Find the Right Wired or Wireless Gaming Keyboard for You | IGN

Picking the best gaming keyboard is almost like picking the perfect pair of shoes—there are almost too many choices to consider. Beyond choosing between the membrane and mechanical switch options, there are now optical gaming keyboards and mechanical-membrane hybrid switches to consider. On top of all that, every keyboard maker seems to be developing its own mechanical key switch, further complicating things.

If you’re looking for the best gaming keyboard, look no further. We’ve tested all the best gaming keyboards, wired and wireless, to come up with our picks for the best gaming keyboards.

TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming Keyboards:

1. Corsair K70 RGB MK.2

Best Gaming Keyboard

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The Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 (read our review) might look like any old, standard fare gaming keyboard and it absolutely is, but that’s also exactly why it’s the best. Corsair’s mainstay gaming keyboard has been refined over the years to give us this quintessential PC gaming peripheral. Rather than adding superfluous macro keys and an elaborate frame, the K70 focuses on what’s important with a sturdy aluminum body, 104 accurate and responsive key switches, media shortcut buttons with a volume wheel, and full per-key RGB illumination.

Another thing that makes the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 particularly great for all gamers is you can find it with a variety of mechanical switches including Cherry MX Speed, Brown, Blue, Red, and Silent. There are even two low-profile switch versions (Chery MX Red Low Profile and MX Speed Low Profile) of the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 if you find regular keycaps to be too tall for your liking. Throw in extra textured keycaps, USB passthrough, and attachable wrist rest, and you have a keyboard that has everything you could want.

2. IOGear HVER Pro RGB

Best Budget Gaming Keyboard

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The IOGear HVER Pro RGB (read our review) is a surprisingly premium keyboard for an affordable price. While most keyboards at this price range come with caveats like creaky plastic frames, this one features a tough, brushed aluminum chassis.

You also get mechanical switches with per-key RGB lighting at an affordable price on the IOGear HVER Pro RGB. Like many other keyboards on this list IOGear has elected to utilize key switches of its own, which are only labeled as Red and Brown, I used the latter and they have a noticeably large tactile bump. These brown key switches also seem to fight back after you actuate the key to ensure you don’t bottom out while typing.

Overall, the IOGear HVER Pro RGB is a unique and well-built keyboard for its affordable price.

3. Roccat Vulcan 121 Aimo

Best Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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The Roccat Vulcan 121 Aimo (read our review) is arguably one of the most unique looking gaming keyboards you’ll find on the market. Rather than having keycaps that cover up the key switches, the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo only has keycaps over the top of the key, leaving the rest exposed. This way the top of the keys looks like they’re just floating above the clear switch housings full of RGB lighting like some sort of cyber-age typewriter.

Of course, Roccat didn’t just make the Vulcan 120 Aimo look like this just for the hell of it. Its reduced keycaps only weigh half as much as regular ones, allowing them to reset more quickly. In terms of feel, Roccat’s Titan tactile switches fall somewhere between the speed of a Cherry MX Red mixed with stronger tactile feedback than you would get from a typical Cherry MX Brown. Roccat recently introduced a linear speed switch that removes the tactile bump and reduces the actuation distance from 1.8mm to 1.4mm

4. Razer Ornata Chroma

Best Membrane-Mechanical Hybrid Gaming Keyboard

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If you come to an impasse of choosing between a membrane and mechanical keyboard, why not get one that features the benefits of both. Utilizing a unique mecha-membrane key switch, every keypress on the Ornata Chroma stops softly on a rubber dome switch, but along the way, you’ll feel and hear a tactile bump and click mid-travel that mimics the typing feel of a mechanical switch.

The Razer Ornata Chroma isn’t just loud like a mechanical gaming keyboard, in my opinion, you get louder and more forceful feedback from the Razer Ornata Chroma. Another thing this peripheral has going for it is its mid-height keycaps, which help to make typing feel a bit more casual without having to crane your digits over full-size keys.

5. HyperX Alloy Core

Best Membrane Gaming Keyboard

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HyperX’s Alloy Core is a unique entry in this category as it features everything every other keyboard on this list, but then it chooses to utilize membrane keys. As a strange as a gaming keyboard without mechanical switches might sound, some users actually prefer the membrane feel—yes really. Since every key press is relayed through a rubber dome, you don’t get any of the clickety-clack of a mechanical key switch while keystrokes land more softly.

Using membrane keys also helps keep the price of this gaming keyboard below $50 and it even features full RGB lighting with an extra light bar above the function keys. Another shocker is you get dedicated media controls. You can’t really ask for more from a gaming keyboard this cheap.

6. Logitech G915

Best Wireless Gaming Keyboard

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The Logitech G915 (read our review) is a pretty amazing wireless gaming keyboard all told. It’s was made from the ground up to be low-profile between chiclet keyboard-style keys to its ultra-slim chassis that’s sits so low you don’t even need a wrist pad. It also uses low-profile GX switches (basically customized Kailh switches) that offer a satisfying click, tactile bump, or smooth linear action despite their short height. As a wireless board, you can have it connected to up to three devices including over its wired, 2.4GHz wireless, and Bluetooth interfaces.

Logitech’s latest wireless peripheral also offers the longest battery life out of any wireless gaming keyboard with up to 35 hours with lighting turned on at full brightness and about 1100 hours with all lighting turned off. Of course, all this wireless gaming keyboard splendor is going to cost you as the Logitech G915 launched with a $250 price tag.

7. Logitech G Pro X

Best Tenkeyless Gaming Keyboard

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Tenkeyless gaming keyboards are a great option for gamers who don’t need a numeric keypad or have a lot of desk space,  or simply want to play with their hands closer together. The Logitech G Pro is a stand out option in its class largely thanks to it’s detachable key switches, which allow to install a mix of clicky, tactile, or linear switches anywhere you please—even on the arrow keys. It’s the first gaming keyboard that truly allows customize the keyboard and put different feeling keys right next to each other.

Beyond the astounding level of customizability you won’t find anywhere else, the Logitech G Pro keyboard is built like a tank. This keyboard was also designed to brought to gaming events with its fully detachable cable and inner steel frame. You don’t have to worry about banging it up on your way to LAN parties and tournaments..

8. Corsair K63 Wireless

Best Wireless Gaming Tenkeyless Keyboard

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Wireless gaming keyboards are far and few in between, but I picked the Corsair K63 Wireless (read our review) because it’s just as reliable as its wired version and makes almost no compromises to ditch its said tether. The Corsair K63 Wireless is about as small as tenkeyless keyboards get, yet it still features full media controls and a battery that’s good for 10-25 hours of gaming with its blue backlight turned on—75 hours with lighting turned off.

You can also connect this gaming keyboard to more than one device by using both its wireless dongle and Bluetooth connection. Corsair also released a lapboard made specifically for the K63 Wireless that turns it into one of the best gaming keyboards for couch gaming.

9. Glorious Modular Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Best Customizable Gaming Keyboard

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Most gaming keyboard have you choose between a single key switch and live with it for the rest of peripherals life, however, the Glorious Modular Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (or Glorious GMMK for short) is one of the few that lets you swap out your mechanical keys whenever and however you like. The Glorious GMMK may only come with Gateron Brown switches but you can easily swap any of them out for Cherry, Kailh, or other types of Gateron switches.

The Glorious GMMK features hot swap bays under each key switch that makes replacing them as easily as adding custom key cap set. Aside from not having to dissasemble or solder anything, the easy swap capacity of this keyboard also lets you mix and match different types of key switches right next to each other.

Aside from the ability to customize the Glorious GMMK however you please, it’s built on a strong platform with full LED backlighting, a aluminum faceplate. On the software side you also get full macro programing on all the keys.

10. Razer Huntsman Elite

Best Optical Gaming Keyboard

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Razer’s Huntsman Elite (read our review) is expensive at $199, but it’s a top-of-the-line keyboard through and through, with plenty of great amenities. Its big feature is that it uses an optical switch instead of a purely mechanical one, so you’re basically typing at the speed of light as every keystroke trips a beam of light rather than a mechanical mechanism. Since there are fewer moving parts it’s also supposed to be more durable.

Optical switches aside, the Huntsman has gorgeous RGB lighting on all the keys as well as perimeter lighting that even extends to the magnetic wrist rest. If you’re a fan of adding color to your gaming setup, this is the gaming keyboard for you. Another bonus is the all-new media control wheel (finally!) that’s actually easy to use.

11. Gigabyte Aorus K9 Optical

Most Durable Gaming Keyboard

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Razer is far from the only company to introduce an optical keyboard, meet the Gigabyte Aorus K9 Optical (read our review). It’s positioned to be faster than your traditionally analog mechanical gaming keyboard, but its durability is what really makes it stand out.

Not only is this keyboard designed to be splash-proof, but you can also actually fully submerge this peripheral in water or any other beverage you choose and it’ll still work just like it would on your desk. That’s not some wild claim either, I’ve put it to the test of using it underwater for a full workday.

For its first optical gaming keyboard, Aorus designed its own Flaretech switches that reduce the typical 20ms debounce time found in traditional key switches to only 0.03ms. Basically, debounce is the final process of registering your keypress, so with it being so much faster, you can expect this keyboard to be much more responsive.

12. Cooler Master MK850

Best Analog Gaming Keyboard

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Optical keyboards are cool and all, but if you wanted to go in the opposite direction with an extra analog keyboard, look no further than the Cooler Master MK850 (read our review). This is Cooler Master’s latest flagship gaming keyboard and it introduces what the company calls Aimpad for full analog control. Eight keys (Q,W,E,R,A,S,D,F) on this peripheral are equipped with an IR sensor that measures precisely how far each key is being pressed along a 4mm axis.

This analog precision can come in handy for an extra touch of precision like carefully adjusting your moving speed in a stealth game, turning rate in racing games, or how far you’re leaning in a first-person shooter. The whole system is designed to give you the smooth analog control of a gamepad without the need for an actual controller.

13. SteelSeries Apex Pro

Most Customizable Gaming Keyboard

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The SteelSeries Apex Pro (read our review) is a unique entry into the gaming keyboard world. Instead of using mechanical or optical elements, SteelSeries proprietary OmniPoint switch uses magnetic fields to track the position of each key. With this technology, this peripheral can essentially tell how far you’ve pressed down on every key, which in turn allows you to to set the actuation distance of each key. That includes everything from your main WASD keys and the other important letters surrounding it to the almost never used arrow keys.

At 0.4mm, each key will act as a hair-trigger, meanwhile, you can set 3.6mm as the longest actuation distance if you find yourself bottoming out all the time. Fancy key switch tech aside, the Apex Pro is just a responsive, well-designed keyboard with a premium magnetic palm rest. At the top right there’s also an informative OLED screen, which is used for changing profiles and settings.

If you like the look and design of the Apex Pro but don’t care for the tuning your actuation distance, SteelSeries Apex 7 comes with the same design and features, but with traditional Red, Brown, or Blue switches and a much lower $160 price.

14. Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB

Best Ergonomic Gaming Keyboard

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PC Gaming can be hard your hands and RSI is a terrible thing to experience. If you’ve ever felt fatigued or pain while playing, please take a break and consider getting an ergonomic gaming keyboard like the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB (read our review).

It’s split into two parts to let your hands naturally sit at an angle rather than parallel with one another. Additionally, if the keyboard feels too flat with your table to comfortably use, you can also buy an optional $25 lift kit that raises the keyboard halves at 5, 10, and 15-degree angles.

Ergonomics aside, the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB is still a full-on gaming keyboard with fully programmable macros—up to three macros on any key—and per-key RGB illumination.

15. Razer Turret

Best Couch Gaming Keyboard

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Gaming PCs aren’t the only devices that let you game with keyboard and mouse now that the Xbox One has added support for them. The Razer Turret (read our review) has been designed specifically with the Xbox One—though it’ll also work with any PC too—and ultimate couch gaming.

On its underside, it features a soft, waxy material that helps prevent it from sliding around. Then on the right side, you can pull out a mousepad tray that’s also slightly magnetized, so the included gaming mouse won’t slip off—well at least up to a 14-degree angle anyway.

The Turret also includes Razer’s fantastically clicky Green switches to round out this smartly designed keyboard for Xbox and PC gaming on a couch.

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What to look for in a Gaming Keyboard

Before you even start looking at gaming keyboards you should consider what type of key switch you want, after all, you’ll be typing and gaming with this peripheral every day.

When it comes to key switches there are two major types: membrane and mechanical.

Membrane keyboards employ a rubber or silicon dome at the end of every key press to register a keystroke and provide the user with a small amount of tactile feedback. Due to the simplicity of a membrane keyboard, they usually are more affordable than mechanical keyboards, so they’re suitable for users on a budget. On the flip side though, the rubber or silicon used as a membrane will inevitably break down faster than a mechanical switch.

Mechanical key switches are known for delivering a much stronger and satisfying amount of feedback. Unlike membrane switches, this type involves many more components including a stem, spring, and metal contacts leaves, the last of which is what actually registers a keystroke.

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There’s a wide variety of mechanical key switches to choose from, so we’ll start by looking at the most common ones available, Cherry MX.

  • Cherry MX Red: Linear action that delivers fast actuation with very little tactile feedback.
  • Cherry MX Black: Cherry’s other linear switch that offers a bit more resistance.
  • Cherry MX Silver: Otherwise known as Cherry MX Speed, this type of key switch offers linear action with a shorter actuation height and lower resistance than a Cherry MX Red.
  • Cherry MX Brown: This type of switch actuates with a tactile bump for a noticeable amount of force feedback.
  • Cherry MX Blue: Actuates with an even greater amount of tactile feedback and an audible click.

At this point though almost every major gaming hardware maker has moved onto developing its own key switches including Razer, Logitech, SteelSeries, Cooler Master, and Roccat. All these companies have developed their own keyboard switches designed specifically for gaming. They all have varying actuation force and points as well as a distinct travel distance. For the most part, all of these unique key switches all act like variations of Cherry MX switches usually with shorter debounce rates that make them feel faster.

Another thing to consider about gaming keyboards is the height of your keycaps. For the most part most keyboard use full-sized or regular height keycaps, which sort of require you to curl your fingers over to reach the top of the keys. Mid-height keycaps like on the Razer Ornata give you a slightly more relaxed typing experience. Lastly, low-profile keycaps as found on the Logitech G915, Cooler Master KS-series, or Corsair K70 MK.2 Low Profile are perfect for users who prefer to have their fingers hovering over their keys like they would on a gaming laptop.

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Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
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