What’s really in the best mechanical gaming keyboard? We aimed to find out, and locate the top ten best keyboards for gaming that featured those attributes. While mechanical keyboards are great for work and typing, the real power is in how greatly it impacts your gaming performance. You’re good when it comes to intense matches in your favorite multiplayer titles, but now you’re about to rock the boat and make some noise. The right gaming keyboard is like a weapon in your hands, so let’s take a look at the cream of the crop, the special powers behind them that anoint them, and find your perfect fit.
The Best Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
It’s no surprise that after intense analysis (and a ton of fun gameplay), Corsair K95 RGB Platinum ended up on top. They provide the best value, and even when you get into the negative attributes of this keyboard, they’re very minute. For one, the lighting on this makes it the best mechanical keyboard for gaming. Take advantage of nineteen different color zones with individual key illumination, and highlight everything you need for your game, fully color coded. You’ll be able to ground and pound on those brown Cherry MX switches while you rely on the 8 MB of flash memory to keep everything in check.
The only issue here, which you’ll see in contrast with the other nine models on our list, is that there are only six programmable keys to mess around with. There is a durable wrist pad that has a touch bit of traction, which can really help keep you steady in the heart-pounding moments of a game’s finale. Create three unique profiles for your top three most-played games, and get right into the match. Last but not least, the entire frame is constructed out of aircraft grade anodized aluminum, meaning it won’t break for any reason. Make sure you combine it with one of the best gaming mouses from our list.
Wrist pad comes with grips to maintain traction
Aircraft grade anodized aluminum base
Create up to three profiles
- Weight2.92 pounds
Advanced 8 MB flash storage space w/ hardware macros
19 color zones with individual key illumination
Contains Cherry brown switches, which are good, but not the best for gaming
Only six programmable keys
Logitech comes in at a close second with G910 Orion Spark, a stellar gaming keyboard, and it includes one of the only switch brands to ever really give Cherry a run for their money. Romer-G switches provide excellent accuracy and quick actuation, so your key doesn’t have to be pressed down as much to get the input reaction. They include a phone dock known as the Arx, and include a control app to manage game data, but the entire thing is very irrelevant (also, you can’t change the colors of the dock).
You can, however, choose anywhere from up to 16 million colors for the rest of your keyboard. While you have to download a driver to enable it, the process is rapid. Take advantage of the individual key illumination as well as the highlighted WASD and Numpad directional keys, no matter what color palette you decide on. The media controls and solid, heavy build are all great, but you might want to get a new wrist rest or pad the one that they include.
Highlighted WASD and numpad directional keys
Lightning fast key actuation
16 million different customizable colors with individual illumination
- Weight4.25 pounds
Dedicated media controls for songs and microphone use
Logitech exclusive Romer-G switches give Cherry a run for their money
Arx control app is fairly standard and doesn’t offer much
Wrist rest is far from comfortable
Your budget doesn’t allow for Corsair or Logitech? Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about you. Redragon produces K552 RED LED, one of the best budget mechanical keyboard models we’ve used so far, offering similar longevity of 5+ years that other keyboard brands have. You get a dozen multimedia keys to help you master your keyboard, as well as an all-steel frame design to keep it weighed down on the desk. You’re sacrificing a numpad, but for the major cost gap, that’s not really much of a negative at all.
But the keys are a bit snug together, which means gamers with slightly bigger hands will sometimes overlap keys if your precision isn’t on-point. The only thing we really didn’t care for about the Redragon is the way they tried to make their keys similar to Cherry MX blues. It’s a good keyboard, but Cherry (and Logitech’s customized ones) are the best switches you can get. There’s a great splash-proof design to preserve the integrity of your keyboard, an audible click of the keys, and a gold plated USB connector for the best feedback imaginable. This also makes a perfect gift for gamers in your life.
Gold plated USB connection for lightning fast results
Tactile switches w/ audible clicking sound
- Weight2.16 pounds
Extremely affordable for an all-steel keyboard
One dozen multimedia keys for total keyboard mastery
Marketing is fishy: they say equivalent to Cherry MX blue switches, but that’s not quite true
Very tight design means occasional overlapping during use
SteelSeries designs some of the best keyboards on the planet, but they did have a few shortcomings that robbed them of the top spot on this list. To get the skeletons out of the closet right away, they include their own QX2 switches in this keyboard, and they’re insanely touchy. There’s a difference between high actuation, and whatever they are offering here. That and the keycaps wear down quickly.
Apart from that, there’s nothing else to complain about Apex M750 RGB. You have a unique way to manage your backlight coloring, and you can even sync it with your mouse and other devices on your desk. While the switches are touchy, they’re very quiet, even against the solid aluminum frame. One little tidbit we really admired was the built-in lighting notifications for Discord, which can be a major help when you’re waiting to get into a chat with your team.
Fully aluminum frame
Quiet, linear switches
Built-in Discord lighting notifications
- Weight3.1 pounds
Reactive illumination mode helps out tremendously
N-Key rollover provides the best anti-ghosting imaginable
Keys wear down very quickly
SteelSeries QX2 switches are a bit too touchy
You see it all the time: major games and developers make special control options just for Chroma users. Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 Esports is one of the best mechanical keyboards on the market, but it also has a few issues that make the price questionable. It’s rare to find a keyboard with an 80 million keystroke design, and that’s absolutely stupendous. The keycaps also last for a while before wear and tear starts to take its toll. When it comes to anti-ghost town, well, it left us shrugging. You’re only guaranteed up to ten anti-ghosting keys at a time.
You’d have to have crazy reaction times to use ten keys at once, but in an FPS game, it’s not the most uncommon thing. If you’re a crazy fast typist, this keyboard isn’t going to be good for emails and writing in general. Being Razer, they also could have given us some more macro keys other than five. You do get an audio and USB passthrough in this keyboard, as well as 16.8 million colors to choose from, but your personal preference is what will either justify the cost, or send you back to Logitech. You may also like to check our guide to the best gaming desks.
16.8 million colors to choose from with endless zones
Audio + USB passthrough
Save multiple profile configurations for different games
- Weight3.88 pounds
Durable beyond compare: 80 million keystroke design
Heavy 3.8 lb design made out of anodized aluminum makes this pretty indestructible
Maximum of five macro/programmable keys
Anti-ghosting only works for up to ten keys
Remember when Alienware and Dell were separate? Well, they’ve merged, and while there’s no going back, we did get this stellar keyboard out of it. You get some of the surety that we’re all looking for, such as the 50 million keystroke lifespan on each individual switch, as well as the massive amount of lighting zones and wide 16.8 million color options. Alienware falls short when it comes to actuation because they didn’t partner up with Cherry to get some sick MX switches in here.
The actuation is closer to a Cherry clear switch, which we discuss further on in this guide – it’s the least-liked for gaming, and we’ll explain those reasons later. You do get one thing that a few other top brands have failed to do, which is full N-Key rollover for the entire Dell Alienware Pro Keyboard, promising anti-ghosting no matter how heavy or rapidly you’re able to mash those keys. Personally, one of my favorite bits on this is that the kickstand can split in between three different heights. No more adjusting your chair and monitor setup just to feel right; flip the kickstands, and you’re golden.
15 programmable macro keys
13 lighting zones w/ 16.8 million colors
50 million keystroke lifespan
- Weight3.11 pounds
Three different angles to adjust the kickstands
Full N-Key rollover anti-ghosting on every single key
No wrist rest included (and for this price, there should be one)
Keys have poor actuation
HyperX is one of those brands that just reign among the top, but the costs also mirror its place in the world of computers. HyperX Alloy Elite RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a bit iffy, which is why it made it this far down on the list. You get Cherry MX brown switches, which we can all agree is better than some off-brand, but HyperX made their keycaps way too short. It feels like you’re playing on a more sensitive keyboard, even when it’s on standard settings. That being said, you can customize the input options with the all-inclusive NGenuity software that’s included in your purchase.
You can set up to three different lighting profiles, which are enacted via the media playback bar at the top of the keyboard. It’s a large keyboard, but the moderate sized wrist rest helps preserve some desk space and feels comfortable on your wrists. This is a keyboard you can play on for hours without joint fatigue. They went to town on the lighting, including millions of RGB color options, but the frame is fairly fragile as a fair warning. For more great gaming equipment, check out our gaming monitors review.
Choose between Cherry MX red, blue or brown switches
Dynamic RGB lighting for a more immersive experience
Three unique lighting profiles
- Weight3.3 pounds
Comfortable wrist rest w/ media playback configuration
NGenuity software from HyperX provides more customization options
More fragile than it looks; frame isn’t as durable as competitors
Low keycaps make it feel like you’re using a hypersensitive keyboard on normal settings
It’s an explosive name, but even more explosive performance. ROCCAT RYOS MK Pro is one of the most customizable RGB mechanical keyboard models we’ve seen, giving you the ability to illuminate individual keys at your desire, which is perfect to only light up the keys you need for your current game. The main issue with this keyboard is that they tried to pass it off as “smudge-proof,” but we both know that your keyboard is going to show that wear and tear over a short amount of time.
The only other issue was that the ROCCAT display system was a good idea, but was not executed well, and brings the whole thing down a notch when it was supposed to be a core feature. Speaking of core features, you get a great amount of on-board flash memory to ensure zero lag on your inputs, as well as N-Key rollover to act as an anti-ghosting shield. Perhaps our favorite part about this, aside from the audio in/out hub that’s built into your keyboard, is that every individual key can be programmed to have a secondary function. Our handy guide to the best gaming chair features more great products like this.
Four different Cherry MX switches in this model
N-Key rollover provides full anti-ghosting features
Two 32-bit ARM processors provide 2 MB of flash memory
- Weight2 pounds
Shift plus allows you to customize every single key with a second command
Audio in/out media hub built into the keyboard (USB 2.0)
“Smudge-proof” look is just a marketing ploy; all keyboards show wear and tear over time
ROCCAT display system is a good concept, but poorly executed
HyperX undoubtedly creates some of the best gaming keyboards on the planet. While we wish Alloy FPS Pro came with more than just a red backlight, it lights up bright and works beautifully even in well-lit spaces. Anti-ghosting features on this keyboard are so immense that you can press every single key on the keyboard, and they will all register: zero input lag is a beautiful thing. Everything connects via a detachable micro USB cable which makes it good for storage, and the one that HyperX includes is durable and braided.
The anti-skid rubber caps on the feet are a bit standard, however. While the full steel body is about 1.8 lbs, enough high octane gaming, and you’ll see that the keyboard moves across the desk ever so slightly. Nothing crazy, but a bummer nonetheless. Your Cherry MX red switches and quiet, linear keys keep every keystroke feeling fluid, like an extension of you. Find more great products like this by checking out our 00guide to the best wireless gaming mouses.
Linear keys for quiet contact
Completely solid steel frame
Cherry MX red switches
- Weight1.8 pounds
Full anti-ghosting feature
Connected via detachable micro USB cable (easy to store and replace)
Backlighting only comes in red
Anti-skid rubber stand caps are very basic
Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Buying Guide and FAQ
Every element that marks a quality gaming PC keyboard is here: the benefits of mechanical over membrane, discussing ergonomics, talking about add-on bonuses and more. You’re finally taking the time to get the best mechanical keyboard for your setup, so let’s go through every detail you’ll need to xcover in order to get the best playability for your gaming style. Got a question about mechanical gaming keyboards? We’re willing to bet we’ve already covered the answers below.
Features To Look For In A Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Layout - This is most notably described as the total number of keys when you’re looking at the product sales page. There’s a massive difference in layout from 87-key to 104-key pro gaming keyboards, which affects its weight, the key spacing, and how many programmable macro keys you’re going to have. Aesthetically, you’ll also notice layout changes with highlighted WASD keys, different light zones, and multiple additional, non orthodox keys, which we’ll cover in a moment.
Keycap Material - If you’re getting this to game on, you’re chatting with buds, pressing crazy commands, and in no time, you’re going to notice your keycaps get that oily, run-down look. Nobody wants that. While it’s often unavoidable, it’s why mechanical keyboards are preferred among gamers: you can literally just buy new keycaps and replace them. You’re going to see ABS plastic keycaps in most keyboards, some of which have textured tops. You’ll also find some with metal keycaps, which can still look worn down over time from the oil on your fingers, but it
Programmability - Macro keys that you can program for individual games: this is the stuff that gaming Gods use to really pick up the pace in their gaming. The important thing is that your programmable keys, no matter how many you have, include anti-ghosting features. You’re using these as hotkeys, so long as you have a high amount of anti-ghosting (basically how many keys you can press at a time without input lag), you’ll be good to go. Programmable keys usually come in short supply, but can be programmed individually per video game so you’re not constantly messing with settings.
Connectivity - For most mechanical keyboards, you’re going to find wired USB 2.0 connections. Mechanical keyboards operate in a bit more of a complex way than standard membrane keyboards, so having a wired connection promises virtually zero lag (from your keyboard at least), and a more seamless reaction during gaming. If you’re playing hitscan games, USB is superior. However, you’ll also find Bluetooth connections and wireless adapters. During a 10-hour game marathon, the last thing you want is a wireless keyboard to fail on you.
Illumination - The bread and butter of a good mechanical keyboard. On a higher quality model, you’ll see the WASD keys will be highlighted, but you’ll also find unique color combinations, mood settings, and more. On average, top brands include a variation of 15.8+ million color combinations available in each customizable mechanical keyboard. The only issue you run into with this is installing additional, updated drivers, and spending a bit of time configuring the setting for yourself.
Switches - The switches are basically what make this whole thing move along. You’ll find most brands come with different colored switches, which they use to define function. For instance, the best switches on the market are Cherry MX switches, but they come in different colors. The brand itself usually has gold-plated contacts on the internal switch mechanisms, which promote a long lifespan, such as 50-60 million keystrokes per individual key. Different switches have different sound effects, but if you’re like us, a loud mechanical keyboard helps keep you in a rhythm when you’re in the heat of the game.
Noise - Speaking of switches, noise is a big dividing factor for many gamers using mechanical keyboards. The noise comes down to the switch, and rarely the keycaps (unless you have aluminum or steel caps). You’re usually on one side of the fence: loud, tactile sounds that provide feedback and validation of your input, or quiet keys that don’t mess with your train of thought. This is complete preference, and for most models, going with a quieter set of switches doesn’t impact performance or lifespan.
Ergonomics - Your hands are molded a certain way, which is what an ergonomic keyboard focuses on. Even if you’re used to a rectangular, straight-and-narrow keyboard style, you could benefit in multiple ways from an ergonomic keyboard. They’re the ones you see with a curvy design in the center that require less radical movement from your hands to strike the keys, and they’re designed to put less strain on your joints. They’re also pretty good for increasing your reaction time in your games.
Extra Keys/Components - Extra keys fall outside the realm of a standard 104-key keyboard. They’re not as necessary as they once were, since we have drop-down displays and further intricacies for on-screen applications, but they used to be used to assign specific commands to certain programs and applications. Now, you can just use them as secondary buttons for most in-game commands, and if you do, you can usually master multitasking in a single game to cut down on time. This is especially useful in MMORPGs.
Membrane vs. Dome vs. Mechanical
Let’s run down the list of what these three things are, and we believe you’ll see why mechanical keyboards are superior.
Membrane keyboards are those $10.00 off-the-rack keyboards you see in mega stores, the ones that are just meant to be a temporary replacement because your high-end one died unexpectedly. Membrane use a small plastic and rubber plug that depresses when you push on the wafer-thin keycap. These are extremely easy to damage if you’re an aggressive typer, and generally last for about 3-5 million keystrokes per key. When the plate underneath the membrane keyboard is damaged, it can cause the entire thing to stop working, whereas with mechanical you can switch out the individual switches. For some context, the keys on your microwave use a membrane plate.
Dome keyboards sit somewhere in between. They’re rounded keycaps that depress a small rubber piece, which inputs your letter selection when you touch the keyboard. Consider this the most basic attempt at a mechanical keyboard, with the keyword being attempt.
Mechanical keyboards use steel springs loaded in each key. When you depress the key enough (which will depend on the switch type, which we’ll get into in a minute), the spring tells the system that it’s been pushed and sends the signal to your computer. Individual keys can be replaced instead of having to replace the entire unit, and can usually be purchased for a low cost for a batch of a dozen-or-so keys.
Some Of The Most Common Mechanical Switches
Cherry MX Black - These were the first keyboard switches ever made by Cherry, and basically acts as the most intermediate switch you can get. It’s great for typing, gaming, and has a minute contact sound for those of you who like a bit more of a quiet typing experience.
Cherry MX Red - Red Cherry switches are more tactile, meaning they produce relatively no noise, and don’t have an impactful clicking sound when you depress the keys. This usually means you need less grams of pressure to effectively activate your keys, which helps with your WPM.
Cherry MX Brown - These are a slight step-up from the standard, though versatile blacks switches. They provide a medium level of noise when depressed, and require the mid to high range of pressure to be activated. Brown switches are good for gaming, though usually not for fast typing speeds.
Cherry MX Blue - The main reason someone would get Cherry blue switches is the loud clicking sound. They offer the same typing/gaming feeling as black switches, but are far more audible. They’re usually the least expensive to replace as well.
Cherry MX Clear - Think of these as having the same qualities as a brown switch, but requiring much more pressure to activate. With a higher resistance, clear switches are best designed for typers, specifically the seek-and-press type. These aren’t considered that great for gaming.
Mechanical Gaming Keyboard FAQ
Q: What is a mechanical gaming keyboard?
A: A mechanical keyboard uses, as you might imagine, mechanical switches to provide input to your computer. When you look at the top gaming keyboards on the market, you’ll see different switch types, extremely long lifespans on each individual key (50-60 million keystrokes on average), and solid steel frames. Mechanical keyboards are designed for serious typists/gamers who want a quality, durable and long-lasting piece of equipment.
Mechanical keyboards are usually USb wired to provide instant feedback from the moment you activate the key. Mechanical keys use steel springs that activate your input request, rather than nubby little sheets of thin rubber under most inexpensive membrane keyboards. Most light up gaming keyboards already have a lot going on (backlighting, anti-ghosting, etc.,) so having mechanical switches to individually carry out each input is a major bonus. Last but not least, they allow you to switch out individual keys instead of replacing the entire keyboard.
Q: What’s the advantage of a mechanical keyboard?
A: It all comes down to precision, and speed. While a mechanical keyboard doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a silent gaming keyboard, it will provide the best response and input when you play. No two keyboards are the same, though: there’s a lot that goes into them, whereas when you buy that $10 off-the-shelf model, it serves its basic functions and nothing else.
The best RGB keyboard with mechanical switches allows you to utilize millions of colors in your lights, program certain keys and enable macros, while providing real-time feedback based on your input with zero lag. Even though mechanical keyboards are known for being lag-free, some companies still put additional plug-and-play software on their keyboards to monitor and maintain your input speed. Mechanical keyboards are also durable: one switch breaks, you replace that one switch, and nothing else. Even if you were to drop your keyboard, nearly every brand makes the frames out of solid steel or aircraft grade aluminum, so we dare you to try and break it to bits.
Q: Is a mechanical keyboard good for typing?
A: I’m currently typing this buying guide on a mechanical keyboard. They are absolutely excellent for typing, though the common misconception is that even with ergonomic gaming keyboard models, that the keys are too big/require too much pressure to offer a viable typing platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mechanical keyboards give you much better accuracy, and it’s extremely rare for you to mash two keys at one time. After you get used to typing on one, you won’t be able to go back to a membrane keyboard or a built-in laptop keyboard. In my experience, even if you don’t have the best mechanical keyboard, you can still increase your accuracy and WPM in a short amount of time.
Q: What is hysteresis?
A: Hysteresis and actuation force are closely related. Actuation force is essentially how much pressure you apply to the key in order for the input to activate, but hysteresis is when the release point is actually higher than the actuation point. In laymens, if you depress the key 100% of the way down with actuation force, that doesn’t mean it will immediately recognize your input if your keyboard has a high degree of hysteresis. Hysteresis defines at what release point, or what percentage that the key returns to the upright position, that your input is accepted. If you’re an extremely fast typer, hysteresis isn’t good. For gaming, it’s not ideal either, especially if you have to hold down a key for a while during a sprint.
Q: What is anti-ghost?
A: Anti-ghosting is essentially when a keyboard identifies every single input you request, all at the exact same time, and applies those inputs into your computer in the exact order that you requested them. If you press down on five keys at once, all the inputs will be recognized. If you’re reading this on a membrane keyboard, open up a blank text or word document, and try to hit ten letter keys at once. In most models, you’ll maybe see four or five, and the others won’t be recognized. Anti-ghosting is a requirement for gaming, especially in FPS games where movement and reaction time are everything.
Q: Which switch is the best for gaming?
A: Cherry MX reds are considered the best for gaming by a large group of people. It all comes down to personal preference, but when you’re talking about performance, reds require less actuation in order to activate and send the input to your computer, allowing for more movements/reactions in a shorter amount of time. In competitive gaming, this is a must. If you’re not playing competitive FPS games, you can do with any other switch type.
Q: How do I clean my mechanical keyboard properly?
A: It’s a bit more involved than a standard keyboard. Follow these steps once a month to keep them as lint-free and grease-free as possible, which will also preserve your keycaps for as long as possible.
- Use a keycap puller and remove each key. If you’re uncertain of their location, bring up the online sale page or take a photo of your keyboard with your phone.
- Pop a denture cleaning tablet into some warm water. The water should be between 110 F and 135 F, nd no higher than that.
- Gently wipe off your keycaps, then soak them in that solution for about one hour.
- Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the base board. If you have them handy, use a fabric softener sheet for dryers and wipe down your keyboard after it’s lint-free. This helps prevent lint from sticking to it.
- Dry off your keycaps and replace them; you’re good to go.
It’s Time to Master the Game
Between our gaming keyboard reviews and information, you’re on your way to mastering every FPS game that you still haven’t downloaded from Steam (don’t worry, you’re not the only one; those sales get us, too). Grab the best PC gaming keyboard, fire up the RGB light show, and get ready to slay the competition. Whatever your game preference is, having the best gear is a fundamental aspect of your skill. Don’t settle for less if you want to roll with the best.