Best gaming keyboard is one of the most crucial component for Gamers. It is basically their tools of the trade. A car mechanic never compromises on the quality of his/her tools; therefore, neither should you. A best gaming keyboard can go a long way in giving you a comfortable experience and could well provide you with a competitive edge over your opponents.
Deciding Between Mechanical or Membrane Keyboards
So basically when looking for the right gaming keyboard, you need to decide between a mechanical or a membrane keyboards. Membrane keyboards are your average affordable keyboards; the kind of keyboard that you would normally see in schools, offices or on laptops. Chances are that if you do not know the difference, you possibly are using a membrane keyboard right now.
Many Gamers prefer them because they are affordable. Now membrane keyboards have their subsets such as Rubber Dome, Conductive Rubber and Scissor-Swith Membrane Keyboard. Gaming membrane keyboards are mostly rubber dome membrane keyboards.
However, a vast majority of professional Gamers, even professional typists, would recommend going for mechanical keyboards. To simply define them, they are the keyboards that make a clicking noise when the keys are pressed.
A membrane keyboard is simple to purchase, you just have to choose whether you like the design and form factor mostly and that is it. With mechanical keyboards, it is a bit different because mechanical keyboards have different switch types. Switch types differ in the kind of sound the make when pressed and also their feel and actuation point is different.
This is where a gamer can truly choose per his/her liking. There are other peculiar aspects of gaming keyboards that are also important such as programmable keys, back light, anti-ghosting and key rollover. These will be covered here as well as taken into consideration when choosing the top picks.
Three of the Best Gaming Keyboard to Buy
It is safe to say the following are the best gaming keyboards available in the market. They have won high praise from their customers and also from professional reviewers across the board. They have one of the best quality in the industry and features to match.
Corsair K95 RGB
This is the flagship mechanical keyboard from Corsair featuring Cherry MX Red and Brown switches. Like its predecessor the Corsair Vengeance K95, it has the options for customization and programming, but goes even further by featuring per-key backlight with 16.8 millions colors to choose from. The keyboard has won the hearts of many editor’s across famous websites. Brian Westover from PCMAG.com has given this keyboard the editor’s choice award stating,
The corsair K95 RGB improves upon one of the best mechanical gaming keyboards out there, with greater customization and a rainbow of colors.
The predecessor of this keyboard the Vengeance K95 looks and has the same ergonomics as the K95 RGB and just to point it out, that keyboard too had been featured as one of the top 5 keyboards across the board. TopTenReviews.com has still placed that model as number 1. This is hands down the best gaming keyboard 2016
The K95 RGB is just an improvement over the Vengeance K95. Speaking of durability and quality, this keyboard uses aircraft grade aluminum for its construction. There is nothing remotely close to the durability this keyboard would give you. 10 key rollover is typical enough for any keyboard as you do not have more than 10 fingers. This keyboard; however, boasts 122-key rollover, so if you were to sleep on it, the keyboard would still be able to register the presses. This is a full size keyboard meaning it has the NUM pad on its right but it also has 18 G-Keys.
These are macro keys that can be programmed with series of commands. They are quite handy in MMORPGs. The macro keys can be set to different profiles which in total can give you 108 programmed keys. The control that this keyboard provides and the precision of the key actuation is flawless. The construction of the keys themselves is such that you will seldom miss judge them.
Sometimes a product truly is so great that its pros would heavily out weight cons. This is such a product. However, nothing is perfect so here you go: This keyboard has no USB hub despite the fact that it uses two of them itself to power.
You do not get a keyboard cover. For an expensive keyboard, you would at least expect that; or maybe I am being too picky. Also, there is a learning curve involved with the keyboard software.
Roccat Ryos MK Pro
This is also one of the best gaming keyboards available in the market. It is one of the most functional and ergonomic keyboard with high quality build and extensive features. The Ryos MK Pro is the top of the line mechanical gaming keyboard from Roccat.
It is by far the most outstanding gaming peripheral made by Roccat leaving many famous brands behind. The keyboard has won high praise from many reviewers. The Ryos MK Pro is a professional mechanical gaming keybord with a selection of switch types to choose from. You can choose between Black, Blue, Red and Brown Cherry MX key switches. They all cost the same.
Like the Corsair K95 RGB, the Ryos MK Pro has per Key illumination. Furthermore, it has the advanced features such as N-Key Rollover as well as programmable keys. The Pro version of the Ryos features two ARM Cortex processor for handling the keyboard systems. The keyboard has a total of 8 macro keys and along with that you can set up a macro on any key which can be activated with the “Easy-Shift” key.
PCMAG.com giving this keyboard their editor’s choice award have said that the
Incredibly granular customization push the Roccat Ryos MK Pro to the head of the class.
PCWorld.com has also given this keyboard a 4/5 stars; their biggest perceived draw back is its expensive price tag. Anandtech.com has also praised the functionality of this keyboard but has been disappointed by the expensive pricing.
The price tag of this keyboard is the biggest con. However, the price of this model has dropped quite significantly since the time when it was introduced.
The keyboard does not have multicolor illumination. The only color you have is blue without any other choice. This is drawback and disappointment for an otherwise premium grade keyboard. Although it is high quality build, it is no where near the construction quality of the Corsair K95 RGB.
Steel Series Apex
This is far more cheaper than the two above and thus it is the best gaming keyboard for the budget conscious. It is one of the largest gaming keyboards in the market with a lot of macro keys that gamers can go crazy over. This is not a mechanical keyboard, instead it uses high quality rubber dome membrane.
I know this is a let down; however, if you do not have deep pockets for a mechanical keyboard and you still wish to have a highly advanced gaming keyboard with countless features then look no further. Along with multimedia keys, the keyboard offers 22 macro keys as well as 4 sets of profiles to switch to.
So in essence you can have 88 macros at your disposal anytime. 20 frequently used gaming keys have been designed to take 6 keys simultaneously. This is helpful during intense situation when you really don’t pay much heed to what you are pressing.
You can also disable the Windows key during gaming so that you don’t accidentally press it. It offers a USB hub, something that even the top notch keyboards fail to provide. This keyboard has zoned backlighting. The keyboard has 5 zones and each can be separately illuminated with 16.8 million colors to choose from.
It does not offer mechanical keys. Does not offer per key backlight customization.
Other Quality Mechanical Keyboards
Although the Top 2 mechanical keyboards are recommended, if you do not find them in the market or if they for some reasons do not interest you, then you can surely have a look at the following famous mechanical keyboards out there. These are all high quality premium mechanical keyboards from respectable brands.
- Razer BlackWidow Chroma: One of the well known keyboards in the market from one of the most famous gaming brands. Although the BlackWidow keyboard is available in many different models, the Chroma is the one that packs the latest technology. As a result it is also one of the most expensive. It uses Razer signature mechanical switches not to be found anywhere but on select Razer mechanical keyboards. The keyboard has received high praise from reviewers such as PCWorld.com, Engadget.com and TomsGuide.com which have given this keyboard 4.5/5, 8/10 and 4/5 reviews respectively.
- Corsair Vengeance K70: This is the smaller version of the Vengeance K95 RGB. It uses the same build quality and has almost the same feel. The smaller keyboard is excellent for FPS and MOBA. The keyboard is available in Blue, Brown and Red switches. The standard version comes with RED LED. It also has RGB version with greater color customization options.
- Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB: is one of the latest mechanical keyboard from Logitech and successor to some of the most successful Logitech gaming keyboards. The keyboard has some exclusive keycap designs not to be found anywhere else. Logitech uses its own mechanical key switches. It is the only keyboard with a smartphone dock. Along with that it has all the features of a quality high end mechanical keyboard like RGB back light, programmable keys etc. The aesthetics of this keyboard is a dream come true for many hardcore Gamers. We feel like it gives of a Star Wars vibe.
Other Quality Membrane Keyboards
Membrane keyboards are generally less expensive than the mechanical keyboards. They are preferred for that reason. A fully customizable backlit gaming keyboard could cost you twice as much if it is mechanical. Another reason why some people would consider membrane keyboards is because they make very little clicking sound.
Those with very sensitive mics recording videos for youtube would occasionally have to deal with the mic picking up the clicking of the mechanical keyboard as well. In situation like these, or even just for personal preference, gamers may prefer membrane keyboards.
- Razer Anansi MMO: This is one of the most famous gaming keyboard for MMO. It strikes the right balance by providing a suitable amount of macro keys for Gamers and a an intuitive ergonomic to not feel so sophisticated.
- Roccat Isku: One of the finest looks for a membrane keyboard. Looks more like the high standard Roccat Ryos Mk Pro but without the mechanical keys. Has a large number of on-the-fly macro keys. It can interface with other Roccat devices.
- Turtle Beach Impact 100: A suitable membrane keyboard for FPS and MOBA gamers. If you need the closest membrane keyboard that feels like a mechanical keyboard, then this is the one to go for. It is also quite affordable.
Budget Best Gaming Keyboard 2016
Yeah not all of us have deep pockets. Some of us are just okay with a good functioning gaming keyboard that looks sleek and has decent functionality like anti-ghosting, back lighting a little programmability. Here is the list just for you.
- Steel Series Apex: The number 3 in the top 3 list also happens to be on of the affordable gaming keyboards. It is as customziable as some of the high end keyboards; unfortunately, it does not feature mechanical keys.
- Razer BlackWidow Tournament: If you are tight on budget and looking for a quality mechanical gaming keyboard, then look no further. This should be on top of your list. It is fully programmable and has 5 extra macro keys. However, the best of all is that it is a mechanical keyboard with Razer Switch Types.
- CM Storm QuickFire Rapid – TenKeyLess: This is another great mechanical keyboard for professional gaming that doesn’t cost much. It is not as heavily customizable as the Razer BlackWidow Tournament.
Most Expensive Gaming Keyboard in the Market
Do not know why this information would matter to you. A true gamer would not procure a gaming keyboard just because it happens to be the most expensive. Instead he/she would find the one that perfectly suits his/her play style.
In any case, these are not the gaming keyboard that you usually find professional gamers using in tournaments or for competitive gameplay. Instead these are for enthusiasts. Hardcore gadget enthusiasts who also happen to be gamers would fall in love with them.
You should know that because they are expensive that does not mean that they are the best gaming keyboards.
- Razer DeathStalker Ultimate: It has some of the high tech Razer Technologies such as Switchblade UI. It does not have the best of keys, but its customization options are the widest thanks to its unique UI.
- Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.7: A unique modular keyboard with a design from the future. The keyboard is pretty old now but its features can still amaze an average gamer.
What are Switch Types
Switch types basically define the type of feel and feedback you would receive from key presses on mechanical keyboards. There are many different switch types and they are differentiated by their color. You would typically find them in Blue, Brown, Red, Black and also in propriety designs such as the ones on Razer BlackWidow keyboards.
Each different switch type (color) has different Key Feel, Feedback and Actuation Point. These are the three important parameters that a gamer would choose the switch type from. Key feel can range from tactile and smooth; feedback can range from bump to click; whereas, the actuation point can range from 45 g to 80 g.
This Infographic should help you further with choosing switch types.
Define Anti-Ghosting and Key Rollover?
Ever experienced the phenomenon where you type really fast and the keyboard accidentally registers and extra keystroke out of nowhere. This is ghosting. Most of the advanced, and in fact all of the keyboard listed here have the feature called anti-ghosting.
Anti-ghosting basically gets rid of this problem. So if you are a gamer and you are pressing the keys really fast, the keyboard will not go crazy and accidentally press the windows key, for example, for you. Key Rollover pertains to how many keys you can press at a single time before the keyboard locks out.
If a keyboard has 6 Key Roll Over, it means you can press 6 keys and the keyboard will register all 6 in sequence, on the seventh simultaneous press, the keyboard will lock out. You can sometime know this when the computer makes a beeping sound.
Most of the gaming keyboards have a good number of Key Roll Over. A 10 key rollover accounts for all 10 fingers on our hands. A number greater than this is commonly featured on gaming keyboards. Wonder why you would need more than that – perhaps when you are raging and you happen to slap all the keys on your keyboard.
Corsair K95 RGB is the best gaming keyboard of 2016 in all definitions for gaming. It is simple, subtle and at the same time has the extensive features that a gamer would ever need. It’s build quality is perhaps the most superior. Roccat Ryos MK Pro is another great mechanical keyboard and it is recommended if the number 1 is unavailable. The third best is an affordable membrane keyboard with a lot of options to keep even professional Gamers entertained.
There are many other great mechanical and membrane keyboards in the market that have received high praise such as Razer BlackWidow Chroma and Corsair Vengeance K70. They do not cut out to be on the top 3 list though. For those of you on tight on budget, there are also great options available for you even for mechanical keyboards. Razer BlackWidow Tournament is one example.