The keyboard is an essential part of any PC gaming setup, and upgrading yours is one of the easiest ways to improve your performance and make gaming more enjoyable overall. And a solid gaming keyboard doesn’t have to break the bank either. There are many great options that cost less than $100, some of which are available for less than $50. We’ve tested tons of budget keyboards to help you decide which one will give you the most bang for your buck.
just like, getting the right gaming keyboard has a lot to do with personal preference – from ergonomic design (hello, wrist rest) to whether you prefer RGB lighting, mechanical keys, tactile feedback, programmable keys, dedicated multimedia or many more features that we can’t even begin to list. To help you narrow down your keyboard design preferences, check out our sister site GameSpot’s glossary of keyboard terms.
It should be noted that Aukey, which makes one of our top picks, waslast year because it was one of many suppliers who allegedly . But since our experience with the quality and value of Aukey accessories has been positive, we continue to recommend their hardware.
The $50 G14 is one of the most affordable mechanical gaming keyboards available, and Aukey has stepped up its game with build quality and software without raising the price. This TKL keyboard is chunky but saves desk space as it has no numeric keypad; check out Aukey’s G12 if you want this feature.
Although the case is made entirely of plastic, it has the weight of a metal frame. Combined with the non-slip pads at the bottom, this keyboard won’t slip while you play. Plus, there are two sets of flip-up feet on the back giving you three typing angles to choose from, something you don’t always find on more expensive keyboards. And while its USB cable is attached to the body, Aukey has added routing at the bottom so you can route the cable left, right, or center.
The company’s blue clicky switches are good for typing and gaming with a tactile bump you can feel and to listen. These switches have a loud click, something to keep in mind if you’re sharing a workspace). Plus, there’s no ping from the switch springs, unlike the slimmer full-size G12 keyboard, so all you really hear is their click. There is some key wobble, but it’s relatively minor and overall a solid typing experience.
The key legends are difficult to read with the backlight off. However, with 18 pre-programmed lighting options to choose from and four brightness settings, there’s no reason to turn the lights off completely while you’re working. You can also always replace keys and Aukey includes a puller. The keyboard software can be used to create your own per-key RGB lighting, configure key macros or change key assignments and save multiple profiles. The G14 is a great starting point if you’re getting into mechanical keyboards for work or play.
If you’re more comfortable doing your office work on a membrane keyboard, the Cynosa might be the gaming keyboard for you. It’s a membrane keyboard, not mechanical, so the keys are quiet and certainly feel softer than the others here and some might find them soft. Still, if you’re looking to use a keyboard for work and play, this is a good compromise for its $60 list price.
Many of the original Cynosa features are retained, including per-key RGB lighting – a rarity at this end of the market – and a durable spill-resistant design. New is a set of media keys added to the top right corner. Razer has also added cable routing under the keyboard so you can keep your desk a bit tidier.
It’s also one of the most programmable keyboards around. There are many preset lighting effects to choose from and you can also create your own using Synapse 3.0 software. There’s also Razer’s Hypershift feature which lets you configure a secondary set of functions for your accessible keys with a “shift” key that you choose. You can also rebind keys and set macros with the software.
The Whirlwind FX Atom 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard isn’t too different from other similarly sized options. The compact build is a space saver, ideal if you need extra mouse space while gaming. It will also slip easily into a backpack for travel. (It also has a detachable braided USB-C cable to help you out.) The company offers a choice of three mechanical switches, and they’re all brightly lit by RGB LEDs.
The Atom’s backlight, or more specifically the software that controls them, is where this little keyboard shines. The thing is, you don’t even need the keyboard to use the software.
The SignalRGB app lets you adjust the keyboard lighting to have different effects during regular use and when playing media, including various games. The app has a library of game integrations to choose from. I tested the Battlefield V integration, for example, and it does things like turn the keyboard lights red when HP is low or green when you’re healed. The Fortnite integration will change the keyboard to pink and red when you take damage or purple when you add experience. There are plenty of games available, and if you’re really into tinkering, you can build your own integrations using the company’s open-platform lighting software.
However, SignalRGB software allows you to go further by extending the effects to your other RGB gaming peripherals. It supports over 150 devices from Razer, Corsair, HyperX, Logitech, SteelSeries and others. You can also request others that are not yet supported.
Plus, if you prefer a full-size keyboard, check out the company’s second-generation Element keyboard which has the same switching options but it has directional keys and a number pad.
Read our Whirlwind FX Atom review.
Even on Logitech’s low-end models such as the G413 Backlit Gaming Keyboard, the company doesn’t skimp on build quality and components. It uses the same Romer-G tactile switches found in its more feature-rich models and has the same thin, simple and durable keyboard design with a brushed aluminum-magnesium alloy top case. It features a braided USB cable with a USB passthrough port on the right rear and channels underneath for mouse and headset cable management.
The tactile key switch is relatively quiet, with no click when actuated, just a subtle bump and a short actuation. If you like to hear and feel your keys, it’s probably not the best switch for you. There’s only one color for the backlight – red – but the backlight is bright and the key font on this full-size keyboard is easy to read. Logitech includes 12 faceted keys, which is nice, but we didn’t feel much of a difference.
The G413 is programmable with Logitech’s G Hub software, letting you set up custom macros and functions on the F1-F12 buttons and there’s a game mode that disables the Windows key. Overall, it’s a more polished mechanical gaming keyboard than the others here, but it’s also more expensive.
If you want a wireless gaming keyboard and lights, consider the K57. This budget wireless keyboard uses rubber dome switches with a pronounced actuation point, giving it more of a desktop keyboard feel like the Razer Cynosa. Playing on it requires a touch more force than the mechanical keyboards here and rollover is limited to eight keys. Other than that, the experience is fine.
The K57 connects wirelessly to your PC via low-latency Bluetooth or Corsair’s 2.4GHz Slipstream technology which uses a small USB-A adapter for lag-free gaming. It can also be used wired with the included micro-USB cable, which also charges the keyboard. While it doesn’t have the longevity of the Logitech when using per-key RGB lighting, you can get through several days of gaming without having to recharge it.
A row of dedicated macro keys on the left and unobtrusive media controls on the right round out the features. Plus, Corsair’s software is simple to use, which makes creating custom keyboard lighting and setting up those macro keys pretty painless. At $80, however, you’re definitely paying more for these features.
Finding a good wireless gaming keyboard can be tricky. These babies are rare because the last thing you want to do is potentially introduce a lag in your performance. The G613’s Lightspeed wireless performs just as well as wired, and it has an outstanding battery life of up to 18 months on two AA batteries. That said, the keyboard doesn’t have any backlights, which while understandable for power savings, no keyboard backlight really kills the gaming experience in the dark. You get six programmable buttons on the left side, so that’s something.
The G613 uses the same Romer-G Tactile mechanical switches as the G413, so everything I said about that applies here. I happen to like the feel of this switch for gaming and typing, although I was in the minority for our testing. This wireless keyboard is definitely one you should try before you buy if you can.