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 mechanical keyboards because of their quick response time and feedback.
As a follow-up to our post on the best FPS mouse for gaming, in this post I’ll go over ten of the top-rated mechanical keyboards on the market in 2015 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
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. Often their performance results vs mechanical keyboards are exaggerated. That being said I can’t help but like the feel and quality of a mechanical keyboard. Looking at current market trends, it seems that many other gamers agree.
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 the 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?
According to overclock.net blue, is the most popular at 32% followed by brown (28%), red (18%), and black (10%). The additional tactile feedback, as well as the popularity of gaming keyboards like Razer’s Blackwidow, probably make up the difference between blue and brown. While my personal choice is brown I do see reasons for both blue and red. The force required for black is appealing to few.
The Best FPS Mechanical Keyboards for Gaming 2015
Explanation of Picks:
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.
Razer Blackwidow Chroma
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 fully customizable backlit keys it’s easy to see in the dark. Additional features include USB passthrough, in mic, audio out, braided fiber cable, 5 additional macro keys, and it includes a 1-year parts and labor warranty.
Overall, it’s a popular option among gamers but certainly not for everyone. The five “M” keys on the side can make the layout a bit tricky to work with for those who aren’t use to programmable keys. In addition, the blue keys are often too loud for the workplace and may be annoying if you work in close proximity to others.
Corsair Gaming K70 RGB and K95
In my recent review, 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.
That being said the keyboard I currently use is the K70. For me, I’d rather program the numerical keys and grip the left side of the keyboard with my pinky. Using the K95 often caused me to miss type.
The newer RGB version allows you to use the fluid 16.8M multicolor animation. The K70 is found in Red, Blue, and Brown Cherry keys. If you’re willing to go with the standard version that has blue backlighting from a few years ago, you’re likely to save some money.
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.
Ducky Shine 1 and 2
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.
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.
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.
Logitech’s first entry into the mechanical keyboard market was a successful one. The G710+ uses brown switches which are a crossover between a light actuation and a subtle feedback. With G keys on the top and side you have 9 programmable options that are less intrusive than other options on the market.
The G710+ also features dual zone backlighting. This means you can adjust the brightness of your WASD buttons to be brighter or softer than the rest of your keys.
Overall the G7110+ is a good deal at just under $100 and certainly a K70 or Blackwidow alternative option that will appeal to many.
Azio Levetron Mech5
Azio has two popular keyboard options in the Levetro and the MGK1. The MGk1 is appealing because of it’s low prices and cherry blue mechanical switches, while the Levetron has a unique layout for those looking for something a bit different.
As you can see in the picture the Levetron has a removable keypad that can be placed just about anywhere on your desk. In addition, it has 11 dedicated macro-keys. More than other options in its price range. The Levetron is also one of the more popular mechanical keyboards with black cherry keys. If you prefer a high level of actuation, it might be a good option for you.
Overall, the Levetron is a unique and popular enough option to have its place on our list.
Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB
This recently released keyboard from Logitech is one to keep an eye on. This seems to be Logitech’s response to the updates to the K70 and Blackwidow. It utilizes color mapping and allows you to colorize the keys in any way you see fit. The software is easy to use. Like the Blackwidow this keyboard has a few programmable G keys on the left side, but also includes 4 more on top as well.
Rather than using Cherry MX keys, Logitech is using Romer-G mechanical switches from Omron. This is a departure from every manufacturer using German company Cherry’s keys. These new keys feature a 70M keystroke, require 40 grams of force, and actuate after 1.5mm of travel compared to Cherry MX’s 2mm. This is comparable and perhaps even an improvement of Cherry’s Red switches.
In addition to all of this Logitech has included a smartphone dock with media controls and includes the free Logitech Arx Control App. With it you can monitor performance like your PC’s CPU usage, temperature, and more.
As I don’t personally love any wrist rest this doesn’t appeal to me; however, the G910 also comes with 2 wrist rests so you can choose what you feel most comfortable with. Overall, this is a cool new choice from Logitech. If you’re thinking about buying it, be sure to read up on the tilted key caps as that may be offputting for some.
Other mechanical keyboards worth mentioning include the Razer Ultimate Stealth, CM Storm QUickfire Rapid and Pro, SteelSeries 7G, Filco Majestouch 2, and the Noppoo Choc Mini 84.
A Custom Keyboard or DIY Kit
Not part of the list or practical I thought I’d also mention some keyboards and kits that definitely have the unique and cool factor. Ever thought about building your own mechanical keyboard or purchasing a custom one? Datamancer’s Site builds some of the neatest options I’ve ever seen.
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.