A gaming keyboard is a crucial part of any competitive gamer’s setup. Mechanical keyboards take the crown when it comes to pure performance and the lowest response rate, but they can also be quite costly. There are still a couple of membrane keyboards that make up for their lack of performance with their looks and functionality, though.
While the quality of a mechanical keyboard increases as the price goes up, it’s still possible to find excellent options under $50. This means you’ll be playing a game of compromises, however, since the manufacturers need to cut corners somewhere. These corners include RGB lights, switch brands, and even build quality.
Each keyboard on our list will be miles better than a regular keyboard you can from the nearest shop, but there are a couple of marketing gimmicks you should be careful about while shopping on your own. Pay close attention to keywords like “membrane” and “mechanical feel,” which both indicate that the keyboard you’re checking out isn’t mechanical. While there’s nothing wrong with membrane keyboards, they’re just less suitable for competitive gaming in general due to their higher response rates.
Considering the price range is filled with knockoff and unknown brands, it’s relatively easy to get lost while looking for the best value. We’ve gathered the best gaming keyboards you can find on the market for less than $50, so you can have a clear look at your options.
If you haven’t been window shopping for a while, the name Redragon may sound unfamiliar. It was essentially a manufacturing company that was producing for other brands—basically a supplier. The company decided to build its own brand around 2016, however, and has come a long way in the industry. The main reason why Redragon is so respected by competitive gamers is because of the insane price/performance ratio that each of its products offer.
Redragon K552 is an RGB-lit mechanical keyboard that comes with red switches. It comes in a plastic body, which feels durable enough and should be able to take a beating in-case you have a habit of dropping or smashing your keyboard. It doesn’t have any macro keys, but it shouldn’t be something to worry about unless you’re an MMORPG player.
The main reason why this all-in-one keyboard rocks a surprisingly low price tag is because Redragon uses custom switches that are just like the real deal. The custom Outemu red switches used in K552 are advertised as Cherry MX equivalents. While it’s possible to feel some differences between the two if you were to test them next to each other, the red switches on the keyboard still offer all the competitive advantages that MX reds provide and don’t take away from the overall experience.
Red switches tend to be the best for gaming, mostly due to their low sensitivity levels and actuation points.
Keyboard dimensions: 13.94 by 4.84 by 1.46 inches
Gaming has evolved more into a competitive hobby over the years, but not every gamer strives to be the best, and sometimes looks can be more important to a setup than overall performance.
Corsair K55 is the entry-level keyboard of Corsair’s K series. The product line is known for its functional design that includes media and macro keys. Some models in the series, like K55, feature beautiful RGB lights. The keyboard has three different backlight zones, meaning that the light shows you can choose from will look more stunning.
Despite being a membrane keyboard, K55 tries to make up for it by introducing some quality-of-life features that increase its lifespan. The keyboard is IP42 dust and spill-resistant. While the durability against spills is a must-have feature for anyone that enjoys consuming beverages during gaming sessions, the dust resistance makes it so that you won’t have to clean your keyboard as often.
You’ll need to download Corsair’s iCue software to customize the keyboard. The program also lets you sync your keyboard’s RGB with other compatible parts on your PC.
Keyboard dimensions: 18.90 by 6.60 by 1.40 inches
When the topic’s gaming, it’s almost impossible not to mention Razer. Though the brand has earned a reputation of being a bit pricey than its competition, it still receives love as the industry’s entry-level segment.
Razer Cynosa V2 is a membrane keyboard and carries the iconic Chrome-look that makes Razer proud. The company advertises the switches as “soft cushioned gaming-grade keys,” indicating a pleasant typing feeling. Though the keyboard doesn’t feature mechanical switches, it comes with dedicated media keys to increase usability. The keys are individually backlit, which helps the keyboard put out epic light shows.
You’ll need to download Razer’s software to tinker the RGB, and you can also sync your keyboard with the games you’re playing. This requires loading certain profiles that recognize what is going on in the game of your choice. Taking damage can turn your keyboard to red, while healing up can let out a soothing green/blue wave effect to enhance your gaming experience.
Keyboard dimensions: 18.24 by 6.07 by 1.22 inches
Let’s get back to the world of esports. As stunning as RGB keyboards can look, you’ll need a mechanical one to compete against the best.
STOGA is a straight-forward mechanical gaming keyboard that requires no installations. It offers a basic RGB experience and comes with custom made Cherry MX Blue equivalent switches. Blue switches separate themselves from the competition with their clicky feel, which makes typing so much more fun, but it can also be too loud for some gamers. Despite falling behind red switches in terms of raw gaming performance, blue switches will still be better than any membrane keyboard setup you’ll find.
STOGA’s tenkeyless design is a massive plus for anyone with limited desk space and plans to use XL mouse pads that help improve your aim in first-person-shooter (FPS) games. This keyboard’s main drawbacks are that it doesn’t come with software or a wrist rest. While you can always opt-in for a third party wrist rest, it’s hard to replace the customizability that a keyboard software offers. It’s still possible to find community-made programs to configure your keyboard, but the options will undoubtedly be limited compared to the other keyboards on our list.
STOGA’s inclusion of dedicated media keys is a nice addition to the keyboard, and there are a total of 14 hybrid backlight mods. The mods help gamer switch between colors and animation, which certainly increases the appeal of the keyboard.
Keyboard dimensions: 13.70 by 4.80 by 1.40 inches
One common trait of keyboards in the sub-$50 price range is that they offer little to no customizability. There won’t be color or switch options to choose from, which is understandable but still leaves a lot to desire while trying to find the perfect keyboard.
E-Element’s Z-88 mechanical gaming keyboard is potentially the only exception to this rule. The keyboard comes in five different colors: black, blue, gold, pink, and white. You also get to choose the type of switch you want in your keyboard, which is unheard of for a model at this budget. You’ll have the option to choose from blue, brown, or red Outemu switches that should feel just like the Cherry MX versions of them.
Go with Blue if you’re typer or red if you find yourself gaming all the time when you’re on your PC. The brown switches offer a great balance between the two by trying to what they’re best at simultaneously.
The keyboard’s tenkeyless design makes it a solid choice for small desks and anyone who isn’t a frequent numpad user. The LED backlit keyboard comes with 10 preset light modes that certainly don’t look like a Razer level RGB, but it is still nice considering the value E-Element Z-88 brings to the table. The keyboard’s made of ABS and with some metal parts. There’s also an overall matte feeling on the keyboard that ensures a smooth gliding experience between the keys.
Though you won’t find any media keys on this keyboard, the function keys will let you jump around your playlist with the help of an Fn key.
Keyboard dimensions: 12.20 by 4.84 by 1.40 inches
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