September 24, 2020

Best gaming keyboards in 2020

Whether it's lasers or magnets, the best gaming keyboards have it all.

For the depraved few, the best gaming keyboard is whatever retro, dirty beige slab shipped with their first PC a decade ago. But for those in the know, having the best gaming keyboard can make or break your PC experience.

Whether you're gaming, working, or just chasing the perfect desktop aesthetic, it's always been one of the key ways (pun absolutely intended) you interact with your PC, and should be carefully considered, for placement alongside the best gaming mouse on your battlestation.

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Whether you're after a speedy keypress for fast-paced games, or you simply want to make the humdrum task of typing a little more enjoyable, this guide will help you find what you need. There is a lot of crossover with the best mechanical keyboards featured on this list—because, for a lot of us, mechanical keyboards are the best gaming keyboards. But because some folk don't appreciate the feel or the noise, we've also included a couple of less expensive, high-quality membrane switch variants too.

The switch type is arguably the most important choice to make when picking your new gaming keyboard. Cherry mechanical switches are the most common, and most recognizable, but there are host of alternatives on offer, as well a bunch of upmarket, specialist switches to choose from. Other features you might want to consider are some dedicated media controls, macro keys, and whether or not your keyboard of choice has a USB or audio passthrough.

Of course, size is something else you should consider. Full-sized keyboards tend to offer the most features, and a numpad, but if you don't have the space, then all of those extras you paid for will be useless. Tenkeyless boards (the ones with no number pad), and compact keyboards can be a great option too, if you don't care about all the extra bells and whistles, or you don't have any use for alt codes (how barbaric!).

We've listed our top picks of the best gaming keyboards below. Alternatively, if you can't quite justify the cost of one of these bad boys, the best cheap gaming keyboards may be more to your wallet's taste.

Best gaming keyboards 2020

1. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

When you want to go the extra mile and upgrade to the absolute best of the best, it's hard to find a more premium option than the Corsair K95 Platinum. Be warned though, this is a big keyboard: its enormous footprint still requires some desk clearing before it can be nested comfortably. But feature-wise, the K95 Platinum's got it all. Dedicated media controls and a USB pass-through, a metal volume wheel, RGB lighting. It even comes with an extra set of textured keycaps for the WASD keys. While it's expensive, it's obvious what you're getting for your money here, and throughout 2019, and into 2020, we've seen the price of the K95 dropping steadily.

We also love its detachable wrist rest, which makes things super comfortable for long gaming sessions (and this keyboard really is fantastic for long-term strategy and MMO sessions). The rubberized wristpad attaches magnetically and has two contrasting textures: one smooth side and one rough side. Switching sides is as easy as flipping it over, and the added comfort it brings is exceptional.

During our tests, we noted excellent key responses, a decent spread of keys for most hand sizes, a satisfying tactile click to each press, and wonderfully dimpled keys to help you rest your fingers when you're not actually pressing down. While this all seems quite obvious, it shows that the K95 nails the basics, as well as including the fancy extras, and that's why it's top of the plank pile.

2. HyperX Alloy Elite RGB

For a board lit in up to 16.9 million colors, the HyperX Alloy Elite sports a relatively simple aesthetic, while still packing the features we expect out of a quality gaming keyboard. It comes in your choice of Cherry MX Brown, Blue, and Red. What it lacks in a dedicated macro column it makes up for with its reasonable price and a quality, durable design.

The HyperX Alloy Elite RGB leaves no feature box unchecked. It's equipped with dedicated media controls, USB passthrough, a detachable wrist-rest, and full RGB backlighting. To up its aesthetics, it also includes an extra set of silver keycaps for WASD and the first four number keys. The board supports full N-key rollover, meaning you never have to worry about key presses not registering.

The new HyperX Alloy Elite 2 has now been launched, featuring some gorgeous ABS pudding keycaps, but only seems to be available on the HyperX website right now. It is damned pretty, but you don't get the wrist rest... you win some, you lose some.

3. Razer Cynosa Chroma

If even mecha-membrane keys don't suit you, and you demand a full membrane typing/gaming experience, the Razer Cynosa is the deck for you. I know there are people out there who prefer the soft embrace of a pure membrane switch, and that's fine. Each to their own.

The Cynosa has some of the best feeling, low profile membrane keys I've ever tested, and at a retail price of $60 is one of the most affordable gaming keyboards out there (well, past a certain threshold of quality). While it may lack some of the features a number of gaming boards pack in these days, stuff like a dedicated wrist rest or media controls, it does boast Razer's extensive RGB lighting, which can be programmed on a per-key basis or applied by zones.

It's a solid, no-frills, nice looking keyboard that's the best membrane option of a huge range that I've tested. There is a step-up version of the Cynosa available, but for $20 extra the only real addition is under-glow RGB, so unless that kind of 'ground effects' package is massively appealing to you, I recommend you save your cash and invest in the base model.

4. Logitech K840

Logitech's proprietary Romer-G switch is where the magic lies. Designed in collaboration with the Japanese switch giant Omron, it was traditionally reserved for Logitech's high-end boards. Now, they're served in the budget-friendly K840 for the first time.

Because you're scoring the Romer-G switch at such a low price point, you’re not going to find any extra luxuries on the K840. Never mind dedicated macros and USB pass-throughs, there isn’t even any backlighting, but it's still rocking Logitech's restrained aesthetic made even more so by the eschewing of extra lighting frills. The keycaps, however, are an issue, with cheap, fragile pad printed lettering that's likely to wear off over time.

5. Asus ROG Strix Scope

Asus' ROG Strix Scope is a keyboard made for function over form. While it's festooned with the typical array of RGB lighting, the solid aluminum top plate sports an understated, industrial design that's welcome in an era where flash and spectacle too often take precedence. The Scope is a solid, durable, reliable keyboard that works exactly as advertised without the bloat of unnecessary gimmicks. And with a wide range of Cherry's RGB switches you can find the Scope in practically any flavor you'd like.

It also has a few quality of life features that should appeal to fans of first-person shooters, as the name might imply. Full macro customization is available, and the left Ctrl key has been broadened to make it easy to hit during a tense firefight without accidentally actuating other keys. The more compact form factor of the Scope also means that it (and all the other bottom row keys so often critical in an FPS) is really easy to reach down and smack when you need it.