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The Best Gaming Keyboards for 2021

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Updated on: 26 April, 2021
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The Best Gaming Keyboards for 2021
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay (Source: Pixabay)

A gaming keyboard is a worthwhile accessory for the recreational or professional gamer. They offer a high build quality, include gaming specific features such as RGB lighting and macro programming, and offer a choice of mechanical key switch.


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The Top 5

The following are our top rated products. Please read on for a more detailed assessment of each product and our individual scoring.

Glorious GMMK Tenkeyless

A high quality mechanical gaming keyboard that also looks great in the office. Removable key switches allow you to change out the included Gateron Brown switches to customise the keyboard to your needs. Also available in full size and compact sizes, as well as in all-white models.

87.8%
SteelSeries Apex 7 Full Size

A solid mid-range gaming keyboard from SteelSeries. Choice of linear, tactile or clicky key switches to suit your needs. The included magnetic wrist rest is not as great as some third party rests and I felt the built in OLED Smart Display was not that useful. Overall a highly recommended keyboard for either gaming or general use.

85.8%
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

A solid mid-range gaming keyboard from Corsair. The non standard bottom row will annoy those who wish to replace the keycaps at some point, but the included PBT double-shot keycaps should last a long time. The programmable macro keys to the side of the keyboard can come in handy in the office and when gaming.

84.0%
Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

The top of the range Razer gaming keyboard also comes with a top of the range price. Whilst other Razer keyboards offer better value for money, the solid build, included features and optical analog key switches making for an impressive keyboard. Will did notice compatibility issues when using a mouse and analog input from the keyboard, so do not think that the keyboard can easily replace a gamepad.

80.0%
Logitech G915

The Logitech G915 is the top of the range Logitech gaming keyboard. However, unless you are looking for a wireless gaming keyboard, the Logitech G810 is better value. I am also not a fan of the low profile key switches for typing, prefering the longer travel and feel of a more traditional mechanical key switch.

79.5%

Why Choose a Gaming Keyboard?

Over the last few years, gaming keyboards have become a popular and discreet PC accessory segment that are aimed towards the recreational and professional gamer. Together with other products such a mice, mousepads, desks and chairs, gaming accessories have become very popular. Previously gamers would use mechanical keyboards for gaming due to their robust construction and the feel of mechanical key switches, especially with linear switches. A gamer now has a wide range of keyboards to suite their specific needs across a broad price range.

Unless you are a professional gamer, you will typically be using your PC for more mundane tasks such as supporting study or work, so need to choose a keyboard that can also support these other activities just as well. This is one reason that some gaming keyboards look slightly more restrained, with less obvious RGB lighting that would otherwise look out of place in an office or work environment.

Build Quality

A gaming keyboard typically offers a more robust construction, with many incorporating metal chassis and top plates, improving their rigidity and strength. Gamers tend to depress keys faster and harder than typists, so a string keyboard is needed to avoid the keyboard flexing and breaking. This does mean most gaming keyboards are heavier and are not always a great portable option. A gaming keyboard is also a good complement to a gaming laptop, as laptop manufacturers keep striving for the thinest keyboards, often leaving them with a very flat and unresponsive feel.

Glorious GMMK Pro

Glorious GMMK Pro (Source: Glorious)

Their construction is in stark contrast to the often flimsy and plasticky membrane keyboards. There is something reassuring about the more solid feel and heft of a gaming keyboard.

RGB Lighting

The use of RGB lighting has become synonymous with gaming PC’s and this also extends to peripherals such as keyboards and mice. Razer even include RGB lighting on the wrist rest included with the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog keyboard, but I think that is a bit too much.

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Natural Habitat

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Natural Habitat (Source: Corsair)

Whilst the RGB lighting can be controlled using simple key presses on some keyboards such as the Glorious GMMK Tenkeyless, many require additional software to be able to customise the RGB lighting effects.

Macros and Dedicated Keys

Many gaming keyboards allow you to program macros that can repeat a sequence of key presses through a single key, assisting with gameplay. Fighting games are famous for their complex sequence of key presses, something where macros can really benefit. Some keyboards such as the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT also include a set of dedicated macros keys.

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Macro Keys

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Macro Keys (Source: Corsair)

Mechanical Key Switch

A primary reason for choosing a gaming keyboard is due to the use of a mechanical key switch rather than other switch technologies such as a membrane or scissor keyboards. There is quite a lot of variation in feel and typing experience between the available key switches, but they fall into 3 main categories.

  • Linear - A linear key switch has a smooth and consistent feel throughout the keystroke. They are preferred by gamers but less so by typists, who like to ‘feel’ the keypress more, resulting in faster typing speeds.
  • Tactile - A tactile key switch has a tactile bump partway through the keystroke. For some switches, this is felt at the start of the key travel, where others it is felt further down. The bump signifies that the key has registered the press and that you do not need to continue to press the key. This is unlike a linear switch where you are not aware of the point the keypress is registered. Tactile key switches are favoured by typists as it means they do not have to fully depress the key resulting is faster typing speeds. Some switches, such as the tactile Gateron Brown, the bump is very soft and is hard to notice. Others, such as the Cherry MX or Kailh Brown have a more noticeable bump.
  • Clicky - A clicky keyboard is one that you may first think about when you consider a mechanical keyboard. They closely resemble the typing experience of a typewriter, providing a stronger tactile bump as well as a loud click at the point the keypress is registered. This loud noise is also what makes a clicky mechanical keyboard less appealing to those in open or office environments.

There is a growing number of manufacturers of key switches. After the Cherry MX patent expired in 1984 and the increase in popularity of mechanical keyboards, several clones have been developed with some surpassing the quality and longevity of the original Cherry MX switches. Key switches from Kailh or Gateron offer a viable alternative to Cherry MX, and many prefer the smoother feel of these over the Cherry MX. Some of the larger keyboard manufacturers such as Logitech also manufacture their own key switches for their mechanical keyboards, the Logitech GL. They even offer multiple types, GL Clicky, GL Tactile, and GL Linear.

For a walkthrough of the most popular Gateron key switches, please check out our Gateron Mechanical Keyboard MX Key Switch Guide. Gateron make some of my favourite key switches, and their linear switches are regarded as some of the best gaming switches you can get.

Also check out our guide to What Mechanical Keyboard Key Switches are Best for Gaming?

Analog Key Switches

In regards to the future of key switches, Razer have included an optical analog key switch with the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog keyboard. Rather than a traditional mechanical switch, these use an analog design to capture the key presses allowing them to be customised through the razer Synapse software. I found them to be an interesting design, offering a pretty good gaming experience, but less feel for typing. It will be interesting to see the ongoing development of alternative key switch designs.

You can read more about the Razer optical analog switches on their Website.


Product Score Breakdown

Please find below our individual product scores and assessment.

#1 Glorious GMMK Tenkeyless

The Glorious GMMK Tenkeyless is my personal keyboard that I use each and every day. It is a high quality mechanical gaming keyboard that also looks great in the office. One of the reasons I purchased the Glorious is the removable key switches that allow me to change out the included Gateron Brown switches to customise the keyboard in the future. The Glorious GMMK is also available in full size and compact sizes, as well as in all-white editions.

Glorious GMMK Tenkeyless

A high quality mechanical gaming keyboard that also looks great in the office. Removable key switches allow you to change out the included Gateron Brown switches to customise the keyboard to your needs. Also available in full size and compact sizes, as well as in all-white models.

87.8%

Criteria

Features
80.0%
Build Quality
92.0%
Typing Experience
94.0%
Value
85.0%

Usage

General
76%
Gaming
94%
Office
70%
Mobile/Portable
20%

  • Fantastic build quality, solid aluminium chassis.
  • Removable key switches allow you to customise to your needs.
  • Removable braided USB-C cable.
  • Also available in full size and compact sizes.
  • RGB lighting fully controllable using keyboard.
  • Included clear cover a nice added extra.
  • Also available in a cool looking Ice White colour.
  • Glorious software only available on Windows.
  • Only available with Gateron Brown key switches, requiring you to swap out the switches as needed.
Check Prices...
Glorious

Features : 80%

I personally use the Glorious GMMK Tenkeyless and absolutely love it. If wireless is not a consideration, I would high recommend you look at the the Glorious GMMK. It is available with both a black or white top plate with matching keycaps. The white does look very unique. The Glorious also features a detachable cable (note the full size model still has an attached cable) and has a comprehensive set of RGB lighting options. I prefer my keyboard on the more subtle size, so refrain from the stabbing or flashing settings. One feature of the Glorious that I do like is that all keyboard settings are available directly on the keyboard without the need to install any additional software. This is particularly handy for me, as I use predominately use a Mac and the Glorious software is only available on Microsoft Windows. Even though the Glorious has a Windows layout, you can easily swap over the Alt and Windows keys and remap them in the macOS System Preferences. To make this even better for Mac users, Glorious includes an alternate keycap that has the Glorious logo printed on, so you do not need to use the Windows logo. You can also replace the Escape key with a red keycap which sets the keyboard off nicely. Overall a very well thought out keyboard.

Build Quality : 92%

The Glorious is very solid with a rigid aluminium top plate with nicely bevelled edges.

Typing Experience : 94%

The Glorious is only available with the tactile Gateron MX Brown key switches. However, you can buy a custom Glorious GMMK keyboard that gives you the option to choose from 14 key switches. However, these come as a kit and require assembly.

Value : 85%

The Glorious currently retails for USD 109.95. There are no options available (or needed) that would push the price higher. You can also choose a full custom keyboard where you choose the type of key switches (from 14 available models), keycaps and O-Rings for around USD 120 - 130. However, these come as a kit and require assembly.

#2 SteelSeries Apex 7 Full Size

The SteelSeries Apex 7 is one of my favourite gaming keyboards. It is a solid mid-range gaming keyboard offering a choice of either linear, tactile or clicky key switches to suit your needs. The included magnetic wrist rest is not as great as some third party rests and I also felt the built in OLED Smart Display was not that useful. Overall a highly recommended keyboard for either gaming or general use.

SteelSeries Apex 7 Full Size

A solid mid-range gaming keyboard from SteelSeries. Choice of linear, tactile or clicky key switches to suit your needs. The included magnetic wrist rest is not as great as some third party rests and I felt the built in OLED Smart Display was not that useful. Overall a highly recommended keyboard for either gaming or general use.

85.8%

Criteria

Features
84.0%
Build Quality
90.0%
Typing Experience
94.0%
Value
75.0%

Usage

General
75%
Gaming
92%
Office
65%
Mobile/Portable
0%

  • Fantastic build quality, aluminium frame.
  • Includes a magnetic wrist rest.
  • Choice of SteelSeries QX2 Red (linear), Brown (tactile) or Blue (clicky) key switches.
  • Highly customisable RGB lighting.
  • Available in both full size and tenkeyless (TKL) models.
  • SteelSeries Engine software supports both Windows and macOS.
  • Full key rollover (NKRO) with anti-ghosting.
  • SteelSeries Apex 5 is a better buy if you prefer Blue (clicky) key switches.
  • Included OLED Smart Display not that useful.
  • Wrist rest is not the best quality, but it is included for free!
  • Macro programming not as comprehensive as with other keyboards.
Check Prices...

Features : 84%

I have always enjoyed the range of gaming accessories from SteelSeries, and the Apex 7 does not disappoint. Aimed at gamers, it includes highly customisable RGB lighting and full key rollover (NKRO) with anti-ghosting. The Apex 7 is available in both full size and tenkeyless (TKL) models. Whilst I tested the full size model, the TKL model would have been a better fit for my desk. It did notice the size difference over my Glorious GMMK Tenkeyless and perfer the smaller size. Similar to the Corsair iCUE software, the SteelSeries Engine software supports both Windows and macOS. I did find that the included OLED Smart Display to not be that useful,being too small to display anythig meaningful. Whilst the keyboard includes a magnetic wrist rest, I found it is not the best quality and I used my wooden Glorious wrist rest instead. The macro programming is not as comprehensive as with other keyboards, but should be okay for setting up basic macros.

Build Quality : 90%

As with many SteelSeries products, it has fantastic build quality with a sturdy and rigid aluminium frame.

Typing Experience : 94%

SteelSeries have opted to manufacture their own key switches rather than use those from manufacturers such as Cherry, Gateron or Kailh. I did not notice any differences, they fely smooth and they have a solid reputation. The naming follows the conventions of most key switches, and you can choose from the linear SteelSeries QX2 Red, tactile SteelSeries QX2 Brown or clicky SteelSeries QX2 Blue.

Value : 75%

The SteelSeries currently retails for USD 142. Is not the cheapest gaming keyboard available, bbut goes come with a comprehensive set of features and a great build quality. A cheaper Tenkeyless (TKL) model is available for USD 130.

#3 Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is a solid mid-range gaming keyboard. It has a nice and clean design (I especially like the texture on the spacebar and macro keys) and it would suit both the dedicated or casual gamer alike. The programmable macro keys on the left of the keyboard can come in handy in the office and when gaming. There was only one thing that caused me to score it slightly lower than others, and that is due to the bottom row of keys. If you look at the images of the keyboard below you will notice that the keys on the bottom row are not standard sizes, with the Control, Windows and Alt keys being all different sizes. On a regular keyboard these are the same size. The non standard bottom row will annoy those who wish to replace the keycaps at some point as it will be harder to find a third party set of key caps that will fit. However, the included PBT double-shot key caps should last a long time.

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

A solid mid-range gaming keyboard from Corsair. The non standard bottom row will annoy those who wish to replace the keycaps at some point, but the included PBT double-shot keycaps should last a long time. The programmable macro keys to the side of the keyboard can come in handy in the office and when gaming.

84.0%

Criteria

Features
86.0%
Build Quality
86.0%
Typing Experience
94.0%
Value
70.0%

Usage

General
75%
Gaming
93%
Office
67%
Mobile/Portable
0%

  • Fantastic build quality, aluminium frame.
  • Dedicated programmable macro keys.
  • Choice of Cherry MX Speed (linear), Brown (tactile) or Blue (clicky) key switches.
  • PBT double-shot keycaps.
  • Highly customisable RGB lighting.
  • Full key rollover (NKRO) with 100% anti-ghosting.
  • Corsair iCUE software supports both Windows and macOS.
  • Non standard bottom row, making it harder to replace keycaps with third party options.
  • Expensive compared to the competition.
  • There have been complaints that it does not always register the correct keys, but I did not notice this when testing.
Check Prices...

Features : 86%

The Corsair is a great mechanical keyboard with a focus on the gaming user. The dedicated programmable macro keys are handy to setup shortcuts for common tasks and are a nice addition. The RGB lighting is highly customisable through the iCUE software and the keyboard has some of the brightest RGB lighting I have tested. As expected on a gaming keyboard, it supports full N-Key Rollover (NKRO) with 100% anti-ghosting. I was impresssed that Corsair makes their iCUE software available for both Windows and macOS. The Mac is often forgotten by many keyboard manufacturers, with only a select few others (such as DAS Keyboard and Keychron) treating the Mac equal to Windows. One thing I did not like though was the non standard bottom row. This makes it harder to replace keycaps with third party options as some support a standard keyboard layout. Whilst it is not common that you will need to replace key caps (especially the high quality PBT double-shot on the Corsair), it is a shame that you are limited in what you can replace them with.

Build Quality : 86%

The Corsair offers a fantastic build quality with a robust aluminium frame. The keycaps are PBT double-shot rather than cheaper ABS or PVC plastic. PBT is a high-grade thermoplastic that will not wear down to a shiny finish over time. Double-shot keycaps are comprised of 2 parts, with the characters actually being a separate plastic component (typically transparent to support RGB lighting shining through) inside of the outer shell. By not having the lettering printed onto the keycaps, they have a very long life without any of the characters rubbing off.

Typing Experience : 94%

The Corsair includes genuine Cherry MX key switches, the tactile Cherry MX Brown, the clicky Cherry MX Blue or the linear Cherry MX Speed Silver. The linear key switches are recommended for gamers.

Value : 70%

The Corsair currently retails for USD 200, which makes it one the most expensive keyboards I have tested. Whilst it is a great keyboard, better value can be had if you look at keyboards from Keychron, Glorious or DAS Keyboards.

#4 Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

Razer is one of the most popular and well known gaming accessory manufacturers. They have been steadily improving the quality of their products over the years and are gradually shedding the image of simply being over-priced. The top of the range Razer gaming keyboard also comes with a top of the range price, nearly twice the price of the Razer BlackWidow. The optical analog key switches are the standout and unique feature, something currently unique to Razer, but something I think other keyboard and key switch manufacturers will adopt, or at least experiment with. Rather than a traditional mechanical switch they have developed their own design analog switch. Through the Razer Synaps software you can adjust the activation point from a shallow 1.5 mm to a deeper 3.6 mm. The shallow activation is great for fast paced gaming, with the longer travel more ideal for typing. They also include the ability to support 2 unique activations for each key, therefore supporting more complex key combination with a single key press. However, do not think that this will easily be able to replace a gamepad as advertised by Razer. We found that whilst many games would recognise the keyboard as a gamepad, using both the keyboard and mouse at the same time led to compatibility issues with many games not being able to accept input from both the keyboard and mouse simultaneously. The key caps are made from durable doubleshot PBT rather than cheaper ABS plastic and being doubleshort means the lettering will not wear off.

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

The top of the range Razer gaming keyboard also comes with a top of the range price. Whilst other Razer keyboards offer better value for money, the solid build, included features and optical analog key switches making for an impressive keyboard. Will did notice compatibility issues when using a mouse and analog input from the keyboard, so do not think that the keyboard can easily replace a gamepad.

80.0%

Criteria

Features
86.0%
Build Quality
86.0%
Typing Experience
90.0%
Value
58.0%

Usage

General
75%
Gaming
94%
Office
68%
Mobile/Portable
0%

  • Analog key switches are actually pretty good.
  • Adjustable actuation between 1.5 mm and 3.6 mm to suit fast paced gaming or fast typing speeds.
  • Doubleshot PBT key caps.
  • Included RGB wrist rest has a nice feel, magneticallly attaching to the keyboard.
  • Expensive and other Razer keyboards are better value for money. The BlackWidow is my favourite model.
  • Analog keys will not replace a joystick for precise analog movements.
  • Incompatibility issues in games when using a mouse and the analog keyboard input at the same time.
Check Prices...

Features : 86%

Being the top of the range Razer gaming keyboard, it includes all of the necessary gaming features you expect. The analog key switches are unique to Razer, and I was surprised with how good they feel.

Build Quality : 86%

The Razer Huntsman range of keyboards all have a sturdy chassis and feel very solid in use.

Typing Experience : 90%

The customisation of the activation point on the analog key switches means that you can adjust them to a full 3.6 mm, matching the travel of most mechanical key switches. The switches do not have a tactile or clicky feel, so if you enjoy typing using linear switches, then you will enjoy these.

Value : 58%

The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is not a cheap keyboard. The justification is the unique analog key switches that offer an advantage over traditional key switches with their adjustable activation point. Whether this is worth the USD $50 premium over the Razer Huntsman with mechanical key switches is really a decision on how much difference those switches will make.

#5 Logitech G915

The Logitech G915 is the top of the range Logitech gaming keyboard offered under the Logitech G brand. It features a steel chassis and aluminium top plate that makes the keyboard feel very rigid and strong. Logitech decided to make the G915 as thin as possible so included the low profile Logitech GL key switches rather than the Romer-G switches found in other Logitech keyboards. Whilst this does make the keyboard thin at 22 mm, it also reduces the key feel for typing. I am a fan of mechanical key switches and found the low profile switches felt more like a high quality membrane or scissor keyboard rather than a mechanical keyboard. For gaming, the reduced travel can be an advantage; however, if you mix gaming and typing, then you may prefer the feel of a mechanical key switch. If I was looking for a Logitech keyboard, I would recommmend the cheaper G810 that offers a very similar gaming experience with more traditional Romer-G key switches. The Logitech G-HUB software is available for both Windows and Mac, and fully supports customisation of lighting and settings across the range of Logitech gaming keyboards and mice.

Logitech G915

The Logitech G915 is the top of the range Logitech gaming keyboard. However, unless you are looking for a wireless gaming keyboard, the Logitech G810 is better value. I am also not a fan of the low profile key switches for typing, prefering the longer travel and feel of a more traditional mechanical key switch.

79.5%

Criteria

Features
86.0%
Build Quality
90.0%
Typing Experience
84.0%
Value
58.0%

Usage

General
79%
Gaming
92%
Office
72%
Mobile/Portable
30%

  • Solid build quality.
  • Thin design at 22 mm means a wrist rest is not required.
  • Low profile key switches have a reduced travel that is great for gaming, especially the linear type.
  • Keyboard is available with either linear, tactile or clicky key switches.
  • Logitech G-HUB software is supported on both Windows and Mac.
  • Wireless support seems an odd feature for a premium gaming keyboard.
  • Expensive, other Logitech keyboards are better value for money.
  • Low profile key switches are not that great for typing.
Check Prices...

Features : 86%

The G915 is a full size wireless keyboard with low profile Logitech GL key switches with either a linear, tactile or clicky feel. The inclusion of wireless is interesting. I am not sure that a gamer would look for a wireless keyboard like they would for a wireless mouse. A keyboard is pretty static on the desk and the large full size layout means that it is not very portable.

Build Quality : 90%

The G915 is a very solid keyboard and whilst it only weighs 1 kg and is half the thickness of some other gaming keyboards, the steel chassic and aluminium top panel means there is no flex and it feels very solid.

Typing Experience : 84%

I find that the Logitech low-profile key switches have less feel than more traditional mechanical key switches and feel more like a high quality membrane or scissor keyboard.

Value : 58%

The G915 is the most expensive Logitech gaming keyboard. Unless wireless was a key deciding factor, I think the Logitech G810 is better value and includes what I feel are better Logitech Romer-G mechanical key switches.

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