Building or buying a new gaming PC? Awesome. Just don’t forget to save a little room in your budget for your accessories. A comfy keyboard with fast, reliable switches is an important part of your setup, and we’ve found the best ones available.
Mechanical keyboards with Cherry switches are where it’s at for current keyboard designs, though we’ve included one with more conventional membrane keys (like you’ll find on most cheaper keyboards) for those who prefer them. Otherwise we also have choices for gamers who want something small, something sans wires, or something that won’t break the budget.
The Best Overall Gaming Keyboard: Ducky Shine 7 ($160)
“Ducky” isn’t a household name for PC accessories, but it’s well-known among the keyboard enthusiast community. And if you’re looking for a big, bombastic board to pair with your bodacious gaming PC, the Shine 7 is it. Coming with full 108-key layout and an gunmetal or black zinc alloy finish, it’s big and heavy enough to literally put a dent in your enemies.
The Shine 7 also offers some gaming-friendly features that set it above the rest of Ducky’s line, and justify its high price tag. High-quality PBT plastic on the interchangeable keycaps, a wide selection of key switches including Cherry MX Silent Red and MX “Speed” Silver, and even compatibility with the Razer Chroma software suite for the RGB LED lights are among them. Ducky’s software can program any keybind or macro you like, so this is a full-function gaming keyboard.
And while there’s no accounting for taste, I appreciate the more subtle styling on the metal case that doesn’t scream “I am a gamer who buys Mountain Dew by the keg.”
The Best Non-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard: Cooler Master Masterkeys Lite L ($60)
So you’re not down with the whole mechanical craze, but you’d still like access to some neat lighting and programming for your PC games. It’s hard to find a decent gaming-focused keyboard with a conventional membrane build now, but Cooler Master is still making them. The Masterkeys Lite L is the best of the bunch, offering RGB lighting (in wide zones instead of individual keys) and full key and macro programming.
Cooler Master’s custom-designed membrane system takes a little more tactile force than a conventional keyboard, but it’s rated to last twice as long. As a cool bonus, the stems have a Cherry-compatible cross, meaning you can use almost any custom keycap set with the Masterkeys Lite L even though it’s not technically mechanical.
The Best Compact Gaming Keyboard: Vortex Race 3 ($140)
Vortex is the maker of the popular Poker series of keyboards. Those tiny 60% layouts aren’t ideal for gamers, but the Race 3 model is a good compromise, offering a full function row and arrow keys, while keeping a much tighter package than a typical “tenkeyless” board. The aluminum case comes with optional risers for a more comfy typing position.
The Race 3 is pricey, but high-quality PBT keycaps for its non-standard layout are included, and options for Red, Silet Red, and Silver Cherry switches are available. Though it doesn’t have conventional gaming software—it’s strictly plug-and-play—the keyboard has on-the-fly programming for several layers of hotkeys.
The Best Wireless Gaming Keyboard: Corsair K63 Wireless ($90)
Even in our modern times, gamers don’t want to let go of the idea of a wired connection. But if you can deal with one millisecond of lag on your 50-ping server, then the Corsair K63 Wireless is the board to get if you’d like something a little more convenient. Note that this is the wireless variant: the K63 also comes in a standard wired model.
A tenkeyless layout is paired with Cherry MX Red switches only and blue LED lighting. Inside is an ultra-fast 2.4GHz RF connection to the USB dongle, but if you don’t have it handy, there’s a Bluetooth radio as well. The K63 works great on any desktop, but if you prefer playing your PC games on the couch, Corsair also sells a “lapboard” that props it up with a cushion, a wrist rest, and an integrated mouse pad.
The Best Budget Gaming Keyboard Gigabyte GK-Force K83 RED ($40)
At just under $40 at the time of writing, Gigabyte’s unassuming keyboard is a bargain. It uses genuine Cherry MX Red key switches—a rare find at this price range—and a full-sized layout. You won’t find LED lighting or programmable functions, but if you’re okay with rebinding your controls in the game menu instead of a dedicated Windows app, it’s an excellent choice for the cash-strapped gamer. It helps that, with a standardized layout, it’s compatible with any keycaps you’d like to add later.