You can spend hundreds of pounds on a gaming keyboard with lasers and RGB LEDs or you get a pared-back model for a pure gaming experience without the frills. Which it is depends very much on how particular you are over the clicks and bumps of the accessory in question.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, the level of choice can be daunting – especially if you don’t know much about the difference between mechanical and membrane devices, or if you’re not sure if you need a tenkeyless model, a wireless option or something with macro buttons.
We’ve scoured the market to pick out six of the best options for every scenario, from high-end monsters to brilliant bargains.
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What’s the best gaming keyboard in 2020?
The Razer Huntsman Elite (£189) is a top option if you’ve got loads of cash to spend – it has laser-powered mechanical keys that are faster than anything else on the market alongside Razer’s typically great design, RGB LEDs and solid media features. It’s our best gaming keyboard.
If you want mechanical hardware without the price tag, the Corsair K68 RGB (£90) is the best choice. Its button quality is reliably superb, with snappy, fast keys that will improve your gaming – and it has RGB LEDs, media controls and it’s even water-resistant, so it’ll survive tea, coffee and energy drink spills. It’s our alternative mechanical keyboard pick.
And our best budget gaming keyboard is the Cooler Master MS110 set (£57). Less than half the price of some mechanical keyboards, it includes both a keyboard and a mouse. The keyboard isn’t mechanical, but it’s easily good enough for everyday gaming thanks to membrane switches, and the mouse is a solid, snappy bit of kit.
Razer Huntsman Elite
Wired Recommends: The Razer Huntsman Elite is the best all-round gaming keyboard
Switches: Razer Opto-Mechanical Linear/Clicky | Travel distance: 3.5mm | Actuation force: 45g | Actuation distance: 1.5mm | Key rollover: 10-key | Endurance rating: 100m clicks | RGB LEDs: yes Macro keys: no | Media keys: yes | Connectivity: 2 x USB
Wrist-rest: yes | Dimensions: 447 x 230 x 37mm | Weight: 1.7kg
You get what you pay for with the Razer Huntsman Elite (£189): superb switch technology, RGB LED lighting and near-flawless design.
First up, the Huntsman uses ground-breaking opto-mechanical switches. These buttons have the physical design of traditional mechanical keys – so they’re tall, heavy and satisfying – but they actuate using lasers rather than traditional contact plates.
The move to laser-focussed actuation means button-taps are registered with sensational speed. The Huntsman’s buttons are noticeably quicker than conventional mechanical keys. We’re talking slim margins here – mechanical keys are still fast – but Razer’s buttons are unmatched.
The buttons pair their great speed with a satisfying, consistent action. Razer sells this keyboard with linear and clicky options, so you can choose whether you want a mechanical-style “bump” in your typing action. The 45g actuation force and 1.5mm actuation distance match popular mechanical units, so the buttons don’t feel wildly different.
Elsewhere, the Huntsman has media buttons, including a dial for volume adjustment. There’s a very comfortable wrist-rest and a robust, subtle design – it’s a frameless, aluminium unit that looks great. The buttons have RGB LEDs and there are more lights around the wrist-rest. The usual lighting and key customisation settings are deployed using the Razer Synapse 3 app, which is well-organised and packed with options. The Razer requires two USB connections to power all those lasers and lights. There are also no dedicated macro buttons.
Razer’s move to laser-powered switches pays off: if you take your gaming seriously, these buttons are a little faster than anything else, and that’ll deliver a slight advantage. Elsewhere, the Huntsman has great design, build quality and features – so it’s a market-leading all-rounder.
Also consider: Corsair’s flagship K95 RGB Platinum (£185) is sold with excellent and varied mechanical switches, with dedicated macro keys, RGB LEDs and great media options alongside a comfy wrist-rest. It’s not quite as quick as the Razer.
Pros: Incredible speed; subtle design; RGB LEDs; media features
Cons: No macro keys; requires two USB ports
Corsair K68 RGB
A superb mid-range mechanical option with solid features
Switches: CherryMX Mechanical | Travel distance: 3.7mm Actuation force: 45g | Actuation distance: 2mm | Key rollover: 104-key | Endurance rating: 50m clicks | RGB LEDs: yes
Macro keys: no | Media keys: yes | Connectivity: USB
Wrist-rest: yes | Dimensions: 455 x 170 x 39mm | Weight: 1.12kg
The Corsair K68 RGB (£90) mixes conventional design with rarer features – so it provides a great experience at a mid-market price.
The most surprising addition to the K68 is IP32 water-resistance. It means that your typing surface is safe from spilled tea and energy drinks, and it works because Corsair has secured every key in a sealed rubber housing. As an added bonus, that translucent material gives the RGB lighting an attractive glow.
The K68 is available with CherryMX mechanical switches. The standard CherryMX Red switches are fast, with a low actuation force and no noticeable bump, but clickier and heavier CherryMX Blue hardware is available. If you hunt around, well-balanced Brown switches, quieter Silent switches and faster Speed options are available. Whichever switch you buy, the K68 performs flawlessly: it’s fast, consistent and comfortable.
The K68 RGB includes volume and media controls, and on the inside, it’s got full n-key rollover technology – a welcome additions at the higher-end of the market and still included here.
The keyboard is strong and sturdy, with smart design. A wrist-rest is included, but it’s only made of plastic and is not particularly comfortable – the budget has bitten here. You’ll also need two USB ports to connect the K68.
The Corsair K68 RGB is easier to live with thanks to that water-resistance, and elsewhere it has a great typing action, welcome features and loads of switch options. It’s an excellent all-rounder.
Pros: Water-resistant; great mechanical switches; media features
Cons: Weak wrist-rest; needs two USB ports; no macro keys
Asus Cerberus Mech RGB
A no-nonsense mechanical option
Switches: Kaihua mechanical | Travel distance: 3.5mm | Actuation force: 45g | Actuation distance: 1.5mm | Key rollover: 104-key | Endurance rating: 70m clicks | RGB LEDs: yes | Macro keys: no | Media keys: no | Connectivity: USB | Wrist-rest: no
Dimensions: 448 x 150 x 35mm | Weight: 1.25kg
The Asus Cerberus Mech RGB (£96) is one of the most affordable big-brand mechanical keyboards on the market – so it’s a great option if you want a serious gaming peripheral without shelling out.
The lower price does mean this unit concentrates on the basics. It’s got the full, traditional keyboard layout, including a numberpad, and it has full n-key rollover. The buttons are underpinned by RGB LEDs, and the keyboard includes four highlighted WASD keycaps.
However, you don’t get media keys, macro buttons or extra USB ports. There’s no wrist-rest included either.
The Cerberus doesn’t use CherryMX switches, but that’s not a big problem – the cheaper Kaihua switches deployed are still mechanical, and still good. They’re available in designs that mimic the familiar CherryMX Red, Blue, Brown and Black flavours, which means you have good choice when it comes to matching your preferences.
The most common switch available on the Cerberus copies CherryMX Red hardware, which means that the keys are fast and linear. They’re always solid and consistent, so gaming won’t be hampered.
On the outside, the Cerberus is underwhelming – made of plastic and without any ornamentation. But that’s an easy price to pay for good performance at a decent price.
The Cerberus has been around for a few years now, but it remains one of the most effective budget mechanical units on the market.
Pros: Effective mechanical switches; RGB LEDs; very affordable
Cons: Underwhelming design; no extra features; no wrist-rest
Cooler Master MS110
A neat budget set if you need a gaming keyboard and mouse
Switches: Cooler Master Mem-chanical | Travel distance: 3.6mm Actuation force: 45g | Actuation distance: 1.2mm | Key rollover: 26-key | Endurance rating: 50m clicks | RGB LEDs: yes | Macro keys: no | Media keys: no | Connectivity: USB | Wrist-rest: no Dimensions: 440 x 134 x 40mm | Weight: 1kg
Cooler Master’s MS110 only costs £53, and that price doesn’t just include a keyboard – it comes with a mouse, too.
The lower price means that this keyboard isn’t mechanical. Instead, the MS110 uses cheaper membrane technology, which means that a large domed membrane is installed under the buttons, with those domes pushing down in order to create the circuits required to register button-presses.
Cooler Master has topped these membrane buttons with mechanical-style keys in order to derive its “mem-chanical” switches.
The buttons do share some attributes with mechanical hardware: they’re weighty and satisfying, with reasonable speed. As an added bonus, they’re quiet, too.
However, the membrane design does mean they’re softer and slower than mechanical hardware – still easily good enough for mainstream gaming, but without the sheer speed and snap.
Elsewhere, the MS110 has RGB LEDs, albeit only in three zones, and it has a minimal, plastic design that’s decent, but without the sheer build quality of aluminium units. There are no extra features, like media buttons or macro keys, and no wrist-rest.
The included mouse, the CM110, is a right-handed, six-button unit that offers reasonable quality and a maximum sensitivity level of 3,200 DPI – fine for mainstream gaming, but not for high-end competition.
The Cooler Master’s membrane switches are good enough for mainstream gaming, even if they don’t have the speed of mechanical units. It’s basic, but the MS110 is a solid option for gamers who want a decent experience without spending loads.
Pros: Decent membrane switches; RGB LEDs; includes mouse
Cons: No mechanical switches or extras; uninspiring plastic design
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
A fast, robust tenkeyless mechanical option for competitive play
Switches: Razer Opto-Mechanical Linear | Travel distance: 3.5mm Actuation force: 45g | Actuation distance: 1mm | Key rollover: 10-key | Endurance rating: 100m clicks | RGB LEDs: yes | Macro keys: no | Media keys: no | Connectivity: USB | Wrist-rest: no Dimensions: 362 x 141 x 37mm | Weight: 0.74kg
Razer’s Huntsman Tournament Edition (£140) takes what made the original Huntsman great – and reconfigures it for esports and portability.
This device is tenkeyless, which means it ditches the numberpad. That saves a huge amount of space, obviously – this version of the Huntsman is just 362mm wide and it only weighs 741g, so you’re barely going to notice it in your bag. The USB cable is removeable, which is handy for transport.
The buttons use an updated version of the opto-mechanical switches that Razer deployed in the full-size Huntsman. They still use lasers, so they’re still faster than anything else on the market – and their actuation distance has been reduced from 1.5mm to 1mm. That means the buttons don’t need to be pushed down as far in order to trigger that laser and register a press. For darting around a keyboard and maximum speed, that’s important.
The buttons on this unit are lightning-fast, and they have a consistent, reliable action and a textured top surface for improved grip. For competitive play, they’re superb.
As usual, this product has per-key RGB backlighting that is configured using the smart Razer Synapse app. The laser switches mean fewer moving parts, which means an excellent quoted lifespan of 100m keystrokes – just like the full-size Huntsman.
The trade-off here is that you lose versatility thanks to no numberpad and no media controls. But if you need a fast, compact unit for competition – there are none better.
Pros: Light and compact; incredible switch speed; RGB LEDs
Cons: No numberpad; few extra features
A feature-packed, high-quality wireless option for gaming and media
Switches: GL Mechanical | Travel distance: 2.7mm | Actuation force: 50g | Actuation distance: 1.5mm | Key rollover: 19-key Endurance rating: 50m clicks | RGB LEDs: yes | Macro keys: yes Media keys: yes | Connectivity: Wireless, Bluetooth, USB
Wrist-rest: no | Dimensions: 475 x 150 x 22mm | Weight: 1kg
The Logitech G915 (£210) abandons convention by connecting wirelessly, either with your home wireless network or with Bluetooth.
Happily, it works extremely well, with no dropped connections and no latency issues. It’s just as good for mainstream gaming as a wired unit, and the lack of cables means you’ll have less clutter on your desk.
The G915 also moves away from traditional designs by using low-profile keys. The buttons deployed here are shorter than most mechanical units, which makes the whole keyboard slim. Logitech uses its GL mechanical switches, with three designs available: there’s a weighty, solid Linear option, a quiet, lighter Tactile switch and a noisy, conventional Clicky design.
They’re all excellent – fast, robust and satisfying. When it comes down to buying, it comes down to personal preference, and you’ll only want to head back to conventional hardware if you want more physical travel.
Elsewhere, the G915 has loads of media buttons and five dedicated macro keys. There are per-key RGB LEDs, and they can be adjusted using the Logitech G Hub app, which is smart and intuitive. Not every key can be customised, but that’s a minor concern.
When it comes to battery life, Logitech claims 12 days of standard longevity and far more if you turn the lights off – and charging a static device like a keyboard is no hardship.
The keyboard itself is made from robust plastic with a smart brushed aluminium face plate, and it’s only 22mm tall thanks to those thin keycaps – but its 475mm width means it’ll take up loads of room on your desk. Also note that no wrist-rest is included.
The G915 does cost a whopping £210, which makes it the priciest keyboard here. It’s a great unit, though, with flawless wireless performance, loads of features and low-profile mechanical keys that are comfortable and effective. If you want gaming without the wires, it’s fantastic.
Also consider: The Corsair K63 (£115) has great wireless connectivity and a no-nonsense specification, including CherryMX Red switches and blue backlighting. It’s a tenkeyless option, which means no numberpad but a very portable design – ideal for competition.
Pros: Fantastic wireless performance; great low-profile mechanical keys; packed with features
Cons: Expensive; very wide; no wrist-rest