A keyboard is one of the most widely used peripherals (probably because they are borderline required). As such, the quality of your keyboard can greatly affect your computing experience throughout the day, whether you are a writer (like me), a gamer, or even a programmer.
Are backlights important?
While backlights might not be as substantial as ergonomics, they can still bring a smile to your face, and honestly isn’t that enough? Well, probably not, but thankfully most of the keyboards on this list offer more than just shiny lights and a plethora of RGB lighting modes.
On top of that if you find yourself typing regularly in a darkened environment, then choosing from our list of best backlit keyboards is almost an essential requirement!
So, join us as we look at some of the best-backlit keyboards that can light up your digital life. Maybe you are looking for a new gaming keyboard, a sexy new mechanical keyboard, or maybe a combination of both.
How We Picked
Here at PC Guide, we put you at the center of everything that we do. It is why we would never dream of recommending a product we don’t already love ourselves! Our team of PC fanatics works to ensure only the best of the best make it onto your screens today.
When it comes to the best mechanical keyboard under 50, we selected the products that fit the following criteria. We researched their price, performance, range of customization, suitability for gamers, and ease of connection. We also considered their size, compatibility range, and keystroke travel.
Here, we understand the frustration of a keyboard bringing you down and vowed to change that now! So stick with us, and the keyboard of your dreams will be yours before you know it!
In a hurry? Check out our top pick to grab your keyboard and go!
Best Backlit Keyboards In 2021 (RGB, Wireless, Illuminated)
Provides individual RGB lighting
Spill resistant design
Does not comes with a wrist-rest
Razer is a brand that is best known for its premium gaming peripherals and desirable mechanical keyboards, although their products are somewhat priced at the higher end of the spectrum in general (you definitely pay for the brand’s name, although this is an affordable keyboard) the Razer Cynosa Chroma is the ultimate rubber-dome keyboard that offers spectacular RGB lighting, where every key is individually lit.
The keys are advertised as “soft cushioned” keys and this proved to be quite true. The keys are nowhere near the same quality as high-grade mechanical switches, but they are much better than other membrane keyboards. The keyboard does not feature dedicated media keys or a volume wheel like the high-end BlackWidow models and therefore requires function key combinations.
Apart from the keys, the keyboard also provides an RGB lit Razer logo at the lower center with the Synapse 3 software enabling advanced controls. The keyboard itself also offers a textured surface that prevents smudges or fingerprints.
The switches offer great feel
Fast response time
Logitech is often lauded by gaming enthusiasts for their premium mice but their keyboards should not be taken lightly either. Logitech G213 Prodigy is the company’s flagship mech-dome mechanical keyboard and provides 5-zone RGB lighting along with a visually appealing design.
Speaking of design, this keyboard provides an integrated wrist-rest, which provides a soft feel, however, it is not detachable which is a bit odd in the era of detachable wrist rests. Therefore, this keyboard can only be used in setups providing large space which is another bummer.
The lighting modes can be customized in the Logitech software, with a lot of modes to choose from, and features a total of 16M color spectrum. However, as noted in the specs above, this RGB gaming keyboard has 5 RGB zones instead of individually lit keys.
Logitech has used special switches in this mechanical keyboard, which are known as Mech-Dome switches. There are four rubber domes behind each of the keys. This makes it feel a lot more tactile and a lot less like normal rubber domes. The keyboard also offers dedicated media keys and special a dual-button volume control, both of which are really helpful in daily use.
Offers dedicated macro buttons
Included wrist rest is very comfortable
Humongous in size
The Corsair K55 RGB is Corsair’s lower-end RGB keyboard. This means it doesn’t feature mechanical switches– unlike the high-end models: K65, K70, and K95— and instead has high-quality rubber domes (but rubber domes nonetheless).
The keyboard looks quite similar to the Corsair K95 at first, but there are a lot of differences. First of all, this keyboard is not individually lit like the K95 and only offers 3-zone RGB illumination which can be controlled through the Corsair iCUE software. Also, there is no volume wheel on this keyboard.
The keyboard also provides dedicated media buttons along with dedicated macro buttons, which are really useful in various games. It is one of the only membrane keyboards on our list which provides dedicated macro buttons.
Offers very durable keys
Splash resistant design
No dedicated media buttons
SteelSeries keyboards are gaining a lot of popularity with many of their more recent releases; the SteelSeries Apex 150 is helped lay the groundwork for this trend.
This gaming-oriented keyboard offers a full 104-key form factor despite being much more compact than the previous keyboards we have listed. The keyboard features a beautiful theme, with small diagonal white lines on the border of the keyboard. There is 5-zone RGB lighting on the keyboard which can be customized through the SteelSeries Engine (Software).
Apex 150 offers the “Quick Tension” switch, which provides better friction-free key-press and provides much better durability than other membrane keyboards at this price. There are no dedicated media buttons on this keyboard though (it uses the F5-F12 keys for such functionalities).
Offers low-profile ultra-thin design
Looks very professional
Pricey for the features
The Logitech K740 is targeted towards professionals more so than gamers. The keyboard provides a low-profile design, with very thin keys, and looks quite premium.
The top row of the keyboard offers small keys which might irritate users who frequently use the function keys. There is a non-detachable wrist-rest along with the keyboard which is made of plastic but feels soft.
The keyboard offers only white LED lighting, which is fine in its own right since it isn’t supposed to be used with gaming setups; however, for the purposes of this roundup, in particular, that might be a bit of a letdown.
This keyboard features scissor switches similar to those usually used in laptops; although, these keys have a longer travel distance than the scissor switches in laptops. If you’re unfamiliar with scissor switches, they are hard to explain. They’re not quite mechanical switches, but they feel quite different than rubber-dome keys.
There are four dedicated media buttons on the top right of the keyboard while the rest of the functionalities can be used through the function keys.
Things to Consider
- Rubber domes are the most common switches and are a lot cheaper than mechanical switches. However, they don’t feel as nice and aren’t as responsive. They are generally more spill proof though! These are fine for average users.
- Mechanical switches offer fast response times and their rebound feel is much better than the rubber-dome switches. Most of the keyboards with mechanical switches also allow the user to customize the keycaps, as they also play a great role in the characteristics of the key-press. Cherry-MX switches are the most famous mechanical switches and are only beaten by more expensive switches, like Topre. Mechanical switch keyboards are great and a must-buy if you are a professional typist or a competitive gamer.
- Wrist-rest. This is pretty self-explanatory. It is a rest for your wrist. The best rests are removable and sometimes even cleanable!
- USB passthrough. This is a USB port on the keyboard that allows you to plug in other devices (mice) as if you’d plugged them into the computer itself to reduce cable clutter.
- Onboard Memory. This is memory on the keyboard that can be used to store your unique profiles (custom key setups) and make them accessible on other computers.
There are dozens of manufacturers in the gaming keyboards space on the market each with tons of products. As such, it’s completely understandable that you might get dazzled with the intense number of products (and then the number of customization options and keycap designs each keyboard has) and that is why we’ve included a guide for buying the best keyboards.
Since this article is all about backlit keyboards, let’s discuss various types of backlighting and what you should look out for below:
Some of the high-end keyboards provide individually adjustable RGB lighting, like the Razer Cynosa Chroma, while some keyboards provide RGB lighting with only a few zones, which may or may not be customizable, such as Corsair K55 RGB. Meanwhile, some lower-end keyboards only provide backlighting with fixed colors, mostly red, blue, or white which isn’t as exciting.
Obviously, these are pretty big differences that greatly affect what the keyboard looks like.
On the brighter side (no pun intended), some individually lit RGB keyboards exhibit various lighting features, including specified functions for games, such as blinking light for reloads, low HP, energy (in-game), etc.
Aside from the lights, there are also effects, like flashing. The most common of these are the Breathing effect, Ripple effect, and Gaming-mode with WASD keys lit.
Arguably one of the most important parts of a keyboard is the switches found underneath the keys. These not only dictate the feel of the keys but also how well they perform (and sound).
There are a couple of different types of switches used for the keys on a keyboard. The two most common are rubber domes and mechanical switches.
There are also some other types of switches we referenced in this roundup, like scissor switches or Logitech’s Mechdome switches. Such switches usually feel better than the simple rubber-dome switches, although they are nowhere close to the feel of a mechanical switch.
Media control keys on most of the keyboards include a volume-up key, volume-down key, mute key, a play/pause key, a next track key, and a previous track key. Basically, these keys work as shortcuts for different functions.
These controls are handy, especially when you are in the middle of something and want to change the soundtrack you’ve been jamming to, or lower the volume quickly without messing up your important work.
Some keyboards offer dedicated keys for such controls while some keyboards use function-key combinations which can be useful to many users.
The software of the keyboards such as Razer Synapse or Corsair iCue enables the user to customize the RGB lighting such as setting various colors, adjusting brightness, and selecting the lighting styles; map the programmable keys of the keyboard and create profiles that could later be used for respective workloads. A lot of keyboards provide dedicated macro buttons being programmable through the software, which is quite a useful feature for gamers. Programmed keys can perform a function of many keys at once in just a single key press which is quite useful for MOBA gamers.
Additional Features: Wrist-Rest, USB Passthrough, & Onboard Memory
There are a lot of varied features you can find on keyboards, too many to talk about in-depth here. That being said, there are several other features worth mentioning.
Things To Consider
What are the different types of mechanical switches?
When shopping around for mechanical backlit keyboards, take note of what type of mechanical switch they have. Three main types dominate the market: linear, clicky, and tactile. Each behaves in a specific way to offer a certain feel and feedback, both tactile and auditory. None is objectively better than the others. Instead, it comes down to personal preference, what’s best suited to your playing/working environment, and the type of games you play most.
Linear – this type of switch is all about delivering a buttery smooth, fluid, and consistent keypress with little to no tactile feedback and less resistance.
Tactile – these switches deliver an unmistakable bump at the point of actuation, usually halfway through the keystroke travel – one for those that favor tactile feedback, as the name implies.
Clicky – much like a tactile switch, clicky switches have that same bump feedback alongside an audible ‘click’ sound to signal when each keypress has registered.
Cherry MX switches are the most popular and are color-coded for easy differentiation between the switch types. The likes of Razer, Logitech, and Corsair have taken to manufacturing their own switches, generally inspired by Cherry’s switches with a few choice adjustments thrown in.
Should I choose a wired or wireless keyboard
Connectivity will be another key factor to consider. Many backlit keyboards are available as either wired or wireless, and you will need to choose which style you prefer out of the two. Wired keyboards are likely to be cheaper, as they don’t come with the built in Bluetooth technology they need to be wireless. However, this will limit you to only be able to use them with one device at a time.
Wireless keyboards tend to feature Bluetooth technology that allows you to connect to multiple devices. This could be your computer, tablet, and even your phone, depending on the connectivity that your chosen keyboard is able to offer. However, these wireless keyboards tend to be a little more expensive than wired keyboards. They will also need to be charged in order to use them regularly.
You will need to opt for the wireless keyboard that comes with the largest battery life possible if you need to use it for work purposes. You should weigh up the benefits of both, as well as your available budget, in order to choose the best style from our list of backlit keyboards.
There are so many great backlit keyboards out there in the market right now but for a mainstream keyboard that you can easily find in stores and you will instantly fall in love with, we choose the Cynosa Chroma from Razer as our favorite of all the backlit keyboards out there right now. You simply can’t go wrong with this on your desk.
Is your favorite keyboard missing from our backlit keyboard buying guide? If so, leave a comment below.