Table of contents

Introduction

 

If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably spent many hours honing your skills. You can read situations like a book. You might be a vital part of a team. You could be anything from a spy to a hitman, a soldier to a commander. Often, you’ll need to watch your back. You’ll need to be ready.

 

Why would you compromise your hard-earned gaming skills with poor peripherals that place you at a disadvantage?

 

Unless you insist on sticking with that $5 yard-sale keyboard, there are good reasons for buying a new one:

 

A good gaming keyboard is a well-made device that you’ll enjoy using in all situations, whether you’re an FPS sharp-shooter or just doing your day job, waiting for the next adventure. Some keyboards are geared for a specific genre of game, while others are brilliant all-rounders.

 

Choosing a keyboard is a skill, too. If you’re not sure what to look for, much of what you need to know is right here. We look at ten of the best gaming keyboards on the market, and if you’re in any doubt about a feature, you can check out the buyer’s guide at the end for more info.

 

Ready to step up your game?

 

Comparison Table

 

Compare the prices and features of our reviewed gaming keyboards using this handy table. Irrespective of budget, there is something for you here.

 

Model Amazon

Price (variable)

Switch Type Switch actuation force Backlighting Dedicated

Macro Keys

Anti-Ghosting Keys
AULA SI-859 $24.75 Rubber dome

(membrane)

50+/-5g 3 colors None No
Redragon K552 KUMARA $34.99 Outemu

MX Blue

clones

~ 55g Red None All (N-key rollover)
Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 $41.05 Scissor Unknown No None 6
Corsair STRAFE $79.99 Cherry MX Red

(others available)

45g Red None All (N-key rollover)
Razer Ornata Chroma $99.99 Mecha-Membrane

(Hybrid)

60g Full RGB

(16.8m colors)

None 10
Logitech G910 Orion Spark $126.49 Romer-G 45g Full RGB

(16.8m colors)

9 All (N-key rollover)
Logitech G710 $158.98 Cherry MX Blue 50g White 6 26
Corsair K95 RGB $235.20 Cherry MX RGB Brown 45g Full RGB

(16.8m colors)

18 All (N-key rollover)
SteelSeries Apex M800 $199.99 SteelSeries QS1 45g Full RGB

(16.8m colors)

6 All (N-key rollover)
Topre Realforce RGB $232.00 Topre Electrostatic Capacitive 45g Full RGB

(16.8m colors)

None All (N-key Rollover)

 

 

Review #1: AULA SI-859 Backlit Gaming Keyboard with Adjustable Backlight USB Wired Illuminated Computer Keyboard

 

Introduction

 

If you haven’t got much money to spare for a gaming keyboard, how about buying one that costs next to nothing? The sleek AULA SI-859 isn’t loaded with features but looks cool, we think you’ll agree, with its switchable LED backlighting and sleek proportions. This keyboard is perfect for casual gamers and offers excellent value for money.

 

Ergonomics

 

The AULA SI-859 features a textured palm rest to support your palms and wrists. Though the palm rest is useful, it could do with reaching out farther and covering the center of the keyboard. As it is, your palms will be supported to some extent beneath the important WASD and arrow keys.

 

Two pull-out stands on the underside of the AULA SI-859 allow you to angle the keyboard for enhanced comfort. There are two fixed rubberized feet at the front to help keep the keyboard firmly in place during gaming.

 

Gaming Features

 

At this price, you’ll struggle to find a keyboard that is brimming with features, but the AULA SI-859 looks the part with its choice of three backlight colors: purple, red, and blue. The lighting can be controlled with four different settings (off, low, high, pulse). Gaming in the dark couldn’t be easier, and even if you’re a skilled touch typist and don’t need backlighting, the colorful glow gives your gaming area plenty of mood. Laser-carved keys let the backlighting shine through the characters, for those that do need to see them.

 

Durably made, the slim AULA SI-859 has a specially strengthened space bar that can withstand the most frantic gaming action. The 104 non-mechanical keys on this membrane keyboard are quiet and responsive in use, though the typing experience is naturally a little mushier than you’ll experience with a mechanical keyboard. If you like clicky mechanical keyboards with a longer expected lifespan, there is always the Sapphire Mechanical Keyboard from the same maker in the same design.

 

Key travel in the AULA SI-859 is 2mm, which is comparable to the actuation point of many mechanical key switches. The difference is, of course, that you must bottom out the keystroke of this membrane keyboard for it to register, which takes about 50g of force (plus or minus 5g).

 

To ensure uninterrupted gaming, the AULA SI-859 also includes a lockable Windows key. This prevents you from accidentally activating desktop view during the middle of a game.

 

The AULA SI-859 is a low-cost 2KRO (two key rollover) keyboard that won’t register more than two keys at once. This could be a deal breaker for hardcore gamers that are accustomed to hitting multiple keys at a time but is likely a tolerable forfeit for casual gamers just looking for good value. If key rollover is important to you and you’re on a modest budget, take a look at the 6KRO Azio Levetron L70 LED Backlit Gaming Keyboard for a similar price.

 

A convenient feature of the AULA Be Fire SI-859 keyboard is its USB connectivity. This allows you to simply plug the keyboard into a spare USB port and begin using it straight away, rather than faffing around installing separate drivers.

 

In the Box

 

Inside the box of the AULA SI-859 is the following:

 

  • Keyboard with 6ft USB cable
  • Keycap puller and spare blank keys
  • User manual

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are some of the pluses and minuses of the AULA SI-859 Gaming Keyboard:

 

Pros

 

  • Great value for money
  • Choice of three backlight colors, each with four settings
  • Stylish, ultra-slim design
  • Strengthened spacebar for durable gaming use
  • Lockable Windows key
  • Quiet non-mechanical keys for discreet use
  • USB plug ‘n’ play connection

 

Cons

 

  • Limited rollover capability
  • Less durable than mechanical keyboards
  • Enter key is unusual in shape and located farther right than normal

 

Summary

 

For a good-looking gaming keyboard that can take some punishment and isn’t a big financial risk, you can’t go far wrong with the AULA Be Fire SI-859. It won’t give you the longevity of a mechanical model, nor the same feel, but plenty of people appreciate the responsive nature of its keys. If you haven’t got a wad of cash lying around for a keyboard, this one is worth looking at.

 

Editor Rating (Highly Recommended)

 

Value for money 9.0
Ergonomics 7.8
Gaming Features 8.0
Durability 7.5
Total 32.3

 

 

Review #2: Redragon K552 KUMARA LED Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (Black)

 

Introduction

 

There may be cheaper gaming keyboards out there, but the Redragon K552 KUMARA offers some nice features for not much money. For a start, it’s mechanical, so you get clicky Cherry MX clone switches for a price that’ll normally only buy you a membrane keyboard. With full n-key rollover, you can also hit any combo of keys without fear of losing a keystroke.

 

Ergonomics

 

With its minimalistic tenkeyless design, which you can see here, the Redragon K552 KUMARA is a compact board without any number pad, palm rest or other supplement. What you do get is a well-engineered keyboard with durable aluminum and ABS construction. Double-shot injection molded keycaps provide sharply contrasted backlit characters that are bold in appearance and cannot wear.

 

Typing is enjoyable on this 87-key keyboard, which has a standard layout to avoid any unwanted surprises for touch typists. The Redragon K552 KUMARA is easy to use and offers no-nonsense, long-lasting performance for dedicated gamers. It comes with a durable gold-plated USB connector for straightforward plug and play connectivity.

 

Gaming Features

 

One of the features that makes this keyboard outstanding value for money is its mechanical switches. These are said to be Cherry MX Green clones but are Outemu Cherry MX Blue medium resistance clones with a lighter actuation force of about 55-60g. The clicky switches are loud, so this is not a keyboard you’ll be able to use near a light sleeper. Typing on it is a gratifying experience if you’re a fan of audible tactile switches.

 

A lot of cheap gaming keyboards have limited rollover capability, which may or may not be important to you. This one has 87 “conflict-free” keys, or, in other words, full n-key rollover capability. Nobody strikes all keys at once unless they sit on their keyboard, but it’s good to know that a keyboard is unrestricted in this regard. The Redragon K552 KUMARA includes 12 multimedia/function keys.

 

In this review, we’ve linked to the Redragon K552 KUMARA with red LED backlighting, which includes an on/off control, brightness control, and a pulsating “breathing effect”.

 

You can pick up an even cheaper edition of the K552 KUMARA keyboard with no backlighting at all or you can go full RGB for an extra 20 dollars or so. Your choice may depend on the gear you already own; an RGB model lets you choose the color you want and customize your keyboard. Here is the RGB model: Redragon K552-RGB KUMARA.

 

For extra versatility and speed, WASD keys and arrow keys are switchable in the Redragon K552 KUMARA. This allows left or right-handed configuration depending on what you’re comfortable with and what suits any application or game. A lockable Windows key prevents you from accidentally switching to desktop or home screen view at the wrong moment.

 

In the Box

 

You should find the following items in the Redragon K552 KUMARA box:

 

  • Keyboard
  • Key puller
  • User guide
  • Warranty card

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are some of the good and bad points about the Redragon K552 KUMARA Keyboard:

 

Pros

 

  • Superb value for money
  • N-key rollover (all keys scanned independently)
  • Mechanical keys with satisfying clicky/tactile feedback
  • Durable metal and ABS construction
  • Red backlighting with brightness controls & breathing effect
  • Double-shot injection molded keycaps for sharp non-wearing characters
  • Gold-plated USB connector for long-lasting plug ‘n’ play connectivity
  • Different models available
  • Compact tenkeyless design

 

Cons

 

  • Too loud for discreet use in enclosed spaces
  • Backlighting defaults to full brightness after sleep mode

 

Summary

 

There are many gaming keyboards on the market, but few offer the build quality and spec of this one at this bargain price. The Redragon K552 KUMARA is solidly constructed and, being mechanical, has a longer expected lifespan than similarly priced membrane keyboards. What’s more, it’s satisfying to use with its tactile and clicky feedback. Just don’t use it near sleeping neighbors or cohabitants.

 

Editor Rating (Best Budget Gaming Keyboard)

 

Value for money 9.5
Ergonomics 8.0
Gaming Features 8.8
Durability 9.2
Total 35.5

 

 

Review #3: Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750

 

Introduction

 

Though not advertised as a gaming keyboard, the stylish Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 has comfortable concave keys and performs well with most games. Of course, it also gives you the freedom to move around and enjoy the luxury of the sofa during use. You won’t experience the lag that plagues some wireless keyboards and there’s even some rollover capability (maximum 6KRO), even if this is not stated by the manufacturer.

 

Ergonomics

 

With its proprietary concave key-cap design, the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 offers a responsive, fast typing performance. This stylish keyboard is only a third of an inch thick and, aside from looking good, is comfortable to use. The shallow, laptop-style keys allow for a uniform, responsive keystroke that will be attractive to fans of chiclet keyboards. Check out the keyboard’s good looks here.

 

On the underside of the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 are two flip-out stands, which make typing a little more comfortable for most people. Like all solar devices, this keyboard runs on a battery. The small rechargeable ML2032 OEM button cell is accessible from the rear, though this is only removed for recycling purposes and should last for the lifespan of the product.

 

The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is designed to be space-saving and easily portable, so it’s not encumbered with luxuries such as a palm rest. That said, it does have a number pad. A potential problem with the keyboard is its high-gloss finish, which is likely to attract finger marks. Keeping a microfiber cloth close to hand is wise.

 

Gaming Features

 

The main feature of the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is of course its built-in solar panel. The panel draws energy from either natural or artificial light and the battery can power the keyboard in total darkness for three months from a full charge. A free Logitech solar app is available that lets you know how much battery power you have, for instance, or how much light the keyboard is getting.

 

Connectivity in the K750 is easy with the included 2.4 GHz wireless receiver, which you just leave installed in an available PC USB port. The keyboard can be sited up to 9 meters away from the receiver before losing the signal. Understandably, because it would reduce battery life, the keyboard does not include any backlighting. This version of the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is designed for use with Windows PCs, but there is also a silver version intended for Mac.

 

You don’t get any gaming-specific features on the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 other than the unspecified rollover capability. This is not a keyboard that offers full n-key rollover, but you can press up to 6 keys at a time and have them all register. That should suffice most gamers, since few people hit more than half a dozen keys at once. The K750 includes 12 function keys, which can be used normally with pre-programmed (and programmable) F-key settings or as Enhanced F-keys for an extra set of functions on top. You can disable the Windows Start key to avoid activating the Windows menu in the middle of a game.

 

In the Box

 

The following items should be included with the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750:

 

  • Keyboard
  • Logitech Unifying receiver
  • Wireless Extender (reduces possibility of interference)
  • 3-year limited hardware warranty

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are some of the good and bad things about the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750:

 

Pros

 

  • Slim and stylish
  • Wireless use with no battery changing or costs thanks to solar power
  • Battery recharges from any light source
  • Some rollover capability
  • Reliable connectivity with little or no lag
  • Comfortable, quiet typing with Logitech PerfectStroke scissor switches
  • Programmable F-Keys with added Enhanced F-Key functionality

 

Cons

 

  • Easily marked with fingerprints

 

Summary

 

Logitech is one of the few manufacturers that makes wireless keyboards reliable enough for gaming. The sleek and stylish K750 not only looks good, but gives you wireless freedom without the hassle or cost of changing batteries. Its scissor keys give a pleasant typing experience, despite not being quite as long-lasting as mechanical keys. If you’re looking for wireless gaming keyboard, you’ll struggle to find any better than this one.

 

Editor Rating (Best Wireless Gaming Keyboard)

 

Value for money 9.0
Ergonomics 8.8
Gaming Features 8.0
Durability 8.5
Total 34.3

 

Review #4: Corsair STRAFE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

 

Introduction

 

The popular Corsair STRAFE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard offers an attractive set of features at a relatively affordable price. It’s available in a choice of Cherry MX switches, so you can pick a model that suits you and your environment best. In this review, we focus on the Cherry MX Red model, with linear switches that are quick and quiet to use.

 

Ergonomics

 

With its contoured keycaps and German-made Cherry MX Red switches, the Corsair STRAFE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is comfortable and responsive to use. Although made from plastic, the keyboard feels reassuringly well made. You’ll note if you study the photos that the space bar differs from the other keys, constructed as it is from textured, crosshatch steel.

 

The basic Corsair STRAFE doesn’t have a palm rest built in, nor comes with one supplied, However, Amazon does bundle the keyboard with a Kensington ErgoSoft Wrist Rest as well as selling it alone. If you have extra money to spare, the STRAFE RGB model does come with a detachable soft-touch wrist rest for extra comfort.

 

On the underside of the STRAFE are two rear flip-out stands to angle the keyboard and two rubber front feet.

 

Gaming Features

 

Each key on the Corsair STRAFE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is backlit by an individual LED. This ensures uniformity. The model under review uses red LEDs. For more money, you can buy a STRAFE that uses Cherry MX RGB switches, which house RGB LEDs and allow fully customizable backlighting. An RGB LED can nominally produce 16.77 million distinct colors (often rounded up to 16.8 million in keyboard specs). You don’t, of course, get this level of color flexibility with the red-only backlighting model, but in most respects the programmability is the same. You can still create endless combinations of background color intensity, brightness, and foreground lighting effects. Foreground lighting comes into play when a specific key is pressed, an action triggered or a mode selected. Background lighting is the canvas over which everything else is set—the static light setting.

 

Although the Corsair STRAFE does not include dedicated macro keys, all its keys are programmable. Using software, you can record and save complex button sequences. The only disadvantage of this, obviously, is that you must reassign standard keys for your macro commands. A Windows lockout key is included to avoid accidentally triggering the menu and switching to desktop during a game. This is positioned at the top-right of the keyboard alongside the brightness control key.

 

The gaming-friendly circuitry of the Corsair STRAFE delivers 100% anti-ghosting capability (n-key rollover). You can hit any combination and number of keys at once and have all keystrokes register. Each of the 104 keys is scanned independently to ensure this happens. Supplied with the STRAFE are special FPS and MOBA gaming keycap sets (WASD and QWERDF). Aside from being differently colored to standard keys, these keys are textured and contoured for optimum use.

 

Another feature of the Corsair STRAFE is its USB pass-through, which lets you connect a mouse, USB drive or wireless headset adaptor. The USB connection cable that comes with the keyboard has two plugs; you use one for a USB 3.0 connection (with the keyboard icon) and both for USB 2.0 connection, plugging in the twin-arrow plug first.

 

The Corsair STRAFE also includes multimedia switches for use inside and outside of gaming. Change the audio during a game or simply control audio tracks when you’re listening to your music.

 

In the Box

 

The following items should be included with the Corsair STRAFE Keyboard:

 

  • STRAFE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • FPS & MOBA keycap sets
  • Keycap puller
  • Quick start guide

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are a few of the good and bad points about the Corsair STRAFE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard:

 

Pros

 

  • German-made Cherry MX Red switches for fast linear keystrokes
  • Other Cherry MX switches available to suit your taste (including MX Silent)
  • Individual key backlighting (red LED)
  • Loads of backlight customization available via software
  • All keys fully programmable for layout changes or complex macro actions
  • USB pass-through port for connecting peripherals
  • Contoured keycaps; contoured & textured gaming keycaps
  • Textured spacebar
  • 100% non-conflicting keys (n-key rollover)

 

Cons

 

  • No dedicated macro keys
  • No dedicated volume control

 

Summary

 

The Corsair STRAFE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is solidly made with proper German Cherry MX switches and is available in a variety of different models, with anything from MX Silent to clicky MX Blue switches and red LED backlighting to full RGB. The functionality in all of them is basically the same, so you’ll only be choosing switch feel and the amount of color customization possible. You’ll find the prices vary significantly, even between the different MX switches (clicky, tactile MX Blues tend to cost more). There is little to criticize about this keyboard; you get a well-specified product for a reasonable price.

 

Editor Rating (Best Value Gaming Keyboard Under $100)

 

Value for money 9.2
Ergonomics 8.6
Gaming Features 9.0
Durability 9.4
Total 36.2

 

 

Review #5: Razer Ornata Chroma Gaming Keyboard

 

Introduction

 

Neither a mechanical nor membrane keyboard, the Razer Ornata has a hybrid design that arguably offers the best of both worlds. It’s fast, fun and responsive to use and is endlessly customizable to suit your needs or fire your imagination. This unique gaming keyboard is available in Chroma or green-LED versions. On top of its functionality and high-quality construction, this is a keyboard that looks good, as the pictures here testify.

 

Ergonomics

 

The Razer Ornata Gaming Keyboard is nothing if not comfortable to use, thanks to its luxurious padded palm rest. This is attached using a system of magnets, so can easily be removed if preferred. A popular feature of the keyboard, the full length and generous 3.5-inch depth of the palm rest will help prevent any discomfort or injury to your hands during extended gaming sessions.

 

Perhaps the standout feature of this keyboard is its hybrid Razer Mecha-Membrane key switches. Bottoming out a keystroke produces the familiar cushioned feel of a rubber-dome switch, but, unlike a regular membrane keyboard, you are rewarded with a pleasant clicking sound and tactile feedback. The mid-height keycaps of the Ornata are easy to glide across, enabling a smooth user-experience for deft gamers. The travel distance and actuation point of the switches is 3.5mm and the actuation force (i.e. full keystroke force) required is 60g.

 

On the underside of the Razer Ornata Gaming Keyboard are two flip-out stands and four rubber pads for non-slip use. A 3-way channel for cable management keeps the keyboard flat for those that don’t want to use the stands (the cable attaches underneath the keyboard rather than at the back, so would obstruct without these channels). Touch typists often prefer a flat keyboard, since they don’t need to see the key characters and find it more comfortable.

 

Gaming Features

 

Aside from its innovative Mecha-Membrane switches, the Razer Ornata is also exceptional for its backlighting. Each of the keys has its own LED light, but the lights are seated below the keys rather than in them as they are in many mechanical switches. Although this sounds less desirable, the light of the LEDs is diffused and reflected upwards by the white baseplate of the keyboard, creating a superb “floating keys” visual effect.

Thanks to the keyboard’s per-key RGB backlighting, a huge palette of 16.8 million colors is available for individual keys or key groups, and there’s an impressive range of in-built lighting effects to enjoy, including wave, breathe, reactive and ripple. You can set and download profiles to suit specific games and apps, so the most relevant keys are illuminated.

With its 10-key rollover capability, the Razer Ornata Gaming Keyboard lets you hit multiple keys at once without ghosting, as manufacturers call it. In other words, all keystrokes will be registered and none lost, so you can execute up to ten commands at once. Most people never strike more than six keys at a time.

Although there are no dedicated macro keys, simple on-the-fly macro recording is possible, so you can quickly save a sequence of actions for immediate and future use. A Gaming Mode locks out the Windows key to avoid you accidentally switching to desktop view.

A further benefit of the Razer Ornata Chroma Keyboard is that it can by color-synced with other Razer Chroma peripherals, such as a headset, mouse and mouse mat.

In the Box

 

The following items should be supplied with the Razer Ornata Gaming Keyboard:

 

  • Razer Ornata Gaming Keyboard & braided cable
  • Wrist rest
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Razer stickers

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are a some of the pluses and minuses of the Razer Ornata Chroma Keyboard:

 

Pros

 

  • Attractively priced
  • Responsive typing experience with Mecha-Membrane hybrid keys
  • Fully customizable RGB backlighting
  • Programmable keys & on-the-fly macro recording
  • Comfortable wrist rest
  • 10-key rollover for multiple non-conflicting keystrokes
  • Windows key lockout in Gaming Mode

 

Cons

 

  • Fewer features than some keyboards (no USB pass-through, dedicated macro keys or volume control)

Summary

 

Great lighting effects, innovative switch design and extensive programming capability make the Razer Ornata Keyboard an attractive proposition for gamers. Yes, it’s missing a few desirable features, but none that you could really complain about at the price. This is worth your money if you want a responsive keyboard that looks good for 100 bucks or less. For quite a bit less, you also have the option of the Razer Ornata Expert, which uses green backlighting instead of RGB.

 

Editor Rating (Best RGB Gaming Keyboard Under $100)

 

Value for money 9.6
Ergonomics 9.4
Gaming Features 8.5
Durability 8.8
Total 36.3

 

Review #6: Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

 

Introduction

 

The Logitech G910 Orion Spark Gaming Keyboard is renowned for its beautiful, well-controlled lighting, but offers a host of other features that will delight many gamers. Proprietary mechanical keys are one of its talking points, since they’re very different to the usual MX Cherry keys (original or clones). Uniquely designed, fast and responsive, this is a keyboard worth exploring further. You can get a good look at its layout and switch design here.

 

Ergonomics

 

Supplied with the Logitech G910 Orion Spark Gaming Keyboard are two palm rests in different sizes. One of these is attached to the keyboard as you unbox it, but that can be replaced with a larger one that extends farther out on the left-hand side (i.e. beneath the WASD keys). The palm rests do improve comfort and will help avoid repetitive strain injury. The palm rest design, keyboard layout and keycap design is the “result of more than a year of development”, according to Logitech.

 

The keycaps of the G910 Orion Spark have a scooped-out shape that is designed to center your fingers on the keystroke and enhance reliability in edge-strike activation. These keys take some getting used to in practice, but most people grow accustomed to them. Because the keys are so strongly gaming-oriented and unconventional, anyone that intends doing a lot of normal typing on the keyboard takes more of a risk in buying it. The WASD keys are given a striking laser-etched pattern to make them stand out from surrounding keys.

 

A major difference between the Romer-G mechanical switches used on this keyboard and typical Cherry MX-style switches is that the actuation point is unusually shallow at around 1.5mm. According to Logitech, this makes them up to 25% faster than a standard mechanical switch (i.e. 5ms vs 6.7ms with a finger speed of 300mm a second). Coupled with a light actuation force of 45g, the keys are certainly quick and responsive. The manufacturer claims an unusually long lifespan of 70 million keystrokes for these keys, too, which beats the usual 50 million of mechanical keyboards.

 

Gaming Features

 

An excellent feature of the Logitech G910 Orion Spark Gaming Keyboard is its crisp and vivid RGB backlighting. This is largely due to the mentioned Romer-G switches, each of which contains its own SMD LED to allow per-key color customization. Some keyboards make a feature out of not having switch-mounted LEDs, creating a pool of light beneath the keys. This keyboard goes the other way and tightly controls its light, so that it shines up directly through the laser-etched key characters.

 

RGB LEDs can produce 16.77 million colors (256 x 256 x 256), which is topped up to 16.8 million for keyboard specifications. The exact figure is immaterial, since the human eye can’t distinguish between all these colors; suffice to say that RGB keyboards have huge, nominally limitless color palettes. All the standard and macro keys on this keyboard can be backlit in any color you choose.

 

Thanks to its full n-key rollover capability, it’s impossible to “lose” any keystrokes on this keyboard. All 113 keys are scanned individually, so you can hit as many as you want/can at once in any combination and be sure they’ll all register.

 

The Logitech G910 Orion Spark boasts 9 dedicated macro keys: the programmable G-keys positioned to the left and top-left of the keyboard. In addition, you can set up three switchable profiles using the M-keys, each allowing its own set of 9 macro commands (thus, 27 macro functions can be saved in all). The keyboard includes dedicated media controls, including an easy-to-use roller switch for adjusting volume.

 

Another feature of the Logitech G910 Orion Spark Gaming Keyboard is its smartphone dock. This does not charge your phone, but you can download the complementary Logitech Arx Control app that extends the functionality of the keyboard. Your smartphone then acts as a second screen, providing you with PC performance stats, in-game information, and on-the-fly peripheral device management.

 

In the Box

 

Inside the Logitech G910 Orion Spark box you should find the following:

 

  • Logitech G910 Orion Spark Keyboard
  • Palm rest
  • User documentation

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are some of the good and less-good features of the G910 Orion Spark Keyboard:

 

Pros

 

  • Gaming-specific sculpted keycap design for centered keystrokes
  • Beautiful RGB backlighting with in-key LEDs
  • Responsive mechanical keys with shallow actuation point
  • Intuitive software allows easy programming
  • Dedicated macro (x9) and profile (x3) switches
  • Smartphone dock for extra second-screen functionality
  • Switchable palm rests
  • Anti-ghosting capability with 10-key rollover
  • Unusually long 70 million click lifespan (20 million more than Cherry MX)

 

Cons

 

  • Sculpted keys oriented towards gaming – may not suit typists/casual gamers
  • No USB pass-through (can’t connect peripherals to the keyboard)

 

Summary

 

With its nine macro keys and three switchable profile keys, the Logitech G910 Orion Spark is ideal for MMO games such as World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic. The keyboard isn’t sparing in size, but does look stunning with its well-controlled, per-key RGB backlighting. Boasting exceptional durability, the G910 Orion Spark is worthy of consideration as a serious gaming keyboard.

 

Editor Rating (Best Mid-Priced MMO Gaming Keyboard)

 

Value for money 9.4
Ergonomics 9.3
Gaming Features 9.5
Durability 9.6
Total 37.8

 

Review #7: Logitech G710 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Cherry MX Blue Switches

 

Introduction

 

Less distinct than the G910 Orion Spark, the Logitech G710 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard offers great MMO gaming functionality coupled with Cherry MX Blue switches. If you like tactile feedback combined with a traditional clacking sound when you type, this keyboard is for you. It offers a good selection of gaming-specific features and lots of programmability.

 

The G710 is sold as the Logitech G710+ when equipped with quieter Cherry MX Brown switches. Other than switch types and different accent colors, the G710 and G710+ are identical. The latter is typically sold for less than its list price, while the G710 Blue tends to cost $30-$50 more.

 

Ergonomics

 

Supplied with the Logitech G710 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a detachable palm rest, as seen among the photos here. This is useful in avoiding repetitive strain injury, since it stops you from having to bend your wrists when typing, though it is a little flimsy in construction. Two flip-out stands on the underside of the keyboard let you angle the keyboard, while four rubber feet keep it stable when flat.

 

As mentioned, this keyboard comes with German-made Cherry MX switches, whichever color you choose. The keycaps are smooth, rather than textured, and the commonly used WASD and arrow keys are highlighted in an alternate color to make them stand out. Cherry MX Blue keys require a heavier actuation force than Cherry MX Brown (60g vs 45g). This theoretically leans them a little more towards typing than fast-paced gaming, as the weightier feel helps avoid typos. The quieter MX Brown is, of course, a better choice if you want to avoid disturbing neighbors and is fine for typing if you’re accurate and don’t have a click addiction.

 

Cherry MX switches have a standard mechanical lifespan of 50 million clicks, so the expected lifespan of the G710 is about 28% shorter than the Logitech G910 Orion Spark, reviewed above.

Gaming Features

 

The Logitech G710 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is installed with basic white backlighting. It does offer adjustable dual-zone backlighting, which enables you to highlight the WASD or arrow keys with a different level of brightness to the rest of the keys. There are four different brightness settings available, not including the “off” position. Lack of RGB lighting does help to keep the price down of course and is substituted by other desirable features.

 

With 6 programmable G-keys and three profile buttons, the keyboard allows a maximum of 18 special key presses, complex macro actions or LUAA scripts. The G-keys are highlighted with blue or brown accents, depending on which G710 you opt for, and are situated to the left of the keyboard as the pictures here show. Three mode/profile m-keys and a macro-record (MR) key are situated at the top left of the keyboard.

 

Thanks to its 26-key rollover capability, gamers can hit multiple keys at once and have them all register as intended on the Logitech G710. Since few people will performs 26 keystrokes at once, this is the same as full n-key rollover (NKRO) in practice. All 110 keys of the keyboard are calibrated to prevent ghosting, so you can hit any combination of 26 keys (theoretically) without lost or unexpected keystrokes.

 

Unlike the Logitech G910 Orion Spark, the Logitech G710 includes USB pass-through, which lets you connect peripherals such as a mouse or wireless headset to the keyboard. Dedicated media keys and a rolling volume switch give easy control over multimedia and gaming sound.

 

In the Box

 

Inside the Logitech G710 box are the following:

 

  • Logitech G710 Keyboard
  • Palm rest
  • User documentation

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are some of the pros and cons of the G710 Keyboard:

 

Pros

 

  • German-made Cherry MX Blue switches for tactile clicky feedback
  • Quieter Cherry MX Brown switches available in G710+ model
  • White LED backlighting with dual-zone adjustability to highlight WASD & arrow keys
  • Six programmable macro keys with three profile (mode) keys for 18 possible functions
  • Easy macro recording
  • Full keyboard anti-ghosting matrix with 26-key rollover
  • Standalone multimedia keys and volume control
  • USB pass-through for connecting other peripherals
  • Game/Desktop modes to avoid accidental interruption during gaming

 

Cons

 

  • Color accenting around macro keys not to everyone’s taste
  • Palm rest could be sturdier

 

Summary

 

With its formidable macro capability, the Logitech G710 is well-suited to MMO gamers. Its price varies significantly according to your choice of switch (i.e. between G710 and G710+ models), with the Blue version typically being closer to list price. You might bear that in mind when assessing value for money. Regardless of color and switch type, this is a very capable gaming keyboard indeed.

 

Editor Rating (Best Mid-Priced Typing/MMO Gaming Keyboard)

 

Value for money (G710) 8.8
Ergonomics 9.2
Gaming Features 9.2
Durability 9.0
Total 36.2

 

Review #8: K95 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Cherry MX Brown Switches

 

Introduction

 

Though it doesn’t come cheap, the Corsair K95 RGB Keyboard is often regarded as the best gaming keyboard in existence. It’s superbly made, stylish, and loaded with gaming-specific features as well as being eminently pleasant to type on. The K95 offers an amazing level of programmability, too, making it a dream purchase for many hardcore MMO gamers. Looking closely at the photos of this keyboard, you get an immediate sense of its high-quality design and manufacturing.

 

Ergonomics

 

Beautifully made with aircraft-grade brushed aluminum, the Corsair K95 is rewarding to the touch with its reassuring build quality. It includes a soft-touch detachable palm rest to help avoid repetitive strain injury. This is full-length, so doesn’t focus on specific keys and is ideal for extensive typing sessions as well as gaming. Of course, you can just remove it if it isn’t to your liking.

 

The Corsair K95 is available in different versions, including a cheaper model with white backlighting. The RGB model is made with Cherry MX RGB switches in a variety of colors, including Red, Brown or Blue. To clarify what this means: an individual RGB LED is housed within each Cherry MX switch for per-key backlighting. Other than that, the switches have the usual Cherry MX characteristics according to model color (see buying guide for more details).

 

The keyboard we link to in this review has mechanical Cherry MX Brown switches, which give tactile feedback without a click. You might also like the version with Cherry MX Red switches, which are fast, linear switches without tactile or audible feedback. The latter require a lighter actuation force (45g) than the former (55g).

 

Gaming Features

 

Allowing full RGB per-key customization, the Corsair K95 offers numerous lighting effects through its Panasonic display controller and lets you assign colors to specific modes, games, and applications. You can highlight any keys you like with the colors of your choice so you know at a glance what functions or macros have been assigned to them and what keys are in play.

 

All keys on the Corsair K95 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard are programmable, so you can remap any key to different function. However, the standout feature of this keyboard is its dedicated 18 programmable G-keys, which can be used across multiple profiles to achieve 108 macro commands. This is especially useful for MMO game types.

 

Unlike many USB-connected gaming keyboards, the Corsair K95 boasts full n-key rollover. If you had enough fingers, say 122, you could hit all 122 of the K95’s keys and there’d be no keystrokes lost. In real terms, this means you can be as fast as you like and hit any combination of keys without worrying about keyboard reliability or speed.

 

Another feature of the Corsair K95 is its onboard memory, which allows you to save color and macro settings and transport them with the keyboard, though you’ll need the CUE (Corsair Utility Engine) software to be running on a host PC to make full use of this. Static colors can be saved and used without CUE.

 

In the Box

 

Inside the Corsair K95 box you should find the following:

 

  • Corsair Gaming K95 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • Soft touch, detachable palm rest
  • Warranty card

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the K95 RGB Gaming Keyboard:

 

Pros

 

  • Superb construction quality
  • Detachable soft-touch palm rest
  • German-made mechanical Cherry MX RGB switches
  • Vast scope for per-key color customization
  • 18 dedicated macro keys (G-keys) and 108 possible macros
  • All keys programmable
  • Panasonic display controller drives amazing color effects
  • Full 122-key rollover (NKRO)
  • Dedicated multimedia controls
  • Windows lockout to avoid accidental interruption
  • Braided Fiber Cable

 

Cons

 

  • No USB pass-through
  • Expensive

 

Summary

 

Despite its high-quality construction and impressive list of gaming features, the best thing about the Corsair K95 is its level of programmability. You can create macros on the fly and assign macros to any key in addition to the 18 G-keys. There might be keyboards that give better value for money, but the K95 won’t disappoint if your budget stretches to it.

 

Editor Rating (Best MMO Gaming Keyboard)

 

Value for money 8.6
Ergonomics 9.4
Gaming Features 9.6
Durability 9.4
Total 37

 

 

Review #9: SteelSeries Apex M800 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

 

Introduction

 

The SteelSeries Apex M800 is unusual in that it’s oriented towards FPS games, owing to its shallow actuation point and sensitive keys. This strays from the norm, since most gaming keyboards are either geared towards MMO games with multiple macro keys or are all-rounders aimed at gamer/typists. It’s not a cheap offering at around $200, but it is a durable board laden with features. There is plenty to admire in terms of its good looks, too, which are in evidence among these photos.

 

Ergonomics

 

Although there is no palm rest supplied with the SteelSeries Apex M800, its low profile makes up for this to some extent. Your hands should glide easily over its keys without noticeable strain. The construction of the keyboard is entirely plastic, but the soft matte texture is pleasant in use.

 

The Apex M800 is made with mechanical QS1 switches that are exclusive to SteelSeries. They’re linear in type, so there is no tactile or clicky feedback. You might liken them to the Cherry MX Red, but their shallow actuation point and light triggering makes them extremely easy to press. This is good for fast gaming and typing, but less good if your keystrokes aren’t precise. The switches are claimed to be 25% faster than traditional mechanical switches. You’ll find tactile bumps on the “W” key to help you quickly locate the WASD group.

 

With an estimated lifespan of 60-million keypresses, QS1 switches last a bit longer than average mechanical keys. The underside of the Apex M800 is a little unusual in that it accommodates removable feet, which give a very firm grip. Since the keyboard is angled without the feet, you may decide you don’t need them. A cable management system under the center of the keyboard helps you keep your gaming area tidy.

 

Gaming Features

 

Thanks to the integrated RGB LEDs in every QS1 switch, the amazing backlighting on this keyboard is crisp, clean and easy to customize. A huge palette of 16.8 million colors is available. The keyboard is capable of endless lighting effects and comes with some already pre-set, including Breathe, Color Wave and Cooldown Timers.

 

Boasting full N-key rollover, you can hit any number of keys at once on this keyboard and be sure they’ll all register. In fact, the manufacturer specifies 256-key rollover, despite that there are only 110 keys. That’s what the dual internal processors are capable of, so you can be sure there is little chance of error.

 

Aside from the vast programming capability of this keyboard in terms of color, every key on the board is also programmable for function, so you can create macros or reassign the purposes of different keys. There are 6 dedicated macro keys situated at the left of the keyboard.

 

The Apex M800 is programmed through powerful SteelSeries Engine 3 software, which is easy and intuitive to use. The software recognizes games and automatically activates your fine-tuned settings as you load or switch games.

 

Offering generous connectivity for your peripherals, the SteelSeries Apex M800 Gaming Keyboard includes two USB pass-through ports. This lets you hook up items such as a mouse and/or a wireless adaptor.

 

In the Box

 

Inside the Apex M800 box are the following:

 

  • SteelSeries Apex M800 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • Quick Start Guide

 

Pros and Cons

 

Here are some of the pros and cons of the Apex M800 Gaming Keyboard:

 

Pros

 

  • Stunning per-key RGB backlighting
  • Huge 16.8-million-color palette for limitless customization
  • Eight brightness levels
  • All keys programmable
  • Six dedicated macro keys
  • High-quality mechanical switches with long lifespan
  • Sensitive switches for twitch-reaction FPS gaming
  • Full N-key rollover (NKRO)
  • Low profile design
  • Excellent software – intuitive and easy to use

 

Cons

 

  • Expensive
  • Keys possibly oversensitive for general use

 

Summary

 

If you’re a typist who does a bit of gaming on the side, this keyboard might prove a bit over-responsive, but for dedicated FPS gamers there’s plenty on offer. The SteelSeries Apex M800 is a keyboard with a hair trigger and it offers tons of programmability through intuitive software. Not least of its attributes is gorgeous per-key backlighting with an enormous amount of RGB customization on hand. There’s no denying this is an expensive keyboard, but it does offer impressive durability and a distinct set of gaming features that you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.

 

Editor Rating (Best FPS Gaming Keyboard)

 

Value for money 8.2
Ergonomics 9.2
Gaming Features 9.4
Durability 9.6
Total 36.4

 

Review #10: Topre Realforce RGB Mechanical/Membrane Gaming Keyboard

 

Introduction

 

To clear up any confusion: Realforce is a brand owned by respected Japanese engineering company and switch-maker, Topre. There is more confusion to come, but for now, you only need know that this keyboard offers a sublime gaming/typing experience. Its capacitive switches are silky smooth and responsive with gratifying tactile feedback. The RGB lighting is stunning to behold and the build quality reassures. If your pockets are sufficiently deep, this is a buy you won’t regret. You’ll get an idea of its stylish good looks and classy design from the pictures here.

 

Ergonomics

 

To dampen the early enthusiasm just a little bit, the Realforce RGB keyboard does not come supplied with a palm rest, so you might want to factor that into the final cost. Though your wrists may appreciate such an addition, your fingers will immediately appreciate the comfort of this keyboard’s Topre switches.

 

Describing this keyboard as “mechanical” is controversial, since the switches are not designed in a conventional mechanical manner. Instead, they combine a rubber dome design with an electrostatic capacitive sensing mechanism on a PCB. To muddle the issue further, each switch contains a conical spring, which you may or may not choose to enlist as being mechanical. The spring offers minimal resistance and is there to detect keystrokes. We might describe this as a hybrid keyboard, but that, too, is often contested. Let’s go with mechanical.

 

Moving on, the important thing to know about this keyboard is that it offers a rather beautiful, addictive typing experience. It delivers the tactile response of a mechanical switch but provides a smooth, near-linear keystroke requiring very little actuation force (45g). You’ll experience the comfort of a rubber dome switch without the disconcerting spongy feel when bottoming out. This is a great keyboard for typing purists, but it’s also geared up to satisfy gamers. Double-shot molded keycaps ensure crisp backlighting and zero wear of characters. The switches offer compatibility with either Topre or Cherry MX keycaps, allowing potential for modification.

 

On the underside of the Realforce RGB, textured rubber feet provide rock-solid grip, while two flip-out stands let you angle the keyboard.

 

Gaming Features

 

Continuing the topic of the switches for a moment, the Realforce RGB Keyboard allows you to alter the actuation point of the keys using Topre APC technology. This lets you optimize them for anything from lightning-response gaming to precise typing accuracy. You can set an actuation point of 1.5mm for fast RTS or FPS gaming or 3mm for MMORPG games and word processing. In between, there’s a “standard” 2.2mm setting. The 1.5mm setting is claimed to enable a 25% faster APM.

 

In all the excitement about the switches, we’ve barely touched upon the magnificent RGB backlighting yet. Using the included software, you can customize the keyboard with a huge palette of 16.8 million colors at your disposal. Thanks to per-key backlighting, the scope for customization is endless. The lighting is crisp, well-controlled without bleed, and looks stunning. A variety of pre-set lighting effects is built into the keyboard’s onboard memory and ready to enjoy right out of the box.

 

The Topre Realforce RGB offers full n-key rollover, so there’s no danger of keystrokes not registering no matter how many keys you hit at a time. Though the keyboard lacks some of the features found in rival products, like macro keys or USB pass-through, there is no doubting the quality of what it does offer.

 

In the Box

 

Included in the Topre Realforce RGB Keyboard box are the following:

 

 

Pros and Cons

 

The pros and cons of the Topre Realforce RGB Gaming Keyboard are as follows:

 

Pros

 

  • Solid build quality
  • Rewarding typing experience with premium Topre capacitive switches
  • Unique APC actuation point control with 3 settings
  • Shallowest 1.5mm actuation point enables up to 25% faster speeds
  • Switch stems accept Topre or Cherry MX keycaps
  • Stunning RGB lighting with per-key customization and build-in special effects
  • Double-shot keycaps
  • N-key rollover

 

Cons

 

  • Expensive
  • No USB pass-through
  • No macro keys

 

Summary

 

It’ll surely make a dent in your bank account, but the Topre Realforce RGB Keyboard does what it does superbly well. With its beautiful backlighting, an inspiring typing experience and unique control over actuation point, this keyboard is both rewarding and versatile. A keyboard that can be optimized to suit any application is a bit like two or three keyboards in one, and that, along with velvety smooth typing, is perhaps enough to justify the cost. This is a remarkable product from a leading Japanese manufacturer.

 

Editor Rating (Best Typing/FPS Gaming Keyboard)

 

Value for money 8.5
Ergonomics 9.2
Gaming Features 9.0
Durability 9.2
Total 35.9

 

 

 

 

 

Gaming Keyboard Buyer’s Guide

 

Whatever types of game you’re into, choosing the right keyboard will enhance your gaming experience and performance. Whether you’re an occasional or regular gamer, casual or serious, it’s no fun losing out just because you didn’t have the right gear. The keyboard plays a significant role in that.

Gaming keyboards vary a lot in what they offer and in their suitability for specific genres of game. Some are simply designed with few keys, while others are complex with a mighty array of multimedia and programmable keys.

In this buyer’s guide, we’ll look at the various attributes you’ll want to consider when choosing between gaming keyboards. Choose wisely and you might very well gain a winning edge.

 

Different Keyboards for Different Games

 

Gaming keyboards are most beneficial to players of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, real-time strategy (RTS) games, e-Sports games and first-person shooters (FPS). With other types of games, where complex maneuvers or fast reactions aren’t needed, you can get away with a bog-standard cheap keyboard. Some games are arguably better played with a controller, of course, but some gamers prefer a keyboard and mouse for precision and speed plus their dual work/gaming capability.

 

Players of MMO games often have sets of actions dialed into macro keys, so they’ll be looking for an elaborate, high-tech keyboard that allows a lot of customization. Up to 18 macro keys might be included in an “MMO keyboard”. Other gamers prefer a good, all-purpose mechanical keyboard: often a tenkeyless model without a numberpad for extra desk space and portability.

 

It’s worth bearing in mind that many keyboards that are good for gaming also double as excellent performers in day-to-day work. They tend to be more responsive and durable than regular keyboards, so have the potential to increase productivity and even make work more pleasurable. We’ll discover more about that next.

 

Key Switch Design

 

Keyboard keys tend to incorporate one of three different designs of switch. This radically affects the “feel” of gaming and, more importantly, the speed and efficiency of the keystroke.

 

  • Rubber dome switches are found on many modern keyboards. They have a spongy, dampened feel when typing, which cuts out noise. The problem with these is that they are less responsive, needing more travel before the actuation point. These types of switches as well as scissor switches (described next) typically sit on plastic membrane sheets with electrical contacts.
  • Scissor switches are so-named because they have a scissor-like mechanical stabilizer beneath the key. These are a better choice for gaming than standard rubber dome switches, improving the uniformity and responsiveness of the stroke. This type of switch is found in laptop keyboards and some all-purpose keyboards, but only rarely in dedicated gaming keyboards. It is more difficult to maintain than a mechanical switch, since the keys are more difficult to remove.
  • Mechanical switches are generally, though not always, louder than other switch types, depending on their design. They’re often claimed to improve typing efficiency and are a popular choice among gamers for their simplicity and speed of use. Writers tend to love them, too, especially the more audible models that deliver a retro clicking noise to reward each keystroke. Mechanical switches last up to ten times longer than scissor or rubber dome switches (50 to 70 million keystrokes vs 5 to 10 million).

 

Mechanical Switch Types

 

There are basically three types of mechanical keyboard switch: linear, tactile and clicky.

A linear switch enables a smooth keystroke, but doesn’t provide any feedback as you pass the actuation point (the point where the keystroke is registered). This makes the key fast in use, but traditionalists may prefer a louder keystroke.

Tactile and clicky switches both provide feedback when the actuation point is passed, either with a bump in the case of tactile switches or a bump and a click in the case of clicky switches. These switches may still be fast in use, particularly if they have a high actuation point and the user learns not to bottom out every keystroke.

 

Mechanical Switches: Makes and Models

 

Having found that mechanical switches are preferred by many gamers for their positive feedback and faster speeds, what types of mechanical switches are out there? There are various types that you may or may not favor. Here are just some of them:

 

  • Cherry MX Black: one of the earliest of the famous Cherry switches, Cherry MX Black switches are stiff in use, making them a bit niche for gaming use. They’re sometimes favored in real-time strategy games, where their heavy action reduces the chances of accidental keystrokes. Despite their weighty resistance, MX Black keys are linear, so the keystroke is smooth and constant.
  • Cherry MX Blue: for their pronounced clicking noise and feedback, Cherry MX Blue are liked for their traditional feel by typists. If you’re a pure gamer, the loudness of this switch may be a problem. It’s a little lighter in action than the MX Black, but still has a quite heavy feel.
  • Cherry MX Brown: quieter than the MX Blue with a lighter action but still a tactile response, the MX Brown is liked by typists and gamers alike and is a good all-round option in a mechanical keyboard. It doesn’t have the pronounced click of the MX Blue.
  • Cherry MX Red: with a lighter action than other Cherry MX switches, the MX Red has a linear, non-tactile keystroke that is smoother and therefore quicker to deliver. This is a good choice for anyone buying predominantly for gaming speed.
  • Cherry MX RGB: offering a palette of 16.77 million colors (i.e. 8-bit RGB color), the Cherry MX RGB switch houses a lens that transmits LED light up from the PCB below. The RGB model is subdivided into Cherry’s familiar set of colors with their usual properties (e.g. Cherry MX RGB Black with a heavy actuation requirement or MX RGB Red with a smooth, linear action).
  • Gateron KS-3 Series: an alternative brand to Cherry, Gateron offers numerous color switch variants that correspond to the Cherry MX models. Popular among gamers is the Gateron Red, which is a linear, non-tactile switch requiring a light actuation force of 45g.
  • Kailh (Kaihua Electronics): Kailh switches are a Chinese-made clone of German-made Cherry MX switches, available in the same color codes and with the same characteristics as the latter. As such, Cherry MX keycaps are compatible with Kailh switches.
  • KBT – (KBtalking): modelled on Cherry MX switches, KBT switches have similar properties to their equivalently colored Cherry MX counterparts.
  • Logitech Romer-G: a durable switch with an internal spring and a pad for a relatively soft keystroke, the Romer-G is also responsive with a short travel distance. Built into the key is a lens, which carries RGB lighting up into the keycap. Keys are customizable in color, with a palette of 16.77 million colors to choose from.
  • Matias Click: a clicky switch using an Alps design with no sound dampening, the Matias Click has very pronounced tactile and auditory feedback. Anyone that likes clicking keys will like these. Matias switches are made with a transparent housing, which allows room for a tactile click leaf while also enabling LED light to shine through from beneath.
  • Matias Linear: with its smooth linear keystroke, the Canadian Matias Linear switch is like the Cherry MX Red in use but even lighter in use (35g actuation force). A high actuation point enables deft keyboardists to type or execute commands with great speed.
  • Matias Quiet Click: requiring the same actuation force as the Cherry MX Black (60g), the Matias Quiet Click is a tactile switch that gives noiseless feedback as you hit its high actuation point. There is no click, as such.
  • Razer Green: a traditional mechanical switch performance is offered by the Razer Green with a tactile keystroke and satisfying clicking sound. With only 0.4mm between the key’s actuation and reset points, this switch is very responsive.
  • Razer Orange: is roughly the same as the Razer Green switch, but demands marginally less actuation force (45G vs 50G). The main difference, however, is the absence of clicking as the Razer Orange keystroke bottoms out.
  • Razer Yellow: a linear, non-tactile switch that enables a smooth keystroke, the Razer Yellow delivers the same silent operation as the Razer Orange. This key has a remarkably shallow actuation point of 1.2mm and total travel distance of 3.5mm, making it ideal for fast-paced games.
  • Razer Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical Switch: designed for chiclet-type keycaps, the Razer Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical Switch has an actuation point of 0.9mm and reset point of 0.6mm, with a total travel distance of 1.6mm. This is a sleek, tactile switch that bottoms out with a pleasing clicking sound.
  • SteelSeries QS1: made by Kaihua, the low-profile SteelSeries QS1 Gaming Switch includes a built-in RGB LED rather than projecting light up through a lens. The keys can be programmed to produce customized lighting effects. This is a non-tactile switch with a smooth linear action that doesn’t have the clicking feedback of a Cherry MX.
  • Topre switches: using a spring beneath a rubber dome, the capacitive Topre switch is a kind of hybrid mechanical/rubber dome switch with a smooth action, pleasant feel and a quietness in use. Keystrokes make a soft “thock” sound as the switch bottoms out.

 

 

Anti-Ghosting (key rollover) Keys

 

In manufacturer terminology, “ghosting” refers to keystrokes that are lost when multiple keys are pressed at once. This is caused by the inability of the keyboard to process simultaneous signals. More traditionally, the term refers to keystrokes that are registered but which were never made, which is another possible consequence of hitting multiple keys at once.

 

Anti-ghosting keys, or rollover keys, are keys that are registered individually no matter how many are pressed at the same time. A keyboard that can register all its keys at once is said to have “N-Key Rollover” (NKRO). Although nobody ever presses all keys at the same time, this means you can hit any combination of keys concurrently. Some gaming keyboards offer a smaller number of rollover keys, sometimes focusing on the keys you’re more likely to press together (e.g. the WASD keys).

 

Illumination

 

Keyboards are often backlit, which might be aesthetically pleasing as well as being practical in some cases. Skillful touch typists will obviously manage without this luxury, but it’s useful for those that need to look at the keyboard.

 

RGB keyboards allow you to customize backlighting colors with a huge palette of 16.77 million colors (typically rounded up to 16.8 in marketing), though this figure is purely nominal—you wouldn’t be able to distinguish between all the hues. In gaming keyboards, it’s often possible to create profiles for specific games, whereby more relevant keys are given a different color or level of brightness.

 

Many simple keyboards obviously have no backlighting at all, while others use a single color or a selection of three or four colors. An influencing factor on any choice of keyboard lighting might be whether your monitor or other gaming peripherals include lighting. If they do, you’ll want to match the color, in which case full customizable RGB lighting might be useful.

 

It’s worth remembering that a little ambient lighting is better for your eyesight than gaming in complete darkness, though this can come from a desk lamp or, better still, an LED strip or wall light behind your screen. You don’t generally want a bright light in your eye-line, because it’ll reduce your ability to see shadow detail on your monitor, but a soft ambient light helps reduce eyestrain.

 

Wired vs Wireless

 

A wireless gaming keyboard has potential downsides, like running out of battery power at a crucial point, or encountering lag in games that need quick reactions. Factors such as distance between keyboard and receiver will affect the likelihood of encountering problems.

 

Although these perils are eliminated with a wired keyboard, a modern-day wireless keyboard should present no problems in most cases, provided its use complies with manufacturer advice.

 

Ergonomics

 

A design that works well for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another; that’s the problem with any discussion about ergonomics. But still, some gaming keyboards are demonstrably more comfortable to use than others, or more adjustable than others, or more versatile than others. Be aware that, if you can’t touch type, a fancier keyboard layout might be more of a hindrance than a help.

 

The design factors that influence ergonomics include the following:

 

  • Backlit keys: especially ergonomic for non-touch typists, backlit keys do away with the need for extra ambient light during nighttime use
  • Handheld: some niche keyboards are designed in similar fashion to a game controller for portable handheld use
  • Shape: a contoured wave shape is used in some models of keyboard to allow a natural, relaxed hand position
  • Split keyboards: enabling you to position keys at a convenient angle to each hand, some keyboards can be split in half
  • Palm rest: padded palm rests provide a comfortable perch for your hand over extended periods and avoid the bend in the wrist that causes discomfort, especially when the keyboard is angled towards the hands.

 

Macro Keys

 

Especially useful for online MMO games are keyboards with macro keys. Macro keys allow gamers to perform a series of key commands with one stroke or cycle through special combination abilities with greater ease. The multiple buttons of an MMO mouse can be used as well as, or instead of, the macro keys of a keyboard.

 

Final word

 

Depending on the games you play, you may decide you don’t need a gaming keyboard at all. On the other hand, many “gaming keyboards” are just plain mechanical keyboards that are responsive, fun to use, and could increase productivity if you also use the keyboard for work.

 

Those that are dedicated to cooperative online MMO games might find a use for a full-featured MMO keyboard with numerous macro keys and customizable RGB lighting. Perhaps you just want a keyboard that looks cool. Why not? Life is short—treat yourself.