Are you lost in the jungle of gaming keyboards? We take a look at the best models on the market and all the features to consider before buying your new mechanical gaming keyboard.
The best mechanical gaming keyboards in brief:
- Wireless mechanical keyboards
- Wired mechanical keyboards
- Cheap mechanical keyboards
Along with the mouse, the gamer keyboard is logically one of the most important accessories for PC gamers. The market for keyboards, and in a particular mechanical gaming keyboard, is particularly rich and it can be difficult to find your way around. At the editorial office, we were able to test many models that we suggest you find in this complete guide.
Beyond the mechanical gaming keyboard switches, the gamer keyboard is also defined by its format and the different features it embeds. In addition to our selection, which is adapted to your budget, you can find the answers to your questions at the end of the article in order to know everything about gamer keyboards.
We also have a selection of the best gamer mice and a guide to the best PC controllers. And if gaming isn’t your thing, check out our selection of desktop mechanical gaming keyboards and wireless mice.
Wireless gaming keyboards: the frag, without the wire
Asus ROG Claymore II: performance and modularity
The Asus ROG Claymore II keyboard stands out from other models thanks to its modular design. Indeed, it is equipped with a removable numeric keypad that can be installed on either side of the keyboard. A very practical addition, which allows the Claymore II to be adapted to all situations.
Beyond that, the Claymore II is an excellent wireless gamer keyboard. It is equipped with ROG RX switches that are simply among the best consumer models on the market. It also benefits from an excellent autonomy that will allow you to use it for several days before needing to be recharged.
In the end, all it needs is PBT keys, Bluetooth connectivity and a better wrist rest to become the reference among gamer keyboards of the moment. Of course, this near-perfection comes at a cost, and the ROG Claymore II is offered at a recommended price of 280 euros.
In a nutshell
- Well-thought-out modular design
- ROG RX switches among the best on the market
- Excellent battery life combined with 2.4 GHz wireless connection
Find the ROG Claymore II at less than 270 euros
Logitech G915: the king of wireless keyboards
On the wireless gamer keyboard market, the Logitech G915 is a reference. It stands out from its competitor’s thanks to its ultra-thin design and its brushed aluminum finish that gives it a much more premium look. If its chassis is thin, its switches and keys are also thin.
It’s equipped with GL switches, which are quite responsive and come in a variety of flavors to please as many players as possible. In use, it is efficient and comfortable and does not require a wrist rest due to its thinness. It also has additional customizable keys and all the usual multimedia keys.
Like the ROG Claymore II, Logitech’s model offers excellent battery life and also benefits from Bluetooth connectivity, allowing it to be used with a wide range of devices, while quickly switching between them using the dedicated buttons. Available at a recommended retail price of 250 euros, the G915 is also available in a TKL version.
- Unique design and high-quality aluminum finish
- Thin and pleasant buttons and switches
- Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz are compatible with excellent autonomy
Find the Logitech G915 at less than 240 euros
Find the Logitech G915 TKL at less than 150 euros
Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed: one of the few 65% wireless azerty keyboards on the market
Razer has continued to develop its range of gamer keyboards with the BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed, whose main interest is to be one of the only 65% wireless keyboards available in azerty at the time of writing. It has the same lines as the previous BlackWidows, in a much more compact format, although we would have preferred it to be even more compact.
This model is equipped with Razer Yellow linear switches. These are similar to the usual Cherry MX Red but a little more responsive. We recommend this model to gamers looking for a powerful keyboard for shooting games or MOBA for example. However, we regret the absence of a wrist rest, which is particularly lacking due to the significant thickness of the keyboard.
This mini keyboard connects to the PC via a 2.4 GHz link provided by a dongle that can be used with other devices of the brand. It is also capable of connecting via Bluetooth to use several devices at the same time. However, its autonomy is not as interesting as the other references in this guide. The BlackWidow V3 Mini is available at a recommended price of 180 euros.
- Compact design thanks to 65% format
- Convincing and silent Razer Yellow switches
- Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz compatible
Find the Razer V3 Mini HyperSpeed for less than 130 euros
Wired gamer keyboards: performance and features
Corsair K100 RGB: the most complete
Of all the gamer keyboards we’ve seen, the Corsair K100 RGB is probably the most complete. The brand made no compromises on this model and integrated everything possible: PBT keys, ultra-complete RGB lighting, macro keys, customizable scroll wheel, USB passthrough. All these features have been integrated into an imposing metal chassis that is particularly qualitative.
On the performance side, the Corsair K100 RGB is equipped with OPX optical switch. In practice, these are particularly responsive linear switches. With their activation point positioned at 1 mm, it will take several hours of use to get used to them and avoid unintentional hits. Although it is rather noisy, the K100 RGB will appeal to gamers who are looking for a high-performance keyboard above all.
As is often the case with Corsair, you’ll have to deal with the very large braided USB cable. The latter has two USB A ports since the keyboard has an additional USB port. This can be used for your mouse or for example the iCue Nexus that we also tested. Being so complete, the Corsair K100 RGB is also expensive with a recommended price of 250 euros.
- The most complete keyboard in our selection
- Corsair OPX switches are very powerful
- Customizable thumbwheel that can find its use
Find the Corsair K100 RGB for less than 250 euros
SteelSeries Apex Pro: adjustable switches and OLED display
Older, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is no less interesting. The chassis takes its ideas from the previously released M800 and hosts a very comfortable magnetic wrist rest. Like the rest of the Apex range, this pro version is very well built while being visually pleasing in order to integrate well with everyone’s setup.
The Apex Pro differs from the Apex 7 thanks to its switches. The main strike zone has OmniPoint switches, the main advantage of which is that they are customizable. These linear switches can be adjusted as needed to make them more or less responsive. In fact, they can be configured with an activation point as low as 0.4mm!
SteelSeries has also equipped the Apex Pro with a customizable OLED screen. This allows you to configure the keyboard without the driver, but also to display information related to certain games or applications. This appendage is far from being essential, but it does provide a little something that some gamers might like. The SteelSeries Apex Pro is available at a recommended price of 230 euros and is also available in a TKL version.
- A solid, well-built keyboard
- Linear and customizable switches
- An OLED screen that some may like
Find the SteelSeries Apex Pro for less than 230 euros
Razer Huntsman V2: the most professional
More recently, we tested the very pragmatic Huntsman V2 from Razer. The brand decided to focus on the essentials by offering a keyboard without frills and with some welcome additions such as a layer of sound insulation that limits noise pollution and that we usually find on custom keyboards.
The Huntsman V2 benefits from a simple and unobtrusive chassis and a particularly comfortable wrist rest, even though it is not magnetic. The PBT keys house the brand’s high-performance optical switches, which are available in different variants to suit a wide range of users.
Beyond its performance, the Huntsman V2 is logically equipped with RGB lighting, but Razer has removed the banding that was present on the V1. The TKL version that we tested is available at a recommended price of 160 euros and you will need to count 200 euros for the full-size version. If you’re looking for a well-finished, high-performance wired keyboard that gets to the point, this is the one we recommend.
- A pragmatic keyboard
- Razer’s switches are generally convincing
- A simple and discreet design
Find the Razer Huntsman V2 TKL for less than 160 euros
Cheap gamer keyboards: cheaper alternatives
Because not everyone has the budget to afford the references presented so far, we also offer you some more affordable models among those that have passed through our hands in recent months. You will find here two affordable and quality mechanical keyboards.
The G Lab Keyz Carbon V3: the gateway to the mechanical world
If you’re looking for a mechanical keyboard first and foremost, but don’t expect the best performance or the most comprehensive features from it, you might want to check out The G Lab’s Carbon line. These models are very affordable and offer decent performance for the price.
Logically, you should not expect miracles in the quality of construction and design. Similarly, the features will be much more limited than on the more expensive models presented in this guide. Nevertheless, for about 50 euros, it is difficult to do better today.
- Very classic construction and design
- A mechanical keyboard for less than 50 euros
- A metal chassis that seems robust
Find The G Lab Keyz Carbon V3 for less than 50 euros
Asus ROG Strix Scope RX: ROG RX switches first
Just like the Claymore II that we recommend above, the Strix Scope RX is equipped with the brand’s ROG RX switches. In our opinion, they are the best mechanical linear switches on the market and we highly recommend them.
Here, Asus plays the simplicity card with a keyboard that goes to the basics and doesn’t offer any extra features. It does not come with a wrist rest either, which could have been appreciated by some. Logically wired, it has an additional USB port and is offered at around 130 euros.
In a nutshell:
- Simple, modern design
- The excellent ROG RX switches
- Half the price of the ROG Claymore II
Find the ROG Strix Scope RX for less than 130 euros
Some keys to choose your gamer keyboard
How to choose a gamer keyboard?
Like any other device of its kind, the gamer keyboard must above all be chosen according to your needs. Logically, one of the primary functions of such a device is to accompany you during your gaming sessions. Based on this principle, your choice will be oriented towards keyboards with specific characteristics.
For example, if you’re an MMORPG fan, you’ll be more likely to choose a keyboard with lots of extra keys so that you can assign your various spells and attacks to them. On the other hand, an FPS or MOBA player will be looking for performance above all else and will therefore be particularly attentive to the switches they choose.
However, keep in mind that your gamer keyboard will also be used in your daily life for all the other digital uses of the moment. Apart from the fact that you will be looking for a solid and resistant keyboard to last over time, it will logically have to be “compatible” with these more classic uses. The format and the switches will therefore be very important, but we’ll talk about this a little later.
In the same way, you should not neglect the connectivity. If the vast majority of keyboards are wired, manufacturers also offer wireless keyboards that provide more freedom. Some models also offer Bluetooth connectivity, allowing them to be used on several devices (including mobile devices). This freedom logically brings a constraint: the fact of having to recharge the battery regularly. In this respect, not all models are equal.
Finally, the last important element: the price. As with any electronic device, you will find all price ranges among the brands in the sector. High prices don’t necessarily mean high quality, and you’ll need to pay attention to all the features. This guide aims to recommend the best gamer keyboards according to your use, your needs, and your budget.
Mechanical and membrane keyboards: what are the differences?
If you use a standard office keyboard on a daily basis (whether at home or at work), it is very likely that its keys work with membranes. This technology, which is very economical, works (to put it simply) with soft plastic domes installed under each of the keys. When a key is pressed, the dome is flattened and its components come into contact with the printed circuit of the keyboard, thus triggering the recording of the keystroke.
The key then returns to its original position thanks to a small spring-like part installed inside the dome. The main advantage of this operation is that it is particularly quiet. Nevertheless, membrane keyboards are often criticized for their very soft touch and a flagrant lack of reactivity. As explained above, their main advantage over mechanical keyboards is their low manufacturing cost, but also their good resistance to liquids, which may please the most clumsy.
Gamers, always looking for performance, quickly turned to so-called “mechanical” keyboards. In practice, it is the switches installed under the keys that are mechanical. These switches are totally independent and work in a different way from the membranes.
In general, a mechanical switch is built around a small plastic box in which a rod slides, on which the key is installed. The key is held up by a spring and a side switch registers the keystroke when the key is pressed to a certain level.
Mechanical switches have several important advantages. First of all, they are much more durable than membrane switches and will last you for many, many years. They also offer a much smoother and more “satisfying” typing experience, making mechanical keyboards more comfortable than their counterparts. Gone is the very soft feel of membrane keyboards.
Performance is also improved because you don’t have to press the key all the way down for the keystroke to register. This means that demanding gamers will gain in responsiveness and be able to chain actions more efficiently. Especially since the mechanical switches return to their initial position much more quickly.
Finally, it is important to know that there are a multitude of manufacturers and models of mechanical switches, each with its own characteristics. We explain all this in detail in the following section.
Which mechanical switches to choose?
As we explained above, one of the main interests of mechanical switches is the multitude of references that exist on the market. Before deciding, it is therefore important to know the different characteristics of a mechanical switch.
First of all, there are two main families: linear switches and tactile switches.
Linear switches have a smooth and therefore linear travel. Thus, if a force is applied to the key (e.g. pressing a finger), the switch will maintain the same resistance throughout its descent in a linear fashion. The keystroke will be registered at a height defined by the characteristics of the switch.
On the other hand, touch switches are equipped with a mechanism that generates a resistance at a certain height. The stroke will therefore be linear until it reaches the point where the resistance of the key is higher. The keystroke will be registered at the moment when this resistance point has been crossed. These switches are popular with typists because they provide tactile feedback to know exactly when the keystroke has been registered. Finally, some tactile switches are said to be “clicky” and make a metallic noise when activated. These are the ones that have strongly contributed to giving mechanical keyboards their reputation of being noisy.
These two large families are then characterized by different aspects:
- The activation force required: this defines the resistance of the spring used in the switch. The higher this value is, the harder you have to press the button to make the switch “go down”. A low value will increase the reactivity but will favor involuntary activations.
- The stroke: this defines the amplitude of the key’s descent. It is therefore the distance between the height of the key when it is pressed and the height of the key “at rest”. This value is quite similar on most switches, with the exception of flat key models.
- The activation point: this is the distance at which the keystroke will be registered by the switch. The lower this value, the sooner the keystroke will be registered and the more responsive the switch will be. On a tactile switch, this value also represents the distance at which the tactile resistance will be felt.
You will often notice that switches are often associated with colors. Historically, red switches are linear switches that are quite responsive. Brown switches are similar in characteristics but are tactile. Finally, blue switches are tactile and clicky. There is a multitude of colors, but we can only advise you to refer to the datasheets, because the characteristics may vary for the same color depending on the manufacturer.
To summarize, a gamer who is primarily looking for responsiveness may want to consider a keyboard with a switch with a low activation force requirement and a very low activation point value.
On the other hand, a person who does a lot of writing will probably be more comfortable with a keyboard that has a higher required activation force and a lower activation point, which will prevent unintentional typing.
In any case, we invite you to try for yourself in a store or buy a tester to choose the switches that suit you best.
In addition to these features, manufacturers now offer optical switches. The main advantage of these switches is that they do not rely on an electrical contact to register the stroke. The sensations when using them are not different, but the use of a light beam brings a better constancy in the recording of the strokes and a faster return to the initial position because of the absence of mechanism which logically induces an additional latency time when the key goes up.
TKL, 60%, 65%: which format to choose for your gamer keyboard?
For a few years now, we have seen keyboards with more original formats than the others. The days of the full-size keyboard with 104 keys are long gone, especially for gamers who are now turning to more compact keyboards.
The main advantage of these new formats is to save space on the desk to leave more room for the mouse. By extension, this avoids the convoluted position of the arms which are necessarily too far apart with a full-size keyboard.
Today, there are several major keyboard families:
- Full-size keyboards: they have 104 keys and offer in the usual typing area, the numeric keypad, the function keys, and the additional key area with the directional arrows. This is the most classic and most widely used format for many years.
- Tenkeyless” or TKL keyboards: they follow the classic format, but do not include the numeric keypad, in order to save about ten centimeters in width.
- The 60% keyboards: here we abandon the area of the directional keys and the function keys (F1 to F12). All that remains is the classic alphanumeric keystroke area. All the deleted keys are generally accessible through shortcuts. This is the case with the K65 RGB Mini from Corsair.
- 65% keyboards: halfway between the TKL and the 60%, they keep the directional arrows and some function keys grouped on the right side of the keyboard. We tested the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini which is an example of a 65% keyboard.
We would logically advise the use of a full-size keyboard if you are dependent on the numeric keypad, apart from your video game uses. If the latter is not important to you, the TKL format will be the best choice since it retains many function keys.
Finally, if you’re looking for compactness and minimalism, you’ll want to consider a 60% format keyboard. Similarly, if you want to keep the directional arrows and some shortcuts, the 65% format is more suitable.
Wired or wireless keyboard: how to make the right choice?
The market of gamer keyboards welcomes more and more wireless references. Most of these keyboards use a 2.4 GHz link that requires a dongle supplied in the box. The latency logically induced by this solution is imperceptible to the average person and will therefore have no impact on your use.
It is rather the practical aspect that should be taken into account, especially the autonomy. Gamer keyboards are generally equipped with RGB lighting which will logically consume part of the battery. Despite this, some manufacturers like Logitech and Asus offer keyboards that can be used for at least a week before needing to be recharged.
Finally, some wireless models are also equipped with Bluetooth connectivity. The latter should be reserved for office use where responsiveness is not essential. These keyboards can generally be connected to several devices at the same time, which allows for a very practical simultaneous use in everyday life.
If you don’t see any point in having a wireless keyboard, don’t ask yourself any more questions and turn to a wired model. You’ll be able to take advantage of cheaper references and you’ll have much more choice.
On the other hand, if the freedom of wireless is important to you, turn to a wireless keyboard using 2.4 GHz technology without neglecting the autonomy which can quickly become a hindrance to use. If you plan to use your keyboard on several devices, we advise you to turn to a model that also has Bluetooth.
Other features of a gaming keyboard
In addition to the main features we have just discussed, manufacturers regularly try to distinguish themselves by offering more or less original additional features. These additions, not necessarily essential, can nevertheless guide your choice.
Depending on the thickness of the keyboard, a wrist rest can be a great companion. High-end keyboards usually come with a wrist rest, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is a feature to consider if comfort is important to you.
Not all keys are created equal! The majority of gamer keyboards are equipped with ABS plastic keys. The main advantage of ABS is that it’s cheap, but it won’t last as long as the PBT used on high-end keyboards. The feel is also different between these two ways, but in general, if you have the choice, prefer PBT keys.
The keys are usually associated with RGB lighting. On most keyboards, each key is illuminated independently of the others. Different effects are integrated and accessible through the software of the brands which are all more or less equivalent. So you have little risk of being disappointed, no matter which brand you choose.
Many gamer keyboards are for example equipped with dedicated multimedia control keys. These allow you to control the playback of your audio files as well as the general volume of the system with the help of a wheel that is often very practical.
Customizable keys, often called macro keys, are not as popular as they used to be. However, there are still some keyboards with several keys that can be customized according to your needs. We are thinking in particular of shortcuts for MMORPGs, but these keys can also show their interest in certain software such as the Adobe suite to name but one.
SteelSeries, for example, equips its high-end keyboards with a customizable screen. This screen allows you to display information related to games or certain applications. It is also possible to display a personalized image. More recently, Corsair also proposed the Nexus, a small touch screen to be grafted to its keyboard.