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."
"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."
"Turns keyboard backlighting into an art form and is definitely the coolest looking gaming keyboard on the market."
"This keyboard is built from aircraft grade aluminum alloys for strength and durability while remaining lightweight."
"This compact keyboard is great for gamers and regular users alike. "

The best Gaming keyboards are a fantastic way to add that personal touch to your gaming setup. Besides being packed with enough RGB lighting to warrant a seizure warning (not really), gaming keyboards offer a plethora of awesome features that put them a cut above the competition. These peripherals are instruments that are meant to not just embody performance and precision but personality as well. Whether fine-tuning your macros, choosing a specific type of switch or putting together some truly offensive RGB lighting. The right gaming keyboard can say a lot about the player using it.

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.

Best Overall: Corsair K100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Corsair K100
What We Like
  • Excellent media controls

  • Macro keys and customizable wheel control

  • Great typing experience

  • Customizable RGB backlighting

  • Robust build quality

  • Super comfortable wrist rest

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Requires two USB ports

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, according to our reviewer, 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.

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

"The RGB backlighting is remarkably customizable, with a wide range of presets, from the simple and useful, to the completely outrageous." Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Best Durability: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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.

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

Best Wireless: Corsair K63 Wireless

Corsair K63 Wireless
What We Like
  • Wireless

  • Robust build quality

  • Small and portable

  • Excellent typing experience

  • Mechanical key switches

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Wireless connection issues

  • Tall height compromises comfort

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. Our reviewer praised the body which 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.

Type: Mechanical | Connectivity: Wireless receiver / Bluetooth | RGB: Blue LEDs | Tenkeys: No | Palm Rest: Yes | Dedicated Media Controls: No

"From the mechanical keys to the sturdy frame, this keyboard feels like it could really take a hit." Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Best for Mixed Use: Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminated Keyboard

Logitech K800
What We Like
  • Slim profile

  • Wireless

  • Great for productivity

  • Quiet

  • Good typing feel

  • Hand proximity backlighting

  • Calculator shortcut key

What We Don't Like
  • Membrane keys

  • Expensive

The Logitech K800 is a well-rounded and functional productivity-focused wireless keyboard. This is very definitely an office-focused device with a very businesslike aesthetic, though the strong wireless connectivity will do if you need to use it for a pinch for gaming, according to our reviewer.

 Though it’s rather highly-priced, the K800 features membrane key switches, which to their credit are quiet and provide a decent typing experience, but which don’t live up to the competition at this price point. It does, however, feature a clever proximity-activated backlight that is very bright and greatly improves the useability of the K800, as well as a useful dedicated calculator app shortcut. The K800 also has a robust wireless connection that does not result in any noticeable input lag.

 This is by no means a bad keyboard, and it’s perfect for office settings where productivity and quiet operation are key. However, it does suffer rather badly in terms of value for money.

Type: Membrane | Connectivity: Wireless receiver | RGB: White LED | Tenkeys: No | Palm Rest: Yes | Dedicated Media Controls: No 

"The thin and light nature of this keyboard makes it highly appealing for travel."Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Best Budget: SteelSeries Apex 3

Steelseries Apex 3
What We Like
  • Water-resistant

  • Interesting RGB backlighting

  • Good typing experience

  • Compatible with gaming consoles

  • Affordable and good value

  • Quiet

  • Great design

What We Don't Like
  • Membrane key switches

  • Lacks full dedicated media controls

  • Cable isn't braided

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 an affordable price 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 membrane, but our reviewer liked how they're 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.

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

"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

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.

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

Best Razer: 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.

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

"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 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.

Type: 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
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 in some apps

  • Software only available on Microsoft Store

The HyperX Alloy Origins 60 is the value leader among compact gaming keyboards. It has a rigid, attractive all-aluminum chassis that feels more expensive than alternatives sold at higher prices. 

You can only purchase this keyboard with the HyperX Red linear mechanical switch. It delivers smooth, responsive key feel with significant travel. Though built for gaming, the HyperX Red feels better than other gaming-focused switches in day-to-day tasks. 

This is a 60 percent keyboard, so it ditches both the Numpad and the navigation keys. They’re still accessible, but bound to standard alphanumeric keys and accessed through a function toggle. Shortcuts that use the missing keys are more confusing to use.

Still, many gamers are happy to make that sacrifice for a smaller keyboard that keys the mouse close at hand. Others prefer a 60% layout because it takes up less desk space or feels more ergonomic. Whatever your reasons, the Alloy Origins 60 is an affordable and versatile entry into the world of tiny keyboards.

"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

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.

Matthew Smith is an experienced consumer tech journalist who's been covering the industry since 2007. He specializes in PC hardware and accessories ranging from gaming laptops, VR headsets, to keyboards and mice.

Andy Zahn has been reviewing PCs, laptops, gaming consoles, and accessories for Lifewire since 2019.

FAQs

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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