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 2020: content
The best gaming keyboards 2020: All GIGA recommendations at a glance
|GIGA price tip||Space saving keyboard||Wireless freedom||The miracle of adaptation||For purists|
|model||Corsair K55 RGB||Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro||Logitech G915 Lightspeed||Steelseries Apex Pro||Ducky One 2 TKL|
|Price (approx.)||55 euros||160 euros||190 euros||220 euros||120 euros|
|advantage||Top price||optical switches||wireless operation||OmniPoint switch||simple design|
|disadvantage||Rubber dome switch||no dedicated media buttons||limited battery life||high price||complicated relationship|
GIGA price tip: Corsair K55 RGB
- Top price
- soft keystroke
- Macro keys
- removable palm rest
- Dust and splash-proof (IP42)
- only three-zone RGB lighting
- 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 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 could possibly be even more important for many. This model is still too expensive for you and you can safely do without colorful lighting? The Cherry Stream is an inexpensive alternative that costs only about half as much.
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 keys 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. 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)
- 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. However, this has its price, because at just under 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. The second point of criticism relates to the micro-USB connection – I think Logitech could really adapt the new standard in the form of USB Type-C. Those who are only slightly bothered by these points and the limited battery life of around 30 hours can still access it courageously. 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 premier 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.
Less is more: Ducky One 2 TKL
Note: Due to the reduced availability of the keyboard, delivery times are currently longer. The prices are also subject to strong fluctuation. So it may be worthwhile to wait a little longer before buying. (Status: 11/28/2020)
- compact design
- mechanical switches (tactile)
- high quality
- extensive accessories
- detachable USB cable
- relatively expensive
- no wrist rest included
- Programming the buttons takes practice
The Ducky One 2 TKL (Skyline) is especially worth a look if you like it simple. No bright RBG lighting, no unnecessary macro keys and no numeric keypad. The Taiwanese manufacturer Ducky is primarily known for its high-quality keyboards that are outside the mainstream. So what distinguishes this copy from the competition like Logitech, Razer or Roccat?
Above all, the high quality workmanship is to be commended. Although the case is made of plastic, the keyboard doesn't feel cheap at all. The built-in Cherry MX Brown switches and the keycaps made of robust PBT again contribute to this. The switches mentioned above are also suitable for gaming as well as for extensive typing. Another bonus: Most of the keys can be programmed without any additional software, which requires a little practice at the beginning. In addition, the keyboard comes with additional replacement keys in a different color, which can then be replaced with the included tool if necessary.
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 complete 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 models 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 dome 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.
On the other hand, in contrast to mechanical representatives, they are significantly quieter, which could be an equally decisive purchase criterion for many. Keyboards with mechanical switches have a significantly longer lifespan. In addition, the feedback of the keystrokes is much more precise and inputs are also registered more reliably. The disadvantages, on the other hand, include the increased volume and the greater 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. Is especially preferred by prolific writers who do not want to miss out on the unmistakable click 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 most important properties are listed again in the following overview:
|Feedback||noticeable resistance||smooth||audible key click|
|Trip point||2 mm||2 mm||2.2 mm|
|Actuation force||55 cN||45 cN||60 cN|
|operation area||FPS||MMOs, MOBAs, action games||Play 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. Among other things, this has the advantage 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 precisely determine the trigger point of the buttons using software.
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 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 to your liking, 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. Especially for streamers or fans of role-playing games, additional buttons can definitely pay off. 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 entries as soon as certain key combinations are 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 regularly mess with others and therefore expect absolute precision when gaming? To make your decision a little easier, we present a few possible scenarios:
- As 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. The relatively new technology is therefore a lot more precise than regular mechanical switches, which is also reflected 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: