The $10 USB-connected keyboard that came with your computer might be bearable for boring office work, but when it's time to play, you really should have the right tool for the job. That means investing in a durable, reliable, fast gaming keyboard, preferably with a little RGB-backed swagger built in to show your opponents who the real winner is.
The Alloy Elite RGB sits in our prime position because it's a durable keyboard with a simple design that you get to pimp out with your choice of RGB patterns. Its actuation is exceptional and above all comfortable to use for those lengthy gaming sessions, which also means it crucially passes the test for being your everyday work keyboard as well.
Fast, highly-responsive keys that feel satisfying to hit
Sturdy and durable design
The first HyperX keyboard to feature full RGB customisation
Want to strike the fear of God into your opponents with your aggressive keyboard play? Of course you do.
Razer's Huntsman Elite is one of the loudest keyboards we've tested, but it does so with hybrid opto-mechanical switches that require less force to press and should have greater durability than classic mechanical types.
Toes the line between clicky and linear.
Impressive (if not totally justified) innovation.
Detachable wrist rest and dedicated media keys are a nice luxury with more possibilities down the line.
A delightfully tactile typing experience.
The racket this thing makes might be NSFW for some.
The Logitech Pro X doesn't look like much more than a simple tenkeyless gaming keyboard with the requisite RGB lighting installed, but as your mother used to tell you, beauty is more than skin deep.
The secret that could make the Pro X compelling to you is that it features not only removable keys, but removable key switches.
Don't want extra-clicky hard keys any more? Swap them out, individually or all at once depending on your preferences. It's the absolute extreme end of customisable gaming keyboards, and it won't be for everyone – but some folks will adore it.
How we pick the best gaming keyboards (and what you should be looking for)
Keys are absolutely key: The heart of any gaming keyboard are the keys and switches that lie beneath them. At the cheaper end of the spectrum you're more likely to hit membrane-based keyboards that work by running a current between plastic membranes under each key. They're cheap to produce, which means that they're cheap to buy, but durability and speed aren't their strong suit. Switching up – pun intended – you get to mechanical switches of varying quality and speed. There's also a range of hybrid approaches that use a mix of mechanical mechanisms and optical sensors to determine the difference between a mis-tap and a proper thumping keystroke.
Switches are a matter of taste: There's no "wrong" or "right" answer to whether you prefer the quieter and lower profile linear type or the more tactile clicky type switch underneath your fingers. For some gamers, there's nothing like the machine-gun noise that you get from a clicky switch, and these are usually the switches that afford the longest individual key travel. Others will prefer a quieter keyboard with lower key travel for faster actuation.
Size matters: Again this is a personal preference matter and may well depend on the kinds of games you play. At one end you've got the tenkeyless compact approach, which is great if you travel with your keyboard because it'll take up much less travel space – or less space on your desk. At the other end you can go all out with keyboards that not only include the number pad but any number of additional gaming functions, media keys and control features.
Subtle lighting? Never heard of it: There's little doubt that most gaming keyboards stand out due to the inclusion of sometimes-garish RGB lighting. There's an immense quantity of variance here, not just in colours but also customisation options, whether you do prefer an all-out approach that looks like a lost night in Las Vegas or something distinctly more subtle that conveys your own individual brand.
Wired or wireless? You'll always pay more for a wireless option, and you've got to keep it charged, but most good gaming keyboards manage many hours of usage before requiring more juice. If your PC streams up to a TV, having a keyboard you can use on the sofa is a lot of fun, but some gamers are more in the camp of sitting at a desk where wireless is less vital.
Price versus performance: The reality if you just want a mechanical keyboard is that you can score that for under $100 pretty easily. Justifying any price above that means that a gaming keyboard has to go above and beyond in some way, whether that's with better RGB lighting, key switch or cap options or other additional features.
Alex Kidman was the tech and telco editor at Finder and is now a freelance technology writer. He's been a technology writer with experience spanning more than 20 years, writing and editing at Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and many more. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming.
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