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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Optimized for gaming?
Razer Pro Type Ultra
Steelseries Ape Pro
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...
The best performance possible
Razer Pro Type Ultra
To combine work and play
Steelseries Apex Pro
To customise per-key sensitivity
A budget-friendly optio
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: