in your game.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re looking for the best gaming keyboard, and there are a lot of different options on the market to choose from. We’ve been fortunate enough to try a number of currently-available keyboard models, and in this article, we’ve rounded up our personal favourites to help give you an idea about what you might want out of your perfect keyboard.
When it comes to choosing the right keyboard, you have to be aware of some terminology, especially as it relates to mechanical switches. First off, linear versus tactile switches keys. Linear means there is no physical feedback mechanism to indicate when a keystroke is registered. It’s smooth, relatively quiet, and preferred for rapidly tapping on keys. Tactile means there is a bump or click to indicate you’ve hit the actuation point; it’s louder, but some prefer having physical feedback for keystrokes. It really comes down to preference. Actuation point is the distance at which a keystroke is registered; a shorter distance means you don’t have to press the key down as far, but can lead to errant inputs. Actuation force is, well, the force needed to press the key down.
While Cherry has been the long-time dominant manufacturer of mechanical switches, some gaming peripheral brands have started making their own proprietary mechanical switches for their keyboards, namely Razer and Logitech. For a brief overview of the most common switches, see below:
- Cherry MX Red: Linear
- Cherry MX Blue: Tactile and Clicky
- Cherry MX Brown: Tactile with a Bump
- Cherry MX Speed: Linear with a very short actuation point
- Romer-G Linear: Linear
- Romer-G Tactile: Tactile with a Bump
- Razer Yellow: Linear
- Razer Orange: Tactile with a Bump
- Razer Green: Tactile and Clicky
- Steelseries OmniPoint Adjustable: Linear with adjustable actuation point
Quick Look: Best Gaming Keyboard
- Best Quiet Mechanical Keyboard: Logitech G512 / G513
- Best RGB Lighting: HyperX Alloy Origins
- Best Tenkeyless Gaming Keyboard: Razer Huntsman
- Best Build Quality In A Gaming Keyboard: Corsair K68
- Best Premium Wireless Keyboard: Logitech G613
- Best High-End Keyboard For Serious People: Steelseries Apex Pro
Looking to complete your mouse and fancy backlit gaming keyboard setup, or just want more gaming peripherals to shop for? Check out our picks for the best gaming headset, best gaming mouse, and the best Nintendo Switch accessories. And while you’re shopping, make sure to take advantage of all the great PC gaming and VR deals, including free games from Epic, as well as services like Xbox Game Pass for PC and Twitch Prime.
Best Gaming Keyboard: Quiet Mechanical
Logitech G512 / G513
- Relatively quiet keystrokes
- Exposed keycap design looks great and is easy to keep clean
- Aluminum chassis is sleek and makes for good build quality
- Padded magnetic wrist pad is a nice option (G513 only)
- Romer-G linear keys are a good alternative to Cherry MX switches…
- …though they may not feel as smooth
Logitech has iterated on several of its keyboard and mice, essentially fine-tuning good designs to become great. Such is the case with the G512/G513 models of its mechanical gaming keyboard design–they’re an improvement over the G413 in subtle, but important ways. These newer models sport full RGB backlighting that’s customizable through Logitech software, and the option to come equipped with Logitech’s own Romer-G mechanical switches. While the G413 introduced the Romer-G tactile switches, the new linear option is what makes the G512/G513 some of the quietest gaming keyboards out there.
Linear switches don’t have the clicking-and-clacking of tactile ones, but the sound of the key bottoming out remains loud. However, Romer-G switches soften the blow by design, reducing the amount of contact between parts. When using my tenkeyless Razer keyboard with linear switches and my G513 side-by-side, the difference in noise is night and day. Romer-G isn’t necessarily a compromise either; it’s a fast and accurate mechanical switch, like its Cherry and Razer counterparts. The only thing I noticed is that a keystroke itself may not feel as buttery smooth.
The G512/G513 is a simple design executed just right. It has exposed LED-backlit keycaps for easy cleaning and a sleek brushed aluminum frame means the keyboard backlighting looks premium but not gaudy. One USB pass-through is at the top-right of the chassis and media functions are relegated to the F-keys. A perk specific to the G513 is that it comes with a padded wrist rest that attaches magnetically, which feels much better than plastic ones seen on other keyboards–that’s the main difference between the two models and may not be worth the price difference. Overall, they’re great packages, and you should definitely consider either one if you want a mechanical keyboard without the potential noise complaints.
- Price: $100 USD (G512) or $150 USD (G513) // $120 AUD (G512)
- Switch Types: Romer-G Linear or Tactile, GX Blue
- Available in Tenkeyless: No
Best Gaming Keyboard For RGB Lighting Effects
HyperX Alloy Origins
- Incredibly vibrant lighting effects
- Slick, strong, and weighty build
- Exposed keycaps make it easy to clean
- Smooth, responsive switches
- Detachable USB-C cord
- No USB passthrough
- NGenuity software is unreliable
The Alloy Origins from HyperX is a very well-made all-rounder keyboard at a reasonable mid-range price. The aluminum build feels incredibly solid and gives the keyboard quite a bit of weight, but it’s still a compact unit with exposed keycaps, minimal trim around the edges, and a detachable USB-C cord. It comes in three different variations with HyperX’s custom switches (linear, tactile, and clicky)–I tested the linear version which felt very smooth and responsive (the key travel is 1.8mm), even if the overall travel (3.8mm) is a little bit longer than I personally prefer for long stretches of typing.
You can set it at three different angles to suit your ergonomic setup. It also has a Game Mode that disables keyboard shortcuts like Alt+Tab–another nice touch. Other than that, there aren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles–no macro keys, not even USB passthrough. As the “Origins” name might suggest, this is a slick, strong, no-nonsense keyboard with a focus on responsiveness.
But the thing that really makes the Alloy Origins stand out are exposed LEDs it uses for its RGB lighting. Instead of having the lights sit underneath each keyboard switch, they lay alongside them. This results in an incredibly vivid effect where coloured lighting not only comes through each keycap but emanates a distinctive aura underneath each keycap too, which is visible even my bright, sunny office. It’s stunning, especially when compared directly to other models, and especially once you set up some of the more audacious trigger effects like explosions or fades.
The only caveat is that the HyperX NGenuity software required to program the lights can be a little finicky–I wasn’t able to get the software to detect the keyboard on my home PC at all, but your mileage may vary. It’s a pretty user-friendly piece of software, however–I was able to very quickly and easily set up my keyboard with a beautiful, twinkling cherry blossom idle effect with lingering fade lights as I typed, and bright red explosions when I hit backspace. If style is your priority, the Alloy Origins is a great pick.
- Price: $110 USD // $200 AUD
- Switch Types: HyperX Custom Switches (Linear, Tactile, Clicky)
- Available in Tenkeyless: Yes
Best Gaming Keyboard: Compact/Tenkeyless
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
- Razer’s own switches are among the best
- Strong build quality with aluminum chassis
- Detachable USB-C cable
- Low actuation point means slightly faster input registry…
- …but can lead to typos or mistaken inputs
- Keystrokes can be loud, even for linear switches
There’s something novel about a compact tenkeyless keyboard; they’re cute. If you have no use for the number pad and/or want to have a minimalist desk setup, they’re definitely up your alley. If that’s what you’re into there’s a ton of options out there, as tenkeyless is quite popular among the PC gaming crowd, which was born out of the need for small keyboard at cramped LAN competitions. But which one should you get? The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is an easy choice.
Razer’s Huntsman keyboards have a sleek aluminum chassis and an overall no-nonsense design. The Tournament Edition specifically is the tenkeyless version, and it features a long detachable braided USB-C cable, which makes it easier to take places if you need to. It also retains the Razer Chroma RGB lighting though the backlighting isn’t as vibrant as other Razer keyboards. What makes these keyboards special are the options you have for mechanical switches. Each of Razer’s own switches (Green, Yellow, and Orange) are tuned for competitive gaming with short actuation points and fine-tuned reset points; they’re also consistently smooth to the keystroke. I’ve mainly used Razer Yellow with the Huntsman TE, and it’s my preferred setup for when things get serious.
The fast response and short actuation point may also lead to more errant inputs, mainly from resting your hand on the keys; it’s something to be mindful of. And the Huntsman isn’t designed for the courtesy of others around you as full keystrokes can be really loud. If neither of those are big concerns, then it’d be hard to overlook the Razer Huntsman.
- Price: $130 USD // $200 AUD
- Switch Types: Razer Orange, Green, or Yellow
- Available not in Tenkeyless: Yes
Best Gaming Keyboard: Wireless Mechanical
- Long battery life (AA required)
- Fast input response that matches that of wired keyboards
- Affordable, especially considering how few options are available
- Romer-G tactile switches work well
- Not the best looking keyboard
- Plastic wrist rest comes attached, making it a bit bulky overall
Wireless mechanical keyboards are hard to come by, since there are so few options available. That’s not the only reason why we recommend the Logitech G613, though. Input latency is at the top of concerns, but that’s been largely solved as seen with wireless gaming mice, and Logitech adapts its “Lightspeed” tech found in its mice for the G613.
The G613 is a full-size keyboard in every sense. It features a built-in plastic wrist rest, which is handy, but not detachable. There are six programmable macro keys on the left side of the keyboard and a suite of media controls at the top-right, too. Most importantly, the G613 stands among the great mechanical keyboards out there because of its fast response and accurate mechanical switches. It only comes with Romer-G tactile switches, which isn’t so bad because these provide all the benefits of a mechanical switch like smooth, consistent keystrokes.
While you’ll need to stock up on AA batteries, the G613 is quite efficient, lasting up to 18 months according to Logitech–it’s so efficient, we’re not even talking in hours anymore. And only once did I have to swap out batteries since I took it in as my main keyboard for work back in 2017. It’d be pretty annoying to swap out batteries for a keyboard every few months, so this is key. A reason why battery life last this long is because one common feature has been left behind: backlit keys. Keys are painted in a vibrant white that helps visibility, but of course it’s not the same as proper backlighting.
Considering its feature set and the fact that it’s one of the few wireless mechanical keyboards out there, the Logitech G613 is fairly affordable, especially when it’s on sale. The prospect a wireless gaming keyboard may not be as appealing as a wireless mouse (you’re not constantly moving a keyboard around and dragging a cord after all), but those who want to cut the cord without sacrificing keyboard quality have a great option here.
- Price: $129.99 USD // $135 AUD
- Switch types: Romer-G Tactile
- Available in Tenkeyless: No
Best Gaming Keyboard: Best Build Quality
- Solid, sturdy build that’s also water-resistant
- Dedicated media keys are convenient
- Smooth keystrokes with multiple options for Cherry MX switches (for RGB models)
- None to speak of
The Corsair K68 is an all-around solid keyboard–solid, of course, as in it can take a beating. It’s pitched as the mechanical keyboard that’ll withstand the hazards that might accompany someone’s desk, like spilled liquids. On to of being water-resistant, it’s housed by a thick, sturdy chassis. While Corsair’s product page shows the keyboard being showered on, we tested it ourselves in our K68 review–it turns out it can take showers. There’s a protective membrane beneath the keycaps and shields the mechanical switches from damage, and any liquid it takes on is funneled out of the board.
Those are some of the perks specific to the K68, but it’s an overall top performer. We’ve only used it with Cherry MX Red switches and, as expected, they work like a charm, providing smooth and responsive keystrokes. You have a few options when it comes to K68 models, however. There’s a cheaper version that only comes with red LED backlighting and Red switches, but you’ll have to kick in a few more bucks to get the RGB backlit version which also lets you choose between Cherry MX Red, Blue, or Speed switches. Both models do feature some nice, chunky media control buttons at the top-right, and they come packed with a detachable wrist rest with rubber texture.
There’s nothing bad to say about the K68, really. You can’t go wrong if you’re looking for a great mechanical keyboard, especially if you’re accident-prone or just want to make sure your investment doesn’t get destroyed so easily. It’s also a budget gaming keyboard, especially if you can find it on sale.
- Price: $90 USD (Red LED) / $120 USD (RGB) // $150 AUD (Red LED) / $190 AUD (RGB)
- Switch types: Cherry MX Red, Blue, or Speed
- Available in Tenkeyless: No
Best Gaming Keyboard: Premium High-End For Serious People
SteelSeries Apex Pro
- Adjustable mechanical switches are impressive
- Switches are smooth and relatively quiet
- Very solid and compact (ignoring the wrist rest) construction
- Lots of meaningful luxuries that make it feel high-end
- Comprehensive customisation software
- It’s relatively expensive
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a high-end keyboard that, on top of looking and feeling the part in basically all respects, sports a pretty innovative feature that currently only exists in maybe one other keyboard: Adjustable mechanical switches. That’s right–you can adjust the trigger point of each individual key on the main key spread to suit your preference, meaning you can program them to only activate on a full, concerted press (about 3.6mm) or the lightest of touches (a shallow 0.4mm).
Is that useful? It can be! A common example would be if you’re a keyboard stickler who spends long stretches of time both typing and playing PC games, like me. You might prefer longer, deeper actuation to help with accuracy and reduce any slips while typing, and a much lighter actuation to increase response times in action games. The SteelSeries Engine software makes it easy to build these profiles (which can be saved onboard the keyboard itself for hardware-side activation), and conveniently allows you to script automatic profile switching for when a particular application becomes active (like Chrome or Apex Legends, for example).
However, it’s worth noting that the linear nature of the switches remains the same regardless, and there are no other options if you prefer a clicky or tactile switch. That said, the way the keys respond can still feel like night and day depending on where you are on the actuation scale.
A host of wholly unnecessary but luxurious features include a tiny OLED display plus a dedicated media playback and volume control wheel, both of which help navigate the onboard UI, which allows you to customise every aspect of the keyboard without having to launch the software, though it’s certainly not as efficient. The display can easily be customised to display 1-bit, 128×40 pixel gifs, and supports integration with a limited selection of programs like Discord, Dota 2, CS:GO, Mortal Kombat 11, and Tidal (if you use Tidal for some reason) to display vital information.
It features USB passthrough, cable routing, macro keys, a magnetic soft rubber wrist rest, and exposed LED lighting for individual keys. The aluminum construction is incredibly durable as you’d expect–it features an exposed keycap design, and it sports a very compact trim, much like the HyperX Alloy Origins (though the lighting isn’t quite as vibrant). Nevertheless, the SteelSeries Apex Pro has everything you’d feasibly want from a premium high-end keyboard, and the adjustable switches are a meaningful customisation feature (even if it seems like a ridiculous flex).
(Note: The more affordable Steelseries Apex 7 sports all the features of the Apex Pro, but comes with more traditional SteelSeries-brand Red, Blue, or Brown switches.)
- Price: $200 USD // $330 AUD
- Switch Type: OmniPoint Adjustable Mechanical Switches (Apex 7 available in SteelSeries Red, Blue, or Brown)
- Available in Tenkeyless: Yes
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