For every budget, the top gaming keyboards

The finest budget gaming keyboard should provide your fingers with the same gratifying clickety clacks as more expensive versions without breaking the bank. A cheap keyboard lowers the overall cost of a new gaming rig, allowing you to spend more on components such as the greatest graphics card.

Also, when we say “cheap,” we are referring to the price, not the quality. Don’t waste your time looking for cheap keyboards. The top cheap keyboards under $100 and, in some cases, under $30 are listed below. The first thing you’ll notice is that there are a lot of extra functions on these keyboards that you wouldn’t find on, say, the top gaming keyboards page. To keep costs down, cheaper keyboards forego features like media controls, LED displays, and mechanical switches.

So we got a bunch of cheap keyboards and put them through their paces to see which ones felt the greatest to work and play on. To save you even more money, we’ve selected certain keyboards that come with additional accessories.

If you have some cash to burn, the greatest mechanical keyboards are always our first choice.

Here is our suggested top gaming keyboards

For every budget, the top gaming keyboards

G.Skill KM360

Genuine Cherry MX switches at a great price
PROS
+Affordable
+Cherry MX switches are dependable.
+LED (bright white)
 
CONS
-The lack of a numeric keypad limits its job capability.

There is a current trend in the market for $200+ gaming keyboards, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t decent mechanical switch boards available at a lower cost. Often, these more budget-friendly alternatives will include inexpensive switches from other manufacturers, however the G.Skill KM360 comes standard with the legendary Cherry MX Red linear switch.

The KM360 is a straightforward keyboard. This, however, is to its benefit. Its ability to produce real Cherry mechanical key switches at a low price is due to the fact that it offers so little else beyond the fundamentals. For gaming and typing, this offers a precise, reliable, and incredibly smooth actuation.

You might be upset with the single-color option if you can’t stand your gaming board not being lighted up like a rainbow, but the white LEDs on this G.Skill board are the brightest I’ve ever seen. I usually maintain my screen at maximum brightness all day, but the KM360 would burn out my retina.

This TKL board is simple, but it serves its job admirably. It’s sturdy, well-made, and dependable, and it also looks good. Although there’s no wrist rest, passthrough, or media controls, I’ll gladly overlook these in favor of cost-effective functionality.

For every budget, the top gaming keyboards

E-Element Z-88 Mechanical Keyboard

Best cheap keyboard with a variety of switch types and colors
PROS
+A wide range of Outemu switches
+Backplate in aluminum
+Black and white options are available.

CONS 
-There’s no wrist rest
-On the pricey side

The E-Element Z-88 comes in black or white and has a number of Outemu switches, making it ideal for the budget enthusiast who wants to customize everything about their setup. Those Outemu switches aren’t as high-quality as the Cherry switches mentioned above, but they are mechanical. That means you won’t have to worry about a membrane’s spongey feel any more.

Although the keycaps appear to be less expensive than you might expect from a well-known brand, they are simple to read on the E-Element. They’re composed of ABS plastic, which is the least wear-resistant of the two most prevalent keycap materials, although it’s also found on more expensive keyboards. You’ll be fine for a while if you don’t slam the keys too hard in rage.

It’s a less expensive board, but you’re getting mechanical for less than $50. It’s also frequently discounted for considerably less. Keep a look out for bargains, as we saw it sell for $30 earlier this year. While there is a quality difference between this and a more expensive gaming keyboard, you aren’t settling for anything less than mechanical.

For every budget, the top gaming keyboards

Havit Mechanical Keyboard and Mouse Combo

Best cheap keyboard and mouse combo
PROS
+Sleek industrial appearance
+Mouse is included
+Side illumination
+Wrist rest detachable

CONS
-No software required
-There are no special media keys.

While this model only comes with proprietary blue clicky switches, it does have a wired, optical gaming mouse. This is the main advantage of the Havit two-in-one package: you won’t have to spend any additional money on a gaming mouse. With this one, shockingly reasonable kit, you’re basically ready to game.

This version of the Havit mechanical keyboard has a robust, industrial aesthetic thanks to exposed hardware and an aluminum backplate. And it has to be noted that it is a quite solid, if slightly plasticky, keyboard. The keycaps are also pretty simple to navigate, and a wrist rest is supplied. I’ll say this about that wrist rest: it doesn’t provide a lot of support because it’s so low to the ground and doesn’t have much cushioning. Then it’s best not to buy it only for that one feature.

Apart from the lack of dedicated media controls and special customization software, this Havit peripherals package leaves a lot to be desired. You’re getting two for the price of one, which is ideal if you need a keyboard and mouse quickly and for a low price.

For every budget, the top gaming keyboards

Keychron K2 (Version 2)

The most affordable wireless keyboard
PROS
+Well-priced
+Excellent overall construction quality
+Seamless interconnection

CONS
-Some switches are scratchy.

This is an extremely low price for a wireless keyboard. Even more so because of its excellent quality. It starts at $69 and includes a decent-sized gaming keyboard with excellent wireless capabilities and authentic mechanical Gateron switches.

Overall, the build quality is good, and the triple device connectivity makes moving devices or locations during the day a breeze. However, it might occasionally feel like a cheap keyboard—the switches aren’t the best on the market, but they’re still impressive for the price. Despite Gateron’s claims to the contrary, I can’t help but think they’re a lot lighter than that, and in comparison to the actual thing, they also feel hollow.

The Keychron’s tiny design compensates for part of this. It’s plain and straightforward, with grey ABS keycaps and an 84-key layout that only skimps on the numpad and has a somewhat squashed nav cluster.

The Keychron K2 also allows you to connect to up to three devices at once. There are a handful of switches on the left side of the K2 that let you pick whether you want to use it with Bluetooth or the provided cable, or in Windows or Mac mode. All of the adjustments are nearly instantaneous, and the Bluetooth pairing process couldn’t be any easier.

Overall, this is a fantastic pick if you’re looking for an entry-level mechanical keyboard, especially if you work from home and use numerous devices. That’s not even taking into account its wireless capabilities, which are the cherry on top of the already amazing Keychron K2.

For every budget, the top gaming keyboards

HyperX Alloy Core RGB

A trusted brand made affordable
PROS
+Keys for dedicated media
+Specialized software
+Reliable brand
+Spill-resistant

CONS
-Plastic shell
-Switches on membranes

HyperX is a well-known name in the peripheral industry. While the Alloy Core RGB is normally associated with a higher-end brand, it offers a wealth of features and consistent performance at a low cost. Although the price is above that of a “budget” keyboard, the dedicated media controls and customization software help justify the expense.

For this model, HyperX had to use membrane switches, although this has the added benefit of making the Alloy Core spill-resistant. Although we like mechanical keys, a good membrane is still preferable than an old office board.

With the Alloy Core, you must decide what you want from a gaming keyboard. The Alloy Core or the Roccat Magma are more your speed if you want a full-size keyboard with some added functions and solid RGB lighting effects. Because each switch is an additional cost, you won’t find many mechanical keyboards with a full-size layout for very cheap. Even if you don’t need a full-size keyboard, we still recommend a mechanical keyboard, such as the ones shown above.

Because a poorly manufactured mechanical board can feel worse under the finger than a much better made membrane board, we included a few of mechanical switch options in case you didn’t like them for whatever reason.

For every budget, the top gaming keyboards

Roccat Magma membrane keyboard

A membrane board with style
PROS
+For a membrane board, it’s nice and tactile.
+One-of-a-kind RGB top plate design
+Anti-ghosting and rollover with 26 keys
+Invisible keystrokes

CONS
-The RGB cycle isn’t particularly seamless.
-Not the most durable board
-No padding on the wrist rest

The Roccat Magma reminds us that mechanical key switches aren’t required for a satisfying gaming experience. Tactile keypress feedback, 26-key rollover, and anti-ghosting are all included, all wrapped up in a stunning retro neon ’80s look.

There is no per-key lighting with a membrane. Instead, Roccat has chosen to use five independently programmable illumination zones that span the full top plate, including under the key caps. The obvious disadvantage is that there is less scope for intricate customization—for example, individuals who want W, A, S, and D to glow a different color would be dissatisfied. The zoned RGB architecture still allows for some lovely gradients and effects, but the cycle isn’t as fluid as it could be, and the colors aren’t as precise as they could be.

Regardless, it’s a beautiful board. The big black frame and gently rounded corners really set it off, and the lettering isn’t an overblown sci-fi typeface.

Because the Magma isn’t mechanical, you won’t be able to replace the key caps like you would with a mechanical counterpart, even though they do come out for easy cleaning. But, as much as I despise admitting it, I truly adore Roccat’s rubber dome membrane construction. It’s unusually tactile, with excellent feedback and actuation, as well as gentle and silent, which is ideal for keeping your teammates happy.

However, for a full-size RGB keyboard with function keys, media controls, and a wrist rest, the price is well worth it.

FAQ about the best inexpensive gaming keyboards

Where have all the low-cost keyboards with fancy key switches vanished?

Membrane switches were always included in cheaper keyboards. That is still true, depending on where you search and whose brands you choose. However, there are a plethora of less expensive mechanical switch brands on the market today that are comparable to a Cherry switch. So don’t worry if you want to go mechanical instead of membrane: it’s entirely possible.

Cheaper keyboards will have a different overall feel than Razer and SteelSeries keyboards. But don’t worry: these low-cost gaming keyboards will still feel amazing in your hands, and your pocketbook will thank you.

If you want to learn more about switches, check out our comprehensive guide to mechanical key switches.

Terminology for the keyboard jargon buster

Point of Actuation

The amount of pressure that must be applied to a key before it actuates and transmits an input signal to a device.

Clicky

A switch that makes an audible click whenever it is pressed, usually around the point of actuation.

Debounce

When a key is pressed, this technique ensures that just one input is registered.

Housing

The casing that protects a switch’s interior components.

Hysteresis

The outcome of a switch’s actuation and reset points being mismatched. This usually means that a key must be lifted off of the lock for longer than usual before it can be triggered again.

Linear

A switch that goes up and down in a straight line, giving smooth keystrokes with no noise or tactile feedback.

Keyboard (Mechanical)

Instead of a membrane sheath installed on a PCB, a keyboard designed around individual switches for each key.

Keyboard Membrane

When a key is pressed, a rubber dome depresses and pushes on the membrane sheath and PCB beneath it, actuating the key.

Stem

On a mechanical keyboard, the component of a switch on which the keycaps are mounted.

Switch

The physical component of a mechanical keyboard that sits beneath the keycaps. The switch controls how a key is actuated, as well as whether or not audible or tactile feedback is provided with each push.

Tactile

When a switch is pressed, it produces a ‘bump’ of feedback.

Tenkeyless

The right-hand number pad is missing from this keyboard.


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