The humble gaming keyboard is no longer quite so humble. We’ve come a long way from the bad old days of nought but rubber dome switches as far as the eye could see, or single colour LED backlights, or complete Cherry switch dominance. Today sees a vibrant keyboard market that has seen high-end mechanical switches become everyday and affordable tech, and once-enthusiast keeb features filtering into the mainstream.
Hot-swappable switches were barely a thought but a few years ago, and no-one outside of the very enthusiastic enthusiast keyboard community would have considered lubing up individual key switches before. But both are now very much part of standard PC gaming hardware groupthink.
You have the likes of Razer and Asus trying to muscle in on the cottage industry of bespoke gaming keyboards, and established brands such as Ducky releasing complete DIY kits to build your own board from the ground up.
And there have been some genuinely outstanding tippy-tappers released this year, too. And we’ve had to pick just three for our nominations for the best gaming keyboard of the year—but all are potentially worthy of the title.
Best gaming keyboard 2023: the nominees
Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless
Our Jacob has been a keyboard geek for as long as I’ve known him, and when he raves about a new board you know it’s going to be good. But I never thought I’d hear him rave about an Asus gaming keyboard.
At least not until we had our first taste of the excellent ROG Azoth board, and then realised Asus was filtering all the good stuff from that mighty mini keeb into a far more affordable form with the Strix Scope II 96.
It’s still a compact design, but manages to fit in an entire numpad, and despite its relative affordability compared to the Azoth still features hot-swappable switches, proper sound dampening, and PBT key caps. And yes, it’s still wireless. Though you probably guessed that from its name.
Read our full Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless review.
G.Skill KM250 RGB
I love the enthusiast keyboard vibe, but I bristle at the extreme pricing of it all. Which is why I loved G.Skill’s KM250 keyboard. It’s a proper 60% board with hot-swappable switches, per-key RGB lighting, and PBT pudding keycaps, and yet it’s often less than $50.
There’s even a discrete volume wheel in a space where you’re normally lucky to get any sort of media controls whatsoever.
I won’t pretend that it’s a top-end board out of the box, but while the Kailh switches it ships with aren’t great, you can replace them down the line with ones you prefer and the slightly hollow sound of the chassis could easily be dampened if you wanted to get properly stuck in. And because the board is so cheap, you’re not going to feel bad taking it apart and experimenting.
Read our full G.Skill KM250 RGB review.
Ducky ProjectD Outlaw65
This has only just snuck onto our nominations list with Jacob only recently finishing out his DIY build. Yes, this is Ducky’s ultra-enthusiast DIY keyboard building kit. And it’s great.
For starters, building your very own gaming keyboard from scratch is quite the ride, and a genuinely fun little project. But you’ve got to be into it as a hobby given the expense, and the difficulty you might have sourcing the right keycaps for your build.
But it’s seriously heavy, straightforward to build, you get to lube stabilisers, and it’s a high-quality kit throughout.
Read our full Ducky Project Outlaw65 review.
The winner of the PC Gamer Hardware Award for the best gaming keyboard will be announced on New Year’s Eve. It’s all to play for, and any one of these three is completely deserving of the crown.