The most dedicated PC gamers will demand a wired connection between their keyboard and their computer. And they’re wrong. Unless you have superhuman reaction time (and an internet connection that borders on impossible), the thousandth-of-a-second it takes for a keypress to travel wirelessly won’t make a difference to you. So why deprive yourself of a clean desk, and an easy means of moving your keyboard around (to make room for pizza).
Wireless gaming keyboards still demand a premium price, but they now have the same bells and whistles you’d expect from the best wired designs. That includes all of the modern trappings of mechanical keyboards — if you want a non-mechanical gaming board with premium features, you’re out of luck. Here are the best ones we’ve found on the market:
Best wireless gaming keyboards
1. Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro – Best wireless gaming keyboard overall
- Super-smooth switches
- Great media controls
- Comfy wrist rest
- ABS keycaps are a little cheap
The latest in a long line of high-end keyboards called BlackWidow, this particular model pulls out all the stops. In addition to dual Bluetooth and RF wireless for multi-device connectivity, it comes in a full-size frame with a 10-key area and robust media controls. Razer’s typical light show is on display, but the real star is the switches, high-quality hall-effect designs that come in smooth linear (yellow) or loud and clickly (green) varieties. The package includes a comfy magnetic wrist rest, as it should considering it’s one of the most expensive gaming keyboards on the market.
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Review Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro
2. Corsair K70 RGB Pro Wireless Mini – Best 60% wireless gaming keyboard
- Amazing list of features
- Standard layout and hot-swap switches
- Great lighting
- Limited programming options
- No wrist rest
Those looking for the tiniest gaming keyboard around might have to squint a little to see the diminutive K70 Pro Wireless Mini. This 60% design is as small as mainstream keyboards come while still packing in full high-end functionality, including hot-swappable switches for the ultimate in mechanical customization. (Even though the included “speed silver” switches are already pretty great. The keyboard includes a dazzling light show and both RF and Bluetooth wireless, as well as a secondary space bar for even more bling. Just be aware that you’re paying quite a lot for this board, and that some may find its programming options lacking, especially for a super-small design.
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Review Corsair K70 RGB Pro Wireless Mini keyboard
3. Redragon K596 Wireless Keyboard – Best budget option
- Low price
- Included wrist rest
- Long battery life
- Volume wheel
- Ugly keycaps
- Can only program G keys
- No Bluetooth
If you need a wireless gaming keyboard for under a C-note, Redragon (pronounced “re-dragon,” maybe, who knows?) is happy to provide. While this model lacks fancy features like multi-device Bluetooth, it includes a few that you wouldn’t expect at this price point, including a volume wheel and an included magnetic wrist rest. It also has a surprising focus on gaming functionality: Custom “G” buttons can be bound to individual functions or macros on the fly. The ABS plastic and branding aren’t exactly gorgeous, but you can use the money you’ve saved to grab some custom keycaps.
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Review Redragon K596 Wireless Keyboard
4. Asus ROG Falchion Wireless 65% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Best wireless gaming keyboard for travel
- Long battery life
- Carrying tray
- Handy volume touch panel
- RF-only wireless
- No USB-C dongle
- Poor programming options
The Asus Falchion is another small keyboard, but its inclusion of arrow keys makes it a bit more comfortable and practical than a 60% design. The Falchion has a few touches that make it a superior board for on-the-go gaming, namely the touch-sensetive volume slider on the side and the included protective carrying case. Its RF-only wireless should cut out lag for mobile sessions, though you might need a USB-A-to-C cable (not included) for tablets or phones. The long battery life means you won’t be hunting for a charge when a session breaks out.
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Review ASUS ROG Falchion Wireless 65% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Redragon K585 One-Handed Keyboard — Best Wireless One-handed Keypad
- Ergonomic options
- Separate from main “typing” keyboard
- Detachable wrist rest
- Feels cheap
- Non-standard keycaps
We love a good left-hand keypad, if only because it means you don’t need to use a gaming keyboard for typing. Wireless options for this niche gadget are thin on the ground outside of consoles — in fact, the Redragon K585 is the only one we’ve been able to find on the market with a PC driver. It’s a bit cheap, but the red switches and standard half layout will be familiar to gamers. The detachable wrist rest is handy (especially if you have a different, squishier one you prefer), but customization options are limited due to a lot of non-standard keycap sizes. At least it’s affordable.
Pardon me for being obvious, but wireless keyboard shoppers should care about the same things they would for a regular keyboard…only wireless. Expect to pay a significant premium over wired designs, at least when looking at multiple models from the same category or brand. More personal and subjective features, like the feel of mechanical switches, might necessitate a trip to your local electronics store (or tracking down a handy key switch tester for trying dozens at once).
Gaming keyboards tend to use RF wireless with a USB dongle, instead of a Bluetooth connection, which is more popular with modern “standard” wireless keyboards. That’s because it allows manufacturers to use a more reliable, direct connection, with a higher polling rate—that means the connection between the board and your computer refreshes itself much more often, minimizing input lag. Some advanced models still include Bluetooth, along with fancier options like pairing multiple devices to the same USB dongle. Range typically isn’t a concern if you’re using a keyboard with a gaming desktop, but you might want to think about it if you have a gaming PC hooked up to your TV.
Most high-end wireless gaming keyboards can also use a direct wired USB connection, if you’re worried about wireless interference in a crowded environment.
Modern mechanical keyboards come in a staggering array of switch varieties, from smooth and linear to loud and clickly, with tons of options for mechanisms and spring strength. The only real way to know which one you prefer is to try ’em out (retail store displays are great for this). That being said, more expensive keyboards tend to come with nicer, high-quality switches from name brands like Cherry and Gateron. For the ultimate in customization, track down a keyboard with hotswap switches, which let you swap out the switches for new and different ones whenever you want.
Recently more advanced types of switches have emerged, like optical and “laser” switches tripped by interrupting a beam of light, or “mag lev” switches that allow you to adjust the force it takes to activate the key. These are interesting, but tend to lack actual utility (unless you have truly superhuman perception), and increase the price of keyboards phenomenally.
Keycaps are the little pieces of plastic that sit on top of the switches—what your fingers press down on. Switching out the keycaps for a set of nicer ones, maybe made of better PBT plastic or themed after your favorite TV show, is a popular and easy keyboard mod. Some keyboard makers even sell their own upgrade sets. Keycaps with a Cherry MX-compatible stem will work with almost all modern mechanical switches, just make sure you find a set that matches the layout of your keyboard.
Unlike gaming mice, battery life generally isn’t a big concern with gaming keyboards. They’re big enough that there’s plenty of space for internal batteries that last for weeks, or even months, between charges. That is, unless you over-use that fancy RGB lighting with dazzling animation…in which case, it might last just a few days or hours. If it’s available, check the milliamp-hour (mAh) rating for the battery.
The layout of the keys on your keyboard varies more than you might think. Full-sized keyboards include a 10-key area to the right of the arrow cluster, but gaming models often omit this in order to make more room for mouse movements, calling this the “10-key-less” layout. Some keyboards go even smaller, with 60% being the smallest that mainstream brands use, chopping off the Function row, 10-key area, and even the arrow keys (which have to be accessed via a Fn button). A few designs go even larger than the full layout, with an extra column or two of programmable keys for custom bindings or macros. Which one you want comes down to a matter of available space and, perhaps more pertinently, taste.
These general layouts shouldn’t be confused with country- and region-specific key layouts, like ANSI and ISO. Most popular designs are available in at least those two variants.
Even budget gaming keyboards come with LED backlights these days, though they might not be the full programable, device-synced light show that companies like Razer and Corsair delight in. Unless you’re constantly playing in the dark and you can’t touch-type, it’s entirely cosmetic. It’s fun, that’s about it.
Keyboard makers are forever trying to one-up each other with extra features. For a mechanical board you can generally expect a removable USB cable (maybe a braided one for nicer boards), and possibly an included keycap puller and wrist rest. Larger boards usually include dedicated media controls, and the nicer ones get a fully programmable wheel or knob. An especially nice option is on-device memory, allowing you to keep key layout programs without running a driver program on each new computer.
Author: Michael Crider, Staff Writer
Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.
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