UK markets open in 4 hours 2 minutes
  • NIKKEI 225

    29,099.93
    +591.38 (+2.07%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    28,743.97
    +122.05 (+0.43%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    60.84
    -0.51 (-0.83%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,793.50
    +0.40 (+0.02%)
     
  • DOW

    34,137.31
    +316.01 (+0.93%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    38,627.28
    -1,835.41 (-4.54%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,246.15
    -16.81 (-1.33%)
     
  • ^IXIC

    13,950.22
    +163.95 (+1.19%)
     
  • ^FTAS

    3,935.64
    +15.59 (+0.40%)
     

11 best gaming keyboards: React quickly in the heat of the moment

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Alan Martin
·14-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
<p>Look for a weighty model to stay clear of accidental nudges</p> (The Independent)

Look for a weighty model to stay clear of accidental nudges

(The Independent)

It’s hard to believe that those designing early computer keyboards, based on the runaway success of the typewriter, would ever imagine a whole industry devoted to improving their performance for gaming. But in the 21st century, the keyboard and mouse is the chosen input combo for pro-gamers the world over, and as such there are plenty of options when shopping for the best keyboard.

While they can, of course, be used for regular word processing and web browsing, gaming keyboards are distinct from what you might find bundled with a PC for a handful of reasons. First, they’re designed with gamers in mind, meaning they’re incredibly responsive, allowing players to react quickly in the heat of the moment.

Read more: 12 best PC games to play right now

They also tend to have options like programmable keys (so that players can customise games to their liking), media shortcuts (for controlling music and video easily), and bright customisable RGB lighting that makes them more distinctive than your standard office keyboard. They may also have USB pass-throughs for accessories, and almost always let you push more keys at once than your average keyboard (something called “n-key rollover”).

When buying a gaming keyboard, you’ll quickly have to choose between mechanical or membrane. This refers to how the keys are built-in: mechanical keyboards have key switches that work independently of each other, while membrane keyboards all connect to the same circuit layer. In general, more expensive mechanical switches are regarded as better for gaming keyboards due to their responsiveness and durability, though their loud “clickiness” takes a little getting used to if you’re used to a membrane device.

A lot of this will be down to personal taste, and different switches for mechanical gaming keyboards cater to resistance and sound tolerance – indeed, you can often choose which caps you want on the keyboard when you buy.

Still, in terms of overall feel, performance, features and style, these are the best gaming keyboards you can buy right now. We tested them over the course of a month with long-form writing and regular gaming breaks (mainly Hunt: Showdown and Cyberpunk 2077). When picking our favourites, we paid special attention to look, feel, key spacing, customisation and features to find our favourites.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Read More

8 best gaming headsets: Enhanced audio for PS4, Xbox, Nintendo and PC

Fortnite Chapter 2, Season 5 launch: The gifts fans of the game will love

10 best high-end laptops for great performance with sleek design

HyperX alloy elite 2

If you have enough desk space for a full-size gaming keyboard, then for our money the HyperX alloy elite 2 is the best-looking hardware around. The keys have a pleasing two-tone look with black caps atop white bases, making them look a bit like those fancy chocolate bars that blend milk and white.

More importantly, it’s also an absolute delight to type and game on. We’re especially keen on the dedicated media and gaming keys, allowing you to control music, adjust brightness, toggle RGB presets and engage the gaming mode without having to use tricky, stretchy key combinations. On the subject of RGB lighting, this is certainly a keyboard that craves attention, with (optional) dazzling light-shows for every keypress, enhanced by the translucent design of HyperX’s pudding keycaps. Its weighty design, meanwhile, means that you really have to want the keyboard to move to shift it: no accidental nudges here.

It has a couple of downsides: the steel top plate is a fingerprint magnet and there’s no bundled wrist rest. The keys may be a little far apart for some people’s tastes – an attribute that results in fewer wrong presses, but possibly at the expense of slightly more tired fingers, if your hands are on the smaller side. But, at £140, the HyperX alloy elite 2 a serious keyboard at a surprisingly wallet-friendly price.

Buy now £139.99, Uk.hyperx.com

Razer huntsman V2 analogue

If money is truly no object, then here’s something freshly released that is truly revolutionary. The Razer huntsman V2 analogue advances on the already excellent huntsman series by adding something that console gamers have taken for granted for generations: analogue controls.

Buttons on keyboards typically exist in one of two states: pressed or unpressed. But with the Razer, the keys can be programmed to emulate analogue controls. In other words, a light press of ‘W’ could make your character walk, while a heavy press could make them break into a run. In typical Razer fashion, this can be customised, with actuation points for each key, meaning you can make the biting point anywhere between 1.5mm and 3.6mm.

It’s something that takes a little getting used to, but the benefits are obvious: with more functions on single keys, less gymnastics are required to pull off advanced moves. At £250, it’s by far the priciest keyboard on this list, but it inherits all the benefits that Razer has perfected during its years in the market: a great typing experience, hypnotic programmable RGB lighting, huge customisation potential and the most comfortable (optional) wrist rest we’ve used to date.

Still, if this is too rich for your blood, it’s worth looking at the Razer blackwidow elite, which offers many of the same features – minus the clever analogue innovation – for around half the price (£129.99, Game.co.uk).

Buy now £250.00, Overclockers.co.uk

MSI vigor GK50 elite

If money is tight, but you still want a top-tier gaming and typing experience, then MSI’s GK50 elite is certainly worth a look. With a retail price of £80, but often spotted cheaper, it not only offers an excellent gaming experience but is also a joy to type on.

In fact, out of the box, it gave us the best speed and accuracy scores of any keyboards in this list. That, combined with the fact that its looks are more “office” than most of the hardware represented here (once the blinding lights are disabled), makes it the perfect keyboard for those that like to mix business with pleasure.

The main things you’d expect from a gaming keyboard are all present and correct – there’s n-key rollover, anti-ghosting, plenty of RGB presets, decent customisation software and even additional convex ctrl and alt keys that you can pop in for more grip. But it loses some marks for build quality, with its plasticky base and relatively flimsy cable. Design wise, the key gaming functions also need you to do function key combos, which can be wearing, and there’s no wrist rest included. But it’s still surprisingly fully featured for the price, and could be just the ticket for those that want a gaming-focused keyboard without the usually high cost of entry.

Buy now £72.98, Laptopsdirect.co.uk

Corsair K70 Mk.2 low profile

The feel of gaming keyboards is, of course, a matter of personal taste. If you prefer one that’s very sensitive to presses, then the Corsair K70 Mk.2 low profile may be for you. The 1mm point of actuation means that your in-game reflexes may markedly improve, though we found this also sometimes ended up producing a stream of “aaaaaaaaaa” when we paused to think while typing with digits resting on the keys.

If you’re a light touch typist, however, you’ll find an awful lot to like here, with a minimalist slim design, dedicated media and gaming buttons, and a huge range of customisation options via the Corsair icue software. The customisation doesn’t end on the software side, either: Corsair includes an optional set of keycaps for the first-person shooter WADS keys, with a bit more texture for those that find the preinstalled ones too slippy.

Its main drawback is the bundled wrist rest which feels cheap and flimsy – in stark contrast to the keyboard itself, which is solidly constructed despite its slim frame. The plasticky bumps don’t feel nice on the wrist, and it makes you wonder why Corsair included it at all. But when your main complaint is the quality of a free optional accessory, you have to say that the Corsair K70 Mk.2 low profile is worth a look.

Buy now £144.95, Overclockers.co.uk

Fnatic streak65

A relative newcomer to the hardware world, Fnatic is better known as an eSports organisation, but its products have proven to offer a great experience at a highly competitive price.

The Fnatic streak keyboards are no exception. The streak65 is incredibly compact while combining a typing and gaming experience that’s up with the best of them, with a minimalist but solid construction.

The full-size streak RGB with its plush wrist rest is a bite-your-hand-off deal at just £119.99 (Fnatic.com), which likely explains why it is out of stock at the time of writing. But you can still get the tiny Streak65 (£110, Fnatic.com) or the slightly bigger Ministreak (£100, Fnatic.com) if you want a top-tier typing and gaming experience without breaking the bank.

Buy now £110.00, Fnatic.com

Roccat vulcan TKL pro

The Roccat vulcan TKL pro certainly has a distinct look that’s likely to appeal to fans of transparent consoles. The keycaps are thin, flat squares of plastic that sit atop the exposed stems, somewhat reminiscent of old-school typewriters. It’s a strong look that certainly helps the soothing RGB lighting to shine through beautifully.

It’s not just a looker: it feels great to type on and offers a suitably satisfying clicky noise when each key is pressed, with what we would describe as the perfect amount of resistance. The keys are well-spaced, so typos are rare once you get used to the feel of things. Though, it does have a surprisingly large footprint for a keyboard without a numpad – and it’s a bit of a shame that the gaming, lighting and media keys all require you to press the function key at the same time.

Add to that software that takes some getting used to, and this is a keyboard that’s close to perfect, but not as good value as some of the others on this list. But if the looks appeal, it’s still a great option.

Buy now £149.99, Amazon.co.uk

Logitech G915TKL wireless

Purists might warn you off wireless gaming keyboards. Not only is there the risk of running out of charge at the most inopportune moment, but there’s an inherent latency in wireless connections that just isn’t there with their wired counterparts.

After some time with the G915TKL gaming keyboard and Logitech’s proprietary lightspeed wireless technology, however, we can confirm that it felt more than responsive enough for us. For those that prefer not to waste a USB slot on the lightspeed dongle, there’s also a Bluetooth mode that can be toggled on – though we wouldn’t recommend it for competitive gaming.

In fact, it’s hard to fault the keyboard at all: it was great for typing thanks to its low tread and games felt quick and responsive. Dedicated rubber media buttons are neatly arranged at the top, and while the lighting can be as over the top as you like, it’s very easy to make the G915TKL stylishly understated for office use at the push of a button.

The only real drawback is the price, with the G915TKL almost hitting the £200 mark. Most gamers don’t need wireless, but if you do, the price is justified.

Buy now £199.00, Argos.co.uk

SteelSeries apex 7

The SteelSeries apex 7 is a good-looking keyboard and a good performer, but its USP – a small OLED smart display in the top right-hand corner of the keyboard – feels like style over substance. It’s handy when used to navigate menus without needing the software, but most of the time it sits with the SteelSeries logo, unless you’re using a game with extra functionality like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But even then, it’s so far out of the way that it’s not exactly a gamechanger.

That’s a pity, because otherwise, the keyboard is one of the nicest we’ve used with a smart, compact design and responsive performance both in-game and while typing. It’s also supremely comfortable, with a rubber wrist rest that neatly attaches to the keyboard via magnets. Its clever built-in lighting will also sync up with other SteelSeries products, if you happen to be using a compatible headset, mouse or mousepad.

Overall, it’s on the pricey side without offering much extra for the money. We can’t help but feel the space saved for the OLED mini display would be better served with some dedicated media keys instead. It’s a great option, however, for those that have already invested in other SteelSeries kit or who are intrigued by the CS:GO integration.

Buy now £154.99, Overclockers.co.uk

Razer blackwidow V3

As you might expect for a keyboard in its third iteration, Razer’s blackwidow V3 gets pretty much everything right. The keys are responsive, clicky and offer a good level of resistance, and everything is nicely customisable with the Razer synapse software. The ergonomics feel tried and tested for office or gaming use.

We’re not keen on the lack of dedicated gaming and lighting buttons, which means you’ll need to use function keys for interaction, but it gets the basics right and there’s a built-in headphone jack and USB passthrough too – though the included wrist rest is a plasticky number that’s a bit of a letdown compared to Razer’s usual plush standard.

For an extra £90 there’s the blackwidow pro (£229.99, Scan.co.uk), which is broadly the same but with added wireless connectivity (which also means the USB passthrough is lost). It’s a great addition to the Razer collection, and thankfully the company includes a nice spongy wrist rest for the price, too.

Buy now £130.00, Currys.co.uk

Asus ROG falchion

Gaming keyboards tend to be on the large size, but if desk space is at a premium for you, then you’ll want to consider the Asus ROG falchion – a keyboard that promises all of the functionality in a form that has 65 per cent of the keys of your average model.

For the most part, this wireless wonder absolutely lives up to this promise. It’s both a pleasure to type and game on, and the tiny frame gives you more space for expansive mouse movements, which is great for those with limited desk real estate. Nice clicky mechanical keys, customisable RGB lighting via the armoury crate synapse software, onboard memory for five profiles and a genuinely great in-game feel make this a winner.

Crucially, unlike some other small keyboards, Asus finds room for the arrow keys, which is something we sorely miss when trying to edit documents in a hurry. Yes, the dedicated media keys are missed, but we’re a big fan of the volume touchbar on the side. At £150 it may seem a bit pricey for a keyboard with such a small physical footprint, but the low-latency wireless performance, satisfying feel and ample customisation make it seriously worth considering if space is your driving factor.

Buy now £149.99, Overclockers.co.uk

Asus ROG strix scope RX

The ROG strix scope RX is a competitively priced gaming keyboard aimed at first-person shooter fans with an extended left ctrl button for easy crouching and a compact design to give players maximum mouse movement. It also has a “stealth” button to instantly hide everything on screen, just in case you’re gaming when you really shouldn’t be. No judgement here if you feel that’s something you might need.

There’s no wrist rest, and we found the keys a little too sensitive for day-to-day typing and gaming – but for twitchy FPS, that mild negative can easily be recast as a positive. The construction is solid, it feels robust and it’s even IP56-certified for protection against water and dust, meaning gamers can drink nearby with confidence. As £125, it’s very tempting indeed.

Buy now £124.99, Amazon.co.uk

The verdict: Gaming keyboards

There’s certainly an element of personal taste when picking the best gaming keyboard, but if space isn’t at a premium, then for us the HyperX alloy elite 2 offers a great blend of style, customisation, easily reachable controls, and feel both when typing and gaming. At £140, it’s well priced and a great all-rounder.

Other keyboards are worth considering, of course. The Huntsman V2 analogue combines Razer’s longstanding build quality and features with the gamechanging introduction of analogue presses, but it comes at a cost that simply won’t be worthwhile for most people. If you’re on a budget, it’s hard to fault the MSI GK50 elite, and if space is the main concern then the Asus ROG falchion should be your first port of call.