Best Gaming Keyboards Windows Central 2020
Having the right tools at your disposal when PC gaming is critical, and the heart of your performance is your 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 right now, you want the SteelSeries Apex Pro.
- Best Overall: SteelSeries Apex Pro
- Runner-up: Corsair K95
- Best TKL: SteelSeries Apex M750 TKL
- Best Budget: Havit KB-395L
- Best Membrane: Razer Cynosa Chroma
- Best wireless: Logitech G613
- Best for Competitive Gaming: Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
Best Overall - SteelSeries Apex Pro
The 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 on-board 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 that can then be saved 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
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 setting a new standard.
Runner-up - Corsair K95
If there's a dream gaming keyboard, the K95 is one of the closest to hit that mark right now.
It's big, and it's expensive, but if you're a PC gamer, it ticks just about every box on your wishlist. That starts with the Cherry MX Speed switches, which are so responsive it almost feels like you're cheating. They're probably not the best if you do a lot of typing, but for gaming, they're one of the very best mechanical switches around.
It's well made and thoughtfully designed, too. Sure, the font on the keys might not be your thing. Still, the fact Corsair included a detachable wrist rest, macro keys, a selection of textured keycaps, onboard memory for lighting and macro profiles, and that sweet scroll wheel for changing volume shows it is thinking about the people who will be using the K95. It's from a brand you can trust, and you can expect excellent reliability.
- Cherry MX Speed Switches
- Onboard storage
- Textured keycaps
- Included wrist rest
- Speed switches not great for typing
- Font will put some off
Pricey, but absolutely worth it
This is a fast, well made, feature-packed keyboard for PC gaming with incredibly fast mechanical switches.
Best TKL - SteelSeries Apex M750 TKL
If you travel about a lot or simply don't want a full-sized keyboard with a number pad, then this is for you. This version of the Apex M750 cuts off the number pad area but retains the most excellent QX2 linear switches for a smaller keyboard without sacrificing performance.
It's built like a tank with an aluminum frame, so if you do toss it in a bag a lot, it won't fall apart. SteelSeries' lighting system is pretty special, as well. Besides looking good, it hooks up to Discord for customizable chat notifications as well as offering a similar feature in supported games with GameSense.
The Apex M750 is also decent for typing on with responsive switches that aren't ridiculously fast, thus ensuring you're not prone to unforced errors.
- Excellent QX2 linear switches
- Discord integration
- Great build quality
- Compact size
- No detachable cable
- Fixed height
Compact gaming bliss
Perfect for the traveling gamer or those who simply have no use for a number pad and want to reclaim some of their desk space.
Best Budget - HAVIT KB-395L
Havit has released a solid, low-profile keyboard with excellent Kailh mechanical keys. That's a feat in of itself, but to have it combined with such a sound typing experience is the icing on the cake.
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
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 Chroma
Not everyone enjoys the added noise you get from mechanical switches, while still wanting something reliable for gaming. Razer's 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 10-key rollover with anti-ghosting. Thanks to the Synapse 3 companion app, you have additional features like being able to lock 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
A quiet gaming experience
Quiet, cushioned key presses, gamer-centric features, and protections against spills, this is a keyboard perfect for work and play.
Best Wireless - Logitech G613
There was a time 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 is claiming it 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!
- Romer-G mechanical switches
- Macros and customizable key functions
- Great battery life
- Quite large
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 may indeed be cable-free.
Best for Competitive Gaming - Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
Razer designed the Huntsman TE 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
Best for Competitive Gaming
Stupidly fast optical switches for killer gaming performance
Optical switches mean virtually no delay, and the new red linear ones here are as fast as you'll find on any 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.
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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