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From being niche accessories, to becoming an essential tool in mainstream gaming and eSports tournaments, mechanical keyboards are nowadays more popular than ever. The question arises why are they so popular, and why should someone get them in the first place? In this review we are going to try to answer these two questions, and show you which are the best mechanical gaming keyboards that feature RGB backlighting in 2021.
Read more: Logitech MX Keys Wireless Keyboard Review
Most standard keyboards use rubber domes and separate membrane layers to recognize key press and provide feedback while typing. Unlike them, mechanical keyboards use mechanical switches made from springs and plastic sliders which register a key press and provide tactile or sound feedback. There are several types of mechanical switches, however, most popular are linear, tactile and clicky switches. Special thing about these switches is that they provide great sensory feedback while typing, and enable you to precisely know when have you pressed a certain key. Most standard keyboards with rubber dome switches don’t offer the same experience while typing, and with time they often become stiffer to type on, as the rubber hardens over time. Mechanical keyboards don’t have such a problem, as they utilize only mechanical parts, and can often withstand tens of millions more key presses than non-mechanical keyboards.
Since they are much more accurate, and provide great sensory feedback, it is no wonder that mechanical keyboards are much better for gaming. In games which require great amount of precision and responsiveness, such as first-person shooters, mechanical keyboards greatly outpace standard rubber dome keyboards. Due to their different design, mechanical keyboards also allow you to press multiple keys at once and registered them correctly, while non-mechanical keyboards can register only up to six keys pressed at once.
Many mechanical keyboards also feature RGB or LED backlighting, which is great for providing visual clues about physical position of different keys while gaming in dark environments. Some of these keyboards can also show various in-game stats, like health or ammo, by displaying different colors across their layout. Small form factor keyboards, also known as tenkeyless keyboards, also allow you to hold your mouse in a much comfortable position, thus preventing shoulder and neck strain. Along with additional macro keys which enable you to program and execute different functions with a single key press, mechanical keyboards are a must-have tool for serious and competitive gamers, as well as casual mainstream gamers alike. Down below we have compiled a list of best mechanical gaming keyboards featuring RGB backlighting that you can get in 2021. Click the links below to jump right into the category you are most interested in.
Best Overall: Razer BlackWidow
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Dimensions: 44.8 x 3.88 x 17.0 cm
- Stellar build quality
- Extremely durable
- Features NKRO mode
- Smart RGB backlighting
- Included software is a bit buggy
In our opinion, the Razer BlackWidow is the best gaming mechanical keyboard with RGB backlighting that is currently available on the market. This keyboard features high-quality Razer’s Green Mechanical Switches, which are able to deliver unique tactile experience to all sorts of gamers. Each of the switches is equipped with sidewalls that provide additional layer of protection against dust and liquids. In addition to that, they’re also extremely durable, as they can withstand up to 80 million clicks. The BlackWidow also features a special NKRO mode, thanks to which the keyboard is able to process all key presses simultaneously and in any arbitrary combination with each other.
The BlackWidow’s most notable feature is its unique RGB lighting, which is based upon Razer’s proprietary Chroma technology, and is able to reproduce 16.8 million colors. Powered by Chroma technology, this keyboard is able to smartly react to various events in games by producing different lighting effects during in-game sessions. The BlackWidow also supports HyperShift technology, which enables you to assign additional functions to each key in multiple different games. The keyboard’s internal memory can store up to 5 profiles, which is great for making quick switches during combat, while unlimited number of profiles can be uploaded to the cloud servers.
Despite being a fantastic keyboard, the BlackWidow does have some flaws. The backlighting only works if the Razer’s Synapse program is running, which eats up a lot of RAM. If, however, you own a powerful PC, then this won’t be a problem at all. Also, the included Razer’s software is a bit buggy, so don’t be surprised if backlighting doesn’t work as expected from the start.
Cutting Edge: SteelSeries Apex Pro
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Dimensions: 43.6 x 4.03 x 13.9 cm
- Switches with magnetic sensors
- Adjustable stroke length for each keys
- Fully customizable backlighting
- Superb build quality
- Great dedicated software
- High price
The main advantage of SteelSeries Apex Pro over other mechanical gaming keyboards is that it features switches with a magnetic sensor at their base. Unlike classical mechanical switches which offer industry-standard response, stroke length and key force, switches that use magnetic sensors at their base enable their users to adjust sensitivity of each individual keyboard button separately. This way, SteelSeries Apex Pro enables its users to adjust stroke length of each key within ranges from 0.4 to 3.6 millimetres. A very short stroke required for triggering the key makes the key super responsive to the player’s touches, which is great for competitive gaming. Despite the fact that keys on Apex Pro can be super sensitive, accidental presses are prevented by the fact that in order to activate the key you have to apply a specific amount of force. In that way, pressing the configured keys with a maximum force won’t trigger any action.
SteelSeries Apex Pro is also equipped with bright backlighting of each individual key, and can be configured independently from each other using SteelSeries’ proprietary software. The user can customize the color, glow effect and mode of operation for all buttons at the same time or only on some of them. Moreover, all settings for each game can be saved in separate profiles. It is also worth to mention that the keyboard is made of aircraft-grade aluminium, which gives this keyboard great rigidity and durability. The keyboard also features volume control and media file switching, as well as OLED display, additional USB port and a convenient stand. Overall, this keyboard is practically perfect, expect that it comes with a high price.
Ultra-Compact: HyperX Alloy FPS Pro
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Dimensions: 33.9 x 3.45 x 13.0 cm
- Ultra-compact dimensions
- Single-piece frame
- Full N-Key Rollover functionality
- Detachable cable
- Backlighting only available in red color
- Mediocre key coating
HyperX Alloy FPS Pro keyboard is a perfect solution for gamers looking for a reliable and accurate keyboard without a numpad. The compact size of the keyboard allows its user to increase the workspace on his or hers computer desk. Despite being very small, this 87-key keyboard offers everything a professional gamer would need. It features durable and extremely responsive CHERRY MX red and blue key switches, and its single piece frame prevents the keyboard from accidentally shifting, even during the most intense gaming moments. The detachable cable makes keyboard easy to transport, while its anti-ghosting and Full N-Key Rollover functionalities enable its users maximum input precision. Due to its minimalist and elegant design, this keyboard is aesthetically pleasing to look at. The key coating on this keyboard is not the best in class, so with frequent use the letters will start to wear off. Some users might also be disappointed with its backlighting, as it’s only available in red color. Other than that, this keyboard has no significant flaws. Overall, if you are in need for a compact and reliable keyboard, then HyperX Alloy FPS Pro is worth considering.
Best Wireless: Logitech G915 LIGHTSPEED
Interface: Wireless | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Dimensions: 47.5 x 2.20 x 15.0 cm
- Extremely slim design
- Full-size layout
- Great build quality
- RGB lighting can be adjust per key
- Very small input lag
- Not comfortable for typing
- Letters printed on keys are small
When it comes to PC peripheral devices, Logitech always delivers a product that excels in at least one aspect. The G915 LIGHTSPEED mechanical keyboard is no different, as it’s the best wireless mechanical keyboard with RGB backlighting that is available out there. Featuring full-size keyboard layout, the G915 is a fantastic keyboard, both in terms of its looks and performance. Unlike many other mechanical keyboards, this one features an extremely low key profile, which makes the keys have very short travel distance, and thus register user input faster. Most G915 keyboards feature tactile keys, however, there are variants that come with linear switches.
The RGB backlighting on this keyboard if fully customizable for each key separately, while the five macro keys placed on the left side are completely programmable. The dedicated Logitech G HUB software suite is very simple to use, and it allows you to save as many configuration profiles as you need. Despite being a wireless keyboard, the input lag of G915 LIGHTSPEED is extremely small, however, it is still higher than one on the wired keyboards. Nevertheless, the wireless nature of this keyboard allows you to pair two additional devices, so switching between each of them is like a breeze. Featuring metal frame and hard plastic on the back, the build quality of this keyboard is outstanding. The G915, however, has a couple of flaws. Firstly, it is not very well suited for typing documents, and secondly, the letters and numbers printed on the keys are very small, which might be an issues for some users. Despite its flaws, the G915 is an amazing wireless keyboard which was built for only one purpose – gaming.
Full Package: Corsair K95 Platinum XT
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Dimensions: 46.5 x 3.6 x 17.1 cm
- Full-sized layout
- Separate macro buttons row
- Volume and media control buttons
- Great RGB backlighting
- Dedicated software suite
- Feet rests placement could’ve been better
- Key sensitivity can’t be adjusted
If you are looking for the best full-size gaming mechanical keyboard that features RGB backlighting, complete numpad, dedicated macro buttons, volume and media controls, and ergonomic wrist rest, then Corsair K95 Platinum XT is the perfect match for you. Considered by many to be the best mechanical gaming keyboard, this keyboard is also well-suited for productivity and office work. The K95 Platinum XT features fully programmable per-key RGB backlighting, as well as LightEdge technology which can reflect your in-game stats by dynamically changing RGB backlighting colors.
Featuring six dedicated macro keys, this keyboard is also very useful to video streamers as it’s fully compatible with Elgato Stream Deck software suite. Along with the Cherry switchers, the K95 Platinum XT also includes MX speed options, and it’s aluminum chassis makes it very robust and sturdy. Compared to the other features, the feet rests on this keyboard aren’t that great. Since they fold sideways, any lateral movement can easily make them collapse, which in turn makes the keyboard somewhat unstable. Also, the key sensitivity isn’t adjustable, which we find a little bit disappointing for a such premium high-end keyboard.
Best for eSports: Logitech G PRO Mechanical Keyboard
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Dimensions: 36.1 x 3.4 x 15.3 cm
- Compact size
- Three types of swappable key switches
- Customizable RGB backlighting
- Feels and sounds great to type on
- Detachable cable
- Special characters are awkwardly placed
Logitech G PRO mechanical keyboard is probably one of the best gaming keyboards designed exclusively for eSports and competitive gaming in mind. Besides the fact that if features fully programmable RGB backlighting, this keyboard also enables you to swap different key switches. Whether your prefer tactile, linear or clicky switches, you can easily swap them in-between gaming tournaments, or during competitive LAN matches at yours friend’s house. Featuring tenkeyless compact design, this keyboard was built for the world’s top esports athletes, so carrying it around is extremely easy, and it can perfectly fit in most small backpacks.
Since G PRO allows you to swap key switches, this means that you can easily install different types of switches across keyboard’s layout. For example, if you are an avid FPS gamer, you can install soft linear switches for WASD keys, and if you are a hardcore MOBA gamers, you may want to install clicky switches to buttons which activate certain spells or power-ups. Despite being designed for gamers, this keyboard is also very pleasant to type on, so it will be pleasing to different sorts of users. One major flaw of this keyboard is that its special characters are not lit, and that they’re placed below numbers, which can be awkward to see at times. Other than that, the Logitech G PRO is an amazing mechanical keyboard which will be the most appealing to users looking for a durable and compact gaming keyboard.
Best Budget: Redragon K551
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Dimensions: 43.4 x 3.8 x 12.2 cm
- Many regional layouts
- Above average build quality
- Double-slot injection moulded caps
- Excellent for typing
- Awkward font
- Non-standard key spacing
- Very limited software support
Redragon K551 is without a doubt the best budget mechanical gaming keyboard that also features RGB backlighting. Thanks to its low price, it is also one of the most popular mechanical keyboards available on the market, and it offers great range of regional layouts, which is why this keyboard is well-known around the globe. Despite its affordably low price, the Redragon K551 isn’t your average mechanical keyboard, as it features aircraft-grade aluminum and ABS construction, plate mounted keys, double-slot injection moulded caps, as well as Kailh-made switches which are similar to Cherry MX switches.
The Redragon K551 provides excellent tactile feel and satisfyingly loud clicks, while its crisp and bright adjustable RED LED backlighting offers additional aesthetical flavor. The keyboard is splash-resistant, and USB connector is coated with thin layer of gold in order to provide reliable connection. This keyboard, however, isn’t perfect. The font of letters is a bit ugly to look at, and software support is quite limited. Also, some keys feature non-standard spacing, which forces new users to adapt to the new layout. Nevertheless, the Redragon K551 is a great budget gaming keyboard, and is a great choice for newcomers to the world of mechanical keyboards.
Mechanical keyboards aren’t just great for gaming, but for productivity as well. Featuring different RGB backlighting palettes, swappable switches, adjustable key stroke lengths, and programmable macro keys, mechanical gaming keyboards provide great tactile interaction with virtual environments, and also make your computer desk’s surface much prettier to look at. We hope our buying guide helped you in search for the information you were looking for. If you still feel confused, and need advice about buying, feel free to post comment below. We will try to help you.