If you are not playing with the controller, you will hardly be able to avoid a tool: We are talking about a gaming keyboard. But what makes a good keyboard and which model is best for me? GIGA is presenting several models in different price ranges and also explains what is important when buying a gaming keyboard.
There is hardly anything that gaming keyboards cannot do: This ranges from complex RGB lighting and additional displays to special switches, the trigger point of which can be individually calibrated using software. In addition to classic rubber dome keyboards, more and more models with various types of mechanical switches are coming onto the market. We explain the differences to you and also go into important additional functions of gaming keyboards so that you are guaranteed to make the right choice.
Gaming keyboards in the test 2021: content
The best gaming keyboards 2021: All GIGA recommendations at a glance
|GIGA price tip||Space saving keyboard||Wireless freedom||The miracle of adaptation|
|model||Corsair K55 RGB||Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro||Logitech G915 Lightspeed||Steelseries Apex Pro|
|Price (approx.)||60 euro||160 euros||250 euro||265 euros|
|advantage||Top price||Optical switches||Wireless operation||OmniPoint switch|
|disadvantage||Rubber dome switch||No dedicated media buttons||Limited battery life||High price|
GIGA price tip: Corsair K55 RGB
- Top price
- Soft keystroke
- Macro keys
- Removable palm rest
- Dust and splash-proof (IP42)
- Three-zone RGB lighting only
- Shorter service life due to rubber dome switch
- Rather spongy typing feel
The Corsair K55 RGB is our price tip. For less than 60 euros, you can get a lot of keyboard for relatively little money. This includes a removable palm rest, protection against dust and splash water (IP42), six additional macro keys and RGB lighting. The latter is limited to three zones, which is why not every button can be controlled individually.
The only point of criticism – although that is a matter of taste – it is a keyboard with rubber dome switches. Compared to a mechanical keyboard, they have a shorter lifespan and the typing feel is not quite as precise. On the other hand, they are much quieter, which for many could possibly even be all the more important. This model is still too expensive for you and you can safely do without colorful lighting? The Cherry Stream is an inexpensive alternative that only costs about half.
More space on the desk: Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro
- Compact design including flat buttons
- Practical volume control
- Optical switches (linear)
- RGB lighting
- Detachable USB cable
- Secondary functions of the buttons not illuminated
- No dedicated media buttons
- High price
The Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro primarily attracts attention with its flat buttons and its already very compact design. A number pad was deliberately omitted so that there is more freedom of movement on your desk. It is also a copy with optical switches, which, according to the manufacturer, should withstand up to 100 million keystrokes. On top of that, the switches work even more precisely than conventional mechanical switches, as signals are recorded via a light barrier.
I was able to put the keyboard through its paces and have to say in advance: The Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro impressed me across the board. It starts with the processing, which makes an extremely high-quality and stable impression through the use of brushed aluminum. The precise volume control is equally well done. I also really liked the optical titanium switches. On the one hand because of the pleasant feedback when typing and on the other hand because of the absolutely delay-free input. The software works just as flawlessly and offers numerous options for individual adaptation. The only points of criticism would be the lack of illumination of the secondary functions of some keys and the lack of dedicated media keys.
Goodbye, cables! – Logitech G915 Lightspeed
- Wireless connection via dongle or Bluetooth
- Mechanical switches (Clicky)
- Volume control including separate media buttons
- RGB lighting
- Macro keys
- Secondary functions of the buttons not illuminated
- No USB-C port
- Limited battery life (approx. 30 hours with activated lighting)
- High price
The Logitech G915 Lightspeed has achieved something that hardly any other keyboard has done before: It has mechanical switches, RGB lighting and works completely wirelessly. For many, this is probably the gamer's dream come true. This has its price, however, because at over 200 euros the keyboard is anything but cheap. In return, you will receive a high-quality keyboard with additional media and macro keys. You also have the choice between different variants with clicky, tactile or linear switches.
Unfortunately, with such a high price, minor flaws are noticed all the more quickly. During my test phase, I had to find out that not all functions of the buttons are illuminated accordingly. This could quickly lead to frustration, especially in poor lighting conditions. In addition, the volume control has no haptic feedback, which makes operation unnecessarily difficult.
The next point of criticism relates to the micro-USB port – I think Logitech could really slowly adapt the new standard in the form of USB Type-C. If you don't mind these points and the limited battery life of around 30 hours with active lighting, you can still grab it here. For fans of compact keyboards, there is also the Logitech G915 Lightspeed TKL, which does not have a numeric keypad or macro keys.
The customization miracle: Steelseries Apex Pro
- OmniPoint switch with adjustable sensitivity (linear)
- OLED smart display
- RGB lighting
- Integrated USB pass-through port
- Volume controls and media buttons
- Wrist rest included
- Not all buttons have OmniPoint switches
- No detachable USB cable
- High price
With the Steelseries Apex Pro we have finally arrived in the top class of keyboards. This is due on the one hand to the enormous range of functions and at the same time to the proud price of over 200 euros. The main features are clearly the integrated OLED smart display and the so-called OmniPoint switch, the trigger point of which can be individually configured using software. It was not without reason that it was able to convince in almost every respect in our test.
Complaints at a high level: Not all buttons are equipped with the advertised OmniPoint switches. Given the price, that's a shame. Furthermore, the USB cable cannot be removed, which is not a big deal, but would have been a nice bonus. If you prefer the format without a number pad, there is also the Steelseries Apex Pro TKL.
The best gaming keyboards: This is how it was tested
With the huge range of gaming keyboards on offer, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track. More and more manufacturers are advertising special types of switches that are supposed to be faster, better and more robust. Then you also have to ask yourself whether you want a wireless or wired model. As a gamer, you also have completely different requirements for a keyboard: From colorful RGB lighting to additional displays on the keyboard to macro keys, everything is now available.
In our selection, we have therefore consciously chosen copies that on the one hand cover the broadest possible price range and on the other hand differ accordingly in terms of functionality. In order to give you the best possible overview, in addition to our own experiences, we also included external user ratings in our decision.
Buying a gaming keyboard: you should know that beforehand
Rubber domes vs. mechanical keyboards
So-called rubber dome switches are usually used, especially with cheaper models. There is a kind of rubber dome below the actual key, which is compressed when the key is released – hence the name. As a result, two foils come into contact when typing, which in turn close a circuit and ultimately register the keystroke. The biggest disadvantage of such switches is the construction-related spongy typing feel and the relatively long input delay.
In contrast to mechanical representatives, however, they are much quieter, which could be an equally decisive purchase criterion for many. Keyboards with mechanical switches, on the other hand, have a significantly longer lifespan. In addition, the feedback of the keystrokes is much more precise and inputs are also registered more reliably. However, the disadvantages include the increased volume and the higher cost. The most important advantages and disadvantages of both switch types at a glance:
|Keystroke||Rather loud||Very quiet|
|Typing feel||Tactile, linear or clicky||Rather spongy|
|lifespan||approx. 50 to 100 million attacks||approx. 5 to 10 million attacks|
Tactile, linear or clicky?
As far as mechanical switches are concerned, there is now a wide range of switches available: In addition to the popular Cherry switches, there are also specially developed versions from well-known manufacturers such as Razer, Logitech, Roccat or Steelseries. In addition, mechanical switches are increasingly being improved to reduce their input delay to a minimum. There are also optical switches or switches whose trigger point can be individually calibrated using software. Regardless of the manufacturer of the respective switch, in almost every case it can be characterized by one of the following three properties:
- Tactile: When you press it you will feel a slight resistance. This reduces the risk of incorrect entries and, at the same time, enables precise stops. Therefore, the switch shines especially in shooters.
- Linear: The smooth keystroke makes the switch particularly suitable for quick, successive entries. This can be particularly useful in MMOs or action games.
- Clicky: Provides clearly audible and tangible feedback. At the same time one of the loudest switches. It is particularly preferred by frequent writers who do not want to miss out on the unmistakable clicking sound when typing.
Differences in cherry switches
In addition to keyboards, Cherry is best known for its industry-leading switches. The most popular designs include brown, red, and blue cherry switches. The main differences are on the one hand in the necessary Actuation forcewhich is given in centinewtons (cN). On the other hand, the switches have different lengths Release routes, which are given in millimeters. The following overview lists the most important properties again:
|Feedback||noticeable resistance||smooth||audible key click|
|Trip point||2 mm||2 mm||2.2 mm|
||55 cN||45 cN||60 cN|
|Possible use||FPS||MMOs, MOBAs, action games||Typing / playing with the familiar click feeling|
Since the switches from other manufacturers are often based on the example of the Cherry switches anyway, they usually behave very similarly. Much more decisive is the switch characteristic – that is Tactile, linear or clicky.
A new technology is increasingly gaining ground in which the signal is no longer transmitted through a metal contact, but through optical signal acquisition. This happens either through a light barrier or through a magnetic field. One of the advantages of this is that wear and tear on the switches can be reduced. The inputs are also recorded more precisely. In some cases it is also possible to change the trigger point of the buttons via software as desired.
The typical typing experience does not change, but the longer service life and the possibility of individual adaptation still sound promising. At the moment, keyboards with this switch technology are still a lot more expensive than conventional models. This should be taken into account before making a purchase.
What else should a gaming keyboard be able to do?
As is so often the case, hardware is only as good as the software that goes with it. With their help, you can record macros, change key assignments or adjust the RGB lighting as you wish, depending on the keyboard. You can also create several profiles that are automatically activated as soon as you start the respective game. Since almost all the big names in the industry have the complete arsenal of gaming peripherals in their range, the software usually works across devices. So it can be beneficial to choose a brand before buying so that you don't have to download separate software for each device.
Media or macro buttons
Before that, we spoke of macros. This means recordings of any key sequences that can then be triggered automatically with just a single keystroke. Some gaming keyboards have additional keys for this, which you can then assign as you wish. Often, however, the regular keys can also be assigned alternative commands. Additional buttons can definitely pay off, especially for streamers or fans of role-playing games. Alternatively, you can use an external solution in this regard – such as the Elgato StreamDeck with 15 freely programmable LCD buttons.
In addition to macro keys, dedicated media keys can also be beneficial. Anyone who likes to listen to music on the computer will surely appreciate being able to pause the music or start the next song at the touch of a button. Being able to adjust the volume without having to fumble in the Windows settings is also a bonus that should not be despised. Once you have got used to such conveniences, you may not want to do without them afterwards.
N-key rollover and anti-ghosting
N-Key Rollover (NKRO) describes the ability of a keyboard to theoretically press an unlimited number of keys at the same time without losing an input. Nowadays almost every decent gaming keyboard has a correspondingly high NKRO, so that unregistered key presses are hardly a problem anymore. Anti-ghosting, on the other hand, describes the opposite effect: The aim here is to avoid unwanted inputs as soon as a certain combination of keys is pressed at the same time. Here, too, it is now more of a ghost of the past. With mechanical keyboards in particular, the effect hardly ever occurs because each key has its own switch.
Which gaming keyboard is best for me?
To do this, you first have to ask yourself how exactly you want to use the keyboard. Should it also be used to do paperwork in addition to gaming? Do you only play occasionally? Or do you expect absolute precision when gambling? To make your decision a little easier, we present a few possible scenarios:
- When Casual gamer you usually get by with a correspondingly inexpensive model that has the necessary basic functions. A membrane keyboard with rubber dome switches would probably be the best option here.
- who Gambling regularly or typing a lot, should take a look at mechanical keyboards. On the one hand, they have the advantage that they are much more durable and, on the other hand, the inputs are much more precise. By the way, the feeling when typing is hardly comparable to a conventional membrane keyboard. A large number of different switches are available to you, which should ideally be tested in the electronics store you trust before buying.
- You want the absolute Maximum precision get out of your keyboard? In the meantime, gaming keyboards with optical switches have proven to be favorites. The actual switches still work mechanically, but the signals are captured by a light barrier or a magnetic field. The relatively new technology is a lot more precise than regular mechanical switches, which is also reflected directly in the price. So that should be considered before making a purchase.
You can find more suitable purchase advice on the subject of gaming peripherals here: