SteelSeries Apex ProSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Best Gaming Keyboards Windows Central 2022

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

SteelSeries Apex ProSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

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.

Pros

  • Impressive magnetic switches
  • Changeable actuation points
  • Onboard storage
  • Useful OLED display
  • Included wrist rest
  • Full-size layout

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Requires SteelSeries software

Best overall

Apex Pro

SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboard

You've never seen a keyboard like this before

Changeable actuation on a key-by-key basis makes the Apex Pro the first genuinely customizable gaming keyboard.

Runner-up: Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

Razer Huntsman V2 AnalogSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

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.

Pros:

  • Adjustable actuation points on a 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

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Quite chunky and heavy

Runner-up

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog keyboard

Razer's most ambitious keyboard to date is also its best by a clear margin. From the switches to the build quality and everything in between, this is a simply staggering keyboard.

Best budget mechanical: Havit KB-395L

HAVIT KB-395LSource: Windows Central

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."

Pros

  • Good value
  • Excellent typing experience
  • Detachable cable
  • Low-profile mechanical keys

Cons

  • Prone to flex in the middle
  • No media keys

Best budget mechanical

HAVIT KB-395L

Havit KB-395L keyboard

For when you type and game

This low-profile keyboard is as good for typing as it is for gaming and has a ton of customizable options, all at a great price.

Best membrane: Razer Cynosa V2

Razer Cynosa ChromaSource: Windows Central

Not everyone enjoys the added noise you get from mechanical switches while still wanting something reliable for gaming. The Razer Cynosa V2 is one of the best membrane keyboards around with a quiet sound and a soft cushioned keypress.

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!

Pros

  • Quiet membrane keys
  • 10-key rollover and anti-ghosting
  • Macros and customizable key functions
  • Spill-resistant

Cons

  • No detachable cable
  • Membrane is not as responsive as mechanical

Best membrane

Razer Cynosa Chroma

Razer Cynosa V2 keyboard

A quiet gaming experience

Quiet, cushioned key presses, gamer-centric features, and protections against spills are a keyboard perfect for work and play.

Best wireless: Logitech G613

Logitech G613 ReviewSource: Windows Central

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 1ms 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!

Pros

  • Great build quality
  • Romer-G mechanical switches
  • Macros and customizable key functions
  • Great battery life
  • Bluetooth support
  • Attractive price

Cons

  • Quite large
  • No backlight
  • Average wrist rest

Best wireless

Logitech G613

Logitech G613 keyboard

The wireless quality you get from Logitech

Wireless is now a real possibility for gaming, and the response time of the G613 is proof that the future is cable-free.

Best for console: Razer Turret

Razer TurretSource: Windows Central

Not all games are designed for controllers. Strategy and simulation games are what immediately come to mind when thinking about genres that are much better with a keyboard and mouse (or on PC). Razer understands this (as does Microsoft to a degree) and came up with the Razer Turret.

This piece of kit combines a sturdy keyboard lap desk with a magnetic mouse pad and pointer for use with an Xbox console. Support isn't particularly astounding, and there's certainly work to be done on Microsoft's (and game developers') end, but for the most part, it's exactly as you'd imagine — gaming on Xbox with a keyboard and mouse.

If you have The Sims 4, Surviving Mars, or even Terraria loaded on your Xbox, you may want to give something like the Razer Turret a try to see whether you fare better without the gamepad. This kit also works flawlessly with a PC, so you can use the same peripherals, regardless of which room you happen to be gaming in.

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Tactile, satisfying keys
  • Unique magnetic mouse pad
  • High-friction underside for lap stability
  • Portable use with wireless connectivity

Cons

  • No left-handed support
  • Expensive
  • Xbox mouse and keyboard support

Best for console

Razer Turret

Razer Turret keyboard and mouse

The only K&M you need for Xbox

Razer came up with a keyboard and mouse solution for the Xbox console, and it works amazingly well, so long as Microsoft continues to develop support for the peripherals. Love Terraria on Xbox but don't enjoy the controller? This is the keyboard for you.

Best TKL: Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro

Roccat Vulcan Pro TKLSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

A ten-keyless (TKL) keyboard is one without the numpad. If you don't find yourself using that portion of the keyboard, a TKL would be worth considering to save desk space. The Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro is a fine example of a gaming TKL keyboard.

This keyboard is right up there with the best gaming mechanical keyboards. It has responsive switches for both typing and gaming, a striking and sleek-looking design, solid build quality (as we've come to expect from Roccat), and has some useful features like a physical volume control knob.

It's on the pricey side, especially for a smaller keyboard. The keycaps can require some time to grow accustomed to them and there's no included wrist rest. The latter point can be solved with an aftermarket solution, and really none of our criticisms were a deal-breaker.

Pros

  • Responsive switches
  • Striking design
  • Solid build quality
  • Volume control knob

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Smaller keycaps take getting used to
  • No wrist rest

Best TKL

Roccat Vulcan Pro TKL

Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro keyboard

Compact and powerful

A stunning, well-built mechanical keyboard with great optical switches for both typing and gaming. If you don't need the numpad, consider upping your game with the Vulcan TKL Pro.

Best 65%: Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed

Razer BlackWidow MiniSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Razer is a brand that has numerous spots in our collection of best gaming keyboards simply because they make the best keyboards out there. The Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed is an excellent example of this with its Razer Green and Yellow switches, compact and clean design, and awesome Razer Chroma support.

We're massive fans of this wireless 65% keyboard, which puts it somewhere in between TKL and 60% keyboards. You get a compact keyboard with some additional keys that let you get more done through the day. It's expensive and the RGB lighting will destroy the battery life, but this is one of the best gaming keyboards available.

Pros

  • Choice of Razer Green or Yellow switches
  • Compact and clean design
  • Razer Chroma integration
  • Excellent build quality
  • HyperSpeed wireless

Cons

  • Pricey
  • RGB lighting decimates battery life

Best 65%

Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini

Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed keyboard

Shorter than the name

Razer made one of the best gaming mechanical keyboards with this BlackWidow. HyperSpeed wireless, reliable Razer switches, 65% percent design to cut bloat, and excellent ergonomics.

Best 60%: Razer Huntsman Mini

Razer Huntsman MiniSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

The Razer Hunstman Mini is the most compact keyboard on this list and is what is known as a 60% keyboard. This premium keyboard has everything you'd expect from a high-end Razer product, including optical switches and Doubleshot PBT keycaps.

There's a removable Type-C cable to power the keyboard, which is brilliant since many options out there still rely on older connections. It can be purchased in either black or white, but regardless of the color, the Huntsman Mini will look spectacular on your desk. It's a little pricey, but if you don't want unnecessary keys or prefer a more minimalistic look, this is the keyboard to get.

And fear not if your game uses function keys as more compact keyboards like the Huntsman Mini come with a function key on the bottom row that turns the number keys up top into function keys.

Pros

  • Small, modern 60% design
  • Optical switches (clicky or linear)
  • Black or white colorway
  • Replaceable Doubleshot PBT keycaps
  • Removable, non-proprietary Type-C cable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No included wrist rest
  • Not for everyone

Best 60%

Huntsman Mini

Razer Huntsman Mini keyboard

60 is the new 104

Razer's new Huntsman Mini takes the legendary keyboard and reduces it to just 60% of its original size by omitting dedicated keys for function, numbers, and media. However, it retains its excellent optical switches and Doubleshot PBT keycaps.

Best DIY: Drop CTRL

Drop CTRLSource: Drop

But what happens if you cannot pick from our suggested gaming keyboards? There is a healthy (and growing) community of DIY keyboard enthusiasts who prefer to customize their peripherals to their exact specification preferences. That's precisely where something like the Drop CTRL comes into play.

It's a fully functional keyboard, but you can extract the switches and customize the keyboard to your liking. You can buy the keyboard with switches and keycaps already installed, or you can buy the barebones version that requires you to go out and pick your own supported switches and keycaps.

How deep you go down this DIY modding keyboards rabbit hole is entirely down to you. You can have different switches for specific keys, different style keycaps for striking designs — it's down to how wild your imagination can be.

Pros

  • Pick your own switches and keycaps
  • Customize to your liking
  • Solid aluminum build
  • Stunning design with RGB lighting
  • Available as barebones

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No wireless

Best DIY

Drop CTRL

Drop CTRL keyboard

Hot-swappable switches

Fancy making your own keyboard or choosing the switches and keycaps yourself? Buy the Drop CTRL barebones and make your keyboard something to show off to friends and at LAN events.

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. 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

Author:

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.

Author:

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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