Best Gaming Keyboards Windows Central 2021
Having the right tools at your disposal when PC gaming is critical, and the heart of your performance is having the best gaming keyboard. It's your primary input for a large portion of your games, so getting it right is crucial. If you want the absolute best keyboard for gaming right now, you want the SteelSeries Apex Pro.
- Best overall: SteelSeries Apex Pro mechanical gaming keyboard
- Runner-up: Razer Huntsman V2 Analog
- Best budget: Havit KB-395L
- Best membrane: Razer Cynosa Chroma membrane keyboard
- Best wireless: Logitech G613
- Best for competitive gaming: Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
Best overall: SteelSeries Apex Pro
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is simply unlike any other gaming keyboard you can buy right now. Some go the mechanical route. Others have started building optical switches based on breaking light beams. SteelSeries has gone for a magnetic actuation that you, the gamer, can change on a key-by-key basis to truly customize your experience to how you like to play games.
The Apex Pro makes it possible to adjust the actuation point between 0.4mm and 3.6mm using the onboard control wheel and OLED display or SteelSeries Engine. The software interacts with the magnetic Omni point switches to adjust how each key performs, and you can set keys to different values to save to profiles.
This means you can have different profiles for different games and a mix of instant actuation and, as an example, a heavier actuation on something like a special ability or a grenade to prevent accidental misfires. It's quite pricey, but there's absolutely nothing else on the market like it right now.
- Changeable actuation points
- Onboard storage
- Useful OLED display
- Included wrist rest
- Quite expensive
Runner-up: Razer Huntsman V2 Analog
If you're shopping on a tight budget, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is not going to be your choice. It's expensive. But it's one of the most technologically advanced keyboards on the market today, so there's no brand tax being applied. In fact, there's so much going on with the Huntsman V2 Analog it's hard to know where to begin. This is a keyboard unapologetically targeted at gamers.
The heart of this keyboard is Razer's newest switch. It's an optical, as on the previous generation Huntsman, but that's where the similarities end. The Analog Optical switch is linear, so it's smooth and has no bump action, and has adjustable actuation. Each key can be altered to a value between 1.5mm and 3.6mm.
The other big deal with the switches is the scaling input. For gaming, this is designed to offer an analog feel that you might normally associate with a gamepad. Again, it's customizable on a key-by-key basis and since you can lock profiles into the onboard memory, you can use them on any PC, too. It only really loses out to the SteelSeries Apex Pro overall on price, as it's a good chunk more expensive, but you get a truly mesmerizing keyboard for it.
- Adjustable actuation points on per-key basis
- Analog optical switches are light and quiet
- USB-C connection
- Much improved wrist rest included
- Controller-like function for keys
- USB 3.0 pass-through
- Quite chunky and heavy
Best budget: Havit KB-395L
Havit has released a solid, low-profile keyboard with excellent Kailh mechanical keys. That's a feat in itself, but to have it combined with such a sound typing experience is the icing on the cake. The Havit KB-395L is one of our favorite low-profile mechanical keyboards.
The switches are still perfectly suitable for gaming, but this is a keyboard that comes into its own for anyone who wants to combine their gaming with a ton of typing for work. It's almost crazy how good this keyboard is for its low asking price; it's so comfortable to type on for long periods.
But it's still got RGB, a detachable cable, superb build quality, and durability, and some useful companion software that allows you to create macros, lockout the Windows key, customize the lighting profiles, and a dedicated "game mode."
- Good value
- Excellent typing experience
- Detachable cable
- Low-profile mechanical keys
- Prone to flex in the middle
- No media keys
Best membrane: Razer Cynosa Chroma
Not everyone enjoys the added noise you get from mechanical switches while still wanting something reliable for gaming. The Razer Cynosa Chroma is one of the best membrane keyboards around with a quiet sound and a soft cushioned key press.
Naturally, this Razer keyboard comes with Chroma lighting and supports a 10-key rollover with anti-ghosting. Thanks to the Synapse 3 companion app, you have additional features like locking out the Windows key when gaming, and you can add other functions or macros to any key using Razer Hypershift.
Perhaps the icing on the cake, though, is that the Cynosa Chroma is spill-resistant, which makes it a good companion for the office, too, since you'll never have to worry about that inevitable coffee spill!
- Quiet membrane keys
- 10-key rollover and anti-ghosting
- Macros and customizable key functions
- No detachable cable
- Membrane not as responsive as mechanical
Best wireless: Logitech G613
There was a time when a wireless gaming keyboard would be unthinkable. Not only is it now an option, but thanks to the Logitech G613, it's a great option with mechanical switches.
Thanks to the company's Lightspeed technology, you get a one-millisecond report rate while being able to clack away on Logitech's Romer-G switches. That's important because latency without a cable is a thing, but Logitech has worked black magic on keeping it as low as possible.
The wrist rest is permanently attached, and incredibly, Logitech claims it's possible to get a full year's battery life from the G613 through general use. For a pretty affordable price, you get all that, macro keys, and, most importantly, no wires, which certainly helps keep your desk a little tidier!
- Great build quality
- Romer-G mechanical switches
- Macros and customizable key functions
- Great battery life
- Bluetooth support
- Attractive price
- Quite large
- No backlight
- Average wrist rest
Best for competitive gaming: Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
Razer designed the Huntsman Tournament Edition with professional gamers, using their feedback throughout the process to get the product just right for the most demanding competitive players. And the results are astonishing.
Simply put, no other keyboard feels as fast as this one does, which when you're in the middle of the action, means you're getting an instant reaction. It uses optical linear switches, so the actuation is immediate, and there's no "bump" so you can go as fast as your fingers allow.
It's also a TKL design, perfect for those attending LAN events, and with built-in profile support, a detachable USB-C cable, and a solid build, it's absolutely designed for tossing in a bag and taking with you. The one thing to be wary of is that it's so fast that it's not really an excellent choice for spending your days typing on. This is purely for competitive gamers, who will absolutely love it.
- Insanely fast optical switches
- Detachable USB-C cable
- Doubleshot PBT keycaps with the standard bottom row
- Onboard memory
- Almost too fast for regular typing
Choosing the best gaming keyboard
There are a lot of great gaming keyboards out there right now, and PC gamers are spoiled. If the price doesn't put you off, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is the one to get right now. It brings something genuinely new and innovative to the table with its use of magnets to allow customizable actuation points on a key-by-key basis.
No other gaming keyboard does this right now, and it's one of those features you didn't know you wanted until you try. SteelSeries has top-notch build quality, too, and a decent companion application that really will help you get the most from your keyboard. Whether you're typing or gaming, you're in excellent hands with the Apex Pro.
If you don't fancy such functionality and want the best gaming keyboard for competitive play to help you score big online, look no further than the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition. It's compact, amazing to type and game on, and is a little more affordable. There are some excellent choices out there for gaming keyboards and this guide is a solid place to start.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
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