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Gaming Keyboard Buying Guide

Gaming KeyboardHere’s a list of all of the gaming keyboards out there (at least the ones that I can think of at the moment). The list is intended to give a breakdown of the most important features you’d expect to find on a gaming keyboard and highlight which keyboards do (or don’t) have those features.

Now you can compare one with the other to get a rough idea of which is the best gaming keyboard.

The columns are as follows:

  • Name – well duh, what’s the keyboard called?
  • Backlit – no it doesn’t have any, yes it does have but in one colour, or multi means you have some choice over the colour
  • Macro Keys – does it have a dedicated set of programmable keys?
  • Win Lock – can you lock the Windows key to prevent yourself from accidentally dropping out of the game and back to the desktop? Sometimes called a ‘gaming mode’.
  • USB – how many additional USB sockets does the keyboard provide? Are they just USB 1.1 or the better 2.0?
  • Audio I/O – are there any audio pass-through sockets for headsets and/or microphones?
  • Media Controls – does the keyboard give you any form of control over your media player? Some keyboards have dedicated multemedia controls, others have controls on the standard keys that can be activated by holding down a separate function key.
  • 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.
  • Price – check the price of the keyboard at Amazon (US or UK) to get a decent idea of how much you need to spend and how much you can save on the recommended retail price
NameBacklit KeysMacro KeysWin LockUSB SocketsAudio I/OMedia ControlsKey TypePrice GBPPrice USD
Alienware TactxMultiYesYesNoNoNoDome
Cyber Snipa WarboardNoYesNoNoNoYesDome
Deck Legend IceYesNoNoNoNoNoSwitch
Logitech G11YesYesYes2 x 1.1NoYesDome
Logitech G110MultiYesYes1 x 2.0YesYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Logitech G15YesYesYes2 x 1.1NoYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Logitech G19MultiYesYes2 x 2.0NoYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Logitech G510MultiYesYesNoYesYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Microsoft ReclusaYesYesNo2 x 1.1NoYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Microsoft Sidewinder X4YesYesYesNoNoYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Microsoft Sidewinder X6YesYesYesNoNoYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
OCZ ElixirNoYesYesNoNoYesDome
OCZ Elixir IINoNoNoNoNoNoDome
OCZ IlluminatiMultiYesNoNoNoYesDome
OCZ SabreYesYesNoNoNoNoDome
Razer ArctosaYesYesYesNoNoYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Razer AnansiYesYesYesNoNoYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Razer BlackWidowNoYesYesNoNoYesSwitchBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Razer BlackWidow UltimateYesYesYes1 x 2.0YesYesSwitchBuy from Amazon.com
Razer LycosaYesYesYes1 x 2.0YesYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Razer Lycosa Mirror EditionYesYesYes1 x 2.0YesYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Razer TarantulaNoYesYes2 x 1.1YesYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Roccat ArvoYesYesYesNoNoNoDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Roccat ValoYesYesYes1 x 1.1YesYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Saitek CyborgMultiYesYes1 x 1.1YesYesDomeBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Steelseries 6GV2NoNo[1]NoNoYesSwitchBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Steelseries 7GNoNo[1]2 x 1.1YesYesSwitchBuy from Amazon.co.ukBuy from Amazon.com
Steelseries/Ideazon MercNoYesNoNoNoYesDome
Steelseries/Ideazon Merc StealthMultiYesNo2 x 2.0YesYesDome
Steelseries/Ideazon ZboardNoYesNo2 x 1.1NoYesDome
Wolfking TimberwolfNoNoNo2 x 1.1NoNoDomeBuy from Amazon.com
XArmor U9BLYesNoNo2 x 2.0YesYesSwitch

Think I’ve missed a gaming keyboard? Want to recommend the best gaming keyboard? Then please leave a comment!

[1] Steelseries don’t like the Windows key so they put their own special Steelseries key in its place, so there’s no need for a Windows lock.

37 Comments

  1. You could include the Alienware TactX gaming keyboard here.

  2. That’s done. I also added the Steelseries Zboard, Merc and Merc Stealth, Microsoft Reclusa and the OCZ Elixir and Illuminati.

  3. Does anyone knows which keyboard is it displayed on that picture? the one with the white backlit keys and blue backlit spaces? Thanks

  4. It’s been bugging me for a while and I still haven’t figured it out. Anyone else?

  5. hey!could you please tell me a gaming keyboard which has a touch panel or touch screen?

  6. Sure thing Tejas – both the Razer Lycosa and Arctosa have touch panels for the multimedia controls, while the Saitek Cyborg has a touch panel that includes multimedia and lighting controls.

  7. you could add Cyber Snipa Warboard in this list.

  8. Thanks Anton. It’s in the list now.

  9. Hey nice list. Btw my zboard has multimedia control like fast forward pause stop play .

  10. You left out what are probably the best overall keyboards.

    The Deck and Filco mechanical keyboards with Cherry MX Brown and Black keys.
    Both of these keyboards are virtually lifetime keyboards, require no software thus don’t use any resources.

  11. Are there any gaming quality keyboards with a low profile?? I’m talking about a keyboard where the keys sit close to the board itself. The Lycosa, I know, is kind of like that, but it’s what I have now and I’m in the market for a different keyboard. Also I’m trying to go for lower and flatter keys. (the Lycosa’s keys are slightly welled.)

  12. Lower and flatter than a Lycosa? Wow, that limits your choices. Logitech do an ultra-thin keyboard but it’s not really a gaming keyboard, and I couldn’t tell you if it’s any good. The Eclipse LiteTouch has low profile keys, again not strictly a gaming keyboard but it is quality. It’s also got a variable function touch-screen in place of the number pad, so it could be useful for gaming.

  13. You should have the keyboard mechanism type. Rubber dome, scissor, or mechanical. And if mechanical, then maybe even what kind. Because personally, I’m only interested in mechanicals so having to go through this list just to sort those out is work I wish the list already provided. :/

  14. I found someone sell Razer Aurantia. but when I look at razerzone website, it is for China only. when I visit cn.razerzone.com, I found another razer keyboard product, Razer Cyclosa. Are Razer Cyclosa and Aurantia sell in China only?

  15. Does any one know of a keyboard that has a multi colored backlight that can be programed to display different keys different colors such as hot keys

  16. I can’t think of a keyboard that allows lighting to be controlled to that degree. some keyboards allow different sections to be different colours (Saitek Cyborg, Logitech G19). There’s always the Razer Tarantula which comes with a set of swappable keys that are of a different colour, but they’re not backlit.

  17. Include key stroke travel distance (i.e. 2.2mm, 4.1mm, etc.). That is one of the most important factors in selecting keyboards. It is extremely difficult to switch from one keyboard to another if their keystroke depths are significantly different.

  18. Are you sure the Logitech G19 has onboard audio connections. I cannot find support for that statement anywhere. Nor can I find any pictures with the 3.5mm audio jacks being shown on the keyboard. Also, do you know what the power adapter is for? I don’t want to have to explain why I need an extra plug at the LAN for my keyboard. Thanks for the list, and my answer.

  19. You’re absolutely right Shuz, it hasn’t got audio sockets. My bad, I read the blurb about the cable channels that allow you to ‘tidy up mouse and headphone cables’ and assumed that meant it had headphone sockets too. Sorry!

    As for the power adapter – it’s to support that fancy new LCD screen. Not sure how the keyboard operates without power, I’m assuming it just switches off the screen and the rest works OK, but it’s something you ought to check with Logitech before you buy.

  20. Hey chris i read a lot of your reviews, i got my roccat kone because of viewing your review.

    I got my gaming mouse, and now i’m searching for a gaming keyboard, and again reading your reviews.

    But i now i’m stuck at choosing between razer tarantula, razer black widow ultimate, razer lycosa mirror, logitech G19,and logitech G110.

    for my gaming needs, i need at least an extra usb port because i have 2 external harddisk in the front usb port, and an audio jacks because my front audio jack was dead.
    So i really need your help choosing between them.

    thankyou so much

    ps: are there cable management that include an audio jacks ?

  21. Hey Darth! Nice to hear you’re a regular, and I hope you’re enjoying your Kone. I still use mine regularly and love it.

    If it’s USB ports and audio sockets you’re after then I’d recommend the Logitech G110. It’s inexpensive but offers one extra USB 2.0 socket as well as audio sockets for a headset and mic. G19 is expensive and doesn’t have audio sockets. Fancy something different? Then try the Razer Black Widow for it’s mechanical keys – it also has USB and audio.

    Just be careful with the USB ports, they might not have enough juice to power your HDDs.

    I can’t personally recommend a cable hub with audio, but I did find this one on Amazon. It’s a four-port USB hub with audio sockets, and there’s a more expensive 7-port version too. Gets 4/5 on the reviews, so it must be pretty good.

  22. hey chris, thanks a lot for the targas hub, and I do really enjoy spending my gaming time with the kone, I think I will take the G110, and saving the rest of my money to buy a replacement of my old g330.

    I do some other review lately, check the logitech g510, perhaps you could add it to your list, I think its an update to the old g15 v1.

    and chris, perhaps you can create an article of the latest gaming accessories issues that will release next year for us, so at least we can save our money and wait for them.

    cheers !!

  23. forgot the logitech g510

  24. I started to search gaming kb but with problems. That Roccat Valo sounds good BUT that blue light is too bright. So is there similar kb without light or with red light and have about same price than Valo ?

  25. Oh and im using Logitech MX518 mouse and dont wanna get rid of it (expect if there is same sized mouse than it then i dont mind)

  26. Hi Flare. Have you looked at the Microsoft Sidewinder X6? Much cheaper and has red backlighting? Or the Logitech G110, also cheaper and with multi-colour backlights.

  27. i think i will choose that g510 because i like sooo much from macros and my nostromo n52te doesnt have enough buttons lol and that nostromo is buggy on windows 7 anyway (responsing with 2 sec delay) so i throw a duck with it :P

  28. hey chris

    add some review on razer anansi, would you kindly

    and I also have a question about roccat kone.
    does your kone’s LED switch off as soon as you turn off your computer or no ?

    in my case, my kone’s left side LED turned off but the right side and the LED on the logo isn’t turned off, is it the same with your kone ?

  29. Hey darth. The Anansi is on my list to review for the new year, maybe with the G510 at the same time. I’ll be picking both up sometime soon.

    As for my Kone – yes, it does do that. It sort of half switches itself off, which is a bit weird. I think it depends on the PC, because I’m sure it didn’t do it on my last desktop.

  30. What about Razer’s Anansi MMO Keyboard the logitech G510

  31. Actually, I think you should include the type of key switches each keyboard has. For example, the 7G is a mechanical keyboard, as thus, it’s features and looks are very basic but the price of it is really high. If I were a newbie looking to get a new gaming keyboard, I would surely step away from the 7G, blackwidow, and the 6G V2, obviously because I would have thought that the price of these keyboards are so high and yet the features that they offer is very little, not knowing they have mechanical switches which has an advantage over rubber dome switches found in the rest of the keyboards in the table.

  32. You have listed the Alienware TactX Keyboard with no Multi-Media Controls. This is untrue. What do you think the things at the top are?

  33. Hi Drake. Yep, you’r right, those big, brightly coloured buttons on the top are indeed multimedia controls. Not sure how I missed them.

  34. Hey Anonymous, you’re absolutely right. Mechanical vs dome is an area that a lot of gamers don’t appreciate. Info added!

  35. How bout add some Filco Keyboard? Thnx..

  36. Hi !
    Hoping that i may put the mystery keyboard to rest and hope you are still around to see this comment so i can fill you in about the keyboard as well as hoping this the website itself is tracked and alive , i just happened to stumble upon your site and from what i have seen in terms of feedback and very helpful and genuine btw.

    Well drum roll please…….

    That keyboard in question can not be purchased unless buying a folding screen and guts along with it , that is a gaming laptop keyboard , Asus republic of gamers / g series but this part becomes tricky due to the lack of cosmetic changes to the keyboard from model to model so the exact model still unknown but can use the process of elimination ( when the pic was taken, when uploaded or downloaded etc)

    This was my “portable” choice for quite some time and well there is nothing portable about a TANK, it is heavy,bulky and demands nothing less than a suitcase to lug it around in :) BUT it was and continues to be a beast and one of the best bangs for gaming laptop bucks and pretty sure that current model has a Sandy B. i7 , 680m and usually 12 gigs under the hood but usually having 3 versions i’m sure 8 and 16 are available but because having a drop panel one can slap in ram, swap HD’s or install and SSD and i just cant say enough about em’ and 17’3 high def / Thx sound that actually sounds respectable for a laptop and one could buy a model from 2 years ago that wlll still perform respectably in today’s market and if ever in the market of gaming laptop i would beg you to give this a glance before making a decision and well for the money it would be foolish to go “designer” laptop when performance is what matters
    no alien or fruit logo can justify paying a ton more money for just as good or slightly better performance and this is the case more so with p.c’s and imo a custom build is the only way to go which is info im sure many already know but i try to mention it when ever i can in case there is one in the bunch who doesnt.

    Im sure you didn’t expect this tl:dr , maybe breaking the record for longest essay cloaked in comment ever,lol.. Well if anything please take it as a compliment / kind gesture and not some form of spam or something, I just found it funny seeing the keyboard on here in the pic and then wanted to bring closure,lol.. I know that keyboard all too well but the crazy part is that i rarely ever made keystrokes with it and well i’m just ocd with my electronics and at the time i first got one of these laptops i declared the touch pad and keyboard a no fly zone and immediately paired a naga mouse and a logitech G510 and i will only use naga (love the feel
    the size and braided cord and the 12 keybinds on the side and response time has always performed flawlessly so i wouldn’t consider anything else unless it is a significant upgrade which brings me back to the G510 to which is just my stand by right now due to an “upgrade” for the G19 well other than the big ben lcd screen it doesn’t feel like much of an upgrade, the process of paying for it felt like i was upgrading ,lol..

    I can’t believe i wrote all that either, especially that chances are nobody will read it,lol. Forecast calls for downpours of tl:dr replies.

  37. As far as sound for G19
    Headphones or microphone plugged into the USB on the back then have it channel right through the keyboard to the front is how to get sound from the board but if up to me would use the 3.5 and well some not an ideal situation when owning a pair of headphones that demand jack which many do.

    My G510 has a jack but no usb and vice versa w/ my G19

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