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The 5 best gaming mechanical keyboards: Fast and accurate

What is the best mechanical keyboard for gaming? The Corsair K100 is ZDNet's No. 1 choice. But there are plenty of gaming mechanical keyboards, and when you choose your next one, look no further than the top five reviewed and compared here.
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Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributor on

When you're gaming, whether for fun or as a pro, there's just something different about using a gaming mechanical keyboard. 

The main difference between typical keyboards and mechanical setups -- the latter of which has been around for decades -- is that mechanical keyboards use individual switches and metal springs imbued in each key, rather than rubber domes which, when pressed, complete a circuit. 

Gaming mechanical keyboards are known for being more precise, long-wearing, and may be more comfortable to use over long periods as they may require less pressure from your fingers to spring. When it comes to gaming, precision and speed are everything -- and so it's no wonder many gamers will opt to go mechanical if they can. 

Below, ZDNet has compiled our top picks for 2022 in mechanical keyboards for gamers, designed to suit hobbyists, professionals, and a range of budgets. 

Also: Best mechanical keyboards

Corsair K100 RGB mechanical keyboard

Best gaming mechanical keyboard overall

Corsair K100 RGB mechanical keyboard
Corsair

Features: Optical keys

This stunning mechanical keyboard, Corsair's K100, is a cut above the rest in design and functionality. Corsair has focused on refining the keyboard's response times with optical-mechanical keys and Axon technology, which the firm says offers up to 8x the performance compared to other gaming keyboards.

If you're a fan of RGB lighting, you'll enjoy the 44 zones Corsair has included. The keyboard also sports an iCUE control wheel, macro keys, media controls, and a palm rest. You will need to install Elgato streaming software.

Pros:

  • Rapid performance
  • RGB lighting

Cons:

  • Expensive

Razer Pro Type Ultra

Best for gaming and productivity

Razer Pro Type Ultra
Razer

Features: A design with productivity, work from home in mind

The Razer Pro Type Ultra is a mechanical keyboard developed for both gaming and work purposes. The keyboard doesn't feature that satisfying 'click' that some gamers would want; instead, the vendor has implemented stabilizers and 'Yellow' mechanical switches to reduce sound. The fuss-free design might appeal more to professionals than to hobbyist gamers. 

Pros:

  • Clean, classic design
  • Large, comfortable wrist support

Cons:

  • Only includes white LED backlighting

Steelseries Apex Pro

Best for customising your gaming experience

Steelseries Apex Pro
SteelSeries

Features: Adjustable switches

The Steelseries Apex Pro has been on the market for several years but still stands out as a solid mechanical keyboard option for gamers. This product features a full-sized keyboard, an ample wrist rest, and mechanical switches that can be adjusted for sensitivity, an unusual addition. Furthermore, the keyboard is wrapped in an aluminum frame. 

Pros:

  • RGB lighting
  • Customizable key sensitivity

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Might be too large for some desks

Logitech G413

Best for affordability

Logitech G413
Logitech

Features: A basic, but sturdy, entry-level design 

The Logitech G413 is an excellent entry-level mechanical keyboard to consider. The G413 is reminiscent of traditional keyboards in both key layout and frame, featuring an aluminum top case, PBT keycaps, and tactile switches.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Resistant to wear and tear

Cons:

  • Only features per-key white backlighting

Alienware AW510K mechanical keyboard

The best portable, slim form factor option

Alienware AW510K mechanical keyboard
Alienware

Features: Cherry MX low profile Red switches

The Alienware Lunar Light AW510K mechanical keyboard is a slim, stylish mechanical keyboard featuring customizable keys and controls. The adjustable, wired keyboard also includes volume controls, onboard memory, and Cherry MX low profile Red switches. 

Pros:

  • Programmable keys
  • Slim form factor
  • RGB backlit keys

Cons:

  • Dual USN required

What is the best gaming mechanical keyboard?

Our top choice for the best gaming mechanical keyboard is the Corsair K100 RGB. This keyboard's optical switches and rapid responsiveness keep it a forerunner and will especially appeal to gamers with a little more to spend. The RGB lighting and aluminum design are a stylish touch.

Mechanical keyboard

Optimized for gaming?

Customizable lighting/keys?

Price

Corsair K100

Yes

Yes

$229

Razer Pro Type Ultra 

No

No

$159

Steelseries Ape Pro

Yes

Yes

$199

Logitech G413

No

No

$59

Alienware AW510K

Yes

Yes

$134

Which is the right gaming mechanical keyboard for you?

There are plenty of gaming mechanical keyboards on the market and when you choose your next one, you should consider the desk or space you have available, whether or not customizing keys is important to you, and how much you are willing to spend. 

Choose this mechanical keyboard...

If you want...

Corsair K100

The best performance possible 

Razer Pro Type Ultra

To combine work and play

Steelseries Apex Pro

To customise per-key sensitivity 

Logitech G413

A budget-friendly optio

Alienware AW510K

A slim form factor 

How did we choose these gaming mechanical keyboards?

There is a huge variety of gaming mechanical keyboards on the market today, spurred on in no small way by gaming enthusiasts and professionals who prefer them to more typical, rubber-based keyboard options. 

When we made our selection, we included the major, well-known peripheral manufacturers in the space, as well as products suitable for a range of budgets. 

Is a gaming mechanical keyboard really worth it?

Using a keyboard is, of course, down to subjective experience and personal preference. However, if you like a kit with a more stable, quality feel, it might be worth the investment. It should also be noted that properly-cared mechanical keyboards can last far longer than their membrane counterparts. 

Are gaming mechanical keyboards really better for gaming?

If are an enthusiastic gamer, the consensus is that gaming mechanical keyboards can eventually allow you to respond faster and more accurately -- which can make or break a speed run or tournament. When you need to use multiple keys, and quickly, rubber-based boards may be inaccurate or sluggish in comparison. 

Is it harder to type on a gaming mechanical keyboard?

Whether you're trying out a different keyboard format or are learning to touch type, using a gaming mechanical keyboard can be a learning curve. In itself, your accuracy and speed are based on your typing skills rather than the kit you use, and so -- at least, at the beginning -- it might be harder to type in the beginning. However, if you enjoy the audible 'click' of most mechanical keyboards and the feel of the individual springs, it might, at the least, be more enjoyable.

Are there any alternative mechanical keyboards worth considering?

While deciding on the best products on the market, we focused on usability, versatility, and options suitable for individuals new to mechanical keyboards as well as those experienced in using these types of keyboards for gaming. 

However, there are also other mechanical keyboard options worth considering:

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