Best Mechanical Keyboards for Gaming (2016 Buyer’s Guide)
|Keyboard (& Link)||Notes||Price|
|Thermaltake Poseidon ZX||Blue LED Backlight
Kailh Blue & Brown Switches
|Corsair Strafe||Red LED Backlight
MX Red, Blue, Silent Switches
|Logitech G610 Orion||White LED Backlight
MX Red, Brown Switches
|Thermaltake Poseidon Z RGB||RGB LEDs
Kailh Blue & Brown Switches
|Logitech RGB G910 Orion Spark||RGB LEDs
Romer G Switches
Profile Switching, Media Keys
|Corsair Strafe RGB||RGB LEDs
MX Red, Blue, Brown Switches
Best Basic, Budget Mechanical Keyboard
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 ($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 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
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
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 ($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.
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- Michael “The Bear” Kerns.