The keyboard you use with your gaming PC is one of the most tangible investments you can make.
Next to your mouse, your keyboard is the piece of hardware that you’re going to be physically interacting with most of the time. You want that interaction to feel – and look – as good as it can, regardless of whether you opt for something with Cherry MX switches. For more on Cherry MX keyswitches, check out our guide here.
Here are our picks for the best gaming keyboards you can buy in 2019.
Razer Huntsman Elite
The Razer Huntsman Elite is the company’s “opto-mechanical” keyboard. The pitch here is that you get the durability and speed of optical keyswitches with the tactile feel-factor of a classic mechanical. Thanks to a 1.5mm actuation point, the Razer Opto-Mechanical Switches that power the Huntsman promise to actuate 30% faster than their clicky counterparts.
The Razer Huntsman Elite also comes loaded with plenty of premium perks and features. You’ve got full per-key RGB lighting that’s integrated with Razer’s Chroma and Synapse software kits, a lavish and magnetic wrist-rest and a shoulder-mounted volume dial.
In our review of the Razer Huntsman Elite, we said that “In terms of design, the Huntsman is textbook Razer. A slick, if a little by-the-numbers, unit that effortlessly melds plastic and metal, it’s matte black and lit by an array of fully-customizable and wholly-impressive RGB lighting.”
You can read our full review of the Razer Huntsman Elite by clicking here.
Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO
Roccat’s Vulcan 120 AIMO doesn’t just incorporate the brand’s unique take on RGB lighting, it also features their proprietary Titan keyswitches.
Courtesy of a 1.8mm actuation point and 3.6mm travel distance, the Titan switches on the Vulcan 120 AIMO are both tactile and relatively-quiet. They also feature structural housing to reduce wobble while being pressed and utilize special firmware that lets them comprehend inputs about 20% faster than they would otherwise.
Roccat’s Vulcan 120 AIMO also boasts a slightly different profile to other gaming keyboards. Rather than rely on underlights or zone-based lighting solutions, the LEDs on the Vulcan 120 are actually built into the switch itself – which is transparent. This creates a slightly different lighting effect than you might be used to. It’s a little less aggressive and a little more zen.
In Australia, the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO is priced at an RRP of AU$279. You can buy it through Amazon.
In our review of the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO, we said that “The Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO is far from compact, but when you factor in the snappy Titan key-switches and organic illumination tech, any shortcomings are easily overshadowed.”
You can read our full review of the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO here.
Logitech G915 Lightspeed
Launched earlier this year, the Logitech G915 Lightspeed is being framed as the company’s creme de la creme for gaming keyboards. Like the name suggests, it incorporates the same high-speed wireless connectivity tech found in their latest gaming mice.
However, this year’s G915 doesn’t just bring Logitech’s best keyboard into line with the rest of their portfolio. It surpasses it, thanks to a super slim form-factor that’s about 22mm thick.
While the G915 Lightspeed does feature the exact kind of per-key RGB lighting you’d expect, Logitech do give you the option to turn it off and boost the battery life from about 12 days of use to 135 days. There’s also an airbrushed volume slider on the right shoulder of the piece.
We don’t have a full review of the Logitech G915 Lightspeed up on the site as of yet but we’ve spent the last few weeks messing with it and are pretty impressed. It doesn’t just feel and look great in action, it feels unlike anything else Logitech are selling right now – which is a compelling selling point in its own right.
Whether or not it’s going to be worth the premium price-tag for everyone is up the air but the Logitech G915 Lightspeed does an incredible job of feeling like a keyboard this expensive ought to feel.
What to look for in a gaming keyboard?
There are four key things you should consider when buying a gaming keyboard.
The first is whether or not you want to go wireless. Obviously, on principle, a wired keyboard is always going to beat a wireless one in terms of speed & responsiveness. It’s also not going to run out of battery anytime soon. However, the gulf in performance between the two isn’t nearly what it once was. The pros will opt for wires every-time but most people can probably use a modern wireless gaming keyboard and have a perfectly acceptable time with it.
The only remaining catch is that wireless keyboards tend to demand a surcharge. As a rule, they’re a bit more expensive and – if you’re on a budget – you can save a lot of money by sticking with wired gaming keyboards.
The next thing you’ll want to take stock of just how useful you find the number pad. There are plenty of gaming keyboards out there and most offer variants both with and without a number pad. The latter can be a little cheaper, so if you’re looking to save some cash and free up a bit of your desktop space, it can be worth your time to really consider just how often you use the number pad keys.
Read more: Roccat Ryos MK Pro gaming keyboard
As with gaming mice, software is also something you should consider before you lay down your cash on a shiny new gaming keyboard. If you already own a set of Logitech headphones and a Logitech mouse, choosing to get a non-Logitech branded gaming keyboard means you’ll probably have to install a second piece of a peripheral software on your PC.
For many users, that’s inconvenient and not all such software kits are created equal. Some are much more friendly and capable than others. For more information on the RGB lighting systems out there and which one is the best for gaming, check out this guide.
The last – and most important for some – part of the gaming keyboard shopping experience you’ll want to pay attention to is the key-switches involved. There are dozens of different types of key-switches in the mix and, while there are evangelists on both sides of the aisle, there are different pros and cons to throwing in with either mechanical, optical or many of the sub-types of key-switches that exist within either.
The most important thing is that you pick a keyboard with the kind of switches you like. If you like a loud, clunky keyboard, you should look at key-switches that are loud and clunky. If you want a keyboard that’s a little quieter, work out what kinds of key-switches will give you that experience. It’s very much a personal preference thing and there are lots of different ways you can go with it. Regardless, you’re going to have a much better time if you investigate what key-switches you’re after ahead of time rather than after the fact.
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