What are the best gaming keyboards? A review guide.
A keyboard might seem like one of those appendages to the computer, that no one pays attention to. However, to a PC gamer, buying the perfect gaming keyboard is a crucial task, one which requires research too.
Although, this task may seem straightforward at first glance; the research preceding the purchase encompasses several technical terms and hardware types that will have a significant impact on your experience. In this post you will find brief reviews of 7 of the best gaming keyboards as well as tips and some terminology to choose a suitable one.
Best Gaming Keyboards 2017 – Most Popular
|Corsair K70 |
|Cherry MX |
|View Review||View Review||View Review||View Review||View Review|
|approx. $169||approx. $159||approx. $129||approx. $180||approx. $169|
6 Tips to Choose the Best Gaming Keyboard
6 focus points (in no particular order) when considering a keyboard for gaming adventures:
- Mechanical key-switch type (depends on primary purpose – gaming, typing or both)
- Exterior and overall design
- Backlight capabilities
- Extra/additional features such as macro keys, multimedia keys etc.
- Connectivity – Wired for low-latency, wireless for convenience (slower response time)
- Key rollover – Number of keys that can be successfully detected simultaneously.
Suitable for typing? Although gaming keyboards do not perform badly when used for those tasks, there is a noticeable tradeoff in gaming performance when accommodating typing and vice-versa. Thus, if both tasks are equally important to you, using a separate typing keyboard is recommended.
1. Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire
The K70 is a wired mechanical keyboard manufactured by Corsair, and is available in several sub-variants. However, I will be covering their best variant – The K70 RGB Rapidfire.
Switches – Cherry MX Speed is the switch employed here, and it is what sets the K70 Rapidfire apart from the competition. The keys have a low key-travel distance of only 1.2mm coupled with an actuation force (force needed to register a key press successfully) of just 45g.
Features – Crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, the K70 is both sturdy to use and impressive in appearance. Corsair provides full RGB support for the Rapidfire’s backlight, that means the color can be tweaked at the users’ whim. Additionally, patterns of colors are supported too. A soft-touch palm-rest is attached to the Corsair to support the wrist and provide an ergonomic experience, moreover, the rest can be detached at will.
Keys – Essential multimedia keys to control your media are present as well, additionally, any key can be configured as a macro using the bundled software; separate macro keys are not provided. It boasts an astounding 104-key rollover, which means it will successfully register key presses of up to 104 keys simultaneously.
Verdict: A comprehensive and top-rated gaming keyboard, customizable to the extent of backlight colors and detachable palm-rest. Gamers will love this keyboard due to the superior switches it offers. Although, typing on this K70 will not be an ordeal, it will not provide a sublime experience either.
2. Razer Blackwidow X Chroma
A barebones, wired version of the original Razer Blackwidow; it does away with the heavy, bulky chassis that formerly accompanied it. Minimalistic, is what defines the looks of this popular gaming keyboard when its backlight is not lit up. On the other hand, the full RGB backlight experience that can be customized using Razer Synapse (software bundled with the X Chroma, used to customize it) is not minimalistic on any level.
Switches – The key switches are designed by Razer (Razer Green) and provide a feel similar to the Cherry MX Blue switches. Fortunately, the noise issue that characterizes the MX Blue is not present in Razer’s switch design. A key-travel distance of 1.5mm coupled with a 50g force makes them slightly inferior to the Cherry MX Speed when it comes to gaming.
Keys – The function keys, double as multimedia keys, and the need to press the ‘Fn’ button to activate them is a hassle most users would want to avoid, especially those who listen to music while in-game. The 10 key-rollover on the X Chroma is nowhere close to the 104 key-rollover on the Corsair K70 Rapidfire, but it should be sufficient for most gamers to perform at an optimum level.
Verdict: A reasonable gaming accessory which provides a reliable and accurate typing experience. However, compared to the competition, it does seem a tad overpriced for the features it offers, and unless you are looking for both – a reliable keyboard for both gaming and office, the price is not justified.
3. Logitech G810 Gaming Keyboard
The G810 is Logitech’s attempt at a minimalist variant of its popular G910 model. Logitech began the revolution of ditching Cherry MX switches and developing their own, branded Romer-G switches.
Switches – It boasts of a key-travel of 1.5mm and an actuation force of 45g, making this switch only slightly slower to the new Cherry MX Speed switches. But, a significant advantage that Logitech promises is a switch life of 75 million keystrokes, compared to a life of 50 million keystrokes offered by its competition.
Features – Full RGB backlighting seems like the norm in the cutthroat gaming market, and sure enough, Logitech has packaged it into the G810 as well. Even though it follows the minimalist design pattern, the Logitech has a sporty, fresh look to it. Lack of a palm-rest might bother some people and if you are one of them, you should stay away from the G810.
Keys – It provides discrete multimedia keys above the number pad with basic functionality such as pause/play, stop, next and previous track. The 26 key-rollover advertised by Logitech will suffice for any gaming ordeal you may wish to put your keyboard through.
Verdict: Amazing switch life, coupled with multimedia keys and a high key-rollover make the G810 a great purchase, especially when considering the price. Typing does not result in as good an experience as Razer’s green switches offer, but gaming performance definitely gets a boost.
4. Cherry MX Board 6.0
You must be wondering: ‘Didn’t we hear this name in the switches section?’. You’re right, Cherry MX Board 6.0 is Cherry’s own wired gaming solution offering which uses their MX Red switches. Although, deceptively simple from the outside with a modest, uniform red backlight, the 6.0 houses some very advanced technology.
Keys and Switches – Whatever it lacks in outward glamour, it makes up for, with amazing under-the-hood features, like pure precision and pure speed technology and a clean, neat look with an aluminum body. It combines gold plated cross points for each key, drastically reducing latency between a key press and detection, and additionally, performs analog signal processing in real-time to further reduce latency, making it one of the fastest gaming keyboards in the world. This, coupled with, the MX Red switches, designed specifically for gaming with actuation of just 45g, make it a formidable gaming weapon.
Other features – The detachable palm-rest ensures you can customize your MXB 6.0 depending on whether you want to type or play games. Separate multimedia keys for basic functions are provided in addition to advanced controls on the function keys.
Verdict: Those looking for the best gaming performance in the market should definitely give the Cherry MX Board 6.0 a chance, though the high price tag might make some prefer the glamorous Corsair K70 Rapidfire over this one.
5. Cooler Master Nova Touch TKL
Billed as more of a keyboard for office duties than a traditional gaming keyboard, it seems like a gimmicky product offered by Cooler Master at first glance. However, hidden away under the keys are advanced Topre Switches that are one of the few switches to provide a tactile feedback while cutting out the noise it is accompanied by in other options. It is a cross between silicone membrane and mechanical technology.
Switches – The design of the TKL is compact, and features neither number pad nor separate multimedia keys. Topre switches make the NovaTouch an excellent keyboard while providing a sub-par gaming performance when it comes to actuation forces and key-travel distances.
Suitability – The absence of a backlight is a huge negative if you are considering the product for gaming purposes. Even though the keys are excellent for typing tasks, the unavailability of a palm-rest adversely impacts comfort.
Verdict: Considering the bloated price and mediocre gaming performance on offer, it is recommended to give the TKL a miss, unless you wish to use it primarily for office duties and are looking for a silent and compact gaming option.
Gaming Keyboards: Switches
In the previous paragraphs we have reviewed some of the best gaming keyboards available. Now, combined with the 6 focus points at the top, we briefly want to outline the functionality of key switches in order to choose a suitable one.
3 main switch types – There are silicone-dome switches, scissor switches and mechanical switches. Silicone-dome switches are used in budget solutions and provide neither a good gaming nor typing experience, while scissor switches are mostly found in laptops.
Mechanical switches are the most popular kind of switches (some popular switches are – Cherry MX Blue and Red) used in gaming keyboards, and understandably so, considering they do away with almost all the negatives of the other types of key switches.
Benefits – Mechanical switches are loaded with springs to detect key presses, hence, needing only a light but firm touch to register a keystroke. They offer low key-travel times, an ergonomic experience (for fingers, the wrist is a whole other ballgame) and low latency between key press and detection. However, they are costly to manufacture and thus, come attached with a costly price tag.
More Options? Alternatives to the Top 5 Gaming Keyboards
6. Corsair STRAFE Gaming Keyboard
Although the Corsair K70 RGB is an excellent piece of gaming equipment, the price point will hinder many gamers. Hence, Corsair launched a wired ‘budget’ gaming keyboard, if you will. However, the performance and functionality offered by the STRAFE are no joke, as it is closely related to its cousin, the K70 RGB.
Switches – The STRAFE is available in 3 different variants, each using different Cherry MX Switches (Blue, Red, Brown). Cherry MX Red is the recommended variant you should buy if you are looking for the best gaming experience within these variants, as they provide a healthy 1.5mm key-travel distance coupled with an actuation force of just 45g.
Features – A sublime outer body crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, is a pleasure to both – look at and use. Even though a red backlight is provided, it cannot be changed much other than turning it on or off. The absence of a palm-rest will hinder your office/work experience and also the ability to use it for a prolonged period of time.
Keys – Multimedia keys are grouped with the function keys which make them an inconvenience to use, especially while playing a game. The standard 104-key rollover, characteristic of Corsair gaming keyboards, is present on this one too.
Verdict: An amazing budget keyboard, arguably the best in the market at this price range. The Cherry MX Red makes this a powerful gaming option, although the typing experience will be less than optimal.
7. SteelSeries Apex M800
SteelSeries’ flagship offering for gamers, the M800 is an absolute marvel when it comes to appealing looks and elegance. Low profile design allows gamers to react quickly to any situation and be ahead of the competition. It features the self-designed QS1 switches (created by SteelSeries) in its keys that offer an actuation distance of 1.5mm and an actuation force of just 45g.
Features – 6 Macro keys line the left end of the M800, thereby, maintaining the structure of the keyboard. Users can choose from the full RGB spectrum to customize the backlight, even customization of individual keys. A detachable palm-rest is provided for free with the Apex that allows you to use it for longer durations. Moreover, the low profile structure and design of the keys make it easier on your fingers in avoiding a lot of strain that usually accompanies using keyboards for too long.
Function Keys – Function keys, double as multimedia controls on the Apex M800 too, making it a bad choice for gamers who like to listen to and control music while they are in-game. SteelSeries offers a rather pointless, but astounding, 256-key rollover.
Verdict: Although, the gaming experience offered by this keyboard is sublime, it still loses out to the Corsair K70 by a small margin since they both compete at the same price range. The only reason for preferring it is to take advantage of a better ergonomic design due to the low-profile keys.
Best Gaming Keyboards 2017 – Summary and Verdict
Every option listed had advantages and disadvantages, but in my opinion, the Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire provides both value and performance to buyers. Buying a gaming keyboard implies: investing in a product that assists your gaming prowess, not hinder it.
Thus, every feature must be evaluated carefully to decide whether the product is the right fit for you.
What is the best gaming keyboard in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below.