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Best budget gaming keyboard 2023: Our favourite cheap mechanical and membrane keyboards

Press home your advantage with our pick of the best budget gaming keyboards under £50

If you’ve spent time researching the best budget gaming keyboards, you’ll probably have realised it’s a bit of a minefield. While many of the big names in gaming offer cheaper alternatives to their most expensive keyboards, there are also a huge number of lesser-known brands offering exciting-looking gaming keyboards at unbelievably low prices. The question is: Are cheap gaming keyboards really any good?

The answer is yes, with a few caveats. The best budget gaming keyboards need to offer unbeatable value for money, rather than simply being cheap. They might not have the bells and whistles of their high-end counterparts but they should at least nail the basics; after all, the last thing you want is to purchase a keyboard for a ridiculously low price only to find that it’s horrendous to use. And as you’d imagine, this is an easy mistake to make when investing in a product that keeps the cost down by making sacrifices.

That’s why we’ve been busy testing a range of gaming keyboards that cost under £50. Below, you’ll find our pick of the best budget gaming keyboards we’ve found.

How we test budget gaming keyboards

Every gaming keyboard we receive for review undergoes comprehensive testing. To provide a subjective assessment of the keycaps and switches – whether they’re mechanical or membrane – we use the keyboard daily for several weeks. We’ll also subject the keyboard to stress tests to evaluate its build quality and flexibility and, if possible, we  remove keys to assess the simplicity of the process. We’ll test extra features, such as media controls, with various applications to ensure compatibility and ease of use. If applicable, we’ll use the companion app to create macros, reassign keys and experiment with the LED lighting.

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The best budget gaming keyboards you can buy in 2023

1. Trust GXT 856 Torac: Best budget Trust gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Amazon

The GXT 856 Torac is an ideal first gaming keyboard. It’s made of a combination of aluminium and plastic and feels sturdy, with no flexing or rattle when you start whacking the keys mid-game. The keys actuate firmly and you’ll need to press quite decisively to hit the actuation point, but this only adds to the feeling that the Torac is built to put up with a good hammering. It’s worth noting however that the keys do not lend themselves well to typing.

Like most cheap gaming keyboards, the Torac has media controls assigned to the Function keys along the top row. The LED backlighting is controlled by a button to the right of the space bar – it’s on or off, however, so don’t expect any jazzy effects, just the twinkling rainbow of colour presented when you plug the Torac in.

Sadly, you won’t find a wrist rest here, or the option to customise macros, and although the Torac does have anti-ghosting, it lacks n-key rollover.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Unspecified membrane; Backlit: Single zone LED; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 188 x 468 x 37mm (HWD)

2. Razer Cynosa Lite: Best budget Razer gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £27 | Check price at Amazon

The Razer Cynosa Lite is a remarkable effort from a brand more frequently associated with gaming keyboards that can cost over £200.

Despite being Razer’s cheapest keyboard, the Lite shares the same quiet, spill-proof membrane keys and wedge-shaped frame as its more expensive sibling, the Cynosa Chroma V2. It’s built almost entirely from plastic but doesn’t flex too heavily under pressure, and it’s a fair bit lighter than a lot of gaming keyboards as a result.

Given the price tag, you will notice substantial sacrifices. The backlighting, while compatible with Razer’s Synapse desktop application, is static, and it can only produce a single colour at once – although Razer claims you have 16.8 million colours to choose from. The Lite also forgoes anti-ghosting technology and has 10-key rollover, so in really intense gaming situations you might find it struggles to keep up.

It’s unlikely that you’ll notice the 10-key limit unless you’re playing competitively, however, and for that reason the Cynosa Lite is an easy recommendation. Unless you’re a competitive gamer, the Cynosa Lite is a fantastically cheap keyboard from a very well-known brand.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Razer Gaming Grade Keys; Backlit: Single zone LED; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 174 x 457 x 33mm (HWD)

3. HyperX Alloy Core RGB: Best budget HyperX gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £50 | Check price at Amazon

The HyperX Alloy Core RGB has long been one of our absolute favourite cheap gaming keyboards. Although it sits at the more expensive end of the spectrum, it represents excellent value for money, with a host of features not available to most similarly priced keyboards.

Chief among these is an impressive ten additional buttons mounted in the top corners of the keyboard and directly above the number pad. Three of these control audio volume/mute; four control audio playback; and three control backlight brightness, backlight effect and Windows key locking. That’s more dedicated controls than most high-end keyboards offer.

The keyboard itself is plastic but sturdily made, and the membrane keys actuate softly with minimal interruption. The Alloy Core RGB is quite flat, which goes some way to mitigating the lack of a wrist rest, and it has a degree of spill-proofing, too.

In short, this is a fantastic keyboard if you don’t want to sacrifice those all-important optional extras.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: HyperX membrane; Backlit: Zonal LED; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 443 x 175 x 36mm

4. Logitech G213: Best budget Logitech gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £65 | Check price at Currys

Logitech’s cheapest gaming keyboard, the G213, is packed with features. What’s more, the price has tumbled downwards since its launch, making it one of the better-value options on the market.

The G213 is understated, with a simple plastic frame outlining plain black keys and a subtle LED backlight cycling through a rainbow of colours by default. The membrane key switches are on the firm side and make a bit more noise than some, though – while the G213 straddles the boundary between work and play, fussy work-mates may not appreciate the clacking keys.

There are a few hallmarks of a more expensive product here. The G213 has a small built-in wrist-rest and several dedicated media buttons on the right-hand side. These buttons control audio volume and playback, and there’s also one button to enable game mode (locking the Windows key) and another to switch off the backlight. The cable is thick and braided for maximum durability too, which is a nice touch.

If we had to nitpick, we’d question the choice of tacky keycap font, but that’s really the only bugbear to mention. The G213 is a great cheap keyboard from a big, reliable brand.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Logitech Mech Dome; Backlit: Single zone LED; Wrist rest: Built-in; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 218 x 452 x 33mm

5. Roccat Magma: Best budget Roccat gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £50 | Check price at Amazon

If you can stretch your budget to the uppermost limits of the cheap gaming keyboard market, the Roccat Magma is the way to go. This dazzlingly good-looking keyboard has a very visible membrane layer that pulsates with soft LED lighting, creating the illusion that the Magma’s keys are suspended in a puddle of neon goo. The effect is unique and fully customizable across five lighting zones via Roccat’s excellent Swarm desktop application.

This keyboard doesn’t skimp on the extras, with a detachable wrist rest and what Roccat calls “advanced anti-ghosting” technology to keep the key switches from faltering under pressure. You can assign macros and alternate key functions via the Swarm app, and holding the Caps Lock key switches to your chosen alternate functions on the fly. Media controls are baked into the Function keys, and you can adjust the brightness of the backlight via the Arrow keys.

Gaming on the Magma is easier than typing since the keyboard’s membrane switches are quite firm. It’s easily adjusted to, however, and the keys are quiet.

Our only complaint is that the print on the top rows of keys is quite hard to make out at an angle as the backlighting is so soft. Otherwise, this is an unbelievably cheap gaming keyboard that looks far more expensive than it really is.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Roccat membrane; Backlit: Single zone LED; Wrist rest: Yes; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 157 x 452 x 39mm

6. Trust GXT 863 Mazz: Best budget mechanical gaming keyboard

Price when reviewed: £45 | Check price at Very

The Trust GXT 863 Mazz took us by surprise. It’s a grown-up keyboard carved from a slab of matte black plastic, and it’s a major departure from Trust’s usual fare. It’s not exactly overflowing with features – media and lighting controls are built into the Function row – but as far as the typing experience is concerned, we’ve not tried many keyboards that cost so little and yet feel so good.

The Mazz uses Outemu Red key switches. Colour-coded in the same way as Cherry’s MX switches, the Outemu Reds are linear and quiet but firm to the touch. We switched to this keyboard in order to make a bit less noise when typing and were certainly not disappointed. Meanwhile, support for n-key rollover and anti-ghosting indicates that the Mazz can handle frenetic gaming, an assertion we can back up with anecdotal evidence (that is, many hours spent blasting our way through Borderlands 3). In brief, whether we were gaming or working, this keyboard performed admirably.

Lighting is limited to a few presets (cycled using Alt+Scroll Lock), but we don’t mind: this keyboard feels as though it was built to fit into a home-working setup more than something like the garish GXT 856 Torac above. And to be honest, the print on the keys is very hard to make out unless you keep the lighting in a static mode. It’s also worth noting that the cable isn’t braided so will catch on your desk – but this isn’t a huge issue for a keyboard.

If you’d like a ridiculously cheap mechanical keyboard that’s capable of tackling work and play, then, consider the Mazz.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Outemu Red (linear); Backlit: Single zone LED; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 136 x 437 x 35mm

Check price at Very

7. Trust GXT 881 Odyss: Best budget gaming keyboard for young gamers

Price when reviewed: £46 | Check price at Amazon

The Trust GXT 881 Odyss is another good example of Trust’s commitment to cheap and straightforward products. This semi-mechanical gaming keyboard actuates firmly with a definite click and a high actuation point; that means it’s noisy, but it also means it’s quite satisfying to type or game on. We had no issues with the Odyss during our time with it: this isn’t the most subtle thing in the world, nor is it the most ergonomically friendly, but it does deliver the kind of experience you’d expect from a gaming keyboard.

Look past the outlandish plastic frame and slightly tacky LED backlighting and you’ll find a keyboard with a full suite of media controls and a few extra quick-access buttons for opening File Explorer and a new web browser window and engaging game mode. There’s even a button for opening your music player, but in my case it was only capable of booting Groove Music (the pre-installed Windows option). It also has 19-key rollover, making it unlikely you’ll press too many buttons at once.

We’re not suggesting the Odyss is the last word in semi-mechanical gaming keyboards. But if you want something cheap that looks suitably gaming-y – as a gift to a young gamer, perhaps – and offers a bit more than just the absolute basics, we’re confident the Odyss will do you proud.

Key specs – Switches reviewed: Outemu Blue (clicky); Backlit: Single zone LED; Wrist rest: No; Additional ports: None; Dimensions: 215 x 470 x 40mm

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