May 14

The 6 Best Budget Gaming Keyboards

What’s a Ferrari without a steering wheel? The answer to that question is: “a very expensive piece of outdoor furniture”.

You may have built or bought yourself an awesome gaming PC, but if you don’t have the right peripherals to drive that bad-boy, it becomes nothing more than a contemporary piece of e-waste art.

There was a time when mouses/mice and keyboards looked like they were in danger of becoming a thing of the past due to the advent and slow rising popularity of touchscreen monitors. However, these aren’t very conducive to elite levels of gaming (not yet!).

Instead of shopping for expensive gaming peripherals, you can simply get yourself a generic mouse and keyboard from a company like Microsoft or Dell but these would not be the best for your overall gaming experience. They’re great for simple typing and interfacing but you want peripherals that will complement and push as hard as your gaming rig. It’s awesome that today you can find some high-end gaming keyboards, no matter the budget.

What puts most potential customers off about buying a gaming keyboard is that they’re either too expensive or they look like cheap props from a sci-fi movie. The market is oversaturated with so many different options, that it gets hard to choose the right one for you.

What we have endeavored to give you through this guide is a list of gaming keyboards that look great and work great and won’t cost you more than your PC itself. ⌨️ 😄

Top Six Budget Gaming Keyboards

We understand that you may be a little cash-strapped after upgrading, buying or building your gaming PC. So, while writing this list, we paid special attention to value for money.

While the functionality is important, we also took into account how the keyboard feels. Some users may prefer the cold hard responsive feel of a mechanical keyboard, others may prefer the soft touch and relative quiet of a membrane one. In this list, we have a mixture of both.

It’s also important to note that all of the keyboards in this list are wired. Wired keyboards are simply more responsive and tend to be cheaper than their wireless counterparts. However, if you’re shopping around for a wireless keyboard, you can check out our list of the absolute best wireless keyboards.

We also took into account whether the keyboard has programmable macro keys, what type of backlighting it has if it comes with comfort features like a palm rest and if it comes with built-in media controls. Keyboards are known to be dirt and crumb traps so it was also important for us to review how easy the keyboard was to clean.

So whether you’re into MMOs, strategy games, or whatever Minecraft is; at least just one of these keyboards should meet all your gaming needs.

Best Choice: CORSAIR K55 RGB

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Pros & Cons

  • Compatible with Xbox One
  • Includes dedicated volume and multimedia controls
  • Membrane switches ensure quiet and responsive typing
  • Includes 6 programmable macro keys
  • No external software needed
  • Since it’s a membrane keyboard, it doesn’t have support for Cherry MX keycaps (Which means you can’t replace them with a third party keycaps)
  • The wrist rest is a little flimsy
  • Requires AAA battery

Key Features:

  • Uses Membrane Switches
  • Detachable Soft Palm Rest
  • Three-zone dynamic RGB backlighting
  • Built-in memory for your LED modes and macro functions
  • Key-rollover: 10-key rollover
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds/ 816.46 Grams
  • Dimensions: 18.9 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Size: Full-Size Keyboard


It should come as no surprise that a Corsair gaming keyboard makes the top of our list. They’ve been around since 1994 and have been providing quality gaming components and peripherals since the early naughties.

With its K55 RGB gaming keyboard, Corsair found a way to strike the perfect balance between price and quality.

Since it’s a membrane keyboard, it’s pretty lightweight. It weighs just under 2 pounds (under 900 grams). This does not mean it can’t take a beating. It’s made of high-quality plastic which ensures that it will be around for a while.

It’s a full-size keyboard with 110 keys. Six of these keys are programmable macro keys (G buttons/keys) which are located in a single vertical line on the far left side of the keyboard.

In terms of size, it’s a pretty long keyboard. This is not a bad thing, particularly if you have sausage fingers like mine. If you plan on using it for typing, it’s a joy to type on. However, because the keys aren’t removable, it makes it a little tougher to clean.

The keys are adequately spaced, so typing and gaming won’t feel cramped and uncomfortable.  It also comes with a detachable palm rest to add to the comfort. It’s a bit flimsy, but it can be removed and replaced if necessary.

While it’s a membrane keyboard, this may not be apparent to most users because it does a great job at feeling like a mechanical one. More experienced users may notice subtle differences. It feels like a slightly squishier MX Brown switch keyboard.

The keyboard is divided into three sections, and each section has programmable RGB backlighting. There are over ten different presets to choose from.

While this won’t give you the same functionality or feature list as top tier gaming keyboards, it’s worth more than its price tag suggests. You aren’t even required to download additional software to use it.

If you’re looking for the right membrane keyboard with decent response times and an affordable price tag, we have no hesitations in recommending this product. Find out even more about it in our Corsair K55 review.

Premium Pick: CORSAIR Strafe RGB MK.2

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Pros & Cons

  • Uses high-quality cherry MX key switches for quiet typing
  • Smooth and sleek design
  • Gorgeous customizable backlighting
  • Comes with a USB Pass-through
  • Includes a wrist rest
  • Comes with built-in Media keys
  • Some users may find the cable a bit too thick
  • Uses some very unintuitive software which makes the keyboard a little hard to configure
  • A little more expensive than the alternatives

Key Features:

  • RGB backlighting
  • 8MB Onboard profile storage and macro recording
  • Detachable Soft Palm Rest
  • Weight: 3.22 pounds/ 1,460567 KG
  • Dimensions: 17.6 x 6.6 x 1.6 inches
  • Size: Full-Size Keyboard

CORSAIR Strafe RGB MK.2 Review

If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Corsair’s Strafe MK.2 isn’t a fix to the original Strafe MK.1; rather it’s a collection of subtle tweaks and improvements. It’s a pretty sizeable and heavy keyboard. It weighs just above 3 pounds (1,4 KGs) which means it’s sturdily built can take any punishment you deal out to it.

This keyboard uses Cherry MX Red key switches and gold contacts. The MX red keys feel smooth but slightly squishy – which can be a bit off-putting for some users. While this is a mechanical keyboard, it doesn’t produce a loud ‘click’ sound with each key you press. The keys also require very little force or effort to press.

The keycaps are replaceable and, as a matter of fact, the keyboard comes with additional MOBA/FPS keycaps and a keycap puller. It has 8MB onboard profile storage, which means you can take your lighting and macro playbacks settings with you when you switch computers.

The keyboard also comes with a sturdy but comfortable detachable palm rest. In addition to this, it has dedicated volume and multimedia controls. It features a USB pass-through which gives you an additional USB port to use with your other accessories and peripherals.

We do have a problem with the location of the pass-through, though. It’s located on top of the keyboard which may be impractical, depending on how your workspace is set up. Keys are spaced out well enough, and because of the removable keycaps, this keyboard is straightforward to clean. The matte finish makes palm and fingerprints a lot more noticeable than we would like.

The keyboard also has a thick cord, which makes it a little less manageable. Our biggest gripe with the keyboard though is the Corsair’s nearly incomprehensible iCUE software. While the keyboard has fully customizable lighting and some very advanced macro programming, some users may skip out on using these features because of how difficult the software is to learn and use.

It’s a little more expensive than the other entries in this guide. But, if you can afford to stretch your budget a little, we don’t see why you shouldn’t try this keyboard out.

Best Value: Redragon K552

Pros & Cons

  • Double shot injection molded keycaps for crystal clear backlighting
  • Extremely affordable
  • Fully mechanical (not just mechanical feel)
  • Features raised keys
  • Water resistant
  • No palm/wrist rest
  • Has only 87 keys (TKL Keyboard)
  • A little loud
  • Keycaps a bit thin

Key Features

  • Uniform Red LED Adjustable lighting
  • Cherry Blue equivalent Switches
  • 12 Integrated multimedia keys
  • Splash Proof Design
  • Weight: 2.16 pounds/ 979.7595 Gram
  • Dimensions: 354 x 123 x 37 inches
  • Size: TKL

Redragon K552 Review

If you’re unfamiliar with Redragon, they’re a high-value brand owned by Eastern Times Technology. They’re known for producing high-quality but affordable gaming peripherals such as K552, one of our favorite budget mechanical keyboards.

The K552 has all the characteristics of what makes Redragon products great. While it doesn’t take up much space (in terms of workspace area), it’s still pretty heavy for a TKL keyboard. This is because it’s a fully mechanical keyboard. It doesn’t just simulate the feel of one like most modern membrane keyboards do; it is one.

There’s a discernable bump and click with each key you press. While this and its raised keys may form part of a typist’s wet dreams, some gamers might want a quieter keyboard, and this is one of the areas where this keyboard falls short. It’s loud.

This can be blamed or credited to the Cherry MX Blue equivalent switches it uses. It has 12 integrated media keys, as opposed to dedicated ones. You might have to learn where each one is located before you can build a rhythm and multitask between your audio and gaming effectively.

Due to its splash-proof design, the keys are a bit closely situated to each other, which can make typing feel a bit cramped, especially if you have big hands. The keycaps feel a little bit flimsy, but they’re easy to remove so you can replace them and switch them around if you want to. This also makes the keyboard easier to clean.

Because it’s a TKL sized keyboard, it doesn’t come with a number pad, but this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker at all. Each key is lit up with a uniform, but adjustable red LED backlighting.

It has a solid aluminum, and ABS build with a gold-plated USB connector which ensures that the keyboard is both responsive and durable. It’s built to last, and you’d be hard-pressed to find such a high-quality keyboard under $50.

Best for Overwatch: Logitech G513

Pros & Cons

  • Surprisingly light
  • Durable
  • Easier to clean because of how the keys are situated
  • Quiet
  • Comes with soft palm rest
  • Comes with 12 additional keycaps and a keycap puller
  • No dedicated media control keys
  • No Macro Keys
  • Uses arcane software which makes the keyboard a little difficult to configure
  • A little more expensive than the alternatives
  • Palm rest is not attached to the keyboard

Key Features

  • RGB backlighting
  • Advanced Romer G Tactile Mechanical key switches
  • Integrated Multimedia keys
  • Wrist rest included
  • USB Pass-through
  • Weight: 1.11 pounds / 503 Grams
  • Dimensions: 5.1 x 17.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Size: Full-Size Keyboard

Logitech G513 Review

Logitech is a veteran in producing high-quality personal peripherals for PC interfacing. They’ve been around for four decades now. Not only do they produce great keyboards like the G513 but they’re known to build and manufacture some of the best gaming mouses too.

The G513 isn’t the most low-priced keyboard on the market, but if you review its specs and compare them to other keyboards that are priced similarly, you’ll find that it’s actually a bargain.

The keyboard uses Logitech’s custom Romer G tactile switches which provide you with a discernible bump during actuation. It strikes the perfect balance between feel and sound. This keyboard is nearly as quiet as a standard Cherry MX Red keyboard.

It’s quite light for a mechanical keyboard, but this does not mean it’s not tough. The top case is made out of an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy that looks great and isn’t yielding to finger and palm prints.

The keyboard comes with a convenient USB pass-through which is located near the top right-hand corner of the keyboard. It comes with a comfortable leatherette memory foam palm rest, perfect for those long weekend gaming sessions.

The palm isn’t actually attached to the keyboard though. This can either be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. For instance, if your keyboard moves around while you game, the palm rest can feel a bit unmanageable.

The G513 also comes 12 additional keycaps and a puller. It also has a 26-key rollover and performance-tuned anti-ghosting which is ideal for fast typists and nimble-fingered gamers.

The biggest blemish on the G513’s record is the configuration software you have to download to customize the RGB lighting, your macro commands, and game profiles. The software is not very intuitive, and we hope that Logitech makes it a bit easier to use in the future.

The keyboard doesn’t come with dedicated macro keys or discrete media controls. Instead, the media buttons are integrated. Despite this, it’s one of the most badass-looking Logitech keyboards. It has the same feel as an elite gaming keyboard but doesn’t carry the same hefty price tag.

Best Mecha-Membrane: Razer Ornata Chroma

Pros & Cons

  • Priced decently
  • Rich RGB coloring
  • Keyboard settings are backed up/stored on a cloud server
  • Spacing and positioning of keys makes it very easy to clean
  • No dedicated media control keys
  • Colors and macro programming is a little difficult due to some unintuitive software

Key Features

  • Individually Backlit Mid-Height Keys
  • Mecha-Membrane Key Switches
  • Integrated media keys
  • Adjustable Leatherette Wrist rest included
  • Weight: 2.1 pounds / 952.54 Grams
  • Dimensions: 18.2 x 6.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Size: Full-Size Keyboard

Razer Ornata Chroma Keyboard Review

Razer has been around since the mid-noughties, and since then they’ve been providing some very high-grade gaming hardware. First, we must admit that Ornata Chroma is one of our favorite keyboards, and we believe it is one of the best gaming keyboards under $100 on the market.

At first glance, due to its very angular and square design, the Razer Chroma is a pretty stiff-looking keyboard. The minimalism is even more apparent when you lay it flat on your desk. But, on further inspection, you learn that it’s more flexible and comfortable than it actually looks. It’s built like a brick with its military-grade metal top plate. The keyboard alone weighs over 2 pounds, even more with the removable wrist rest.

The keyboard uses a membrane-mechanical hybrid that Razer have dubbed as Mecha-Membrane. It does well at giving users the best of both worlds – good tactile feedback without being too loud. You feel the press, but you don’t hear it like you would on a brown switch.

This delivers both a comfortable typing and gaming experience. The keys are also shaped well and decently spaced out.

While it doesn’t have dedicated macro (G-keys), it’s fully programmable, but this can be a pain due to its tricky-to-understand software. However, it’s worth mastering because the software saves profile configuration to cloud storage. You can then download the date from every computer you use the keyboard on (as long as it has an internet connection).

All in all, this keyboard costs as much as most membrane keyboards. However, it’s still worth purchasing if you’re looking for long term option that strikes the right balance between feel and functionality. If you’re interested, check out the detailed Razer Ornata Chroma review before deciding.

Best for MMO: Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard AW768

Pros & Cons

  • Key presses are relatively quiet
  • Software auto-installs
  • Comes with dedicated volume roller
  • Includes Braided Nylon Cable
  • Comes with three adjustable leg angles
  • All keys are programmable
  • The palm rest is sold separately
  • Only 256kB onboard memory
  • AlienFX functionality restricted to Alienware systems
  • A little heavy

Key Features

  • 16.8M RGB ambient lighting color options
  • Three adjustable leg angles
  • Cherry MX Brown switches
  • Weight: 3.11 pounds / 1.4 KG
  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 6.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Size: Full-Size Keyboard
  • 15 programmable macro key functions

Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard AW768 Review

If you’re into gaming hardware, then Dell’s Alienware needs no real introduction. I’m sure many of us have found ourselves lusting after one of its top tier gaming laptops. While they aren’t well known for their gaming peripherals, they still deliver a decent budget gaming keyboard with the AW768.

The first thing you’ll notice here is that this keyboard is massive, which is surprising cause the keyboard case is primarily made out of plastic. Even with the plastic build, it still feels robust and sturdy. Each key is individually lit using RBG ambient lighting. While it doesn’t come with a palm rest (this can be purchased separately), it comes with three height options.

It uses Cherry MX Brown switches which require minimal effort to press, have good tactile feedback, and low click noise. They’re ideal for first-person shooters and MOBA games. Speaking of which, the keyboard comes with five dedicated macro keys situated to the left of the keyboard.

The sixth key on top is is a switch that toggles between three different macro sets. There are no dedicated media control keys here; they’re all integrated. The Alienware logo is actually a button that can be configured to toggle ‘Game Mode’ or turn all lighting effects on and off.

The keyboard is relatively easy to clean, and the silver-grayish plastic finish is fingerprint-resistant. One thing that this keyboard makes abundantly clear is that Alienware understands gamers and what they need. It has a few weaknesses, but its pros far outweigh its cons. With the AW768, Alienware provides a solid entry into the world of gaming peripherals.


Budget Gaming Keyboards Buying Guide

While some people will tell you that picking a gaming mouse is more comfortable than picking a gaming keyboard, this isn’t entirely true, especially when you’re nitpicky and working with a limited budget. There are a lot of things to consider.

One key factor to note is your playing style. Not all gamers are the same, and different players may have different needs. Some keyboards cater more towards e-sports while others will work better for FPS and single-player games.

gaming desk with keyboard and monitor

While most keyboards don’t have a perceivable difference in response time, some wired keyboards are just a millisecond or a few nanoseconds faster than others. However, this shouldn’t be a huge factor, especially if you don’t have a large budget at your disposal.

What you need is a durable keyboard, made out of the right materials, has the right feel for you (mechanical or membrane as well as keycaps) and caters to your needs as a gamer (macro keys).

In this short buying guide, we’ll cover a few concepts which will help you decide which keyboard to pick in the future. We’ll go over the basics as well as some more complex topics.

Keyboard Sizes: How Much Space Does It Take Up?

Keyboard sizes are classified according to the number of keys they have and the existence of duplicate keys (such as the numeric pad). There are three main keyboard sizes, and they are as follows:

Full-Size Keyboard: Your typical standard keyboard. It has alphabetic character keys, numeric keys, punctuation symbol keys, and a variety of function keys.

Tenkeyless (TKL): It’s similar to the standard keyboard except it doesn’t have a right-hand numeric pad.

Compact keyboard: These have a shorter key travel distance, keys are smaller, and they’re missing a few function keys.

Ajazz AK33 Mechaincal Keyboard

It’s uncommon for any gamer to choose a compact keyboard. They aren’t convenient for gaming or even serious typing.

Your best option then is either a standard full-sized keyboard or TKL one. A standard keyboard might give you better key spacing, and more functionality than a TKL one but TKLs tend to be cheaper and take up far less space. By simple virtue of mass, TKLs are also generally lighter than full-sized keyboards.

So if you find the numeric pad unnecessary and want to save some space on your desk, you might go for a TKL keyboard. What’s the point of paying extra for keys that you barely ever use anyway?

However, if you find that you need a keyboard more conducive to multitasking and has more functionality, you’d be better off selecting a standard keyboard. It’s nearly impossible to find a TKL keyboard with dedicated macro keys and media control keys.

While Tenkeyless make for great keyboards for Fortnite and FPS, they won’t serve you as well if you’re into MMOs and RPGs.

Keyboard Types: The Feel and Sound of Your Keyboard Matters

When you’re shopping for a keyboard, you’re bound to run into a few different types. Gaming keyboards commonly come in two main types, mechanical or membrane. You also get subtypes such as optical keyboards or hybrids that mix the best of both worlds.

rgb keyboard in darkness with keys having different colors

Optical keyboards are basically mechanical keyboards with optical switches. They’re more durable than traditional mechanical keyboards because they don’t suffer from the same oxidation and wear and tear of the metal contacts inside.

Mechanical and membrane are far more common (and cheaper) than optical keyboards. Because membrane keyboards cost far less to manufacture, they tend to be cheaper. If you’re looking for an affordable keyboard, membrane keyboards will put the least strain on your wallet.

While mechanical keyboards are a little more expensive than membrane keyboards, most gamers prefer them. Some reasons as to why users choose mechanical keyboards are:

  • They have removable keycaps (most membrane keyboards), making them easier to clean and customize.
  • They tend to be more durable.
  • They have better tactility and feel.

Mechanical keyboards also have different key-switch types. Each color-coded switch has its noise level, tactile response (haptic feedback) and actuation force. Currently, the most popular switch type for gaming is the Cherry MX Red.

It’s important to note that some manufacturers have their key switches, hybrids or even Cherry MX equivalent switches. So you’re not limited to Cherry MX key switches.

keyboard switches

Membrane keyboards are not only cheaper, but they tend to be quieter and lighter. Some users also appreciate their sometimes ‘mushy’ feel. You also don’t need to exert much force on each keypress on a membrane keyboard.

Keyboard Illumination: If Your Room isn’t Well Lit, Your Keyboard Should Be

An aspect of shopping for a gaming keyboard that’s often overlooked or taken for granted is determining the best illumination or lighting for you. The reason why most gaming keyboards have backlighting is that a lot of gamers prefer to play in darker surroundings.

An illuminated keyboard can help you find the keys faster. However, not every gamer needs backlighting. One of the reasons that gaming keyboards are more expensive than standard ones is because of the backlighting.

You can find gaming keyboards without any backlighting at all. If you’re under a stringent budget, you might consider getting yourself a keyboard with any backlighting. Even some wired keyboards with lighting require (AAA) batteries. So not only do you have to worry about paying for the keyboard but you’ll have to worry about replacing the batteries in the future.

corsair k70

RGB and multi-color backlit keyboards tend to be more expensive than keyboards with uniform coloring. While an excellent RGB keyboard has lighting effects that can be programmed from a section-to-section basis (or even a key-to-key basis for more expensive or advanced keyboards), most uniform backlit keyboards don’t have the same functionality.

However, you can still adjust the light intensity or switch the backlighting off completely. Uniform keyboards commonly come in either blue or red lighting. You can find other colors, such as purple or green.

The Cord/Cable: Size, Length, and Practicality

Depending on how your desk or workspace is set up, you might be worried about the length thickness of the keyboards cord. This is even more important for gamers who prefer to play from the comfort of their couches or bedrooms.

corsair k55

The standard length for a gaming keyboard is 1.8 meters (59 feet), which should be ample enough to reach from your rig to the closest couch if you’re gaming in your living room. Nylon braided cables are also more durable than standard ones.

While the thickness of the cable will limit flexibility, thicker cables last longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here a few questions to consider when selecting your next budget gaming keyboard.

Are Gaming Keyboards Good for Typing?

Most gaming keyboards are good for typing, but this depends on the type of keyboard you choose. You’d be surprised to find out that many typists face some of the same problems that gamers do when it comes to the right keyboard. Typists prefer mechanical keyboards over membrane keyboards because of the haptic feedback and bump they feel while typing. Gaming keyboards also have decent key-travel.

Redragon Karura K502

While some typists prefer to hear the sound of each key click, keyboards shouldn’t be so loud that they are distracting. The best mechanical keyswitches for typing include Cherry MX Blue, Brown, White and Green.

Why Are Gaming Keyboards Better?

Gaming keyboards are better than standard keyboards because the majority of them have backlighting, they come with extra keys made for gaming, and they’re more durable.

Gaming keyboards also tend to be more customizable than standard ones are. They’re also more ergonomically inclined towards gaming.

Which Keywitch Is the Best for Gaming?

In our opinion (as well as the general consensus among the gaming community) the best mechanical switch for gaming is the Cherry MX Red switch. In truth, it’s all about personal preference. Some gamers may prefer a Cherry MX Black or silver.

A happy middle ground for both gaming and typing is the Cherry MX Brown switch. If you’re a beginner and can’t decide what type of mechanical keyboard to choose, you should definitely go for the Cherry MX Brown switch.

Once you become more acquainted with mechanical keyboards and switches, you can start identifying which ones will suit your playing styles and needs the best. You’re not limited to Cherry MX types. Many companies and manufacturers have come up with their own switches.


If you’re a beginner gamer working on a student’s budget but don’t want to compromise on quality, the keyboards listed in this guide should satisfy the appetite of even the most frugal gamer.

Just cause you’re a noob, doesn’t mean you should have noob hardware. Even elite gamers could benefit from giving this guide a quick run through. While a keyboard might be considered the most essential peripheral for PCs, you’ll need the budget gaming mouse to sit alongside it.

Gaming accessories can either make or break your entire experience. You don’t want to be caught on Apex Legends or Fortnight with subpar equipment. You need to make sure you have the right tools to play against the best of them even if you’re your only real competition.


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About the author

Mduduzi Sibisi

A lover of code, freelance writer, a misanthropic humanist and a comical absurdist. Mdu first fell in love with gaming after his parents bought him a Super Nintendo gaming console at the age of six. It would later become an obsession after playing Doom and Duke Nukem on PC. Now, not only is he playing them but he’s writing about them and creating them. He has an eclectic taste in games. His favorite games of all time include Legend of The Dragoon, Dark Cloud, GTA Vice City, Dark Souls, and Devil May Cry.