Whether you're a casual or serious gamer, looking for a gaming keyboard that suits your needs is difficult, and they can get very pricey. Luckily, there are keyboards on the market for less than $100. Although most of them will lack the features found on higher-end keyboards, such as extra macro keys, better build quality, or sometimes even full RGB lighting, they're still reliable for gaming. When looking for a gaming keyboard, it's important to take into account which types of switches you're most comfortable with, as some come with mechanical switches while others have rubber dome switches, which feel mushier than mechanical ones.
We've tested over 90 keyboards, and below are our recommendations for the best gaming keyboards under $100 that are available for purchase. Also, see our recommendations for the best keyboards, the best mechanical keyboards, and the best keyboards for gaming.
The best gaming keyboard under $100 with mechanical switches we've tested is the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Although it doesn't use typical mechanical switches, it has hybrid switches that give you the tactile feedback of a mechanical one and the soft touch of a rubber dome switch.
This is an excellent gaming model that comes with the same features as other SteelSeries keyboards, but for under $100. It has individually-lit keys, an OLED screen, and a scroll wheel. The SteelSeries Engine software is compatible with both Windows and macOS. You can also customize its RGB lighting, set macros, or reprogram any key on it, and the keyboard has onboard memory. The keys are easy to press, ensuring your actions are registered quickly.
Unfortunately, the keys are loud and will distract others around you in an office environment, but that shouldn't be a problem if it's for your at-home setup. Luckily, it's really well-built and comes with a wrist rest. Overall, this is a very good model, making it the best mechanical keyboard under $100 we've tested.
If you're looking for a small keyboard to have more space for your mouse, then the Obinslab Anne Pro 2 is a fantastic alternative. Its software doesn't offer cloud sync like the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, but it's a 60% compact keyboard that has an excellent build quality and has all the gaming features you need. It has full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys, you can set each key to a macro, and it's available in a variety of switches, so you can get the one you like. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a wrist rest or any incline settings, but it connects with up to four devices at once via Bluetooth. It might cost you over $100, but you can also find it under that price.
If you're looking for the best mechanical gaming keyboard under $100, the SteelSeries is an excellent choice, but if you want something smaller, you can't go wrong with the Obinslab.
The best gaming keyboard under $100 with a wireless connection that we've tested is the Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. This TenKeyLess keyboard lets you connect via Bluetooth or USB receiver, and you can pair to 2 devices at the same time. Its slightly bigger than other TKL keyboards due to the extra row for its dedicated media control keys, brightness adjustment button, and Windows lock key.
The variant we tested uses Cherry MX Red linear switches, which require a bit of force to actuate but shouldn't cause any fatigue when typing for a long time. They feel very responsive, but there's no tactile feedback to let you know when a keypress is registered. Because typing on this keyboard isn't very loud, you shouldn't have any issues using it in a quiet environment.
Unfortunately, it feels a bit cheap due to its plastic frame and ABS keycaps, and its wrist rest doesn't feel very comfortable. Also, the blue backlight color can't be customized. There is a slightly brighter Ice Blue variant that we haven't tested, but we expect it to perform similarly. Nevertheless, if you want an excellent wireless gaming keyboard for under $100, consider the Corsair.
The best gaming keyboard under $100 with non-mechanical switches that we've tested is the Razer Ornata V2. This full-sized wired model uses clicky Razer Mecha-Membrane switches that combine the sensation of soft rubber domes with the clickiness of mechanical switches. It truly shines due to its full RGB lighting, and each key can be individually customized in Razer's Synapse 3 software.
It comes with a plushy detachable wrist rest and has two incline settings, giving it a nice ergonomic feeling that should make you feel comfortable as you game. Unlike the original Razer Ornata, this version comes with dedicated media keys and a wheel to control the volume while the much-appreciated Game Mode feature can be enabled with a function button. It's fully compatible with Windows and partially compatible with iOS due to the context keys not working.
Unfortunately, the spacebar button feels wobbly, and the ABS keys feel cheap overall. The clicky switches make the keyboard quite loud, which could be annoying after extended use. Furthermore, its software doesn't work on iOS or Linux, meaning you can't customize it on those operating systems. Overall, if you prefer non-mechanical keyboards and want something that doesn't sacrifice performance or features, this one is a great choice.
If you're looking for an even cheaper non-mechanical keyboard, the SteelSeries Apex 3 is an excellent choice. Its RGB backlight isn't as good as the Razer Ornata V2's and it's not always clear if a key has been registered or not, but it feels better built and its companion software is superior. It's made out of a solid plastic frame that has a decent amount of flex to it, and it's rated IP32 for water and dust resistance, though this isn't something we test for. The ABS keycaps feel stable and have a nice, soft finish. The SteelSeries Engine software that comes with the keyboard is excellent and allows you to customize each key's backlight individually, reprogram each key, set macros, and save unique profiles.
If you're looking for a keyboard that has better RGB lighting and feels better to type with, get the Razer. However, if you want something that's a bit cheaper and has a better overall build quality, then get the SteelSeries.
The best cheap gaming keyboard under $50 that we've tested is the Redragon K552-RGB. This TKL keyboard is very well-built for its price due to its sturdy hard plastic and metal build that show no signs of flex. Although the spacebar wobbles a little, the double-shot ABS keycaps feel nice to the touch, and the keys are stable.
Its clicky Outemu Blue switches, which feel similar to Cherry MX Blues, don't require much force to activate a key. They also provide tactile feedback and an audible click, so you know when the key is registered. That being said, this click makes the keyboard quite loud, so it might bother those around you, but you can get it with red switches to help reduce the noise. It's also fully compatible with Windows and Linux, but only partially with macOS.
Unfortunately, since there's no official software for RGB customizations, it might be a bit confusing at first to figure out how to change the backlighting directly from the keyboard. Also, MMO gamers might be disappointed at the lack of macros and programmable buttons. Overall, this is a decent keyboard for gaming and is one of the best in its price range that we've tested.
10/16/2020: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.
08/19/2020: Added Razer Ornata V2 as Best Non-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, changed SteelSeries Apex 3 to an alternative, moved Razer Cynosa Chroma to notable mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best gaming keyboards under $100 for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper product wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no keyboard that is difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all keyboards we've tested under $100. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no product is perfect for every use, most keyboards are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them. Be sure to know your key switch preferences before choosing.