Though you may naturally associate the keyboard with the mundane, it's an essential piece to the puzzle if you're gaming on PC. Selecting the right keyboard is a do or die situation – meaning if you don't do it, you're likely going to be killed in any online multiplayer game.
That being said, here we've compiled the 10 best gaming keyboards available for all the different flavors of PC gamers. Whether you're into World of Warcraft or Counterstrike, Overwatch or Call of Duty, there's bound to be something in store for you.
However, we do recognize that everyone games on a budget, and some of us prefer compact peripherals that take up less space and are easy to travel with. No worries, though, as we've taken all of this into account in this extensive yet definitive guide to the best keyboards on the market.
Corsair's K70 RGB Rapidfire keyboard is all about speed. Featuring Cherry's new linear MX Speed Switch, its keys are highly responsive and take only a slight movement of the finger to press them down. The switch actuates at just 1.2mm, with a light actuation force of 45g. With a feeling like typing on super-sensitive Cherry MX Reds, which are a sensitive keyswitch anyway, they're not very suitable for long typing sessions. However, if you're into first-person shooters or any game that requires fast reflexes, the K65 RGB is equipped for the job. The full-length K70 RGB Rapidfire is also available in a tenkeyless version called the K65 RGB, which is easier to transport and slip into a bag to take to LAN parties. Like its larger sibling, the K70 has beautiful customizable RGB lighting.
For too long there's been a divide between mechanical and membrane keys but now Razer has finally brought the two together with its "Mecha-Membrane' Ornata keyboard. These new switches pull from everything Razer has learned over the years. The result is a grand typing experience with shorter keys, the tactile feel of the green switches from the Blackwidow X Chroma and a loud audible click. Just like its other products, the Ornata features a fully customizable, per-key backlight and it comes with a plush pleather wrist rest too.
Billed as the fastest keyboard in the west (and the rest of the world for that matter), the Apex M800 feels different to type on than just about every other keyboard out there. That's because of its incredibly responsive QS1 keyswitch featuring 1.5mm key travel and 45cN actuation force. Its low travel and linear nature lend it a similar feel to Cherry MX Reds, only requiring less effort to strike each key. This makes the Apex M800 a great keyboard for gaming, but its membrane-like keyswitch means you'll need to take some time adjusting to it when it comes to typing - especially if you've come from a tactile keyboard with Cherry's MX switches inside. The M800's individually-lit keycaps are easy on the eye and the M800's six left-positioned macro keys help you fire off spells and switch weapons in a snap.
Cherry's flagship MX Board 6.0 features a lower profile than other gaming keyboards like the Razer BlackWidow X Chroma, making it perfect if you prefer to type and game using a wrist rest. Cherry's MX Red switches under the keys lend the MX Board 6.0 fast response times, but because the keys are positioned fairly close together they're excellent for typing too. Housed in a solid aluminium chassis, the MX Board 6.0 certainly doesn't feel cheap and its blood-red key lighting is deliciously ominous. A mechanical keyboard that's also perfect for the office, then.
Logitech has followed up its Orion Spark G910 mechanical keyboard with the G810, which arrives with a refreshingly grown-up feel. Sporting Logitech's own Romer G switches, which aren't quite as squishy as Cherry's various switches, the G810 possesses a snappier feel than other gaming keyboards whether typing or gaming. Featuring smart media keys that work equally well on both Windows and OS X, Logitech's latest keyboard is a solid all-round offering. If you're fed up of the weird markings, LCD screens and strange parts that come with competing "gamer-focused" keyboards, the G810 might be for you.
Many mechanical keyboards are gaudy and unwieldy, aimed at gamers on the, err, ostentatious side. That's not the case with the SteelSeries Apex M500. Like the Logitech G810, the Apex M500 eschews unnecessary bells and whistles in favor of clean design and bare essentials. While it's lacking media keys, macros and other such extras, it benefits from a compact design that wastes no space. Tailored towards e-Sports, its minimal leanings are refreshing and it looks great sat on a desk, accompanied by the right monitor and mouse of course.
The M500's rock solid plastic case reminds us of Filco's similarly well-made professional keyboards; You can hammer away on it all day long without feeling even the slightest bit of flex. It's just a shame that it only comes with Cherry's MX Red switches as we would have loved to see a version with Browns.
Better known for producing some impressive professional keyboards, the X40 comes as part of Das Keyboard's new Division Zero gaming lineup. Available with clicky (or optionally silent) tactile keys, Das utilizes its own custom made Alpha-Zulu switches that have a very similar feel to Cherry MX Red keys. What's more, the X40 comes with interchangeable thick aluminum panels making this one of the strongest and most rigid keyboards around.
Adding a tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard to your gaming arsenal can give you more precious mouse space on a desk. Speedlink's Ultor is a compact TKL mechanical keyboard that uses Kailh's Red Switches, rather than Cherry's more popular MX variety. Its keys possess a smooth action ideal for executing quick, sharp double taps in games. The contrast between Ultor's blue-lit LEDs and metallic red chassis won't appeal to everyone, but if you seek a TKL mech that packs in gaming features and is cheaper than, say, Corsair's K65, then the Ultor is an appealing alternative.
G.Skill threw its hat into the peripherals ring recently with impressive results. Its Ripjaw KM780 RGB gaming keyboard may not have a snappy name, but its Cherry MX Red keyswitches, dedicated macro keys and foldable mouse cable holder add up to make one fully-fledged gaming mech. It's comfortable to type on thanks to a sufficiently sized wrist rest, and the LED volume indicator on the top-right hand side of the case adds a futuristic touch. The KM780 RGB is a solid-built keyboard thanks to its military-grade aluminum plate; we even dropped it off a high desk and it survived with only a small scratch on its side. A worthy contender to the Corsair K70's crown.
Cooler Master's NovaTouch TKL is billed as a typing, rather than gaming keyboard. As such, it misses out on standard features such as backlighting and macro keys. However, it's unique in a number of departments which makes it contender, one that's also excellent for productivity work. It's the first affordable keyboard to use topre switches, which are linear in nature and elicit a satisfying clunk when you "bottom out" (or strike the keys all the way down). The linear topre switch is a hybrid of membrane and mechanical technology and has the same actuation force as Cherry MX Reds, so there's no tactile bump on the way down. Additionally, The NovaTouch TKL is the first topre keyboard to feature compatibility with Cherry MX keycaps, so you can chop and change with ones from your existing gaming keyboards.
And if you need to know more about the different types of keyboards, check out our video below.