The 9 Best Gaming Keyboards of 2021

Buy the top budget, splurge-worthy, portable and design 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.

The Rundown
"Corsair is testing the upper limits of what full-sized keyboards can do for the gaming community."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Corsair K95 Platinum XT at Amazon
"The Corsair K95 Platinum XT is an excellent balance between durability, style, and performance."
"The Corsair K63 is the best wireless gaming keyboard on the market."
"One of the best wireless connections you can get for a gaming keyboard."
"If you're looking for a new gaming keyboard but are working with a limited budget, check out the SteelSeries Apex 3."
"The Roccat Vulcan 121 features a futuristic design that would be at home on the Starship Enterprise."
Runner-Up, Best Design:
Razer BlackWidow X Chroma at Amazon
"Turns keyboard backlighting into an art form and is definitely the coolest looking gaming keyboard on the market."
"This ultra-compact keyboard is just 60 percent the size of a full keyboard."
"This keyboard is built from aircraft grade aluminum alloys for strength and durability while remaining lightweight."

Hardcore and casual gamers alike know that the best gaming keyboards give them options to re-map keys, plenty of RGB lighting options, and reliable button presses when it counts. Mechanical keyboards have become more popular and mainstream in recent years, providing even more reliability and durability than their membrane switch counterparts. The main difference between a mechanical and membrane keyboard is that a keyboard like the Cooler Master SK621 uses physical switches to register keystrokes, whereas a membrane model uses electrical contact points. Mechanical switches prevent accidental key presses, ghosting, and are built to last longer than membrane switches. 

Everyone knows that RGB makes you a better gamer. and thankfully keyboards like the Corsair K100 feature customizable RGB backlighting among other neat features like dedicated macro keys and media playback controls. We've gathered our top picks for gaming keyboards from trusted brands like Corsair, Cooler Master, and SteelSeries to help you decide which is right for you.

Make sure to check out our definitive FAQ if you're curious to learn more about the best gaming keyboards and how they can work for you.

Best Overall: Corsair K100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

What We Like
  • The most fully featured keyboard available

  • Optical switches are a treat to type or game on

  • PBT keycaps are comfortable and durable

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Not available in smaller form factors

With the K100, Corsair took what made the K95 so awesome and made it better. While this keyboard does bear a striking resemblance to its predecessor, there are a handful of key aesthetic and technical differences that help set it apart. The K100 still features the same full-size design, with dedicated macro and media keys, but also includes a dial in the upper left of the keyboard. This dial can be mapped to any function just like the rest of the keyboard, but also allows for on the fly macro recording.

While this keyboard still comes with the option for Cherry MX speed switches, the real highlight here is the debut of Corsair's OPX optical-mechanical switches. This tech uses an optical sensor for snappy reaction times and features a level of responsiveness that conventional mechanical switches can only aspire to.

Corsair has retained the same double-shot PBT keycaps as the K95 XT, making them resistant to wear and smudges, but has changed their keycap font to a smarter, slimmer style. The K100 also comes with a wrist rest but has improved on previous designs, with a thicker, more supple leatherette design and a magnetic locking mechanism.

Corsair is testing the upper limits of what full-sized keyboards can do for the gaming community but is unfortunately also testing how much we're willing to pay for a keyboard.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

Corsair K95
What We Like
  • Durable aluminum frame

  • On-board memory storage

  • Programmable macro keys

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • iCUE software isn't always reliable

The Corsair K95 Platinum XT is an excellent balance between durability, style, and performance. The body is made of aircraft-grade, anodized and brushed aluminum to protect against damage from flexing and to give the keyboard a stylish, modern appearance. With either Cherry MX Brown or MX Speed switches, you'll get all of the advantages of a mechanical keyboard with less noise; perfect for use in shared gaming or workspaces. 

There are six programmable macro keys for custom inputs in your favorite games, and 8MB of onboard memory saves your layout profiles for quick swapping between games. The K95 uses Corsair's iCUE software to control the RGB lighting effects and colors for each key as well as the 19 zones of strip lighting around the outside of the keyboard. The keyboard comes packaged with an attachable wrist rest for support and comfort during marathon gaming sessions. The macro and WASD keys feature diamond plate textures for more tactile button presses and added style.

Best Wireless: Corsair K63 Wireless

What We Like
  • Bluetooth and wired connections

  • Fast response time

  • 128-bit AES encryption

What We Don't Like
  • Only one backlight color

The Corsair K63 is the best wireless gaming keyboard on the market. It uses a Bluetooth connection to give you ultra-low latency input responses, as low as 1ms, so you get near real-time on-screen reactions to your button presses. It also comes packaged with a USB cable so you can use the keyboard while it is charging. The built-in battery gives you up to 15 hours of use on a single charge, letting you play all day without interruption. The body is made of aircraft-grade brushed aluminum for durability, strength, and style. 

The ten-keyless design makes this keyboard compact, making it great for small desktops or for gaming on-the-go. The K63 is compatible with Xbox One for use in keyboard-enabled games, and an available lapboard makes gaming with a keyboard and mouse on your couch more comfortable. You won't have to worry about your information and keystrokes being vulnerable to unwanted monitoring; with 128-bit AES encryption, all of your keystrokes are protected.

Runner-Up, Best Wireless: Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminated Keyboard

What We Like
  • Impressive build quality

  • Low noise

  • No necessary software

What We Don't Like
  • Short wrist rest

  • Battery life could be better

When gaming, you want the best-secured connection you can get in order to have a quick response time without delay. If you don’t want to go wired, the Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminated Keyboard offers one of the best wireless connections you can get for a gaming keyboard.

The Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminated Keyboard is built with a powerful 2.4 GHz wireless connection using a unifying USB receiver. The keyboard includes a keystroke system that makes typing comfortable and quiet, and it requires no batteries, instead, relying on a quick charge through its micro-USB cable that gives up to 10 days of battery life. The Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminated Keyboard is compatible with Windows operating systems from Windows XP to Windows 10 and comes with a three-year limited hardware warranty. 

Best Budget: SteelSeries Apex 3

What We Like
  • Under $50

  • Water resistant

  • Cable management channels

What We Don't Like
  • No on-board lighting controls

  • No programmable macro keys

If you're looking for a new gaming keyboard but are working with a limited budget, check out the SteelSeries Apex 3. This keyboard sells for under $50 while still giving you the kind of quality you expect from more expensive models. The body is dust and water-resistant so you won't have to worry about accidental spills during work or gaming sessions. The keyboard switches are built to be ultra-quiet, making them perfect for shared spaces or those who don't like loud, clicky keyboards; they're also rated for 20 million keystrokes, ensuring durability. 

The underside of the keyboard has three different channels for routing the power cable, helping to keep your desk neat and organized. The wrist rest is magnetic for easy removal and attachment when you need it. The Apex 3 is optimized for reactive RGB lighting effects in Minecraft, alerting you to damage from enemies, hunger, and weapon durability as well as Discord notifications so you never miss a message. With the SteelSeries app, you can customize the 10 lighting zones with effects and millions of colors to suit your style.

Best Design: ROCCAT Vulcan 120 AIMO

ROCCAT - VULCAN 120 AIMO Wired Gaming Mechanical Keyboard
What We Like
  • Remappable keys

  • Integrated media controls

  • Easy to keep clean

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Wrist rest may be uncomfortable for some

For gamers who want a keyboard that will add a bit of style and flair to their computer setup, the Roccat Vulcan 121 features a futuristic design that would be at home on the Starship Enterprise. It's made with an anodized aluminum faceplate for stabilization as well as a sleek, matte-black finish. Each key has a clear plastic housing that enhances the per-key LED lighting, and the AIMO intelligent lighting system lets you customize the RGB lighting per key with over 16.8million colors and several lighting effects. 

The shortened keycaps make it easier to clean dust and debris from your keyboard without damaging any of the mechanisms. You can choose either brown or red Titan switches for clicky, tactile typing, and key presses and long-lasting durability. The keyboard features integrated media controls, including a dial for easy volume and video effect settings adjustments on-the-fly. Every single key on the Vulcan 121 can be remapped for ultimate customization.

Runner-Up, Best Design: Razer BlackWidow X Chroma

Razer BlackWidow X Chroma
What We Like
  • Weighty construction

  • Excellent RGB lighting options

What We Don't Like
  • No USB pass-through

  • Not genuine cherry switches

Most gaming keyboards have some sort of back lighting these days, but not all backlighting is created equal. If you want the brightest and most colorful keys that are integrated into the actual games you’re playing, and just plain coolest looking gaming keyboard overall, the Razer Black Widow X Chroma wins hands down. It functions like a champ, thanks to reliable and precise mechanical keys, but the real attraction here is the Chroma backlighting with 16.8-million total customizable color options. The backlighting can be customized however you like, but many games will also have built in presets to light up the keyboard in specific ways just for that game like matching character colors or changing color to show ability cooldowns in MMO games. The Razer BlackWidow X Chroma turns keyboard backlighting into an art form and is definitely the coolest looking gaming keyboard on the market.

"This is one of my personal favorite keyboards explicitly because it features raised keycaps. This does little to affect the overall feel of the keyboard but makes it incredibly easy to clean. Having the keycaps raised away from the body leaves little space for dust and other detritus to collect." Alice Newcome-Beill, Associate commerce editor

Best 60 Percent: Cooler Master SK621

What We Like
  • Portable

  • Wired or wireless connection

What We Don't Like
  • May feel cramped for those with larger hands

If you game on-the-go, the Cooler Master SK621 is the best option. This ultra-compact keyboard is just 60 percent the size of a full keyboard, making it small enough to slip into a laptop bag or backpack and take to a friend's house or party. It uses either a USB-C wired connection or Bluetooth for wireless connectivity, letting you use the keyboard while it charges. It comes with two sets of keycaps: one contoured and one extra flat, letting you choose what's most comfortable for you and best fits your style. 

It uses Cherry MX low profile switches for speed and precision while still giving you the satisfying, tactile feel you've come to expect from mechanical keyboards. You can use the Cooler Master app to customize your RGB lighting effects and colors as well as fine-tune your macro settings. The keyboard itself has a dedicated key to switch between macro layouts on-the-fly so you can quickly switch from an MMO to an FPS without wasting time scrolling through app menus. The brushed aluminum faceplate gives the keyboard a sleek, modern look that will look at home in almost any gaming PC setup.

Best Splurge: SteelSeries Apex Pro

What We Like
  • OLED display

  • Durable

  • Adjustable switches

What We Don't Like
  • Switch adjustments aren't super intuitive

If you're willing to invest a little more money in a quality keyboard that will last you for years to come, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is the best option. This keyboard is built from aircraft-grade aluminum alloys for strength and durability while remaining lightweight. It features an integrated OLED display for volume and media controls as well as peripheral connections, menu settings, and custom images. It uses OmniPoint adjustable switches, letting you customize actuation distances from as little as .4mm to 3.6mm. The switches are rated for 100million keystrokes, meaning that you'll always get reliable responses from your key presses. 

You can configure and store up to five different custom key layouts and switch between them with the SteelSeries app or on-the-fly when you want to go from Apex Legends to World of Warcraft. The Apex Pro also has a USB passthrough to easily connect other peripherals like a mouse or headset if your PC's USB ports are all occupied; it's also illuminated for easy connecting in dim lighting.

Final Verdict

The Corsair K100 the best gaming keyboard available. You can choose between Cherry MX Speed switches or Corsair's proprietary OPX optical switches for fast actuation or a more classical to suit your play style. With 6 programmable macro keys, your favorite weapons, powerups, and video settings are at your fingertips for quick changeups in-game or while you stream. The WASD keys have diamond-plate texturing for an industrial feel and no-look input. 

The Cooler Master SK621 is designed for gamers on-the-go. It's 60 percent the size of a regular keyboard and features ultra-low-profile keys for ultimate portability. With two sets of keycaps, contoured, or extra flat, you can customize the look and feel of your keyboard to suit your style and needs. It also features dedicated buttons to switch macro key layouts on-the-fly so changing your setup between games is quick and easy.

About our Trusted Experts

Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for Lifewire, Digital Trends, TechRadar and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.

Alice Newcome-Beill currently has over 5 mechanical keyboards at home, fully aware that she is only capable of using one at any given time. She has reviewed keyboards for PCMag and PC Gamer. Her favorite switch color is silver.


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

Mechanical switches are featured in the majority of gaming keyboards and besides generally being more durable, provide a more haptic typing experience. Mechanical switches also come in several varieties that allow you to fine-tune your gaming experience. 

What size keyboard should I get?

There are a wide variety of layouts to choose from when it comes to gaming keyboards. If you need something with a number pad, a full-size keyboard is your only option. But if you want to slim down a bit, a tenkeyless or TKL keyboard ditches the number pad while keeping the function row. The most compact option, 60-percent keyboards, parses things down to the bare essentials by getting rid of the function row as well as the arrow keys and the six-pack of navigation buttons.

Ultimately the one you should spring for is the one you're most comfortable with, but it's important to be aware of your options.

What's RGB and why should I care?
RGB (red, green, blue) lighting, is a term that's become synonymous with gaming hardware and peripherals. This feature is either essential or annoying depending on who you ask, but generally has no impact on performance. It does, however, allow you to personalize the aesthetics of your gaming setup with the help of 3rd party software which can be crucial if you're concerned about adhering to a specific theme with your setup.  

What to look for in the Best Gaming Keyboards

Switches - While plenty of gaming keyboards offer a variety of mechanical switches, each with their own distinct feel, plenty of gamers also enjoy the simple, discrete feel of membrane switches as well. Switches are generally a subjective decision rather than an objective one, the right switch for you is purely a matter of personal preference.

Layout - Some keyboards take a less-is-more approach by ditching the Numpad and sometimes the function keys. But others include nice quality-of-life features like dedicated media and macro keys. This decision typically is based on your budget but also what you're looking to get out of your gaming keyboard.

Software - Some keyboard manufacturers support proprietary customization software, giving you tons of options for changing RGB lighting or remapping keys. Some gaming keyboards omit this software but still allow for a small degree of customization.

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