Best Gaming Keyboards for 2021: Mechanical, TKL & More
Your keyboard is the biggest connection to your PC, since it’s the part that you touch the most. That means getting a better one can yield a more immediately noticeable difference than upgrading your CPU even. A gamer’s choice in keyboard is even more critical. You need something that can team with your natural gaming skills and is also comfortable for long gaming sessions and typing. Appealing design choices to accompany your rig wouldn’t hurt either.
Whether you’re battling through a FPS or just want a better typing experience all around, check out the best gaming keyboards we’ve tested below. They deliver an exemplary combination of responsiveness, features and style.
When searching for the best gaming keyboard, remember the following:
- Mechanical or bust: Don’t even consider a non-mechanical keyboard. Only mechanical keyboard switches offer a truly worthy experience.
- RGB or not? You can save a little money by getting a keyboard with a single-color backlight, but you’ll miss out on a spectacular light show.If you opt for something with no backlight at all, make sure you’ll be gaming in a well-lit area or are a touch typist.
- Pick your switch: The best gaming keyboards use a number of different mechanical switch types that determine the feel and sound of each key press. There are even new ones coming this year, such as the Cherry Viola switch. The type of switch you choose depends on your personal preferences for typing and gaming.
Here are some of the most common:
A.) Clicky Tactile: Blue, Green, White
B.) Quiet Tactile: Brown, Clear
C.) Linear (quiet and go straight down): Red, Silver
Don’t want to commit? Check out our article on how to change mechanical keyboard switches easily.
- Full-size, tenkeyless or smaller? Tenkeyless boards drop the numpad, while 65% ones eliminate navigation keys and 60% boards also cut the arrow keys. While some users want every possible key, others prefer a smaller keyboard that gives them more space on their desk.
Best Gaming Keyboards You Can Buy Today
Patriot Memory is known more for its RAM and storage than its peripherals, but the Viper V765 provides a key feel that’s second to none in an attractive, affordable package, especially for the feature set. It’s been a while, but the Patriot Viper V765 is still the best gaming keyboard for most. It’s one of the rare keyboards to come with Kailh Box White switches, which actuate faster than regular Blue or Green switches, thanks to their slightly reduced travel (3.6mm versus 4mm). The keys are the most responsive we’ve tested and even make a more pleasant click sound than you’ll find elsewhere.
The awesome switches alone make the Viper V765 worth buying, but it’s also a great-looking peripheral. The full-size keyboard has an aluminum top-surface with tapered edges that make it look like a metallic space ship. The vibrant RGB keys offer dozens of different light combinations, along with the ability to create your own color patterns. And you don’t even need to install the software in order to use most of the RGB effects. You also get media keys, which are often reserved for pricier keyboards, and IP56 water and dust resistance.
The Viper V765 currently sells for $70, much cheaper than most competitors. We wish it had taller flip-out feet and a slightly better app, but the Viper V765 is still our favorite gaming keyboard.
Read: Patriot Viper V765 review
Some of the best gaming keyboards come with a hefty price tag. If you’re not willing to break the piggy bank for a keyboard, the Cooler Master CK552 is for you. You get a full-sized keyboard with an aluminum top plate, which is often reserved for pricey keyboards and points to welcomed longevity. The CK552 also comes with multiple switch options. Available with Gateron-brand linear, clicky or tactile switches, you should enjoy a great mechanical experience even if the finicky may find it not as stable or premium as other mechanical switch brands, like Cherry MX.
When it came to gaming, the Gateron Red switches we tested occasionally resulted in mis-presses, and that’s an issue with typing too. But the CK552 also has up to four profiles of onboard memory and on-the-fly macro recording, plus per-key RGB to make up for any feelings of subpar when it comes to gaming. Cooler Master’s CK552 can also work with the Cooler Master Portal software, although that’s not as advanced as competitor peripheral software.
Want something even cheaper? You can find more mechanical keyboard recommendations under $80 on our Best Budget Mechanical Keyboards page.
The Corsair K70 RGB TKL is expensive overall but still offers a lot for the price. Its TKL build saves space but still feels strong and resistant to damage. Corsair also decks you out with dedicated media keys, plus the ability to change RGB effects without having to download any software (or course, for deeper customization, you’ll need the iCue app).
We enjoyed both typing and gaming on the K70 TKL, with great thanks due to the doubleshot PBT keycaps. Not only did they fight off smudges, but they also fought off sweat, so we never missed a beat in-game.You even get bonus, (cheaper ABS) keycaps for more style and fun. Although, when it came to typing, an adjustment period was needed for how close the keys are to each other.
Interestingly, the K70 RGB TKL has its own multi-threaded SoC, allowing it to hit an *8000 Hz polling rate — 8 times the polling rate of each of the other keyboards on this page. But even with an AMD Ryzen 5950X CPU, we didn’t notice the difference. More helpful were the bounty of onboard profiles (up to 50) and advanced tournament-style featureset and responsiveness of this TKL.
Read: Corsair K70 RGB TKL review
If you want the same experience as your typical full-sized mechanical gaming keyboard but just want to cut the cord, the Razer Black Widow V3 Pro is the best wireless gaming keyboard for you. While some wireless keyboards are built for traveling, the BlackWidow V3 Pro offers all the size, bulk and functionality of a full-sized mechanical, including a tactile and premium volume dial, additional media keys, an aluminum top plate and doubleshot ABS plastic keycaps.
Razer didn’t skimp on this gaming keyboard, packing it up with four profiles of onboard memory and vibrant per-key RGB lighting. However, RGB doesn’t stick to profiles, so advanced RGB fanatics will have to rely on software for pairing RGB, including custom effects, to profiles.
During testing, we had no issues with Razer’s dongle connection, and you can also pair the keyboard with up to three computers via Bluetooth. With RGB at max settings and no dimming effects, our BlackWidow V3 Pro test unit averaged about 14 hours, but you can get up to 25 hours with RGB using power saving settings. You’ll want to plug it in by the time battery life hits 3%, as power saving settings kick in at that point and make the keyboard act a little wonky.
If you’re looking for a more portable full-sized wireless gaming keyboard, the Logitech G915 Lightspeed is fantastic and reliable with low-profile switches that some will enjoy for gaming and others will enjoy for travel. But for more of your typical mechanical gaming keyboard experience, the BlackWidow V3 Pro is a premium choice.
For more cable-free recommendations, visit our Best Wireless Keyboards page.
Read: Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro review
The HyperX Alloy Origins’ compact and quality build make it the best gaming keyboard for mainstream gamers who just want to get down to gaming. It’s comfortable with a premium look and feel, from its keys to its frame and vibrant RGB lighting. If you’re familiar with linear switches, you’ll feel right at home with this keyboard’s red switches. We’ve also tested the clickier version with HyperX aAua switches, which is available on Amazon and HyperX’s store.
But for over $100, you can find gaming keyboards with more luxuries, like media control buttons, a USB pass-through port (for easily plugging in another accessory, like your best gaming mouse), or more advanced software. But what the Alloy Origins does offer, it executes excellently.
Note that HyperX has two smaller, cheaper versions of this keyboard: the tenkeyless (no numpad) HyperX Alloy Origins Core and 60% HyperX Alloy Origins 60.
Read: HyperX Alloy Origins review
The Corsair K100 RGB packs more features than most need, including some you’ve never even fathomed a keyboard could have. There’s an SoC with multi-threading, a 4,000 Hz polling rate (instead of the usual 1,000 Hz), the debut of Corsair’s homegrown optical-mechanical switches and an RGB-clad media wheel that’s as fun to use as it is to look at.
We found that wheel extra helpful for productivity tasks, such as zooming in and out of Photoshop. It proved less useful for gaming, however, as did some of the other features that make this keyboard so expensive.
Of course, the K100 RGB still makes for one of the best gaming keyboards. We could actually tell the difference offered by the optical mechanical switches’ shorter travel and actuation point. Of course, if you’re not into the optical mechanical trend, you can also opt for Cherry’s Speed Silver switches.
If you’re looking for a splurge solely for gaming, your better bet is like the Corsair K95 Platinum XT that’s also on this page. While also expensive, it offers more gaming-obvious luxuries, like a macro key bank and support for the Elgato Stream Deck.
Read: Corsair K100 RGB review
It’s far from a perfect gaming keyboard, but the Hexgears Impulse is the best gaming keyboard if your priority is typing performance. In fact, using this keyboard with the Kailh Box White switches resulted in our best typing experience yet, surpassing even our old-school IBM-style keyboard and others I’ve used with Cherry MX Blue or Razer Green switches.
Hexgears made the bold choice of putting a Blue-style switch under the spacebar only, arguing that the largest key (which most people hit with their thumbs) should be a bit stiffer. At first, we thought that having a different switch under just one key was a weird choice but eventually found the added resistance helpful. As a result, we enjoyed typing on the Impulse more than on the Viper V765, which has White switches under every key, including the spacebar.
You can also get the Impulse with tactile Kailh Box Brown switches and, better yet, the updated version of this keyboard adds hot swappable capability. That means it’s easy to remove its mechanical switches and try out whatever you like without ever breaking out the soldering iron. For this functionality and ease of typing, the Impulse’s $100 price tag isn’t bad either.
Read: Hexgears Impulse review
Razer has shaken up the mechanical keyboard scene with its Opto-Mechanical switches that bring lightning-fast activation by use of an optical light sensor. With optical mechanical switches, which are growing in popularity among manufacturers, pressing a key activates a receiver through a light signal. The Huntsman uses Razer’s Purple optical switches, which actuate at just 1.5mm with 45g of force. In our testing, we quickly fell in love with the light and clicky switches’ sound. They also offer the ideal amount of resistance and a delightful noise when bottoming out. Beware: This light-powered keyboard is loud.
We’ve tried other optical mechanical keyboards, like the IOGear HVER Pro X and Razer Huntsman Tournament, but Razer’s Huntsman shines by nailing the tech while still delivering stable, reliable keys and keycaps. When gaming, the Huntsman brought a lot of noise but also rapid actuation that didn’t exhaust our digits. It was particularly handy in twitchy, fast games, like Quake Champions.
We’ve also used the Razer Huntsman Elite , which offers an excellent experience but feels even more premium with a leatherette wrist pad with RGB (lighting requires an additional USB Type-A port) and much-missed media controls. However, it’s very expensive, typically going for around $200; although it’s currently on sale for $160. For a while, the Huntsman had been selling in the $90-$100 range, but as of this writing though, the Huntsman is going for $130-$160, shrinking the gap between the two premium-priced keyboards.
For those who can live without the luxuries that the Elite version adds, the standard Huntsman is an ideal gaming companion, especially if you can find it at a significantly lower cost than the Huntsman Elite. If you can get either for the same price, go for the Elite.
Read: Razer Huntsman review
If you’re willing to spend on a premium mechanical gaming keyboard, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT won’t let you down. It’s one the best gaming keyboards we’ve tested but is expensive (currently $172), partially thanks to features that some will consider unnecessary.
It’s the latest iteration of Corsair’s flagship K95, and this time Corsair’s upped the ante on luxuries, like double-shot keycaps and a padded leatherette wrist rest. Streamers even get support for Elgato Stream Deck software, which is usable with the keyboard’s six macro keys. That also means you can save $150 on a separate Stream Deck. Corsair tops it off with familiar high-end mechanical keyboard choices, including a brushed aluminum build, volume wheel and per-key RGB lighting.
The board comes with Cherry MX Brown (tactile and quiet), Silver Speed (fast and quiet), but we tested the Blue (tactile and clicky) version. The switches were great for daily typing, but we’d prefer either the quieter or short-actuating switch choices for gaming. There are no linear options, like Cherry MX Red, here.
Read: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT review
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is the best gaming keyboard for RGB, boasting some of the most brilliant per-key RGB lighting we’ve ever seen. The colors pop against the keyboard’s dark gray frame and light up the rest of the chassis. Raised keycaps heighten the experience even more. Plus, software and on-the-fly controls make the possibilities feel endless.
This keyboard also has the innovative ability to set the actuation point for individual keys for a highly custom feel. This is a rare trick and one that the Apex Pro delivers in an effective fashion. There’s also the popular OLED screen, where yyou can display a small image or GIF you upload. Not only is the Apex Pro highly customizable, it makes doing easier than even a hot-swappable keyboard.
Those who like, clicky, tactile typing should consider something else, due to the linear feel of the Apex Pro’s switches. Although, you’ll still hear plenty of noise from banging on the aluminum frame. If you want a keyboard you can easily put your mark on (literally), look no further.
If you’d like a smaller version of this keyboard, consider the SteelSeries Apex 7, which is also cheaper at $125.
Read: SteelSeries Apex Pro review
If you want the speed and slimness afforded by low-profile mechanical switches, the Logitech G915 Lightspeed is the best gaming keyboard you can buy. This is a premium gaming experience through and through. That means a row of G macro keys for leveraging during battle, dedicated media controls, including an epic volume wheel roller, and even multiple connectivity options. You can go tried-and-true wired, use Logitech’s reliable dongle connection or store the dongle in the keyboard’s built-in compartment and use Bluetooth. This makes connecting to multiple devices a little easier too.
The G915 Lightspeed has earned a popular reputation but comes at a price. Despite its $250 MSRP, there’s no included wrist rest, USB passthrough or premium keycaps resistant to smudging. As mentioned in our Logitech G915 TKL review, the smaller version of this keyboard is more affordable but foregoes even more luxuries, most noticeably G keys.
But in addition to being a top-notch gaming peripheral, the G915 Lightspeed (and G915 TKL) offer surprisingly good typing experiences for low-profile keyboards. We’ve tested it with Logtiech’s tactile low-profile switches for days and haven’t felt much extra exhaustion or like we were typing through sand, like we’ve suffered with other low-profile keyboards.
Read: Logitech G915 Lightspeed review
If you have a small desk or make a lot of big swipes with your mouse, a small keyboard is a godsend. You’ll have to live without a numpad or even arrow keys, so this is a hard adjustment for productivity. But if you can get down with this small form factor, the Huntsman Mini (also available in black) is one of the best.
Like the larger Razer Huntsman listed above and the rest of Huntsman line, the Huntsman Mini uses the brand’s optical mechanical switch technology. You get two choices. Razer’s Clicky Optical switches are good for gaming because they’re so light, only requiring 45g of force (Kailh Box Whites require 50g and Cherry MX Blues 60g); however, we have noticed a pinging noise, or a metallic ding, alongside the clicky noise when pressing or releasing a key more aggressively. If you don’t want loud clicky switches or prefer gaming with smooth traveling linear switches, you can opt for Razer’s 2nd generation Linear Optical switches, which proved quieter than the prior generation (found in the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL keyboard).
If you want more switch options in your 60% keyboard, the Ducky One 2 Mini is a longtime fan favorite, and the Anne Pro 2 offers arrow functions by lightly pressing the Windows, Fn, Ctrl and Shift keys.
Read: Razer Huntsman Mini review
It’s hard to find an ergonomic gaming keyboard that’s split, yet has all the gaming features you want. And if you want mechanical switches, (let alone quality ones), your challenge is even greater. That’s what makes the Cloud Nine C989 ErgoFS so great. Besides nonstandard Windows key replacement, which you can reprogram, the keyboard sports your standard key layout, making adjusting to its wide, split design much easier than it is with rivals. You also get your choice of clicky, linear or tactile mechanical switches from Cherry, dedicated macro keys, a handy control wheel and programmable RGB. Even though it’s a split keyboard, the C989 ErgoFS still boasts the features of the best gaming keyboards.
Before you invest in the C989 ErgoFS though, make sure you have enough room for the large peripheral. We also wish the keyboard allowed for a tenting angle besides the default 7-degree slope, and there are no legs either. Plus, backlighting is almost mandatory because the keys’ legend is so hard to read otherwise.
But whether you’re new to split keyboards or just want one that’s quality enough to take into the battlefield, the C989 ErgoFS is a good fit.
More: Cloud Nine C989 ErgoFS review
Why not pair the best gaming keyboard with the best wrist rest, improving the experience with amplified comfort? Most keyboards come with hard, unpleasant wrist rests — if they come with one at all. If you’re looking to give your keyboard a boost, the HyperX Wrist Rest is our favorite in this category,
With the smoothness of cooling gel wrapped around a core of memory foam, HyperX’s wrist rest offers the perfect balance between softness and support. It has a subtle, but stylish, design featuring a black cover with bright red stitching and a nearly invisible HyperX logo. No matter which keyboard you have, this product will upgrade your typing experience.
Read: HyperX Wrist Rest hands-on
More: All Keyboard Content
Savings on the Best Gaming Keyboards
Whether you’re shopping for one of the best gaming keyboards we listed above or a different model, you may find some discounts by checking out our list of Corsair coupon codes, Newegg promo codes or Razer coupon codes.