If you want to compete online, you’re going to want to invest in a gaming keyboard. They offer a range of benefits that can be used to highlight specific games’ control schemes, including more reactive key switches, programmable macro keys, and mappable RGB lighting. Advances in wireless technology also mean that you no longer have to be tied to your desk to take advantage of them.
Choosing the best keyboard for you can be a tricky task, with every company under the sun offering a variety of products at radically different price points and for various types of player.
Here to help, we’ve created an in-depth buying guide to explain the differences between each type of model. We’ve also tested all the latest keyboards to offer a comprehensive list of the best currently available in each category.
The best gaming keyboard we’ve reviewed so far is the Vulcan 100 Aimo. If you’re willing to invest in a premium model, this board offers an excellent gaming experience with a beautiful skeletal design. If you’re on a tighter budget, then the Logitech G213 Prodigy is spectacular value for money, and a great all-round gaming keyboard.
Later this year we’ll be attending Gamescom in Cologne, where we can expect to see all sorts of upcoming weird and wonderful gaming peripherals.
Related: Best gaming mice
How we test gaming keyboards
Every keyboard we test is used for at least a week. During that time we’ll check it for ease of use and put it through it through its paces playing a variety of different genres. These include MOBAs, FPS, strategy and ARPG titles. We’ll also check its software to see how easy it is to customise and setup.
Roccat Vulcan 100 Aimo
- Slick mechanical action
- Funky design
- Practically dust and spill-proof
- Strong RGB backlighting
- No wireless support
If you’re serious about gaming and money is plentiful, then we’d recommend the Vulcan 100 Aimo in a heartbeat. You may wish to consider the Vulcan 120 of course, which also comes with wrist support. The keys are tall enough to necessitate some kind of support, although any kind of wrist pad you happen to have lying around should work fine.
The metal board boasts a unique skeletal design, premium mechanical construction and RGB backlighting with 16.8 million colours on offer. It’s expensive, sure, but you get what you pay for. And in the case of the Vulcan 100, you get some serious quality and an excellent gaming experience.
Logitech G213 Prodigy
- Great value for money
- RGB lighting looks great
- Excellent for gaming
- Not mechanical
- A little chunky
- No USB passthrough
If you’re on a strict budget then the Logitech G213 Prodigy is a great gaming keyboard that offers spectacular value for money.
It aims to offer buyers a number of key features traditionally only seen on significantly more expensive boards. Highlights include fully RGB backlit keys, dedicated media controls and endless software customisation.
Its membrane switches – which Logitech has ‘tuned’ for gaming – aren’t quite as responsive as fully mechanical keys, but they’re more than good enough for most gamers and a significant step up on most regular keyboards.
All-in-all, although professionals will miss mechanical keys, it’s unlikely that you’ll find better for less than £60.
- Attractive design
- Quality key switches
- USB passthrough is useful
- Single-colour backlighting
- No dedicated macro keys
The Logitech G413 is the best £100 keyboard we’ve reviewed. It ticks all the boxes for a keyboard that’s going to be used for both work and play, and its attractive design means it won’t look out of place in a more subtle desk setup.
The full-size ‘board uses Logitech’s Romer-G switches. No, they’re not Cherry MX, but we’re starting to be won over by their mix of tactile feedback but relatively quiet performance.
There’s a USB passthrough for peripherals, which isn’t always a given at this price, and Logitech’s Gaming Software is fairly basic but gets the job done as far as macros go. Our only slight reservation are the single-colour backlights; we’re not fans of the bright red on the black model, but that’s down to personal taste.
All in all, Logitech’s latest mid-range gamer is a mighty success.
Corsair K63 Wireless
- Ideal for gaming
- Strong and sturdy build
- Responsive switches
- Plenty of media controls
- Only one key-switch option
- No RGB lighting
- Flimsy wrist-rest
- Lacks lighting synchronisation
If you’re a lounge PC gamer looking to enjoy the benefits of a proper gaming keyboard, you’ll struggle to do better than the Corsair K63 Wireless.
Bluetooth connectivity means it will work with pretty much any device without the need to free up a seperate USB port.
It’s also no slowpoke with regards to performance, coming loaded with Cherry Red MX switches and a lightning-fast 1ms response time in 2.4GHz mode.
If you’re after an all-in-one mouse and keyboard setup similar to the Razer Turret, the K63 Wireless is also compatible with Corsair’s Lapboard, which can be used to create an entirely wire-free gaming experience from your couch.
The only potential downside is its lack of RGB lighting, which will put off some flashier gamers.
SteelSeries Apex M750
- Key switches are great for gaming
- RGB lighting looks great
- Solid build quality
- No wrist rest, media keys, USB passthrough or dedicated macro buttons
- Key switches not great for typing
The Apex M750 is SteelSeries’ current flagship mechanical keyboard – and if money is no object, it’s a great addition to any gamer’s arsenal.
Highlights include an exclusive, super-reactive key switch system, with rich and vibrant RGB lighting integration merely sweetening the pot.
The end result is a performance focused gaming keyboard that will meet 99% of gamers needs in everything from shooters to racers.
The only downside is that it doesn’t feature a USB passthrough or dedicated macro buttons, which will be an issue for ARPG and MOBA fans.
Asus ROG Claymore
- Quality metal body
- Wide choice of switches
- Aura Sync RGB lighting
- Compact design
- High price
- No USB passthrough or wrist rest
- Number pad can come loose
The Asus ROG Claymore sits at the luxury end of our round-up, and it is an essential entry here.
It’s a beautiful thing, with a robust plastic and metal build, lack of bezel around the edge and fancy RGB lighting that can sync up with Asus Aura motherboards and graphics cards. There are some features missing, including both a wrist rest and USB passthrough, which are surprising omissions given the price.
There’s a wide variety of Cherry MX switches available, so gamers of all stripes should at least consider the Claymore.
SteelSeries Apex M500
- Excellent typing experience
- Smart, solid design
- Intuitive software
- No USB passthrough or wrist-rest
- Only CherryMX Red available
The SteelSeries Apex M500 is one of the more basic mechanical keyboards around, but it does its job well and looks great.
It includes proper CherryMX switches, a robust design and stylish blue backlighting, along with excellent customisation software.
It doesn’t have a passthrough or any of the macro keys you’d get from more advanced keyboards, which is something to take into account if you value gaming-specific extras.
You don’t have to spend too much more to find yourself at one of the other keyboards on this list, but if you don’t care about extra features, there’s not much point in spending an awful lot more.
- Absolutely packed with features
- Great build quality
- Excellent typing performance
- Split spacebar is great for gaming
- Styling is an acquired taste
- Split spacebar is slightly awkward for typing
- US layout only so not ideal for UK or elsewhere
The Cougar 700K is ridiculously cheap for what it offers. For £109 or less you get Cherry MX switches (Red seems the be the switch most frequently available), multimedia keys and extra buttons for your gaming macros.
There are downsides, however. Its angular design will divide opinion and its orange backlighting can’t be changed – although it can, of course, be switched off. We’re also not fans of the US layout of the keyboard, which displaces the “£” symbol and reduces the size of the Return key.
Another interesting design choice is the split space bar key, one half of which acts as you’d expect while the other can be assigned to an alternative macro function, such as a double jump or something completely different. This makes it rather strange to type on but very customisable for gamers.
It’s cheap and isn’t hugely pretty, but the Cougar 700K is great value, especially since it’s come down in price since our original review.
HyperX Alloy FPS
- Proper Cherry MX key switches
- Customisable red backlighting
- Great build quality and compact design
- Textured replacement keycaps
- MX Blue switches are noisy
- No software or profiles
- No RGB lighting
The Alloy FPS is HyperX’s first attempt at a gaming keyboard, and it’s a solid first effort.
There’s no denying it’s a basic keyboard, but there’s a lot to like. The nearly bezel-less design means it won’t take up much space on your desk while still making room for a number pad.
Elsewhere, it’s a fairly basic keyboard with single-colour red key backlighting and no extra buttons for macros or media. But in this case, simplicity is its strength, and means it doesn’t cost the earth, either.
The braided USB cable is removable and it comes with a drawstring bag for easy LAN party transportation. There’s also a USB port from which you can charge devices, such as a smartphone.
You get spare key caps in the box for the WASD and 1234 keys for extra grip when gaming. It’s mostly superficial, but it looks good.
A basic keyboard, but the Alloy FPS is a decent deal, and as prices come down it’ll get even better.
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum
- Super responsive keys
- Fully loaded with all the extras a serious gamer needs
- Ability to save three profiles locally to the keyboard is useful
- Super expensive
Corsair’s K95 Platinum is the most over-the-top gaming keyboard we’ve ever seen. Seemingly not satisfied with being the king of RGB, Corsair has added what it calls LightEdge – an RGB strip – to the top edge of the keyboard, so you can completely satiate your mighty appetite for glowy lights.
Some of the Trusted office actually quite like it, but if you don’t, you can turn it off.
The rest is standard Corsair excellence: the base is sturdy, there’s a USB passthrough and a comfortable wrist rest and it’s all powered by Cherry MX Speed key switches, which have the most responsive action of any key switch we’ve seen.
It’s monstrously expensive, but you pay for the best.
Mechanical switches explained
One of the most confusing elements of a mechanical keyboard are the colour-coded Cherry switches, which you’ll find on most brands. There are a few exceptions, however – some keyboard manufacturers, such as Razer and Logitech, have their own custom mechanical switches.
Mechanical switches are very different to the switches you’ll find on cheaper keyboards. They provide much better feedback and a more satisfying action. They’re not for everybody, though, so it’s worth trying before you buy.
Related: The ultimate gaming PC build guide
Cherry manufactures six distinct types of MX keyboard switch, named after colours.
Blue and Green switches are similar. Blue switches give a tactile click the moment the button becomes activated, meaning you get instant feedback for every keystroke, which is very satisfying. Green switches are similar, but require more force than the Blue switches to activate. These are fantastic for typing but exceptionally loud – so if you’re in a shared workspace, or have thin walls, then they’re best avoided.
MX Brown switches are similar to Blues but the tactile click is far less pronounced. They’re also less noisy than their Blue and Green siblings, feeling more like a bump than a click. MX Clear have a less pronounced click than the Brown switches, and require less force to activate. These switches are a good middle-ground for gamers who also type a lot.
MX Red switches have no tactile click and instead have an extremely smooth keystroke all the way to the bottom of the board. These are the most common switches on gaming keyboards due to their exceptionally easy and quick operation. They’re less comfortable for long periods of typing, and the lack of feedback can prove discomforting for some. MX Black switches are very similar to Reds but require more force to activate.
Finally, there are the new MX Speed switches, which have a very small actuation point of just 1.2mm.
Descriptions are all well and good, but you really need to try them out to determine which is best for you. You can buy MX switch samplers, although these cost in excess of £10, so you should probably try your local PC store first and get them to unbox some for you.
Since Cherry MX switches are interchangeable (usually not by the buyer), many of the keyboards on this list will offer multiple specifications with different MX switches.
Non-Cherry keyboards are becoming more common, with the likes of Logitech and Razer choosing to ship keyboards with their own custom switches. As you’ll see below, Cherry still dominates the list but alternatives are becoming more popular.
Many gaming keyboards also have extras that set them apart from the crowd. For example, some will come with USB passthroughs, meaning you can hook up USB peripherals to your keyboard directly, without having to plug them into your PC.
Some will also come with extra buttons for gaming shortcuts, which can be programmed through software that you can download from the manufacturer’s website.
You should also look out for coloured backlighting. Some keyboards will ship with a single colour, others will offer customisation options. This will no doubt add to the cost, and if you don’t like garish flashing lights, then you’re better off steering clear.