Budget gaming keyboards are now more common than ever, especially those that were designed for the enthusiast market. It used to cost a small fortune to get anything that wasn’t mushy or sluggish, unlike today when you can get a mechanical variant at the $50 price point. However, the plentiful choices also mean that it can be difficult to single out a solid choice.
However, the beauty of selecting the right budget gaming keyboard can save you from headaches. But most importantly, getting it right the first time will save you precious time and money from hunting for and buying a replacement. You get to enjoy your games or continue on with your productivity and finish the piling tasks.
It’s also worth noting that keyboards, particularly the mechanical side of the market, can become a deep and dark rabbit hole. There are customizable builds out there that can cost several hundreds or even thousands in some cases. It’s nearly impossible to make a recommendation at that point since the choices are endless, plus the user experience in that category will be highly subjective.
So we went ahead and picked the best the casual market has to offer for the purpose of this review. They are not the cream of the crop, but we strived to keep every pick under $100. That’s still not truly the absolute bottom of the budget range, but going way lower will point you in the direction of generic office types like this product.
Best Budget Gaming Keyboards for 2024
It’s worth noting that all of the picks we chose are mechanical since prices have come down to a point where membrane types are already out of fashion. There are notable options out there, but they are competing with the more durable mechanicals at roughly the same price. It wouldn’t make sense to pit them against each other since the latter will always win in our eyes, no matter what.
Keychron K8 – Best Budget Gaming Keyboards (Overall)
We’ve been using the Keychron K8 in the office for quite some time now since it’s a cost-effective option that doesn’t disappoint. It’s a full mechanical TKL keyboard that’s available in several variants, including ones with RGB lighting. Those will set you back more, but the white LED variants can often be found for around sixty bucks.
What we absolutely love about the Keychron K8 is its wireless functionality and USB-C connectivity. You can easily switch between wired and Bluetooth wireless, but there really aren’t any delays when using the latter. Its internal battery can also last for more than a week, even if we use it for both writing tasks and gaming.
The Keychron K10 is your pick if TKL doesn’t appeal to you since it has a full 104-key Mac layout. The extra keys on the numpad are indispensable if you work with a lot of numbers or are playing games with complex control layouts like War Thunder. It’s virtually the same as the K8, except that it will need more room on your desk.
The K series boards from the brand represent its budget line, but they do not fall short when it comes to build quality. They also use Gateron’s G Pro mechanical switches in a variety of flavors, so you aren’t getting cheap knockoffs that can fail early.
The Keychron V1 is an absolute step up to the two above without a significant price hike. It’s priced like the K10 despite having a 75% layout, but what makes it special is it now has hot-swappable switches and a sweet control knob. This allows you to customize your experience as you go along with better switches, although the default switches and the improved keycaps are excellent by themselves.
The V1 also features a frosted black chassis that helps its RGB lighting glow through for your themed setup. Everything is customizable via QMK/VIA, so it gives you more control compared to the K variants. You can also grab the V2 variant, which is equally priced and superb if you want a smaller 65% layout or go with the V3 for 80% instead.
Cooler Master CK552
The $60 Cooler Master CK552 is a generic recommendation for gamers who want both RGB and great gaming performance at a low price. It has a full layout as well, so it’s ideal for those who want num pads without expanding their spending budget. It also has a nice aluminum top plate which makes it feel like it costs double what it originally asked for ownership.
The CK552 also uses Gateron switches in either Red, Blue, or Brown flavors. It also has onboard memory for storing macros and the RGB lighting. You need to use CM’s limited Portal app, but it honestly works great, especially if you have other Cooler Master gear.
Razer Huntsman Mini
The Razer Huntsman Mini is our top pick if you want a compact alternative to the one above. It comes from a very popular peripheral brand, so it does come with more customization options via the Razer Synapse app. However, its specialty is its optical switches which use a sensor to register your keypresses with lighting-fast response and accuracy.
The downside with it is it’s not for everyone since the optomechanical switches are often too sensitive. It’s very easy to mis-press some keys, so we highly advise against using them for writing or programming. That and its small size make it perfect for gaming since not a lot will get in the way of your control.
The Havit KB487L is one of the cheapest mechanical keyboards out there are worthy of consideration. It’s priced below $50, but it still manages to include colored PVT keycaps and Outemu red switches. However, what truly makes it special is its unique layout in a TKL form factor.
TKLs normally don’t have num pads, but the KB487L’s designer managed to squeeze them in. This created a compact yet almost complete keyboard layout which makes it great for both work and gaming use. Granted that it’s not for anyone since it is not a standard layout, but we’re willing to practice using it considering its price.
About the Author: Paolo has been a gaming veteran since the golden days of Doom and Warcraft and has been building gaming systems for family, friends, and colleagues since junior high. High-performance monitors are one of his fixations; he believes that every citizen’s right to enjoy one. He has gone through several pieces of hardware in pursuit of every bit of performance gain, much to the dismay of his wallet. He now works with Monitornerds to scrutinize the latest gear to create reviews that accentuate the seldom explained aspects of a PC monitor.