Best gaming keyboard 2021: the top mechanical and wireless keyboards for gaming

Your gaming keyboard is one of the most important parts of your PC, but finding the best gaming keyboard can be a challenge when there are so many to choose from. But I’m here to help. Having tested dozens of gaming keyboards over the years, I’ve put together this list of all my top recommendations that covers all types of budgets and mechanical switch preferences. I’ve also included a short explainer on everything you need to know about buying a new gaming keyboard, too, including what the difference is between membrane and mechanical keyboards, and what all the different types of mechanical switch mean. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got a gaming keyboard recommendation for you.

Much like choosing a best gaming mouse, there’s no single keyboard that’s definitely better than the rest of them. For example, if you’re a mechanical keyboard user, then you’ll probably have your own personal switch preference, whether it be loud, linear Blues or tactile clicky Browns, and you may also prefer a particular type of form factor, too, from super compact 65% keyboards to number pad-less tenkeyless models.

As such, I’ve tried to cover all bases in our best gaming keyboard list, and you’ll find my top picks for each type of keyboard category in the list below. Remember, this list isn’t set in stone. It will change as and when I get new keyboards in for testing, as well as when old models go end of life. What I look for in a gaming keyboard always remains the same, though. When I get a new keyboard in for testing, I prioritise comfort, build quality, noise levels and the number of extra features it has versus how much it costs.

All of my gaming keyboard picks meet these criteria and then some, and you can read more about them by clicking the links below.

Best gaming keyboard 2020

Fnatic Streak

The best gaming keyboard overall

A photo of the Fnatic Streak gaming keyboard

You’ll probably have heard of Fnatic from their esports endeavours rather than their hardware manufacturing chops, but the Fnatic Streak is easily one the best mechanical keyboards I’ve ever used.

Not only is it a pleasure to type on, but it also comes with the comfiest wrist rest on the planet, which you can re-position into one of three grooves on its accompanying base, allowing you to pitch it wherever’s most comfortable for you. It’s immensely practical and a lot comfier than the hard plastic rests you tend to see on other mechanical keyboards, too. Their respective designs are surprisingly tasteful for an esports company, too, featuring the bare minimum of logos and excess branding to keep everything nice and clean and not at all embarrassing to have on your desk.

The Ducky One 2 is another great alternative for those after a no-fuss mechanical gaming keyboard, but it doesn’t have as many features as the Fnatic Streak, such as USB passthrough or that lovely wrist rest.

Roccat Vulcan

The second best gaming keyboard overall

A photo of the Roccat Vulcan gaming keyboard

All right, this might be cheating a bit, but seriously, the Roccat Vulcan is just too good not to mention alongside the Fnatic Streak. It’s more expensive and doesn’t have quite as many features as its Fnatic rival, but the Vulcan sure is wonderful to type and play games on.

A large part of that is down to the Vulcan’s fantastic Titan switches, which Roccat have developed in-house together with switch maker extraordinaire TTC. At their core, they’re tactile switches that probably closest to Cherry’s MX Browns in feel, but their shorter actuation point (the bit where the keyboard registers a key has been pressed) and overall travel distance makes them feel just as lovely and fast as Cherry MX Reds, giving you the best of both worlds. Roccat have recently released a new model with Titan Speed switches (the black Vulcan 121) as well, which are 30% faster than their original tactile ones.

It’s also beautifully made thanks to its sturdy aluminium chassis, and it comes in a variety of different models and feature sets, too. The top-end Vulcan 120 gets you a removable wrist rest and all the additional media keys and volume knob, while the middle sibling Vulcan 100 is exactly the same minus the wrist rest. The entry-level Vulcan 80, meanwhile, is just the standard keyboard with a blue LED backlight instead of flashing RGBs. There’s also a white version of the Vulcan 120 called the Vulcan 122, and the aforementioned black Vulcan 121 as well. They’re all still quite expensive compared to other keyboards on this list, but those Titan switches are a real treat if you’re after something a bit different from the standard Cherry MX options.

Asus TUF Gaming K5

The best hybrid gaming keyboard

A photo of the Asus TUF Gaming K5 gaming keyboard

If you’ve already got a membrane keyboard, but want to see whether mechanical gaming keyboards are for you, a hybrid keyboard like the Asus TUF Gaming K5 could be the answer. Half way between membrane and mechanical, this so-called ‘mecha-membrane’ keyboard offers the best of both worlds by being more responsive than your typical membrane keyboard, and quieter than your full-blown mechanical one. Plus, it doesn’t cost the earth, either, making it our best budget gaming keyboard pick.

It’s not entirely silent, but it’s certainly a lot more sociable than any of the other mechanical keyboards on this list – namely, you can use it within ear shot of another human being with functioning ear lobes and not run the risk of having something thrown in the general direction of your head. Each key still offers a pleasing degree of precision and tactile feedback as well, and the subtle RGB lighting doesn’t get up in your face, either.

Razer Cynosa

The best budget gaming keyboard

A photo of the Razer Cynosa Chroma gaming keyboard

For those of you who’d rather have something cheap and cheerful that doesn’t make an absolute racket during daily use, you’ll probably want to stick with a membrane keyboard instead of a loud mechanical one, and my current best membrane gaming keyboard recommendation is the excellent Razer Cynosa. It’s also my top pick for those after an excellent budget gaming keyboard, too.

It’s a little more expensive than your typical membrane keyboard, but you can really feel where the extra money’s gone. Not only is it more responsive than your average membrane keyboard, but it’s also got some decent gaming features such as RGB lighting and a special game mode that disables the Windows key. You can also use it to record your own macros – which you can’t do on the similarly-priced and almost as good HyperX Alloy Core RGB.

It’s also one of the more tasteful-looking gaming keyboards on this list, with its plain black chassis largely free of obnoxious logos and corporate stylings. Plus, since this is a membrane keyboard rather than a mechanical one, it’s also much quieter than practically every keyboard you’ll read here. If you’re looking to upgrade your existing membrane keyboard without going full CLACK with a hybrid or mechanical keyboard, the Razer Cynosa is a great choice.

Logitech G915 Lightspeed Wireless

The best wireless gaming keyboard

A photo of the Logitech G915 Lightspeed Wireless gaming keyboard

The Logitech G915 Lightspeed Wireless might be the most expensive gaming keyboard on this list, but by golly is it worth it. With its super slim aluminium frame, oleophobic key cap coating, gorgeous volume roller and dual-height adjustable feet, this is the pinnacle of wireless gaming keyboards.

Available in three different types of Logitech GL switches (clicky, tactile and linear), the G915 Lightspeed Wireless feels wonderful under your fingers, offering loads of tactile feedback and quick, sharp key presses. Logitech’s Lightspeed tech means it feels super responsive as well, and for me it felt just like using a traditional wired keyboard. The clicky version I was sent for review wasn’t too loud, either, making it nice and easy on the ears, too.

It’s also got a great battery life. Even after a couple of weeks use, the G915 only lost about 35% of its charge with its full RGB lighting going, so I reckon you could easily use this for an entire month without having to connect it back up to your PC. Even better, it only takes three hours to fully charge up again, and you get a warning when it gets down to 15% so you’re not suddenly cut off mid-game.

Logitech have just announced they’re going to be making a more compact tenkeyless version of the G915, too – the G915 TKL, giving you even more options when it comes to size. Plus, if the wireless version is out of your price range, there’s a cheaper wired version that has exactly the same design called the Logitech G815 Lightsync, which is just as lovely and costs £165 / $150.

Razer Huntsman

The best optical-mechanical gaming keyboard

A photo of the Razer Huntsman gaming keyboard

Mechanical keyboards are pretty darn fast, but for those after the absolute nippiest gaming keyboard around, there’s simply nothing better than an optical-mechanical keyboard. The Razer Huntsman is my pick of the bunch, as it’s both a bit cheaper and a lot more attractive than its rivals such as the HP Omen Sequencer.

Be warned, though. Optical mechanical keyboards really are an all-caps kind of LOUD compared to your typical mechanical keyboard, so you’ll need to be prepared for even more ear-piercing CLACKY CLACKS than Cherry MX Blue switches if you decide to opto it up. Still, noise levels aside, the Huntsman is a real beaut to type on, and its feet offer two different height levels as well.

There’s also a more upmarket version of the Huntsman available if you want a wrist rest, dedicated media keys and even more RGB lights to tinker with in the form of the Huntsman Elite, but it’s also twice as expensive at time of writing, making the regular Huntsman much better value for money.

Roccat Vulcan Pro TKL

The best tenkeyless gaming keyboard

A photo of the Roccat Vulcan Pro TKL.

A condensed version of the Roccat Vulcan above, the Vulcan Pro TKL is another brilliant addition to Roccat’s mechanical keyboard family. It chops off the number pad for a more compact form factor, but still retains the same great build quality and Roccat’s fantastic Titan switches.

Roccat have opted for new optical versions of their proprietary Titan switch for the Vulcan Pro TKL, but unlike the Razer Huntsman above, this is a much quieter type of gaming keyboard that doesn’t grate on the ears. It will likely still drive friends and family up the wall if they’re nearby, but not the same extent as the Huntsman.

The Vulcan Pro TKL’s smaller size doesn’t mean it skimps on features, either, as you still get a lovely, tactile volume wheel and a dedicated microphone mute button. Roccat’s Swarm software also lets you add a secondary function to practically every key on the keyboard, too, giving you plenty of customisation options. It’s expensive, but if you’re after the best tenkeyless keyboard around, it doesn’t get better than this. For a cheaper alterative, I’d recommend Fnatic’s miniStreak, or the Fnatic Streak65 below.

Fnatic Streak65

The best compact gaming keyboard

A photo of the Fnatic Streak65 gaming keyboard.

As its name implies, the Fnatic Streak65 is a 65% keyboard that’s even smaller than the Roccat Vulcan Pro TKL above. It’s about as small as you can go without it starting to become impractical for everyday use. While it doesn’t have much in the way of extra features due to its small footprint, you still get those all-important arrow keys (which you don’t on smaller 60% keyboards such as the HyperX x Ducky One 2 Mini keyboard, as well as media keys mapped to the Fn buttons.

It’s a brilliant little keyboard that’s great for both work and play, and Fnatic’s new low-profile Speed keys look and feel almost identical to their classic Cherry MX counterparts, too. It won’t be for everyone, especially when it’s practically the same price as the slightly larger Fnatic miniStreak, but if you’re determined to go ultra compact and don’t mind making a couple of compromises here and there in terms of features, then the Fnatic Streak65 is the best compact keyboard I’ve tested so far.

Asus ROG Strix Flare

The best RGB gaming keyboard

Asus ROG Strix Flare - Best gaming keyboard 2020

If RGB lighting is the most important thing to you, the Asus ROG Strix Flare is another fantastic mechanical keyboard that’s worthy of your consideration. It’s come down a lot in price recently, too, making it an even better bargain than before. It’s tastefully designed keyboard that cuts a fine, sophisticated profile on your desk, and its elegant, dual matt and brushed finished design that sheers diagonally down the right side of the keyboard helps give it a bit of personality that’s both refined and understated.

And there are plenty of RGB LEDs, too. They’re not only on the keys themselves, but there are also two strips underneath the keyboard as well as another couple shining out of the top, transparent cut-out that can be used for slotting in 3D-printed gamer tags or the bundled plastic ROG logo (as shown above).

Again, you’ll need to download Asus’ Armory software to start customising the ROG Strix Flare down to a per-key lighting level, but you get plenty of options once you do so. The underglow strips are also surprisingly subdued for those who prefer a more subtle approach to their rainbow-coloured light shows, and I didn’t find them particularly distracting when playing games either.

Read our Asus ROG Strix Flare review

How to choose the right gaming keyboard

Membrane or mechanical?

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want a mechanical gaming keyboard or a membrane one. Generally, mechanical keyboards are better for gaming due to their fast, clean and linear movements and their short actuation points (when the keyboard actually registers you’ve pressed down a key). They are, however, more expensive, with most commanding prices of at least £80 / $100, if not significantly more. They’re more durable than membrane keyboards, though, and are (in theory) easier to repair as you only need to replace the individual switch instead of chucking out the entire keyboard.

Membrane keyboards, on the other hand, are usually a lot quieter and cheaper than their mechanical counterparts because they’re made from less expensive materials. However, his in turn makes them more prone to breaking and are generally a bit of a pain to fix. Given their low price, it’s often easier to just to buy a brand-new one.

Mechanical keyboard switches explained

If you do decide to opt for a mechanical keyboard, the next thing to decide is what type of switch you want. Most gaming keyboards tend to use the German-made Cherry MX switches, but you’ll occasionally see other types from Kailh and Outemu as well, or in the case of Logitech and Razer, their own in-house switches. Broadly speaking, though, they tend to fall into one of two categories: linear or tactile.

Taking Cherry’s MX switches as our primary example, linear Red switches are often considered the fastest and best for gaming. Their clean, up and down movements don’t provide a lot of tactile feedback, making them less suitable for long typing stints, but their short actuation points make them a popular choice for FPS games and competitive online games. You’ll also find even faster linear variants known as MX Silver, too, which have an even shorter actuation point than MX Reds.

Tactile Blue switches, on the other hand, are generally considered better for typing thanks to their loud and clicky sound, while Brown switches are a sort of half-way house between Red and Blues. They’re a bit quieter than other switch types, but when you press them you’ll often feel a small bump halfway down, giving you a bit more physical confirmation that you’ve pressed a key correctly.

We’re also starting to see more Kailh or Kaihua switches appear on mechanical keyboards, too. These are made in China and the most common linear models are Kailh Reds, which are very similar to Cherry MX Reds, and Speed Silvers, which as you might have guessed is Kailh’s answer to Cherry’s MX Silver. You’ll also find tactile Kailh Browns and Blues, but they’ve got a few more tactile ‘Speed’ variants, too, including Speed Bronze and Speed Copper. These are less common, but are a lot more ‘clicky’ (i.e.: noisy) than their linear Speed Silver counterparts.

Outemu switches are also made in China, and also largely correspond to what you’ll find in the Cherry MX camp. They’re generally found in budget gaming keyboards and come in very similar colours: Red, Blue and Brown as well as Black. The latter are linear like their Red switches, but have a much heavier actuation force, meaning you’ll need to press it down harder in order for a keystroke to register.

Razer, on the other hand, have a completely different colour scheme to Cherry and Kailh. They only have one linear type (Yellow) and two tactile types (Green and Orange). Yellows are closest to Cherry’s MX Silver switches, while Greens are effectively the same as Cherry MX Blues. Orange, meanwhile, are Razer’s answer to MX Brown switches.

As for Logitech, their naming convention is much easier to understand. While they all include the name ‘Romer-G’, they’re usually described as either Romer-G Linear or Romer-G Tactile. Simple.

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