The humble keyboard. Often overlooked in the rush to have the fastest processor, the beefiest graphics card, but the purchase of a new gaming keyboard is not a decision to take lightly. The keyboard, along with its close friend the mouse, is what bridges the gap between you and the game so making the right decision is important. A few milliseconds of input lag, an aching wrist, or fumbling for the right keys in the dark - these are all things that can spell the difference between success and failure for a gamer, and the keyboard is the cause. So let’s get it right.
With so many options out there and keyboards in different shapes, sizes, and designs, it can be hard to know where to start. The great thing about gaming keyboards is that they typically come with extra features and ergonomic designs which can be crucial to good gameplay.
In this buyer’s guide, we will be looking at a selection of great gaming keyboards and covering the key things you should consider when shopping around.
Why Buy A Razer Gaming Keyboard?
A good way to start is to narrow your search down to a specific brand. Going for one of the big-name brands such as Corsair, Logitech, or Razer is a great way to know that you’re getting a quality product.
We have chosen Razer for our focus today, a popular brand, and for good reason; they offer stylish and eye-catching peripherals that appeal to gamers who want something a bit different on their desk. The RGB on their keyboards is also something that really makes them stand out. Often regarded as the best in their field, Razer products are also very accessible and easy to use when customizing your setup.
Which Razer Gaming Keyboard Is Best For You?
Razer BlackWidow Lite
- Size - TKL, 355 x 127 x 13 mm
- Switch - Razer Orange Switches
- Connection Type - Wired, 2 m cable length
If you want a keyboard that you can easily take with you once you’ve finished your gaming sessions, the Razer BlackWidow Lite is a small, tenkeyless keyboard with some impressive quality. The detachable cable makes it easy to transport and is a feature we wish to see more of in high-end keyboards.
This keyboard comes with a set of Razer’s proprietary orange switches which feel very similar to what you would find with Cherry MX Brown switches. The tactile bump makes this a great keyboard when typing and it offers great responsiveness for gaming. Some users, however, report that although the typing experience is good, the ergonomics make it a bit fatigue-inducing after a while.
The design of this keyboard is quite nice. Although it may look a bit basic, it has a sleek design, is very well built and feels like it would last a long time. There also isn’t any RGB lighting to speak of on this keyboard which is surprising considering its price. You’ll have to make do with a simple white backlight we’re afraid.
You’ll also be sacrificing your num-pad due to the TKL design but this does make it a great option for those who are short on space. The keys can feel a little cramped at times though and a wrist rest is definitely recommended.
- Size - Full size, 445 x 140 x 35 mm
- Switch - Razer Purple Switches
- Connection Type - Wired, 2.1 m cable length
If you prefer a more clicky, tactile response in your keycaps, the Razer Purple switches could be the option for you. This keyboard also has Opto-Mechanical switches that use infrared light to ensure the quickest level of response time possible. If you aren’t a fan of clicky keycaps though, you’ll want to steer clear of this keyboard as the switches are some of the loudest we’ve ever tested.
Design-wise, this is a great looking keyboard. You’ll get a more subtle RGB lighting system when compared to the Razer Huntsman Elite, but each key glows well enough and there are also built-in macros and game modes which are all customizable, which is always a welcome feature.
There aren't any media keys or even a volume switch on this keyboard though, which is a disappointing omission. As well as this, the keycaps aren’t the greatest quality and you may want to invest in a better set rather than the ABS ones that are included. For a premium-priced keyboard, there are definitely a few things we’d have liked to see done differently.
If you want to take an in-depth look at the Razer Huntsman, check out our full review.
Razer Ornata Chroma
- Size - Full size, 463 x 154 x 31 mm
- Switch - Mecha-Membrane
- Connection Type - Wired, 2 m cable length
If comfort is your priority, you might like the Razer Ornata Chroma which comes with a huge magnetic wrist rest. This is great for those long gaming sessions and is a feature we wish every keyboard would come with.
The all-black with RGB backlit design means it’ll look great in any gaming station. The half-height keycaps result in a lower profile that makes the keyboard look that little bit more stylish than its peers. There’s also a good range of macro keys but as with most Razer keyboards, you’ll be missing out on dedicated media keys here which is a shame.
The switch type is mecha-membrane, part mechanical switch, and part silicone dome. So, when you hit a key, the mechanical switch depresses the dome to register the stroke. This can lead the keys to feel a bit sticky compared to purely mechanical keyboards, which takes some getting used to, and may put some people off. Razer claims that this reduces the time it takes for your actions to register and improves your typing speed, but it’s a real ‘love it or hate it’ solution.
If you’d like to read more about this keyboard, you can check out our full review.
Razer Cynosa Chroma
- Size - Full size, 423 x 155 x 31 mm
- Switch - Membrane Dome Switch
- Connection Type - Wired, 2 m cable length
For those looking for a budget option, the Razer Cynosa Choma is a solid choice. While you won’t find any mechanical key switches here, the membrane dome switch is an ok alternative if money is tight.
You’ll still get some pretty impressive features for your money though, and the RGB is especially impressive in this model. This keyboard even comes with the ability to customize the RGB on each and every key, something you don’t usually find at this price range.
This keyboard doesn’t knock it out of the park in the looks department, but this is to be expected for the low price. The build is almost completely plastic and there is a lot of flex in the board if you choose to have the legs up. If you’re looking for features such as a metal frame, dedicated media buttons, or even macro keys, you’re just going to have to spend a bit more.
If you want more information on this keyboard, be sure to check out our review where we took a deep dive into everything the Razer Cynosa Chroma had to offer.
Things to Consider
When shopping around for a new keyboard, price is the main thing that most of us think about first. Having a clear idea of your budget is a great way to narrow down the list of keyboards to look at.
If you are shopping on a budget, you may be able to pick up a keyboard for as little as $50. If money isn’t an issue, you can pick up keyboards with lots of extra features for around $150. High-priced keyboards typically come with more customization, different key switches, and even wrist support.
Many of the keyboards we have listed here come somewhere in the middle. Razer isn’t typically a budget-friendly brand as you’re paying more for the branding, lighting, and design. However, there are some bargains to pick up if you shop wisely.
Mechanical Vs. Membrane
There’s a big debate in the keyboard world about mechanical vs membrane keyboards. Most people find mechanical keyboards better for gaming due to the high responsiveness. However, mechanical keyboards can often come at a much higher price.
Membrane keyboards naturally have a softer spongy feel when you press the keys. Some people don’t mind it, others hate it. Either way, membrane is still a perfectly fine option if you’re shopping on a budget or don’t mind them.
Thankfully for us gamers, most keyboards these days that are labeled as “gaming keyboards” and come with mechanical keys rather than membrane making it easier to find these switches even in low budget products.
While design might not be the most important thing on a keyboard, if the appearance is important to you, then Razer is a good option. Keyboards can come with pretty plain designs but great functionality, great designs with poor functionality, or the best of both worlds. Make sure when shopping around for a keyboard that it is more than just a pretty face with flashing lights.
Sticking with a well-known brand is a great way to ensure the quality as well as the design. Not all RGB lighting is created equal. Good gaming keyboards with lighting effects will allow you to fully customize the RGB lighting to get the effect that you want, rather than just having preset zones.
The size of the keyboard is another great way to narrow down your choice. There are three main options that keyboards come in. There’s full-size, TKL (or tenkeyless) or 60% keyboards.
Full-sized keyboards have everything you need, often with some macro keys and media keys thrown in to make gaming a breeze. TKL keyboards will come without the numpad which may or may not suit you depending on how you prefer your gaming keymap.
60% keyboards will have only the most essential keys on. This can be a good pick if you’re short on space but if you’re planning to use it for other things like typing, it can be a bit hard to use due to the size of the keys.
While it’s easy to get caught up looking at the price, size, and RGB lighting, comfort is not something that should be overlooked. If you’re going to be spending a large part of your day at your computer, you need a comfortable setup to reduce the chance of strain or injury.
Some keyboards are built with a specific ergonomic design with wavy shapes which contour to the human hand, or even a split down the middle of the keyboard for each hand independently. Others will feature a more simple solution such as a wrist rest which may or may not detach. Either way, comfort is something you should definitely consider when shopping around for a keyboard. Believe me, your wrists will thank you for the extra effort.
The great thing about gaming keyboards is that they usually go one step further in terms of special features on offer. This means you get extra value for your money.
Extra features such as RGB lighting, wireless technology, and remappable buttons are great extras to have at hand while gaming. These features can also come in handy if you will be using the keyboard for other things such as creative or design work.
Going wireless is another thing to think about. There is, inevitably, an element of input lag when going for Bluetooth or similar. Not everyone is a fan and some prefer the responsiveness of a wired keyboard. However, plenty of people love not having to worry about wires trailing across the desk. It depends on the types of game you play, and how important those fractions of a second can be in response time.
The good thing is that wireless gaming keyboards are getting better all the time, as well as offering decent battery life. The downside: keyboard lights will drain those batteries fast, so you’ll have to weigh up how important that sort of feature is to you.
Where Can You Buy A Razer Gaming Keyboard?
Finding a good keyboard is now easier than ever, but this means it’s easy to be overwhelmed with options. A good place to start is to head over to the Razer website itself which will give you a full rundown of what they offer. This will give you all the information about different models and specifications. There’s always the option to purchase through the official website, but don’t expect many discounts. You may want to shop around for a better price.
In that case, it’s definitely worth taking a look at the big shopping sites such as Amazon or eBay or tech stores such as Scan or Overclockers. These websites will have a huge amount of choice and often more competitive prices. Always check out the user reviews too.
If possible, checking out these keyboards at a local retail store is a great way to get a feel of if they’ll suit you, particularly when weighing the choice between mechanical and membrane keyboards. By visiting a bricks-and-mortar retailer, you’ll be able to try before you buy.
Searching for the perfect gaming keyboard is quite a hard choice with so many options. Narrowing it down to Razer is a good start so we’ve picked a representative variety of the brand’s keyboards across different specifications and price ranges. However, we couldn’t list them all and there will no doubt be some other great ones out there. Once you know which features matter most to you, don’t be afraid to shop around.
What do you think of our Razer gaming keyboard picks? Is there another model that you’d love to see here?
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