For PC gamers, the keyboard is fully half of their arsenal. While the mouse takes care of those precision 180-degree no-scope headshots, it’s the keyboard that moves your character around the level or lets you quickly queue the right spells in your favorite MMO. Then later it can also help you do the boring stuff like homework or writing a report for your boss.

Gamers often consider mechanical keyboards to be the pinnacle technology here. You can read all about them in my guide on that tech. Personally, I am not a huge fan of mechanical keyboards thanks to the noise and expense, but it’s easy to see why their durability and responsiveness make them so popular.

Here I have looked at some of the best-selling gaming keyboards. They come in various price brackets and use different technologies, but they are all specifically designed for PC gamers. Are any of them going to be your next weapon of choice? Let’s find out.

Redragon K552 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Redragon is a brand I have been seeing more of lately, and at first I was pretty dismissive. There are always fly-by-night brands that come and go in the peripheral space. I’d rather stick to trusted brands like Logitech. However, they have sold a ton of keyboards and the user reviews are pretty positive.

It turns out that the company has been around since 1996, but hasn’t really made products released under its own brand. Instead, it’s been making products for companies like Razer, HP, Dell, Asus, Huawei, and Lenovo.

What really made me stop and take notice is this K552 Mechanical keyboard. How is it possible for a keyboard that uses mechanical switches to come in at such a ridiculously low price?

The first part of that answer seems to be that this does not use the more expensive, industry-standard Cherry MX switch designs. Instead, the company says it’s the “equivalent” of Cherry MX Blue switches. If you want to know what the characteristics of the different switch colors are, head over to my mechanical keyboard guide.

This K552 is not a standard 101-key design, but the more compact 87-key layout. I actually like this layout because it takes up much less space. Reducing the number of keys also helps to cut costs. Most of the missing keys come from ditching the numerical keypad. Unless you work with a lot of spreadsheets and calculations, you probably won’t miss it. If you do need a numpad though, you’ll either have to get a separate USB one or go for a different keyboard.

Quality-wise they’ve really focused on what matters. It uses metal and ABS rather than an all-plastic design, so the keyboard is pretty sturdy. It is splash proof, although I’d hate to spill a Coke on it. This model is black with red LEDs, but I have seen variants of the K522 with full RGB colors as well. Although, of course, these will cost more.

People who have used this keyboard seem to love it and I can see no reason, at this price, why anyone who hasn’t already done so shouldn’t dip their toe into the mechanical keyboard world. If you don’t like it, no big loss. If you do like it, this should tide you over long enough to save up for one of the premium models.

Redragon S101 PC Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Yes, I know that these are only supposed to be overviews of gaming keyboards, but I wanted to include this combo to show you that you can get a pretty decent kit at the entry-level if you want to move up from office-grade gear to something with a gaming focus and look.

This Redragon S101 combo costs as much as just their K522 keyboard alone. This is a wired set with RGB backlighting. So it certainly looks the part, and looks more expensive than it really is. You get quite a bit of adjustment too, with several levels of brightness and different lighting modes. The keyboard is obviously not mechanical, but membrane switches can play perfectly well. The keyboard shares other gaming-centric features too, such as the ability to disable the WIN key and its resistance to spilled drinks.

Now for the mouse: it goes all the way to 3200 DPI, which is MORE THAN ENOUGH for almost all gamers apart from competitive professionals. It has five programmable buttons, five profiles, and, incredibly, the ability to tune its weight. These are all the features you’d get from a gaming mouse that costs much more than this whole set! Pretty awesome value, and I can hardly imagine getting anything better for the money.

CORSAIR K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard

Corsair has made quite a name for itself as a quality producer of gaming-grade components and peripherals. A significant percentage of the computer I’m writing this on right now consists of Corsair parts, just because when I was building it so many Corsair parts were the right mix between quality and price.

Strangely, however, I have never used their mice or keyboards. I think of Corsair as a company that makes PC cases and power supplies. Still, its reputation among gamers as a great peripheral maker is substantial. This K55 keyboard looks pretty good as far as gaming keyboards go, although there’s nothing that really stands out about its design. Unlike many gaming keyboards, this has an integrated wrist rest. If you also need to get some actual work done, that’s a nice feature.

This isn’t a mechanical keyboard, so understandably Corsair is promoting it as a quiet option. Which makes sense, since one big weakness of mechanical keyboards is how noisy they are.

Like all proper gaming keyboards, this one has anti-ghosting technology, so you can be assured multiple fast keypresses will be registered without missing a beat.

In terms of RGB features, it has three RGB zones with a few presets. You also get six macro keys to program as you like.

The best feature is probably the fact that this keyboard is certified for use with Xbox One, for those few games that have keyboard support. A good price for a decent mainstream gaming keyboard.

Razer Cynosa Chroma

The last Razer gaming keyboard I bought was ten years ago and it was great for the first few months. Then it started acting up a daily basis, soon requiring a short trip to the trash can. So, yeah, I’m not the biggest fan of the company. Yet, they have been doing incredibly well and their new products review well.

I have to admit that the Cynosa Chroma looks very good. It’s got a very nice, simple design – a positive for me but others might prefer something with a more elaborate shape.

It has anti-ghosting, which is a given for any gaming keyboard, really. This is not a mechanical keyboard, but Razer rates the keys at 80 million clicks of durability. The RGB support is what makes this keyboard exceptional at this price point. This is a proper RGB implementation with each key being individually lit. Each LED can show 16.8 million colors and can sync with the exact colors of the Philips Hue lights and other compatible Razer stuff too. So you can actually match your keyboard color to the smart lights in your room, if you use the Philips stuff.

The keyboard itself seems just fine, but the main reason to buy this is getting proper RGB support at a good price. Most other keyboards for this amount of money have very limited implementation of the technology. So if the pretty lights are important to you, this is a great choice.

Razer Tartarus V2

Do you really need an entire keyboard in order to play games? Many gaming keyboards aren’t really all that great for general use, so you either have to have a good gaming experience with mediocre typing or vice versa.

Now there’s an intriguing option that might solve both problems. The Razer Tartarus is an example of a one-handed gaming keyboard. It’s actually a pad for your left hand that only has programmable keys, so you can go into your game and assign any function to any key. While you might expect a WASD layout, you’d be wrong. None of the actual keyboard keys are meant for movement. Instead there is a thumbstick and scroll wheel. Yes, it will take some getting used to, but if you can put up with the learning curve, this could be a great solution.

The idea is to use this in conjunction with a mouse and then use a full keyboard for typing and other general computer duties. Now you can pick a keyboard that’s great to type on, while still playing with a keyboard designed for the best gaming experience.

This is a “mecha-membrane” keyboard, which means they’ve created something that combines the quietness of a membrane keyboard with the tactile feel of a mechanical keyboard. You can opt for a true mechanical version though, which costs almost exactly twice as much. It’s nice to have options though.

I really like the idea of the Tartarus and it has applications beyond gaming as well. I’ve read about people who work with video and photo editing software that have started using the Tartarus as a gizmo to help speed up their workflows. It’s not going to be for everyone, and shifting movement duties to a thumbstick is going to go against hundreds of hours of muscle memory for the sort of gamer that’s looking to buy something like this. Yet I have to applaud Razer for doing something fresh. I have a feeling you’re either immediately going to love the idea of this or know its not for you.

Redragon K585 DITI One-Handed RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

If the Tartarus above seems like a good idea, but a little too radical for you, perhaps the K585 DITI from Redragon is more your speed. It’s half the price. Amazingly, this uses MX Blue equivalent switches. Probably not as durable, but with a similar feel.

Rather than being a totally new take on a gaming keyboard, this is basically just the bit of the keyboard that your left hand would use during gameplay. So fans of WASD don’t need to worry – this should feel more or less the same as playing with a regular keyboard.

You do get a number of macro keys down the side and within reach of your thumb, so customization is still on the table. There are several nice touches to this keypad, including the magnetically-attached wrist rest. You also get seven macro keys with four presets, making for 28 macro settings in total.

User feedback is very positive, with people loving the quality and feel of the board. If the Tartarus is too radical for you, this is a very cost-effective entry into the one-handed gaming keyboard world.

Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Logitech’s reputation as a gaming peripheral maker is essentially unassailable. It’s made some of the best gaming mice, wheels, keyboards, and joysticks ever. While there have been some pretty average products from it over the years, it’s a company I have the highest respect for and have given literally thousands of dollars of my own money to.

The G Pro Mechanical is therefore a product that I expect a lot from, since it’s priced pretty well for a mechanical keyboard; with the word “Pro” in the name I expect Logitech to give us more value for each dollar than anyone else.

So why is it called a “Pro” keyboard? Because the switches in this product are designed to stand up to eSports use. You might not know this, but in some eSports games it’s not uncommon for players to perform 200 actions per minute. So the keys are really being hammered at high speed. These keys are also designed to register more quickly than standard mechanical keys, so they really are for gaming pros. The signal processing also gets some special attention here, and Logitech says it has shaved off 10 milliseconds from the total response time. The other design feature aimed at competitive play involves size and portability. This is a compact keyboard meant for travel from one competition to the next. It has a fully-detachable cable as well, so that you can stow the keyboard and cable separately, preventing it from damage caused by tugging on the connection point.

The nice-to-have features include an RGB system that actually interfaces with supporting games, so that certain events or actions in-game will change the colors on the keyboard. Is this for you? Well, if you ever travel to LANs and play competitively online, then this is an excellent choice. Logitech has found a perfect balance between performance and price. The G Pro is getting on a bit in age now, which means you can get great deals on them too.

DIERYA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Until I spotted this product, thanks to its popularity in online stores, I had never even heard of Dierya before. Yet plenty of people are buying this keyboard and it has a lot of positive reviews from people who were supposedly not paid to say nice things about it. OK, skepticism aside, this is a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown “equivalent” switches, which explains the low price. Yes indeed, this is one of the cheapest mechanical keyboards I have seen – a result of some surprisingly good reverse-engineering switches coming from the Far East. While these keys don’t last quite as long as the real deal, they do have that tactile feel and will probably last longer than you need them to. So why not, if this is your budget range and you absolutely must have a mechanical keyboard.

This keyboard looks pretty awesome, with a minimalist design and only the keys you really need to get fragging. Surprisingly, oit’s also a wireless keyboard that works with tablets and phones. The key here is that you can connect to three different devices at the same time and switch between them, which means you can quickly type out a message on your phone and then go back to playing or working in seconds.

Another cost-saving feature is the fact that this is not a 100% mechanical keyboard. That’s right, this is a hybrid board with only 60% of the keys featuring those sweet mechanical switches. Luckily it’s the ones that you’d actually use for gaming or typing, with rarely-used keys left non-mechanical to save some money.

This is not a keyboard for competitive gamers, but if you want a great experience while playing on a TV and are OK with basic 7-color RGB, this is a wonderful, compact keyboard at an amazing price. It looks good and performs well, and users are happy. Seems like the right way to spend the asking price.

Razer Huntsman Elite

Razer names its mice after snakes and its keyboards after spiders. My first Razer keyboard was the Lycosa, which is a genus of Wolf Spider. That keyboard was awful, but a decade plus of refinement and the Huntsman Elite seems to be the sort of keyboard many gamers aspire to own.

You can tell by the price that this is definitely a gaming weapon aimed at the higher end of the market. It’s not just about flashiness either – Razer has done some really interesting things to really set this apart as an “Elite” and luxury-9 product. It’s both big things and little things, but I’d like to highlight the stuff that stands out the most to me.

First of all, the keyboard seems to have some really nice ergonomics. I especially like the removable wrist rest, which is held on by magnets. That’s a small detail, but it shows that this isn’t just any old keyboard.

Now for a big one – opto-mechanical switches. Razer calls them “purple” switches and they really represent a new approach to key actuation. So the switch is still mechanical, but an optical sensor measures the moment of actuation which, in theory, should be faster overall. Razer has also added key stabilization technology so that each keystroke is identical in action.

This is a full-size, full-key, full RGB keyboard that doesn’t seem to skimp anywhere. A keyboard meant for a main, flagship gaming PC; not the one you schlep to LANs or have set up as a secondary gaming PC.

It’s beautiful, the keycaps can be replaced, and users report top-notch ergonomics. If they have the cash for it, I doubt anyone would regret getting the Huntsman Elite. How far Razer has come!

Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The G910 from Logitech comes in at the same price segment as te Razer Elite, but despite my love for the Big L, I have to admit this keyboard is looking a little dated. That’s not to say it looks ugly, but it just doesn’t match the general modern PC game aesthetic. So, many people might have to think twice about using it with contemporary mice, screens, and cases. On the other hand, if you take the look of this keyboard into account you can put together a pretty cool throwback future-retro sort of deal.

This uses the same Romer-G mechanical switches we’ve seen in other high-end Logitech gaming keyboards, with a claimed 25% improvement in performance. This also has full per-key RGB and nine programmable macro keys. So far, so OK.

Like a few other big name RGB keyboards I’ve seen, this comes with special per-game lighting profiles. Out of the box 300 titles are supported, but I suppose Logitech might add support for popular new titles as well. How much this would matter to the average gamer probably depends on how obsessed you are with any of those specific titles. In my book it’s an interesting gimmick to try out, but not worth using for making a purchasing decision.

The bottom line is this: I think the G910 is a handsome looking but dated keyboard, with high-quality specs and parts at a reasonable price. It’s also a full-featured home desktop device rather than a stripped down competition machine like the G Pro. So if you are OK with the way it looks, this is the best way to get those Romer-G switches for home use.

Getting on Board

The first keyboard I ever gamed on was the beige no-brand one that came with our family’s IBM compatible clone 80286 machine. I spent a lot of time playing Golden Axe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on that computer, never giving a thought to whether the keyboard was good for that purpose or not.

Now, picking the right keyboard not only affects your gamer street cred (no, really), it can also make your gaming experience more or less enjoyable. One of these keyboards will hopefully be the one to help you get what you want from your gaming experience and make you look good while doing it.