The Best Mechanical Keyboards for Gaming (2016 Buyer's Guide)

By Published November 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm
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With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and generally the winter holidays coming up, there’s bound to be a lot of sales and (likely) last minute shopping for gifts. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best mechanical gaming keyboards at various price points that we at GN have reviewed and recommended for both gaming and general use.

These keyboards go from basic budget keyboards to high-end RGB gaming keyboards, all of which are mechanical. Besides, there’s not much in the way of membrane keyboards lately -- the Logitech G213 and Corsair K55 pretty much round those out.

Here’s the shortlist:

Best Mechanical Keyboards for Gaming (2016 Buyer’s Guide)

Keyboard (& Link) Notes Price
Thermaltake Poseidon ZX Blue LED Backlight
Kailh Blue & Brown Switches
TKL
5-Year Warranty
$63
Corsair Strafe Red LED Backlight
MX Red, Blue, Silent Switches
2-Year Warranty
$82
Logitech G610 Orion White LED Backlight
MX Red, Brown Switches
Media Keys
2-Year Warranty
$94
Thermaltake Poseidon Z RGB RGB LEDs
Kailh Blue & Brown Switches
5-Year Warranty
$89
Logitech RGB G910 Orion Spark RGB LEDs
Romer G Switches
Profile Switching, Media Keys
2-Year Warranty
$138
Corsair Strafe RGB RGB LEDs
MX Red, Blue, Brown Switches
2-Year Warranty
$140

Best Basic, Budget Mechanical Keyboard

poseidon-zx-tkl-1

Thermaltake Poseidon ZX ($63) - First up on our list of recommendations is the Thermaltake Poseidon ZX at $63 and its larger brother, the Thermaltake Poseidon Z, at $76. The Poseidon Z has a blue LED backlight, function-based media keys (skip forward/backward, pause, stop, volume up/down), a 5-year warranty (which is longer than most keyboards have), rigid build quality, and mechanical switches (both Kailh Brown and Blue). The Kailh switches are the primary caveat to these keyboards for those who prefer Cherry switches, but any concerns about reliability are diminished by the 5-year warranty. The Poseidon ZX is the TKL version (no numpad) whereas the Z is the full-sized version (that is also more expensive). We previously reviewed the Poseidon Z here, for those interested.

Best Quality, Budget Mechanical Keyboards

corsair-strafe-3

Corsair Strafe ($82) - A little bit higher on the price range, the Corsair Strafe provides a reliable option with a bit of flair for a budget gaming keyboard at $82. For an increase of about $6-20 compared to the Thermaltake Poseidon Z and ZX, the Strafe provides Cherry MX switches (including MX Red, Brown, Blue, or Silent), programmable red LED backlighting (through Corsair Utility Engine), USB passthrough, FPS/MOBA keycap sets (although the value of them depends on the user and their preferences), and arguably better aesthetics. The Corsair Strafe has a 2-year warranty, which is shorter than that of the Poseidon Z, but it’s still pretty standard for mechanical keyboards. We reviewed the Strafe here, for those interested in reading more in-depth.

Logitech-g610-full-board

Logitech G610 Orion ($90) - Anyone seeking a minimalistically styled keyboard at a similar price point and feature-set, the Logitech G610 is likely a good fit. The G610 features dedicated media keys (including a volume wheel), Cherry MX switches (Red or Brown), solid build quality, a minimalistic style (if the backlight is turned off), programmable macros, and customizable white backlighting. It doesn’t have any crazy unique features, but nonetheless, the G610 makes a solid choice for a budget gaming keyboard. This is especially true for someone preferring a more minimalistic layout. Like Corsair, Logitech opted for a 2-year warranty. We previously reviewed the G610 here.

Budget RGB Mechanical Keyboard for Gaming

tt-poseidon-rgb

Thermaltake Poseidon Z RGB ($89) - RGB keyboards can get expensive fairly quickly, but luckily, there are some actually worthwhile budget models. One such option is the Thermaltake Poseidon Z RGB. Like the standard Poseidon Z, the Poseidon Z RGB features a rigid plate that reflects in overall build quality, a competitive price, mechanical switches (Blue and Brown), and a 5-year warranty. The difference is that the Poseidon Z RGB has programmable RGB lighting. The lighting isn’t quite as customizable as the that of keyboards such as the Corsair Strafe RGB, but it is still fairly customizable given the $89 price, and offers an entry-level to RGB keyboards. We previously reviewed the Thermaltake Poseidon Z RGB here.

High-End Gaming RGB Keyboard

logi-g910-6

Logitech G910 RGB Orion Spark ($130) - First up on our suggestions for high-end RGB keyboards, we look to Logitech’s G910 RGB Orion Spark. The G910 has a variety of features, many of which are fairly unique -- like the switches, which we’ll talk about momentarily. The G910 hosts dedicated macro keys (both on the left and top left of the keyboard), programmable RGB lighting, the Arx Control App (and the smartphone dock, so system stats can be monitored, media can be controlled, and peripherals can be managed), dedicated media keys (including a volume wheel), and Romer-G switches (which may be viewed as a positive or a negative depending on the user). The Logitech G910 features a unique style, although that style is fairly polarizing. Like the previous options, the Logitech G910 Orion Spark has a 2-year warranty. We previously reviewed the G910 here.

corsair-strafe-rgb-5

Corsair Strafe RGB ($140) - And for something a bit less stylized than Logitech’s G910, the Corsair Strafe RGB fits the bill well. The Strafe RGB sticks to Corsair’s minimalism with the style (with a bit of gaming-esque cosmetics thrown in), extremely programmable RGB lighting (which is driven by Corsair Utility Engine, so software on the computer is needed for it to function), function-based media keys, Cherry MX switches (Red, Brown, Blue, and Silent), programmable macros, USB passthroughs, and top-tier build quality. Our review of the Strafe RGB can be found here for a more in-depth look at it. For those looking for a more compact alternative (with the same features, for the most part), the Corsair K65 RGB RAPIDFIRE (review here) is a reliable alternative at $170. The primary difference between them is the the K65 lacks a numpad and has an aluminum body rather than plastic. Both the Corsair Strafe RGB and K65 RGB RAPIDFIRE has 2-year warranties like the majority of keyboards in this list.

For specific one-on-one help and advice feel free to check out our forums.

- Michael “The Bear” Kerns. 

Michael Kerns

Michael Kerns first found us when GN's Editor-in-Chief was tirelessly answering questions on reddit pertaining to a new product launch, likely after the Editor had stayed up all night writing the news post. Michael offered a tired Editor reprieve, taking over the role of questions-answerer-extraordinaire when it was most needed. These days, Michael can be found pulling his mechanical keyboard collection apart and building Frankenstein's Monster-like monsters of keyboards. Michael wrote the vast majority of our mechanical keyboard dictionary and is an expert in keyboards.

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