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Best gaming keyboard 2020: top mechanical, membrane and wireless keyboards

The key question

Featured post Best Gaming Keyboard 2020

Everyone deserves to have a great keyboard for playing their favourite PC games with, so why not pick one of our bestest best gaming keyboard recommendations to make things nice and easy? Below, you’ll find all the best keyboards for gaming we’ve tested here at RPS, from the best mechanical keyboards to the best membrane keyboards, and everything in between. Whether you’re after the best wireless gaming keyboard, the most affordable gaming keyboard, the best lapboard… you name it, we’ve got a best gaming keyboard recommendation for you.

If you’re not sure what type of keyboard you want, we can help with that, too. After all of our best gaming keyboard recommendations, you’ll also find everything you need to know about membrane switches vs mechanical switches, and what all the different types of mechanical switch actually mean. For now, though, let’s dive into our best gaming keyboard picks for 2020.

Best gaming keyboard 2020

To make things simple, you can either click the links above to go straight to the keyboard you want to read about, or you can just carry on scrolling and read the whole thing. And while you’re here, why not have a read of our best gaming mouse and best gaming headset lists to complete your new batch of PC peripherals.

Fnatic Streak / miniStreak – the best gaming keyboard

Fnatic Streak - Best gaming keyboard 2020

You’ll probably have heard of Fnatic from their esports endeavours rather than their hardware manufacturing chops, but the Fnatic Streak (and by extension its accompanying compact, tenkeyless cousin, the miniStreak) is easily one the best mechanical keyboards I’ve ever used. Not only is it a pleasure to type on, but it also comes with the comfiest wrist rest on the planet. Their respective designs are surprisingly tasteful for an esports company, too, featuring the bare minimum of logos and excess branding to keep everything nice and clean and not at all embarrassing to have on your desk.

The detachable wrist rest is the Streak’s main attraction, though, and is largely what separates it from other similarly-priced mechanical gaming keyboards such as the MSI Vigor GK80 and Corsair K70 Lux RGB. Soft, plush and very easy on my old, weary bones, it can be lifted up and re-positioned into one of three grooves on its accompanying base, allowing you to pitch it as near to the keyboard as you like while still giving you the flexibility to have it a bit further away depending on the size of your hands. It’s immensely practical and a lot comfier than the hard plastic rests you tend to see on other mechanical keyboards, and just makes using the Streak feel like an absolute dream.

If you’d rather not spend 100-odd quid on a mechanical keyboard, then the very good HyperX Alloy FPS would be my next suggestion. I reviewed the RGB version, which has Kailh silver switches, but it’s also available in a range of Cherry MX switches as well for about a tenner less. It doesn’t have USB passthrough, sadly, but its compact frame and detachable braided USB cable make it a seriously tempting package for £79 / $80.

Roccat Vulcan – the second best gaming keyboard

All right, this might be cheating a bit, but seriously, the Roccat Vulcan is just too good not to mention alongside the Fnatic Streak. It’s more expensive and doesn’t have quite as many features as its Fnatic rival, 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), 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.

Logitech G915 Lightspeed Wireless – the best wireless keyboard

The Logitech G915 Lightspeed Wireless is the most expensive gaming keyboard on this list, 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 the pinnacle of wireless gaming keyboards.

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, and for me it felt just like using a traditional wired keyboard. The clicky version I was sent for review wasn’t too loud, either, making it nice and easy on the ears, too.

It’s also got a 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 I reckon 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.

Plus, if the wired 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 £155 / $200.

Asus TUF Gaming K5 – best hybrid gaming keyboard

If you’ve already got a membrane keyboard, but want to see whether mechanical gaming keyboards are for you, a hybrid keyboard like the Asus TUF Gaming K5 could be the answer. Half way between membrane and mechanical, this so-called ‘mecha-membrane’ keyboard offers the best of both worlds by being more responsive than your typical membrane keyboard, and quieter than your full-blown mechanical one.

It’s not entirely silent, but it’s certainly a lot more sociable than any of the other mechanical keyboards on this list – namely, you can use it within ear shot of another human being with functioning ear lobes and not run the risk of having something thrown in the general direction of your head. Each key still offers a pleasing degree of precision and tactile feedback as well, and the subtle RGB lighting doesn’t get up in your face, either.

Razer Cynosa Chroma – the best membrane gaming keyboard

For those who don’t have nearly a hundred quid to spend on their keyboard, our best budget gaming keyboard recommendation is the excellent Razer Cynosa Chroma. It’s still a little more expensive than your typical membrane keyboard, but in this case 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 keyboard without going full CLACK with a hybrid or mechanical keyboard, the Razer Cynosa Chroma is a great choice.

Razer Huntsman – the best optical-mechanical keyboard

Mechanical keyboards are pretty darn fast, but for those after the absolute nippiest gaming keyboard around, there’s simply nothing better than an optical-mechanical keyboard. The Razer Huntsman review is our pick of the bunch, as it’s both a bit cheaper and a lot more attractive than its rivals such as the HP Omen Sequencer.

Be warned, though. Optical mechanical keyboards really are an all-caps kind of LOUD compared to your typical mechanical keyboard, so you’ll need to be prepared for even more ear-piercing CLACKY CLACKS than Cherry MX Blue switches if you decide to opto it up. Still, noise levels aside, the Huntsman is a real beaut to type on, and its feet offer two different height levels as well.

There’s also a more upmarket version of the Huntsman available if you want a wrist rest, dedicated media keys and even more RGB lights to tinker with in the form of the Huntsman Elite, but it’s also twice as expensive at time of writing, making the regular Huntsman much better value for money.

Asus ROG Strix Flare – the best RGB gaming keyboard

If RGB lighting is the most important thing to you, the Asus ROG Strix Flare is another fantastic mechanical keyboard that’s worthy of your consideration. It’s come down a lot in price recently, too, making it an even better bargain than before. It’s tastefully designed keyboard that cuts a fine, sophisticated profile on your desk, and its elegent, dual matt and brushed finished design that sheers diagonally down the right side of the keyboard helps give it a bit of personality that’s both refined and understated.

And there are plenty of RGB LEDs, too. They’re not only on the keys themselves, but there are also two strips underneath the keyboard as well as another couple shining out of the top, transparent cut-out that can be used for slotting in 3D-printed gamer tags or the bundled plastic ROG logo (as shown above).

Again, you’ll need to download Asus’ Armory software to start customising the ROG Strix Flare down to a per-key lighting level, but you get plenty of options once you do so. The underglow strips are also surprisingly subdued for those who prefer a more subtle approach to their rainbow-coloured light shows, and I didn’t find them particularly distracting when playing games either.

Roccat Sova – the best gaming lapboard

If your PC resides in your living room, then there’s no greater keyboard – or lapboard – than the Roccat Sova. It is, admittedly, quite big and bulky, but it has plenty of room for your mouse, and comes with two USB ports for connecting additional peripherals, whether it’s your mouse, USB headset or a controller.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find now unfortunately, but there really is nothing else that fits the bill when it comes to comfy, living room PC gaming. If you can find one, though, it’s well worth it. Despite its size, I was able to sit with it on my lap for hours and hours, regardless of whether I was sitting with my feet on the floor or cosied up with my legs crossed. There’s simply nothing better for playing PC games in the living room.

Best gaming keyboard 2020: Mechanical vs membrane

The first thing you need to know about buying a new gaming keyboard is whether you want a mechanical one or a membrane one. Generally, a lot of people who play PC games prefer mechanical keyboards due to their sharp, clean movements and short, fast actuation points (when the keyboard actually registers you’ve pressed down a key). Personally, I couldn’t give two hoots about whether I use a mechanical keyboard or a slightly spongier membrane one. I’ve liked and used both types of keyboard without much complaint, and as long as I can type well enough on it, that’s good enough for me.

Each type of keyboard has its own ups and downs. Membrane keyboards are usually a lot cheaper than their mechanical counterparts because they’re made from less expensive materials, but this in turn makes them more prone to breaking and are generally a bit of a pain to fix. Given their low price, the solution nine times out of ten is just to buy a new one.

Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, are generally a lot more expensive – with most demanding at least £80/$100, if not significantly more – but they’re also more durable and – in theory – easier to repair as you often only need to replace the faulty switch rather than chuck the entire thing in the bin. This can be a fiddly process, though, so it’s probably better to take it to your local electronics shop if you have one nearby rather than trying to do it yourself.

Mechanical keyboards are, however, a heck of a lot noisier than membrane keyboards, and the loud CLACKEDY CLACK sound they make means they’re a bit anti-social for shared living spaces. Instead, they’re generally best suited to bedrooms and places where you’re the only person within earshot.

The reason for this is because each key on a mechanical keyboard has its own individual spring-loaded switch underneath it. Some are clackier than others depending on what type of switch you go for, but more on that in a minute. Membrane keys, meanwhile, are comprised of several small domes on a single layer of plastic – a bit like bubble wrap. Naturally, this deadens any excess sound they might make, and tend to be much easier on the ears.

Now I’ve used many a membrane keyboard over the years and found them perfectly suitable for games that don’t require mad esports reflexes. They can, however, feel a little unresponsive at times when you’re pressing lots of keys together, and often require you to press each key all the way down in order for it to register – which isn’t the case if you go mechanical. This is obviously something I take into consideration when reviewing a membrane keyboard, and you’ll only find the best and most responsive ones appearing on this list.

Mechanical switches: red vs blue vs brown?

If you do opt for a mechanical keyboard, the next decision you’ll need to make is ‘What colour?’ For there isn’t just one type of mechanical keyboard, oh no. There are several, and each one comes with its own type of switch that makes them ever so slightly different to type on.

Most keyboards tend to use Cherry’s MX switches. Other manufacturers occasionally use their own switches or other types that come in different colours, but you’ll mostly find keyboards that broadly fall into the following three Cherry categories: red, blue, and brown. To see how they work in practice, HyperX have a handy primer with animated GIFs showing each one in action, but I’ve also listed what keyboards come in what colours in our rankings above.

Red: Often considered the fastest type of mechanical switch, these have a linear action and go straight up and down when you press them. As a result, these keys provide the least amount of tactile feedback compared to other switches (you might even say they provide none at all), but the wider hivemind will say these are usually the best type for playing games.

Blue: The loudest of all mechanical switches, these ‘click-style’ switches are a bit slower than red ones, as they generally require a bit more force to press down before they register (although in practice it’s so tiny that it probably won’t affect your typing style whatsoever). These are generally considered the best for typing because they provide a good sense of tactile feedback, but they’re pretty good for gaming as well as long as you don’t mind the noise.

Brown: For those after the ultimate in tactile feedback, brown switches are a sort of half-way house between linear and click switches. Press one of these down and you’ll feel a noticeable little ‘bump’ halfway through, giving you a bit more physical confirmation that, yes, you have indeed pressed it correctly. They’re still pretty noisy, but not quite as much as blue ones.

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Who am I?

Katharine Castle

Hardware Editor

Katharine writes about all the bits that go inside your PC so you can carry on playing all those lovely games we like talking about so much. Very partial to JRPGs and the fetching of quests. She's also RPS' resident deals herald.

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