Which is the best gaming keyboard? What distinguishes the keyboards? And what should you pay attention to? We’ll tell you in our guide.
While it usually plays a rather minor role at work for writing a handful of emails or typing a term paper at school or university what kind of keyboard is used, choosing the right keys is essential for gamers.
While there are different functionalities and models even for the best gaming headsets and mice, the market offers a wide range of keyboards for gamers. Clearly: in the end, personal taste and preferences are the deciding factors. In our guide to the best gaming keyboards, we tell you what you should look out for.
The best gaming keyboard: mechanical or rubber?
First, there is the question of what type of keyboard you want to choose. We’re not talking about the manufacturer, specs, or even color yet, but rather the choice between a mechanical keyboard and a normal keyboard with a rubber mat.
Gamers prefer the mechanical variant, which is why keyboards that bear the name “gaming” are often mechanical in nature. But where are the differences anyway?
But what does that mean for gamers? Under each key sits such a so-called switch or switch. It contains a small spring, which can have different strengths. If it is particularly strong, you also need more force to press the key.
You can also hear this, which is why mechanical keyboards with a switch are often more popular. The common clicking sound they make and the resistance that is usually present, so you don’t accidentally hit another key, help to make gaming especially precise.
Mechanical switches with huge differences
Depending on the game, you could theoretically change the keyboard, because if you really value acoustic feedback, you can adapt the keyboard to the game. A shooter, for example, benefits from a switch that requires a relatively high trigger pressure.
This prevents accidentally pressing the wrong keys when the fingers slide over the keyboard in the heat of battle. If it is necessary to press many keys in a short period of time, light switches are certainly more suitable because the effort required is much lower in the long run and the fingers can jump from one key to the next faster.
In Germany, especially mechanical switches from the manufacturer Cherry are absolutely the hit. They have different key profiles. Cherry’s models differ in the amount of force you have to apply to press the corresponding switch.
They are divided into different colors, each of which brings a different setting. For example, Cherry offers the Brown Switches, which offer little resistance and are especially suitable for people who write a lot on the PC. Black Switches on the other hand give neither acoustic, nor a noticeable feedback. The Red Switches are particularly popular among gamers. They are linear, which means they work without noticeable resistance. These three versions are particularly common in Germany, although there is a much larger selection.
Other manufacturers, such as Kailh or Gateron have adopted the color divisions and rely on very similar specifications. For the sake of simplicity, however, we’ll focus on the Cherry MX switches for now.
Mechanical switches are basically available in three variants, which are then subdivided once again:
- linear switches (trigger quickly without noticeable feedback)
- tactile switches (have a noticeable trigger point, but trigger quietly)
- clicky switches (have a noticeable trigger point and make a clicking sound when pressed)
|Switch||Type||Acoustic feedback||trigger pressure||trigger height||Stroke distance||Lifetime|
|Cherry MX Red||Linear||45 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Cherry MX Brown||Tactile||55 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Cherry MX Blue||Tactile||✔||60 g||2.2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Cherry MX Clear||Tactile||65 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Cherry MX Black||Linear||60 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Cherry MX White||Tactile||✔||80 g||2.2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Cherry MX Nature White||Linear||55 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Cherry MX Speed Silver||Linear||45 g||1.2 mm||3 mm||50 m|
|Cherry MX Green||Tactile||✔||80 g||2.2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|EpicGear Purple||Tactile||✔||50 g||1.5 mm||4 mm||70 m|
|EpicGear Orange||Tactile||50 g||1.5 mm||4 mm||70 m|
|EpicGear Gray||Linear||50 g||1.5 mm||4 mm||70 m|
|Kailh Blue||Tactile||✔||50 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Kailh Brown||Tactile||45 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Kailh Red||Linear||50 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Kailh Black||Linear||60 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
|Kailh Gold||Tactile||✔||60 g||1.4 mm||3.5 mm||70 m|
|Kailh Thick Gold||Tactile||✔||50 g||1.1 mm||3.5 mm||70 m|
|Kailh Silver||Linear||40 g||1.1 mm||3.5 mm||70 m|
|Kailh Copper||Tactile||40 g||1.1 mm||3.5 mm||70 m|
|Razer Green||Tactile||✔||50 g||1.9 mm||4 mm||80 m|
|Razer Orange||Tactile||45 g||1.9 mm||4 mm||80 m|
|Razer Yellow||Linear||45 g||1.2 mm||3.5 mm||80 m|
|Logitech Romer-G (Omron)||Tactile||✔||45 g||1.5 mm||3.5 mm||70 m|
|SteelSeries QS1||Linear||45 g||1.5 mm||3 mm||60 m|
|Topre||Tactile||30 g, 35 g, 45 g, 55 g||2 mm||4 mm||50 m|
Rubberdome keyboards – not the best choice
As a counterpart, there are rubberdome keys that are not mechanical, but have a plastic bell. They often have a scissor mechanism, which allows particularly flat key constructions and is therefore also often used for laptop keyboards.
Plastic bells are often found on particularly inexpensive keyboards. They are rather less suitable for gaming because they only perceive the keystroke very inaccurately and always have to be pressed completely, which delays the input considerably. When choosing the best gaming keyboards, you’d better not consider a rubberdome model.
RGB lighting: more than just a gimmick
It just looks really cool – the colorful RBG lighting of many gaming keyboards. But is that really all it is, just a nice look? The bright colors don’t just help you find the individual keys better on dark gamer nights. They can also help you with orientation, for example, with the right settings.
- Mark you WASD – so you no longer miss typing
- Light up your character’s special abilities – so you know exactly where to find the fireball in the dark
- Set highlights to your own liking
- Removable and changeable buttons
The Ghosting Problem
Another point you should consider when buying is the so-called ghosting. This is a phenomenon that is especially noticeable in cheaper keyboards with rubber domes. When gaming, it is often necessary to use several keys at the same time. With some models it happens that instead of the selected keys, a nearby one is triggered, although it wasn’t hit at all. Or that the selected key combination doesn’t work properly. This is due to the way it was connected during manufacturing.
Ghosting is a nuisance that can be avoided with keyboards that are mechanical in nature and have “anti-ghosting” in the features. Look closely at the explanations in the manual though, because there are a few keyboards that only have anti-ghosting in the common areas. For gamers, that would be WASD. But if you also need other key combinations frequently, you should keep an eye on this.
In keeping with the theme is the key rollover, which shows how many keys you can press at once without the system going into ghosting or other problems.
N-key roll over – a must for gaming keyboards
A bit in contrast to ghosting is the N-key roll over. First of all, it actually just means that all keys that are pressed at the same time also give feedback at the same time. The N in the name is a variable that applies to all keys. If the keyboard does not allow all keys to register at the same time, the number is replaced by the variable.
This means, for example, that 12-key roll over keyboards can register exactly 12 keys at the same time. If you press another one, there are two possibilities:
- The first key is overwritten
- The 13th key will not respond
Let’s just think about a live example: you’re playing a shooter like Battlefield, CoD, or a recent battle royale title. Running, jumping and shooting or reloading are essential actions, and in the best case scenario, they even happen simultaneously. At least if you want to be faster than your opponent. If you only have a 2-key roll over keyboard, this becomes difficult. Because either you stop, jump and shoot or you keep running while jumping – all three actions can’t be performed at the same time.
Double-Shot Molding – The Double Injection Molding Process
Nowadays, keyboards are much more durable and have sturdy keys that don’t fall apart right away even during long LAN parties. In order to keep the keycaps extra sturdy, a double-shot molding is used in the manufacturing process. As the name suggests, this happens in two (double) steps.
This casting process has several advantages:
- The lettering is clearly visible and the keys have a smooth edge
- The keycaps can be made in any color – perfect for custom keyboards
- The lettering can’t be felt, won’t wear off, and won’t irritate with bumps while gaming
Where there are advantages, some negative sides usually arise. These include, for example, the cost factor. Because for each letter and each key to make a separate mold costs time and especially money. Much cheaper is to cast a series of keys and simply add the legend later custom. But then we have the noticeable raised areas again, which can wear out, depending on the manufacturing process.
Also, the type of lettering cannot be chosen completely freely in the Double Shot process, since sharp edges are hardly possible here. The ABS plastic that is often used also yellows quickly.
Keycaps: ABS or PBT?
The two terms above are abbreviations for materials that can be used to make keys for a keyboard. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a plastic, as is polybutylene terephthalate, but they have different properties. On the best gaming keyboards, you’ll find both varieties, and ABS keycaps can be good (enough), too.
- Are cheaper
- Mostly thinner
- Have more texture
- Are more expensive
- Don’t smudge
- Generally a little thicker
Which material is used is decided by each manufacturer. They both can be used in double-shot and appear in the high-priced category of the best gaming keyboards.
How to find the best gaming keyboard?
Just as the taste of food is debatable, it’s also hard to say uniformly what is truly the “best”. Technically, we can of course work out the advantages for you, but what then moves into your home is a whole other story. After all, your own experiences, recommendations, gut feeling and, quite classically, the looks also count.
The best gaming keyboard should definitely be a mechanical keyboard. When it comes to the choice of switches, on the other hand, it’s your personal preference that decides. It’s also up to you and your preferences whether you go for a wireless or a wired keyboard – the differences in terms of input delay are almost non-existent nowadays, at least when connected via 2.4 GHz wireless.
Our recommendations for the best gaming keyboards in 2023
The selection of gaming keyboards is huge. Nevertheless, we want to present you with a handful of models here that we think you’re guaranteed to be happy with.
Price-Performance Tip: Sharkoon SKILLER SGK60
At a price of € 96.89 *, the Sharkoon SKILLER SGK60 puts together an excellent overall package and offers everything that makes a good gaming keyboard.
The full-size keyboard convinces with a chic design along with good build quality and precise, pleasantly triggering Kalih-BOX switches. “Especially the switches leave a really good impression in our test and can score in gaming mode as well as when typing texts. In direct comparison to the brown switches, we like the white, tactile “clicky” switches even a bit better,” we judged in our test.
It is also praiseworthy that Sharkoon includes 14 high-quality PBT keycaps. In terms of workmanship and software, however, you do notice differences to more expensive models, and yet: if you’re looking for a high-quality keyboard for little money, you’ve come to the right place.
- Compact alternative: Akko Black & Gold 3068B Plus Test – Mechanical & Cheap
- Alternative 2 in TKL format: ROCCAT Vulcan TKL Pro
Small Giants: The best gaming keyboards in compact design
You have little space available on your desk, but still do not want to do without one of the best gaming keyboards? Then the so-called mini keyboards, which rely on a 60-percent or 65-percent layout, are a good choice.
These are now available in various shapes and colors and from a wide range of manufacturers. The advantage is obvious, because the keyboards save space by doing without some keys. Mostly the F-row has to be omitted, but also the number pad and partly the arrow keys.
However, the best models make up for this with an alternative assignment, where exactly these keys are realized with the help of the FN key in combination with other letters or numbers.
An example would be the excellent Razer Huntsman Mini Analog (our review) which does not miss anything despite its compact dimensions. However, this one relies on analog optical switches whose travel can be adjusted within the software.
It gets even more high-end with the Corsair K70 RGB Pro Mini, which we have also already tested ourselves. The mini keyboard leaves nothing to be desired in terms of technology and even offers the option of replacing the switches itself thanks to hot-swap functionality. At around 200 euros, it’s no bargain, but there’s hardly another gaming keyboard in mini form that can be customized more.
The Best Gaming Keyboard 2023: Corsair K70 RGB Pro
Let’s say money is no object for you and only the best is good enough. Then the Corsair K70 RGB Pro marks one of, if not the best gaming keyboard in 2022. After all, the keyboard took home the Platinum Award during our test in February. We came to a clear conclusion:
“With the Corsair K70 RGB Pro, the manufacturer delivers an all-around convincing gaming keyboard. The workmanship is high-quality, the design is elegant and also cuts a very good figure in office use. Above all, the PBT double-shot keycaps installed as standard are more than just a nice bonus and represent a real added value.
The typing feel is once again outstanding, although the choice of the right Cherry MX switches ultimately determines how comfortable you really feel with the keyboard in the end.”
For the price of € 147.90 *, you can expect extremely high-quality build quality, a feature set that leaves nothing to be desired, and software where every little detail can be customized.
- Alternative 1: SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) – more compact and customizable
- Alternative 2: Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro – wireless and extra slim
The best gaming keyboard: in the end, YOU decide
The choice of gaming keyboards is huge. They come in every conceivable shape, size and color, and in the end, the ecosystem of the respective manufacturer also plays an important role. However, the important thing is that you feel comfortable with the keyboard, its switches and the typing feel.
There is no such thing as THE one best gaming keyboard. In our article, we’ve given you some pointers on which keyboards to choose. Ultimately, it’s up to you what you value most. It doesn’t always have to be the most expensive model – but we advise you against the very cheap models with rubber mats, because you should have fun gaming for a long time, which we think mechanical keyboards provide much better.