When it comes to keyboards, the PC gaming crowd looks beyond a comfortable typing experience. The subtlety and elegance of productivity or enthusiast-level options are usually written off in favor of bolder, flashier designs that are complemented by features like super-fast laser or mechanical switches, macro keys, and deeply customizable RGB lighting to match the aura with the rest of your gaming rig.

There are other factors to consider, such as a premium build quality, media keys, a wrist rest, or the convenience of a USB passthrough. In this article you’ll find our top picks from the wealth of gaming keyboards currently available for users with different budgets, connectivity and layout preferences.

Best High-End Wired Keyboard

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical or SteelSeries Apex Pro

You’ll need deep pockets to afford the K100 RGB, but Corsair’s continual refinements to its flagship gaming keyboard have yet again earned it the top spot in our high-end wired category.

While its predecessor, the K95 RGB, remains a solid option in its own right, Corsair’s latest features laser activated, opto-mechanical keys for superfast actuation that eliminates debounce delay and offers added durability over traditional, mechanical switches.

Corsair also offers a slightly more affordable K100 with Cherry MX speed switches for gamers unwilling to move to the newer optical tech. Both versions arrive with an updated design that adds even more RGB across the front and sides, and a new in-your-face iCue-powered media control wheel.

The Corsair K100’s aluminum frame, PBT keycaps, six macro keys, removable wrist rest, USB 2.0 passthrough port and the dizzying 44-zone LightEdge RGB lighting make it the ultimate choice for gamers that won’t spill their drinks, but are looking to splurge on a premium, wired keyboard.

Alternative: SteelSeries Apex Pro

You probably don’t need an OLED screen on your next keyboard, but SteelSeries has included one anyway in the gorgeous looking Apex Pro. The slender, aluminum alloy frame and wrist rest jars wonderfully with the chunky, RGB-lit keys that sit atop SteelSeries’ OmniPoint mechanical switches.

These offer adjustable actuation, allowing players to register keystrokes within travel distances of 0.4-3.6mm. That’s a differentiating factor at this price point ($199), considering that the Steelseries offers all the same features as Corsair’s flagship, minus the optical switches and a set of dedicated macro keys.

Also, the sleek magnetic wrist rest on the Apex Pro won’t feel as comfortable as the thicker, plusher pad on Corsair’s K100 during extended gaming sessions. However, SteelSeries does have another advantage over its rival, and that’s the option of going TenKeyLess (TKL). The Apex Pro is available in a smaller, more affordable version that does away with the numeric keypad for users short on desk space or those with a preference for this particular layout.

Best High-End Wireless

Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro or Logitech G915 Lightspeed

If you’re after a high-end wireless gaming keyboard then Razer’s BlackWidow V3 Pro should be at the top of your list. This $230 full-sized wireless keyboard and the recently released $173 Mini HyperSpeed (65% size) are convincing options in terms of features, though expect to pay the usual Razer premium.

It should be noted that the BlackWidow V3 Pro -- like most wireless gaming keyboards -- has yet to gain feature parity with wired counterparts, so gamers looking to cut the cord need to consider that convenience as the deciding factor behind their purchase and should expect a few compromises in other areas.

Both BlackWidow V3 models are offered with Razer’s tactile and clicky Green, or linear and silent Yellow mechanical switches. They also feature doubleshot ABS keycaps for a smooth typing experience, albeit one that will quickly shine on its way to the rated 80 million keystrokes.

While lag/latency on this keyboard will only be noticeable to the most competitive of esports players, it’s the BlackWidow’s battery life that even casual gamers will find disappointing. Razer claims up to 192 hours of use with the backlighting off. Since we know that won’t happen on a gaming desk, the actual battery life comes in around 25 hours with the standard cycling rainbow lighting effect set at 50 percent brightness. Expect a single charge (via USB-C) to last 13 hours if you’re planning to use the keyboard with full RGB brightness.

The BlackWidow V3 also lacks USB passthrough and dedicated macro keys, though reprogramming existing ones can be done with Razer Synapse. Thankfully, it makes up for those shortcomings with dedicated media controls, a textured volume dial, plush wrist rest, Razer Hyperspeed connectivity with the provided 2.4 GHz dongle and multi-device support via Bluetooth. For those averse to the triple-headed snake, Logitech’s G915 Lightspeed offers a different mix of compromises at an identical price point and the same 2-year warranty.

Alternative: Logitech G915 Lightspeed

For a gaming keyboard, the Logitech G915 bears a fairly understated, elegant design that would equally be at home on an office desk or a LAN party with its subdued RGB lighting. The main highlight of this wireless keyboard is Logitech’s low-profile mechanical switch available in either clicky, linear or tactile flavor. It’s an unusual feature in this space, but a much lower actuation distance of 1.5mm makes these switches more responsive than traditional mechanical keys, even if they take some getting used to.

Logitech has a formidable track record with PC peripherals, and the G915 Lightspeed with its neat key layout builds on that experience. Unlike the BlackWidow V3 Pro, this keyboard comes with five dedicated macro keys, a separate row of buttons on the top alongside an edgeless volume wheel and can last for up to a longer 30 hours on a single charge at full brightness. Turn it down a bit and you probably won’t need its micro-USB charging cable for at least a week.

Disappointingly, the G915 lacks a wrist rest, which makes its $220 price tag slightly harder to digest. Some may also find the keyboard’s design a bit restrained, especially if they’re after the typical ostentatious look for their gaming setup, while others may not accept the learning curve of Logitech’s low-profile GL switches. Gamers who do, will find the G915 Lightspeed a solid wireless keyboard and a worthy alternative to the Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro.

Best Budget Wired Keyboard

Redragon K552 RGB Kumara

The Redragon K552 RGB will not only save gamers some desk space with its TKL-only layout, but also a lot of money. It offers the biggest bang for your gaming buck, considering you get real mechanical switches, clicky RGB-lit keys with full anti-ghosting, metal-abs construction and a spill-resistant design for just $40.

The K552 RGB uses Outemu Blue switches, which are essentially budget friendly clones of the Cherry MX Blues and offer a clicky, loud typing experience. Like high-end models from Corsair and Razer, it uses a metal plate for mounting these switches and covers them under high quality, curved keycaps for a sturdy feel.

The K552’s Redragon Zone companion app is pretty barebones in terms of customization and the keyboard’s TKL layout rules out dedicated macro or media playback keys. There’s also no wrist rest, but that’s an acceptable omission for the price. The K552 RGB covers the basics adequately and its simple, no-frills approach, alongside a 1-year warranty makes it the best budget gaming keyboard currently available.

Alternative: HyperX Alloy Core RGB

The Alloy Core RGB from HyperX is another well-rounded budget gaming keyboard that balances its use of silent, membrane keys with a full-sized layout, splash-resistant design and stylish RGB implementation. It also includes dedicated buttons for media playback, adjusting brightness, cycling through lighting effects, and enabling Game Mode (Windows Key Lock).

The Alloy Core RGB offers everything through hardware and isn’t compatible with HyperX’s Ngenuity companion app, making for an even simpler user experience than the Redragon K552. Unlike its cheaper rival, the HyperX can also be had with a wrist rest, provided you pay an extra $20.

HyperX’s membrane-based Alloy Core RGB is meant for budget gamers looking to avoid noisy, clicky feedback of mechanical keyboards. A sturdy construction, full-sized layout with dedicated keys and an impressive 2-year warranty makes it one the best budget gaming keyboards around.

Best Budget Wireless Keyboard

Corsair K63 Wireless

High-end wireless keyboards demand a premium over wired options and the same stands true for the budget tier. To that end, Corsair’s K63 Wireless offers the best mix of features and compromises for budget gamers looking to cut the cord.

The K63 Wireless TKL (~$100) uses the relatively quiet Cherry MX Red keys, which offer a linear typing experience with 4mm of travel void of clicky, tactile feedback. They also only light up in color blue, although Corsair’s per-key implementation and sturdy plastic makes for uniform light distribution and minimum bleed.

Despite the smaller layout, the K63 features dedicated media keys, while the iCue app allows a few customization options like setting up macros and lighting effects. Although Corsair’s software will only play nicely with the K63’s included 2.4 GHz dongle, the keyboard does support multi-device connectivity via Bluetooth and is also compatible with Corsair’s Lapboard accessory for home theatre/HTPC users.

The K63 Wireless charges via micro-USB and lasts for up to 75 hours on a single charge with the backlight disabled. Set it to 75 percent brightness and that figure drops to around 25 hours. Other niceties include a detachable wrist rest -- that uses clips instead of magnets -- wide system compatibility and Corsair’s typical bold design.

Alternative: Logitech G613 Wireless

There’s a lot to like about the Logitech G613 Wireless. A low price combined (usually $75) with short-travel Romer G mechanical switches, multi-device connectivity, full-sized layout, and dedicated macro keys. However, the lack of RGB, or any backlighting for that matter, will disappoint some. Logitech made the compromise so that the G613’s 2 x AA batteries would last longer (up to 18 months).

Although the keyboard’s bulky design and dimensions are uninspiring and space consuming, they do bring an integrated plastic wrist rest to help with strain. Like the Corsair K63 TKL, the G613 also has wide system compatibility and can communicate via its USB receiver or Bluetooth.

Despite lacking RGB lighting, gamers can use Logitech’s G Hub companion app for setting up macros and game profiles, making the G613 a competitive wireless budget gaming keyboard.

Honorable Mentions

Full-sized, high-end: Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO

A competitively priced, high-end wired gaming keyboard that stands out from the crowd with a stylish, low-profile design featuring Roccat’s Titan mechanical switches for a satisfying typing/playing experience and dazzling AIMO RGB lighting.

The Vulcan 121 is a full-sized keyboard, though a bit lacking in terms of extra keys. There aren’t dedicated macro keys -- existing ones can be programmed -- and the buttons for media controls only cover volume settings, with hotkeys assigned for playback. It also lacks a USB passthrough and the included wrist rest isn’t the most comfortable around. Aside from these issues, the Vulcan 121 AIMO excels as a well-built gaming keyboard that should look the part with the rest of your gaming rig.

Small and Premium: Razer Huntsman Mini

The Razer Huntsman Mini targets the niche of wealthy gamers looking for a space-saving 60% keyboard that looks and feels premium. It uses Razer optical switches for an instant response with a choice of either clicky or linear keys.

Like other Razer models, gamers will need to use the cloud-based Synapse app for customization to get the most out of this keyboard. It can be a bit annoying, like the fact that Razer charges $20 on top of an already expensive price tag for the privilege of owning a plush wrist rest. Thankfully, there’s no extra cost for choosing the Mercury White variant, which should make your matching rig look all the more cooler.

Value for Money: Corsair K55 RGB Pro

The K55 RGB Pro is a tempting full-sized wired keyboard for gamers on a budget who can do without mechanical switches, or RGB backlighting found in the $10 pricier XT variant.

Complementing Corsair’s design language is a solid list of features such as dedicated macro and media playback keys, anti-ghosting with selective key rollover, spill and dust resistance, and a detachable wrist rest.

The iCue companion app can be used for customization (macros, lighting and adjusting polling rate), however, it also has onboard memory for assigning macros and directly accessible pre-set RGB lighting effects.

The K55 RGB Pro’s build quality and typing experience will remind gamers of its humble, affordable origins, but the quietness of its membrane keys and added useful features make it one of best budget gaming keyboards.