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.
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.
How we tested
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.
The best gaming keyboards for 2021 are:
- Best overall – HyperX alloy elite 2: £139.99, Hyperx.com
- Best for analogue controls – Razer huntsman V2 analogue: £249.95, Overclockers.co.uk
- Best budget gaming keyboard – MSI vigor GK50 elite: £71.99, Very.co.uk
- Best for key sensitivity – Corsair K70 Mk.2 low profile: £144.95, Overclockers.co.uk
- Best for minimalist design – Fnatic streak65: £109.99, Fnatic.com
- Best for good looks – Roccat vulcan TKL pro: £119.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best responsive wireless gaming keyboard – Logitech G915TKL wireless: £199.99, Argos.co.uk
- Best for gamers with SteelSeries kit – SteelSeries apex 7: £169.99, Overclockers.co.uk
- Best wrist rest – Razer blackwidow V3: £116.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best compact wireless gaming keyboard – Asus ROG falchion: £139.99, Overclockers.co.uk
- Best water resistant gaming keyboard – Asus ROG strix scope RX: £99.02, Amazon.co.uk