Today, we’re going to go over the best gaming keyboards for 2019. Whether you want mechanical, membrane, or don’t even know what you want yet, we have you covered. We’ve selected a diverse array of high-quality keyboards across various price ranges, each befitting a different niche for different types of PC gamers.
In addition to our selection of great gaming keyboards, we’ll also offer a short buying guide at the end that you can use to inform your buying decision. Different keyboards will be suited for different people, and we want to make sure that you grab the best one for you– not just a random one from this list.
While PC gaming does offer near-infinite ways to play games, mouse and keyboard arise as the objectively superior option in many genres, such as FPS, MMO, RTS, and MOBA. Within mouse and keyboard, you still have near infinite freedom and variation… so stick with us, and we’ll help narrow down the field so that it’s not so overwhelming. Then you can finally find the one that’s perfect for you.
If you’ve gone through our options but still aren’t totally sure which keyboard to pick, don’t worry: we’re here for you. In this section, we’ll walk you through the main considerations to make when buying a keyboard, and which choices may be right for you.
Mechanical vs Membrane
In terms of quality and typing experience, mechanical switches win hands-down against membrane. That part isn’t really a debate. However, there are other factors to take into consideration when choosing between the two, especially if you’re on a limited budget.
Mechanical Pros and Cons
Membrane Pros and Cons
These are the basic differences between the two choices.
If you’re a competitive gamer or type a lot (like we do), then mechanical is the obvious choice. However, budget mechanical options will typically compromise on features and still be more expensive than their membrane counterparts… while membranes at the same price range will often offer a ton of extras.
Switch type adds yet more variety to the mechanical experience, and is a bit out of scope for us to cover here. We recommend looking at this excellent article from Tom’s Guide if you want to learn the ins and outs of specific switches– otherwise, Red and Blue are always good.
Wired vs Wireless
This is mostly personal preference. Older wireless keyboards used to suffer from higher latency and poor overall quality, but fortunately the top choices on the market today are much better than they used to be.
If you’re on the fence about this one, we really only recommend wireless if you have a couch gaming PC setup or you need to cut down on as many cords as possible (in case of children or cats that like to chew things). Otherwise, wired will save you money and generally offer more nice-to-haves overall.
To RGB or not to RGB?
RGB is taking the world of PC gaming by storm, and for good reason: it looks nice. It offers an unprecedented level of control on how your gaming setup looks aesthetically. RGB implementation started with keyboards and mice but eventually went as far as case fans, coolers, and even RAM. If customization matters to you, then RGB is a definite must-have.
But let’s be more specific.
Full RGB lighting implementation means being able to pick the exact color of your lighting setup. In the context of keyboards, this is on a per-key basis. Compromised “RGB” solutions will typically cut down to 9 or less colors, and light either specific regions or the entire keyboard instead of per-key. This still may be better for some than no lighting at all, however.
If RGB doesn’t appeal to you, you can definitely save money by opting for non-RGB versions of the keyboards we’ve listed above, or one of the non-RGB selections we laid down. If it does, however, keep in mind what it’s capable of.
Macro keys, media keys, and other extras
Macros, for the uninitiated, are essentially shortcuts. If you have a macro set up, you press one or more keys that can execute a series of actions defined by you. Even without built-in macro support on your keyboard, you can often find software online to add macro functionality to your system, especially if there are a few keys on your keyboard you never press.
However, it’s generally considered best to have built-in macro support and dedicated macro keys, if you don’t want to learn keyboard shortcuts or don’t want to lose any of your normal keys’ functionality. For instance, I personally never use Caps Lock– so it makes a great toggle to activate macros.
Media keys, meanwhile, offer dedicated media support on your keyboard. This is usually things like pausing whatever is playing, or switching to the next media track. Some higher-end implementations will also offer dedicated volume wheels, which is particularly useful for those who listen to music in-game.
Other extras you may like to have include:
- Passthroughs – Ports on the keyboard that you can plug other peripherals into as opposed to plugging them directly into the PC proper. This is usually just a single USB port where it’s present, but some may also offer headphone jacks.
- Game Mode – A toggle that disables things like the Windows Key or the Alt+Tab shortcut, preventing you from accidentally exiting your game window.
- Onboard Storage – Stores profiles within the keyboard at a hardware level, allowing you to take your keyboard to other PCs and use it as normal without configuring per-PC.