Gaming keyboards haven’t quite had the tumultuous year that gaming mice have had, but there are still some real winners out there. With companies like Logitech and Razer pushing the envelope of what is standard practice in the industry of gaming peripherals, 2020 is shaping up to be a competitive year for gaming keyboards.
Before the year wraps, let’s take a look at some of the best keyboards of 2019.
Best overall: HyperX Alloy Origins
The Hyper X Alloy Origins is our pick for the best keyboard of 2019. While the design itself isn’t anything new, the solid aluminum frame screams top-tier build quality and HyperX’s proprietary Red switches feel a cut above the understandably popular MX Cherry Reds.
It may seem like a safe pick because it is a safe pick. The Alloy Origins board gives gamers exactly what they need to have a comfortable gaming experience. Two layers of adjustable feet, a detachable USB Type C connection, buttery switches, non-intrusive bottoming out, onboard profiles, the whole nine. If you’re thinking that these things sound like they should be included, then you’re right, they should. The problem with the industry, and why HyperX gets a nod for best overall, is that not companies provide these creature comforts at reasonable price points.
The HyperX NGENUITY software has also recently had an update that makes it work a heck of a lot better than it did in previous iterations. This is hardly cause for applause but when considering which keyboard is king in 2019, NGENUITY is actually far more user-friendly than some of the other heavy-hitting software out there.
Best compact form factor: Ducky One 2 Mecha Mini
This one may come as a surprise since it’s not necessarily a “gaming” keyboard but proves that the enthusiast and gaming communities are slowing crashing into each other. The Ducky One 2 Mecha Mini is the latest keyboard on this list but its already made a strong impression.
Building off the foundation of the wildly popular Ducky One 2 Mini, the Mecha boasts an aluminum frame. That’s pretty much the only thing that was wrong with the original Ducky One 2 Mini. If you’ve been watching some of the pros closely enough, you may have noticed the Ducky One 2 Mini at many players’ fingertips.
The extremely impressive build quality is what gives the Mecha its edge in this category. Combining the now sturdier build with the performance and flexibility the original Ducky One 2 Mini gave players is a combination for success. Pair all of the above with the fact that there is no software and everything is controlled on the board, and it’s a no-brainer in this category.
Best tenkeyless (TKL): Razer Huntsman TE
This category was probably the toughest category to nail down. There were a ton of solid TKL options that came to market this year but one stood out a bit more than the rest. Razer has been making huge plays to position itself as the industry leader and innovator. The Huntsman TE feels like a strong push into this regard.
While we were at first uncomfortable with Razer’s proprietary optical switches, they grew on us extremely quickly after a short time with the keyboard. The Huntsman TE is the first keyboard in some time to make us feel like we were getting a new gaming experience, which is no small feat. This choice is most-likely a divisive one as the hypersensitive actuation point will have undoubtedly caused many fat-finger related in-game deaths but the sheer speed of the Huntsman TE is unbeatable.
Razer’s optical monstrosity won’t make you a better gamer, but it might help train your fingers to be a bit more disciplined if you have trouble losing your place, grip, or just fat-finger too much. There’s a learning curve but once you’ve got it down, you’ve got it down. 2020 looks dangerous if Razer can keep up the pace it’s set for itself.
Best full-size: HyperX Alloy Origins
Given that the HyperX Alloy Origins was our overall a pick, of course it takes the best full-size keyboard category. Coming with some of the best value on the market, the Alloy Origins does a lot of familiar things well, and while it may be underwhelming, our experience with the board was anything but underwhelming.
Comfort, style, and performance all classify what HyperX has been showing gamers this year and the Alloy Origins is a solid workhorse overall. The Alloy Origins has a large footprint when it comes to how much room it takes up on any given desk, but its aesthetics save it from looking like some beefy eyesore. Decently priced at $109.99, the Alloy Origins plays it safe but excels in every category.
Best hot-swappable: Glorious PC Gaming Race GMMK
Glorious has been making massive plays this past year and it shows. From their explosive Glorious Model O release to their keyboards, Glorious is making waves and one, in particular, has stood out to us for quite some time. The Glorious GMMK line of keyboards, specifically the Compact, has really impressed the community.
The main feature of the GMMK line is its hot-swappable PCB. While Logitech made a strong play to bring hot-swappable PCBs to the mainstream but at a high premium of $149.99. The GMMK line will run you $109.95 in all of its prebuilt forms. There is also the option to purchase a barebones version if you already have keycaps and switches that you’d like to use instead. The GMMK Compact came out near the onset of 2019 and has been a daily driver when it comes to gaming at home or on the go.
Having so much flexibility is what saves the GMMK from getting dings in the software department. While the software isn’t bad, it just isn’t very useful and having to use third party programs like AHK can be off-putting to newer users. Aside from the software, the GMMK has the “shut up and take my money” effect on many gamers looking to stretch their dollar a bit further without sacrificing quality.