If you spend a lot of time playing time-sensitive games like I do, then you know just how important a fraction of a second is. Most professional FPS, RTS, and fighting game experts use a mechanical keyboards because of its quick response time and feedback. In this post I’ll go over ten of the top rated mechanical keyboards on the market in 2013 and give you a chance to vote for your favorite. Like all of our best of posts this page will be updated from time to time as products are released.
The Difference Between Rubber Dome Vs. Mechanical Switches
Contents at a Glance
There’s nothing wrong with a rubber dome keyboard. In fact, some of the most popular gaming keyboards on the market are made with rubber domes. Many of these provide additional features like LCD screens, backlighting, and programmable keys which you won’t find on a standard keyboard. Because many of these have more features and cost less than mechanical keyboards they are desirable to casual gamers.
Rubber Dome Keyboards
On a rubber dome keyboard your input is registered when the key is bottomed out and it completes the circuit. Over time rubber domes may become mushy leading to less than desirable performance, but can easily be replaced because of their low cost. Generally these keyboards allow you to push from 2-6 keys at the same time.
There are many reasons for switching to a mechanical keyboard. Some of major ones include better tactile feedback, accuracy, better durability, and of course, increased responsiveness. Increased responsiveness comes from how mechanical keys register. This can vary quite a bit based on the color type of the MX switch. Mechanical keyboards most often can register up to 6 keys at once (usually enough). Some have n-key rollover which allows them to register all keys at the same time. This helps gamers to avoid miss-clicks when they’re pressing multiple buttons at once.
MX Switch Types
There are 4 main types of MX switches from Cherry typically used in gaming keyboards. Which one is best generally depends not only on the game you play, but also your typing style. For a quick look at the differences between these switches just take a look at this matrix by Ripster:
As you can see red cherry switches don’t require a lot of force or put out a lot of feedback while a black switch will require more force and a blue cherry will put out much more sound. Because they don’t have to completely bottom out, blue switches are usually the best for typists. Keep in mind that the sound is important especially in a work environment where your clicks can sound like a slamming door after a few hours. Trust me, I’ve been there!
Some other things to consider which are not on this chart are that the black switch makes it easier to double click because the actuation and release points are in the same position.
Which mechanical keyboard is the most popular?
Because of its accuracy, lack of loud feedback and force, the red cherry switches are probably the most popular followed by blue and brown. Gamers get the consistency of the black switches with less resistance. This ultimately allows you to be faster.
Top Ten PC Gaming Mechanical Keyboards 2013
So you don’t rage quit:
After some extensive research I put this list together based upon ratings, popularity, value for the money you spend and features. With that in mind, this list will ultimately be decided by your vote (see the poll at the bottom) and updated regularly to reflect new keyboards on the market.
1. Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 Mechanical Keyboard
While cherry red switches have recently become more popular, this fully mechanized cherry blue keyboard still stands out above the rest. In terms of its overall popularity among gamers, it’s unmatched.
While it is somewhat pricey, it’s reasonable compared to other fully mechanical keyboards with similar features, and with it’s individually backlit green keys with 5 levels of lighting it’s easy to see in the dark. Additional features include USB passthrough, in mic, audio out, braided fibre cable, 5 additional macro keys, and it includes a 1 year parts and labor warranty.
2. Corsair Vengeance K95
In our recent review, a close look at the Corsair K95 Vengeance, I had a chance to get up close and personal with the K95. Clearly superior to the K90 in terms of its fully mechanized keys, the K95 is the mechanical keyboard we’ve all been truly waiting on from Corsair. The red switches are light to press and accurate and the white LED lighting is a lot less annoying than colors which stand out too much.
It’s also nice for those of you who like to use a lot of macros as the K95 has 18 programmable G keys for up to 54 preset key combos. Miss clicks also rarely occur with the 20-key rollover and anti-ghosting.
In summary it’s fast, easy to press, accurate, and ideal for double clicking. The 18 G keys were a bit hard to get used to as I actually had to switch my hand position a bit. Overall I still highly recommend it for FPS gamers. Those who would rather not have the G keys should definitely consider Corsair’s K70 model as well.
Pure unadulterated function along with quality and a no nonsense front make the Ducky Shine keyboards a favorite of many. The best part? You can pick what type of LED backlighting and MX switch you want. Available LED colors include blue, red, green, yellow, white, and pink. Modes for backlighting include full, 60%, and selected keys with 2 configurable profiles.
4. Das Keyboard
The Das Keyboard comes in six main types; professional clicky with blue MX switches, professional quiet with MX red, ultimate clicky with MX Blue, the Mac edition with MX blue, and the professional and ultimate tactile soft which have MX brown switches. My personal preference for FPS games is the Model S Professional with the quiet key design. With it you can have full n-key rollover if you use a PS2 adapter, or up to 6 keys with USB.
5. SteelSeries 6GV2
The SteelSeries 6GV2 is an inexpensive no frills type of keyboard for those who don’t need all the bells and whistles that other keyboards come with. It’s a great option for those of you looking for MX Cherry blacks, but is also available in MX Cherry red switches. The construction is so solid that SteelSeries has deemed it “Punch-Worthy” for those of you who game with a little built-up frustration. It also comes with a PS/2 converter for optional full NKRO. Keep in mind that if you go with the Cherry MX Black switches you may notice some finger fatigue at first.
Other mechanical keyboards worth mentioning include the Razer Blackwidow Standard, CM Storm QUickfire Rapid and Pro, SteelSeries 7G, Filco Majestouch 2, and the Noppoo Choc Mini 84.
This year we’re seeing a lot more of what gamers want; keyboards which add speed and functionality to their everyday routines. No keyboard is perfect for all types, so I recommend you see whether you prefer a red, blue, brown, or even black switch before you make a purchase. Before you go be sure to vote in our poll above and leave us feedback with any insight you have.