Gaming keyboard review, guide and comparison 2021

Gaming keyboard review, guide and comparison 2021

Gaming keyboard review, guide and comparison 2021
Every self-respecting gamer would not want to do without it - the gaming keyboard. In the past decade, these shiny input devices have become true high-tech products, and there are now models that are more expensive than many an entry-level computer. But how do gaming keyboards differ from conventional variants? And anyway - for what kind of games is a gaming keyboard useful? How expensive are good gaming keyboards? We'll try to answer all these questions in this detailed gaming keyboard review.
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Olli
Posted at 06.05.2021 00:00:00 UTC • 9 minutes to read

1 The most important in a nutshell!

  • mechanical keys are much more durable than membrane keys
  • mechanical keyboards have a high degree of precision and sensitivity
  • Gaming keyboards with RGB lighting are important when gaming with dimmed lights
  • function & macro keys can be very helpful in some games
  • wireless gaming keyboards with RGB lighting have an average battery life of 10-30 hours.
  • the choice of wired models is much higher than wireless keyboards
  • wireless keyboards are more expensive than regular models
  • Logitech, Razer, Steelseries & Corsair are considered the best brands when it comes to gaming keyboards

2 The best gaming keyboards in comparison!

3 Buying guide: What you should look for when buying a gaming keyboard!

While gaming keyboards offer the same basic features, they stand out from normal office keyboards simply because they are designed for a completely different target audience. While normal keyboards for everyday use are reduced to the essentials, keyboards for gamers mainly trump with practical functions or special, sometimes even illuminated keys. Not only the looks play a decisive role here, but also the arrangement of the switches, the function and macro keys as well as the sensitivity.

They are supposed to help you react to the game as quickly and safely as possible and accordingly score one victory after the other. Because there are currently so many different technologies, it is important that you are clear about what kind of video game you primarily want to use your gaming keyboard for before you buy it. Should your new input device be as small and compact as possible and can you therefore do without a number pad? Are there any special macros or functions you want to assign to the extra keys? Do you need a volume control, play & pause keys? In order to find the perfect gaming keyboard, you have to filter what is important to you in a keyboard and what is not.

Only when you have completed this process halfway successfully should you consider different models and compare them with each other, if necessary, to end up with your dream keyboard on your desk. A keyboard should ideally last for many years, so it's important that you carefully consider which features are important to you and which you can do without. We explain the features and differences and help you find your new gaming keyboard.

4 Mechanical keyboard vs. normal keyboard

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At first, mechanical always sounds like stability - and this assumption is completely justified, because mechanical keyboards are especially characterized by their robustness and durability. Where normal keyboards reach their limits after just a few years and the individual keys quickly tend to lose some of their precision, mechanical keys still click like on the first day.

The top manufacturers in this category sometimes promise up to 50 million keystrokes until the keys slowly give up the ghost. Compared to a normal keyboard, this is an almost utopian number, although the next moment, when you take a look at the prices of the so-called "mechanical keyboards", you think to yourself "Well, good. But at that price, it must last that long". Because mechanical keyboards cannot be compared with conventional keyboards in terms of price. The workmanship is usually much higher quality, the keyboard as such is much heavier and therefore more stable, and the materials used in the top models are also completely different than in normal office keyboards.

The other big advantage of mechanical keyboards is the enormous precision. This is due to the sensitive keys, which are constructed in a fundamentally different way than usual. Normal keyboards are actually always equipped with so-called membrane or "rubber dome" keys. This technology has been used for a few years now and belongs to the old iron of keyboard technologies, so to speak.

The rubber dome keyboard uses a small rubber that is located in the recess provided for the key. So if you now press the individual key, the rubber automatically springs back and returns the switch to its original position after pressing. In order for the keyboard to register which key was pressed, it comes into contact with the motherboard with the help of a special coating on the underside, which ensures that an input is accepted. It all sounds very oldschool, doesn't it? It is, because this technology has been used for many decades and is still the most common variant. This simplicity is of course reflected in the price of these keyboards, which is correspondingly low.

Mechanical keyboards are constructed completely differently. First of all, it should be mentioned that the individual keys of a mechanical keyboard are made of a much higher quality material. This makes them heavier and therefore more attractive in terms of haptics.

While a rubber in the keyboard body provides the typing feel with the membrane technology, the keys of a mechanical keyboard are equipped with a high-quality steel spring, which makes it possible that a mechanical counterpressure is created when typing. In practice, this method is characterized mainly by its high precision and wonderful typing feel. Membrane keyboards often feel spongy, imprecise and random, whereas mechanical keyboards respond very accurately to inputs, which means you can type much faster and more effectively with them.

Whether it's gaming or texting, the mechanical keyboard clearly has the edge over the conventional variety. However, if you decide to go for this advanced type of gaming keyboard, you should be aware that you will have to dig much deeper into your pocket. However, due to the fact that mechanical keyboards last longer and are much more stable in general, the high price you spend on your new gaming keyboard should be justified.

5 Wireless vs. wired keyboard

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Whether it's headsets, keyboards, mice, or controllers, one question has always been going through the gaming community: with or without cables? A lot has been written about this topic, but the consensus is always the same: It depends. Yes, on what? We can answer this question. Unfortunately, we can't tell you if and why you should buy a wireless or a wired keyboard. This decision is entirely up to you, because we can only present you with the objective and hard facts.

Wireless keyboards are funnily enough becoming more and more popular, as they were ridiculed by gamers for a long time and dismissed as casual stuff that no real gamer needs. But times have obviously changed - meanwhile, the major manufacturers have some wireless keyboards on offer that are quite respectable.

Wireless gaming keyboards are no longer inferior to their wired counterparts. Neither in terms of quality nor in terms of connection efficiency. Even features like RGB lighting with more or less long battery runtimes are now possible. Companies like Logitech, for example, offer their flagships in both wired and wireless versions. Thus, you do not have to make any compromises in terms of quality, but only have to be prepared for a few restrictions.

Before we take a closer look at these, let's see what advantages a wireless gaming keyboard has to offer. The fact is that these can be decisive for the purchase. First of all, it's obvious that the cable is no longer necessary and you can enjoy unrestricted freedom of movement with your keyboard. This can be very comfortable in some situations - for example, when you want to put your legs up and still surf the Internet a bit. Furthermore, you no longer have to worry about whether the cable is long enough. The result: no more tangled cables, a tidy and clean look.

Now we come to the big disadvantage of a wireless gaming keyboard: the power supply. You surely know this ... The more performant a product is, the faster the battery status indicator jumps towards 0%. We see this every day with our smartphones, Bluetooth speakers, or other lifestyle gadgets.

The whole thing is similar with an advanced gaming keyboard, which possibly also has all function keys, RGB lighting and a latency-free connection. While manufacturers quote a maximum battery life of 30-40 hours for their wireless models, this data is of course based on the best possible scenario. So RBG lighting completely off, standby mode, hardly any keystrokes, etc. Under real-life conditions and normal use, a good wireless gaming keyboard will unfortunately quit after 10-20 hours and crave for new power.

Of course, there are also wireless keyboards that definitely have long battery runtimes, but these are usually in the office sector and do not have RBG lighting. One point that needs to be mentioned is that wireless gaming keyboards are significantly more expensive in direct comparison to their wired counterparts.

5.1 Overview of the advantages and disadvantages

Wireless Keyboard

Advantages:

  • unrestricted freedom of movement
  • more visually appealing without a cable
  • portable and mobile use

Disadvantages:

  • battery needs to be charged or battery needs to be replaced
  • often lacks an illuminated keyboard
  • good models significantly more expensive

Wired keyboard

Advantages:

  • can be operated permanently without additional power source
  • large selection of models
  • work according to the plug & play principle
  • cheaper than wireless models

Disadvantages:

  • hardly any freedom of movement due to the cable
  • cannot be used mobile without further ado
  • Cable is prone to problems & defects

6 Gaming Keyboard Test - The Costs

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As already mentioned, there is now a gigantic selection of gaming keyboards. If you enter the term once in the Amazon search box, 20,000 results appear! How do you find out how expensive a good gaming keyboard should be? We'll tell you.

Of course, as with any product, it depends on which manufacturer you choose and what kind of quality you need. In the course of researching our gaming keyboard test, we were able to determine that good gaming keyboards with mechanical functionality are already available from about 60 €.

However, these are from relatively unknown manufacturers, but still offer some functions and quality features that the "big ones" also have. If you don't want to do without a branded keyboard on your desk, you will probably first find one from Roccat in the gaming sector. The Roccat Vulcan 120, for example, with its RGB lighting and mechanical keys, offers a pretty good price-performance ratio at around 130 €. Do you want it to be high-end? Then you won't get around a gaming keyboard from Steeseries, Logitech or Corsair. The Apex Pro from Steelseries costs as much as a Nintendo Switch Lite (about 230€), but it offers everything a gamer's heart desires, even an OLED Smart Display.

Wireless gaming keyboards are, as already mentioned, much more expensive than their wired counterparts. This is also evident when you take a look at the top models in this field. The best wireless gaming keyboard you can get at the moment is probably the Logitech G915 LIGHTSPEED. It has a rechargeable battery, mechanical keys, LIGHTSYNC RGB lighting and, according to the manufacturer, almost 30 hours of battery life. Models without lighting and mechanical keys are available in the form of the Logitech G613. This all-round model costs around €150 and turned out to be a price-performance tip in our gaming keyboard test.

7 The best gaming keyboard brands / manufacturers

The selection is huge, the competition is great. Of course, the gaming keyboard manufacturers know this as well, which means that the big manufacturers are always eager to bring the next innovation to the market, only for the smaller companies to copy the system and follow suit. Thus, even in the field of gaming keyboards, there are some manufacturers and brands that have proven to be quite recommendable in recent years. Many of these companies have been around since the early days of gaming and have been able to gain a lot of experience in that time to always bring out the best products.

As a pioneer, we must first mention the Logitech company. With the Logitech G11, the Swiss company launched the first real gaming keyboard back in 2006. Since then, a lot has happened and Logitech was able to establish itself as the best-known and most popular manufacturer for gaming peripherals in the following years. Thus, they try to refresh the market with new and innovative ideas almost every year and offer gaming enthusiasts the best possible experience. The product range now includes models in every price range - from entry-level to high-end. We can assure you: You won't go wrong with a gaming keyboard from Logitech.

Besides Logitech, Razer from the USA is a big player on the gaming industry market. While Logitech was able to launch the first gaming keyboard in 2006, Razer brought out the first gaming mouse a few years earlier. Thus, Razer has also been able to gather many years of experience and is not considered a showcase company when it comes to the production of gaming accessories for nothing. Unlike Logitech, which also deals with the office and lifestyle sector in addition to the gaming market, Razer focuses entirely on gaming.

To give you a better overview of the best brands & manufacturers of gaming keyboards, we have put together a small listing for you:

  • Logitech
  • Razer
  • Corsair
  • Steelseries
  • Sharkoon
  • Roccat
  • HyperX
  • Cooler Master
  • Asus
  • The Keyboard

8 Conclusion

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As we found out in this gaming keyboard review, most gamers don't want to do without their illuminated keyboard with mechanical keys. Those who value quality and precision will quickly realize that this type of keyboard is essential, especially for playing video games. The mechanical keys offer a high level of accuracy and are, above all, extremely durable, which definitely justifies the high price of these keyboards.

If you are not willing to spend 150 to 250 € for a mechanical gaming keyboard, you can look around in the area of keyboards with membrane or rubber keys. Some of the big and well-known manufacturers still rely on this proven and quite good technology, which should be especially interesting for casual gamers.

Wireless keyboards are very comfortable, offer unrestricted movement, but are considerably more expensive and unfortunately only offer 10-30 hours of battery life. If you want to buy a wireless gaming keyboard and can do without the RBG lighting, we advise you to do so, because wireless models without lighting surpass the battery runtimes of lit models many times over.

We hope that this gaming keyboard review has helped you find the right model for you and wish you a lot of fun gaming!

9 Frequently asked questions about gaming keyboards

How much does a gaming keyboard cost?

A good gaming keyboard costs at least 60€

What is a semi-mechanical keyboard?

Semi-mechanical keyboards are usually nothing more than the common keyboards with membrane keys

What makes a gaming keyboard?

The mechanical keys, a high stability & durability, various macro keys & function keys.

Which gaming keyboard is the best?

The current best gaming keyboard is probably the Steelseries Apex Pro for 220 €.

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