The 9 Best Gaming Keyboards of 2021

Buy 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.

The best gaming keyboards elevate your PC gaming setup in ways few other peripherals can. Often the bridge between your hands and the digital world, your keyboard should be as precise and responsive as possible to keep up with any demanding, fast-action gameplay.

It should also be ergonomic enough to keep you comfortable for long play sessions, typically built with mechanical switches that feel more tactile and “clicky” beneath your fingers. These are all factors our testers considered when putting keyboards through their paces.

Beyond their practical advantages, gaming keyboards also tend to sport distinct visual touches to match the flashy aesthetic of many gaming rigs. This often comes in the form of RGB backlighting that can be customized and programmed to coordinate with other RGB accessories.

Read on for some of the best gaming keyboards for dedicated gamers to consider getting their hands on.

The Rundown
Our reviewer found the K100, with its included wrist rest, to be one of the most comfortable keyboards he has ever tested.
Its sturdy, brushed-aluminum frame is anodized for extra protection, and the PBT keycaps are more durable than cheaper ABS counterparts.
The Corsair K63 wireless gaming keyboard offers players an ultra-low latency experience through a 1ms 2.4GHz wireless connection.
One convenient feature that stands out is an adjustable backlight that activates when it senses your hands nearby.
The frame is lightweight and sleek while still giving off a premium look and feel.
The first thing buyers will notice is the striking white and silver color scheme, which is the primary change from previous models.
Razer’s own clicky Green switches feel comfortable to type on and plenty fast and responsive for gaming.
Best Splurge:
Logitech G915 at Amazon
The G915 sets itself apart with a sleek, thin 22-millimeter design made possible by its unique, low-profile GL key switches.
You get a chassis made entirely of aluminum that feels quite sturdy for its compact size and affordable price.

Best Overall: Corsair K100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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

As the latest in Corsair’s line of premium gaming keyboards, the K100 aims to justify its hefty price tag by delivering a lot of luxury in both style and performance. Its core full-size design stays similar to the previous K95 model that our reviewers also loved, plus a number of technical and aesthetic improvements. One of these is a new programmable control wheel at the top left.

Along with six dedicated macro keys—all customizable through Corsair’s robust iCue software—the K100 offers convenience and efficiency for gaming as well as media editing and other productivity-oriented use.

Another new feature is the option for Corsair’s OPX optical-mechanical switches, with the company highlighting an extra-responsive 1-millimeter actuation point with zero debounce and guaranteeing durability for 150 million keystrokes. But even the standard Cherry MX Speed switches in our review model (with a 1.2-millimeter actuation distance and rated for 100 million keystrokes) felt lightning fast and precise.

Besides noticing an increase in his typing speed, our reviewer Andy Zahn also found the K100, with its included wrist rest, to be one of the most comfortable keyboards he has ever tested. After using it for six straight hours, he felt none of the pains or cramps that he had experienced with other products.

For those looking for visual flair, the K100 can deliver a striking lightshow with its per-key RGB backlighting and 44-zone, three-sided edge lights. With the effects off or tuned down, though, the K100’s relatively restrained style can fit into professional settings that call for a full-featured keyboard experience.

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

Corsair K100

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best Durability: 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
  • Relatively expensive

  • Requires two USB ports

While it doesn’t sport the customizable dial and other upgrades found in the newer K100 model, our testing found Corsair’s K95 Platinum XT to still 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 made of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) plastic are more durable than cheaper acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) counterparts.  

In terms of typing experience, the Cherry MX Speed switches on the K95 we reviewed (Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Brown switches are also available) felt nicely tactile and smooth. Their responsive 1.2-millimeter actuation gave our tester Andrew Hayward a significant boost in his WPM, and the 100 million keystrokes the switches are rated for are more than enough for a lifetime of gaming.

Rounding out the package for gamers are six programmable macro buttons on the left and an attachable cushioned wrist rest that adds noticeable comfort and support for long sessions. RGB lighting on each key plus a 19-zone strip across the top also add dazzle through advanced effects and animations. Even though there are less expensive competitors on the market, the K95’s features and longevity make it a strong value for gamers and streamers, at a slight discount from the newer version.

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: 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 convenience of a wireless keyboard comes with the downside of potential lag, and competitive gamers often don’t want to risk any sort of delay in their inputs. The Corsair K63 wireless gaming keyboard offers players an ultra-low latency experience through a 1ms 2.4GHz wireless connection protected by 128-bit AES encryption (plus options for Bluetooth 4.2 or wired USB-A connections).

Our reviewer Andy did encounter some issues with re-connecting to 2.5GHz wireless, but otherwise found the K63 to be very fast and responsive, with the Cherry MX Red mechanical switches feeling satisfying and relatively quiet. He considered it decently comfortable for typing, though the height was slightly taller than he would’ve liked.

Adding to the K63’s convenience is its compact size—it forgoes a full number pad and comes in at 14.4 x 6.75 x 1.6 inches, helpful for those looking to save on desk space. At the same time, it weighs a substantial 2.4 pounds, built with sturdy materials that made it feel convincingly durable to our reviewer. It also improves its portability with an excellent 15 hours of battery life, and adds some gamer-friendly style with blue LEDs (though not individual RGB lighting).

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

"I experienced an issue where the 2.4GHz connection sometimes refused to reestablish itself after the keyboard woke from sleep mode." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Corsair K63 Wireless

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best for Mixed Use: Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminated Keyboard

What We Like
  • Slim profile

  • Wireless

  • Great for productivity

  • Quiet, satisfying typing

  • Hand proximity backlighting

What We Don't Like
  • Membrane keys

  • Relatively pricey

While the Logitech K800 looks and performs like a typical productivity-focused keyboard, it’s capable enough to handle gaming needs for users who call on it for double duty. The wireless connection stayed strong and free of noticeable input lag during our testing. Its membrane switches aren’t as responsive to type on as the high-end mechanical switches of most gaming keyboards, but they are much quieter, and they still feel decently fast and tactile.

On the design side, a built-in wrist rest makes the K800 comfortable to use, and its slim and lightweight construction means it’s easy to place and relocate. One convenient feature that stands out is an adjustable backlight that activates when it senses your hands nearby. Our reviewer Andy also appreciated the dedicated media keys, particularly the calculator shortcut button.

Unfortunately, the K800 is on the pricey side for what it offers. It has a base price similar to Corsair’s K63, a wireless keyboard with the advantages of durable mechanical switches and gaming-oriented style and features. But the K800 can be found discounted at the time of writing, and it can offer value for an office setting where quiet typing and productivity features like a number pad take priority.

Type: Membrane | Connectivity: Wireless receiver | RGB: White LED | Tenkeys: Yes | Palm Rest: Yes | Dedicated Media Controls: Yes 

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

Logitech K800

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best Budget: SteelSeries Apex 3

What We Like
  • Water-resistant

  • Interesting RGB backlighting

  • Good typing experience

  • Compatible with gaming consoles

  • Affordable and good value

What We Don't Like
  • Membrane key switches

  • Lacks full dedicated media controls

  • Cable isn't braided

For those who aren’t looking to shell out as much as a gaming keyboard often costs, the quality offered by the SteelSeries Apex 3 for around $50 presents a compelling value.

It doesn’t use the mechanical key switches that many gamers prefer, but our tester Andy found the Apex 3’s membrane switches comparable to mechanical ones, with a surprisingly deep actuation distance and a satisfying amount of spring to them. SteelSeries also 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 frame is lightweight 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 specifically for Minecraft and Discord alerts.

More practically, the keyboard is built for a degree of dust and water resistance—its IP32 rating signifies decent protection against dust and debris and the ability to survive your everyday variety of spills. This is especially helpful since the Apex 3 is compatible with Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and could see more use in living spaces where accidents are likely.

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

Steelseries Apex 3

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best Design: ROCCAT Vulcan 122 AIMO

What We Like
  • Stylish white design

  • Easy to keep clean

  • Integrated media controls

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Wrist rest adds little comfort

Within a market of keyboards all designed to stand out, the Vulcan 122 Aimo from Roccat stands out even more from the pack. The first thing most buyers will notice is the striking white and silver color scheme, which is the primary change from previous models (the Vulcan 120 and 121).

The distinct color makes the already slick full-size keyboard look even more clean and stylish, and the per-key LED lights housed in its transparent switches pop much 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 and is designed to adapt to your usage, though this sometimes just means a lot of changing colors.

The Vulcan 122’s design also incorporates a number of practical choices, including anodized brushed aluminum plating that adds durability in addition to style. The elevated keycaps make it easy to clean out dust from underneath them. An attachable wrist rest is included, but it’s made of flimsy plastic and isn’t particularly comfortable.

Typing on the keyboard is generally comfortable, though—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, rivaling the counterpart Cherry MX Brown switches that more users may be familiar with.

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

Best Razer: Razer BlackWidow X Chroma

What We Like
  • Unique, weighty construction

  • Excellent RGB lighting options

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

  • No dedicated macro keys

  • Not Cherry switches

The well-known Razer gaming brand encompasses accessories of all types, and its BlackWidow line of mechanical keyboards has offered players a wide range of options since 2010. The BlackWidow X Chroma is essentially a stripped-down version of the Chroma model, eliminating the plastic top cover in favor of a low-profile metal plate to give it a distinct design.

The taller, exposed keys can take some getting used to, and Razer uses its own switches instead of the Cherry MX ones found throughout the industry. Still, Razer’s clicky Green switches feel comfortable to type on and are plenty fast and responsive for gaming.

The Chroma RGB backlighting system featured across Razer products is on full display with the BlackWidow X, shining through from beneath the keys without a faceplate obstructing them. The lighting can be fully customized on a per-key basis, with a 16.8-million-color spectrum to choose from and a selection of dynamic pre-made effects (in addition to the ways many games can light the keyboard to match character colors or indicate ability cooldowns).

There are no dedicated buttons for macros or media controls, but the function keys provide most of the important shortcuts.

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: Logitech G915 Lightspeed Gaming Keyboard

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

  • Clicky, responsive keys

  • Vibrant RGB key lighting

  • Bluetooth enables more devices

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • No wrist rest

Many gaming keyboards are already big devices with big price tags, but the Logitech G915 Lightspeed adds on even more premium touches. A significant one is its wireless functionality, featuring Logitech’s “Lightspeed” technology for a gamer-approved low-latency 1ms connection.

Our tester Andrew, who spent over a week with the G915 as his primary keyboard for both gaming and everyday writing, also found the Bluetooth option a valuable feature for linking to multiple mobile devices and quickly switching between them. The battery lasted about 30 hours with per-key RGB lighting at full brightness—plugging in the included USB cable once or twice a week to charge while in use should be sufficient.

The G915 also sets itself apart with a sleek, thin 22-millimeter design made possible by its unique, low-profile GL key switches. Tactile, linear, and clicky switches are available, and we tested a unit with the latter.

The 1.5-millimeter actuation distance and total travel distance of 2.7 millimeters is less than that of the typical mechanical keyboard, but more than you’ll get with a laptop. It hit a sweet spot for our reviewer, who found the keys fast and satisfying compared to the laptop keys he usually types on.

For less expensive options, Logitech’s G815 is a wired-only alternative that’s otherwise identical to the G915. There’s also Corsair’s K95 RGB Platinum XT, a full-sized wired keyboard with streamer-friendly features for those not interested in the G915’s shorter-travel keys.

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 60 Percent: 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 in some apps

  • Software available only on Microsoft Store

60 percent keyboards save space by leaving off the number pad, navigation keys, and function row, so gaming-oriented models have to do a lot with what’s left. With the HyperX Alloy Origins 60, you get a chassis made entirely of aluminum (rather than a combination of aluminum and plastic) that feels quite sturdy for its compact size and affordable price.

Our tester Matthew Smith missed the extra keys in certain applications that used them for shortcuts, but he appreciated being able to keep the mouse close to the keyboard and reducing strain from reaching back and forth for several hours. Most shortcuts are also still accessible through the remaining keys and a function toggle; they’re just more complex to activate.

Matthew 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. At the same time, they’re tactile enough to hold up for extended typing outside of games as well. This makes the Alloy Origins 60 a versatile, efficient device, considering its ergonomic design mixed with gaming performance and RGB flair.

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 Corsair K100 (view at Amazon), with its convenient controls, flashy lighting effects, and the option for new optical-mechanical switches, is a high-end, do-it-all keyboard for those willing to pay a premium.

The Corsair K63 Wireless (view at Amazon) is a convenient wireless alternative that sacrifices little performance, durability, or style, and the SteelSeries Apex 3 (view at Amazon) is a more affordable option with membrane switches that feel surprisingly close to expensive mechanical ones.

About Our Trusted Experts

Anton Galang is a writer and reviewer who has covered a wide range of hardware, accessories, gadgets, and games for Lifewire, including gaming keyboards. He began working in tech journalism in 2007 as part of PC Magazine.

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.

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

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 you 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 you 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.  

Corsair K100

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

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.

Logitech K800

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

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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