Buying one of the best gaming keyboards in 2022 isn't easy because there are so many different options to choose from.
To help you make the right decision we've put together this list of the best gaming keyboards you can buy today.
Each one will help you to improve your gaming speed and performance but can offer something different in terms of features, software and design. Whether you want something wireless or wired, with interchangeable keycaps or without, something that looks cool or something that's purely functional - you'll find what you're looking for here.
We’ve also got a guide to the best mechanical keyboards if none of the gaming keyboards here take your fancy. To give you a quick round-up of our top choices, check out our picks below:
If you’ve got the money to spend and are willing to invest, then the best premium gaming keyboard in our opinion is the Razer Huntsman Elite. With optical sensors and mechanical switches, this gaming keyboard really is impressive. We also love how many cool tech features it has that serious gamers will appreciate.
Or if you’re looking for something in the middle ground, we feel that the best gaming keyboard for most people is the superb Das Keyboard X50Q RGB. With a sleek aluminium build, advanced Gamma Zulu switches and cool coloured lighting options, it’s a sound choice for any gamer.
Not fussed about having a separate number pad, or looking for something more compact? The best tenkeyless keyboard you can buy is the Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro. Superbly designed and speedy to use, it's definitely worth taking a look at.
The best gaming keyboards you can buy today
Speaking of customisation, you can actually set up the keys to display certain colours for certain events on your computer – if a bad weather forecast comes in, or you get a new email, or a deadline is approaching. It's something that you won't find on other keyboards outside the Das Keyboard range, and it can be really helpful.
The bespoke Gamma Zulu tactile switches are made by Omron in Japan, so you know they're going to be high quality, and Das Keyboard says they're each good for 100 million presses overall. You even get a magnetic palm rest included, which you can attach and detach as needed while you're working or gaming.
The Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro is a big-time keyboard in a small body, thanks to being tenkeyless. The headline here is Roccat's optical switches, which use beams of light to detect a press instead of mechanical movement. Oh, it still has a deeply satisfying (and very loud) click, but offers ludicrous speed for its response times.
It results in a keyboard that's very high-priced considering it's missing a bunch of keys, but it definitely feels like a worthy investment – both as a physical object, and in how it performs during games.
The bright LEDs within each key only add to the feeling of quality. They're stronger than most of the competition, and you can even supplement them with having your PC play a sound every time a key is pressed, like a laser blast. Not sure we'd necessarily recommend it, but hey.
This is superbly designed, built to be solid, and offers simply fantastic control. It's well worth the outlay, if you're going tenkeyless – here's our full Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro review.
Razer continues to push the envelope when it comes to PC gaming peripherals, including one of the latest additions to its keyboard range – meet the Razer Huntsman V2, which is our top recommendation if money is no consideration in your purchase.
This board's big selling point is the fact that it has a massive 8K polling rate, that's the most out of any gaming keyboard we've tested. Ultimately that means you get incredible speeds and instantaneous responses. That's combined with their Analog Optical Switches, all in all, this keyboard offers an unbeatable level of input speed and latency reduction.
The only real downside is how expensive it is, and it doesn't quite feel right to use it as a regular board. But, with a lovely array of RGB lights across those hybrid switches and enough customisation options to make even the hardest of hardcore players happy, this is a beast of a peripheral for ardent PC gamers. The best premium mechanical gaming keyboard on the market today.
If it’s a more compact form factor you’re after, then a tenkeyless keyboard is what you should be hunting for. It does away with the number pad to give you more desk space. The Corsair K70 RGB TKL Champion Series is one of the best there is.
It is slightly bigger than some other TKL keyboards, but that’s to make room for the handy media controls along the top including the volume roll. What’s really great about this keyboard is its speed, with 8,000Hz polling rate, it’s about 8x faster than most other gaming keyboards. Plus, the keys are sturdy and quick to use as well, making this keyboard perfect for fast-paced esports.
If you’re big on customisation, you couldn’t ask for much better than the Corsair K70 RGB TKL Champion Series. Up to 20 lighting layers and per-key backlighting gives the potential for almost infinite lighting possibilities, and it has a detachable braided cable too.
As we note in our full Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed review, this is a wonderful 65% form factor gaming keyboard that basically delivers across the board. It has a premium aluminium chassis and mechanical switches, three different types of connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB-C), impressive lighting options and some advanced bundled software.
As such, if you want a 65% form factor wireless gaming keyboard then this is the model to buy. Well, that's if you can afford it, as it rings in at a very princely price point. Indeed, this is the most expensive 65% form factor gaming keyboard on the market, so we feel you've really got to be sure you want it (and need it) to ring it up.
Obviously, though, as it is a Razer product if you do ring it up then you're in for a treat, and a keyboard that will serve you for years to come, be that gaming or work. Although, what we would say is that if you're buying this to work on, too, then you're going to want to ring up the wrist rest, which costs extra.
If RGB lighting customisations are what you want first and foremost from a gaming keyboard, then the Whirlwind FX Element is sure to be of interest. You can personalise the lighting down to individual keys, as well as selecting from millions of colours, and you've also got a bunch of animation effects to choose from too (like a Matrix mode that pulses green).
Added to that, some of the effects tie in with the biggest games on the market, like Call of Duty and PUBG. Even if a game isn't supported directly, the Whirlwind FX Element will still analyse what's on screen and change the keyboard lighting to match. This is all option though – you can if you want just settle for a fixed colour or a fixed pattern and leave it at that.
Besides the lighting effects, which are a lot of fun to play around with, this excels in just about every other area too: the Kailh mechanical switches, the brushed aluminium, the solid, braided USB cable... it's a fantastic all-round package and definitely worth a spot on our list of best gaming keyboards.
The Platinum XT ticks all the boxes for a premium mechanical gaming keyboard. RGB lighting? Check. Aircraft-grade aluminum? Check. Dedicated media controls? Check. A choice of Cherry MX Speed or Cherry MX Blue switches? Dedicated macro and media keys? Oh yes. But in addition to all these things there are some extra touches that make it clear that you’re dealing with a premium product here.
The double-shot PBT key caps feel sensational under your fingertips, as does the textured space bar, and the faux-leather wrist wrest is comfortable and looks good too. Corsair’s iCUE software makes it easy to customise the lighting and sync it with compatible peripherals such as coolers and fans, and you can store multiple profiles for different titles or genres. This is by no means a cheap keyboard but every time you touch it you’ll feel that your money was spent wisely.
With a stunning, premium build, incredibly high-grade Gamma Zulu mechanical switches made by renowned Japanese maker Omron, and a raft of high-end premium features, the Das Keyboard X50Q RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is pound-for-pound one of the best gaming keyboards in the world.
The aesthetic (unlike many gaming keyboards) is understated and exudes class, while the aluminium top plate adds a sturdy weight and luxe feel under the fingertips too.
Then when you throw in a tidy gaming mode indicator and ability to disable windows keys, an extra long braided 2-metre cable, a soft touch coated palm rest, and a built-in control knob, too, it's easy to see how the X50 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is our top recommendation.
A stunning, beautifully engineered gaming keyboard that earns its spot at the top of our best gaming keyboard 2021 list.
You can find out even more about this gaming keyboard, including if it is the right purchase for you, in T3's detailed should I buy the Das Keyboard X50Q RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard? guide.
The Pro model of this keyboard is higher up on this list, but if you're happy with mechanical switches that are still-premium-but-not-quite-so-premium then you can save yourself a bit of cash and get the standard version of the Roccat Vulcan TKL instead. As far as the design and features go, it's exactly the same.
You get a keyboard that's beautifully put together, with a choice of Titan Switch Linear or Titan Switch Tactile mechanical switches that give you plenty of travel and responsiveness. This is a keyboard that's a joy to type on and to game with, and we don't think you're going to be disappointed with the look and feel of this.
Add in the impressive lighting customisation options (as long as you're on Windows), the physical volume dial, and the low profile of the keyboard and it's a winner in just about every department. There's no wireless option and no numeric keypad, but otherwise this gives you just about everything you could ask for.
The BlackWidow V3 Pro is an uncompromising gaming keyboard without the wired connection. Razer's custom wireless connection feels no slower than a cabled equivalent, meaning that this gives you all the benefits of wireless and none of the downside.
It's a full-size keyboard, with media keys and a great multi-function dial, and keys that are noticeably premium, partly thanks to the excellent feel of Razer's switches (which are available in 'extra-clicky and loud' or 'smoother and quieter' forms), and partly the keycaps themselves, which resist fingerprint smudges – this is more noticeable and satisfying than you might think.
The RGB lighting is controlled from Razer's software, which has proven to be a little more awkward than some others. The RGB lighting also has a huge effect on the battery life: turn it off and you can get a healthy 200 hours of gaming, but put it on full blast and you're looking at more like 13 hours. We had it at around 80% and got 30 hours before needing to charge.
Our Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro review has more about our experience with it, but basically this feels like any other high-end keyboard, but with the bonus of wireless convenience… and a high cost to make that happen.
After a gaming keyboard that looks good and performs well but doesn't break the bank? Then the Trust GXT 856 Torac might be exactly what you're looking for: it's available for a very affordable price and yet won't let you down when it comes to gaming or indeed general keyboard duties.
Of course there are compromises at this price point – you don't get anything fancy like mechanical switches or accompanying software, and although there is some rainbow LED lighting underneath the keys, you can't really customise it to any great extent (you just get a couple of modes to switch between).
Even without a lot of bells and whistles, the Torac is well designed, with its angular metal edging, and is bound to make an impression on anyone who sees it. The typing experience is good too, with the keyboard able to register up to 8 key presses at once without getting confused.
Razer’s Cynosa range is highly rated, and this budget version is a very capable gaming keyboard and a good introduction to gaming keyboards generally. If you’re looking for your first such keyboard this is a really good one to start with.
The Cynosa V2 has a fairly small footprint for a gaming keyboard so it fits pretty much any setup. It has low-profile keys in a membrane design with dedicated media control buttons and per-key backlit RGB lighting, which – like the keyboard macro programming – is controlled by Razer’s Synapse software.
The Razer is as comfortable for typing as it is for gaming, and as it's a membrane board it's very quiet no matter how fast you type. While this is a budget board it really doesn’t feel like one when you’re using it. It delivers good cable management to minimise mess, and the Synapse software is straightforward and effective.
Just make sure you get the right version if you decide this is the gaming keyboard for you: some online retailers have multiple versions of the Cynosa with different language layouts.
What sets the GMMY Gaming Keyboard apart in this list of the best gaming keyboards is that it's fully modular: you can configure it with the switches and the keycaps you want, and even mix together different types on the same keyboard if you want. You can also pick it up in a variety of pre-built configurations from Glorious PC Gaming Race, and in several sizes too.
The control you get over the RGB lighting with the accompanying software utility adds to the customisation options here, so it's very much a gaming keyboard that can be whatever you want it to be. It's definitely one for the enthusiasts and tweakers, though of course anyone can just plug it in and get going.
Besides all the modular features on offer, the keyboard is very solidly built and connects via USB. Typing is fast and responsive, and you shouldn't have any problems using this to sneak past enemies or attack them head on. It's on the expensive side, but we think it has enough features to justify the cost.
The Corsair K100 RGB offers a choice of Cherry MX or Corsair's own OPX switches depending on your preference for feel, all packed into a sleek tank of a body. The typing action is totally top notch, as you'd expect for the price – combined with the wrist rest and full array of keys, it's a dream to use.
In terms of features, you've got per-key RGB lighting along with strips of LEDs around the edge, you've got the great programmable Control Wheel dial, six programmable macro keys, plus dedicated media keys, and a numberpad. It's a full suite of stuff.
There a USB port for power, though you'll to connect it to your PC with two connectors to make use of that. It's a really expensive option (particularly for a wired keyboard in a world where wireless is really starting to break through), but you can't fault the results one bit, as our full Corsair K100 RGB Mechanical Keyboard review will tell you.
HyperX has a fine pedigree when it comes to gaming keyboards, and the Alloy Elite 2 is another winner: it's very well constructed, with flexible lighting and a variety of dedicated media and volume keys, and it'll work just as well for general computing tasks as it will for gaming.
The supplied HyperX software makes customisations a breeze, and you can produce some incredibly funky-looking effects from this keyboard... or just keep it simple and subtle, it's up to you. The solid steel frame and HyperX mechanical switches make for a pleasurable, robust typing experience too.
With USB 2.0 pass-through, anti-ghosting technology and fun N-key rollover functionality, as well as multi-platform compatibility, this is worth a spot on anyone's shortlist of the best gaming keyboards of the moment, as our full HyperX Alloy Elite 2 review explains.
With 88 keys (plus media keys), backlighting colour combinations that run into the millions, a lovely thin form factor, a dedicated volume scroll wheel, instant wireless connection and optional Bluetooth, and a simple-to-use macro editor, it's likely that the Logitech G915 TKL is going to attract a lot of fans.
A smaller, more compact version of the also amazing Logitech G915, this 'tenkeyless' version is easier to position on a desk and to lug around, but loses none of the typing experience – and that's great by the way. You get a choice of three mechanical key types with this keyboard, so you can customise it to suit your preferences.
It's on the expensive side, and we would like a few more customisation options in terms of keyboard shortcuts, but really these are minor drawbacks that you don't have to worry about. A fantastic, low-latency gaming keyboard that'll also serve you well for everyday computing tasks too. It's worth checking our Logitech discount codes to grab a deal on your purchase.
• Read our full Logitech G915 TKL review
New from SteelSeries is the Apex 7 TKL Compact Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, featuring a host of neat touches to impress gamers – not least the OLED smart display that's able to deliver information straight from games and apps (including Discord and Tidal).
This being SteelSeries you know the build quality is going to be excellent as always, and the Apex 7 really looks the part: it's made from Series 5000 aircraft-grade aluminium, with a wide and deep wrist pad that should keep fatigue at bay even over the longest gaming sessions.
Using SteelSeries' own take on Cherry MX mechanical switches, these keys are good for some 50 million keypresses. It ticks all the boxes you need when you're looking for the best gaming keyboard of 2021.
Roccat advertises the Vulcan 120 Aimo as a "precision gaming tool" and, after getting our hands on the board and producing our official Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo review, it's hard to argue with that.
In terms of usability, the Vulcan 120 Aimo is really comfortable to use and boasts a top mix of programmable keys, so it's handy for both for gaming and everyday PC tasks. Its Titan switches are also among the very best we've ever placed our fingertips on, with a very linear actuation, super-fast input recognition, and super-light caps combining wonderfully.
Quiet switches aren't often a quality we put much stock in when searching out the best gaming keyboards, but considering how responsive the bespoke keys are in Roccat's incredibly impressive Vulcan 120 Aimo, we're beginning to think we'd like to see them more often.
The keyboard, with its anodised aluminium plate, feels incredibly well built under the fingertips (the board weighs in at a rock solid 1,150 grams), and with its remarkably bright Aimo lighting engine it's also one of the most visually appealing boards in our guide.
Powered by a 32-bit ARM Cortex processor, and featuring a sleek detachable wrist rest and lengthy 1.8-metre braided cable, the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo delivers across the board – it's a package you must check out if you're shopping at the top end of the gaming keyboard market in 2021.
And plenty of the judges in the T3 Awards 2020 agreed the 120 Aimo is a gaming keyboard worthy of praise, with it winning the Best Gaming Keyboard award.
STOGA uses its own switches rather than a recognisable other brand, but it calls its switches 'Blue', and they're pretty much impossible to tell apart from Cherry MX Blues, which is a real testament to the quality STOGA has built into an incredibly low-priced keyboard.
Being Cherry MX Blue-style switches means you get some real resistance, and a very satisfying and unmissable click. Great for precision, but undoubtedly noisy, so factor that into your plans. Otherwise this is a no-nonsense keyboard – its tenkeyless and its lacking media keys, but it has to get to a cheaper price somehow. Its build also isn't as premium as expensive models in the sense of it being aluminium or something else extremely solid, but there's no question of it feeling flimsy. It's build to last, just not from expensive materials.
And there RGB backlighting still, of course, but its not programmable. If your focus is on a great feeling for playing or typing and less on extra features, this is one hell of a buy.
The TUF Gaming K3 keyboard brings with it the build quality and reliability that you can usually expect from Asus, alongside the very flexible lighting controls – with the free Windows software, you can create a whole host of lighting effects on this keyboard (even lighting up keys as you press them, if you want).
We like the anti-ghosting tech deployed on the Kailh mechanical switches here, and Asus says they're good for around 50 million keystrokes, which we can well believe. Whether you're in the middle of some intense gaming action or simply trying to compose an email, you can rely on the Asus TUF Gaming K3.
There's USB 2.0 passthrough here, which is a nice extra touch, and a thick, premium USB cable that won't easily get dislodged. Add in macro keyboard programming and dedicated media keys, and this is a keyboard that impresses in just about every department – and that includes the price bracket that Asus has put it in.
If you want some of the style and functionality of a gaming keyboard but also want to spend as little as possible, give the Trust GXT 830-RW Avonn some consideration – for really not much money at all you get a keyboard that looks the part, feels solid to game with, and has some customisation options included, too.
The build quality and materials don't quite hit the premium levels that you might find on some other keyboards, but the Trust GXT 830-RW Avonn certainly doesn't disappoint. The membrane keys are firm and responsive, with plenty of travel (and you can press up to six at once), while the 140-centimetre (55-inch) cable is plenty – just plug it into Windows (or macOS) and you're good to go.
The keyboard illumination is the real star here, though, considering the price: the 104 keys are backed by what Trust calls a 'rainbow wave' of colour, which you can of course customise in terms of both colour and brightness. It looks very sharp in reality, and add in the 12 dedicated multimedia keys, and it's a gaming keyboard that won't let you down.
Wireless and gaming haven't often mingled well when it comes to PC gaming, but those times are a changing and Corsair's new K63 Wireless is leading the charge, and a worthy addition to our list of the best gaming keyboards of 2021.
Its 1 ms ultra-fast connection uses a 2.4 GHz optimised wireless setup for a true PC gaming experience, with low latency even if you're playing at a distance from your machine.
You get the clickety-clack goodness of some Cherry MX Red switches (with gold-plated contacts, no less), a full set of RGB backlights and plenty of media keys to keep you in control.
You'll get 15 hours of use on a single charge, so expect this wireless wild child to keep you well connected, even on an all-nighter.
Logitech has plenty of high-end gaming models to offer you (see the Logitech G513 for proof of that), but there’s also the likes of the G413 Carbon to help you into the PC gaming mechanical switch party without torpedoing your bank balance.
For around half the cost of many of the boards in this guide you're getting a slick actuation point of 1.5mm, making its mechanical keys super precise and accurate (perfect for twitch gaming experiences such as MOBAs or MMORPGs).
Those Romer G switches make a fine alternative to the Cherry MX, with each one sitting in a sturdy, aircraft-grade aluminium alloy chassis for some minimalist style on your desk.
A great budget mechanical gaming keyboard option, especially for gamers who like an understated, mature design.
If you’re limited on space but still want an epic gaming experience, you shouldn’t have to miss out on a decent gaming keyboard. Which is why the Corsair K65 Mini is the perfect option for smaller spaces. This ultra-compact gaming keyboard still packs a punch with customisable keys and a polling rate of 8,000Hz, and while it may take a while to get to grips with if you’re used to a full-size keyboard, you’ll be pleased you made the investment!
How to choose the best gaming keyboard for you
When choosing a gaming keyboard the first thing you should consider is what switch type you want.
You'll come across various different kinds of mechanical switches when shopping for the best gaming keyboard, with each one offering a different kind of feedback – and working out which switch is best for you work out which of these keyboards is the one you need to get.
Some use White Alps or Black Alps – these are common switches, with the White Alps being the more popular of the two due to their pronounced tactility.
Most, however, use a form of switch known as a Cherry MX. These are broken up into colours – black, red, brown, blue and clear – with each one offering a distinctly different feel. Much of this comes down to preference, but certain types suit certain tasks more than others.
These keys are particular popular with gamers due to the ability to choose between clicky/non-clicky and linear/non-linear variants. Most keyboards enable you to swap switches if you're not enjoying the ones you're using, so don't feel like you're stuck with one model forever once you invest in it.
The Cherry MX black is the switch of choice for many gamers who play online. The black variant is 'linear', meaning the keystroke doesn't give you as much of clack, reducing the amount of feedback as you're smashing the keys in a heated moment.
Don't be afraid to try out a few before you buy, as there's almost certainly a switch type out there that's perfect for you. Some manufacturers now make their own switches, often based on one of the existing standards.
There's also membrane switches as well. These work differently to mechanical switches and typically cost less as they are less precise. Membranical switches have also been created that sit between the two main switch types but these are rare.
Once your switch type has been decided you can then factor in other elements, such as form factor (do you one a full-size keyboard or a tenkeyless model, for example?), connectivity (wired or wireless?), lighting options (RGB heaven or RGB hell?) as well as advanced features.
One thing many gamers overlook when buying a gaming keyboard is software. This is understandable as it isn't as tangible as the physical product, but good companion software can really elevate a gaming keyboard experience and not all makers excel in this department. If you want to setup multiple key mapping profiles or lighting profiles, as well as control things like half press actuation commands and more, then make sure you get a unit with strong software.
Lastly, while you certainly shouldn't rule out gaming keyboards from small or new makers, do make sure the you read around as much as possible before pulling the trigger as that lack of proper heritage could cost you in the long term. What looks like a cheap, fast, quiet, mechanical bargain from a startup company may look like a bargain, but its build quality or long-term reliability may leave a lot to be desired.
Makers like Roccat, Das Keyboard, Corsair, HyperX, SteelSeries, Logitech, Topre and Cooler Master have serious heritage in making top gaming keyboards, so if you buy from them then chances are you're going to get a product that doesn't break after six months of use. It's not a hard and fast rule, but something to keep in mind when making your decision nonetheless.
This is especially true when shopping for a budget gaming keyboard, as ideally you want a solid if not feature-packed model for an approachable price point – rather than a similarly priced model from nobody maker that, while looking more feature packed for the money, will actually go on to quickly let you down within months.
With that in mind, take your time – read through the comparisons we've put together, weigh up exactly what you want from your next gaming keyboard, and ensure that your money is spent as wisely as possible.
If you are a PC gamer looking to upgrade your setup with one of the best gaming keyboards of 2021, then you've picked a great time to start: new models keep hitting the market, with prices on current ones coming down, too.
Sales on gaming keyboards are happening just about all the year round, so keep an eye out for any deals you can take advantage of. We've included the best online prices alongside our best gaming keyboard picks.
What keyboards do pro gamers use?
Pro gamers and esports champions use mechanical gaming keyboards. This is because they offer more accurate, precise click performance than membrane boards. In addition, pro gamer gaming keyboards tend to have strong suites of macro keys which allow them to store a variety of in-game combos or action strings.
Of course, depending on which game type the esports player is competing in will have an effect on the gaming keyboard they choose, as will just plain play style and personal preference. Some of the most-used boards by FPS pro gamers are the Razer Blackwidow Chroma TE V2 and Logitech G Pro.
What are the best gaming keyboards under $100/£100?
We get it, not everyone has buckets of money to spend on gaming accessories, but they still want a strong piece of hardware that won't let them down in-game. That's why we have this dedicated section to the best gaming keyboards under £100/$100. These are our top choices for gaming keyboards that despite often costing less than half of what some other more premium boards demand, still deliver great core functionality – it's incredible that we can compare the STOGA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard vs the Razer Blackwidow V3 Pro (at four times the price) and the cheaper model actually holds its own perfectly well when it comes to switch and key quality.
The best gaming keyboards under £100/$100 are:
1. Aukey KM-G12
2. STOGA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
2. Razer Cynosa V2
3. Trust GXT 830-RW Avonn
4. Asus Rog Strix Scope
These boards range in price and style, so take a browse and see which one suits your budget and aesthetic preference best.
Wired vs wireless gaming keyboards: which is best?
Here at T3 we feel that in general people should go for a wired gaming keyboard.
Wireless gaming keyboards are great when it comes round to having a minimal and clean setup, with no visible wires bringing down the look of your gaming zone, and they're also useful for more casual applications like typing on forums between gaming sessions.
However, wireless gaming keyboards can be hurt by interference in their signal, need charging and, most importantly, will often have a higher lag between your physical inputs and the game registering it. Naturally, when milliseconds can make the difference between pwnage and being pwned, any sort of delay is really not ideal.
That said, wireless gaming keyboards have come on a lot recently, and use latest-gen technology to make the connections as reliable as possible and effectively lag-free. When it comes to bang-for-buck, wired is still our first choice, but premium wireless models are starting to really busy down the door. When it comes to a choice between something like the Das Keyboard X50Q vs Razer Blackwidow V3 Pro, it's a sign of how far wireless tech has come that the question of connectivity is just a small one, rather than the Razer's Achilles' heel.
Gaming keyboards: mechanical switches explained
It is a universally acknowledged that the best gaming keyboards are supported by per-key mechanical switches, which means each key on the board sits over a spring-loaded switch.
In general, these spring-loaded switches deliver enhanced press feedback and press accuracy and/or speed, and depending on the type of switch used the keys behave in different ways.
For example, some switches are designed with a high activation force, meaning that keys need to be firmly pressed to actuate – this is obviously useful in cancelling out miss-presses and key rollover. Press the wrong button by accident in the heat of battle and it can be game over.
Equally, though, other switches are designed with 'hair-trigger' switches that are very fast and easy to actuate, which can benefit gamers who play fast-paced games where every millisecond counts.
Naturally, there are plenty of other switch types that sit between these two extremes, and plenty of mechanical switch makers in business today, both proprietary within gaming keyboard manufacturers (such as Logitech's 'Romer-G' mechanical switches) as well as third party (like the very popular 'Cherry MX').
Things get really interesting with mechanical switches when you start to consider that some make sounds and others are silent, or that some use light rather than a metal contact point to detect a key press. The variety of switch types on offer is bigger than it has ever been, so determining your intended usage and play style is important before investing in a new board.
Mechanical switches are not the only types in town, though, with membrane, membranical and scissor switches also on offer. In general these switches are considered to be less accurate and slower than mechanical switches, though, and as such tend to appear on cheaper gaming keyboards or those designed with multi-purpose usage in mind.
That said, some cheaper gaming keyboards are now including switches with a high-end feel – it's remarkable that when it comes to the Das Keyboard X50Q vs STOGA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, the big price difference comes from materials and extra features rather than switch quality.
Who are the best gaming keyboard makers?
Today there are more quality gaming keyboard makers in business than ever. 20 years ago there were only a handful of firms regularly producing gaming keyboard ranges, but that's all changed, and that has been great news for gamers.
It's great news for gamers as it means more choice and higher quality. It's caused the old guard to raise their game, and the up and comers to get really innovative to break through.
Maker's like Razer, Roccat, Logitech and Corsair have serious pedigree in the gaming keyboard market, and unsurprisingly they do tend to produce quality products. But pedigree definitely doesn't always equate to quality, with newer firms like Glorious PC Gaming Race and HyperX often matching or bettering them.
We've seen some real stinkers over the years from established brands, and dynamite game-changers from those with less heritage. Just look at the Whirlwind FX Element has taken RGB lighting to a new level, and winning at T3 Award in the process.
All that said, though, we consider these to be the best gaming keyboard makers:
7. Glorious PC Gaming Race
Best gaming keyboards: the T3 difference
In this guide you'll find mechanical gaming keyboards and membrane gaming keyboards, wired gaming keyboards and wireless gaming keyboards, elite gaming keyboards and budget gaming keyboards. We've got keyboards with more lights than the Vegas strip and more buttons than a shirt factory, and keyboards that focus on just the essentials without trying to be flashy.
As you know, gaming keyboards aren't like normal keyboards. What's fine for spreadsheets isn't so good for a speed-run, and what's okay for the office is going to fail hard in an FPS. Like the best gaming mice, the best gaming keyboards are designed to be more responsive and to react more quickly to give you a competitive edge.
Many of these boards also offer options such as programmable keys, media shortcuts and customisable RGB lighting. If you haven't used a good gaming keyboard before you'll be amazed by the difference – and trust us, you'll never want to go for an ordinary keyboard ever again.
Once you've found the perfect partner to delight your digits, we can help with the rest of your setup too. We've got authoritative guides to every bit of kit you might need, such as the best gaming chairs and the best gaming headsets, all tested with the real gaming experience in mind. We've also put together handy guides to the best graphics cards, best gaming monitors and best gaming laptops.
How we test gaming keyboards
It may sound like a question with an obvious answer but, actually, there is a lot to consider when reviewing a gaming keyboard – and especially so when testing boards that are aiming to eat at the top table.
First up we evaluate the gaming keyboard's design and build quality. This is getting down to the bare basics of the board, such as how it feels in the hand, how planted it is on a surface, what its keys sound like and actuate like, what its fit and finish is like and how much quality is evident in things like cables, LEDS and keys.
Once this has been accomplished we then move onto performance in games, sure, but also in terms of casual use applications (such as browsing the internet) and strict typing applications (such as writing the keyboard's own review on the keyboard). Here we're looking to see how accurate the board is in a variety of games, as well as what advanced features it brings to the table like macro keys, adjustable actuation and multi-function dials.
Today gaming keyboard software is increasingly crucial to the overall experience, so next we take a look at the maker's software suite. Here we're looking to see how easy to use the software is, how slick the user interface is and what features it offers. RGB lighting systems, for example, tend to be controller through the software, as too gaming profiles.
When the gaming keyboard's software has been tested we then look to any extra features or ports that the unit offers. We then appraise the package as a whole and compare it to other gaming keyboards on the market, and especially those that retail for the same sort of price point.
Only when all these things are confirmed do we then bestow a star score on gaming keyboard, with boards that get high scores then considered for entry in T3's best gaming keyboards buying guide.