The 10 Best Gaming Keyboards

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If you’re a gamer, you take your choice of keyboard seriously. We’ve rounded up the ten best keyboards you can buy, along with a brief guide to help you find the keyboard that’s right for you. When your keyboard doubles as your game controller, it’s more than just a tool for typing. It is to the gamer what the katana is to a samurai (or cyborg ninja). It becomes more than a typing tool—the keyboard becomes a weapon, an extension of yourself, your interface with the digital world. For anyone that cares about PC gaming, it pays to know what makes a keyboard great, what differentiates one from another, and what’s on the market today.

Key Switches

Most gaming keyboards use mechanical switches, which pair each key to its own spring loaded switch. They are designed to provide superior audio and tactile feedback. The majority of these switches use mechanisms from Cherry MX, and are identified by color (Black, Brown, Blue, Red), each with a slightly different design, tweaked to provide a specific feel while typing.

Occasionally, you will still find gaming keyboards that utilize silicone dome switches, which form little domes in a silicone membrane, using the rubbery material as the switch. The result feels mushy, and requires a full press with each keystroke, slowing down the speed at which commands can be used. A slight variation on this is the scissor switch, which still uses a silicone membrane and dome switches, but has a slimmer profile and adds a stabilizing scissor mechanism beneath each key. Scissor switches are most often used on laptops, but a few low-profile keyboards can still be found for desktops and gaming.

Features

Features that would be unimportant on a regular keyboard take on new significance when adapted to gaming. Backlighting, for example, is not merely a way to illuminate keys in a dark room; newer twists on the old backlight include adjustable color, and multiple lighting zones with separate backlight for arrow and WASD keys, highlighting the most oft-used control keys.

Another feature to pop up in recent months is the swappable keycap. Because mechanical switches are distinctly separate from the keycap itself, sometimes the keys can be removed, and swapped out for others that feature molded sculpting, texturing for better tactile control, or differently colored plastic. Some keyboards only offer swappable WASD keys, while others also include number keys that can be switched out.

But a gaming keyboard may have more to offer than exceptionally well made keys, adding features like macro command customization and dedicated macro keys. Some go so far as to include entirely new features, like statistic tracking, text and audio communication, and touchscreen displays. And not all keyboards are made for typing—specialized gaming keypads put a selection on 10-20 programmable keys right beneath your fingertips, combining the same customization and ergonomic designs seen in gaming mice and applying them to keyboard-bound game functions.

For a more in-depth look at every aspect of the keyboard, check out How to Buy a Keyboard.

FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP

Corsair Vengeance K90

Corsair Vengeance K90


Price: $129.99 direct

The Corsair Vengeance K90 gaming keyboard pairs a well-built gaming keyboard with a smorgasbord of customization, media controls and ergonomic features.
Read the full review ››


Corsair Vengeance K60

Corsair Vengeance K60

Price: $109.99 direct

The Corsair Vengeance K60 keyboard is a weapon built to a gamer’s specs, with a left-handed wrist rest and 10 swappable sculpted keys.
Read the full review ››


Logitech G13 Advanced Gameboard

Logitech G13 Advanced Gameboard

Price: $79.99 direct

The Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad is definitely a niche product, but with a comfortable design and wide array of features, it’s a good fit for the diehard gamer.
Read the full review ››


Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition

Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition

Price: $79.99 direct

The Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition mechanical keyboard is touted as being travel-friendly, but the compact build only limits the functionality.
Read the full review ››


Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Price: $149.99 direct

The Logitech G710+ gaming mechanical keyboard is a solid gaming keyboard that offers some of the best features for gaming, but cheap construction makes the price feel excessive.
Read the full review ››


Razer DeathStalker Ultimate

Razer DeathStalker Ultimate

Price: $ list

The Razer DeathStalker Ultimate is the only gaming keyboard to consider, if you want to use Razer’s Switchblade UI without shelling out the price of a premium gaming laptop. For everyone else, however, there are better (and cheaper) options out there.
Read the full review ››


Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 Gaming Keyboard

Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 Gaming Keyboard

Price: $299.99 direct

The MadCatz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is an impressive, feature-filled gaming keyboard, but it’s extremely expensive and doesn’t use mechanical switches (though its membrane switches are very responsive).
Read the full review ››


Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2013 Elite

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2013 Elite

Price: $139.99 direct

The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2013 Elite is a solid mechanical gaming keyboard, but it has its flaws, like a smudge prone-finish and poorly shielded connections.
Read the full review ››


Rosewill Mechanical Keyboard RK-9000I

Rosewill Mechanical Keyboard RK-9000I

Price: $99.99 direct

The Rosewill RK-9000I is a very well-made mechanical keyboard for gamers and typists alike, but the bare bones design might be a little too basic for most.
Read the full review ››


Roccat Isku Illuminated Gaming Keyboard

Roccat Isku Illuminated Gaming Keyboard

Price: $89.99 list

The Roccat Isku is a solid gaming keyboard with good overall functionality, but a few details about it might not appeal to everyone.
Read the full review ››


By Brian Westover, PCMag


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