Feature Article

The Best Gaming Keyboards For Christmas 2019: Razer, Steelseries, Logitech, HyperX, And More

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Click-clack, front and back. Read about our favourite gaming keyboards, featuring Steelseries, Razer, Logitech, HyperX, and Corsair.

For most people, keyboards have become a fact of life. If you're reading this, you're probably within arm's reach of one. But keyboards are also as varied as they are ubiquitous; depending on what you want out of your keyboard and mouse setup, whether it's a flat, quiet keyboard, or the tactile key switches of a mechanical gaming keyboard that let you feel every letter you type. And as keyboards get more elaborate every year, there are other considerations, like your keyboard backlighting (if you're into that), ergonomic design, and response time.

If you're serious about your gaming experience on PC, especially action-heavy games like shooters or real-time strategy games, then a dedicated gaming keyboard can come with a host of advantages. They can provide better ergonomics for increased comfort over a standard keyboard, making them a better purchase in the long run; they can provide a more defined (and potentially faster) response due their better key switches, to make sure you know you did the thing; they can potentially play host to an extravagant light show that might let you know when something bad (or good!) is happening in your game.

What's the best gaming keyboard? Well, there's a lot to think about when you're looking for the perfect keyboard to suit your needs, and there are a lot of different options on the market from a number of respected brands. We've been fortunate enough to try a number of currently-available keyboard models, and in this article, we've rounded up our personal favourites to help give you an idea about what you might want out of your perfect keyboard.

When it comes to choosing the right keyboard, you have to be aware of some key terminology, especially as it relates to mechanical switches. First off, linear versus tactile switches. Linear means that there is no physical feedback mechanism to indicate when a keystroke is registered. It's smooth, relatively quiet, and preferred for rapidly tapping on keys. Tactile means there is a bump or click to indicate you've hit the actuation point; it's louder, but some prefer having physical feedback for keystrokes. It really comes down to preference. Actuation point is the distance at which a keystroke is registered; a shorter distance means you don't have to press the key down as far, but can lead to errant inputs. Actuation force is, well, the force needed to press the key down.

While Cherry has been the long-time dominant manufacturer of mechanical switches, some gaming peripheral brands have started making their own proprietary mechanical switches for their keyboards, namely Razer and Logitech. For a brief overview of the most common switches, see below:

  • Cherry MX Red: Linear
  • Cherry MX Blue: Tactile and Clicky
  • Cherry MX Brown: Tactile with a Bump
  • Cherry MX Speed: Linear with a very short actuation point
  • Romer-G Linear: Linear
  • Romer-G Tactile: Tactile with a Bump
  • Razer Yellow: Linear
  • Razer Orange: Tactile with a Bump
  • Razer Green: Tactile and Clicky
  • Steelseries OmniPoint Adjustable: Linear with adjustable actuation point

Quick Look: Best Gaming Keyboard

Looking to complete your mouse and keyboard setup, or just want more gaming peripherals to shop for? Check out our picks for the best gaming headset, best gaming mouse, and the best Nintendo Switch accessories.

Best Gaming Keyboard: Quiet Mechanical

Logitech G512 / G513

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The GoodThe Bad
+ Relatively quiet keystrokes- ...though they may not feel as smooth
+ Exposed keycap design looks great and is easy to keep clean
+ Aluminum chassis is sleek and makes for good build quality
+ Padded magnetic wrist pad is a nice option (G513 only)
+ Romer-G linear keys are a good alternative to Cherry MX switches...

Logitech has iterated on several of its keyboard and mice, essentially fine-tuning good designs to become great. Such is the case with the G512/G513 models of its mechanical gaming keyboard design--they're an improvement over the G413 in subtle, but important ways. These newer models sport full RGB backlighting that's customizable through Logitech software, and the option to come equipped with Logitech's own Romer-G linear mechanical switches. While the G413 introduced the Romer-G tactile switches, the new linear option is what makes the G512/G513 some of the quietest gaming keyboards out there.

Linear switches don't have the clicking-and-clacking of tactile ones, but the sound of the key bottoming out remains loud. However, Romer-G switches soften the blow by design, reducing the amount of contact between parts. When using my tenkeyless Razer keyboard with linear switches and my G513 side-by-side, the difference in noise is night and day. Romer-G isn't necessarily a compromise either; it's a fast and accurate mechanical switch, like its Cherry and Razer counterparts. The only thing I noticed is that a keystroke itself may not feel as buttery smooth.

The G512/G513 is a simple design executed just right. It has exposed keycaps for easy cleaning and a sleek brushed aluminum frame that looks premium without being flashy. One USB pass-through is at the top-right of the chassis and media functions are relegated to the F-keys. A perk specific to the G513 is that it comes with a padded wrist rest that attaches magnetically, which feels much better than plastic ones seen on other keyboards--that's the main difference between the two models and may not be worth the price difference. Overall, they're great packages, and you should definitely consider either one if you want a mechanical keyboard without the potential noise complaints.

  • Price: $100 USD (G512) or $150 USD (G513) // $120 AUD (G512)
  • Switch Types: Romer-G Linear or Tactile, GX Blue
  • Available in Tenkeyless: No

Best Gaming Keyboard For RGB Lighting Effects

HyperX Alloy Origins

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The GoodThe Bad
+ Incredibly vibrant lighting effects- No USB Passthrough
+ Slick, strong, and weighty build- NGenuity software is unreliable
+ Exposed keycaps make it easy to clean
+ Smooth, responsive switches
+ Detachable USB-C cord

The Alloy Origins from HyperX is a very well-made all-rounder keyboard at a reasonable mid-range price. The aluminium build feels incredibly solid and gives the keyboard quite a bit of weight, but it's still a compact unit with exposed keycaps, minimal trim around the edges, and a detachable USB-C cord. It comes in three different variations with HyperX's custom switches (linear, tactile, and clicky)--I tested the linear version which felt very smooth and responsive (the key travel is 1.8mm), even if the overall travel (3.8mm) is a little bit longer than I personally prefer for long stretches of typing.

You can set it at three different angles to suit your ergonomic setup, and a Game Mode that disables keyboard shortcut like Alt+Tab, and both features are nice. Other than that, there aren't a whole lot of bells and whistles--no macro keys, not even USB passthrough. As the "Origins" name might suggest, this is a slick, strong, no-nonsense keyboard with a focus on responsiveness.

But the thing that really makes the Alloy Origins stand out are exposed LEDs it uses for its RGB lighting. Instead of having the lights sit underneath each keyboard switch, they lay alongside them. This results in an incredibly vivid effect where coloured lighting not only comes through each keycap but emanates a distinctive aura underneath each keycap too, which is visible even my bright, sunny office. It's stunning, especially when compared directly to other models, and especially once you set up some of the more audacious trigger effects like explosions or fades.

The only caveat is that the HyperX NGenuity software required to program the lights can be a little finicky--I wasn't able to get the software to detect the keyboard on my home PC at all, but your mileage may vary. It's a pretty user-friendly piece of software, however--I was able to very quickly and easily set up my keyboard with a beautiful, twinkling cherry blossom idle effect with lingering fade lights as a typed, and bright red explosions when I hit backspace. If style is your priority, the Alloy Origins is a great pick.

  • Price: $110 USD // $200 AUD
  • Switch Types: HyperX Custom Switches (Linear, Tactile, Clicky)
  • Available in Tenkeyless: Yes

Best Gaming Keyboard: Compact/Tenkeyless

Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition

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The GoodThe Bad
+ Razer's own switches are among the best- ...but can lead to typos or mistaken inputs
+ Strong build quality with an aluminium chassis- Keystrokes can be loud, even for linear switches
+ Detachable USB-C cable
+ Low actuation point means slightly faster input registry...

There's something novel about a compact tenkeyless keyboard; they're cute. If you have no use for the number pad and/or want to have a minimalist desk setup, they're definitely up your alley. There are so many options out there as tenkeyless is quite popular among the PC gaming crowd, which was born out of the need for small keyboard at cramped LAN competitions. But which one should you get? The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is an easy choice.

Razer's Huntsman keyboards have a sleek aluminum chassis and an overall no-nonsense design. The Tournament Edition specifically is the tenkeyless version, and it features a long detachable braided USB-C cable, which makes it easier to take places if you need to. It also retains the Razer Chroma RGB lighting though the backlighting isn't as vibrant as other Razer keyboards. What makes these keyboards special are the options you have for mechanical switches. Each of Razer's own switches (Green, Yellow, and Orange) are tuned for competitive gaming with short actuation points and fine-tuned reset points; they're also consistently smooth to the keystroke. I've mainly used Razer Yellow with the Huntsman TE and it's my preferred setup for when things get serious.

The fast response and short actuation point may also lead to more errant inputs, mainly from resting your hand on the keys; it's something to be mindful of. And the Huntsman isn't designed for the courtesy of others around you as full keystrokes can be really loud. If neither of those are big concerns, then it'd be hard to overlook the Razer Huntsman.

  • Price: $130 USD // $200 AUD
  • Switch Types: Razer Orange, Green, or Yellow
  • Available not in Tenkeyless: Yes

Best Gaming Keyboard: Wireless Mechanical

Logitech G613

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The GoodThe Bad
+ Long battery life (AA required)- Not the best looking keyboard
+ Fast input response that matches that of wired keyboards- Plastic wrist rest comes attached, making it a bit bulky overall
+ Affordable, especially considering how few options are available
+ Romer-G tactile switches work well

Wireless mechanical keyboards are hard to come by since there are so few options available. That's not the only reason why we recommend the Logitech G613, though. Input latency is at the top of concerns, but that's been largely solved as seen with wireless gaming mice, and Logitech adapts its "Lightspeed" tech found in its mice for the G613.

The G613 is a full-size keyboard in every sense. It features a built-in plastic wrist rest, which is handy, but not detachable. There are six programmable macro keys on the left side of the keyboard and a suite of media controls at the top-right, too. Most importantly, the G613 stands among the great mechanical keyboards out there because of its fast response and accurate mechanical switches. It only comes with Romer-G tactile switches, which isn't so bad because these provide all the benefits of a mechanical switch like smooth, consistent keystrokes.

While you'll need to stock up on AA batteries, the G613 is quite efficient, lasting up to 18 months according to Logitech--it's so efficient, we're not even talking in hours anymore. And only once did I have to swap out batteries since I took it in as my main keyboard for work back in 2017. It'd be pretty annoying to swap out batteries for a keyboard every few months, so this is key. A reason why battery life last this long is because one common feature has been left behind: backlit keys. Keys are painted in a vibrant white that helps visibility, but of course it's not the same as proper backlighting.

Considering its feature set and the fact that it's one of the few wireless mechanical keyboards out there, the Logitech G613 is fairly affordable, especially when it's on sale. The prospect a wireless gaming keyboard may not be as appealing as a wireless mouse (you're not constantly moving a keyboard around and dragging a cord after all), but those who want to cut the cord without sacrificing keyboard quality have a great option here.

  • Price: $129.99 USD // $135 AUD
  • Switch types: Romer-G Tactile
  • Available in Tenkeyless: No

Best Gaming Keyboard: Best Build Quality

Corsair K68

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The GoodThe Bad
+ Solid, sturdy build that's also water-resistant- None to speak of
+ Dedicated media keys are convenient
+ Smooth keystrokes with multiple options for Cherry MX switches (for RGB models)

The Corsair K68 is an all-around solid keyboard, and solid as in it can take a beating. It's pitched as the mechanical keyboard that'll withstand the hazards that might accompany someone's desk, like spilled liquids. It's housed by a thick, sturdy chassis, on top of being water-resistant. While Corsair's product page shows the keyboard being showered on, we tested it ourselves in our K68 review--turns out it can take showers. There's a protective membrane beneath the keycaps and shields the mechanical switches from damage, and any liquid it takes on is funnelled out of the board.

Those are some of the perks specific to the K68, but it's an overall top performer. We've only used it with Cherry MX Red switches and, as expected, they work like a charm, providing smooth and responsive keystrokes. You have a few options when it comes to K68 models, however. There's a cheaper version that only comes with red LED backlighting and Red switches, but you'll have to kick in a few more bucks to get the RGB backlit version which also lets you choose between Cherry MX Red, Blue, or Speed switches. Both models do feature some nice, chunky media control buttons at the top-right, and they come packed with a detachable wrist rest with rubber texture.

There's nothing bad to say about the K68, really. You can't go wrong if you're looking for a great mechanical keyboard, especially if you're accident prone or just want to make sure your investment doesn't get destroyed so easily.

  • Price: $90 USD (Red LED) / $120 USD (RGB) // $150 AUD (Red LED) / $190 AUD (RGB)
  • Switch types: Cherry MX Red, Blue, or Speed
  • Available in Tenkeyless: No

Best Gaming Keyboard: Premium High-End For Serious People

SteelSeries Apex Pro

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The GoodThe Bad
+ Adjustable mechanical switches are impressive- It's relatively expensive
+ Switches are smooth and relatively quiet
+ Very solid and compact (ignoring the wrist rest) construction
+ Lots of meaningful luxuries that make it feel high-end
+ Comprehensive customisation software

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a high-end keyboard that, on top of looking and feeling the part in basically all respects, sports a pretty innovative feature that currently only exists in maybe one other keyboard: Adjustable mechanical switches. That's right--you can adjust the trigger point of each individual key on the main key spread to suit your preference, meaning you can program them to only activate on a full, concerted press (about 3.6mm) or the lightest of touches (a shallow 0.4mm).

Is that useful? It can be! A common example would be if you're a keyboard stickler who spends long stretches of time both typing and playing PC games, like me. You might prefer longer, deeper actuation to help with accuracy and reduce any slips while typing, and a much lighter actuation to increase response times in action games. The SteelSeries Engine software makes it easy to build these profiles (which can be saved onboard the keyboard itself for hardware-side activation), and conveniently allows you to script automatic profile switching for when a particular application becomes active (like Chrome or Apex Legends, for example).

However, it's worth noting that the linear nature of the switches remains the same regardless, and there are no other options if you prefer a clicky or tactile switch. That said, the way the keys respond can still feel like night and day depending on where you are on the actuation scale.

A host of wholly unnecessary but luxurious features include a tiny OLED display plus a dedicated media playback and volume control wheel, both of which help navigate the onboard UI, which allows you to customise every aspect of the keyboard without having to launch the software, though it's certainly not as efficient. The display can easily be customised to display 1-bit, 128x40 pixel gifs, and supports integration with a limited selection of programs like Discord, Dota 2, CS:GO, Mortal Kombat 11, and Tidal (if you use Tidal for some reason) to display vital information.

It features USB passthrough, cable routing, macro keys, a magnetic soft rubber wrist rest, and exposed LED lighting for individual keys. The aluminium construction is incredibly durable as you'd expect, it features an exposed keycap design, and it sports a very compact trim, much like the HyperX Alloy Origins (though the lighting isn't quite as vibrant). Nevertheless, the SteelSeries Apex Pro has everything you'd feasibly want from a premium high-end keyboard, and the adjustable switches are a meaningful customisation feature (even if it seems like a ridiculous flex).

(Note: The more affordable Steelseries Apex 7 sports all the features of the Apex Pro, but comes with more traditional SteelSeries-brand Red, Blue, or Brown switches.)

  • Price: $200 USD // $330 AUD
  • Switch Type: OmniPoint Adjustable Mechanical Switches (Apex 7 available in SteelSeres Red, Blue, or Brown)
  • Available in Tenkeyless: Yes

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Edmond Tran

Editor / Senior Video Producer for GameSpot in Australia. Token Asian.
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