Best gaming keyboard for 2021

The best gaming keyboard is going to be something different for every style and level of gamer. There is a multitude of options available at a wide range of prices, so deciding what’s right for you often comes down to budget and personal preference. This list is some of the best we’ve tested that are widely available. 

If you’re looking for models that’ll have a little less impact on your wallet, you’ll want to check our best gaming keyboards under $100. But spending more will get you things like discrete media controls, higher-quality switches and construction, a wrist rest and more. Don’t know a membrane from a mechanical switch? Head to the buying advice section at the bottom. 

Also see: Best gaming keyboard under $100 in 2021

Josh Goldman/CNET

The GMMK is the best deal in gaming keyboards. Yes, there are less expensive options, but the design and features of the GMMK (Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard) are unbeatable at its $110 price. Available in full, TKL (tenkeyless) and 60% sizes and in black on black or white on silver colors, the keyboard is modular, letting you hotswap its key switches. It comes standard with ABS doubleshot keycaps on top of Gateron Brown tactile switches, which work well for both gaming and typing. But you can also customize the keyboard with one of 13 other Gateron or Kailh switches or the company’s Glorious Panda switches that are smooth but with a tactile bump you’ll definitely feel. Or you can get just the board and put in your switch of choice. The same goes for the keycaps; there are four to choose from or you can get none at all. 

The full-size keyboard has an attached braided USB cable with three-way routing under the board (it also has keycap puller stored on the bottom). The two smaller boards have removable cables. The GMMK has a metal top with nice-looking beveled edges. It’s a streamlined design with just the essentials; you won’t find extra media controls or a volume dial or a big, bulky body to go with them. The bottom is plastic, but you can’t see it unless you lift the board and, combined with the metal top, it has a heft to it that keeps it in place on your desk. 

Even if you never swap out the switches or keycaps, this is an excellent gaming keyboard. It’s the fact that you have the option to easily do those things, though, that makes the GMMK a standout. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Want a compact 65% wireless mechanical keyboard for work and gaming? There aren’t that many around (most are 60% size without discrete navigation keys) and none that I’ve found that have Bluetooth and lag-free 2.4GHz wireless like the BlackWidow V3 Min HyperSpeed. That helps justify the higher $180 price and it’s also solidly built and is comfortable for typing and smooth and fast for gaming. You are limited to two key switches — linear and clicky tactile — so if you want a tactile switch without the clicky sound, you’re out of luck for the moment. Switch choices aside, if you’re in search of a great little wireless mechanical gaming keyboard that can also be your daily driver for work, you’ve found it.

Read our Razer BlackWidow V3 Min HyperSpeed hands-on.


Sarah Tew/CNET

A compact tenkeyless version of Corsair’s excellent full-size K70 RGB MK.2 gaming keyboard, the $160 K70 RGB TKL is designed for esports but has features any competitive gamer will appreciate. It uses Corsair’s Axon processing technology to get a polling rate up to 8,000Hz that virtually eliminates the chance that input lag is going to cost you a victory. At 8,000Hz, it reports keypresses every 0.125 ms and it has a 4,000Hz keyscan rate — four times faster than competing keyboards — so it’s both detecting and transmitting keystrokes far faster than the average gaming keyboard with a 1,000Hz polling rate. 

Corsair used Cherry MX Red mechanical switches, though in some regions it will be offered with MX Speed or Silent switches as well. The regular linear Red switches are fast, smooth and just reliably good. There’s per-key RGB backlighting shining through durable double-shot PBT keycaps and Corsair also includes some textured keycaps for gaming. The keyboard’s layout is better for travel and it has a removable braided USB-A-to-USB-C cable. 

Next to the cable input, you’ll find a switch that flips the keyboard into a tournament-ready mode. This makes the backlighting static and disables macro activations so there’s no accidental presses while playing. You can still use other keys like the media and volume controls and change profiles, however. 

Corsair’s iCue software was overhauled recently to make setting up lighting, programming macros and remapping keys more straightforward. While you can create limitless profiles and lighting layers that are accessible when using iCue, you can also store up to 50 individual profiles to the keyboard’s onboard memory. Those are accessible without running iCue and even when you’re on systems that don’t support iCue. You can also store up to 20 lighting layers. 

If you’re looking for a fast, full-featured compact keyboard for FPS and MOBA games, the K70 RGB TKL has you covered.

Read more about the Corsair K70 RGB TKL.


Josh Goldman/CNET

Our current top tenkeyless (or TKL, i.e. no numberpad) gaming keyboard. A step up from the standard G Pro, the Pro X has swappable switches, letting you choose the exact feel you want with Logitech’s GX switches available in blue clicky, red linear and brown tactile sets for $50 each. Removing and replacing the switches is simple, making it easy to customize your experience if you’ve got the money. It’s modding made easy.

The keyboard’s overall design doesn’t differ much from the G Pro, though, which would be our runner-up pick. It’s made for esports, and its small, sturdy build and removable braided cable makes it good for travel. Logitech’s G Hub software is straightforward to use so you don’t spend a lot of time hunting for settings or control options. Attaching macros to the function keys is painless as well.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Elite 2 is a beefier version of HyperX’s slimmer, lighter Alloy Origins and Origins Core TKL keyboards. Instead of an aluminum frame, the Elite 2 has a sturdier steel frame, which gives it some heft to keep it in place on your desk. A thick braided cable is attached at the back and there’s a pass-through USB 2.0 port for your wired gaming mouse or wireless receiver. 

The backlit keyboard is overall larger, too, with the addition of a light bar above the function keys and a separate bar with media controls and buttons for adjusting backlight brightness, choosing one of three custom light modes you can store on the keyboard and turning on the Game Mode, which turns off the Windows key and other key combos that might interfere with your gameplay. 

However, like the Origins models, the Elite 2 uses the company’s homegrown Red linear key switch features instead of the Cherry MX switch in the original. Smooth and fast, the HyperX Reds are comparable to the Cherry MX Red switch and perform just as well and should satisfy most gamers. 

The switches use surface-mounted RGB backlight LEDs that are incredibly bright, so if you want a good lightshow from your gaming keyboard, this doesn’t disappoint. Plus, the keyboard is set up with HyperX ABS pudding keycaps that lets the light shine through their translucent sides.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Whirlwind FX’s Atom 60% mechanical gaming keyboard isn’t too different from other similarly sized options. The compact build is a space saver, great if you need extra mousing room while you game. It’ll also slide easily into a backpack for travel. (It also has a removable braided USB-C cable to help with that.) The company offers a choice of three mechanical switches, and they’re all brilliantly lit with RGB LEDs. 

The Atom’s lights, or more specifically the software that controls them, is where this little keyboard stands out. The thing is, you don’t even need the keyboard to use the software. 

The SignalRGB app lets you set the keyboard’s lighting to have different effects during regular use and when media is playing including various games. The app has a library of game integrations to choose from. I tested the Battlefield V integration, for example, and it does things like turn the keyboard lights red when HP is low or green when you’re healed. The Fortnite integration will change the keyboard to pink and red when you take damage or purple when you add experience. There are a lot of games available and, if you really like to tinker, you can create your own integrations using the company’s open-platform lighting software.

However, the SignalRGB software lets you take things a step further by expanding the effects to your other RGB gaming peripherals. It supports more than 150 devices from Razer, Corsair, HyperX, Logitech, SteelSeries and others. You can also request others that aren’t supported yet. 

Also, if you prefer a full-size keyboard, check out the company’s second-gen Element keyboard that has the same switch options but it has directional keys and a number pad. 

Read our Whirlwind FX Atom review.


Josh Goldman/CNET

Das Keyboard might be known for its keyboards with blank keycaps, but the X50Q stands out for another reason: It’s one of the company’s smart keyboards that uses drag-and-drop applets to let you receive notifications for different services. For example, you can set one of the RGB-backlit keys to change color when you receive an email from a specific sender on your Gmail account. The selection of applets for the keyboard is limited, but there are some helpful ones, including one for Twitch and one for when there’s a deal pops on a game you’ve been waiting to buy. There’s also an API available if you decide you want to make your own applet.

The keyboard uses Omron Gamma Zulu switches made for Das Keyboard that are tactile but also soft and relatively quiet for a mechanical keyboard. I prefer a tactile switch for typing and gaming so these hit the spot. The X50Q’s software lets you program lighting, set up macros and everything else you’d expect from a high-quality keyboard. 

There’s a full set of media keys and a volume knob at the top right that, combined with smart notifications, makes this feel like a desktop command center — and the thing is built like a tank. Plus, Das Keyboard includes a soft-touch wrist rest that clips into the keyboard so it stays put. It’s currently priced at $129, so you’re getting a lot of keyboard for your money, especially if you want one mechanical keyboard for gaming and work.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you’re going to spend nearly $200 to find the best gaming keyboard and are into mechanical keyboards, oh do we have the device for you. This mechanical gaming keyboard is our top pick at the moment for a great gaming experience, and a lot of it has to do with the lighting effects. This programmable key Razer keyboard is solid in design and performance with Razer’s Purple optomechanical switches delivering fast response time performance and good typing experience if you like clicky, tactile feedback. There are media controls (though it would be nice if the icons on them lit up, not just the outside) and they’re programmable just like all the other keys. 

Razer’s Synapse software gives extensive control over the full-sized keyboard’s setup, though you can stick to presets if you’re not into tweaking settings. Along with the per-key lighting, there’s also a band of light that goes around the outside of the keyboard and the included padded wrist rest, which magnetically attaches to the keyboard. 

It’s a wired keyboard, so it does eat up a second USB port on your computer, though, and there’s no USB passthrough on the Huntsman Elite to make up for it. If that’s important to you, go with Razer’s BlackWidow Elite, which is about $50 less with a choice of switches.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Roccat developed the switch for this mechanical keyboard, called Titan. It’s a quiet, tactile switch with a well-defined bump when actuated with no wobble and is firm and responsive for gaming. The shallow keycap and switch design make it seem like the keys are floating above the metal chassis top, giving it the look and feel of an island-style keyboard. The Vulcan is fine for typing, too, but I liked it more for gaming. 

The company’s Swarm software isn’t as straightforward to use as others, but you’ll find all the same sort of design tools for creating custom lighting setups and macros with different profiles. You can even make your key presses sound like laser blasts or a typewriter, among other things, through your speakers or headphones. And if you have other AIMO devices, the lighting can be matched between them. 

Other extras on this mechanical gaming keyboard include a knob that adjusts volume and the brightness for the RGB per-key lighting, and a wrist rest, although the latter is hard plastic and attaches loosely, so it can shift around some while gaming. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Most gamers swear by wired keyboards and for good reason: A wired keyboard eliminates lag and potential signal interference. That said, I didn’t experience either while testing the G915 using its Lightspeed wireless adapter. This wireless gaming keyboard can be connected via Bluetooth, too, and as long as you keep the backlight off or low, battery life is fairly good. 

The per-key RGB lighting, as well as all keys, can be programmed with Logitech’s G Hub software. The app is generally easy to work with and you can set up to three profiles that you can change to without opening the software. 

Its compact size and the company’s low-profile GL Tactile switches make it a viable choice for work and gaming, which is good considering it’s $230. You can also get it with GL Clicky or GL Linear switches and in two colors: carbon with black keycaps or silver with white caps. 

Just like picking out a new gaming mouse, getting the right gaming keyboard has a lot to do with personal preference (and budget). For instance, I like tactile switches — ones where you can feel the actuation point — but I don’t care for clicky key switches that make a sound when actuated. Linear switches, like Cherry MX Red switches, don’t have that tactile feedback that Cherry MX Blue switches have, but because of their low force and smooth actuation they’re preferred for gaming, especially where multiple taps of the same key are necessary. 

Also, some keyboards might feel great for gaming experiences, but you might not like them for day-to-day typing. For example, those same Cherry MX Red switches that are great for gaming might be too light for some typists. If you have a chance to test out different types of switches before you buy (such as Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Red and others), I highly recommend it. You can check out this glossary of keyboard terms to help narrow your preferences.

Get a roundup of tech news, featuring the best and most important stories from each week.

Now playing:
Watch this:

5 PC games that’ll make you a better racer


More gaming recommendations

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *