The best gaming keyboard

Gaming & Accessories

A gaming keyboard simplifies issuing commands during gameplay, but it also works as a regular keyboard for typing.

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Which gaming keyboard is best?

If you’re ready to start gaming on your computer, you’ll need a capable CPU and graphics card to play the latest games. But you’ll also need a solid gaming keyboard.

A gaming keyboard has a standard QWERTY layout, but it also has features aimed at gamers, such as fast responsiveness, key mapping, and backlighting. Finding the right keyboard means considering your preferences to find a model with features that meet your gaming needs.

To learn more about gaming keyboards and their various features, continue reading our buying guide. Our favorite is the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Rapidfire Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, which has excellent responsiveness in the keys, all in a sturdy design.

What to consider when choosing a gaming keyboard

Gaming keyboards may be traditional or mechanical keyboards, which have some different operational features.

Traditional gaming keyboard

With a traditional keyboard, recording keystrokes requires an average level of pressure.

As the user depresses a key, the backside of the key (that you can’t see) touches a thin layer of material. This contact with the material sends a signal to the computer to record the keystroke.

A traditional keyboard works nicely for general typing and most styles of gaming. However, it sometimes doesn’t provide the keystroke speed and responsiveness that real-time gamers are seeking. Traditional keyboards tend to have lower price points than mechanical keyboards.

Mechanical gaming keyboard

A mechanical keyboard uses a different system to record keystrokes than the traditional keyboard, which allows for slightly faster keystroke responsiveness.

With the mechanical keyboard design, depressing the key activates a switch that sends a signal to the computer. This system means you can record a keystroke with a lighter press of the key and a shorter key travel distance than with a traditional keyboard. With the extra sensitivity in each key, this type of keyboard is more comfortable to use for marathon gaming sessions.

It’s important to know that mechanical keyboards tend to make significant clicking noises as you press the keys. If you’re trying to talk on a headset during online gaming, this click may be bothersome.

Gaming keyboard features

Here are some of the optional features you’ll find in gaming keyboards. The more of these features you want in your keyboard, the more you’ll end up paying.

Keyboard mapping

This feature is available on nearly all gaming keyboards. It allows you to program a shortcut function for certain keys, matching the needs of a particular game.

LED backlighting

If you’re gaming in a darkened room, having backlighting in the keyboard is a nice feature, so you can see the keys you’re pressing. Some backlighting allows for fun color customization.

Built-in LCD screen

Some gaming keyboards have a mini LCD screen embedded in them. This screen may contain extra information about the game, or you can sync it to your phone, so you can see text messages or other alerts.

Response time

To make sure the computer records your keystrokes quickly enough for realistic gameplay, the keyboard needs to have fast response times (measured in milliseconds).

USB 3.0

For the fastest wired connection between your computer and the gaming keyboard, look for a unit that supports USB 3.0 or faster. USB 2.0 works adequately, but USB 3.0 is significantly faster.

How much you should expect to spend on a gaming keyboard

Basic gaming keyboards cost from $15-$40. These generally have limited customization options, but they’ll work well for the gamer who’s just starting out. Advanced gamers may need the high-performance levels of keyboards in the $40-$100 range.

Gaming keyboard FAQ

Should I get a wired or wireless gaming keyboard?

A. The majority of gamers prefer wired keyboards. For online gaming, wireless keyboards have a bit too much lag between the key press and when the computer registers it.

Do I need a gaming mouse with my gaming keyboard?

A. It depends on the game you’re playing. Many games use both a mouse and a keyboard for command inputs, and a mouse that can keep up with your keyboard can give you a competitive edge.

Gaming keyboard reviews

Best of the best gaming keyboard

Corsair’s K70 RGB MK.2 Rapidfire Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Corsair’s K70 RGB MK.2 Rapidfire Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Our take: There’s a lot to like here, including its responsiveness, sturdy construction quality, and comfortable design.

What we like: You can program special keys for your games easily. Keystroke pressure is uniform across the keyboard.

What we dislike: For regular typing jobs, the keys may be too sensitive to be effective.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck gaming keyboard

DIERYA DK61E Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

DIERYA DK61E Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Our take: A reasonably priced gaming keyboard that’s perfect for someone new to programming and mapping keys.

What we like: Circuit board is IPX4 certified. Customizable LED lighting in the keyboard.

What we dislike: Doesn’t have a numeric keypad. Keypad quality is questionable.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out 

Razer’s Ornata Chroma Gaming Keyboard

Razer’s Ornata Chroma Gaming Keyboard

Our take: Good responsiveness, which allows you to quickly issue commands to the game.

What we like: Fun customizable backlighting features. Durable build quality.

What we dislike: Not as comfortable as some others, as the wrist rest slides out of place too easily.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Kyle Schurman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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