'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Gaming mechanical keyboards are known for being more precise, long-wearing, and may be more comfortable to use over long periods as they require less pressure from your fingers to spring. When it comes to gaming, precision and speed are everything -- so it's no wonder many gamers opt to go mechanical if they can.
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.
Below, ZDNET has compiled our top mechanical keyboard picks for gamers in 2023, designed to suit hobbyists, professionals, and a range of budgets.
Also: Level up with deep discounts on gaming laptops from MSI, Lenovo, and Asus
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.
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.
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.
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.
Features:Compact design with USB connection
This incredibly compact mechanical keyboard from HyperX is perfect for anyone who has a desk on the smaller side. By focusing on the main typing area of the keyboard, HyperX was able to design a super compact keyboard that feels as great as a full-size model. It also features RGB lighting so you can show off your personal style or sync with other HyperX peripherals. And with a USB connection, you won't have to worry about a battery dying in the middle of a game or your PC dropping a Bluetooth connection during a critical moment.
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
HyperX Alloy Origins 65
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 option
HyperX Alloy Origins 65
A very compact, ten-keyless mechanical gaming keyboard
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.
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.
If you are an enthusiastic gamer, the consensus is that gaming mechanical keyboards can 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.
Moreover, with proper care, they'll last longer. Therefore, you'll receive enhanced game play and better durability than traditional keyboards.
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.
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: