The best gaming keyboards of 2024


The best gaming keyboards can bring a greater sense of comfort and control to your PC play time, whether you’re luxuriating with a lengthy RPG or sweating through an online shooter. While they don’t always feel as premium for typing as a good custom mechanical keyboard, they’re usually a nice upgrade over a typical membrane model. To help those looking to upgrade, I’ve spent more time researching gaming keyboards than any person reasonably should, testing dozens of well-reviewed options along the way. Whether you want something mini, analog, wireless or just plain cheap, these are the best I’ve found.

To be clear, any keyboard can be a “gaming keyboard.” If you play lots of video games today and have never sighed to yourself, “man, this keyboard is holding me back,” congratulations, you probably don’t need to pay extra for a new one. Self-proclaimed gaming keyboards often come at a premium, and while the best offer high-quality designs, snazzy RGB lighting and a few genuinely worthwhile features, none of them will give you god-like skill, nor will they suddenly turn bad games into good ones.

Now that we’ve touched grass, I did prioritize some features while researching this guide. First, I mostly stuck to mechanical keyboards, not laptop-style membrane models. They can be loud, but they’re more durable, customizable and broadly satisfying to press — all positive traits for a product you may use for hours-long gaming sessions.

Next, I preferred tenkeyless (TKL) or smaller layouts. It’s totally fine to use a full-size board if you really want a number pad, but a compact model gives you more space to flick your mouse around. It also lets you keep your mouse closer to your body, which can reduce the tension placed on your arms and shoulders.

A trio of gaming keyboards of different sizes and layouts rest on a light brown wooden table. From top to bottom: A 96 percent keyboard, a tenkeyless (or 80 percent) keyboard and a 60 percent keyboard.A trio of gaming keyboards of different sizes and layouts rest on a light brown wooden table. From top to bottom: A 96 percent keyboard, a tenkeyless (or 80 percent) keyboard and a 60 percent keyboard.

From top to bottom: A 96 percent keyboard, an 80 percent (or tenkeyless) keyboard and a 60 percent keyboard. (Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget)

Linear switches, which are often branded as “red,” are generally favored by gamers. These give keystrokes a smooth feel from top to bottom, with no tactile “bump” that could make fast, repeated presses less consistent. They usually require little force to actuate, and they tend to be quiet. However, if you prefer the feel and/or sound of a more tactile or clicky switch, get one of those instead. You might lose some speed in esports-style games, but nothing is more important than your comfort.

Some gaming keyboards are based on different mechanisms entirely. Optical switches, for instance, use a beam of light to register keystrokes, while Hall effect switches use magnets. These often feel linear, but they can allow for a more versatile set of gaming-friendly features, such as the ability to set custom actuation points. (You can read more about how this works below.) In general, they’re faster and more durable too. But keyboards with those extra features typically aren’t cheap.

Regardless, you want a frame that doesn’t flex under pressure, keys that don’t wobble and stabilizers that don’t rattle when you hit larger keys like the spacebar. I prefer double-shot PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) keycaps over those that use cheaper ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic, as they won’t develop a greasy shine over time and their icons won’t fade. A hot-swappable PCB (printed circuit board) that makes it easy to change switches if the mood arises is ideal, as are dedicated media keys.

For the sake of simplicity, I only considered prebuilt gaming keyboards for this guide, though many of the picks below allow for customization down the line. If you (and your bank account) really want to go wild, check out our guide to building a custom keyboard.

If a keyboard has companion software, it should let you program macros and custom key bindings for games without frustration. For convenience, a wired keyboard should connect through a detachable USB-C cable. A good wireless keyboard won’t add serious lag, but only if it uses a USB receiver, not Bluetooth. (It’ll probably cost more as well.) Some gaming keyboards advertise super-high polling rates — i.e., the speed at which a keyboard reports to a computer — to reduce latency, but unless your monitor has an especially fast refresh rate, the usual standard of 1,000Hz should be fine. And while nobody needs RGB lighting, it’s fun. Consumer tech could use more of that, so the cleaner and more customizable the RGB is, the better.

A close-up of a gaming keyboard with two keycaps removed, displaying the A close-up of a gaming keyboard with two keycaps removed, displaying the

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

The best way to evaluate a keyboard is to just… use it, so that’s what I did. To cover a variety of use cases and design styles, I’ve researched dozens of keyboards over the past several months that’ve broadly received high marks from professional reviewers and users alike. I’ve then used each model I’ve brought in as my daily driver for numerous days. Since I write for a living, this gave me enough time to get a strong sense of each keyboard’s typing experience.

For gaming, I give special focus to each keyboard’s responsiveness in fast, reaction-based online shooters such as Halo Infinite, Counter-Strike 2, Apex Legends, Valorant, Overwatch 2 and (more recently) XDefiant, as many would-be gaming keyboard buyers get one in the hopes that it’ll help with that genre in particular. I made sure each keyboard felt comfortable with other types of games, though, such as Baldur’s Gate 3 (a turn-based RPG), Hi-Fi Rush (an action game with an emphasis on timing and rhythm) and Forza Horizon 5 (an arcade racing game). I used the latter to better evaluate the pressure-sensitive features of the analog keyboards I tested.

If a keyboard could be configured with multiple switch types, I got the linear model. Upon receiving each keyboard, I removed several keycaps to ensure none were chipped or broken. I noted whether any keys felt wobbly, whether the case flexes under pressure, whether the texture and finish of the keycaps changes after use and whether larger keys like the spacebar felt particularly rattly or hollow. I typed on each keyboard in quick succession in a quiet room to get a sense of where they ranked in terms of noise. For wireless models, I checked whether the battery drain at 50 percent RGB brightness aligned with a manufacturer’s estimate. I looked to results from sites like Rtings to ensure nothing was out of order with latency. I did my own testing on a 144Hz monitor with my personal rig, which includes a 10th-gen Core i9 CPU and an RTX 3080 GPU.

This helped me ensure each keyboard met a baseline of overall quality, but to reiterate, so much of this process is subjective. I can tell you if a keyboard is loud based on how I slam my keys, for instance, but you may have a lighter touch. What my tastes find “comfortable,” “pleasing,” or even “useful,” you may dislike. As I’ve written before, keyboards are like food or art in that way. So, keep an open mind.

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Connectivity: USB-C | Size(s): 60 percent | Switches: Gateron Lekker Linear60 | Hot-Swappable: Yes | Material: Plastic | Keycap material: Double-shot PBT | Backlight: RGB (north or south-facing) | Software: Wootility

With most gaming keyboards, claims of “improving your play” are just marketing fluff. With the Wooting 60HE+, it’s actually true — or at least, it can be. The key is its analog Lekker switches, which can respond to varying levels of pressure, much like the triggers on a PlayStation or Xbox controller. These use magnetic Hall effect sensors, so they have fewer physical contact points that can suffer from wear and tear over time.

This setup enables a few genuinely beneficial features. For one, you can adjust the actuation point of each key anywhere between an ultra-low 0.1mm and 4mm, in 0.1mm steps. With a fast-paced FPS, setting the actuation point low makes the keys more sensitive and thus exceptionally responsive to quick movements. For a turn-based RPG or simply typing, raising that pre-travel distance makes each press more deliberate and less prone to errors. You can also mix and match, making your WASD keys faster to actuate but leaving the rest at a less touchy level.

Another feature, “rapid trigger,” registers the actuation and reset points of a key press dynamically. This lets you re-actuate a key mid-press, before it has to go all the way back up, so you can repeat inputs faster. It’s a boon for shooting and rhythm games in particular: In a 1v1 shootout in Halo Infinite, you can strafe, stop and start with a little more speed and granularity. We’re still talking milliseconds of difference, but sometimes that’s all that separates defeating a foe and leaving them with a sliver of health.

Beyond that, you can tie up to four actions to one key based on how far it’s pressed. In Halo, for instance, I’ve made it so I can mark enemies and switch grenades by long-pressing Q and E, respectively — i.e., the keys right next to WASD. Short-pressing those keys, meanwhile, still lets me use their default bindings. In another game, you could lightly press a key to pull out a grenade, fully press to throw it, then release to reequip your main weapon. All of this requires some brain retraining, but it ultimately lessens the need to contort your fingers to perform a full set of commands. Which, in turn, can save you more precious seconds during a battle.

Because the keys are pressure-sensitive, you can also set them to mimic an Xbox controller. With a racing game Forza Horizon 5, the W and S keys could stand in for the LT and RT buttons, while A and D replicate the left joystick. Does this feel as natural as using real joysticks or a good wheel? Of course not. But for games that don’t expect you to use a mouse alongside the keyboard, it’s really not as clunky as you’d expect.

That caveat is important: Plenty of games aren’t designed with analog keyboards in mind, so don’t expect the 60HE+ to replace your gamepad. Owning this won’t magically make you a top-tier player either. When you’re up against other people around your skill level, though, the extra bit of precision these features provide is tangible.

There’s been a wave of Hall effect keyboards released in the last year, but the 60HE+ stands out for getting most of the fundamentals right. While there are certainly nicer-feeling mechanical keyboards, its double-shot PBT keycaps feel crisp, its keys are well-spaced and the pre-lubed, linear-style switches are smooth and satisfying to press. (They’re technically hot-swappable too, though the 60HE+ is only designed to accept Hall effect switches.) It sounds a smidge chattery, but it’s still pleasing to the ear and not especially loud. The compact case doesn’t flex or wobble. Crucially, the charmingly-named Wootility software makes it easy to remap keys, assign macros, create profiles and or adjust the RGB lighting. Refreshingly, it’s also entirely accessible through the web. That per-key backlighting is tidy, and changing profiles right from the keyboard is simple.

That said, there are a few downsides. The case, while sturdy, is largely plastic and only has one incline setting. It doesn’t come with a wrist rest (though you can buy one separately for $30), and the 60 percent layout won’t be for everyone. If you want to add dedicated arrow keys and a numpad, get the full-size Wooting Two HE instead. A new 80 percent model called the 80HE is also on the way, though it’s only up for pre-order as of this writing. Just know that you can only buy each device from Wooting, which sells its gear in batches.

Also worth noting: We previously recommended an older version of this device, the 60HE, in our top spot. The “Plus” model is a very minor revision that adds support for screw-in stabilizers but is otherwise identical.

Pros

  • Analog switches are fast and deeply versatile for gaming
  • Easy-to-use software
  • Sturdily built
  • Comfortable for typing
  • Clean RGB lighting
Cons

  • Wired-only
  • 60 percent design isn’t for everyone
  • Only available to buy in batches
  • Doesn’t sound quite as nice as best traditional mechanical keyboards

$175 at Wooting

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Connectivity: USB-C | Size(s): 80 percent | Switches: Razer Linear Optical Red (tested), Purple | Hot-Swappable: No | Material: Plastic with aluminum top plate | Keycap material: Double-shot PBT | Backlight: RGB (north-facing) | Software: Razer Synapse 3

If you don’t need all the extra features of an analog keyboard like the Wooting 60HE+ and just want something a little less pricey, consider the Razer Huntsman V2 TKL. There’s no rapid trigger, analog input or custom actuation here — just a solid, well-built keyboard from a major brand that works reliably for gaming.

The best thing about the Huntsman V2 is that it’s unusually quiet, as an internal layer of sound-dampening foam gives it a nice muffled tone with no audible pinging. The linear optical switches are light and responsive, but bottoming out doesn’t feel stiff. The double-shot PBT keycaps have an agreeable texture, while the aluminum-coated case doesn’t creak or flex. The per-key RGB lighting shines through the keycaps neatly. Just about every key is macro-programmable, the whole thing connects over a detachable USB-C cable, and it comes with a plushy leatherette wrist rest in the box. The latter isn’t magnetic though. And while you can sneeze and find a million complaints about Razer’s Synapse software around the web, I’ve always found it easier to read than many competing apps. That says more about the state of gaming software than Synapse, but still.

I specifically recommend the model with Razer’s red linear switches; another version has purple clicky switches, but those sound harsher and have a slightly higher actuation point (1.5mm instead of 1.2mm). There are other shortcomings, too: There’s no hot-swap, and larger keys like on the space bar, backspace and enter are a tad more wobbly than everything else. The keyboard can technically support up to an 8,000Hz polling rate, but that’s mostly a gimmick. Dedicated media keys would be nice, too.

The Huntsman V2 TKL is a few years old, and Razer has since released a new Huntsman V3 Pro line (which we note below). Razer sells full-size and analog versions of the Huntsman V2, but those are usually priced too close to the more versatile Wooting 60HE and Two HE to recommend. (Shortly before this guide was published, the company did announce a new Huntsman V3 Pro line with a more Wooting-esque feature set; we plan to test that soon, though Razer is keeping the V2 models around at a lower price.) At its initial MSRP of $160, we’d skip it, but these days it’s often available for $50 to $60 less. At that price, it’s a fine value if you must have a gaming-branded keyboard. Do note, however, that we highlight a more traditional mechanical keyboard in this price range below.

Pros

  • Linear switches are quiet and responsive
  • PBT keycaps
  • Comfy wrist rest
Cons

  • Relatively basic feature set
  • Some wobbly keys

$100 at Amazon

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Connectivity: USB-C | Size(s): 65 percent | Switches: Kailh Red | Hot-Swappable: Yes | Material: Plastic | Keycap material: Double-shot PBT | Backlight: RGB (north-facing) | Software: None

If you want to pay as little as possible for an acceptable, honest-to-goodness gaming keyboard, get the G.Skill KM250 RGB. For $45, it offers PBT keycaps, hot-swappable switches, per-key RGB backlighting, adjustable feet, a detachable USB-C cable and even a dedicated volume control knob. Its translucent “pudding” keycaps look funky but help show off those RGB effects. The linear Kailh Red switches are quick and smooth enough, without the pinging noise that often plagues budget keyboards. Its 65 percent layout doesn’t chew up space, but it still fits in a set of arrow keys. Though there’s no dedicated software for programming the KM250, you can quickly swap through lighting effects right from the device. Avoiding potential bloatware may be better at this price anyway.

Now, this isn’t a miracle. The plastic frame is lightweight and surprisingly sturdy, but you don’t get the level of sound-dampening foam, reinforced stems or pre-lubed springs you’d find in a more premium keyboard. Key presses sound hollower and feel a bit stiffer when you bottom out as a result. Plus, while having PBT keycaps at all in this range is great, they aren’t as pleasingly textured as more expensive options.

But come on, it’s $45. For that price, everything here is beyond functional. And if you ever want to upgrade some of its lesser elements, you can.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Hot-swappable
  • Rotary knob
  • Decent PBT keycaps
Cons

  • Plastic frame
  • Hollow sound
  • Keystrokes feel somewhat stiff

$45 at Amazon

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth, USB-C | Size(s): 80 percent | Switches: SteelSeries OmniPoint 2.0 | Hot-Swappable: No | Material: Plastic with aluminum top plate | Keycap material: Double-shot PBT | Backlight: RGB (north-facing) | Software: SteelSeries GG

If you want a gaming keyboard you can take on the road, or you just despise cable clutter, check out the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless. Similar to the Wooting keyboards above, its linear-style switches use magnetic Hall effect sensors, which open up a range of legitimately useful gaming features. You can raise or lower the actuation points of individual keys anywhere between 0.1mm and 4mm, enable a rapid trigger mode to repeat presses faster and bind multiple commands to one key based on how far it’s pushed. (To give another example, you could lightly press W to walk, then hold it to run.) There’s no full-on analog mode, and you can “only” assign two actuation-based commands to a key at once, but the Apex Pro TKL still allows for finer control than most wireless keyboards.

The “keyboard” part of the Apex Pro TKL is satisfactory as well. The double-shot PBT keycaps avoid grime and aren’t overly sculpted, so they’re easy to reach. The aluminum-plated chassis is robust, and the per-key RGB looks fine. You can connect over a 2.4GHz dongle, Bluetooth or a detachable USB-C cable. There’s a set of feet with two incline angles around the back and a magnetic wrist rest in the box. On the front is a volume roller and a mini OLED display, the latter of which lets you check the battery, quickly swap profiles, adjust the actuation, set macros, change backlight brightness and even see info from certain apps.

You’d buy this for gaming first and foremost though. The Hall effect switches are comfy, but there’s an audible, mildly sharp click to each press. It’s not harsh, but it’s not soothing. The space bar, however, is noticeably louder and more hollow-sounding than everything else. (The switches aren’t hot-swappable either, though that’s not a shock given their unique design.) SteelSeries’ GG software is a bit wonkier to navigate than Wooting’s Wootility app, too; I often had to leave it open to ensure my custom actuation profiles weren’t overridden. The battery life, estimated around 40 hours with the wireless dongle, isn’t all that long either.

And with a list price of $250, none of this comes cheap. If typing and key feel is your primary concern, we have a couple better values in our honorable mentions below. But for gaming specifically, the Apex Pro TKL’s feature set and fast keys give it the edge. SteelSeries makes several other Apex Pro keyboards in different form factors, but we’d recommend one of Wooting’s options over those unless you must go wireless.

Pros

  • Fast and deeply versatile magnetic switches
  • Handy OLED display
  • Multiple connection modes
  • Magnetic wrist rest
Cons

  • Pricey
  • Mediocre acoustics
  • Battery life could be better

$190 at Walmart

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth, USB-C | Size(s): 65 percent, 75 percent (standard or Alice layout), 80 percent (tested), 96 percent, 100 percent | Switches: Gateron Jupiter Brown (tested), Red, Banana | Hot-Swappable: Yes | Material: Plastic | Keycap material: Double-shot PBT | Backlight: RGB (south-facing) | Software: VIA

If you aren’t intense about esports-style online play and just want a good mechanical keyboard you can also use for games, try the Keychron V3 Max. For less than $100, it offers a wireless frame with hot-swappable switches, double-shot PBT keycaps and a volume knob. By default, it comes with Gateron’s Jupiter Red (linear), Brown (tactile) or Banana (more tactile) switches; the Jupiter Reds are sufficiently light for everyday gaming and, with the help of an internal gasket mount and multiple layers of sound-dampening foam, mostly quiet. Each switch comes pre-lubed, which helps keep the out-of-the-box typing experience from feeling or sounding cheap. Presses make a lovely little pop. The keycaps are comfortably spaced and gently rounded, making it easier to avoid accidental inputs, though they have a somewhat a somewhat high profile, so they can feel a little more in the way than the keys on the Apex Pro or Huntsman V2 TKL for quick movements. All of it connects over a removable USB-C cable, Bluetooth or a wireless adapter, and there are USB-C and USB-A dongles in the box.

The V3 isn’t as focused on ultra-low latency as a dedicated gaming keyboard, and it doesn’t have any of the special features available with the Wooting 60HE+ or Apex Pro TKL Wireless, but it should be responsive enough for all but the most competitive players. A built-in switch lets you swap between Windows and macOS modes, and there are OS-specific keycaps in the box. You can program the board through the free VIA software, which may take a second to figure out and isn’t loaded with gaming-specific tricks, but still lets you remap keys, create macros or adjust the backlight across OSes. It’s also accessible over the web.

The V3 Max’s keys are individually backlit, and you can adjust its RGB effects right from the board. This looks odd with the default, non-translucent keycaps though. There’s a pair of foldable feet on the back, but this is a high-profile keyboard with no included wrist rest, so it’s not the most ergonomic setup. The chassis is also made of plastic, so it’s hard to call “premium.” And the stabilizers could be better: There’s a faint but audible rattle when pressing the backspace or enter keys, while the space bar is louder and more hollow-sounding than everything else. Still, this is a comfortable and customizable entry point for those looking to get into mechanical keyboards as a hobby, one that’s nicer for typing than the Huntsman V2 TKL. It’s a strong value for non-twitchy games.

The V3 Max is a tenkeyless model, but Keychron sells several other size and layout options in the V Max series as well. We previously recommended the Keychron V3, an older wired model, and that one is still solid if you want to save a bit more. But the Max’s wireless connectivity and improved acoustics make it a better buy.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Typing feels and sounds great
  • Hot-swappable switches
  • USB-C and USB-A wireless receivers
  • Rotary knob
Cons

  • Plastic design
  • Some rattle with larger keys
  • Keycaps neuter RGB backlight

$99 at Amazon

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth, USB-C | Size(s): 60 percent, 75 percent (tested), 96 percent | Switches: NuPhy Aloe, Cowberry, Wisteria, Moss; Gateron Low-Profile Red 2.0, Brown 2.0, Blue 2.0 | Hot-Swappable: Yes | Material: Aluminum and plastic | Keycap material: Double-shot PBT | Backlight: RGB (south-facing) | Software: VIA

A low-profile keyboard combines the flatter shape of a laptop keyboard with the more gratifying feel of mechanical switches. Compared to typical mechanical keyboards, low-profile models aren’t as tall, and their switches have a shorter travel distance. This can make it harder to type accurately, but since low-profile switches usually require little force to actuate, they’re almost inherently well-suited for gaming.

If you like this sort of design, get the NuPhy Air75 V2. Like the Keychron V3 Max, it’s not outright marketed for gaming, so it’s not as feature-rich as our other picks, but it’s good enough at the essentials to be worthwhile. Latency is low enough for online shooters, and the linear “Daisy” switches in my test unit are light and responsive across games. They bottom out quickly, so they can strain your fingers over time, but they’re fast. The keys also sound nice, with a mild clack to each press. If you want something more tactile, clicky or even lighter, NuPhy sells the Air75 V2 with several other switch options as well. (NuPhy technically doesn’t pre-configure the device with the Daisy switches, but the “Cowberry” model should feel similar, if a bit faster.) The switches are also hot-swappable, though the market for low-profile keycaps and switches isn’t super extensive.

The board itself is impressively slim, so you don’t have to contort your wrists to type comfortably. It’s a 75 percent model, so it saves space yet squeezes in arrow keys and a full Fn row. (The layout can feel a little overstuffed, but I’d rather have more dedicated keys than fewer.) While the chassis will flex a tiny bit if you push down hard, the keys are stable, the stabilizers don’t rattle and the fold-out feet are firm. The wide, double-shot PBT keycaps give ample room for each press. Plus, it all looks kind of cute. There’s per-key RGB as well, but the default keycaps aren’t shine-through, so the effect looks clumsy — plus it’ll drain the battery faster.

On a related note, this is another wireless model that can connect over a USB dongle, Bluetooth or a removable USB-C cable. I did notice a few connection hiccups with the dongle at launch when I had a wireless mouse paired at the same time, but firmware updates seem to have fixed those issues. The device works with Windows, macOS and Linux, with system-specific keys in the box and a switch on the top for swapping between the first two platforms. Regardless of OS, it uses the VIA software for remapping keys, assigning macros and the like, just like the Keychron V3 Max. (As of this writing, you may need to do a little extra setup to get VIA to recognize the keyboard, but not much.) With the backlight off, NuPhy says it can last up to 220 hours; with it on, that drops between 35 and 57 hours. Just note that it comes from a smaller company, so it may take a little longer than usual to ship.

Pros

  • Slim, sturdy and attractive design
  • Pleasant typing experience
  • Spacious, high-quality keycaps
  • Configurable with several switch options
Cons

  • Low-profile design can lead to typos and fatigue, especially for first-timers
  • Stock keycaps aren’t shine-through

$130 at NuPhy

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth, USB-C | Size(s): 75 percent | Switches: Gateron Double-Rail Magnetic Nebula | Hot-Swappable: Yes | Material: Aluminum | Keycap material: Double-shot PBT | Backlight: RGB (south-facing) | Software: Keychron Launcher

The Keychron Q1 HE is essentially the gaming variant of Keychron’s Q Max series, which is the top pick in our guide to the best mechanical keyboards. It’s a wireless model with Hall effect switches and a 75 percent layout that sits between the 60HE+ and Apex Pro TKL Wireless in terms of size. On raw build and typing quality alone, it blows our top picks out of the water. Its full aluminum frame has zero flex, while its double-gasket mount design and pre-lubed magnetic switches make keystrokes feel springy. Layers of noise-dampening material keep everything sounding pleasant, minor rattling on the space bar aside. Like other Hall effect keyboards, it offers customizable actuation, a rapid trigger mode, the ability to assign multiple commands to one key and a gamepad-style analog mode.

Alas, Keychron’s new Launcher software — which the company debuted alongside the Q1 HE — doesn’t quite match up to its hardware. As we write this, for one, Launcher won’t recognize the keyboard unless you connect it with a cable. Actually setting your profiles isn’t as intuitive as it is in SteelSeries’ GG app or (especially) Wooting’s Wootility either, and you can only save three profiles to the onboard memory.

The adjustable actuation range (0.5mm to 3.8mm) is technically shorter than either the 60HE+ or Apex Pro, and I ran into a bug where the keyboard would stay in sleep mode if left idle for several minutes unless I switched it off and on again. And while the design is fantastic for everyday use, the sculpted keycaps can take just that little bit longer to reach when you’re frantically moving around. The keycaps aren’t shine-through, either, so any RGB effects are muted. (If you tie certain RGB effects to specific profiles, this can also make it harder to tell which profile you’re actually using.) None of these quirks are deal breakers, but the Apex Pro TKL is a slightly smoother experience if you want a premium wireless keyboard for games first and foremost.

Pros

  • Feels and sounds great for typing
  • Versatile magnetic switches
  • Premium aluminum chassis
Cons

  • Software needs polish
  • Keycaps neuter RGB backlight

$219 at Keychron

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth, USB-C | Size(s): 96 percent | Switches: ASUS ROG NX Snow (tested), Storm | Hot-Swappable: Yes | Material: Plastic with aluminum top plate | Keycap material: Double-shot PBT | Backlight: RGB (north-facing) | Software: Armoury Crate

The ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless (phew) is another strong alternative to the Apex Pro series if you want to go wireless. It’s a joy to type on, with superb sound dampening, pre-lubed ROG NX switches, an impressively sturdy case and stable, PBT-coated keys. It’s hot-swappable, its battery life rating is much higher than the Apex Pro TKL Wireless (90 hours with RGB on) and it has a multi-function key that puts volume, media and RGB controls in one place. At $180, it’s also $70 cheaper than our SteelSeries pick. That said, it doesn’t have the rapid trigger or custom actuation tricks of Hall effect keyboards like the Apex Pro TKL Wireless, and ASUS’s Armoury Crate software is a bit of a mess. But if you care about typing experience more than extra gaming-friendly features, it’s excellent.

Pros

  • Excellent typing quality
  • Hot-swappable
  • Good battery life
Cons

  • Not as flexible or feature-rich as Wooting 60HE+ or SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless

$150 at Amazon

The ASUS ROG Azoth mechanical gaming keyboard on a light brown wooden table.The ASUS ROG Azoth mechanical gaming keyboard on a light brown wooden table.

The ASUS ROG Azoth. (Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget)

The ASUS ROG Azoth is like a smaller version of the ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless with a few more enthusiast touches, such as a gasket-mounted design — which gives keystrokes a softer feel — a programmable OLED display and a toolkit for lubing switches in the box. It’s exceptionally well-made by any standard, not just “for a gaming keyboard.” But its feature set still isn’t as flexible as the Wooting 60HE or SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless, which makes its $250 price tag a tough ask.

The tenkeyless Keychron C3 Pro is the top budget pick in our mechanical keyboard guide, and it remains a great stand-in for the G.Skill KM250 RGB if you want to stay under $50. With its gasket mount design, internal foam and pre-lubed switches, it feels and sounds fuller to press. The base version we tested lacks hot-swappable switches and only has a red backlight, but Keychron recently released revised models that address that and add full RGB. That said, their ABS keycaps feel cheaper and can develop a shine over time, plus there’s no volume knob. Some may find KM250’s smaller size more convenient for gaming, too.

The Keychron C3 Pro mechanical keyboard in black and red, resting on a brown wooden outdoor tablet.The Keychron C3 Pro mechanical keyboard in black and red, resting on a brown wooden outdoor tablet.

The Keychron C3 Pro. (Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget)

The full-size NZXT Function 2 and tenkeyless Function 2 MiniTKL are totally solid midrange options with fast optical switches and the ability to swap between two universal actuation points, but they’re let down by mediocre stabilizers on the larger keys.

The Razer Huntsman V3 Pro is a line of wired analog keyboards that comes in 60 percent, TKL and full-size options. They have just about all the features we like on the Wooting 60HE+, but their optical switches are noisier and more hollow-feeling.

The Razer Huntsman Mini is a fine choice if you want a 60 percent keyboard and don’t need Wooting-style software tricks, with textured PBT keycaps, a sturdy aluminum top plate and the same fast optical switches we praised with the Huntsman V2 TKL. The 60HE+ is much more versatile, though, while the KM250 RGB is a more appealing value.

The Corsair K70 Max is another one with magnetic switches, but trying to program its more advanced features through Corsair’s iCue software was a pain.

The Corsair K70 RGB TKL is a decent if basic midrange model, but it’s also on the noisy side compared to the Huntsman V2 TKL, and it’s saddled with middling software.

The Logitech G Pro X 60 wireless gaming keyboard in black sits on a wooden tabletop with light blue RGB backlighting displayed through its keycaps.The Logitech G Pro X 60 wireless gaming keyboard in black sits on a wooden tabletop with light blue RGB backlighting displayed through its keycaps.

The Logitech G Pro X 60. (Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget)

The wireless Logitech G Pro X TKL and G Pro X 60 are built well but too expensive to lack hot-swappable switches and the analog features of devices like the Wooting 60HE+. There isn’t much sound-dampening foam in either board, too, so they don’t sound great.

The Logitech G915 TKL is a wireless low-profile keyboard with a metal frame, but its thin ABS keycaps feel too cheap for something that’s usually priced around $180. Logitech released a new wireless low-profile model called the G515 Lightspeed TKL in late June; we secured a review unit just before our latest update was published, so we’ll include our thoughts in the next refresh to this guide.

June 2024: We updated this guide with a new “traditional mechanical keyboard” pick, the Keychron V3 Max, plus a couple new honorable mentions and more notes on other gaming keyboards we’ve tried. Note that we’ve tested — and will continue to test — several other keyboards that aren’t explicitly marketed toward gaming, but we’ll direct you to our general mechanical keyboard buying guide for more info on those.

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