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Best gaming keyboard 2023: Our favourite mechanical and membrane keyboards for gamers

Best gaming keyboard

Looking to gain the edge in your favourite games? Here's our pick of the best gaming keyboards you can buy

We get it. The best gaming keyboards often seem to be the ones that catch your eye with explosively colourful RGB lighting. But it isn’t all about looks: It’s far too easy to end up forking out for a keyboard that looks stunning in the photos but doesn’t offer any of the basics.

Don’t panic: we’re here to help. Choosing the best gaming keyboard is no different to choosing any other PC peripheral, in that you’ll need to work out how much you’re willing to spend, and then answer a few crucial questions. For example: Do you want a mechanical keyboard? Do you need a num-pad? Do you often create Macros? And do you really need the most RGB-intensive product you can possibly find?

We’ll help you answer all of those questions (and many others). Further down, you’ll find our guide to buying the best gaming keyboard for you; if you already know the basics, you’ll find our recommendations immediately below.

Here’s our pick of the best gaming keyboards you can buy.

How to choose the best gaming keyboard for you

What kind of keys do I need?

There are two main parts of the key: the keycap and the key switch. The keycap is the bit with the printed letter/number/symbol on it. The switch is the mechanism that activates when you press the keycap. It’s not quite that simple, but those are the important bits.

When you press the keycap, you also press the key switch down until it hits the actuation point, which is when your keyboard registers the press. You’ll find that the time it takes to hit that actuation point varies from keyboard to keyboard.

Key switches are generally either mechanical or membrane. Mechanical switches are physical buttons that you actuate when you hit the keys, while membrane switches are pressure plates that activate a sensor when pressed.

Mechanical switches can be separated into three categories. Choosing the right one for you comes down to experience a little bit, but you’ve probably unknowingly tried at least one or two of the following types of switch.

  • Linear switches are characterized by a smooth, uninterrupted press – that is, you will feel no resistance when you hit the actuation point, only when you bottom out. Linear switches are faster, quieter and easier to use. This makes them great for games that involve fast finger movements, like shooters.
  • Tactile switches have a noticeable “bump” that interrupts each press of the key, so you know the second you’ve hit the actuation point.
  • Clicky switches are similar to tactile switches but produce both a bump and a clicking noise when you hit the actuation point. Tactile and clicky switches make for a more satisfying typing experience, as you have a physical cue to tell you when your keypress has registered.

Membrane switches, meanwhile, tend to err on the side of linear: they’re quiet and easy to actuate, and they benefit from a bit of spillage resistance too.

These days, manufacturers tend to make their own key switches, so you’ll have to read up on their naming conventions to work out which switch is which. We list the switch we tested in the key specs.

READ NEXT: The best mechanical keyboards to buy

What size keyboard should I buy?

Some keyboards lack the num-pad on the right-hand side. These are called tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards, and they have smaller siblings: 60% keyboards ditch the arrow keys and Home/Ins/Del cluster, while 65% keyboards retain the arrow keys.

We would recommend sticking to a full-size or 65% keyboard if you plan to work on the same keyboard you game on. Losing the Numpad and directional keys is in our experience a real blow to productivity.

What optional extras should I consider?

Media controls: On a gaming keyboard you might find a set of dedicated buttons/scroll wheels/dials for controlling audio playback. These are usually positioned in the top-right corner.

Keyboards without these dedicated buttons will often have the same functions baked into a few of the Function keys along the top like many regular keyboards do.

Other keys/functions: Most gaming keyboards include a method of locking the Windows key to prevent accidental presses mid-firefight. Some also offer lighting controls built in, and many will also allow you to assign macros – functions that condense multiple key presses into a single command executed by a key of your choice.

Lighting: Multi-coloured lighting is a staple of most gaming keyboards. But where some offer the ability to change the LEDs that sit beneath the keys on an individual level (known as RGB), others simply glow in one colour, while others limit you to a few preset lighting effects.

Ports/cables: Some gaming keyboards will have braided cables with a fabric cover. They might even have two cables, or one that splits into two: this is usually to serve a USB passthrough port on the side of the keyboard. You could use this port to plug in a USB flash drive or gaming mouse. Some keyboards even have a 3.5mm jack for a pair of headphones.

Other: Lastly, you might notice that a few expensive gaming keyboards come with wrist rests, keycap removers and even alternate keycaps for a bit of individual flair.

How we test gaming keyboards

We test every gaming keyboard we receive for review. Testing a gaming keyboard involves exploring every inch of it, using the companion app if possible to create macros, reassign keys and play with the LED lighting. We use the keyboard over a period of several weeks to form a subjective judgement on the keycaps and switches, be they mechanical or membrane. We’ll stress-test the keyboard to judge build quality and flex, and remove keys if possible to see how simple the process is. We’ll also use extra features such as media controls with a variety of different apps to check compatibility and ease of use.

READ MORE: Best gaming mice

The best gaming keyboards you can buy in 2023

1. HyperX Alloy Core RGB: Best budget gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £50 | Check price at Amazon The HyperX Alloy Core RGB is an understated keyboard to look at. But look a little closer and you’ll find an exceptional array of features packed into that unassuming frame; there’s nothing too glamorous about the Alloy Core RGB, but if it’s gaming on a budget you’re after, you really won’t find much better than this.

Pictures don’t really do the Alloy Core RGB justice: the simple black frame is much sturdier (and much less tacky) than it looks, and it sits relatively flat atop your desk, offsetting the lack of a bundled wrist rest. It’s also spill-resistant, which is a nice bonus. The membrane keys are soft to the touch, making them easy to type on, although gamers who prefer clicky mechanical keyboards will need to look elsewhere.

The star of the show here, however, is the suite of additional controls. The Alloy Core RGB has four dedicated media buttons (stop, rewind, pause/play and fast forward) all easily accessed above the Numpad. It also has dedicated volume control buttons (volume up/down and mute) and even a triad of more unusual buttons: one to change the colours of the five-zone RGB backlighting; one to adjust the brightness of said lighting; and one to turn on Game mode, which locks the Windows key to prevent accidental presses.

If you need a cheap keyboard that doesn’t skimp on extras and don’t mind the membrane key switches, the Alloy Core RGB is the one for you.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: HyperX membrane; Backlit: Zonal RGB; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 443 x 175 x 36mm

2. HyperX Alloy Origins 60: Best 60% gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at Amazon
If you don’t have space for the behemoths on this list, consider the HyperX Alloy Origins 60. This 60% keyboard ditches the num-pad, home cluster and function row to create one seriously compact – but still devastatingly good – gaming keyboard.

Given the size, you can’t expect a huge number of features, but the Origins 60 still manages to pack in the same functionality as a standard form factor keyboard. The function keys and arrow keys, for example, are both accessible by holding the Fn key; the relevant keys have secondary functions printed on the side that faces you.

Where this keyboard really excels, however, is in its typing experience. The HyperX linear switches we tested actuate cleanly with no click and minimal resistance, which makes them excellent for rapid typers and committed gamers alike – although if you prefer clickiness, HyperX also sells the Alloy Origins 60 with mechanical switches. It helps that the keyboard looks pretty great: the RGB backlighting is bright and colourful and we’re especially fond of the alternative space bar (pictured above with stylish translucent patterning) that comes in the box.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: HyperX Linear; Backlit: Per-key RGB; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: No; Dimensions: 443 x 175 x 36mm

3. Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro: Best slimline gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £250 | Check price at Razer If price is no object and you’re looking for a wireless gaming keyboard with great tactility, the Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro is an excellent choice. The latest addition to the Razer wireless keyboard family earned a five-star review from us thanks to its low-profile design and cracking feature set.

For how sturdy and well-built its aluminium alloy chassis feels, the DeathStalker is remarkably portable. It’s only 26mm high with its rear legs attached, making it one of the easiest keyboards on this list to slide into a backpack. As if that wasn’t enough, it comes in tenkeyless and full sized variants for those who want more desk space. That lean design pays dividends in the sound department, too. If you’re a streamer whose chat has poked fun at the constant clicking of your current keyboard, this one offers you the perfect upgrade. With each key on the DeathStalker having a total travel of 2.8mm and an actuation point of 1.2mm, this is easily one of the quietest gaming keyboards we’ve tested.

No need to worry about the limitations of wireless technology, either, as it has a quoted battery life of up to 40 hours with the backlight at full brightness. When it eventually comes time to recharge, it connects via USB-C braided cable. All in all, this is an easy gaming keyboard to recommend – if you have the cash for it, that is.

Read our full Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro review for more details

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Razer Low-Profile Optical Switches (Linear); Backlit: Razer Chroma; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: No; Dimensions: 436 x 140 x 28mm

Check price at Razer

4. Logitech G613: Best wireless gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £127 | Check price at Amazon The Logitech G613 is a wireless mechanical gaming keyboard that boasts an impressive 1ms report rate over Logitech’s own Lightspeed wireless technology. This provides a wired-like experience for a select few Logitech products, including the G613.

Logitech has included six programmable keys, which can be customised via the Logitech Gaming software. There are dedicated media controls to the right and a game-mode button that will lock the Windows key. As for battery life, the G613 has a quoted battery life of 18 months and takes two AA batteries, which are included. The most impressive feature of the keyboard is its wireless and Bluetooth connectivity. With a simple click of one of the physical buttons, you’ll switch between the two modes. As for performance, the Romer-G mechanical switches are a real joy to type on.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for RGB mechanical backlit keys, a low-profile design (similar to the Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo, above) and want to keep things wireless, consider the G915. The keyboard also includes a new low-profile GL switch that’s made by Kailh. Be warned, however, the G915 will set you back £230.

Read our full Logitech G613 review for details

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Romer-G; Backlit: No; Wrist rest: Integrated; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 478 x 216 x 33mm

5. Fnatic Streak 65/65 LP: Best 65% gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £110 | Check price at Amazon The stylish Fnatic Streak 65 is a good choice if you don’t want to sacrifice directional keys in pursuit of compactness. This 65% keyboard looks great, with soft rounded edges and a matte finish (the 65 LP variant comes in white, which is rather nice). The keys travel with minimal fuss and very little noise: Fnatic’s proprietary linear key switches actuate well and lend themselves nicely to both gaming and typing.

There’s not a huge amount on offer here beyond the keyboard, but that’s to be expected when the keyboard in question can slide neatly into the small pocket of your rucksack. There are media controls hidden behind an FN press – you can see the secondary functions printed on the edge of the directional keys facing you – and four profile keys lining the right-hand side of the keyboard. You can save RGB lighting presets, key bindings and macros to these profile keys using Fnatic’s desktop application, which can also be used to switch lighting presets and create the key bindings/macros themselves. You’ve also got a long, braided USB-A to USB-C cable… and that’s about it.

Don’t be fooled, though: this is a very classy compact gaming keyboard that you’ll enjoy using.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Fnatic Linear; Backlight: Zonal RGB; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 318 x 109 x 22mm

6. HyperX Alloy Elite 2: Best gaming keyboard for features

Price when reviewed: £130 | Check price at HyperX
HyperX’s rather jazzy “pudding” keycaps are the first thing you’ll notice when you catch sight of the Alloy Elite 2 – they don’t do anything, unfortunately, but they are pretty spectacular to behold. Look past the striking exterior, however, and you’ll find a remarkably well-equipped mechanical gaming keyboard that actually represents pretty good value for money.

The Alloy Elite 2 has a full suite of large, easily accessed media controls, including playback controls (pause/play, rewind, skip) and volume controls (a mute button and volume wheel). It also has a button to cycle the brightness of the RGB lighting; a button to cycle the lighting effect; and a button to activate Game mode (locking the Windows key to prevent accidental presses). The cherry on the cake is a USB pass-through port for your gaming mouse or external storage device.

HyperX’s mechanical switches – found on the keyboard in question – are available in three variants. The red (linear) switches we tested were well suited for work and play but lacked the overly clicky actuation that gamers tend to like. Those with a penchant for clickiness might want to try the blue switches instead.

In general use, though, the Alloy Elite 2 was a pleasure to type and game on. The lack of a wrist rest is mildly disappointing, but probably the only drawback to what is an otherwise excellent gaming keyboard with a fiercely competitive – though still hefty – price tag.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: HyperX mechanical (Red); Backlight: Zonal RGB; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: 1 x USB-A; Dimensions: 444 x 174 x 37mm

7. Roccat Pyro: Best mid-range gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £90 | Check price at Amazon
The Roccat Pyro manages to dislodge our previous favourite mid-range gaming keyboard – the MSI GK50 Elite – by offering more features for the same amount of money. This is a mechanical keyboard with what Roccat calls “advanced” anti-ghosting and n-key rollover. The switches are linear, and they actuate fairly loudly with little resistance, so you’ll have no trouble flying across the keyboard mid-firefight (or mid-email).

As is often the case with Roccat products, the Pyro is a good-looking bit of kit, with soft edges and a grey aluminium base plate nestled beneath the keys. The lighting is quite understated, so you won’t stick out too much if you choose to use the Pyro at work, and it’s also totally customisable via the Swarm desktop application. There, you can also assign macros and pick out alternate key functions, the latter of which can be accessed on the fly simply by holding the Caps Lock key.

However, it’s the extras that earn the Pyro its place on this roundup. By this we mean the volume dial that sits in the top-right corner of the keyboard, and the simple plastic wrist-rest that comes bundled in. It might not seem like much, but at this price every additional feature is a huge bonus, and there’s a lot to be said for having a bit of support for your wrists while you type/game. Most similarly priced gaming keyboards will forfeit these features, so if it’s value for money you’re after, the Pyro is the keyboard for you.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: TTC mechanical (linear); Backlight: Zonal RGB; Wrist rest: Yes; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 447 x 152 x 36mm

8. AOC GK500: Best gaming keyboard for typing

Price when reviewed: £55 | Check price at Amazon
The AOC GK500 is a very traditional gaming keyboard with raised keys, an aluminium frame and a bundled wrist rest that connects magnetically to the body. As with many gaming keyboards, the GK500 looks better in the flesh: the matte grey frame has a shiny metallic outline and visible screw heads, contributing to an industrial aesthetic.

The Outemu Red key switches actuate with zero anchor points, making for a smooth, quiet and exceptionally rapid typing experience. This is a keyboard for gamers primarily, but the minimal resistance made writing a joy, too.

There are no dedicated media controls here, although you can still control playback, volume and brightness using the Fn key row. AOC’s G-Tools companion app grants you access to RGB lighting controls – you won’t get per-key lighting at this price but the overall effect is still suitably eye-catching. Using the app, you can also assign macros and sync your lighting with other AOC products.

This isn’t the most fully featured keyboard in the world, sure, but if you want a lovely (and crucially, quiet) typing experience from your gaming keyboard, the GK500 is a good choice.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Outemu Red; Backlight: Zonal RGB; Wrist rest: Yes; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 433 x 192 x 37mm

9. SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL: Best high-end gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £151 | Check price at Amazon
If money is no object, or if you’re looking for a classy gaming keyboard to flash at the next LAN party you attend (yes, we’re stuck in 2001), the SteelSeries Apex 7 is the keyboard for you. Available in both full-size and TKL layouts, the primary gimmick here is an OLED display nestled in the top-right corner of the board that can sync with certain apps and games (like Spotify, or CS:GO) to display pertinent information – or just a picture of Jeff Bezos, if you’re a weirdo like me.

But it’s not all about the gimmicks. The Apex 7 is an incredibly competent keyboard. Although it doesn’t use the undeniably superior Cherry MX switches, SteelSeries’ own versions do a pretty good imitation; we used the “tactile and quiet” Brown switches and found them easy to type on and easier still to game on, with a noticeable bump halfway down the 2mm actuation distance. Gamers looking for a “clickier” experience should make sure to purchase the Blue switches instead.

With a frame built from a single sheet of aluminium, the Apex 7 has a pleasing weight to it. The dual-USB cable is similarly hefty, and can be channeled left, right or centrally via the underside of the keyboard. The only misstep in terms of build quality is the keycaps themselves – they’re perfectly good to type on, but they look a bit dated when paired with the trendy exposed keyswitches.

The Apex 7 also has one USB-A passthrough port plus a simplified set of media controls situated next to that OLED display in the top-right corner. These controls – a volume wheel and pause/play button – are simple enough to use, but do sit quite far from the nearest keys, so jabbing at them without hitting any other keys is a bit tricky.

Everything from button functions to macros to lighting to the image on your OLED display can be customised in SteelSeries’ excellent Engine app, a constant high point of the broader SteelSeries experience.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: SteelSeries Brown; Backlight: Per-key RGB; Wrist rest: Yes; Additional ports: 1x USB-A; Dimensions: 403 x 139 x 17mm

10. Razer Huntsman V2 Analog: The most extraordinary gaming keyboard around

Price when reviewed: £160 | Check price at Amazon
What makes the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog so incredibly expensive? The clue’s in the name: where most keyboards offer digital inputs – that is, the key switch is either on or off – the Razer Huntsman V2 uses lasers to produce an effect similar to pushing on the analog stick on your PS4/Xbox controller. That’s right: this keyboard allows you to control your car’s throttle, or your character’s movement, with more nuance than ever before.

It really works, too. In Razer’s excellent Synapse app, you can choose how varying degrees of pressure affect how the keys respond and even assign multiple actions to a single key. This means you could set the R key to, say, reload when tapped and throw a grenade when pressed firmly.

You can also use this function to set how firmly you have to hit a key when typing, making the Huntsman the first keyboard with adjustable actuation points. The only slight issue is that the resistance you feel when you press the key doesn’t change when you adjust the actuation, so you will have to get used to tapping/firmly pressing the keys.

Set the analog aspect of this keyboard aside for a minute and you’ll still find the very best that Razer has to offer. It’s an appealing blend of form and function: for example, the plush leatherette magnetic wrist-rest has a strip of RGB lighting running around the sides that syncs with a similar strip on the body of the keyboard when connected, producing a stunning light show. The media controls are slick and easily accessed – we love the volume dial in particular – and the rest of the keyboard is much the same. It’s Razer, which means well-built and immensely customisable.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Razer analog; Backlight: Synapse RGB; Wrist rest: Yes; Additional ports: USB 2.0; Dimensions: 487 x 198 x 91mm

11. Azeron Cyborg Gaming Keypad: Best keyboard alternative

Price when reviewed: £156 | Check price at Azeron
If you’re someone who has never felt truly at home with a mouse and keyboard, an Azeron Keypad offers you a viable alternative that doesn’t mean playing with a controller. Built with customisation and comfort in mind, the Azeron Cyborg is a new way to play that combines the thumbstick found on gamepads with the speed and remapping abilities of the best keyboards on this list. With one hand, you control a mouse as normal with PC gaming, and with the other, you rest your hand on Azeron’s innovative keypad.

You won’t find a more ergonomic option on this list. Azeron allows you to fully modify the angle, length, height and spaces between each of the Cyborg’s finger towers to perfectly suit your hand. The result is a blissfully comfortable way to play that will banish any discomfort you may have from using a keyboard or a controller that doesn’t fit you quite right.

Customisation is another massive strength here. Azeron’s software lets you remap each of its keypad’s twenty-eight keys with just a few quick clicks. It may be a bit tiresome creating entire control maps for each game you play, but the options here are endless. What’s more, you can control the movement of your in-game character with the thumbstick, freeing up valuable real estate to perform other functions with your fingers instead. In our opinion, this is the best alternative to a traditional keyboard you’ll find.

Read our full Azeron Cyborg Gaming Keyboard review

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Omron mechanical; Backlit: No; Wrist rest: Yes; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: From 245 x 210 x 105mm

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