Hunting down the best gaming keyboards in 2021 is one hell of a gaming challenge in itself: when it comes to mechanical gaming keyboards and quiet membrane keyboards for gaming, the range of options is just colossal, and working out which one is worth your money is no small feat.
But T3 has never shied away from a challenge before, and we didn't this time: we've tested and tracked down exactly which are the best gaming keyboards – the ones that make you feel like you can do anything. Of course, everyone wants something just a little different from their keyboard, so we've got options for different budgets and setups.
Gaming keyboards aren't like normal keyboards. Much like the best gaming mice, they're designed to be more responsive, to react more quickly, and many of them give additional options such as programmable keys, media shortcuts and customisable RGB lighting. If you haven't experienced a good gaming keyboard you'll be amazed by the difference – and you'll never want to go for an ordinary keyboard ever again.
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. After our round-up you'll also find some useful buying advice on what to look for in a gaming keyboard.
Once you've found the perfect partner for your fingers, we can help with the rest of your setup too. We've rounded up every bit of kit you might need like the best gaming chairs and the best gaming headsets, all of them tested with the real gaming experience in mind.
Right here, though, we list the best gaming keyboards available today.
The best gaming keyboards available in 2021
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 X50 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is, in our opinion, the best pound-for-pound gaming keyboard 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.
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 Huntsman Elite, which is our top recommendation if money is no consideration in your purchase.
This board's big selling point is the daring decision to combine optical sensors and mechanical switches to create Razer's own 'optomechanical' switches. The difference in speed is impressive to say the least, offering the unbeatable level of input speed and latency reduction.
The only caveats are it takes quite a bit of power to run, requiring not one, but two USB cables to keep it going, and it's rather an expensive investment too.
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. It also makes for a silky smooth typing experience should you want to double it up as regular 'board as well.
The best premium mechanical gaming keyboard on the market today.
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.
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.
• Read our full Logitech G915 TKL review
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.
There's no doubt the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is one of the best gaming keyboards on the market right now, with Cherry MX switches, USB passthrough, dedicated media controls, and customisable USB lighting thrown into the mix.
Okay, it's going to cost you a bit of money, and it's going to take up a substantial amount of room on your desk – but if you want the very best in gaming keyboards then this definitely needs to be on your shortlist.
The anodised, brushed aluminium frame really looks the part, and you can really go to town on the lighting customisations as well. Dedicated macro keys are another neat touch in what is a very impressive all-round package.
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
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.
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 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.
Asus has really started to make some top PC gaming peripherals as of late and the ROG Strix Scope is a fine example of that trend, delivering not just a quality gaming keyboard but one that also offers some specialised features geared towards FPS gamers.
This compact mechanical gaming keyboard offers full macro customisation, for example, while the left Ctrl key is widened to ensure it is easier to press during the heat of battle and the WASD controls are finished with easy-to-see silver. The compact layout also means quick button presses are easier due to reduced stretch time.
In terms of build, the keyboard impressed with a premium aluminium top plate, while Asus' Aura Sync RGB LED technology means making the unit light up just how you want it is a breeze. Best-in-the-business Cherry MX RGB mechanical switches ensure the response, feel and key-travel the gamer requires, too.
Another neat feature the Strix Scope boasts is a "stealth key". The stealth key, which is actually the F12 key, once pressed instantly hides all apps on screen and mutes all audio as well. One more press of the key reverses all the actions.
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.
How to choose the best gaming keyboard for you
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.
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.
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. STOGA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
2. Razer Cynosa V2
3. Trust GXT 830-RW Avonn
4. Asus Rog Strix Scope
5. Logitech G413 Carbon
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.