Finding the right deck for you can be tough, but the best cheap gaming keyboards prove that you don't need to spend in excess to get something functional and stylish on your desk. You may be surprised to learn that more manufactures are creating entry-level and affordable options all the time with features rivaling the best gaming keyboards made by the companies.
Below, we've listed some of the best cheap gaming keyboards made by the likes of Razer, HyperX, and SteelSeries proving that premium design doesn't need to carry the price tag to boot. That doesn't mean you'll be solely limited to membrane boards either, as mechanical microswitches, RGB, wireless functionality, and even wrist rests have all been considered.
The only real compromise that you make when investing in one of the best cheap gaming keyboards is that you lose out on that finer feel afforded by more upmarket options, as the costs have to be considered in some way, shape, or form. This mostly refers to the overall build quality, which while solid and more-than-useable for intensive gaming, might not offer the same rugged resilience as some alternatives.
We're also rounding up the best cheap gaming headsets and best cheap gaming monitors if you've wanted to get your setup together on a budget. Should you want to turn your attention towards the hardware side of things, we regularly update our best cheap gaming laptop deals and best cheap gaming PC deals as well.
The best cheap gaming keyboards 2022
Until very recently, the K55 was my keyboard of choice for well over three years. It may not look like much at first glance, but it's in the quiet execution of all the essential qualities of a gaming keyboard that it shines. There's responsive key action, bright lighting, and rugged build quality. That all combines to give this the edge over its similarly-priced competition.
The K55 is admittedly stripped back in its approach, but it does everything it needs to well without any compromises being made. Keep in mind that it's a membrane device, though - it utilizes rubber under the keycaps as opposed to mechanical switches. That means this isn't likely to be the keyboard for you if you're after something clicky.
Want something a little more advanced? Check out our Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT review.
Much like the K55, the Razer Cynosa V2 is also membrane-based for a quiet and softer feel. The star of the show here - as with other Razer keyboards - is the company's Chroma RGB lighting, which, while a bit more basic than the visual effects found in the pricier models, still looks impressive.
This particular Cynosa is built with the purpose of being dust and spill-resistant, so it's unlikely to short out if you accidentally splash a can of cloudy lemonade over it (as I can, unfortunately, attest to with other keyboards that did not survive contact with drinks). Ultimately, if you're after a Razer device and don't want to spend a C-note or more (preferring a quiet but responsive feel), the Cynosa V2 can certainly fill that gap.
- Read more: Razer Cynosa V2 review
The HyperX Alloy Core RGB is another quiet keyboard, but this time it is decidedly understated - even with all the flashing lights. Speaking of that RGB, things are a little more straightforward. This is ideal for those who would prefer to set something quickly that looks good without tweaking things endlessly like with the aforementioned Chroma software.
Also included as standard are the dedicated media keys, featuring easy access to volume and playback control in a place that's unobtrusive. The Alloy Core isn't a keyboard that's going to turn many heads, but it's more than serviceable about everything it does.
You may think that getting a mechanical keyboard for this kind of money would yield poor results, but this Havit model shows that it can be done. The blue microswitches make for that typical loud and clicky feedback that's exactly what you're after in a device like this.
Its form factor is something to note as well; it takes up only the essential space needed to accommodate the keys with little room for anything else, resulting in a slender look. You can also bag it with a high-DPI RGB mouse - perfect for those wanting a high-quality setup at an affordable price point.
Klim has proved that budget wireless options do in fact exist, and can boast a similar build quality to other RGB-enabled membrane keyboards without hiking the price up. It's also lightweight and rugged enough to be thrown into a rucksack without fear of scuffing or damage.
The company claims that this keyboard takes approximately four hours to reach its full battery charge, which means it should have enough juice to carry you through your next gaming session. It's worth remembering the quiet and soft-touch action of the keys themselves as well. However, it lacks mechanical tactile feedback or clickiness, which is something to bear in mind if that's an essential selling point for you in this price range.
If you can sacrifice the clicky feel and tactile feedback of a mechanical deck, then there's a lot to recommend about the Apex 3. At first glance, there's the stellar ten-zone RGB lighting and the magnetic wrist rest for a comfortable gaming experience. The fact that it clings to the keyboard ensures less slipping and sliding around when typing or gaming. This is something that some models from other manufacturers don't include, and certainly not in this price range.
As you may expect from a membrane-based gaming keyboard, the Apex 3 is dust and water-resistant which is ideal for those who fear an unfortunate encounter with a soft drink while kicking back with a game. It's a little big, bulky and heavy, but it will sit sturdily on your desk of choice for thousands of hours.
Best cheap gaming keyboard: buying advice
We've used countless gaming keyboards over the years and have picked up a thing or two regarding what to expect from the best cheap gaming keyboards in the modern day. It can be confusing to know what's right for you, and whether you should invest in a more premium deck. With that in mind, we've sought to answer some of the burning questions on what they need to know about cheap gaming keyboards this year.
Are cheap gaming keyboards worth it?
In our experience as long-term PC gamers, we've found, generally, that the cheaper models perform just as well for gaming as the high-end branded flagship models do. If you're on a limited peripherals budget, which many of have been in our gaming lives, then you can absolutely enjoy PC gaming on a cheap gaming keyboard, especially now that they are becoming cheaper than ever before.
How much should I spend on a gaming keyboard?
There's no definitive answer as to how much you should have to spend on a cheap gaming keyboard, but we generally recommend anything around or above the $50 mark to be worth your time and money, especially when they're from the more established names in the scene. With that said, some of the $25 models in our roundup are top-quality, too, it just all comes down to feature set and build preference at the end of the day which will define the end costs.
Is a mechanical keyboard worth it for gaming?
We've used many mechanical and membrane gaming keyboards in our time as PC gamers, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference rather than one build type having advantages over the other. For example, you're going to get more tactile, clicky responsiveness from a mechanical deck, but these gaming keyboards will also be louder. Membrane gaming keyboards tend to be quieter, but lack such a definitive feedback for gaming, we recommend investing in a cheaper mechanical keyboard if you're on the fence about making the jump, as it's not going to suit everyone's tastes.