When playing games, there are a few things you’re going to need. We’ve already discussed the PC itself, but now? Let’s talk about peripherals. The humble keyboard has been a staple of the PC ever since it’s conception. It’s a reliable piece of hardware that many think is near indispensable alongside its companion, the mouse. Today, we’re going to discuss a particular subset of keyboards that are tailored for the more entertaining avenue of PC usage, the gaming keyboard.
What is a Gaming Keyboard?
First off, let’s figure out what a gaming keyboard is. The simplest definition is that it’s a keyboard that contains features specially made for gaming. The reality it seems is that many manufacturers have their style of what a gaming keyboard should be. Many features of a gaming keyboard are created to boost your performance. An example of this is mechanical keys for reducing response time. Others are purely visual, like RGB Backlights. We’re going to discuss this later.
Though there are many controllers out there that you can use for games, the W, A, S and D keys on the basic QWERTY keyboard are also used by many gamers. Meanwhile, gaming keyboards, many of which are mechanical, have keyboard keys that need less depression when you press which results in faster actions for games. There may also be extra keys on the keyboard that the developers made user-configurable for macros for (keyboard key sequences widely used by games). Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or you’re new to playing games, you may wonder if it’s worth it to buy a gaming keyboard to replace your regular keyboard.
Best Gaming Keyboard Under $50
Redragon K552 Kumara
Meanwhile, the Redragon K552 Kumara delivers a keyboard looking and feeling like a gaming keyboard twice its price. The keyboard is the best choice for many gamers looking to buy value, this is in part due to features like the mechanical keys, red LED backlighting, great tactile feedback, double-injection molded keys, and medium resistance all of which ensuring uniform backlighting and would add to the keyboard’s durability through preserving the symbols.
It also offers 87 conflict-free keys that come with anti-ghosting. If you’re a music fan you’ll probably enjoy the fact that this keyboard comes with 12 dedicated multimedia keys that allows them to listen to music, pause, skip songs, etc. even when you’re gaming. All in all, the K552 Kumara is an easy and comfortable keyboard to use.
Check out the Redragon K552 Kumara today and enjoy a gaming keyboard with excellent value.
Best Gaming Keyboards Under $100
The Corsair K55 RGB keyboard is an efficient keyboard which is a surprise given its low price. It showcases 3 RGB backlighting zones, ergonomic design, responsive and quiet keys, a comfortable detachable wrist pad, and textured face design that delivers a better grip.
It also comes with up to six keys that you can program to better enhance your gaming experience and performance speed. The feature allows you the ability to assign key remaps, combos, and actions to create a control scheme perfect for you. Lastly, the keys also provide tactile feedback within microseconds of contact. A great budget laptop.
Check out the Corsair K55 on Amazon today and get a keyboard that relaxes your wrists when playing your favorite games.
Razer BlackWidow X Tournament Edition Chroma
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly mechanical keyboard with a sleek design, without that pesky number pad, and good backlighting, then the BlackWidow X Tournament Edition Chroma is the way to go.
It’s great for those who want to have a great keyboard without paying much. Check out this product from Razer and get a gaming keyboard without breaking your budget.
HyperX Alloy FPS Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
If you’re willing to shell out more money, the HyperX Alloy FPS gives great perks if you buy it. Coming with backlighting, Cherry MX keys, and is all in all one of the slimmest keyboards on the market today. There’s also the fact that it has a Mini USB Cable that’s detachable, making sure that you don’t need to have to do RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) if the cable’s busted.
A great all in all keyboard for people who wish for quality without shelling over too much. Check out the HyperX Alloy FPS and get a slim gaming keyboard that will help you dominate your games.
Best Gaming Keyboards Under $200
Fnatic Streak RGB
The first below $200 keyboard on our list, Fnatic’s second-generation Streak might be the best budget RGB keyboard on the $200 range right now. Not only is it cheap, but the price is also justified as it’s packed with cool features.
It looks classy, for one. With the rounded corners, slim chassis, and it contains minimal branding. It doesn’t LOOK like a gaming keyboard but it’s legit a gaming keyboard. With class.
There are other cool additions too. This is one of the gaming keyboards that’s equipped with a Function Lock button. A standard on many laptops but is otherwise a rarity.
Press it, and the F1 to F12 keys will immediately default to the secondary functions indicated. This gaming keyboard also has an added wrist rest to add comfort during longer gaming sessions. And with the keyboard only about two inches wide, you can move to any of 3 different positions. And it’s both comfortable AND compact. Which is a great plus.
Check out the Fnatic Streak and get a gaming keyboard that’s designed for the best Esports players in the world.
For years the Romer-G switch is hated by some people. Many compared it to the original and say that it’s an unsatisfying keyboard to use as well. However, Logitech was finally able to release a keyboard that satisfied many. It’s mediocre compared to the first keyboard shown on the under $200 keyboard list, but it’s a perfectly usable keyboard that you can use in both gaming and other areas if you wish.
Check out the Logitech G513 today and get a gaming keyboard that allows your wrists to relax.
Best High-End Gaming Keyboards
Razer Cynosa Chroma
If not even mecha-membrane keys satisfy you and you wish for a full membrane gaming/typing experience, the Cynosa is the keyboard you’re looking for. It has some of the best, low profile membrane keys you’ll feel. Add it being an affordable gaming keyboard past a certain threshold of quality, and you’ll have a ringer.
True it lacks some features that some of the better gaming keyboards have in these days, like a wrist rest or media controls, it does have Razer’s swanky and extensive RGB lighting, which is programmable on a per-key basis. Or applied by zones if that’s your shtick.
It’s a reliable, no-frills, great-looking keyboard that’s currently your best membrane keyboard option. Check out this offering from Razer and get the best membrane gaming keyboard available.
Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB
The OG Freestyle Edge that Kinesis released was one of if not the best split ergonomic keyboards you’ll find. Now, the upgraded RGB model enhances what’s already on the original in many great ways. It still has the split design, giving you the option to set both halves of the deck at a shoulder-length that reduces back, neck, and shoulder strain.
This gap also allows you to use a flight stick or HOTAS between them for space sims or giving space to your game controller allowing easy reach when you’re typing text or messages in between sessions.
Its braided cable that connects both halves can be made to adjust to accommodate bigger peripherals or shorter if you want to reduce your desk’s clutter. An additional lift kit accessory attaches to the bottom of the wrist rests and is sold separately. This allows you to tilt the keyboard, facing out towards your hands at angles of 5, 10, or 15 degrees.
You might need to adjust to the angles but it’ll be better in the long term especially when you play for extended hours. All in all, the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB is a great keyboard for those who wish for one of the best ones out there.
Check out this peripheral on Amazon and get an innovative gaming keyboard that performs well.
Best Premium Gaming Keyboards
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum
If you want a premium gaming keyboard that matches features, quality and performance then the Corsair K95 Platinum is the one for you.
The K95 Platinum is a big gaming keyboard. Its enormous size will require some desk rearrangement before you can comfortably place it. But feature-wise? It’s got it all. With dedicated media controls, USB pass-through, a metal volume wheel, RGB lighting. And even has an extra set of textured keycaps for the WASD keys if you’re feeling fancy.
There’s also love the detachable wrist rest, which helps your wrists be super comfortable for extended gaming sessions. The rubberized wrist pad can be attached magnetically and has two contrasting textures: a smooth side and a rough side. Switching sides is easy as the only thing you need to do is flip it over, and the added comfort that it brings is sublime.
Check out the Corsair K95 RBG Platinum today and get a gaming keyboard that gives premium performance.
HyperX Alloy Elite RGB
For a keyboard that lights up with damn near all the colors of the rainbow, the HyperX Alloy Elite sports a simple aesthetic. All while still having the features you’d see from a great gaming keyboard. It comes in choice colors of Cherry MX Blue, Brown, and Red. What it doesn’t have in a dedicated macro column for games it makes up for with a reasonable price. In addition to its quality, durable design.
The HyperX Alloy Elite RGB has nothing wanting in its features. It has dedicated media controls, a detachable wrist-rest, USB passthrough, and full RGB backlighting. To up the aesthetics, it includes an extra set of silver keycaps for WASD and the first 4 number keys. The board supports a full N-key rollover. This means you don’t need to worry about key inputs not registering. While there is a standard version of the Alloy Elite that doesn’t have RGB, the current state of the market ensures in this model’s pricing being reduced almost to parity.
Check out the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB on Amazon to get a gaming keyboard that performs very well.
Difference Between A Regular and Gaming Keyboard
Like what was said above, Gaming Keyboards often have mechanical keys. These give you tactile feedback and faster response time. Other than this also have more features you don’t get on regular keyboards. Like programmable keys and RGB backlights. With the drawback that they are also more expensive.
When you’re going to buy a gaming keyboard, it’s easy to be confused by the available models currently on the market. Some keyboards use standardized switches like the Cherry MX or Kailh, while other companies create their own. In general, a mechanical keyboard is overall a better idea if you’re looking for a gaming keyboard. However, it might not be for everyone. When looking for the best keyboard for your gaming needs, it’s important to take a look at the quality, your preferences, and how comfortable the keyboard is for extended gaming sessions into account.
What do you look out for when purchasing a gaming keyboard?
Many keyboards don’t look like much and you wouldn’t expect that they’re an important requirement of a gaming PC rig. They merely look like keyboards that have colored lights. But don’t let those colored QWERTY keys mislead you.
The right keyboard is an indispensable tool in any gamer’s arsenal, and a purpose-built gaming keyboard is near enough a treasure worth its weight to some gamers.
If you’re asking, what makes a gaming keyboard so important? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are a few things to take note of when you’re looking for a gaming keyboard.
When you buy a gaming keyboard, there are three things you need to consider: the size of the keyboard, the “insides” of the keyboards, and on what customization options it has available. And we’re going to discuss all three and more additional concerns.
First thing first, how big it is. Maybe you’ve noticed already that some keyboards have more keyboard keys than others. This is VERY apparent on laptops, where the screen size of the laptop tends to dictate how many buttons can be put on the keyboard itself due to space constraints.
A “full size” keyboard is one with 104 (or 105) keys. This includes the full QWERTY alphanumeric section, dedicated function keys, a dedicated number pad on the right side, and four directional cursor keys. Full-size keyboards are the biggest of the keyboards out there. Depending on your work surface, it may be a teeny bit too big.
Some gamers tend to see the number pad as an unnecessary part of their keyboard as it puts more space between keys they need to press with their left hand and the mouse. In addition to taking more space on their gaming table. But if you find that a number pad is essential to your needs, a full-sized keyboard is the best way to go about things.
If you’re one of the people that can live without a keyboard number pad, getting a “tenkeyless” sized keyboard is a viable choice. It gives a smaller footprint on your PC table due to the entire number pad section of your keyboard being excluded.
Which includes the very important cursor keys. Many gamers will find that the “tenkeyless” size is enough for them when playing games. A small price to pay for gaming supremacy.
Membrane VS Mechanical
The second thing you’ll need to consider is what’s inside your keyboard. By this, we mean how the keyboard keys register when they’ve been pressed, and how they feel AND sound when you press them. Many standard keyboards currently on the market have used a variation on “membrane” tech underneath each key.
Membrane-based keyboards are a cheap thing to make. In addition to allowing very thin designs. This is thanks to the layer of rubber/silicone acting as both the keyboard’s “spring” AND its electrical contact. Membrane keyboards are VERY versatile. But most of the time lack a distinct “click”. This makes it hard for anyone to recognize from a tactile POV that you’ve pressed the key and registered that you’ve pressed said key with the PC. For gamers, the spongy or squishy feel coupled alongside the tiny amount of key travel isn’t accurate enough for what they want at need from the keyboard.
Meanwhile, Mechanical keyboards are a throwback to decades-old keyboard designs. Under each key – which is pretty tall compared to new keys – is an exclusive mechanical switch. These switches contain their housings, stems, and springs, and delivers a click that is highly audible (like the click from Thanos snapping his fingers) AND very tactile (you can feel the moment the keyboard key’s mechanism would connect with its electrical contact). Mechanical key switches would come in three different flavors depending on the amount of “click” you wish to have, and on the amount of spring resistance.
If you wish to play video games seriously, you might want a mechanical keyboard for gaming. Not only are they more precise alongside better feedback they’re also incredibly tough when compared to standard keyboards. Many mechanical keyboards in the market can withstand 40-50 million clicks on their keys before they need to be replaced.
Customization and Macro Buttons
The next thing we need to talk about is how your gaming keyboard can offer an edge when it involves speed and a gamer’s personal preferences. Some gaming keyboards are made with a dedicated set of keys. These keys are usually located on a column on your keyboard’s left side. You can program these to perform in-game macro action.
In games like World of Warcraft and other RPG’s, you typically have to input a command or use your mouse to select a specific icon, to use a macro command. By binding a macro to a keyboard macro key, only a single keystroke is needed. Frankly, a great convenience. More so if you need fast reaction times. Due to this, many gaming laptops offer this feature.
Changing the mechanical switches under the keys can be done to customize mechanical gaming keyboards. Do you prefer softer springs under the WASD keys, but wish to hear a firm click on your spacebar and enter keys? A simple matter of removing the keycap, and swapping out the switch inside. Also, speaking of keycaps, These too can be swapped out on many mechanical keyboards if you want a different texture, or if you wish for custom printing on top.
It’s very rare when using a keyboard for things like typing for many keys to be pressed in rapid succession. When that happens, it’s oftentimes a mistake so it doesn’t matter all that much which one of the keypresses registered with your PC and which ones don’t. But when you’re playing a game? THAT’s a different story altogether. On many occasions, simultaneous key presses happen, and each key you press matters in-game.
Gaming keyboards are made to support up to a specified amount of concurrent presses. This is called the “n-key rollover,” where the n is how many keys can be pressed at the same timeframe. You won’t require a keyboard that can support every key to be pressed simultaneously, but the higher “n” number a keyboard has, the more adaptable the gaming keyboard of your choice will be. If you’re using your keyboard for playback software and music composition, or games that need two players, then a higher “n-key” rollover is a priority.
In addition to this, Non-gaming keyboards can also be struck with a weird effect called key ghosting. As for what it is? This is when you input some keys at the same time and your keyboard will instead register a press on a different key than you didn’t press. Not a big deal when you’re just typing stuff. but when you’re playing a game? That’s virtual life and death!
Any gaming keyboard worth its price must have anti-ghosting features. This is by using a specialized wiring pattern so that it can avoid the mixed signals that are rife with ghosting. Some gaming keyboards can isolate popular and specific key zones against ghosting. Meanwhile, other brands and keyboards go further beyond by isolating every key.
Have you ever seen a keyboard with multi-colored lights and thought that might be too out there? However, you might be shocked that there is a purpose for these multi-colored backlights.
The main function of these gaming keyboard lights is to provide the user with a visual aid to see the most used sections of the product. The less time you put in thinking about where your fingers needed to go, the faster you can play your game, and the better the gameplay.
If you want a more personalized touch, why not assign a specific color to a key or section. However, there’s a benefit to the zone approach of things. A single color backlight, like red for example, can be great if you like to game in the dark. Red backlights usually give the illumination you require to see the key in question without forcing your eyes to adjust to another light source. Also, you can’t deny that Backlit keyboards and mice look cooler compared to normal keyboards.
The Faster the Switch the Better
The final criteria to look at the speed of a keyboard’s key switch. This is called actuation distance and determines the rate of an input be done before contact is made with the electronic circuit. Simply put, a shorter distance equals a faster key response. A usual mechanical switch has a 2-millimeter actuation distance. But, some keyboards have as little as 0.4mm.
As another consideration other than the depression distance, the keyboard’s processing time is also a factor. The “keystroke signal processing” (KSP) is how long it takes to transform a depressed key switch to a USB signal. Following this, the “USB polling rate” is how quickly that request is monitored for transfer to the PC’s motherboard.
How do you take care of gaming keyboards?
First things first, we have to emphasize that one should clean ANY type of keyboard regularly (Especially important if you’re snacking besides your keyboard). Through this, you’re making sure that it’ll last for years. The good thing is, it’s easy to perform actions that can add care and longevity to your keyboard. Before anything though, ensure the keyboard is unplugged.
- Take out the dust from the keyboard plate through the usage of a vacuum or blower. Ensure that you clean all the keycaps not to press the vacuum’s tube hard or stick it in the keys. If you have it, make use of an anti-static vacuum cleaner. If you’re using a blower, take care that the blower doesn’t blow the dust in between the keys. Those are a bitch to take out if it happens.
- Through the usage of a microfiber cloth, proceed to wipe the entire keyboard. Make sure the cloth is mildly damp (otherwise the dirt won’t stick to the cloth). Otherwise, you have the option of using a disposable cleaning wipe.
- After this, dry your keyboard using a dry cloth. DO NOT use paper towels as they tend to leave tiny particles on your keyboard.
Cleaning Mechanical Keyboard Sticky Keys
A simple process that leaves a very rewarding outcome. After all, seeing your keycaps look shiny and glossy is a reward all its own.
- Use a keycap puller to pull out the keycaps.
- Prepare a bowl of warm water (NOT hot water) and denture cleaning tablets beforehand. Dish soap also works if you have them.
- Put the keycaps in the bowl and soak for 5 hours at least.
- After soaking, rinse all the and wipe all the keycaps.
- Reattach to the keyboard.
- Again use a microfiber cloth to wipe your keyboard. Ensure the cloth is mildly damp.
- Dry using a dry cloth.
- In addition to this, while waiting for the soaking keycaps to finish, you can do some extra plate cleaning. The only thing you need is a dry Q-tip to clean between the keys. Then, turn the plate upside down and lightly shake till the particles remaining in the keyboard fall off.