Most keyboards these days have a form of backlighting. However, RGB backlighting differs from these monochrome options because you have a palette of over 16 million colors to use for customization with RGB. While backlighting also serves a practical purpose of making keys easier to see in the dark, RGB backlighting is an easy way to unite a setup into a cohesive aesthetic. If you're choosing a keyboard for its RGB lighting, it's important to consider the location of its LEDs, its companion software, as well as the range of customization features available to you.
We've tested over 180 keyboards, and below are our recommendations for the best keyboards with RGB lighting that are available for purchase. As a note, this list is made up of wired-only keyboards as RGB backlighting tends to quickly drain the battery on wireless keyboards, especially with custom effects going on, so if you're interested in a wireless keyboard, check out our article for the best wireless keyboards. For other options, see our recommendations for the best gaming keyboards and the best keyboards overall.
The best RGB keyboard that we've tested is the Corsair K100 RGB. This full-size unit was designed with RGB enthusiasts in mind, as it has a whopping 44 independent lighting zones built into the frame, and you can individually customize each key. To alter the lighting, you can use Corsair's iCUE software, which will also sync up the backlighting across your Corsair products, including PC components, for a unified aesthetic in your setup. This software is available on both Windows and macOS.
As this is designed to be a gaming keyboard, the K100 RGB also offers incredible gaming performance with exceptionally low latency, and it comes with Cherry MX switch options that are well-suited for fast-paced gaming due to their short pre-travel distance and sensitivity. Also, as a note, the RGB isn't purely for aesthetics here. There's a programmable multi-function wheel on the top left with an RGB circle around it that changes colors depending on the active function. You can use this wheel to alter settings on your PC or directly on the keyboard itself.
While the HyperX Alloy Elite 2 might not have as many RGB lighting zones built into the frame, it does have something for the RGB lovers: pudding keycaps. These keycaps look like little puddings, hence their name, due to the translucent, frosted white bottom and opaque top. This specialized design allows for more of the RGB backlighting to escape without it being too bright and creates a nice glow. Normally, these keycaps are offered as a separate purchase, as they tend to be popular more among the keyboard enthusiast crowd, so the Alloy Elite 2 is pretty unique for including them as the stock keycap.
You can use the HyperX NGENUITY software to customize the backlighting with various colors, effects, and layers. Plus, you can save these settings to the onboard memory, so you don't need the software open to access these effects. Unfortunately, the companion software is only available on Windows, so if you're a macOS user, you'll have to rely on this onboard memory feature for customized lighting effects. While this keyboard's latency isn't nearly as low as the Corsair K100 RGB's, it's still low enough for fast-paced games to feel responsive.
If you're willing to sacrifice the pudding keycaps and overall better RGB lighting for raw performance, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is an excellent keyboard that falls into this price range. Its latency is significantly lower, and its adjustable pre-travel distance means you can set your key sensitivity right where you like it to optimize your gaming experience. There's also a small OLED screen that you can use to make on-the-fly adjustments to the backlighting rather than using the software.
The ROCCAT Vulcan TKL takes the idea of pudding keycaps to its most extreme endpoint. Rather than a full keycap with a translucent bottom, the keycaps on this keyboard are thin, flat tiles that leave the switches and the LEDs exposed. It creates a glow effect around each key. While you'd expect these keycaps have a significant amount of wobble, considering how they're suspended above the switch, they're stable due to the box stem switches, which provide good side-to-side support for the keycaps.
The ROCCAT Swarm companion software offers thorough lighting customization and has a feature called AIMO Intelligent lighting. This feature reacts to your behaviors while using the keyboard and syncs the lighting up across other ROCCAT AIMO-compatible devices for an immersive lighting experience. However, all of this comes at the cost of base performance. Unlike the HyperX Alloy Elite 2, the latency on this keyboard is fairly high for competitive gaming, so while your lighting may be responsive, you might notice a bit of a delay in-game if you play intense FPS or reaction-based games. However, it's perfectly fine for more casual games.
You might prefer something with more traditional keycaps and better latency for competitive gaming. In this case, you should look at the Corsair K70 RGB TKL. Although it lacks the same intelligent lighting feature of the ROCCAT and the backlighting doesn't get as bright, you get better raw performance for gaming with exceptionally low latency and stock switches with a super short pre-travel distance, so each keypress feels instantaneous. However, this means general typing on it can feel a bit stiff.
The EVGA Z20 offers an extraordinary amount of additional features and RGB customization for its price point. Plus, its latency is on par with high-end options, like the Corsair K100 RGB. All of that has to come with a downside, which in this case is the build quality and software ease-of-use. Unlike the ROCCAT Vulcan TKL, the Z20's keys are less stable and tend to wobble noticeably. The Z20 still has a nice metal top plate and a tray-mounted design that allows for great RGB light dispersion from under the keycaps.
There are also an additional two lighting strips on either side of the keyboard that you can customize using the companion software. The EVGA Unleash RGB software is available only on Windows and lacks the polish of other companion programs, so it's a bit confusing to use at first. However, once you figure out how to use it, you've unlocked nearly unlimited RGB customization, as you can individually customize each key with colors and effects.
That said, you might want something with higher build quality and simpler software. In that case, the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is an excellent choice. As it's an older Razer model, it's available in a budget-friendly price range. However, it has incredibly high base performance and uses Synapse 3 software, which is more intuitive to use than EVGA Unleash RGB. The only trade-off is that the RGB backlighting is dimmer on the Razer, so the colors don't look as bold and vibrant.
While most of this list covers the best RGB mechanical keyboards we've tested, our budget option is more straightforward. For the RGB-lover that doesn't want to break the bank, we recommend the Razer Cynosa V2. This simple keyboard uses rubber dome switches, so they're quiet to use and feel comparable to most other basic keyboards. Underneath the keycaps, there's a frosted white plastic plate to keep the colors crisp, well-mixed, and bright. While most rubber-dome keyboards with this kind of construction usually have zone lighting, each key on the Cynosa V2 is independently lit and customizable, so you can still customize the WASD keys to stand out from the rest.
Like the ROCCAT Vulcan TKL, this keyboard also has fairly high latency. However, with the added cons of longer pre-travel distances and heavier switches, it's best suited for casual gaming rather than competitive or reaction-based titles, as you'll likely experience finger fatigue trying to press the keys rapidly.
Sep 23, 2022: Added in the ROCCAT Vulcan TKL and EVGA Z20 as 'Best Mid-Range' and 'Best Budget' picks, respectively. Removed Notable Mentions that were no longer relevant.
May 25, 2022: Fully restructured article to better reflect user needs.
Mar 22, 2022: Text updated for clarity and accuracy; no changes to picks.
Jan 21, 2022: Added the ROCCAT Vulcan TKL to the Notable Mentions. Changed the Obinslab Anne Pro 2 to the 'Best Compact RGB Keyboard' and moved the Corsair K100RGB to 'Best RGB Keyboard For MMO Gaming'.
Nov 22, 2021: Replaced the Redragon K552-RGB with the EVGA Z15 because it's better overall; removed the Razer Ornata V2 as the 'Best Non-Mechanical' and added the Ducky One 2 RGB TKL as 'Best For Typing' to reflect user needs; added the Corsair K70, Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM, and EVGA Z12 to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best RGB membrane and best RGB mechanical keyboards for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our keyboard reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no keyboard is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.