Domination and awesomeness in games is all about lightning fast and precise control. This is why having one of the best gaming keyboards available is critical and worth the investment if you are serious about taking the competitors out in your favorite games. Of course a great gaming monitor, mouse and headset also makes a difference so you need to balance the investment. A good gaming keyboard is not only about superior control like e.g. having tons of programmable keys, gaming mode that lock Windows keys etc. it is also about having the coolest look featuring back-lit keys that are easy to read in darker environments and makes the main gaming keys easier to spot fast while being a perfect match to the case modding you may have going on. You may also want useful features like USB and headphone extensions, multimedia keys and so on all available and easily within reach in your gaming cockpit without loosing sight of the game action! I have looked up some of coolest and best gaming keyboards available right now. If I missed your favorite I’ll love to add it – just drop a comment. Let’s take action and find the right keyboard for you! Please note that more keyboards will be added soon.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links (at no extra cost to you). I recommend that you do your own independent research before purchasing any product or service. This article is not a guideline, a recommendation or endorsement of specific products.
Let’s start with a list of some of the really important main features you should look for in a gaming keyboard.
- Programmable Keys – This is used for doing reprogramming of some or all keys and make them activate in-game actions or trigger sequences of moves using macros. This can be a winning differentiator if used right and certain death if you are not using it and your opponents are firing macros at your at lightning speed while your are doing everything manually.
- Gaming Mode – If you ever by accident pushed the Windows key switching back to your desktop while in serious action you will know how important it is to be able to lock it down when playing.
- LCD Screen – Modern keyboards have many features in this area and basically they can be used for displaying in-game statistics or monitoring system performance, VoIP data media player information and more without leaving the game.
- Key Type – does the keyboard use mechanical switch or rubber domes for the keys? Mechanical switches offer superior typing feel and response but are more expensive, so the keyboard may cost a lot more or have fewer features.
- Backlighting – While some would say this is mainly a cosmetic feature I would argue that back-lit keys are easier to read in darker environments and since most serious gaming takes place in dark rooms this is a must have if you want to find the keys fast even in complete darkness. Some keyboards even allow the back-lighting to be customized.
- Multimedia Controls – allows you to control volume and your MP3 player without having to switch to the desktop
- Full-speed multi-key input – What is this. Now you don’t want a keyboard that cannot handle several keys being pressed at the same time. You want to be able to perform complex actions without worrying that keystrokes are being ignored, delayed or blocked by other keys
Many gamers like G510 because it has tons of programmable keys (18 actually with the M buttons, this provides you with 54 unique functions per game) and is considered a good replacement for the first G15 generation (since the 2nd G15 generation only have 6 programmable keys). At the same time it is less expensive than the G19 top model from Logitech so if you can live with a less fancy LCD on the keyboard this is a good pick. The G510 has a fixed display and has audio ports instead of USB, but is otherwise very similar to the original G15.
The key back-lighting has customizable color that is bound to macro keysets. It literally supports every color on the spectrum. This is really future proof if like to color coordinate your gaming gear or simply look awesome in the dark.
With the LCD display you can access in-game stats, system performance, VOIP communication data, media player information and more and without leaving the game.
This gaming keyboard offers full-speed USB with multi-key input. This means you can press multiple keys at once to perform complex actions without worrying that keystrokes are being ignored, delayed or blocked by other keys
With the Game/desktop mode button you can prevent interruptions by disabling the Windows/Context Menu keys with a flip of a switch and you’ll never accidently interrupt your game. This is actually pretty important for most gamers.
This keyboard does not look like any other keyboard and have been designed only for gaming and with comfort and control in mind. The naturally contoured design follows the natural shape of your hand and fingers for increased comfort during long sessions and while it looks like something from outer space you’ll instantly know that it is right once your take it into use. The keys press easily and are in a comfortable layout. The joystick also moves easily with my thumb. However, the joystick has a “click” attached to it when you press it down which is somewhat difficult to activate while keeping the stick still. It’s definitely a hard press.
There are 25 programmable keys and a programmable mini-joystick. Combined with the three game modes, that means you have access to a total of 87 programmable actions that can be stored in the G13’s onboard memory. This is more than any other keyboard in this lineup but again this is dedicated for gaming while the others are normal keyboards that have been enriched to satisfy gamers needs.
One of the pretty nice feature of the G13 is the 160×43 pixel LCD display that sits at the top of the unit. The LCD is easy to read, clear and brightly illuminated with customizable lighting. It displays various, customizable, information based upon applications you have running on your system. It even allows games to push information but this requires the game to support it. Word of Warcraft as an example support this and it is pretty cool what information your can pull up on the LCD.
A nice feature with the software coming with G13 is that it can scan for compatible games. If it find some it will then make available a pre-configured gaming profile for that game. You are of course allowed to modify the profile if you wish or you can choose to create your own custom profile from scratch.
The G13 is a bit expensive which is one of the only downsides however it keeps to Logitech’s usual high quality standards and if you are spending many hours on gaming it may be worth the investment. Remember to watch the Demonstration Video.
Razer Nostromo comes with 16 fully-programmable gaming buttons and a 8-way directional thumb pad. The programmable 8-way directional thumb pad can be use either for movement or modifier keys. In addition, you can switch instantly between 8 keymaps by assigning the different keymap toggles to any button on the keypad. It is a different design and while you probably are going to love it you have to understand at it may take a bit of time to adapt to it.
The software that comes bundled with the Razer Nostromo is good, stable and makes it easy to set up the keypad allowing you to conveniently customize all the buttons with any game command or key binding.
The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate gaming keyboard is excellent not just for gamers but also for non-gamers who type a lot. It is extremely attractive, sleek and sexy looking. It is a mechanical gaming keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches (known to be one of the best key architectures). Mechanical keyboards are great for gaming as they provide that all important accurate feedback while playing using a different technology to register key presses than standard keyboards. However they also make a noticeable sound when keys are pressed and while most people really like it some may find it irritating. Rather than using the common membrane and scissor-switch style key designs, each key uses its own mechanical switch underneath the cap to actuate the stroke. Mechanical keys require less vertical travel distance to register a press, and therefore add speed and accuracy. Further this keyboard have individually backlit keys (as opposed to back-lit by only a couple of lights), this makes the keyboard have very even lighting rather than a gradient.
Razer BlackWidow is also equipped with five additional macro keys with on-the-fly recording and this allows you to instantly swap between up to 10 profiles without going into complex driver menus, keeping you in the game at all times.
Recording is simple and fast. Fn + G. Hit a key to record it to. Type what you want to record. Then hit Fn + G again and its saved. You can also use the software from Razer’s website to record macro’s and set the delay between keystrokes. One really great thing is that the computer recognizes the macros as individual actions instead of a program interfering with your game; this means that your macros are undetectable in game and can be used in secured servers such as VAC and gamehack.
Logitech G19 is a powerful gaming keyboard with a lot of programmable keys and a color LCD gaming panel that can tilt – however it is also among the most expensive keyboards you can buy. The gaming panel can display essential gaming information for more than 60 games. It can also display time, data, CPU memory load, and shows communication over VoIP, and some more features like images or video not related to your games. The LCD screen is amazing, you can even watch youtube, have custom apps developed for it etc.
Logitech G19 gaming keyboard has back-light feature, 12 G-keys and macros on each key, 3 settings per key (using the M1,M2 and M3 keys). The game toggle is really nice for when you are in game to keep you from annoyingly hitting the windows key and exiting you out of the game. The macro G-keys are also a powerful tool for anyone wanting to work more efficiently, and it is not just for gaming. There is the option to set a different color for each of the three macro group buttons. It is also really awesome to be able to set macros on the fly.
The software for this keyboard is great, it really allows you to push this keyboard to the limit and take advantage of all it’s features. You can change the keyboards back lit colors with the device and manage all your “G-keys” basically your macro keys. You can assign anything from key combos to shortcuts to apps to web links and different files.
This keyboard is not too big like some think the G510 is and will fit most desk environments. Some features were removed form the g19 compared to the G15. The one that stands out the most and kind of is missing is the audio jack. G15 owners upgrading to G19 may miss this feature.
Make sure you watch the Demonstration Video giving a quick overview of key G19 gaming keyboard features.
Not everyone likes the heavy models with LCD and instead prefer gaming keyboards like the G110. If you ever had a LCD keyboard and didnt use the LCD it just makes the keyboard look so clunky towards the top. Then the more sleek design of the G110 could be worth considering.
G110 have as most of the others in this lineup a handy game mode switch. This allows you to avoid ever getting dropped out of the game because you accidentally pressed the Windows/Context menu keys. It also have 12 fully programmable G-keys with three macros each. The back-lit is customizable when it comes to key colors. This makes your keyboard look nice in dark environments and further you will be able to hit the right keys in the dark.
This gaming keyboard have mic + headphone jacks (incl. USB headsets) and it is really convenient.
SteelSeries 7G has been around for some time but still it is among the better gaming keyboards. The G7 have the popular mechanical keys gamers want. The ‘black’ switches themselves are among the quietest mechanical switches available making this a great mechanical gaming keyboard.
Ever tried pressing a few keys on your keyboard and getting a beep sound? It either happens when you press too many keys at the same time, or when you press too many keys within the same cluster at the same time (like the keys around WASD which often used for movements in games). If your keyboard exhibits this behavior it will hinder your ability to perform certain actions, movement in FPS games being one example. The industry calls this anti-ghosting. When using USB, you can use up to 6 keys plus modifiers at the same time, which is the highest spec limit a USB connection can accommodate. By utilizing a very powerful PS/2 buffer-system this gaming keyboard redefines “anti-ghosting” by supporting as many simultaneous key presses as there are keys on the keyboard.
SteelSeries 7G is equipped with audio ports for headphone-in and microphone-out and features two USB ports, making it easier than ever to connect speakers or a headset to your setup. Headphone/speaker-out and microphone-in is built directly into the keyboard. This gives you easy access to your audio outlet, instead of having to move to the back of your computer, when changing or plugging in audio devices. Not to mention plugging in your mouse or recharging your MP3-player or cell phone is closer and easier.
The SteelSeries Merc Stealth gaming keyboard features 34 dedicated gaming keys and can be considers as a keypad/keyboard comno. The keyboard features 3 different illumination colors (blue, red and purple), which can be set to 4 different illumination modes (subtle, ambient, intense and off). All keys on the keyboard can be programmed with the SteelSeries Z Engine software, allowing for programmable keys and easy to use drag-and-drop macro creation. To save space and not making it too wide the gaming keyboard does not have a Numpad. You can activate the numpad, but then you loose home, end, pgup, pgdwn, etc.
This gaming keyboard does not have a LCD and while many start out choosing keyboards with LCDs because it sounds really useful quite a few end up never really using it. Not including it keeps the price down a bit and it is useful!
There are two extra USB ports right behind the keyboard