If you want to get some serious gaming done on your computer, a run-of-the-mill office keyboard isn't going to cut it. Especially if you’re involved in the competitive e-sports scene, good gear can help keep you at the top of your game for years to come. If you're willing to pay a premium for something functional, colorful and user-friendly, we recommend you check out the Corsair K70 Rapidfire ($170), which tops our list, but there are plenty of other great options for different types of gamers, in a wide range of prices.
If you're looking for a keyboard with a ton of macro buttons for massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, the Logitech G910 Orion Spark ($180) is a good option. Or, if your desk space is at a premium, you might be better off with the Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum ($130).
There's only one hard-and-fast rule for choosing the perfect keyboard: Go with mechanical keys, whenever possible. Membrane keyboards rarely measure up.
What to Look For
Unless money is extremely tight, the most important feature in a gaming keyboard is a set of mechanical switches. Most membrane models simply don't measure up, due to shallow key travel and a lack of tactile feedback. RGB lighting is a common feature, but also one that can add dozens of dollars to a keyboard's price tag. Look for it if you want your keyboard to match the rest of your gaming setup. Extra macro keys are useful for gamers who play a lot of MMOs or competitive shooters.
How We Test Gaming Keyboards
When we're evaluating a new gaming keyboard, the first thing we check is how easy it is to set up. We plug it in, install its software (if necessary) and learn how easy (or difficult) it is to tweak its settings. Then, we run it through the Ten Thumbs Typing Test alongside a standard Dell office keyboard to see which one types faster and more accurately. From there, we evaluate the software, rating how easy it is to set up individual profiles, control backlighting and reassign keys.
Finally, we run each keyboard through at least four games from a variety of genres to see how well it performs, and whether it has any genre-specific strengths or weaknesses.
A good peripheral has easy-to-find, responsive keys. Genre-specific keyboards should have a special feature that elevates them above all-purpose ones.
We use the keyboard for everyday tasks for at least two days to evaluate comfort and accuracy.
Related: Why You Want a Mechanical Keyboard