Every gamer knows the two most important things for any gamer are their mouse and their keyboard. Last year we reviewed the best gaming mouse, now’s the time to review the best gaming keyboards from across the market to help your game play.
Your Keyboard is probably more important to get right than mouse as you can easily play games with a bad mouse, but its really difficult if you cannot press the keys you want because your keyboard cannot keep up with your actions.
One thing I would point out, typically the best keyboard on the market will come with Mechanical Switches. It's simply a fact. Silicone Dome switches have caught up over the years, but unless you're buying a budget gaming keyboard, you'll want mechanical switches, they're simply better.
The Best Gaming Keyboards 2018
The problem with choosing the best gaming keyboard is we're choosing the best keyboard for only gaming, however the majority of readers are going to be both playing games and doing their day-to-day computer work on the same keyboard.
As a result, the best gamer keyboard is the Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma V2, however it's slightly too small and doesn't come with a numeric pad which is not going to affect your gaming, but could be annoying if you're trying to do any computer work at home.
If you're just using your keyboard for gaming, buy the Razer. It's been specifically designed for gamers like you and me and comes with a range of features that have not been seen on gaming keyboards in the past. Lifespan has been upgraded to over 80 million keystroke's, whilst it comes with 10 roll-over anti-ghosting key's and it totally programmable with on-the-fly macro recording. Performance is fantastic and we love it.
That said, if you want to you use your keyboard for everyday computing and feel that you're going to miss the numeric pad, the check out the Corsair K70 Rapidfire which is slightly bigger and comes with a numeric pad. The keyboard has been design and built in aircraft-grade, anodised brushed aluminium for durability. The K70 uses Cherry MX Speed switches with ultra-fast 1.2 mm actuation and light 45 g force.
It comes with 100% anti-ghosting, vibrant LED backlighting and USB pass-through port's to enable mice or wireless headsets. One point, it will take a few days to get used to. The actuation point means that even the slight touch of a key and the point is activated. Today, i hardly noticed it, but for the first few days, i was touching buttons and they would trigger. P.s. the 1.2mm activation point is fantastic FPS games or general e-sports.
Mechanical Vs. Silicone
This gamer’s argument has been jabbering on for years. The majority of gamers swear by Mechanical Switches and wouldn’t use anything else, that said, there are a bunch of gamers, especially with the new technology available to gamers these days that think the development of silicone membrane switches has advanced so much, they are as good if not better than their mechanical competitor.
Mechanical Keyboards use a mechanical switch that pair’s each key to its own spring-loaded switch whereas Silicone dome Keyboards uses a silicone switch that forms a little dome in a silicone membrane.
The difference between the two? The silicone dome keyboards often feel soft and will require you to press each key fully into the keyboard which potentially can slow down the speed at which commands can be entered. Mechanical keyboards feel direct and depending on the colour (Black, Brown, Blue, Red), each switch will provide you with a slightly different feeling.
In the past the difference between Mechanical Switches and Silicone Membrane Switches was huge. You had no choice but to buy a silicone membrane keyboard, however as technology has increased, so that difference has narrowed. Today, depending on who you speak with, there is no difference.
Best Gaming Keyboards - The Range
Mechanical Vs. Silicone
Easily the best, no numeric pad
If you need a numeric pad, buy this instead
The favorite Silicone Dome Keyboard
Mechanical Romer G
I hate the Romer G's
Best Value For Money
Great Value For Money
Expensive, No Audo Jack
Expensive, better options above
Best Gaming Keyboard - UK Buyer's Guide
The following is a list of features that you need to take into account when you choose your next gaming keyboard.
Key Switches – You need to make sure that you choose a gaming key board that uses a mechanical switches which means that each key has its own spring loaded switch. The majority of these switches, especially in the gaming keyboard world are made of Cherry MX and can be identified by the color (black, Brown, Blue or Red) each with a different design and therefore a different feel. A mechanical keyboard might be more expensive, however its well worth the extra price.
You need to watch out for those gaming keyboards that use silicone dome switches as they often feel like your pressing a key which is on rubber and therefore have no idea whether you have pressed the key or not as you will have very little feel for the button press. Often if you use a gaming keyboard that uses these silicone domes, you end up missing buttons, because you need to press the key fully down to activate and you have not done this.
Lights – In the past having a back-lit keyboard was done purely for decoration, however with a gaming keyboard this has progressed to the point now where a the best gaming keyboards have backlights that are colour adjustable meaning that you can the backlight for each different section of the keyboard that you are going to use in your game or maybe individual keys that you will need during your game can be set with a different colour so that you can easily spot them quickly.
Customizable Key Switches – Because of the way that a mechanical switch is made the actual keys can be removed and replaced with sculpted keys for better distinction on the keyboard. Some keyboards will only allow you to swap the WASD keys, whilst some of the better gaming keyboards allow you to swap out each and every key on the keyboard.
Extra Features – Gaming keyboards can go much further than the above meaning that some keyboards have features such as macro command customization, statistical tracking, text or audio communication, programmable keys and touchscreen displays.
Higher Polling Rates – Typically a regular consumer keyboard has a polling rate of around 150Hz meaning that the keyboard communicates with the computer 150 times every second, however gaming keyboards where speed is off the essence can be much faster and can with the best gaming keyboards be as high as 1500Hz, although we would recommend that anything above 1000Hz is suitable for a gaming keyboard.
Macros Functions – These will allow you to customize your keys so that they perform more than one task at the click of a button, for example pressing “A” could allow the keyboard program to use the players combination abilities. We would recommend that you look for a keyboard with at least 10 programmable macro keys, however if you’re an MMO gamer then you might want to increase this further.
Anti-Ghosting – this typically occurs when keys don’t work when you press a few keys at the same time such as when you’re trying to control the direction of your character quickly. Anti-Ghosting tries to stop this happening by allowing the keyboard to memorize the last few key-strokes. Typically and gaming keyboard will be able to remember the last 5 key strokes at any one time, however this can be drastically increased if for the better gaming keyboards.
Profiles – You need to make sure that your gaming keyboard can handle more than one profile, otherwise you will find yourself continually changing the settings for each game that you’re trying to play. Typically a gaming keyboard should be able to have 5 profiles, however some will be more than this. Even if you don’t use profiles, is great to have for that odd occasion.
Connectors – USB Ports, gaming mice, USB headsets are always need when playing games so to have the option on your keyboard is an added benefit
Best Budget Keyboards 2018
In this section we're looking at the best budget gaming keyboards from across the market. Remember, just because it's budget, doesn't mean that it's bad or isn't going to perform any worse than the top of the range models above. That said, I would stay away from the really cheap models.
You can pick up gaming keyboards for less than £10, however the problem with these is that they're likely to start to lose functionality very quickly given the pure abuse that gamers throw at there keyboards. Generally, first a few keys start to become sticky, however this can quickly move on to a total meltdown where the whole thing stops working.
I would also highly recommend that you stick with the Brand Names, as they are likely to have been tested during the design process, whereas some of these imports have literally been thrown together.
Logitech G213 Prodigy
Of all the cheap gaming keyboards that we've tested over the years, our favorite gaming keyboards is the Logitech G213 Prodigy. The G213 is made from plastic and therefore does not have the same heavyweight feel that many more expensive models come with, but this's expected when your gaming keyboard cost less than £50. That said, it's a full sized keyboard with a numeric pad.
The other thing to remember, it's a value for money keyboard and therefore you're not going to get mechanical switches. Instead you get Logitech's own Mech-Dome switches that according the Logitech, have a similar feel and force profile to the Cherry brown mechanical switches, however in reality, they might have a similar feel, but similar performance there is defiantly not. There is a noticeable difference between the these and the mechanical switches from the Razer above.
Despite being made of plastic, the G213 is very robust and there is very little flex even if you press firmly in the middle of the line of function keys. It also features an anti-ghosting gaming matrix, zonal RGB which supports up to 16.8 Million colours, five key roll-overs and a dedicated media control to adjust your media whilst on the move.
Overall, if you're looking for a cheap gaming keyboard that offers value for money, then take a look at the Logitech G213 Gaming Keyboard.
Gaming Keyboards Reviews 2018
Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma V2
The Razer BlackWindow is probably the best gaming keyboard on the market right now. It’s the gaming keyboard that I use on a daily basis and quite frankly, I love it. I have tried a few over the years and this keyboard has everything that I want in a keyboard and quite frankly even more. The Chroma V2 is Razer's second attempt at a gaming keyboard. Whilst the first version was simply awesome, this model is even better.
Remember, Razer design and build gaming equipment specifically for gamers and only gamers. As a result, this model has been designed to help you with your gaming. It's made in a solid metal design that is both heavy as not to move around, totally solid to give it that feel of quality, but does not have a numeric keypad.
As a result often, gamer's especially those that use their computer for both gaming and day-to-day work, feel that the V2 is a total waste of money. Personally, for me, it's easily the best on the market today, but if the numeric pad is important for you, I would suggest that you check out the Razer BlackWindow Chroma or the Corsair K70 Rapidfire below.
The first big change from Version One, is the new color code for the mechanical switches. Gone are the cherry and browns and in are Green's Oranges and Yellow's. Yellow's come with rapid fire actuation's which deliver the fastest performance to meet the demands of FPS and MOBA games, whilst Oranges provide reset points at almost half the distance of standard mechanical switches and Green's are somewhere in the middle.
The Blackwidow Tournament Edition V2 comes with mechanical switches with 50g actuation force and a 80 million keystroke lifespan. As standard the keyboard comes with programmable LED back-lights meaning you set-up keyboard zones with different colors, 10 key roll-over anti-ghosting and macro keys which you can assign to virtually any key on the keyboard.
and mechanical keys made by Cherry MX. Personally I use the red keys which are the softest touch, meaning that you really don’t have touch them at all for the key stroke to register, however I have also tried the blue and brown which are fantastic as well.
Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2
The Razer BlackWidow X Chroma V2 Gaming Keyboard is the larger brother of the Razer above. Personally, I hate it and simply cannot get used to the layout, however I know plenty of people who have spent the last six month raving about how great the keyboard is. Remember, the Chroma V2 is a full size keyboard and therefore comes with a numeric pad unlike the model above.
What do I hate so much about it? For me, its the key layout. Like the model above, the Chroma V2 comes with Yellow, Green and Orange Mechanical keys, where the Yellow's come with rapid fire actuation's which deliver the fastest performance to meet the demands of FPS and MOBA games, whilst Oranges provide reset points at almost half the distance of standard mechanical switches and Green's are somewhere in the middle.
The problem isn't the mechanical keys, its the layout. I cannot get used to having key's past the CTRL key on the far left-hand side. When I'm typing normally I press the M5 key rather than the CTRL function, during gaming I do the same. 25 years of having the last key being a control function cannot be unchanged quickly.
That said, like the Razer Tournament edition above, it's a dam good keyboard if you can get on with the layout.
Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum RGB Mechanical
The Logitech G910 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is the late 2017 replacement for the fantastic Logitech G19s Gaming Keyboard and offers major improvements over the previous model including customization to allow gamers to set up the keyboard to their exact standards and the loss of both the LCD screen and the separate power cord which we were never a fan of in the first place.
It's true the G190 range comes with great all-round performance allowing you to use the keyboard for work and play, however for any serious gamer the Romer-G mechanical switches membrane switches are not perfect and will affect performance. For this price, and yes we think its expensive, there are better models on the market that we think that you should be looking at before you buy yourself a Logitech.
The keyboard has been designed for the gamer in mind and this is obvious from simply looking at it. The keyboard has extra buttons, integrated media controls to include a roller knob so you can adjust the volume from your keyboard, 12 programmable macro buttons, adjustable back lights to include different colors for both non-gaming and gaming modes and a gaming button to stop any of those accidental keystrokes pulling your keyboard out of its gaming mode.
The G910 keyboard is made from hard plastic which is a similar material to Ikea furniture, however the keys are coated in a UV coating to protect again color fading. On the underside of the keyboard are channels that help to manage cords for mince or headphones, whilst a detachable wrist rest does provide some extra support.
We do like the way that Logitech gives the user full access to customize the G19’s through its Logitech Gaming software. Through the software you can adjust the lighting, edit your macros and choose from pre-programmed profiles. One problem, this keyboard is only available for Windows users and there is no option for Mac gamers.
Mad Catz Strike 3
Of all the gaming keyboards we've looked at over the last few years, we firmly believe that if you're looking for a budget keyboard, you should be looking at the Logitech G213 Prodigy as it really offers value for money. That said, if you're one of those people who don't like logitech products, then check out the Mad Catz STRIKE 3. It's not a good as the Mechanical keyboards, but it's a decent option.
If you cannot afford a mechanical gaming keyboard then I would highly recommend that you bought yourself the Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E 3 gaming keyboard as they are almost as good as the mechanical gaming keyboard and come with tons of useful features that you are going to like.
Mad Catz’s have designed there own silicon switches, however have tried to combine all the benefits of a mechanical keyboards with the benefits of a silicone keyboard. The result is a very good performing keyboard and I would go as far as saying, the best silicon membrane keyboard that I have every tried, but not quite as good a those mechanical switch’s.
The keyboard has a fantastic, angular asymmetrical, flashy design and comes in a choice of three colors, Black, Red and White with a glossy finish. The design of the keyboard also includes a detachable wrist rest which whilst probably made of some cheap plastic meaning it smudges in seconds, is a nice feature to have. The keys look like someone has put some thought into the design although I must say they space-bar is abnormally long for a keyboard.
Its possible for you to control the backlight color and you can not only selected a color from the 16 million RGB available, but you can also set the colors for a specific location on the keyboard meaning that you can set up zones that can help with your gaming.
One annoying features is that the function keys double as media controls which whilst is not anything huge did put me off slightly, however the keyboard does come with 12 programmable macros buttons, 7 on the left and five on the right. The keys on the left are more like buttons rather than keys whilst the keys on the right are half-keys to give you some kind of separation. On the right, next to the half-keys is a sliding switch that lets you disable the Windows key preventing any accidental interruptions during game-play.
Logitech G19s Highspeed - UK Layout
The Logitech G19s has recently been replaced by the G910 Orion above, however it's still a top of the range gaming keyboard, still offers fantastic gaming performance, however now offer's some value for money. In the past when it was first released the price tag was over £200, which by anyone's wallet, is still a large chunk of cash for gaming keyboard. Today however, with the replacement above, it's still not cheap, but it's certainly not expensive.
The Logitech G19s is a true gaming keyboard, design and built for only one thing, playing your games. This is evident the minute you look at the keyboard. Instead of a simple keyboard, the G19s has extra keys and features covering the whole keyboard and a massive LCD screen right a the top of your keyboard which gives both game dat and system data meaning that you are always aware what’s going on with your system.
The keyboard use a silicon membrane to support its keys which does work well although you will have to hit the key hard to make sure that they are fully down to achieve the result, however they do come with adjustable back-lights where you have the possibility to use any color from the 16 million RGB color options. As an added benefit you can even have a different color mode for normal use than you do with in gaming mode.
Multiple Profiles can be programmed and switched between whilst playing any games and the keyboard offers a 110 key anti-ghosting and six rollovers that can handle multiple keystrokes for those combos. The keyboard also has 12 programmable macro buttons to the left of the standard keyboard, each of which can be programmed with up to three different macro commands that you can swap between with the touch of a button and an integrated media and volume control including a roller knob for volume adjustment is located on the right.
One big downside with the G19s is that it is super power hungry and will require an AC plug to power the keyboard which means another plug will be need to power your gaming computer and whilst the Logitech Gaming Software is good and give you plenty of options, its Windows Only.
Corsair K70 Rapid Fire
As above, the firm favorite for us is the Razer BlackWindow, that said, its aa gaming specific keyboard and does not come with day-to-day friendly keys such as a numeric pad. This is where the Corsair Rapid Fire comes into it’s own. It’s been designed to play games, but also comes with a full-sized mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry’s MX Speed RGB switches.
The whole keyboard has been designed for Rapid keystrokes across the e-sport spectrum. It’s a full-sized keyboard and therefore comes with dimensions of 18.6 x 8.3 inches which is slight bigger than the Razer above, however it does also come with both media buttons and a volume roller.
It feels totally solid in both the design and during use and what we specifically like is the key back lighting which can be changed from anything from solid colours to rainbow ripples. The K70 Rapidfire has been design for e-sports and therefore uses the latest Cherry MX Speed keys.
As with past models, the W, A, S, and D key’s are textured and other than a handful of other keys these are the only keys that can be swapped out. The Cherry MX speed keys feature a much shorter actuation than traditional Cherry keys (1.2 mm rather than 2 mm), but unlike previous versions, they’re not noisy like Cherry Blues or totally silent like Cherry Browns.
What’s great and terrible about the Cherry Mx speed keys at the same time, they only require the lightest tap to be activated. This is fantastic for speed games, however typing this report on the keyboard does take some getting used to. Even if you just skim over the key, you’re effectively touching it and it will be activated.
Overall, it does take some getting used to give the activation points are so much shorter than I have been used to in the past, but it’s a fantastic keyboard.
Key problem areas other than getting used to the activation point really resolve around the software which is very detailed and will take some getting used to. It’s not a software platform that because you’ve used a few others, you’re going to immediately be able to use.
Check Out Our Other Reviews
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- Best Gaming Keyboards 2018 – UK Buyer’s Guide and Reviews - 2018-03-27
- Razer BlackWidow X Chroma V2 Gaming Keyboard Review - 2018-02-26
- Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 Gaming Keyboard Review - 2018-02-26