Best Mechanical Keyboards for PC Gaming 2015
Mechanical Keyboards - Review the Best for FPS, RTS, and Typing
Professional level PC gaming is all about speed. For those of you that hate losing as much as I do, then you know that having a good mechanical keyboard is crucial in making sure that what you input into your keyboard ultimately shows up on your screen as fast as possible. Below I'll give you all the advantages to having a mechanical switch vs. a dome switch keyboard and list my top ten for mechanical keyboards.
Pictured: This is the new k95 mechanical keyboard from Corsair. I recently had the chance to get a close look at all of its new features. Find more pictures of my box opening below.
Mechanical Vs. Rubber Dome Switch Keyboards
Dome Switch Keyboards
Rubber dome switches are the most common that you find today and are even present on many gaming keyboards. They are widely used because of their efficiency and budget cost. Wikipedia states that these function by "bringing two circuit board traces together under a rubber keypad and by using metal polyester domes." Polyester domes are the more common of the two and while they are very quiet tend to wear down more quickly and become mushy over time. These types of keyboards generally can only register 2-4 keys at a time which can be a significant disadvantage in any fast paced game. In addition, rubber dome switch keyboards also generally require you to "bottom out" the key in order to register.
For a more consistent experience in sound and typing you can opt for a mechanical keyboard which uses a real switch underneath every single key mounted in a metal chassis. While you pay a premium for a mechanical keyboard, they are considerably more durable and often times can register up to 6 keys at once or even have n-key rollover which allows each key to be scanned completely. On a mechanical keyboard there are 4 main mechanical switch types that you can choose between. Depending on the type of switch you choose you may get a keyboard that is more or less responsive, quiet or loud, or easier to double tap. All of the switches register more quickly and last longer than rubber dome switches.
Types of Switches for Mechanical Keyboards
Cherry MX Black Vs. Red Vs. Brown Vs. Blue
The German company Cherry Corp. makes 4 main types of MX switches; black, red, brown, and blue.
Cherry MX Black Switch - This is the type of switch that is most used by RTS professional gamers because it's more of a straight down switch. While it does require you to press down harder it's easier to double tap and makes it easy to avoid miss clicks. Compared to red it's a little bit more accurate but not quite as quick. In my opinion its the best mechanical keyboard switch for RTS.
Cherry MX Red Switch - The red switch is a lot like the black one except that you don't have to press down as hard and is not quite as noisy. This makes it a bit faster overall than the black and a little less accurate. Great for FPS-type games where you need to be quick and also among the best mechanical keyboard switches for typing.
Cherry MX Brown Switch - The brown switch is for those who like a good combination between the other 3 types of switches. It does require a little bit for you to press it down, but certainly isn't as loud as the blue.
Cherry MX Blue Switch - The blue switch is probably the most popular among gamers because it doesn't require you to bottom out. This allows you to go from key to key more easily and is much better for the standard work and typing you do on a daily basis. While it probably is the most popular the Blue switch does have a couple disadvantages in that it's more difficult to double-tap in FPS games and it can occasionally be heard in Team Speak, Ventrilo, or Mumble.
*Switch Images Attribution: Cherry Corp.
Best FPS RTS Mechanical Keyboard in 2015? - Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Review
Here are ten of my favorite mechanical keyboards for 2015 with all of their advantages and disadvantages laid out as I see it. This section will be listed in order of consumer usage rather than which one I see as the best simply because which type of mechanical keyboard you use is entirely up to your personal preference. Keep in mind that many of these keyboards come with various models with various MX switches.
Your Vote Will Determine the Order:
To see what the order should be according to other PC gamers simply vote in the poll below this list and see the results. As I update this post over the next several months the order of this list will change according to your feedback and votes.
The Razer Blackwidow Ultimate gaming keyboard is probably the most widely used among gamers because of its mechanical switches, macro keys, and robust software for programming. It also gives you multiple backlighting features.
It uses a cherry blue switch and has a convenient USB and audio connector on the side.
There are many variations of this keyboard including the standard and tournament versions which are cheaper, but lack the USB port, audio port, and backlighting.
The 2013 version is also a bit more expensive than the standard ultimate version.
Das Mechanical Keyboard Model S Review
While it certainly isn't advertised as a gaming keyboard the Das is still one of the more widely used keyboards for gaming. It's easy to get confused with the Das Keyboard because there are four main model types so here is a brief explanation:
Das Keyboard Model S Professional Silent: While it's advertised as being silent this keyboard is slightly "less" noisy than the other models. This is because it uses the more interim cherry brown switches.
Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate: Basic model which uses the cherry blue switches.
Das Keyboard Model S Professional: Just like the S ultimate except that it has full n-key rollover.
S Professional for Mac: Just like the PC S Professional except that it includes Mac keys.
Overall: In summary any version of the Das Keyboard is ultra-responsive, a good option for gaming, and one of the best options for typing available. My only complaints with it would be the glossy finish (the Razer BlackWidow has the same issue) and the lack of multimedia keys.
CM Storm Quickfire Rapid Mechanical Keyboard Review
The CM storm Quickfire Rapid is another great model that is available in various types of switches. The price is great for a mechanical keyboard and both the blue and red switch require a minimal amount of force while pushing down. I also like that it comes with a removable braided cable. Cooler Master also threw in a key-puller with this particular model. You may also want to consider the CM Storm QuickFire Pro which is available in red and brown Cherry switches. Cooler Master also came out with the Storm Trigger in 2012 which has 5 macro profiles like the Razer Black Widow Ultimate.
SteelSeries 7G Gaming Keyboard
SteelSeries makes professional gaming grade products and their keyboards are some of the best around. The 7g is one of the most comfortable mechanical keyboards you'll come across because of the wrist rest. It also supports all the keys pressed down at once. It's also one of the most durable keyboards you'll come across because of the metal inner chassis.
Steelseries also makes the popular Steelseries 6GV2 which is less expensive and has no USB or audio ports. It comes in red or black Cherry switches.
With a 50 million rated keypress and a USB and Audio port the SteelSeries 7G should definitely be a front runner for best RTS strategy keyboard with black cherry switches.
Thermaltake TTesports Meka G1
The Thermaltake Meka G1 is one of the sturdier mechanical keyboards you'll come across. Thermaltake backs it up with a longer 3 year warranty and after using it you can clearly see why. It's well made. While it doesn't have some of the fluff that other models have it's a solid black cherry switch option and can compete very well with the SteelSeries 7G. It also has a high quality braided cable that also brings the two audio and USB connectors to your PC.
Thermaltake also has a newer model out, the MEKA G-Unit, which has a wrist rest and lots of macro keys. It also has cherry black switches, but I'd probably recommend it more for MMORPG gamers simply because of its large layout.
If you want one of the best quality mechanical keyboards on the market, then this is it. It has nice looking LEDs and gives you the ultimate combination of simplicity and responsiveness.
In 2012 the Ducky Shine 2 was also released. The company that makes it, Ducky, also allows you to pick out any LED/switch combination that you'd like. The has a Removable mini USB with dual sided routing as well as a Muliple function DIP switch. Ducky Shine 2
Corsair Vengeance K70 and K95 Mechanical Keyboards
Two more mechanical keyboards that you should take a look at are the Corsair K60 and K90 which have Cherry MX Red switches. Both of these models feature 20 key rollover while the K90 features more keys (18 G keys) and slightly less simplicity. The K90 is aimed at the MMORPG audience while the K60 is aimed at RTS and FPS gamers.
Update: Corsair has recently released the K70 and K95 as well which are now 100% fully mechanical. The K95 should now be considered for the top 5.
Pictures of the K95
White LED Back-Lighting
Azio Levetron Mech 5
Filco Majestouch-2 NKR 104 ASCII with Red Switch
If you don't have to have a LED backlight, then the Filco Majestouch is definitely one of my personal favorites in the FPS space. The Filco Camo Majestouch-2 is also a great looking option with a blue switch.
Mechanical Keyboard Reader Poll
So which one do you prefer? Vote for your favorite and then participate in the mechanical keyboard discussion below.
What's the Best Mechanical Keyboard on the Market in 2012 - 2013?
What Type of Cherry MX Switch is Best for You?
Here's a bit that's both funny and useful. If you had trouble identifying what type of cherry MX switch would fit you the best, then I recommend you go through this test by Ripster.
Sound and Switch Comparison Video for Mechanical MX Switches
Gaming Tech News and Information for 2015
- Best Gaming Keyboard
An all-inclusive list of the best PC gaming keyboards including Rubber dome switch as well as mechanical keyboards. Like the post above it includes an interactive reader poll.
- Best Gaming Mouse
Another interactive discussion on what the best PC gaming mouse of 2014 is.
- Building a Gaming PC in 2014 Best Custom Builds
Takes a look at the most popular hardware used for PC builds in 2014.