Your keyboard is the part of your computer that you touch the most so getting a better one could make an even bigger difference in your life than upgrading your CPU. Whether you’re battling in a first-person shooter or just want a better typing experience for productivity, gaming keyboards provide the best combination of responsiveness, features and style.
Credit: Hexgears / Shutterstock
Quick Shopping Tips
- Mechanical or bust: Don’t even consider a non-mechanical keyboard. Only mechanical keyboard switches offer a truly great 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.
- Pick your switch: Keyboards use a number of different switch types which determine the feel and sound of the keys. Which one you choose depends on your personal preference. Here are some of the most common:
- Clicky Tactile: Blue, Green, White
- Quiet Tactile: Brown, Clear
- Linear (quiet and go straight down): Red, Silver
- Full-size, Tenkeyless or Smaller? While some users want every possible key, others prefer a smaller keyboard that has no number pad or one that’s so narrow that it lacks arrow keys.
Best Gaming Keyboards
1. Patriot Viper V765
Best Gaming Keyboard
Rating: 4/5 (Editor's Choice)
Switches: Kailh box White (clicky) | Backlight: RGB | Type: Full-size Keyboard | Size: 18.4 x 6.4 inches x 1.1 (46.6 x 20.3 x 4 cm) | Weight: 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg)
Pros: Fantastic white switches • Great price • Sleek aluminum design • Attractive RGB lights • Media control keys
Cons: Mediocre software • Feet are a little short • Hard palm rest
Patriot Memory is known more for its RAM and Storage than its keyboards, but the company’s Viper V765 provides a key feel that’s second to none in an attractive, very-affordable package. The V765 is the only mass-market keyboard we’ve seen that uses Kailh Box White switches, which actuate faster than regular Blue or Green switches thanks to their slightly-reduced travel of 3.6mm (versus 4mm on competitors). 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. The Viper Software is nothing to type home about, but you don’t even need to install it in order to use most of the lighting effects.
Best of all, this IP56 water and dust-resistant keyboard sells for under $100 (under £70) when most competitors cost a lot more. While we wish that it taller flip-out feet and a slightly-better app, the Viper V765 is our favorite gaming keyboard right now.
Read Review: Patriot Viper V765
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2. Razer Huntsman Elite
Switches: Razer Optomechanical Switches | Backlight: RGB | Type: Full-size Keyboard | Size: 17.6 x 9.2 x 1.4 inches (44.7 x 23.3 x 3.6 cm) | Weight: 3.8 pounds (1.7 kg)
Pros: Attractive design • Comfy, RGB wrist rest • Innovative optomechanical switches
The unique and sexy Razer Huntsman Elite offers deep, rich RGB colors combined with the company’s sleek black chassis. It’s also the only gaming keyboard we’ve seen that provides RGB lighting for its wrist rest, which is also extremely soft and comfortable. You can control the light show using Razer’s powerful Synapse software.
The Huntsman Elite uses the company’s proprietary optomechanical switches, which combine the feel of a clicky mechanical switch with a mechanism that uses light to register your keystrokes for faster input. A powerful set of media controls rounds out this impressive package.
Read Hands-On: Razer Huntsman Elite
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3. Corsair K70 MK.2
Best Mainstream Gaming Keyboard
Switches: Cherry MX red, brown, blue, speed or silent | Backlight: RGB | Type: Full-size Keyboard | Size: 17.2 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches (43.7 x 16.5 x 3.8 cm) | Weight: 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg)
Pros: Wide variety of genuine Cherry switches • Great aluminum build quality • USB pass-through • Powerful CUE software
Cons: No white or green switches
Not everyone loves clicky switches. Many gamers prefer the silent, linear feel of red switches or the quiet, but tactile brown variety. And, even if you like your keyboards loud, you may prefer the feel of blue switches. Corsair users Cherry MX branded switches, which are the gold standard for quality and gives you a choice of five different switch types, including red, brown and blue.
No matter which switches you choose, the Corsair MK70 MK.2 offers a great typing and gaming experience, along with a sturdy aluminum chassis that has fantastic build quality. It also a USB passthrough so you can connect it to a wired mouse or another desktop peripheral. The company’s CUE software allows you to exert fine-grain control over the keyboard’s backlights and synchronize it with other Corsair RGB peripherals.
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4. Hexgears Impulse
Best for Typing
Rating: 4.5/5 (Editor's Choice)
Switches: Kailh Box White | Backlight: RGB | Type: Full-size Keyboard | Size: 17.25 x 6 x 1.6 inches (43.8 x 15.2 x 4 cm) | Weight: 2 pounds (918 g)
Pros: World-class typing experience • Lightweight and compact • Great price • IP65 water resistance
Cons: No software • Dull, limited RGB lighting
It’s far from a perfect gaming keyboard, but the Hexgears Impulse (with Kailh Box White switches) offers the best typing performance I’ve ever experienced, surpassing even my old-school IBM-style keyboard and others I’ve used with Cherry MX Blue or Razer Green switches. And at a starting price of just $79 for the more-attractive white/gray model, the Impulse won’t break the bank.
Hexgears made the bold choice of putting a Blue-style switch under the spacebar only, because the largest key (which most people hit with their thumbs) should be a bit stiffer. At first, I thought that having a different switch under just one key was a weird choice, but I found the added resistance helpful. As a result, I enjoyed typing on the Impulse more than on the Viper V765, which has White switches under every key, including the spacebar.
Read Review: Hexgears Impulse
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Image Credit: Tom's Hardware
5. Hexgears Venture
Best Wireless Gaming Keyboard
Switches: Low Profile Kailh Choc White | Backlight: RGB | Type: Full-size Keyboard | Size: 17 x 5.5 x 1 inches (432 x 140 x 25 mm) | Weight: 1.57 pounds (712g)
Pros: Comfortable, familiar 108-key layout • Kailh Choch white switches are pleasingly tactile • Removable cable and rechargeable batteries
Cons: Low-profile switches have minimal benefit in a full-size keyboard • No dedicated media keys or software for RGB controls
With pleasingly tactile and clicky low-profile Kailh Choc white switches in our review unit (brown and red will also be offered) and the ability to switch between up to four paired devices on the fly, the Venture is a solid-feeling, pleasing clacker for gaming or typing. But given the size (17 x 5.5 x 1-inches), we’d like to see dedicated media control keys. And with a full-size layout, including number keys, the keyboard isn’t all that travel-friendly.
Read Review: Hexgears Venture
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6. HyperX Wrist Rest
Best Wrist Rest
Size: 17.5 x 3 x 0.75 inches (44 x 7.6 x 1.9 cm)
Pros: Extremely comfortable • Attractive design
Cons: A few dollars more than competitors
Most keyboards come with hard, unpleasant wrist rests -- if they come with one at all. With the smoothness of cooling gel wrapped around a core of memory foam, HyperX's wrist rest provides the perfect balance between softness and support. Its subtle, but stylish design features a black cover with bright red stitching and a nearly-invisible HyperX logo. No matter what keyboard you have, this product product will upgrade your typing experience.
Read Hands-on: HyperX Wrist Rest Tested
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