The 8 Best Gaming Keyboards of 2021

Our experts tested the top budget, splurge-worthy, and portable gaming keyboards

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

You can play games on any keyboard, but a gaming keyboard can seriously level up your experience. Gaming keyboards have key switches specifically tuned for fast response times and quick, repetitive movements. They also pack colorful backlights that look great in a dark room and help light your gaming den. 

Unless you're a hardcore gamer, our experts think you should just buy the HyperX Alloy Origins.

Today’s best gaming keyboards delve deep into customization with software that lets you reprogram each key. A few companies produce analog keyboards that can replicate the response of a gamepad’s analog triggers.

There’s hundreds of gaming keyboards to choose from and even the less-impressive models offer good quality and typing feel. Most gamers only need one keyboard, however—and these are the best gaming keyboards of 2021.

The Rundown
This simple, straightforward gaming keyboard nails the fundamentals at a reasonable price.
Our testing found Corsair’s K95 Platinum XT to be a high-end keyboard with performance and build quality to justify its cost.
Best Wireless:
Logitech G915 at Amazon
The clicky keys we tested provided excellent key feel despite lower key travel than other switch designs.
Best for Mixed Use:
Razer Pro Type at Amazon
No competitor can match the flexibility of Razer’s software, which helps you customize your gaming experience.
The SteelSeries Apex 3, available for $50 or less, is a solid gaming keyboard that covers all the basics at a low price.
The Roccat Vulcan 122 Aimo is a beautiful piece of kit available in a striking white and silver color scheme.
The keys function similarly to a trigger on a console gamepad, and you can use the Huntsman V2 Analog like a gamepad in some titles.
The HyperX Alloy Origins 60 offers a full aluminum chassis that feels sturdy for its compact size and affordable price.

Best Overall: HyperX Alloy Origins Full-Size Wired Keyboard

HyperX Alloy Origins Full-Size Wired Keyboard
What We Like
  • Outstanding build quality

  • Attractive yet simple design

  • Bright LED backlight

  • Great key feel

What We Don't Like
  • Software available only on Windows Store

  • Basic feature set

  • No wrist rest

The HyperX Alloy Origins is an easy recommendation. This simple, straightforward gaming keyboard nails the fundamentals at a reasonable price. 

Build quality is excellent. This keyboard is built from two aluminum plates with keyboard internals sandwiched between and keycaps on top. Aluminum is a common material for gaming keyboards, but the Alloy Origins is unusual because both the top and bottom plate are metal. Many competitors cut costs by throwing an aluminum top over a plastic bottom. 

HyperX offers three proprietary key switch designs: Blue, Aqua, and Red. The Blue design offers the most tactile feedback for great typing feel, while the Red is tuned for a fast, linear response that’s ideal in fast-paced games. The Aqua switches fall between these extremes, and it’s the one we recommend to most people. It’s a solid pick for everyday use but also feels great in gameplay. 

The Alloy Origins is a basic keyboard. It has customizable RGB backlighting but lacks macro-specific keys, media knobs, a wrist rest, and other features common to other gaming keyboards. This helps HyperX keep the price low and deliver outstanding value.

Type: Mechanical | Connectivity: Wired | RGB: Per-Key RGB | Tenkeys: Yes | Palm Rest: No | Dedicated Media Controls: Yes

Best Durability: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
What We Like
  • Smooth, speedy keys

  • Durable aluminum frame

  • Excellent RGB backlighting

  • Luxurious wrist rest

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Requires two USB ports

Our testing found Corsair’s K95 Platinum XT to be a high-end keyboard with performance and build quality to justify its premium cost.

Its sturdy, brushed-aluminum frame is anodized for extra protection, and the keycaps are made of a durable plastic material.

The Cherry MX Speed key switches on the K95 we reviewed (Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Brown switches are also available) felt tactile and smooth. They gave our tester, Andrew Hayward, a significant boost to his words per minute.

Rounding out the package are six programmable macro buttons on the left and an attachable cushioned wrist rest that could help provide comfort and support for long sessions. RGB lighting on each key plus a 19-zone strip across the top add flair through advanced effects and animations. 

While there are less-expensive competitors on the market, the K95’s features and build quality make it a good pick for gamers and streamers who like to settle in for a marathon session.

Type: Mechanical | Connectivity: Wired | RGB: Per-Key RGB | Tenkeys: Yes | Palm Rest: Yes | Dedicated Media Controls: Yes

Typing feels fluid and smooth, with reliably quick actuation as your fingers fly across the keys.” — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Wireless: Logitech G915 Lightspeed Gaming Keyboard

Logitech G915 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
What We Like
  • Ultra-slim design

  • Clicky, responsive keys

  • Vibrant RGB key lighting

  • Bluetooth and Lightspeed wireless connectivity

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • No wrist rest

The Logitech G915 Lightspeed represents the best of wireless gaming. It can connect using Logitech’s proprietary Lightspeed dongle for a reliable, low-latency connection. The keyboard also supports Bluetooth for added convenience. 

It goes for a sleek, minimal look that’s just 22 millimeters thick. The top is made of aluminum, while the bottom is molded plastic, and the keyboard’s low-profile keys are less prominent than those on other gaming keyboards. Logitech is betting gamers going wireless are more likely to want a design that blends in on a desk.

Still, the Logitech G915 Lightspeed performs where it counts. The clicky keys we tested provided excellent key feel despite lower key travel than other switch designs. They also felt well-tuned for fast, repetitive use, which is good news when you’re slamming the revive key in the middle of a Warzone match. 

This is a wireless keyboard, so it has a built-in rechargeable battery. Logitech says it’s good for at least 30 hours of use with the RGB backlight on, which proved true in our testing. On the downside, the keyboard lacks a wrist rest. That seems like an oversight given its price.

Type: Mechanical | Connectivity: Wireless receiver / Bluetooth | RGB: Per-Key RGB | Tenkeys: Yes | Palm Rest: No | Dedicated Media Controls: Yes

This high-end option is super-slim and features low-profile keys that hit a sweet spot between traditional keyboards and laptop keys.” — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Logitech G915 Lightspeed Gaming Keyboard

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best for Mixed Use: Razer Pro Type

Razer Pro Type
What We Like
  • Attractive, professional design

  • Great typing feel

  • Wireless and Bluetooth connection options

  • Extensive key customization

What We Don't Like
  • Simple backlight

  • Mediocre battery life with backlight on

Razer’s Pro Type is designed for gamers who want a great wireless mechanical keyboard for a variety of uses. It pairs a sleek, professional design with Razer’s mechanical orange switch. The orange switch is tuned for hefty tactile feedback but remains responsive enough for all but the most competitive players. 

The Pro Type is wireless and can connect over a proprietary dongle or through Bluetooth. We had no problems with its latency or reliability in our testing. Razer’s Pro Type does fall a bit short in battery life, claiming only 12 hours with the backlight on. That’s behind the Logitech G915 Lightspeed. Speaking of the backlight, it’s available only in white: no customizable RGB here.

You can customize everything else, however, thanks to Razer’s Synapse software. It provides a ton of options including extensive macro features that let you bind multiple actions or keystrokes to a single key. No competitor can match the flexibility of Razer’s software.

Type: Mechanical | Connectivity: Wireless | RGB: None | Tenkeys: Yes | Palm Rest: No | Dedicated Media Controls: No

Best Budget: SteelSeries Apex 3

SteelSeries Apex 3
What We Like
  • Water-resistant

  • Attractive RGB backlighting

  • Good typing experience

  • Compatible with gaming consoles

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Membrane key switches

  • Lacks full dedicated media controls

  • Cable isn't braided

The SteelSeries Apex 3, available for $50 or less, is a solid gaming keyboard that covers all the basics at a low price. 

It doesn’t offer the mechanical key switches many gamers prefer, but product tester Andy Zahn found the Apex 3’s membrane switches perform well next to mechanical alternatives. They felt responsive and offered satisfying feedback. SteelSeries rates the keys for a reasonably durable 20 million keypresses, and they have the advantage of being much quieter than most mechanical switches.

As with its performance, the Apex 3’s design is impressive for the price point. The chassis is light and sleek while still giving off a premium look and feel. The ten-zone RGB lighting is less intense than on other models, and it features reactive effects for Minecraft and Discord alerts, among other things.

The keyboard’s IP32 rating promises some protection against dust and debris and the ability to survive a minor accident. This is helpful since the Apex 3 advertises compatibility with Xbox and PlayStation consoles and could see more use in living spaces where accidents are likely.

Type: Membrane | Connectivity: Wired | RGB: Ten zones | Tenkeys: Yes | Palm Rest: Yes | Dedicated Media Controls: No

"It’s not quite up there with the Corsair K100 in terms of comfort, but it’s shockingly close, given the tremendous price difference." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Steelseries Apex 3

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best Design: ROCCAT Vulcan 122 AIMO

ROCCAT Vulcan 122 AIMO
What We Like
  • Stylish white design

  • Easy to keep clean

  • Integrated media controls

What We Don't Like
  • Wrist rest isn't the most comfortable

The Roccat Vulcan 122 Aimo is a beautiful piece of kit available in a striking white and silver color scheme. Though far from the only white-and-silver keyboard available, it goes the extra mile with a sleek, futuristic design that looks straight out of a retro sci-fi movie. 

The keyboard’s per-key LED lights housed in transparent switches pop even more than on a black frame. The RGB effects themselves are powered by Roccat’s Aimo intelligent lighting system, which allows for 16.8 million colors. 

Although we recommend this keyboard for its style, the Vulcan 122 is a practical choice perfect for gaming and everyday use. The elevated keycaps make it easy to clean out dust from underneath them and keep the keyboard looking great. An attachable wrist rest is included and can help keep your wrists at a more comfortable angle, but it’s also a weakness: the wrist rest is too hard and feels cheap.

Despite this, typing on the keyboard is comfortable. Roccat elected to use its own mechanical switches with a 1.8-millimeter actuation point and 3.6 millimeters of total travel. They’re tactile, fast, and quiet.

Type: Mechanical | Connectivity: Wired | RGB: Per-Key RGB | Tenkeys: Yes | Palm Rest: Yes | Dedicated Media Controls: Yes

Best Splurge: Razer Huntsman V2 Analog Gaming Keyboard

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog Gaming Keyboard
What We Like
  • Unparalleled build quality

  • Optical-analog switches

  • Gobs of customization

  • Comfortable wrist rest

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Customization can be overwhelming

  • Key feel takes getting used to

The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog pushes the limits of what a gaming keyboard can do. 

Its optical-analog keys function like any other in normal use but can precisely register the position of the key along its length of travel. This is similar to the trigger on a console gamepad, and you can use the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog like a gamepad in some titles.

A light press on a key can send your character on a walk, while a heavy press can break them into a sprint. The optical-analog keys can feel odd at first, but we found them enjoyable in long sessions.

Razer’s Synapse software, which delivers excellent customization on other Razer keyboards, uses the optical-analog feature to assign different actions to light or heavy key presses and bind  multiple actions to a single key. The keyboard’s customization is so extensive that it can confuse new owners. 

This is an expensive keyboard, but it feels the part. The design looks plain yet boasts outstanding attention to detail and thick, sturdy plastics reminiscent of old-school IBM keyboards. The massive wrist rest is basically a pillow for your hands. All this makes the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog a great keyboard for day-to-day use as well as serious gaming.

Type: Analog Optical Mechanical | Connectivity: Wired | RGB: Per-Key RGB | Tenkeys: Yes | Palm Rest: Yes | Dedicated Media Controls: Yes

Best 60 Percent: HyperX Alloy Origins 60 Keyboard

HyperX Alloy Origins 60 Keyboard
What We Like
  • Comfortable size

  • Sleek, elegant design

  • Solid all-aluminum chassis

  • HyperX Red switches are versatile

  • Attractive price

What We Don't Like
  • Good, but not great, for gaming

  • Numpad and navigation keys are missed

  • Software available only on Microsoft Store

The HyperX Alloy Origins 60, essentially a miniature version of our top pick, offers a full aluminum chassis that feels sturdy for its compact size and affordable price. Its feel and build quality are similar to its big brother, but the Alloy Origins 60 is more affordable and takes up less space on your desk.

This keyboard reduces its size by ditching everything to the right of the Enter key, including the numpad. We missed those keys in certain applications that used them for shortcuts, but appreciated being able to keep the mouse close to the keyboard. It could reduce strain for some, from reaching back and forth for several hours. Most shortcuts are still accessible through the remaining keys and a function toggle; they’re just more complex to activate.

We also found HyperX’s custom Red switches enjoyable both for gaming and non-gaming purposes. The linear switches are fast and responsive with a modest 45g actuation force, and they feel light and smooth through all 3.8 millimeters of travel. This makes the Alloy Origins 60 a versatile, efficient gaming keyboard.

Type: Mechanical | Connectivity: Wired | RGB: Per-Key RGB | Tenkeys: No | Palm Rest: No | Dedicated Media Controls: No

"I’m in love, though yes, I do miss the navigation keys, especially when using keyboard shortcuts in video and photo editing software." Matthew Smith, Product Tester

HyperX Alloy Origins 60

Lifewire / Matthew S. Smith

Final Verdict

The HyperX Origin Alloy (view at Amazon) is a fantastic gaming keyboard that provides unbeatable value. Its build quality and typing feel rival alternatives that sell for twice the price. Those looking for a more durable, feature-rich option might prefer the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT (view at Amazon).

About Our Trusted Experts

Matthew S. Smith has covered consumer and gaming technology since 2007. Formerly the Lead Editor of Reviews at Digital Trends, he has handled, tested, and reviewed hundreds of desktops, laptops, monitors, keyboards, mice, and other PC peripherals.

Andy Zahn has been reviewing PCs, laptops, gaming consoles, and accessories for Lifewire since 2019. Besides obsessing over gadgets and tech, he is an avid traveler, outdoorsman, and photographer. Andy tested several of the gaming keyboards on our list.

Andrew Hayward is a Lifewire writer who began covering technology and video games in 2006. Since then, he has contributed to dozens of publications, including TechRadar, Polygon, and Macworld. He reviewed several of the gaming keyboards on this list.

Alice Newcome-Beill currently has over five mechanical keyboards at home, fully aware that she is capable of using only one at any given time. She has reviewed keyboards for PCMag and PC Gamer. Her favorite switch color is silver.

What to Look For in the Best Gaming Keyboards

Switches

The specific type of switch used by a keyboard determines its key feel. Mechanical switches, in particular, are known to offer a variety of options for different use cases and tastes. 

There’s dozens of key switches available, but most fall into three categories: clicky, tactile, and linear. Clicky switches require the most force and create the most noise, providing an old-school experience. Tactile switches feel chunky and hefty when pressed, but less so than Clicky switches, and create less noise. Linear switches have a smooth, light feel and make little noise.

Software

Nearly all gaming keyboards let you customize the backlight color and the function of specific keys. This is controlled through a software utility that you must download to your computer. It’s wise to take a look at this utility before making a purchase. Some companies don’t support Mac, while others deliver their software only through the Windows Store.

Logitech K800

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Build Quality

Most keyboards have a molded plastic chassis with a thin aluminum glued to the top. This is fine in most cases, but gamers who want a tough-as-nails keyboard should look for options with a full metal body or a hefty, thick plastic case. The HyperX Alloy Origin earns our top recommendation partially because of its full aluminum body, which feels more rigid and durable than most alternatives.

FAQ
  • What's the difference between a membrane and a mechanical switch?

    A mechanical switch uses a physical, mechanical mechanism (such as a spring) to provide resistance. The tuning of the mechanism provides key feel and tactile feedback. 

    A membrane switch uses a rubber dome for resistance. The dome collapses when a key is pressed. This still provides some tactile feel but may seem vague compared to a mechanical switch.

    Gamers often prefer mechanical switches. They come in a variety of options tuned in different ways to provide a specific feel. Mechanical keyboards built for gaming skew toward fast, snappy feedback that’s not possible with membrane design.

  • What size keyboard should you get?

    The three most common layouts are full-size, tenkeyless, and 60-percent. Full-sized keyboards include a tenkey numpad which, of course, makes them the widest option. Tenkeyless keyboards ditch the numpad for a more compact look. Sixty-percent keyboards drop everything to the right of the Enter key to achieve a very small footprint. There’s no right or wrong answer. Your choice will come down to personal preference.

  • What's RGB and why should you care?

    RGB (red, green, blue) lighting is synonymous with gaming hardware and peripherals. RGB lighting includes red, green, and blue LED lights underneath each key. Turning them on or off in specific combinations lets a keyboard achieve millions of color variations. There’s no functional benefit to RGB over a backlight that supports a single color, but RGB is often preferred for its customization and attractive look.

Was this page helpful?