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The Best Competitive Gaming PC Builds for 2020 Under $500

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Best Budget Builds Under $500

Due to Covid-19, people are buying their own gaming PCs. While consoles can provide you with the same entertainment, a PC is more flexible because it can be used in more ways than one.

That being said, because of the said pandemic, you want to make sure that you are going to get the most bang for the buck PC and I’m sure that you don’t want to spend a fortune when getting one.

Fortunately, I happen to know a lot of PC parts so today, I am going to recommend the best gaming PC builds under $500 in 2020.

What Constitutes a Gaming PC?

Well, a gaming PC is actually built just like any other PC, albeit its parts are geared towards gaming more than anything else.

Of course, the main parts of the PC will include the motherboard, the CPU, the GPU, RAM, storage device, power supply, and case.

Since you are on a tight budget, I will recommend the best builds under $500 so that you can game while you are inside the house because of Covid-19.

Do keep in mind that with an ultra-budget gaming PC, you will not be able to max out your favorite game’s settings.

Still, these are pretty respectable gaming machines that will perform better than most game consoles out there today. Just keep your expectations a bit lower than when you are buying a $1000 gaming rig.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s go with the first recommendation.

The Best $500 Build

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600 AF
  • GPU: MSI Geforce GTX 1650 Super Ventus XS OC
  • Motherboard: Asrock B450M Pro4
  • RAM: GeIL EVO Potenza 16GB, DDR4-3000
  • SSD: Crucial BX500 240GB
  • PSU: EVGA 450 BR 80 Plus Bronze
  • Case- Thermaltake Core V21
Best Budget Build 1

For this PC build, I went with the AMD Ryzen 5 1600AF. I know that Intel is still the king when it comes to gaming CPUs, but for what it’s worth and especially for its amazingly low price, the 1600AF is the best gaming CPU for budget-conscious gamer.

The GPU is a respectable GTX 1650 Super from MSI. This is their version of the Nvidia GTX 1650 Super and it performs admirably well. Even in graphics-intensive games, it runs cool and definitely pumps up the frames.

With the motherboard, most budget-friendly mobos have an m-ATX form factor. Honestly, this is better because its smaller size will allow you to fit it in a small case (thus, saving you money and storage space).

The Asrock B450M Pro4 has a lot of ports, has an overall black and gray aesthetic and it does a pretty good job of powering the CPU.

Since AMD CPUs work really well with fast RAM, I went with the GeIL EVO Potenza which is a 2x8GB RAM kit clocked at 3000Mhz. Just make sure to enable A-XMP or D.O.C.P profile in the BIOS to unlock its full potential.

For storage, you have a couple of options. I went with the Crucial BX500 240 GB SSD which will act as your main drive for your operating system and some games. If you have an extra $40 to spend, you can also add 1TB HDD for even more games in your portfolio.

The power supply of any PC is always an important consideration because it will be the one that will supply the much-needed energy that is required for your system to run. Getting a low-quality PSU can potentially damage the components, so you’d want to spend money on it to make your system last for a long time.

That being said, I recommend EVGA 450 BR power supply which is 80 Plus Bronze certified. It is power efficient and 450 watts of power is more than enough for this build (you can also choose to upgrade to better components in the future).

When it comes to cases, it is quite subjective. That is because you will have to look at the aesthetics, as well as the form factor of the chassis for you to decide.

If you want my recommendation, I would go with the Thermaltake Core V21. It is an m-ATX case that looks like a cube. It is compact which makes it easier for you to tuck into a small space while you play your favorite games in the living room, for example.

All in all, this build should cost you anywhere between $480-$530 depending on your retailer and additional costs (like shipping).

Best Budget Build #2: A Much Better Gaming Build

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600
  • GPU: MSI Geforce GTX 1650 Super Ventus XS OC
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte B450M
  • RAM: HyperX Fury 16GB DDR4-3200
  • SSD: Inland Premium 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • PSU: PowerSpec 550W 80 Plus Bronze
  • Case- Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L
Best Budget Build 2

If your main intention of buying an inexpensive build is just to play games, then the first recommendation would suffice. It should be able to play the best games out there, albeit at low to medium settings at 60fps.

Anyway, if you still have money to spare, you can go with this other recommendation with slightly better performance. The reason for the performance uplift is thanks to a much better CPU which is the AMD Ryzen 5 2600.

The Ryzen 5 2600 is the second generation “Zen+” CPU from AMD. It is a 6-core, 12-thread part that has a base clock of 3.4GHz and a boost clock of 3.9GHz.

Although the previously-mentioned AMD Ryzen 1600 AF part is still a “Zen+” architecture CPU, the performance of the 2600 is slightly better than that.

The GPU is still the same as the previous build simply because it is the cheapest 1650 Super on the market that outperforms even the more expensive options in its class.

For the motherboard, I recommend Gigabyte B450M. Actually, you can still use the motherboard from the previous recommendation, but if you want another option that is also bang-for-the-buck, Gigabyte’s offering will also not disappoint.

Another reason why this build is faster is thanks to the 3200MHz, 2×8 RAM kit from Kingston HyperX. This brand is known for its quality RAM sticks for gamers on a tight budget.

As previously mentioned, AMD works better with faster RAM, and with the additional 200MHz from the previous recommendation, it will be noticeable in some games.

As for storage, you get an NVMe SSD from Inland Premium. For those of you who do not know, an NVMe SSD is much faster than a SATA SSD by up to 4-5x. That means that your operating system, as well as some games, should load up much faster than a regular SATA solid-state drive.

For the power supply, I went with the PowerSpec 550W 80 Plus Bronze PSU. The EVGA power supply in the build above will still work, but this one can provide up to 550 watts of power so that there is a lot of room for upgrades down the line.

Lastly, I choose Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L case. It still supports Gigabyte’s m-ATX motherboard but this case is slightly bigger than the Thermaltake case above.

That is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is a bad thing if you want to just tuck the PC build in a tight space, but it is a good thing because of better airflow and better GPU support, among many others.

This build usually goes for $499, especially since some of them often go on sale. However, with miscellaneous costs, expect to pay up to $550 for the entire build.

Best Budget Build #3: A Working Alternative

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600AF

GPU: XFX Radeon RX 570

Motherboard: Asrock B450M Pro4

RAM: Patriot Viper Blackout 8GB DDR-4000

SSD: PNY CS900 500GB

PSU: Seasonic S12III 500W Bronze

Case: CoolerMaster MasterBox Q300L TUF Gaming Edition

Best Budget Build 3

If you are absolutely low on money and you want a respectable gaming build under $499, then this build will definitely work for you.

The Ryzen 1600 AF comes back on this build simply because it is the most bang for the buck processor that is under $100. It performs really well in games and it is also no slouch either when performing other tasks.

With the GPU, I went with the cheaper XFX Radeon RX 570 graphics card. I know, this GPU is old by a couple of years but believe it or not, it still works really well in today’s games.

Probably, the only thing that may deter others from using this GPU is that it’s an AMD card, which means that you will have to download a different GPU driver for it to work. Other than that, this is a great budget-friendly graphics card for sure.

With the motherboard, I recommend the previously-mentioned Asrock B450M Pro 4. While the Gigabyte motherboard is good, this is great for people that want to use an RGB header for that extra bling.

For the RAM, I went with the Patriot Viper Blackout 8GB RAM kit. I know, 8GB might not be enough in today’s games, but it should still work if all you fire up is your favorite game and nothing else is running in the background.

With a respectable 3000MHz speed, it should be more than enough when it comes to playing your favorite games.

That being said, if you have an additional $30 to spend, you can go with a G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB RAM kit that is priced at $69.99. But again, if your main intention is just to play games, the 8GB Patriot Viper RAM will suffice.

I also understand that a 256GB alone will not suffice, so I went with a beefier 500GB SSD for this build. Even though this is just a SATA SSD, it should be much better than a regular HDD because your games and the operating system will load significantly faster.

The power supply is Seasonic S12III which is a 500-watt PSU that is overkill for this build. But, I still included it to allow you to upgrade to better components in the future.

My only gripe with the said PSU is that it has a non-modular design which means that all of its supported cables are attached to the unit itself. Cable management will be a pain, though for its low price, I think that is a good compromise.

Lastly, for the case, I went with the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L still but this time, it is the TUF edition. It has slightly better aesthetics, but if you want to save money, the original version is still really good.

All in all, this build should cost you anywhere between $450-$480. You can even save more if the parts go on sale, so for the truly budget-conscious, this is the build to get.

Upgrade Path

Best Budget Gaming Build

The builds that I’ve mentioned to you can all have better components in the future. That is why I went with power supplies that can support a better CPU or GPU or both.

If you are going to upgrade, I suggest that you try and upgrade either the SSD or the graphics card first. That is because those two components have the biggest impact when you are playing games.

The next thing that you’d want to upgrade is the CPU. The reason why I went with AMD CPUs is that if you are going to go with a better one, the motherboard you’re using will still support it.

Naturally, the said motherboards should support the Zen+ architecture right out of the box, but if you are going to upgrade to, say, a Ryzen 5 3600, all you have to do is download the latest BIOS for your motherboard to support the latest generation CPU.

Ryzen PCs work better with faster memory, so after upgrading the GPU or SSD, you can either go with a better CPU or better RAM. Ideally, you want to buy at least DDR4-3200 or DDR4-3600, though the latter is much pricier.

You need not worry about the power supply because a budget build will never go over 550 watts. Even if you upgrade the GPU, graphics cards are even more efficient now and 550 watts of power is more than enough to power the entire system.

For the case, it is subjective. Even if all of the motherboards mentioned in this article are all m-ATX ones, buying a chassis intended for ATX motherboards would still make sense if you are to upgrade to a better one in the future.

Of course, with so many case sizes and styles out there, I would say that choosing the PC case is entirely up to you, so long as it supports the motherboard you want to use and has considerable clearance for the GPU you intend to buy.

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Xbox One S- Is It Worth Buying or Should You Wait for a Better Console

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Xbox One S Review

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are advised to stay at home as much as possible. If you relied on different forms of entertainment that would require you to go out, you may want to hold them off for now.

The best thing that you can do is stay at home and enjoy your time with your family. Of course, you will need some form of entertainment and while gaming PCs are great, they might not be within many people’s budget.

If you are looking for a competent gaming console, the Xbox One S might be the right one for you.

Read further to find out more about it.

What is It?

The Xbox One S is a minor upgrade to the original Xbox One and although the console is a bit dated at 7 years old now, it is still quite an appealing gaming machine to get.

Since the original Xbox One is bulky and its specs leave much more room for improvement, the One S is basically a good updated version of the said console.

It has a smaller form factor and you can opt to download digital games as opposed to buying physical discs to play your favorite titles.

Design

Xbox One S

Despite it being smaller than the original console, the Xbox One S is still somewhat bigger than one might think.

It has an 11.6 x 8.9 x 2.5-inch outer shell which houses a huge 1 terabyte hard drive and the built-in power supply. The latter is a welcome change since that means that transporting the entire machine is much easier now.

Since the game console runs hot, Microsoft has added air vents all throughout the console (though it is more prominent at the top). This ensures that even if you intend to play games for hours on end, it will remain relatively cool.

Looking at the front, you will find two physical buttons- one for the power and one for the eject. A little bit lower than that, you will find the USB 3.0 ports, as well as the sync button.

At the back, you will find a bevy of ports that are usually found in game consoles. There, you will find an HDMI In and HDMI Out port (HDCP 2.2). You will also find a couple of USB ports, an Ethernet port for internet connectivity, and an S/PDIF port if you want to add your own audio system.

One cool thing that Microsoft added is the IR blaster on the face of the console. This will allow you to turn on your other devices that make use of IR signals which is pretty neat.

As for the physical optical drive itself, instead of the standard one that was used on the original version, the Xbox One S comes with a Blu-Ray player that is capable of playing 4K media content.

Keep in mind that although Microsoft said that the said game console can play at 4K quality, the output is just upscaled and is, therefore, not played at the native 4K resolution.

Performance

Xbox One S Review 2020

Before anything else, here are the specs of the console:

  • CPU: 8-Core Jaguar CPU at 1.75GHz
  • GPU: 12 CU (914MHz), 1.23 Teraflops
  • Storage: 1TB (2TB discontinued)
  • Memory: 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-Ray player
  • Color: Matte White
  • Ports: HDMI in/ HDMI out, (2) USB 3.0 ports, IR Blaster, S/PDIF output, Ethernet port

The game console’s performance package is modest at best and although it doesn’t beat the Playstation 4 by any means, it is still respectable nonetheless.

While the company is slated to release its beast of a machine later this year, Sony’s own Playstation 5 might also appeal to a large audience as well.

Microsoft allowed the Xbox One S to play any 1080p game and upscale its graphics to 4K. What upscaling means is that it converts the graphics of the game you play and plays it at a much higher graphical fidelity.

Of course, not all games are supported here but those that are able to harness this feature will have its graphics look much better than the original.

Keep in mind that for you to even enjoy this feature, your TV must support 4K native resolution, otherwise, it won’t work.

It is also worth noting that if you enable the upscaling feature, the games that you play might need more time to load, simply because all of the graphical elements that needed to be displayed will have to be processed or converted to a much higher resolution.

Still, the upscaled content is really noticeable and I highly recommend that you turn this feature on by default (unless of course if you suffer from any major slowdowns).

The Xbox One S also has HDR support. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and it makes the graphics look even crisper than the standard digital format.

People tout this console as a glorified 4K blu-ray player as well. Instead of buying another dedicated blu-ray player, you can just plug your favorite discs onto the console itself and manage the contents of it from there.

While you can use the gamepad to navigate through the different settings and menus, you can also choose to buy a standalone remote as well if that is what you prefer (though, there really is no need for that).

Its 4K blu-ray player outputs really crisp images thanks, in large part, due to the HDR feature that is embedded in the console itself.

Digital Games

Xbox Game Pass

Not a lot of people want physical game discs because they are prone to be lost and the disc might get scratches and whatnot. That is why you are also given the option to download your favorite games digitally instead.

If you want to go the digital route, you can enroll yourself in Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, which is a subscription-based service that allows you to download your favorite games directly to the console’s hard drive. 

Verdict

I have mixed feelings about the Xbox One S. While it is definitely an improved version of the original Xbox One, its performance package cannot rival the Playstation 4 Pro.

Still, with its ability to upscale your games to 4K and with its robust built-in blu-ray player, the Xbox One S is still a great choice for people that want to game on a budget.

This console is currently priced at $200.

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Intel Core i9-10900K Review- Why It is Too Little, Too Late for Intel

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Intel Core i9-10900K Review

Are you looking for the best gaming CPU out there? Then the Intel Core i9-10900K is definitely the one to get.

Intel is still the king when it comes to creating processors that are intended for gaming, though its latest CPU does more things than that.

Read our Intel Core i9-10900K review to find out more.

What is It?

The Intel Core i9-10900K is Intel’s latest flagship desktop processor that is the successor to the Intel Core i9-9900K released in 2018.

It is a 10-core, 20-thread processor that comes with Turbo Boost 2.0 and a new Thermal Velocity Boost feature that boosts a single core up to 5.3GHz.

The processor is slated to become the best gaming CPU on the market, but how does it fare to its main rival, the AMD Ryzen R9 3900?

What is MCE?

Intel’s newest processor also comes with a new feature known as the MCE or the Multi-Core Enhancement. This is basically the company’s own sanctioned overclocking feature that can be toggled on or off on the motherboard’s BIOS.

What this essentially does is that it enables the processor’s turbo-boosting functionality, allowing the CPU to run at its rated boost speeds at all times. Of course, this comes at the cost of increased power draw, as well as increased thermal output, so you need to have a beefier cooler if you want to enable this feature.

Specifications

  • No. of Cores: 10
  • No. of Threads: 20
  • Lithography: 14nm++
  • Base Frequency: 3.70GHz
  • Max Turbo Frequency (TB and TVB): 5.3GHz (only on the best core)
  • Cache: 20MB Intel Smart Cache
  • TDP: 125W
  • Bus Speed: 8GT/s
  • Max Memory Size Support: 128GB
  • Memory Type: DDR4
  • Maximum Memory Channels: 2
  • Max Memory Bandwidth: 45.8GB/s
  • Integrated Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630

So, what are the differences between the 10900K and its predecessor? Well, the core count is bumped up by 2 and with hyperthreading, that means that the newest processor has a total of 20 threads.

Aside from that, if your CPU’s cooling capacity is competitive, you should be able to enjoy its thermal velocity boost or TVB functionality.

TVB is basically where the processor improves its best core out of the bunch and bumps its speed to 5.3GHz.

Keep in mind that your cooler should be good enough to keep the processor’s temperature running relatively low, otherwise, the feature will not kick in.

That also means that even using a high-end air cooler is out of the picture. To get the best possible performance, you will need to use an all-in-one liquid cooler, preferably a 280mm or 360mm AIO.

Overclocking

Yes, the Intel Core i9-10900K processor is an overclockable CPU, though keep in mind that you will definitely need an adequate cooler for this.

Overclocking is where you will increase the CPU multiplier, as well as the voltage, to run the processor higher than its advertised clock speed.

Because of how these chips are created, the binning process might give people better overclockable processors than others (that is why it is called the silicon lottery).

What that means is that the overclocking capability of the processor might be slightly different than other chips. For example, if one is able to overclock the CPU to 5.4GHz at 1.4 volts, you might not be able to reach that on your own chip even if you feed the same voltage to it.

If you want to try overclocking, you have to read up on resources on how to do it safely. To give you an idea, since the Intel Core i9-10900K is still a processor using the Skylake architecture, you should start using 1.3v as a base voltage and go up from there.

The idea of overclocking is that you want to bump up the clock speed in small increments and adding a bit of voltage until everything is stable (using stability tests to verify).

Since you will effectively be raising the voltage, it is important to note that overclocking does increase thermal output and that is why it is imperative that you only do this if your CPU’s cooling system is more than adequate.

Chipset

Intel Core i9-10900K Specs

The Intel Core i9-10900K uses the new LGA-1200 socket which means that you are forced to buy a new Z490 motherboard.

At the time of writing, there is no news regarding cheaper motherboards out there that support the new Comet Lake S processors which means that you will have to spend more or less $200 for a cheap LGA-1200 motherboard.

That is also the reason why people do not like Intel because, in every new CPU, they are forced to buy another motherboard mainly because the previous-generation ones are rendered obsolete.

Aside from the chipset, the Z490 motherboards will come with the MCE feature mentioned above. 

People that want to grasp an overclocked processor but do not want to tinker with the settings themselves can just toggle the feature on or off to unlock the CPU’s full performance.

Aside from that, the chipset also now supports 2.5GHz internet connectivity, though the motherboard must come with the said feature (and, only expensive motherboards have them).

Performance

Intel still holds the crown when it comes to gaming performance as it is 18% faster than the AMD Ryzen 3900X CPU.

Why Intel is better than AMD when it comes to that is thanks to the former’s focus on better single-core performance.

Evidently so, the 10900K fared better in Cinebench R20’s single-core performance benchmark, though it is trampled upon by Ryzen 3900X superior multi-core performance.

If you intend to buy this processor solely for gaming, there is no doubt that the Intel Core i9-10900K is an obviously good choice.

Since most games rarely utilize more than 4 cores, you are still going to get more than adequate performance across the board.

However, keep in mind that that is the only strongest suit of the processor as AMD CPUs completely obliterate the said processor in multi-core and multi-threaded workloads.

For instance, firing up a game such as Metro Exodus makes the 10900K the king. But, when you play a CPU-intensive game such as Assassin’s Creed  Odyssey, its subpar multi-core performance definitely shows.

Power Consumption and Heat

Intel Core i9-10900K Heat and Power Consumption

Because the processor is still using the 14nm process node, the Intel Core i9-10900K runs hotter than its main competition (that uses 7nm nodes).

Despite the fact that it is using a much bigger node than its competitor, the Intel Core i9-10900K is still surprisingly cool nevertheless.

If you run the processor completely at stock, its power consumption is 205 watts at full load. However, when overclocking, it could potentially go as high as 300+ watts and that is concerning from a pure power consumption standpoint.

However, even though the product is power-hungry, the CPU still runs relatively cool and that is thanks to how the heat spreader is laid out.

You see, Intel employs what the company calls ‘STIM’ or Solder Thermal Interface Material. What this basically means is that Intel has managed to make the die thinner to incorporate more physical cores into the processor.

They’ve also managed to use copper instead of silicon. The former is touted to be better in heat transfer than the latter, so more copper is used as a means of keeping the processor cool.

In most of the games I’ve tested, the processor managed to run only at 70-75C at a room temperature of 24C.

When overclocked, the CPU is still somewhat cool at 86C at full load, though power consumption ramped up to 336W. Keep in mind that it was the maximum recorded power draw but the average remains relatively constant at 280-300 watts.

Now, you also have to take note that I did use a 360mm AIO which means that it is a beefy cooler that can tame even the hottest CPUs on the market.

While my processor is not as toasty as was perceived before the release of this CPU, it is worth remembering that you will need a competent cooler (an AIO or a custom cooling kit is recommended; high-end air coolers and lower need not apply).

The Z490 Platform

Z490 Motherboards

As mentioned earlier, the processor will require a new motherboard and that is because the CPU uses a different socket. That is why you will need a Z490 motherboard if you want to run an Intel Core i9-10900K CPU.

Now, what makes the Z490 platform different? Well, it is nearly identical to its predecessor with some welcome additions.

First is its support for 2.5GB Ethernet connectivity. As the world is now going towards faster internet connections, it would be nice for a motherboard to support the fastest one available to date.

The newest motherboards also come with Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology support for both RAID and PCIe configurations. Plus, you can also use the company’s Extreme Tuning utility as well.

Other than that, the Z490 is a minor update in terms of features, though it is also the first LGA12xx motherboard that is released on the market.

Despite its new socket, all 115x coolers are still supported, so if you happen to have one on your old rig, you will be happy to know that it will still work on the newest platform.

Intel Z490 Chipset Block Diagram

Price and Availability

Intel’s newest flagship desktop processor costs $488 SRP. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic, supplies are going to be scarce which means that prices can go higher than its suggested retail price.

You also have to factor in a new motherboard since the CPU will require one. The cheapest Z490 motherboard that you can find costs a little under $200 so if you factor the total cost, you will spend more than $700 on the mobo and the CPU package.

The new processors from the company should be available on the market, though keep in mind that the supply might not be able to meet the demand.

Verdict

If you want the best possible PC gaming experience, you will not only need a gaming keyboard, monitor, and mouse, but you will also need a really good CPU as well.

To tell you the truth, the newest flagship desktop processor from Intel is somewhat disappointing. Sure, it has the best possible single-core performance and it is definitely great for gaming, but for all other tasks, it is middling at best.

Its main competitor, the Ryzen 9 3900X, is priced below $410 and the motherboards that support it have also had their prices cut considerably. That is definitely quite tempting to get, seeing that AMD’s processors are great for multi-core workloads.

With Intel’s lack of innovation as it is still using a 14nm process node and the fact its performance is middling in all other things, you could say that the Intel Core i9-10900K is too little, too late.

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The 7 Best Gaming Keyboards of 2020 That Are Worth Your Money

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Best Gaming Keyboards 2020

Do you want to improve your gaming experience? If that is so, then read this article to find out the best gaming keyboards in 2020.

Aside from a robust keyboard, you may also want to consider getting yourself a good mouse and a good gaming monitor while you’re at it.

Why You Need Gaming Keyboards

My gaming career started when I was in 6th grade. My first-ever machine was still running a dual-core processor and while I can game using a typical mouse and keyboard, it may not have given me the best user experience.

Then, I was introduced to ‘gaming’ keyboards by a friend of mine and the rest was history. Why do I love gaming keyboards so much, you ask?

Well, that is because they come with a lot of features; more than you think you need. Most gaming keyboards nowadays come with amazing mechanical switches that not only improve your response times but also give you the best possible experience when you are playing your favorite titles.

While most people can play even without such a peripheral, I am telling you that getting one is definitely something that you’d want to consider.

Also, gaming keyboards also last longer because the mechanical switches are rated to last at least 50 million keystrokes.

Different Types

When you are going out on the market to find a gaming keyboard, you will find that there are actually two major types: A full-sized keyboard and a ‘tenkeyless’ version.

A full-sized keyboard is one that is complete with all of the bells and whistles. Basically, you not only get a numpad on the side but you might also get a bevy of additional keys on the left side of the keyboard as well.

A tenkeyless keyboard, as the name implies, is one that has a more compact form factor than the former. It is called as such because it doesn’t come with a numpad, thus allowing you to save some space.

When you ask a lot of professional gamers, they would actually go for the tenkeyless version as opposed to a full-sized one. That is because its more compact form factor would allow them to easily access the keys that they need much faster than a regular-sized keyboard.

Of course, the choice is still entirely up to you. I love using full-sized keyboards because I also work using one that is intended for gaming, but to each their own.

Different Switches

Mechanical Key Switches

One of the biggest selling points of gaming keyboards nowadays is their use of mechanical switches.

The said switches are different than what your regular, run-of-the-mill keyboard comes with. Instead of a rubber dome underneath the keycap, it actually comes with a switch that is more complicated than that.

For a bit of a rundown, here are the parts of a mechanical keyboard switch;

  1. Switch Housing- This is an entire block of the key that holds everything together
  2. Keycap- The keycap is the topmost portion of the key where you will find the number or letter
  3. Stem- This is the mounting mechanism of every key. Different switches have different stems
  4. Metal Contacts- Once you press down on a key, the metal contact will be the one that registers the said keystroke
  5. Slider- The slider is responsible for pushing the keys down. This is also responsible for interrupting the connection between the side of the switch, as well as the metal contacts
  6. Spring- Located at the base of the slider, the spring is responsible for the retraction of the key; priming it for another input or keystroke.

Now, when choosing a gaming keyboard, it is also important that you consider the feel of the keys itself. There are three things that you need to learn here: Linear, Tactile, and Clicky.

Linear key switches are what you need if you want a consistent keystroke. It has a smooth feel when you press the key down and because there is nothing that hinders the trajectory, this is ideal for professional gamers who need a faster switch.

For tactile and clicky switches, both of them are somewhat the same in the sense that there is a noticeable tactile bump whenever you press a key. However, the difference is that in clicky switches, there is also a ‘click’ sound whenever you go past the actuation point (hence, the name of the switch).

The actuation point is the point of your keypress that registers the input on the screen. A clicky switch has a clicky mechanism inside, allowing you to know that you’ve passed the actuation point and can continue on with what you are doing since the input has already been registered.

Tactile switches do not have that clicky sound but it still has that noticeable bump once you’ve reached the actuation point. This is ideal for heavy typists since every keystroke doesn’t have that annoying clicking noise.

Now, there are many different types of switches out there, but I would give you a rundown on some of the best that you can find on the market today.

  1. Cherry MX Red- A favorite of many back when faster key switches weren’t made yet, the Cherry MX Red is a linear switch that has a light actuation force of 45 grams and an actuation point of just 2mm. Its fast and linear travel makes it ideal for fast-paced games.
  2. Cherry MX Brown- Considered as the middle-ground when it comes to usage, Cherry MX Brown switches are tactile switches that have the same actuation point and force required to that of MX Reds, albeit that it has that tactile bump that I mentioned earlier. Perfect for people who want to type on a better keyboard.
  3. Cherry MX Speed- Perfect for professional gamers, the Cherry MX Speed beats the Red version by a lot. It still requires the same actuation force of 45 grams but its actuation point is only 1.2mm which means that you can make lightning-fast inputs without worrying about anything. Typists are prone to make more errors using this type of switch though.
  4. Cherry MX Blue- Although most gaming keyboards on the market do not come with Cherry MX Blue switches anymore, it is still worth noting. Because of its 2mm actuation point and 60 grams of actuation force required, Cherry MX Blues are only great for typists. Still, there are some gamers that would still want to buy this one just because of its signature ‘clicky’ sound.
  5. Razer Opto-Mechanical- Newer Razer keyboards come with this switch and it is pretty good. For people that want the ‘clicky’ sound of the Cherry MX Blues but with the performance of the speed switches, this is the one to get. It is only available on Razer’s premium gaming keyboards though.
  6. Razer Green- This is a clicky switch that requires a slightly lower actuation force (55 grams) than the Cherry MX Blue switch. It also has a slightly lower actuation point at 1.9mm. Used primarily for gaming but may also be good for typing, Razer greens are what you want to get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
  7. Razer Orange- Razer’s orange switches are the same as the green ones except that they are ‘silent’ tactile switches as opposed to the clicky version that is the Razer greens. It is still great for both typing and gaming and is the one to get if you want a more silent gaming keyboard.

Features that You Need

What makes gaming keyboards quite appealing to a lot of people is that it is not a boring piece of plastic or metal that sends inputs to your computer; it is a ‘loud’ one in the sense that you get a whole lot of features to improve your gaming experience.

Here are some that you might need:

  1. Layout- Choose if you want a more compact keyboard in a tenkeyless version or if you want the full-sized, more robust gaming keyboard
  2. Switch- Of course, this is the main reason why you’d want a gaming keyboard anyway. What switch you want to get is entirely up to you
  3. Macro Keys- These are extra keys that are added to the keyboard. These are perfect whenever you want to assign different keys/tasks and you want an easier way to do those things just by pressing a key
  4. USB Passthrough- This is considered optional but it is still a nice thing to have, especially if you have a lot of other peripherals
  5. Anti-Ghosting- Also known as ‘N-key rollover’, this feature ensures that even if you press a lot of different keys at the same time, all of those inputs are registered as they are
  6. On-Board Memory- If you want to tweak macro keys and whatnot, you want some on-board memory so that you can store your profiles on the keyboard itself (thus eliminating the need to have proprietary programs installed on your computer after adjusting some settings)
  7. RGB- I mean, who wouldn’t want flashy lights on their keyboards?

Best Gaming Keyboards of 2020

1.Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

Price: $199 (Usually goes on sale for less than $170)

The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is considered by many as the best gaming keyboard of 2020. That is because it has plenty to offer and is definitely worth your money.

For starters, you get to choose between two different switches: Cherry MX Speed or Cherry MX Brown. The former is ideal for fast-paced games and the latter is great not only for gaming but also for typing as well.

It is a full-sized keyboard that comes with a column of macro keys on the left side of the keyboard itself. Using Corsair’s proprietary software, you can assign different inputs or macro commands on those keys which is ideal for a lot of gamers

On the top-right side, you will find the media controls that will allow you to control the volume, as well as, your media accordingly.

The gaming keyboard also comes with a lot of extras as well. For instance, you also get some textured keycaps for the WASD keys, so for FPS gamers, this is a really good addition.

You also get a detachable wrist rest so you will have the option to have it attached (perfect for long gaming sessions) or detached if you want a simpler layout.

The USB passthrough is also a welcome addition since you can plug other USB-powered peripherals as well (Especially useful if you are using a wireless mouse and a USB dongle).

It has per-key RGB lighting that you can tweak to your heart’s content using the company’s software which is pretty good and it allows you to customize your keyboard the way you want it.

Really, the only downside to this keyboard is its high price tag but if you have $199 to spend on a gaming keyboard, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is definitely worth every dollar.

2.Razer Huntsman Elite

Razer Huntsman Elite

Price: $199

Razer has really done it again with the Razer Huntsman Elite. This is the company’s most premium gaming keyboard to date and it definitely deserves its high price tag.

For starters, it makes use of the company’s own Razer opto-mechanical switches. They come in two variants now: one that has a more linear feel and the other with the original clicky switches. Both are very responsive so they are perfect for all gamers.

Aside from that, I especially love the included wrist rest because it uses a faux leather material that is soft to the touch. Of course, you can also choose to detach it if that is what you want.

It has a bevy of media control buttons on the top-right corner and has RGB lighting for amazing aesthetics too.

While I really like this gaming keyboard, it doesn’t come without its shortcomings. For one, it doesn’t have a USB passthrough like the Corsair gaming keyboard above.

Second, it doesn’t come with additional keycaps and it also doesn’t have macro keys as well. If this is a deal breaker for you, you may want to consider our other recommendations in this article instead.

However, if you want to try out the new Razer opto-mechanical switches, then the Razer Huntsman Elite is still a solid recommendation.

3.HyperX Alloy Elite RGB

HyperX Alloy Elite RGB

Price: $169

A full-sized keyboard without compromises, the HyperX Alloy Elite is another solid choice for gamers out there.

You can choose between three switch types: Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Brown, or Cherry MX Blue. Aside from that, you also get an extra set of keycaps for your WASD and QWER keys as well.

The keyboard comes with a USB passthrough which is always a welcome addition to any keyboard.

Its full RGB backlighting can support up to 16.9 million colors so you can tweak the said peripheral the way you want it.

You’ve got a bevy of media controls on the top right corner and you also have some buttons to turn off the lighting and toggle some other things on the left.

While this keyboard doesn’t come with dedicated macro keys, you can use the software to tweak the other unused keys on the keyboard for your games if you need it.

Its detachable wrist rest is okay, albeit the feel of it could slightly be improved to be more comfortable.

Aside from that, the company’s software could definitely use some improvement, though I love the fact that it is not buggy or anything like that.

For a sub-170 dollar keyboard, the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB is a no-compromises keyboard that performs really well.

4.SteelSeries Apex Pro

SteelSeries Apex Pro

Price: $209 (But usually goes on sale)

Every premium gaming keyboard comes with its own unique twist and the SteelSeries Apex Pro takes it up a notch.

It is a full-sized keyboard that has an OLED display situated at the top right corner of the product itself.

This OLED display can be used to tweak a number of different things: From the lighting to the actuation point and so many others. The company said that it is going to add more features down the line so keep an eye out for any updates to its firmware.

Aside from the OLED display, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is also unique because it uses a different switch in the form of the company’s ‘Magnetic’ switches.

What makes them unique is that you can tweak its actuation point in the software (or on the OLED display) to your liking. This is ideal for whenever you just want to type a document or play intense games.

Of course, with just about any product on the market, it also has its downsides. For one, this keyboard takes up a lot of space on your desk thanks to its humongous wrist rest.

Second, it doesn’t come with dedicated macro keys, though you can tweak the other keys present on the board.

Still, its build quality, adjustable actuation point, and its amazing RGB lighting performance, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is still a worthy keyboard to get.

5.Asus ROG Strix Scope

Asus ROG Strix Scope

Price: $119.99

First-person shooters require you to smack keys that are reachable by your left hand. And, if you play a lot of FPS games, I suggest that you get the Asus ROG Strix Scope.

This gaming keyboard is actually dedicated to FPS gamers and its solid aluminum build quality ensures that this keyboard is built to last.

It is a full-sized keyboard without dedicated macro keys but what is really appealing here is the inclusion of additional keycaps, as well as a wider control button on the left side of the keyboard.

That is right. Since most FPS gamers need to press either the shift or control buttons, the said keys are bigger in this keyboard and that is pretty unique in its own right.

Its solid build quality coupled with FPS gaming features make the Asus ROG Strix Scope easy to recommend.

6.Logitech G Pro

Logitech G Pro

Price: $129

All of the keyboards thus far on this list are full-sized ones, but there are people that would want to get a more compact, tenkeyless form factor instead. That is where the Logitech G Pro comes in.

The Logitech G Pro is a gaming keyboard that is built specifically for gamers. Aside from its robust build quality, the keyboard is packed with Logitech’s own GX Blue clicky switches that not only have a pretty good actuation point and the force required for that split-second responses, but they are also great to the touch as well.

Despite the switches being advertised as ‘clicky’ switches, they aren’t as loud as the other switch types on the market.

The keyboard’s small form factor allows you to bring it with you on LAN tournaments and overnight gaming sessions and thanks to its three-pronged braided cable, you will not have to worry about the keyboard’s digital inputs at all.

People will also love the inclusion of RGB lighting in the form of the company’s LIGHTSYNC functionality and it has on-board memory so that you can store your profiles without ever having the need to install the company’s own software ever again.

The only negative thing that I will talk about this gaming keyboard is that while you can bring it with you with ease, it doesn’t come with its own carrying bag.

Still, the Logitech G Pro mechanical gaming keyboard is beloved by many- pro and casual gamers alike.

7.HyperX Alloy FPS Pro

HyperX Alloy FPS Pro

Price: $64.99

Who said that you have to spend a lot of money on a gaming keyboard? For people that want a tenkeyless keyboard that is less than $100, look no further than the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro.

The said keyboard was made for FPS gamers because of its small form factor, as well as the included Cherry MX Red switches. However, it is also great for other types of games as well.

As you can expect with a tenkeyless keyboard, it doesn’t come with a numpad but instead has only the most essential things that a typical gamer would need.

Its solid steel frame and its detachable cable allow you to have peace of mind whenever you bring this keyboard with you on LAN events. And oh, you also get a carrying pouch with it as well.

The only thing that is what I would consider a negative (but not really for most people) is that it only has red, per-key backlighting and it is not RGB.

But, for the price and what you get in the package, the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro is a tenkeyless keyboard to get.

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