For some PC gamers, having the right keyboard attached to your computer can be almost as important as the hardware inside it. However, for the uninitiated, it can be hard to see what all the fuss is about. Is there really any difference between fancy gaming keyboards and a basic £10 keyboard from Microsoft or Logitech?

Don’t worry; here, we explain the different features you should consider when on the market for a gaming keyboard, along with a selection of the best gaming keyboards available in 2018. 

Gaming keyboard buying advice

Not all gaming keyboards are born equal, and there are features that you should look out for when on the hunt for a new one. 

Membrane vs mechanical

One of the principal differences is the keys themselves, and whether the keyboard is mechanical or membrane-based. Membrane keyboards use a layer of conductive plastic underneath the keys which forms an electrical contact when pressed. Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, use physical switches underneath each key, which are actuated when pressed.

Mechanical keyboards are generally said to be more crisp and responsive and keyboards using the high-quality Cherry MX mechanical switches are a firm favourite of PC gamers, allowing for faster, more precise keystrokes. 

The principal downside of mechanical keyboards is that they’re more expensive and bulky, versus more streamlined membrane models. There are also a variety of mechanical switches, such as the Gateron, Kailh, Romer-G and QS1 switches others in the market today – however, the Cherry MX switches are still the most popular switches out there.

RGB lighting

Of course, how a keyboard feels is only part of its appeal; you want it to look good as well. Many gaming keyboards now come equipped with backlighting, allowing you to see what your typing even in the dark, as well as often enabling you to program specific colours or patterns for aesthetic appeal.

There are two types to look out for; per-key and zones. The former allows you to customise the colour for each key, and usually comes with a range of stunning RGB effects and can be used to highlight specific keys when gaming, while the latter only lets you customise lighting on a per-zone basis. 

Layout and macro keys

Layout is also an important aspect of gaming keyboards. Many games rely on lightning-fast reflexes, and a split-second can mean the difference between glorious success and humiliating, abject failure. For this reason, gaming keyboard layouts are optimised for maximum efficiency, with ergonomic layouts, programmable keys and numerous shortcuts meaning that everything you need is always right where you need it.

Part of this is macro keys: programmable buttons to which you can assign long, complicated strings of keystrokes. This enables you to execute complex commands and manoeuvres with a single button press, saving time and effort and letting you focus on your gaming strategy. You can even create multiple profiles with separate macros, allowing you to tailor your macro sets to specific games.

Many additional factors can influence a gaming keyboard’s appeal – the design and build quality, the convenience of its configuration software, additional multimedia keys and so on. You may find that if you’re only an occasional gamer, you’re perfectly happy with the most basic of peripherals. But for those of us that consider gaming a serious hobby, upgrading to a dedicated keyboard will change they way you play.

1. Logitech G513

Logitech G513

2. Razer Ornata Chroma

Razer Ornata Chroma

3. Fnatic Streak RGB

Fnatic Streak RGB

4. Roccat Horde Aimo

Roccat Horde Aimo

5. MSI Vigor GK80

MSI Vigor GK80

6. G.Skill RipJaws KM780 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

G.Skill RipJaws KM780 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

7. Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo

Roccat Vulcan 120 Aimo

8. Asus ROG Claymore

Asus ROG Claymore

9. SteelSeries Apex M750

SteelSeries Apex M750

10. Fnatic Rush G1 Silent

Fnatic Rush G1 Silent

11. Corsair K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard

Corsair K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard

12. HyperX Alloy

HyperX Alloy





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