If you’re looking to supercharge your gaming setup and take your PC antics to the next level, then these are the boards you need to own
We all know gaming on PC is /the/ best platform there is, but booting up your favourite recreational software outside the closed package of a console means you’ll need to source bigger, better and faster hardware to ensure those games are running in the slickest way possible.
So, as you can imagine, having the very best keyboard at your disposal makes a huge difference to how you play. A great set of Cherry MX keys will keep every key press precise and deliciously tactile, while access to such features as programmable macros will turn your accessory into a hotkey heaven. Oh, and some bright and multicoloured LEDs never hurt anyone. How about a nice backlit keyboard?
So, we’ve scoured every manufacturer out there to find the best keyboards out there, and boy, have we found some amazing boards. From affordable models that will make your PC gaming more enjoyable to full-blown setups that will take your public matchmaking to the pro leagues, these are definitely the keyboards you’ve been looking for.
TOP 11 MECHANICAL KEYBOARDS 2018
1. COUGAR 700K
Cheap and loaded with Cherry MX switches
One of the cheaper boards in this guide, the 700K from Cougar offers plenty of features for its sub-£100 price tag. For a start, you're getting that popular Cherry MX set of mechanical switches, which comes in the red variant that requires less of a press than the black versions.It's also got a handful of multimedia and macro keys enabling you to customise links to certain apps or actions in-game. The 700K also has a 1MS response time (making it ideal for twitch-style games) and includes USB and audio pass-through built in. It's not the most attractive of boards on our list, but it's pretty.
2. LOGITECH G513
A superior mechanical keyboard
Logitech has become one of the biggest names in modern keyboards for a reason - its builds are sturdy, slick and highly responsive, which are all key components in a high-end gaming peripheral. The G513 model is one of the firm’s flagship keyboards, boasting Enhanced Romer G mechanical switches (which provide up to 25% faster keystrokes) and a vibrant backlighting system that uses full spectrum colour lighting per key plus LightSync game-driven lighting colours. With a full set of Cherry MX Red keys and a lovely brushed metal finish, this is one powerful little accessory.
3. HYPERX ALLOY ELITE
Affordable Cherry MX performance
Not every mechanical-keyed gaming keyboard has to break the bank - in fact, if you look in the right places you can find some robust and reliable models that are perfect for those looking to move away from a boring old everyday use board. HyperX’s Alloy Elite offers a fine entry level peripheral, with a set of Cherry MX Red mechanical keys, a large group of media buttons and some rather striking backlights with six dynamic lighting effects (including an 18 LED lightbar for added cool). Its chunky build is the furthest thing from flimsy, but you will have to contend with a lack of macro support.
4. DAS KEYBOARD DIVISION ZERO X40
Mechanical switches and macro heaven
The X40 is one of those rare beasts that comes boasting a serious selection of premium features alongside a price tag that's more than agreeable. For a start it comes with its own take on the beloved mechanical switch - the Alpha-Zulu - which work and feel just like a Cherry MX.
Then there's the five programmable macro keys (with some, rather bizarrely, positioned on the side of the device), that all important USB pass-through and a handy gaming mode that disables certain keys to avoid unnecessary in-game mistakes. It even comes with a set of interchangeable aluminium panels that create a solid backbone of a keyboard.
5. LOGITECH G413 CARBON
A slick mechanical experience south of £100
Logitech has plenty of high-end gaming models to offer you (see the Logitech G513 for proof of that), but there’s also the likes of the G413 Carbon to help you into the PC gaming mechanical switch party without torpedoing your bank balance. For around £75 or so, you’re getting a slick actuation point of 1.5mm, making its mechanical keys super precise and accurate (perfect for twitch gaming experiences such as MOBAs or MMORPGs). Those Romer G switches make a fine alternative to the Cherry MX, with each one sitting in a sturdy, aircraft-grade aluminium alloy chassis for some minimalist style on your desk.
6. ROCCAT RYOS MK PRO
Each key is individually backlit on this top clicker-clacker
Roccat's first attempt at a mechanical keyboard for the gaming crowd is an impressive feat, combining the customisation options of a gaming peripheral with the comfort of a typing device. Each key is individually backlit (for added ambiance), with the inclusion of N-key for anti-ghosting.
With two 32-bit ARM Cortex processors built in, the MK Pro has more than enough individual processing power to support a lot of customisation options. Those eight macro keys are spread out across the whole keyboard too, so there's plenty of choice with this keyboard.
The MK Pro even comes with a soft wrist-rest - however, this can't be removed making it slightly awkward to use for prolonged gaming sessions (at least until you're used to it). Still, this remains a great premium mechanical keyboard.
7. STEELSERIES APEX M800
An incredibly fast, well-built keyboard
The new M800 model from the esteemed minds at SteelSeries is one of the fastest mechanical keyboards you can buy (thanks mainly to its QS1 keyswitch featuring 1.5mm key travel and 45cN actuation force). SteelSeries has built this peripheral with pro gaming in mind and it shows - that low travel makes for ultra accurate response times with minimal fuss.
For the price, we found the build of the Apex M800 to be a little flimsy compared to other models in the same category, but with RGB lighting (including eight brightness levels and 16.8 million colour options for your keys) and six programmable macro keys it works like the premium device its price tag suggests.
8. TOPRE REALFORCE RGB
Expensive but... damn!
When it comes to the highest tier of premium mechanical keyboards, the Topre Realforce RGB sits right there at top with its powerful RGB lighting, incredibly responsive bespoke keys and more. It's a beast of a peripheral, and one that comes with only a few niggling issues.
The switches in the Realforce RGB do support Cherry MX if you really want to swap them out, but the Topre variant that comes with the Realforce RGB is so powerful and ready for customisation (you can actually adjust the actuation from 1.5mm to 3mm) you'd be mad not to use it.
Annoyingly, considering the price, you don't get a keycap puller or a comfy wrist-rest (so that's an extra outlay if you need them), but with all that customisation we can almost forgive their absences.
9. RAZER BLACKWIDOW X CHROMA
RGB lighting, mechanical switches, and big anti-ghosting capabilities
Razer has been in the gaming peripheral business for a long time, so we've come to expect an esteemed level of quality from the green-tinged American manufacturer. Thankfully, the BlackWidow X Chroma keeps that tradition alive with a mechanical metal construction that's so sturdy it's practically military.
Alongside some sumptuous RGB lighting (with 16.8 million customisable colour options, naturally), the BlackWidow X Chroma offers serious durability with a whopping 80 million keystrokes of use promised by the good folks at Razer.
Built with Razer's own mechanical switches, the Blackwidow X Chroma delivers an accurate response with an additional 10 key rollover for high anti-ghosting. You also get your standard programmable macro and multimedia buttons - it's just a shame it's so light on the features elsewhere.
10. CREATIVE SOUND BLASTERX VANGUARD K08
Invest in some unparalleled customisation
Creative Sound might not be a big name in the world of gaming keyboards yet, but with models like the BlasterX Vanguard K08 the firm is poised to make quite the impression on the market. For a start you’re getting some OMRON mechanical keys. While they’re not the Cherry MX keys you’re used to, these double cross-point mechanical switches offer 70 million keystrokes, so you’re never going to burn this little baby out. With a shorter actuation point you’re getting keys that are ultra responsive but still as tactile as regular switches. It also comes with 109 customisable keys and dynamic lighting you can personalise.
11. CORSAIR K63 WIRELESS
Complete your wireless gaming setup
Wireless and gaming haven’t often mingled well when it came to PC gaming, but those times are a changing and Corsair’s new K63 Wireless is leading the charge. Its 1 ms ultra-fast connection uses a 2.4 GHz optimised wireless setup for a true PC gaming experience, with low latency, even if you’re playing at a distance from your machine. You get the clickety-clack goodness of some Cherry MX Red switches (with gold-plated contacts, no less), a full set of RGB backlights and plenty of media keys to keep you in control. You’ll get 15 hours of use on a single charge, so expect this wireless wild child to keep you connected even on an all-nighter.