the best gaming keyboards of 2018: top 5 list

A look at some of the most advanced gaming keyboards on the market today

GameWire - January 9th 2018

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We have compared 5 popular gaming keyboards in order to find you the best models on the market today.

If you are looking for advanced macro controls, customizable lighting features,  professional performance and all-around gaming perfection from your keyboard, then you've come to the right place.

This detailed buying guide is here to help you find the best gaming keyboard for your particular wants and needs.

If you’re serious about gaming, having the right keyboard is crucial, and while performance and reliability are essential for a high quality keyboard, having a sleek and stylish design is always a plus too.

You’ll find that the 5 gaming keyboards we’ve compared are of the utmost quality, both performance-wise and aesthetically.

Those that stood out from the rest

Our Top Picks

Best Price

SteelSeries Apex 150


Editor's Choice

Das Keyboard X40 Pro 

9/10

Best Value

Logitech G Pro


What Exactly is a Gaming Keyboard?

This may seem like a bit of a redundant question, but there are many gamers who have never used anything other than a basic keyboard. If you are one of those people, then it is important to understand what makes a gaming keyboard unique from other boards.  

Let’s first consider the actual typing experience.  The most commonly used, standard keyboards are what is known as membrane keyboards. Beneath the keys there are layers of, you guessed it, membranes--through which contact is made with a conductive layer at the bottom of the keyboard whenever a key is pressed.  These boards are typically cheaper to build and offer little flexibility for the user.

While some gaming keyboards use a membrane configuration, you will find that most models are categorized as mechanical keyboards.  A mechanical keyboard uses physical switches underneath each individual key.  The switches are easily customizable and can have varying degrees of resistance depending on personal preference.  

If you have never used a mechanical keyboard then you might be surprised at how fun they can be and how different their feedback is compared to membrane keyboards.  For a visual comparison of mechanical and membrane keyboards please enjoy the video below.

Mechanical key switches often have more noticeable resistance than typical membrane keys and may be referred to as being "responsive."  A key-click on a typical keyboard could be described as feeling “mushy" in comparison.

Mechanical keyboards usually last much longer than membrane keyboards due to how they are constructed.  After all, mechanical keys are replaceable.  If a key goes out, you just pop it off and replace it.  

That's not so easy to do on a membrane keyboard.

There are potential downsides to mechanical keyboards, however. They are usually much louder than membrane keyboards, some having a very audible “click” with each key press. They are often heavier too, so probably not the best choice if portability is a factor for you.

There are also hybrid keyboards available for sale, which fall somewhere in between the two keyboard types, for those wanting the best of both worlds.

Common Features of Gaming-Style Keyboards

The best gaming keyboards often have several unique features that make them stand out.  

Perhaps the most apparent being the high quality and durable materials used to construct them--allowing them to withstand the rigors of intense gaming sessions.  They also tend to have an overall more sleek, perhaps even flashy look than your average keyboard. 

Appearance isn't everything though.  There are particular functions that are unique to gaming-specific boards and not usually present in more average models.  

Let's take a look at some of these advantages now.

gaming keyboard
  • Premium Lighting

One of the most noticeable features about many gaming keyboards is they often have lighted keys--making them easy to see at night or in dark rooms.  While most game controlling and typing is done by feel and memory, there are times when you need to press a key you don’t use often. This is where features like programmable RGB lighting can come in handy.  Keyboards with this feature can control the lights of separate sections, or even individual keys of the keyboard--now finding that seldom used key just got easier.  Functionalities can also be changed based on events that occur in the game that you’re playing.

  • Programmable Keys

Another helpful feature many gaming keyboards have are dedicated macro keys.  These special keys can record actions to and replay them when you press them.  So if there’s a time consuming combination of keys you often press in a certain game, or any application for that matter, you can save time by just assigning it to a macro key and executing it again whenever needed.  This can be a huge time saver.

  • Anti-Ghosting Capability

Having multiple key rollover, also referred to as anti-ghosting, is another factor that can be important for a gaming keyboard.  This means that when you press several keys at the same time there won’t be any keys that aren’t detected.  The highest is n-key rollover, which in theory means no matter how many keys are pressed they will all be detected.  In most situations you won’t really need anything much higher than 6-key rollover--which all 5 keyboards in this guide exceed, so no worries there.

  • USB Pass-Through

An additional feature often present in these types of boards is called a USB pass-through.  This allows you to plug additional accessories such as headsets or microphones directly into your keyboard.  This can be very convenient for someone who uses a lot of accessories or as a way to manage a mess of cords.


Which Gaming Keyboard is Right for you?

If you’re still here, then chances are you’re interested in buying a gaming keyboard and wondering which one you should get. It all depends on what your wants and needs are, as well as your budget.

If you’re a more casual player, or don’t want to spend too much, you probably don’t need a board with all the bells and whistles. Perhaps just a keyboard that looks good and has a few fun features is all you really want, something like the SteelSeries Apex 150.

And if you’re a frequent, hardcore gamer who wants something top of the line, then you’ll likely want a high end mechanical keyboard that’s tough, reliable and has everything you need for pro-level gaming. If so, the Das X40 Pro might be just what you’re looking for.

To better understand which type of keyboard is most suitable to you, please enjoy the following video as it gives a lot of great buying tips for those who are in the market for a new gaming-style keyboard.

Before we dive into the product review section of this guide, we will first look at the testing that goes into our extensive review process. We put a lot of time into testing and evaluating these products so that you are able to make the absolute best buying decision that you can.  

For the following gaming keyboards we performed 3 basic tests.  All keyboards were ranked on a scale of 1 - 10 and then we selected only the best to be featured in this ultimate guide to the best gaming keyboard.

Our Testing Process

  • Quality Test

First, we assess the general build quality of the keyboard.  We look at the materials that are used during construction as well as the overall craftsmanship of the assembly to determine the durability of the board.

  • Customization Test

Next, we consider how personalizable the keyboard is.  How many macro keys does it have?  Can it save multiple player profiles?  Are the back-lights programmable, and does it include an easy-to-use software?

  • Performance Test

Finally, we take the keyboard through several rounds of popular games to get a feel for how it performs when it counts.  We consider the overall user experience as well as key performance metrics before completing our testing.

Let's compare some of the best gaming keyboards on the market

Keyboard Comparison List

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