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4 Best Gaming Keyboards for Linux Use

Are you in need of a good gaming keyboard for your Linux PC? Are you overwhelmed with all of the options available, and unsure of what keyboards have support for the Linux platform?

We can help — here’s our list of the best gaming keyboards to use on Linux!

Gaming keyboard types

You may think that all gaming keyboards are the same, but you’d be wrong. As it turns out, there are two different types of gaming keyboards in use on PCs today. These types are membrane and mechanical.

Membrane keyboards: powered by simple rubber switches. These switches are in use on most keyboards, as the technology behind a membrane keyboard is much cheaper than that of other solutions. Membrane keyboards are notoriously hard to clean, as the keys are usually not replaceable. They’re also less responsive than mechanical ones.

Mechanical keyboards: powered by mechanical switches, mechanical keyboards are not new. The technology that powers them dates back to the early PC/Mac days and the tech has not changed very much since. Mechanical keyboards are highly attractive to gamers, as they offer a faster key-press response than membrane ones provide. Mechanical keyboards usually cost more, as the switches are not cheap to produce.

How we picked

The type of keyboard you use while gaming matters a lot. If you’re not sure what to look for when choosing a gaming keyboard that works well on Linux, this section will help you make an informed decision.

Drivers

As Linux is not as well-supported as the Windows and Mac operating systems, the most important thing to take into account when purchasing a gaming keyboard is if the keyboard you are buying has driver support on Linux.

Most keyboards work out of the box on Linux. However, they all use the generic Linux keyboard driver. To get the most out of your gaming keyboard on Linux, you’ll need to find out if it comes with Linux-compatible drivers that will allow it the custom keys to be programmed, the RGB lighting to be changed, allows the included media keys to function, etc.

Manufacturer

When it comes to Linux support, the manufacturer is important to take into consideration. The reason? Not a lot of gaming keyboard manufacturers bother to support Linux. If you plan to spend your hard-earned cash on a new gaming keyboard, look into the manufacturer and see if they have a history of supporting Linux, or at the very least if the device is popular enough in the community to have open-source support.

Comfort

Keyboard comfort matters a lot while gaming, and you’ll have a much better experience if the device you are using feels nice to use. That’s why it’s crucial to take into account the design of the keyboard and ensure that it can deliver the comfortability required to have an enjoyable experience.

Lighting

Most modern gaming keyboards have RGB lighting, but not all of them support changing the lighting settings on Linux. If you care a lot about customizing the RGB lighting of your gaming keyboard, make sure to get one that supports changing it on Linux.

Best Gaming Keyboards for Linux Users?

Based on our extensive research, these are the best Linux gaming keyboards on the market right now.

The Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE is a mechanical gaming keyboard built by the Corsair PC accessories retailer. It uses Cherry MX Speed switches and promises to be low-profile and comfortable to type with.

Like every Corsair keyboard, the K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE has excellent media controls, volume controls, and a stellar RGB lighting system. Though these media keys are great, the keyboard has official Linux support from the Corsair company. Thankfully, the K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE keyboard works very well on Linux with the open-source CKB project.

In our experience with the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE, we found that it worked very well on Linux, once the open-source CKB tool was installed. We also found that the media keys did not work on every Linux operating system, but this is fixable with Playerctl.

Pros

  • A sturdy aluminum frame means the keyboard is built to last.
  • Dedicated media keys/volume keys.
  • The K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE is a mechanical keyboard and sports Cherry MX switches.
  • Users can store up to 3 different keyboard profiles into the K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE’s memory.
  • USB pass-through allows users to hook up their favorite USB devices right to the keyboard.
  • “Lock” feature prevents games from minimizing themselves.
  • Plastic wrist-rest makes typing more comfortable.
  • Supported on Linux via the open-source CKB project.

Cons

  • No programmable row of keys.
  • The RGB lighting and other features cannot be tweaked without installing a third-party tool on Linux.
  • Media keys don’t work on obscure Linux distributions without Playerctl.
  • The price is slightly expensive.

The Corsair K55 RGB gaming keyboard is a membrane-based gaming keyboard for PC built by the gaming company Corsair. It has a fully programmable key-row that users can use for custom actions, a set of media keys that let users control media playback, and a volume control system.

Support for the Corsair K55 RGB gaming keyboard doesn’t come officially from the Corsair company. However, the keyboard still enjoys excellent Linux support thanks to the hard work of the open-source project CKB, which offers keyboard drivers, and a configuration tool for almost all Corsair devices on the market.

In our testing with the Corsair K55 RGB keyboard, we found that it worked very well out of the box, but that the media keys did not function on every Linux distribution. Luckily, Playerctl solves this problem.

Pros

  • Has a row of 6 programmable keyboard keys.
  • Very affordable price tag.
  • It comes with a plastic wrist-rest.
  • Compatible with the Xbox One for keyboard-enabled video games.
  • Dedicated media keys/volume keys.
  • Ten pre-configured lighting modes.
  • It is supported on Linux via the open-source CKB project.

Cons

  • Membrane keys feel cheap compared to mechanical models.
  • Media keys don’t work on obscure Linux distributions without Playerctl.
  • The macro keys and RGB lighting can’t be tweaked without installing a third-party tool on Linux.

The Razer Hunstman Elite is a compact gaming keyboard for PC built by the Razer company. It is fully RGB,  and much like the Ornata Chroma, it offers up programmable key macros that can be used for gaming or other functions, as well as a soft wrist rest, media control buttons, and a volume rocker to control speaker volume.

The Huntsman Elite is a Razer keyboard, which means that it does not enjoy official driver support. However, if you pick up a Huntsman Elite, you will still enjoy excellent, open-source support thanks to the RazerGenie app on Flathub.

In our testing, we found that the Huntsman Elite worked out of the box on most Linux distributions. However, like the Chroma Ornata, the Huntsman Elite has some functions that do not work very well without the RazerGenie app installed.

Pros

  • Mechanical keys make for a comfortable typing experience.
  • Dedicated media controls.
  • It is supported on Linux via the RazerGenie app.
  • Magnetic, plush wrist rest for ultimate comfort.
  • Excellent Razer Purple mechanical key switches are clickier, more responsive, and quieter than standard MX switches.
  • Supports 16.8 million colors on individually backlit keys.

Cons

  • Razer Chroma is not confirmed to work with Linux.
  • Expensive price tag.
  • Requires the third-party RazerGenie app to access some advanced features.

The Razer Ornata Chroma gaming keyboard is fully RGB, has membrane key switches, and a comfortable wrist-rest for extended use. In terms of features, the Razer Ornata Chroma offers a “fully customizable” macro-key system which will help with gaming hotkeys, built-in media control macros, and a lock feature that prevents games from accidentally minimizing.

As of now, Razer does not offer its official mouse/keyboard configuration tool for Linux users. However, the Ornata Chroma still enjoys stellar Linux support thanks to the RazerGenie app on Flathub, which allows users to change programmable keyboard settings.

In our experience with the Razer Ornata Chroma, we found that it worked very well on Linux. However, some keyboard features did not work at all without making use of the RazerGenie app.

Pros

  • Relatively inexpensive price tag.
  • Detachable plush wrist rest.
  • Programmable macro keys.
  • Supported on Linux via the RazerGenie app.
  • 16.8 million RGB lighting choices.
  • Dedicated media controls.

Cons

  • Membrane keys.
  • Requires the third-party RazerGenie app to access some advanced features.
  • Razer Chroma is not confirmed to work with Linux.

Conclusion

In this list, we went over some of the best gaming keyboards to use on Linux. We talked about their features, as well as some issues they all have on the platform. However, these aren’t the only gaming keyboards out there with excellent Linux support. Tell us about your favorite gaming keyboard to use on Linux in the comment section below!

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