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Best gaming keyboard 2022: the top mechanical and wireless keyboards for gaming

Our favourite gaming keyboard picks for all budgets

The best gaming keyboards need to be a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Primarily they need to feel swift and comfortable, enough for frustration-free playing in potential long sessions. Then there’s everyday typing – someone’s gaming PC might well be their only computer, or the same machine they use for work. Not to mention consideration of higher-end features, like built-in macro recording or hot-swappable mechanical switches. No worries, though, because our top keyboard picks below are all fully tested and should cover just about all tastes.

Most of these are mechanical keyboards, which are more expensive than spongy-feeling membrane keyboards, but are arguably better suited for gaming thanks to their more decisive (and satisfying) down-up action. That said, there are some more affordable membrane and hybrid switch boards that still manage to impress, so don’t feel pressured to splurge. Especially if you’re budgeting for one of the best gaming mice as well – add in one of the best gaming headsets and you’ve got yourself a full set of properly good peripherals.

This list is also updated regularly, on this occasion with the shamelessly show-offy Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate. Honourable mentions, too, go to the trio of new NZXT Function keyboards: these all feel slick and loowik sharp, and have easily customisable mechanical switches, though they’re just not quite the best of the best in their respective fields.

Best gaming keyboard 2022

Roccat Vulcan

The best gaming keyboard overall

The Roccat Vulcan is more expensive and doesn't have quite as many features as the previous holder of this title, the sadly discontinued Fnatic Streak, but the Vulcan sure is wonderful to type and play games on.

A large part of that is down to the Vulcan's fantastic Titan switches, which Roccat have developed in-house together with switch maker extraordinaire TTC. At their core, they're tactile switches that probably closest to Cherry's MX Browns in feel, but their shorter actuation point (the bit where the keyboard registers a key has been pressed) and overall travel distance makes them feel just as lovely and fast as Cherry MX Reds, giving you the best of both worlds. Roccat have recently released a new model with Titan Speed switches (the black Vulcan 121) as well, which are 30% faster than their original tactile ones.

It's also beautifully made thanks to its sturdy aluminium chassis, and it comes in a variety of different models and feature sets, too. The top-end Vulcan 120 gets you a removable wrist rest and all the additional media keys and volume knob, while the middle sibling Vulcan 100 is exactly the same minus the wrist rest. The entry-level Vulcan 80, meanwhile, is just the standard keyboard with a blue LED backlight instead of flashing RGBs. There's also a white version of the Vulcan 120 called the Vulcan 122, and the aforementioned black Vulcan 121 as well. They're all still quite expensive compared to other keyboards on this list, but those Titan switches are a real treat if you're after something a bit different from the standard Cherry MX options.

Read more in our Roccat Vulcan review

Roccat Horde Aimo

The best hybrid gaming keyboard

A photo of the Roccat Horde Aimo keyboard.

This spot was previously filled by the Asus TUF Gaming K5, but this has vanished from reputable retailer sites, so it’s safe to say Asus has taken it ‘round the back with a bolt gun. At least there’s a worthy replacement in the Roccat Horde Aimo, which like the K5 marries the affordability and quietness of membrane keyboards with the swiftness and precision of mechanical switches.

The Horde Aimo has another rare quality too: its multifunctional Dial. Lots of keyboards have a little volume wheel, but Roccat’s Dial can scroll through web pages and documents, zoom in on the screen, or even act as an undo/redo input. On top of this keyboard’s very capable gaming performance, the Dial also grants it an unusual degree of flexibility for everyday browsing and working.

Read more in our Roccat Horde Aimo review

Razer Cynosa Chroma

The best budget gaming keyboard

For those of you who'd rather have something cheap and cheerful that doesn't make an absolute racket during daily use, you'll probably want to stick with a membrane keyboard instead of a loud mechanical one, and our current best membrane gaming keyboard recommendation is the excellent Razer Cynosa Chroma. It's also our first and foremost recommendation for those after an excellent budget gaming keyboard, too.

It's a little more expensive than your typical membrane board, but you can really feel where the extra money's gone. Not only is it more responsive than your average membrane keyboard, but it's also got some decent gaming features such as RGB lighting and a special game mode that disables the Windows key. You can also use it to record your own macros - which you can't do on the similarly-priced and almost-as-good HyperX Alloy Core RGB.

It's also one of the more tasteful-looking gaming keyboards on this list, with its plain black chassis largely free of obnoxious logos and corporate stylings. Plus, since this is a membrane keyboard rather than a mechanical one, it's also much quieter than practically every keyboard you'll read here. If you're looking to upgrade your existing membrane model without the full clickety-clack of a hybrid or mechanical keyboard, the Razer Cynosa is a great choice.

Read more in our Razer Cynosa Chroma review

Logitech G915 Lightspeed Wireless

The best wireless gaming keyboard

The Logitech G915 Lightspeed Wireless might be expensive, but by golly is it worth it. With its super slim aluminium frame, oleophobic key cap coating, gorgeous volume roller and dual-height adjustable feet, this is an outstanding piece of wireless gaming keyboard design.

Available in three different types of Logitech GL switches (clicky, tactile and linear), the G915 Lightspeed Wireless feels wonderful under your fingers, offering loads of tactile feedback and quick, sharp key presses. Logitech's Lightspeed tech means it feels super responsive as well; Katharine reported it feeling just like using a traditional wired keyboard. The clicky version we were sent for review wasn't too loud, either, making it nice and easy on the ears.

It's also got great battery life. Even after a couple of weeks use, the G915 only lost about 35% of its charge with its full RGB lighting going, so you could easily use this for an entire month without having to connect it back up to your PC. Even better, it only takes three hours to fully charge up again, and you get a warning when it gets down to 15% so you're not suddenly cut off mid-game.

Logitech has since launched a more compact tenkeyless version of the G915, too - the G915 TKL, giving you even more options when it comes to size. Plus, if the wireless version is out of your price range, there's a cheaper wired version that has exactly the same design called the Logitech G815 Lightsync, which is just as lovely and costs £139 / $170.

Read more in our Logitech G915 Lightspeed Wireless review

Razer Huntsman V2

The best optical-mechanical gaming keyboard

A Razer Huntsman V2 keyboard on a desk.

The father of opto-mechanical switches returns in the Razer Huntsman V2. These switches, made big by the original Razer Huntsman, can register inputs faster than regular mechanical switches by virtue of actuating via a laser and optical light sensor – so they literally work at the speed of light. In all honesty it’s not a major moment-to-moment distance, but the Huntsman V2 absolutely feels fast. I tested the non-clicky linear version, and the switches’s combination of light sensor and a shallower travel depth than (for instance) Cherry MX Reds produced an enjoyable swift sensation.

While classic mech switches are livelier and sharper, the Huntsman V2 isn’t as mushy as a membrane keyboard either, and the layer of foam that Razer includes in the chassis means that there’s enough audio feedback to each press without the more fatiguing sound of bottomed-out keys pinging off the chassis. It’s a quieter and more refined kind of gaming keyboard, something that’s in keeping with the straightforward looks and two-step folding feet. Not that Razer is playing against type: there’s still customisable RGB lighting, including on the newly-added volume wheel.

Roccat Vulcan Pro TKL

The best tenkeyless gaming keyboard

A condensed version of the Roccat Vulcan above, the Vulcan Pro TKL is another brilliant addition to Roccat's mechanical keyboard family. It chops off the number pad for a more compact form factor, but still retains the same great build quality and Roccat's fantastic Titan switches.

Roccat have opted for new optical versions of their proprietary Titan switch for the Vulcan Pro TKL, producing a much quieter gaming keyboard that doesn't grate on the ears. It will likely still drive friends and family up the wall if they're nearby, but not the same extent as conventional mech switches.

The Vulcan Pro TKL's smaller size doesn't mean it skimps on features, either, as you still get a lovely, tactile volume wheel and a dedicated microphone mute button. Roccat's Swarm software also lets you add a secondary function to practically every key on the keyboard, too, giving you plenty of customisation options. It's expensive, but if you're after the best tenkeyless keyboard around, it doesn't get better than this. For a cheaper alternative, check out the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL below, or to stick with mechanical switches, the Fnatic Streak65 LP or Vissles V84.

Read more in our Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro review

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL

The best cheap TKL gaming keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL gaming keyboard on a chair.

Other than its click-deprived membrane switches, the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is pretty decked out for a keyboard that’s both a) cheap and b) intentionally missing a chunk. For one thing it’s got a set of dedicated media keys, in the form of a pause/play button and a volume wheel (that also mutes when pressed down). On the gaming side specifically, there’s full N-key rollover and easy macro recording, with the navigation keys doubling up for macro button duty.

It will also shrug off spillages of water/tea/revolting energy drink of your choice, as it’s water-resistant to the IP32 standard. That’s not enough for it to survive sustained dunkage, but I ran it under a tap for a while and it soon dried off without ill effects, so half a glass of your beverage won’t faze it. The plastic liquid barrier happens to emphasise the RGB backlighting too: this lighting is even and adjustable, albeit only in zones rather than on a per-key basis.

Unexpectedly, I ended up liking the feel of the Apex 3 TKL as well. It obviously lacks the crispness and speed of a good mechanical board, but there’s a certain firm quality to the membrane switches that keeps each full press feeling more decisive than with most mushy rubber dome models.

Vissles V84

The best mechanical keyboard with hot-swappable switches

The Vissles V84 keyboard on a desk.

Vissles don't have the profile of your Corsairs or your Razers, but they certainly know how to make a mechanical keyboard. The recently refreshed Vissles V84 is a brilliant 75% board with both wired and Bluetooth connectivity, a lovely matte finish to the keycaps, and a distinct design that mixes retro styling with modern RGB backlighting.

It also comes with the tools to pull out and replace the switches within; most consumer-grade mechanical keyboards solder their switches, leaving you stuck if you end up disliking the noise or the feel, but the V84 lets you hot-swap them on a per-key basis at will. For what it’s worth, I've really enjoyed the linear, slightly softened feel of Vissles’ own VS II switches, but these can be changed to any MX-style switch, either after purchase or at the checkout.

In fact, buying the V84 with Red, Brown or Blue switches instead of VS IIs makes the whole package £8 / $10 cheaper, and it’s already one of the more affordable all-mechanical keyboards we've had on RPS.

Fnatic Streak65 LP

The best compact gaming keyboard

The Fnatic Streak65 LP gaming keyboard propped up against a monitor.

As a 65% keyboard, the Fnatic Streak65 LP is even more compact than the Roccat Vulcan Pro TKL, while leaving room for a big Enter key and dedicated arrow keys. It’s also superbly slim, thanks in part to the Kailh-made Fnatic Speed switches: mechanical, low-profile switches with a somewhat similar feel to Cheery MX Reds, albeit a bit shorter and faster.

It feels great for both gaming and long typing sessions, provided your games don’t need function or number pad key bindings, and Fnatic has made some welcome improvements on the already-great original Streak65. These include thicker keycaps, which use better quality plastic for a more premium feel, and sound-dampening foam inside the aluminium chassis. The result is a quiet yet confident mech board that could have you thinking twice about sticking to full-sizers.

Read more in our Fnatic Streak65 LP review

HyperX Alloy Origins 60

The best 60% gaming keyboard

A photo of the HyperX Alloy Origins 60 gaming keyboard.

It’s possible to go even smaller than the Fnatic Streak65 LP, and the HyperX Alloy Origins 60 is about as dinky as a keyboard can get before the keycaps start shrinking. By shuffling around some of the keys, the Alloy Origins 60 manages to measure in at just 296mm across, despite having full mechanical credentials.

Like just about every other HyperX I’ve used, it’s wonderfully built, with an almost soft-touch finish to the metal bodywork and linear yet satisfying mech switches by HyperX’s own design. Even the folding feet (with two height options, twice as many as on most keyboards) feel nicely sturdy.

Fair warning: this doesn’t have some of the Streak65 LP’s creature comforts, like a double-height Enter key or even dedicated arrow keys. These are instead called into action by the Function key, which took me some getting used to. Nonetheless, for basic WASD-wrangling, the Alloy Origins 60 handles like a dream, and with minimal hogging of desk space.

Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate

The best RGB gaming keyboard

The Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate Gaming Keyboard on a desk.

You can’t miss the Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate: it’s got more lights on it than Piccadilly Circus, most of which are the fully customisable RGB backlighting variety. Meanwhile, the “Animate” part comes from a brand new addition, the angled dot matrix display in the corner, which you can personalise with text, images and animations of your choosing. It’s not what you’d call tastefully reserved, but it’s easier to make your own than the acrylic insert on the original ROG Strix Flare.

Other improvements include a thinner, more modern-looking chassis, a padded wrist rest, and the same style of easily hot-swappable mechanical switches as the Vissles V84 above. Not that there’s anything wrong with the linear Asus NX Red switches that come by default – they’re smooth and fast but with just a hint of firmness, and provide good audio feedback without the shrillness of a tactile click. The ROG Strix Flare II Animate is also lined with foam, which successfully prevents the dinging sound that some mech boards produce when a key is fully depressed.

Media controls, USB 2.0 pass-through, and on-the-fly macro recording further fill out the features list on an already multitalented keyboard. Far more customisations (and RGB syncing settings) are available within the ROG Armoury Crate software, though this is one area that still needs some work; it's not terribly easy to navigate.

Roccat Pyro

The best cheap mechanical gaming keyboard

A photo of the Roccat Pyro keyboard with its wrist rest attached.

The Roccat Pyro shows you don't need to spend big to get a fully mechanical keyboard that’s both comfortable and customizable.

Other than some plasticky edges and an unpadded (but detachable) wrist rest, Roccat has hidden the affordable nature of this keyboard very well indeed. It uses linear, non-clicky TTC switches that feel as smooth as classic MX reds, and in addition to the media controls built into the Fn keys, you get a Vulcan-style volume dial perched in the top-left corner. Unlike a lot of cheap mechanical keyboards, the Pyro also has fully customisable RGB lighting.

At £90, the Pyro is a good deal for anything who wants a proper mechanical board. Find it any cheaper, like on Amazon at the time of writing, and it’s a steal.

How to choose the right gaming keyboard

Membrane or mechanical?

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want a mechanical gaming keyboard or a membrane one. Generally, mechanical keyboards are better for gaming due to their fast, clean and linear movements and their short actuation points (when the keyboard actually registers you've pressed down a key). They are, however, more expensive, with most commanding prices of at least £100 / $120, if not significantly more. They're more durable than membrane keyboards, though, and are (in theory) easier to repair as you only need to replace the individual switch instead of chucking out the entire keyboard.

Membrane keyboards, on the other hand, are usually a lot quieter and cheaper than their mechanical counterparts because they're made from less expensive materials. However, his in turn makes them more prone to breaking and are generally a bit of a pain to fix. Given their low price, it's often easier to just to buy a brand-new one.

Mechanical keyboard switches explained

If you do decide to opt for a mechanical keyboard, the next thing to decide is what type of switch you want. Most gaming keyboards tend to use the German-made Cherry MX switches, but you'll occasionally see other types from Kailh and Outemu as well, or in the case of Logitech and Razer, their own in-house switches. Broadly speaking, though, they tend to fall into one of two categories: linear or tactile.

Taking Cherry's MX switches as our primary example, linear Red switches are often considered the fastest and best for gaming. Their clean, up and down movements don't provide a lot of tactile feedback, making them less suitable for long typing stints, but their short actuation points make them a popular choice for FPS games and competitive online games. You'll also find even faster linear variants known as MX Silver, too, which have an even shorter actuation point than MX Reds.

Tactile Blue switches, on the other hand, are generally considered better for typing thanks to their loud and clicky sound, while Brown switches are a sort of half-way house between Red and Blues. They're a bit quieter than other switch types, but when you press them you'll often feel a small bump halfway down, giving you a bit more physical confirmation that you've pressed a key correctly.

We're also starting to see more Kailh or Kaihua switches appear on mechanical keyboards, too. These are made in China and the most common linear models are Kailh Reds, which are very similar to Cherry MX Reds, and Speed Silvers, which as you might have guessed is Kailh's answer to Cherry's MX Silver. You'll also find tactile Kailh Browns and Blues, but they've got a few more tactile 'Speed' variants, too, including Speed Bronze and Speed Copper. These are less common, but are a lot more 'clicky' (i.e.: noisy) than their linear Speed Silver counterparts.

Outemu switches are also made in China, and also largely correspond to what you'll find in the Cherry MX camp. They're generally found in budget gaming keyboards and come in very similar colours: Red, Blue and Brown as well as Black. The latter are linear like their Red switches, but have a much heavier actuation force, meaning you'll need to press it down harder in order for a keystroke to register.

Razer, on the other hand, have a completely different colour scheme to Cherry and Kailh. They only have one linear type (Yellow) and two tactile types (Green and Orange). Yellows are closest to Cherry's MX Silver switches, while Greens are effectively the same as Cherry MX Blues. Orange, meanwhile, are Razer's answer to MX Brown switches.

As for Logitech, their naming convention is much easier to understand. While they all include the name 'Romer-G', they're usually described as either Romer-G Linear or Romer-G Tactile. Simple.

About the Author

James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James retired from writing about Dota for RPS to write about hardware for RPS. His favourite watercooler radiator size is 280mm and he always takes advantage of RGB lighting by setting everything to a solid light blue.

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