|The Good||The Bad|
|#1||Very good response times||Membrane, rather than mechanical keyboards|
|#2||Anti-ghosting features||No macros|
|#3||Rollover systems that allow for complex key combinations||No wrist rests|
|#4||Low Noise levels|
|#5||Dedicated game mode|
Verdict: Value for money…
These excellent keyboards are a good choice for the pro gamer who needs reliable hardware at a reasonable price.
Budget Gaming Keyboards
A pro player has to balance the functionality of every piece of equipment he buys with its price. Functionality can be crucial, since it can be the difference between success and failure when you go up against better equipped players. Here then, is a selection of the best budget gaming keyboards on the market today, keyboards that incorporate all the features of a good professional gaming keyboard, along with a reasonable price.
The Logitech G213 Prodigy
After Logitech brought out its G213 Prodigy headset, and then the Logitech G403 Prodigy wireless mouse, all that remained was for the company to present a keyboard in the new range to complete the set. This is certainly one of the best budget gaming keyboards. Interestingly enough, Logitech does not opt for mechanical switches with this keyboard, but instead for a more traditional membrane system. That’s not a choice that should dissuade you from buying this keyboard, as the G213 Prodigy has full RGB backlighting, multimedia keys and splash resistance. The keyboard has a response rate of two milliseconds. The spacing between each key is perfect, and the keys themselves are very comfortable to use.
The keyboard also has buttons to activate or deactivate the backlight, as well as to activate or deactivate the keyboard’s gaming mode. In gaming mode, certain keys are deactivated, such as the Windows key, which can prevent inconvenient returns to Windows in the middle of a pro gaming session. The keyboard has a wide rubber strip on its base and two additional pads to grip a surface, allowing for good stability. The keyboard is compatible with Logitech’s Video Game Wizard application, which can be downloaded for free from the manufacturer’s website. The Video Game Wizard allows you to design programmable keys, which is a great feature, and one that outclasses other budget gaming keyboards.
The G213 provides a nice balance between heavy mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards. The keys offer exceptionally high activation for a membrane keyboard. They are significantly noisier, but do not create quite the din of mechanical switches. The keyboard has anti-ghosting capabilities, which means that it will not crash when more than a certain number of keys are pressed. This is actually quite a rare thing on membrane keyboards.
Check out the latest Logitech G213 Prodigy deals on Amazon.
The Razer Cynosa
Razer launched this keyboard awhile back with mecha-membrane switches. There is a classic version of this keyboard and a pro model that has RGB LED illumination. The Razer Cynosa is a very classic keyboard, and has an unadorned design. The plastic frame is in matte black, and is very well finished. The keyboard has a reasonable width, and excellent depth. It has been designed to be very ergonomic while still retaining the classical look.
The usual LED indicators are at the top right. While this is a very sober keyboard, as far as gaming keyboards are concerned, we find that this is actually much better in the long run. The only downside to this keyboard is that it does not offer a wrist rest, even a removable one. This is can place a slight strain on the wrist when you are engaged in long sessions of play.
For those who like even their budget gaming keyboards to be eye catching, the Razer Cynosa’s backlighting has croma technology that offers 16.8 million colors. While many effects and combination are available for the keyboard’s keys, the software Synapse 3 can create its own effects by customizing the keyboard key by key. You can also assign various buttons to specific functions using the same software, even if the keyboard does not support macro keys.
The keyboard also has a hypershift button
The principle of this button is simple. You assign a key to a hypershift button, and when you hold it down, the functionality of all the buttons on the keyboard changes temporarily to hypershift functions. This is extremely handy for keyboard shortcuts, and for players who use a lot of combinations in play. It’s especially useful in budget gaming keyboards, since these usually lack macros.
The mecha-membrane switches are also very responsive. Using them feels very similar to using a membrane keyboard, even if the switches do offer slightly more resistance. They allow for smooth movement and tracking on the screen, and your shots will be fluid and extremely precise. Nevertheless, the click of the key popping back into place is quite palpable.
Here are the cheapest Razer Cyanosa deals on Amazon.
The Cooler Master MasterSet MS120
The MasterSet MS120 is one of an exceptional range of budget gaming keyboards. It uses membrane keys that nevertheless provide you with tactile feedback, as on some mechanical keyboards. This allows for a more intuitive sensation while typing, while maintaining a relatively noiseless keystroke. Its anti-ghosting feature will protect you from accidentally activating unpressed keys, while its twenty six key rollover allows you to press up to twenty six keys simultaneously. Finally, the backlight is adjustable with 16.8 million distinct colors to customize it your liking.
The Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 is a good way to access a great many of the features of a pro gaming keyboard within a reasonable budget. Between its membrane keypad and the touch sensitive keys, you’ll have plenty of room to dominate the opposition without breaking the bank. As with many pro gaming keyboards, it is possible to shift the keyboard to game mode, in which certain irritating (to a gamer) keys, such as the windows key, are temporarily deactivated to prevent you from shifting to Windows by mistake at a crucial point in your game.
The backlighting is highly programmable, and can be set not only to different colors, but to various rhythms as well. All in all, this is one of the most pro-oriented of all the budget gaming keyboards on the market today.
Get your MasterSet MS120 at the best possible price on Amazon.
The SteelSeries Apex 150
The Apex 150 uses membrane contacts to ensure a soft touch, and therefore is less noisy than the traditional mechanical keyboards usually used by players. SteelSeries guarantees its membrane system for at least two million activations per key, which is really exceptional among budget gaming keyboards. The keyboard is also considerably splash resistant, and will resist liquid damage. While liquid damage is hardly the most important consideration for the pro gamer, the soft activation of the keyboard, and the sensitivity of its keys, along with their durability are undoubted advantages.
Variable RGB backlighting
As with most dedicated budget gaming keyboards, there is an RGB backlight, but it is limited to five areas on the keyboard, and cannot be programmed to individual keys. The color and effects of each zone, however, are adjustable, and can be linked to add-ons that will signal various notifications, including when you are low on ammo, or taking damage. These notifications in the backlighting system are compatible with games like Counter Strike, Dota 2, and one or two others.
It is also possible to vary the intensity of the backlighting in conjunction with the sounds in the game. The SteelSeries Apex 150 has a pretty standard format, and lacks macro keys. However, each traditional key on the keyboard can be re-programmed to activate a macro or a combination in game. A shortcut in the keyboard will allow you to switch in and out of game mode, which deactivates the windows key, as well as alt+f4.
The twenty four key rollover allows you to use twenty four keys at once without crashing the keyboard. The keyboard weighs just about a kilogram, and its USB cable is 1.8 meters long, quite long enough to be compatible with the equipment at any pro gaming convention.
Check out the best deals on SteelSeries Apex 150 keyboards on Amazon.
If you liked this article, you might want to check out our review of the Hyper X Cloud 2 gaming headset. It provides for a precision soundscape that allows a pro gamer to pinpoint the opposition through sound cues – footsteps, the sound of weapon-fire, or the signature sound of an ultimate ability being triggered. Knowing the direction of approach of an opponent or an attack through audio cues can allow you to survive where you would otherwise go down.