Razer Huntsman V2 on a black background
Razer

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What to Look For in a Gaming Keyboard in 2021

Chances are high that you have used a keyboard at some point in your life. So, what separates a gaming keyboard from the run-of-the-mill keyboards that come packaged with your computer? There are a few important things to consider with a gaming keyboard.

Firstly, gaming keyboards are generally of higher build quality than a standard keyboard. A keyboard you pick up in your local electronics store is meant for general use, while a gaming keyboard should be built to withstand years of use and abuse.

A huge factor in keyboard design is the difference between mechanical and membrane keys. Mechanical gaming keyboards have individual switches for each key and are generally preferred among hardcore gamers and even hardcore typists.

There are so many options out there for mechanical key switches, and they are usually color-coded based on their unique feel. Your preferences may vary, but if you don’t have much experience with the various kinds of switches don’t worry. There are plenty of guides online to help explain keyboard terms.

Many mechanical keyboards give you the option to swap the keys out for different ones. On top of that, you have to consider the build quality of these switches, and how long they will last. Most keyboards come with information on how many presses the keys are rated for. High-quality key switches are a key aspect of choosing the right keyboard.

The form factor is another important attribute in gaming keyboards. In recent years, smaller keyboards such as TKL and 60% boards have become popular among gaming fans. “TKL” stands for “tenkeyless,” and refers to a keyboard without a number pad. A 60% board is 60% of a full-size keyboard and is even smaller. They’re lightweight, cost-effective, and removing things like the number pad can free up precious desk space for mouse movement.

It practically goes without saying that a huge factor in buying a gaming keyboard is cost. Luckily, there are boards available at a wide range of price points. Some top-of-the-range keyboards may seem excessive or downright silly, but most manufacturers offer scaled-down versions of their products to fit any budget.

Last but not least, there are aesthetics. As we all know, half the reason to build a high-powered gaming PC is to have enough LED lights that it can be seen from space. As a result, most keyboards designed for gaming come with built-in RGB lighting. These can get very intricate, downright outrageous at times. Sure, if you’re only interested in pure efficiency, RGB may not be a topic that concerns you. But in the world of gaming keyboards, this is important. Many of the top brands in keyboards put as much focus into RGB as they do into making great keyboards, so thankfully, this is a scenario where you can have your cake and eat it too.

With all of these topics covered, let’s talk about some of the best keyboards available today.

Best Gaming Keyboard Overall: Razer Huntsman V2

Razer Huntsman V2 with pink and yellow lights in background
Razer

Pros

  • Top of the line
  • USB pass-through, dedicated media keys
  • Mechanical keys with customizable actuation

Cons

  • Very expensive, arguably overkill
  • Keys are quite loud

Razer has become synonymous with gaming peripherals. The manufacturer has dominated the market for years as a brand, primarily with its keyboards, mice, and headphones. Razer caters to all budgets, as well. This includes catering to the highest tier of gaming equipment, and the highest tier in gaming keyboards is the Razer Huntsman V2.

This keyboard is Razer pulling out all the stops. It gives you top-quality mechanical keys with subtle but effective RGB lighting, with all the mod-cons like dedicated media buttons and a USB pass-through. It comes with a magnetic wrist rest that clips onto the bottom of the board. The rest is well-padded to keep your typing and gaming experience as pain-free as possible, and even includes an RGB light strip that goes around the bottom.

What sets this board apart from the pack is the ability to customize the key actuation points. With the Huntsman V2, you can choose how much you need to press each key for it to activate. For gaming, that means less time between keypress and on-screen response, which translates to faster response times.

Actuation points can even be customized with macros. For example, you could set the W key to actuate at a light press, but then a harder press could activate W+Shift, and make your character sprint or do another action. There is a myriad of ways to apply this feature, making it very useful to the competitive players among us.

Premium features come at a premium price, so naturally, the Razer Huntsman V2 is the most expensive on this list. You don’t get the best gaming keyboard without paying for it.

Best Gaming Keyboard Overall

Razer Huntsman V2

The gold standard: a keyboard with all the bells and whistles. If you have the cash to shell out and want the best, the Razer Huntsman V2 is for you.

Best Keyboard Under $100: HyperX Alloy Origins Core

person using alloy origins core
HyperX

Pros

  • Compact design
  • High-quality build for an excellent price
  • Keys have great feel and sound

Cons

  • Tied to Ngenuity software which controls all RGB and macros
  • Ngenuity application is only available through Mircosoft store and must always be running

A hundred dollars is still a lot to spend on a keyboard, but that’s about the price point you want to hit if you’re looking for something great without completely breaking the bank. For that, you’ll want the HyperX Alloy Origins Core.

Even at just under $100, you get your money’s worth with this compact tenkeyless (TKL) package. First of all, it looks fantastic. The RGB lights under the keys create some seriously cool backlighting, and there are plenty of effects to play around with to get the most out of the lights.

The board is built on an aluminum body, with HyperX’s own mechanical switches. If you can splash out the extra few bucks the aqua switches are a particularly great blend of tactile and smooth, as well as being rated up to 80 million clicks.

Overall the Alloy Origins Core is just a great deal, a very high-quality keyboard for a reasonable price. There’s a reason this keyboard has become so popular, and it would be wise to consider if you don’t want to pay Huntsman V2 prices.

Best Gaming Keyboard Under $100

HyperX Alloy Origins Core

A top-notch keyboard with excellent mechanical keys and customizable RGB, The Alloy Origins Core is a fantastic deal at a great price.

Best Gaming Keyboard Under $50: Corsair K55 RGB Pro

Corsair K55 on desk with headset and mouse
Corsair

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Surprising amount of extra features

Cons

  • Membrane keyboard, not as nice and won't last as long

For a gaming keyboard under fifty dollars, it’s rare to get as many features as you do with the Corsair K55 RGB Pro. It’s a full-size keyboard with dedicated macro keys and media keys. Throw in some nifty RGB and you have a great starting point for any PC gamer. You might not see many of these features on boards double that price.

Obviously, there is a reason why this board is cheaper than the others on this list, the primary one being that this is a membrane keyboard, not a mechanical one.

Membrane keys can often feel mushy and less responsive. They are not the preferred style for most gaming enthusiasts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. For a starter keyboard, this is an excellent choice.

Best Gaming Keyboard Under $50

Corsair K55 RGB Pro

An excellent entry-level keyboard, and a great option for gamers on a budget.

Best Wireless Gaming Keyboard: Logitech G915 TKL

Logitech G915 on grey table
Logitech

Pros

  • Small form keeps the desk clean and clear
  • Plenty of extra features
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Though miniscule, wireless still has lag compared to wired

Wireless is often a dirty word in gaming peripherals. Anything that might bring more lag into the equation is quickly eliminated. However, wireless is convenient and cool, and none do it better than Logitech with the G915 TKL.

Maybe your PC is a bit far away, maybe you are planning to hook your PC up to your living room TV, or maybe you are just allergic to cables on your desk. For whatever reason you would like to go the wireless route for your keyboard, this should be your first port of call.

Were it a wired board, the G915 would be a top contender in the TKL market. The build quality is top-notch, the design is subtle but still very attractive, and still you get RGB keys and dedicated media buttons. Battery life is of major concern with any wireless devices, but with the G915 you get a pretty impressive thirty hours of use with full RGB before the board needs to be charged.

As a mechanical RGB board with best-in-class wireless connectivity, you couldn’t do much better than the G915 for a clean wireless setup.

Best Wireless Gaming Keyboard

Logitech G915 TKL

Wireless is always nice, and the G915 TKL pushes the boundaries of what a wireless gaming keyboard can do.

Best TKL Gaming Keyboard: HyperX Alloy Origins Core

HyperX Alloy Origins keyboard on blue background
HyperX

Pros

  • Great mechanical switches
  • Compact, sleek design
  • Very reasonable price

Cons

  • TKL does mean no keypad
  • Ngenuity Software is still in beta and shackled to the Microsoft store

A board so nice we chose it twice, the HyperX Alloy Origins Core is the best TKL gaming keyboard around. We’ve talked a lot about the tenkeyless form factor here because these boards are all the rage these days; they save on desk space, increase mouse space, all the while keeping most of the functionality of a full-size keyboard.

TKL boards just omit the number pad that would normally be at the right side of a full-size keyboard. There are many contenders for the top spot in this category, but from our research, the HyperX Alloy Origins Core ekes out the win here.

This really is a premium keyboard, with many tech experts and reviewers naming it as one of their favorites of the last year. As a TKL board, it is sleek and doesn’t take up too much room. The mechanical keys are top quality and are rated to last 80 million presses. The cable is a detachable USB-C type for even more flexibility.

This keyboard comes with gorgeous RGB lights with dedicated software (which is unfortunately shackled to the Windows store) to customize the lighting to your liking. It is among the best-built keyboards in terms of reliability, and as mentioned before, it all comes at a pretty reasonable price tag.

Best TKL Gaming Keyboard

HyperX Alloy Origins Core

A top-notch keyboard with excellent mechanical keys and customizable RGB, the Alloy Origins Core is the best keyboard in an increasingly popular category.

Best 60% Gaming Keyboard: Durgod Venus RGB

Durgod Venus on green background
Durgod

Pros

  • Amazingly compact
  • Great value for the money
  • RGB in a tiny keyboard

Cons

  • Lack of extra features
  • Not very customizable

The Durgod Venus RGB is a bit of a sleeper pick. The 60% keyboard category, which refers to keyboards that are 60% of the size of a standard full-size keyboard, is for those who really want that desk space to be clean and tidy. With no room for unnecessary extras, you want your keyboard to be tight and efficient. A few brands bring something to the table here, but one that came up a few times was Durgod and their Venus RGB.

What other 60% keyboards do, the Durgod Venus often does better and for less money. It’s a great little mechanical board with a solid metal base. If you have particular preferences for the feel of your keys then Durgod has plenty of options, you can choose your preferred style and they will come pre-installed. That said, the board is friendly to those who like to switch things up, it comes with a keycap remover should you choose to swap them out for something you’d prefer.

The lack of dedicated arrow keys on a 60% board can be undesirable to some, luckily the Venus comes with a handy tap function. Holding the function key and pressing the caps lock key will activate this tap function, which changes the bindings of certain keys. Doing this turns the four keys on the bottom right into arrow keys, so long as you tap them as holding them reverts to the base function. This is a really handy system for getting more functionality out of fewer keys.

This keyboard comes with dedicated software for managing RGB, key bindings, and macros. This software is a bit bare-bones (which somehow seems fitting for a 60% keyboard), but it does the job well. It has a really user-friendly system for customizing your RGB lighting and can download key set-ups to the board itself for use elsewhere.

The Durgod Venus is a serious contender in the emerging 60% market. It may not be head and shoulders above all the competition, but what appeals to you about a really compact keyboard is efficiency and avoiding wasted space, then Durgod has you covered with a great quality keyboard and plenty of clever features.

Best 60% Gaming Keyboard

Durgod Venus RGB

The Durgod Venus is a handy little keyboard with a great quality design that won't take up much space on your desk.

David McAdam
David McAdam is a freelance writer from Ireland with several years of experience writing on video games, entertainment and tech. He came to writing after a background in tech retail, so he knows a bargain when he sees one.
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