Best gaming keyboard 2018: mechanical peripherals to turn you into a gaming god

If you’re looking to supercharge your gaming setup and take your PC antics to the next level, then these are the boards you need to own

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We all know gaming on PC is the best platform there is, but booting up your favourite recreational software outside the closed package of a console means you’ll need to source bigger, better and faster hardware to ensure those games are running in the slickest way possible.

So, as you can imagine, having the very best keyboard at your disposal makes a huge difference to how you play. A great set of Cherry MX keys will keep every key press precise and deliciously tactile, while access to such features as programmable macros will turn your accessory into a hotkey heaven. Oh, and some bright and multicoloured LEDs never hurt anyone. How about a nice backlit keyboard?

So, we’ve scoured every manufacturer out there to find the best keyboards on the market, and boy, have we found some amazing boards. From affordable models that will make your PC gaming more enjoyable to full-blown setups that will take your public matchmaking to the pro leagues, these are definitely the keyboards you’ve been looking for.

Best gaming keyboard

Lots of the keyboards in this guide feature different kinds of mechanical switches, with each one offering a different kind of feedback. Some use White Alps or Black Alps - these are the most 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 once you invest in it.

The Cherry MX black is the switch of choice for gamers who play online in the likes of League of Legends and Dota 2. The black variant is 'linear', meaning the keystroke does give you as much of clack, reducing the amount of feedback as you're smashing the keys in a heated moment. So don't be afraid to try out a few before you buy - there's almost certainly a switch type out there that's just for you.

Top 11 mechanical keyboards 2018

Best gaming keyboard

1. Cougar 700K

Cheap and loaded with Cherry MX switches

Reasons to buy
+Handy macro and multimedia keys+USB pass-through
Reasons to avoid
-Orange backlight can't be customised

One of the cheaper boards in this guide, the 700K from Cougar offers plenty of features for its sub-£100 price tag. For a start, you're getting that popular Cherry MX set of mechanical switches, which comes in the red variant that requires less of a press than the black versions.

It's also got a handful of multimedia and macro keys enabling you to customise links to certain apps or actions in-game. The 700K also has a 1MS response time (making it ideal for twitch-style games) and includes USB and audio pass-through built in. It's not the most attractive of boards on our list, but it's pretty.

Best gaming keyboard

2. Logitech G513

A superior mechanical keyboard

Reasons to buy
+Enhanced Romer G mechanical key switches+Full spectrum RGB backlighting
Reasons to avoid
-Quite the investment

Logitech has become one of the biggest names in modern keyboards for a reason - its builds are sturdy, slick and highly responsive, which are all key components in a high-end gaming peripheral. The G513 model is one of the firm’s flagship keyboards, boasting Enhanced Romer G mechanical switches (which provide up to 25% faster keystrokes) and a vibrant backlighting system that uses full spectrum colour lighting per key plus LightSync game-driven lighting colours. With a full set of Romer G keys and a lovely brushed metal finish, this is one powerful little accessory.

Best gaming keyboard

3. HyperX Alloy Elite

Affordable Cherry MX performance

Reasons to buy
+Cherry MX Red keys for less than £100+Full set of media keys
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of macro support

Not every mechanical-keyed gaming keyboard has to break the bank - in fact, if you look in the right places you can find some robust and reliable models that are perfect for those looking to move away from a boring old everyday use board. HyperX’s Alloy Elite offers a fine entry level peripheral, with a set of Cherry MX Red mechanical keys, a large group of media buttons and some rather striking backlights with six dynamic lighting effects (including an 18 LED lightbar for added cool). Its chunky build is the furthest thing from flimsy, but you will have to contend with a lack of macro support.

Best keyboard

4. Das Keyboard Division Zero X40

Mechanical switches and macro heaven

Reasons to buy
+Robust and rigid design+Alpha-Zulus work just as well as Cherry MX
Reasons to avoid
-Side-set macro keys

The X40 is one of those rare beasts that comes boasting a serious selection of premium features alongside a price tag that's more than agreeable. For a start it comes with its own take on the beloved mechanical switch - the Alpha-Zulu - which work and feel just like a Cherry MX.

Then there's the five programmable macro keys (with some, rather bizarrely, positioned on the side of the device), that all important USB pass-through and a handy gaming mode that disables certain keys to avoid unnecessary in-game mistakes. It even comes with a set of interchangeable aluminium panels that create a solid backbone of a keyboard.

Best gaming keyboard

5. Logitech G413 Carbon

A slick mechanical experience south of £100

Reasons to buy
+Precision Romer-G lighting system+Robust build quality
Reasons to avoid
-USB pass through could be better

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 £75 or so, 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.

Best keyboard

6. Roccat Ryos MK Pro

Each key is individually backlit on this top clicker-clacker

Reasons to buy
+Two 32-bit ARM Cortex processors+Four switch styles
Reasons to avoid
-Wrist-rest can't be removed

Roccat's first attempt at a mechanical keyboard for the gaming crowd is an impressive feat, combining the customisation options of a gaming peripheral with the comfort of a typing device. Each key is individually backlit (for added ambiance), with the inclusion of N-key for anti-ghosting.

With two 32-bit ARM Cortex processors built in, the MK Pro has more than enough individual processing power to support a lot of customisation options. Those eight macro keys are spread out across the whole keyboard too, so there's plenty of choice with this keyboard.

The MK Pro even comes with a soft wrist-rest - however, this can't be removed making it slightly awkward to use for prolonged gaming sessions (at least until you're used to it). Still, this remains a great premium mechanical keyboard.

Best keyboard

7. SteelSeries Apex M800

An incredibly fast, well-built keyboard

Reasons to buy
+Incredibly fast, low travel switches+Impressive RGB lighting options
Reasons to avoid
-Construction feels a little flimsy

The new M800 model from the esteemed minds at SteelSeries is one of the fastest mechanical keyboards you can buy (thanks mainly to its QS1 keyswitch featuring 1.5mm key travel and 45cN actuation force). SteelSeries has built this peripheral with pro gaming in mind and it shows - that low travel makes for ultra accurate response times with minimal fuss.

For the price, we found the build of the Apex M800 to be a little flimsy compared to other models in the same category, but with RGB lighting (including eight brightness levels and 16.8 million colour options for your keys) and six programmable macro keys it works like the premium device its price tag suggests.

Best keyboard

8. Topre Realforce RGB

Expensive but... damn!

Reasons to buy
+Super-responsive Topre switches+Impressive back-lighting
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

When it comes to the highest tier of premium mechanical keyboards, the Topre Realforce RGB sits right there at top with its powerful RGB lighting, incredibly responsive bespoke keys and more. It's a beast of a peripheral, and one that comes with only a few niggling issues.

The switches in the Realforce RGB do support Cherry MX if you really want to swap them out, but the Topre variant that comes with the Realforce RGB is so powerful and ready for customisation (you can actually adjust the actuation from 1.5mm to 3mm) you'd be mad not to use it.

Annoyingly, considering the price, you don't get a keycap puller or a comfy wrist-rest (so that's an extra outlay if you need them), but with all that customisation we can almost forgive their absences.

Best keyboard

9. Razer BlackWidow X Chroma

RGB lighting, mechanical switches, and big anti-ghosting capabilities

Reasons to buy
+Impressive durable build+Improved cable routing
Reasons to avoid
-Razer switches aren't as robust as Cherry MX

Razer has been in the gaming peripheral business for a long time, so we've come to expect an esteemed level of quality from the green-tinged American manufacturer. Thankfully, the BlackWidow X Chroma keeps that tradition alive with a mechanical metal construction that's so sturdy it's practically military.

Alongside some sumptuous RGB lighting (with 16.8 million customisable colour options, naturally), the BlackWidow X Chroma offers serious durability with a whopping 80 million keystrokes of use promised by the good folks at Razer.

Built with Razer's own mechanical switches, the Blackwidow X Chroma delivers an accurate response with an additional 10 key rollover for high anti-ghosting. You also get your standard programmable macro and multimedia buttons - it's just a shame it's so light on the features elsewhere.

Best gaming keyboard

10. Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08

Invest in some unparalleled customisation

Reasons to buy
+Ultra precise OMRON keys+Whopping 109 customisable keys
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly flimsy build

Creative Sound might not be a big name in the world of gaming keyboards yet, but with models like the BlasterX Vanguard K08 the firm is poised to make quite the impression on the market. For a start you’re getting some OMRON mechanical keys. While they’re not the Cherry MX keys you’re used to, these double cross-point mechanical switches offer 70 million keystrokes, so you’re never going to burn this little baby out. With a shorter actuation point you’re getting keys that are ultra responsive but still as tactile as regular switches. It also comes with 109 customisable keys and dynamic lighting you can personalise.

Best gaming keyboard

11. Corsair K63 Wireless

Complete your wireless gaming setup

Reasons to buy
+Reliable wireless signal+128-bit AES encryption mode
Reasons to avoid
-Not the sturdiest of keyboards

Wireless and gaming haven’t often mingled well when it came to PC gaming, but those times are a changing and Corsair’s new K63 Wireless is leading the charge. 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 connected even on an all-nighter.