Mechanical keyboards were once a relic of the past — considered old, big, and clunky things. In the last few years, however, they have made a huge comeback over their modern, slender counterparts.
We take a look at the finest mechanical keyboards on the market today — with the goal of finding the perfect keyboard for every budget. Whether you’re a gamer, typer, or both, read on to find out which of these 14 keyboards is right for you.
They may be bigger and bulkier, but they offer a tonne of customizability and are incredibly satisfying to tap along on, whether you need a mechanical gaming keyboard or a typing keyboard.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you need to look out for in terms of specs when looking for the best mechanical keyboard.
As with most things tech-related, there is a whole lot of geek-speak to understand before you can figure out what you need. It’s arguably worse with keyboards because unlike for example TV’s there aren’t many well-known terms like HD or 4K.
Fear not though, because we’re quickly going to take you through the main things you’ll want to look out for when it comes to finding the best mechanical keyboard that suits your needs.
Mechanical Keyboard Size
There are two main sizes we will talk about in this round-up, as they are the most common sizes — full-size and tenkeyless.
Full-size Mechanical Keyboard
Full-size keyboards will be familiar to anyone that’s worked on a computer in an office setting. It has pretty much every key you need, including a number pad on the right for doing calculations.
The only downside is that they are quite large, so if you only have a small desk space, you might feel a bit cramped. They also tend to cost a bit more, as they use more materials to manufacture.
Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard
Weird naming aside, a tenkeyless form factor is pretty straightforward — it offers all of the functionality of a full-size keyboard, but the number pad portion of the keyboard has basically been chopped off.
A tenkeyless mechanical therefore provides smaller, more efficient use of space, without too many compromises for people who don’t type a lot of numbers.
There are other sizes, like 75%, 65%, or even 40% sized mechanical keyboards, but these are mostly used by hardcore enthusiasts who really get into having the most customized mechanical keyboard possible.
In saying that, we do have one 75% keyboard in our review roundup for you to have a look at.
There are quite a few different types of keyboard switches, so this is where mechanical keyboard nerds will argue endlessly about which is best. Essentially though, choosing the best mechanical keyboard switch type is just about how it feels to type on it.
Back in the day, the best mechanical keyboard manufacturer was a company called Cherry MX that made the best mechanical switches.
In recent years though, their patents have expired, so other manufacturers have either emulated them or modified them for their own production needs.
In our reviews, if the switches are not of the Cherry MX variety, we will mention what their equivalent is, to keep things as simple as possible.
To layout the basics, here are the main Cherry MX switch types you’ll find in our reviews:
There are more of the Cherry MX switches, like the Greens, that are quite heavy and quite loud. Also, Cherry MX White, Black, and Linear Gray aren’t as common and they require more force to press than the others mentioned.
This is a simple one — if it’s wired, it will physically plug into your computer. Just make sure you have the appropriate connection for your computer or you might need an adapter.
If it’s a wireless mechanical keyboard, it will most likely use Bluetooth to connect to your computer. If it is strictly wireless, you will need to consider how long its battery will last before you have to charge it.
Key Rollover is how many keys you can hit at once and still have all of those hit key registers on your computer.
So if it has 26 key rollovers, you can hit 26 keys at once and they will all register.
If a mechanical keyboard has ‘n-key rollover’, that means you can hit as many keys at once as you like, and every press will register.
Do note though, some keyboards will claim to have an n-key rollover, but only if you plug it into your computer’s PS/2 port. If you plug it in via regular USB, it will have a much smaller key rollover.
A backlight on your mechanical keyboard isn’t really necessary unless you are typing or gaming in complete darkness. However, in recent years, it has become extremely popular as it provides a lot of personality and flair to a setup.
Backlighting will usually either be one solid color under the keys, or all the colors of the rainbow, known as RGB.
Whatever you pick is entirely your preference — backlighting does not affect a mechanical keyboard’s overall performance.
Razer, fairly or not, has in the past been characterized as a manufacturer that focuses more on shiny lights and gimmicks — but that’s simply not the case with the Razer BlackWidow Elite. Okay, yes, it does have a lot of shiny lights and gimmicks, but it is still an excellent, functional keyboard, especially for gaming.
Its RGB “Chroma” backlighting is impossible to ignore, and it does look absolutely gorgeous — but it’s just not about looking pretty. You have a range of key switch options, that while proprietary (rather than genuine Cherry MX) are excellent performers. The included wrist rest is simple but supremely comfortable, and it has USB and 3.5mm headphone pass-throughs. Add to that dedicated media controls, and you have a very enticing prospect indeed.
It is arguable that there isn’t much innovation here, and the included software isn’t exactly elegant — but overall this is a brilliant keyboard for both gaming and typing, so it covers nearly every base you need in a modern mechanical keyboard.
Add to that the fact you can pick one up for an eye-watering price, we’re making the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate our Editor’s Pick for the best mechanical keyboard.
A backlit, full-sized mechanical keyboard, with cherry-like key switches, for under $40? At first glance, you would either say that it is too good to be true, or that some serious corners were cut. Surprisingly though, the Redragon K551-N is actually a very solid mechanical keyboard.
Given its aluminum construction, it doesn’t twist or flex, so it has a very solid feeling whether you need a mechanical gaming keyboard or a typing keyboard. The keys aren’t true Cherry MX switches, but they do feel quite similar to a Cherry MX Green switches so you’ll get some very satisfying heavy clicks.
Downsides? Well, those very clicky keys might be too loud for an office, and it doesn’t come with a wrist rest if you’re into that.
Otherwise though, if you are on a budget, the Redragon K551-N is a tremendous bargain, so we would definitely recommend it. If your tastes are a little more sophisticated, however, read on!
Another outstanding bargain, the G.SKILL KM360 manages to pack in enough premium features to keep things interesting, and even has genuine Cherry MX Red switches! Linus Tech Tips actually called the G.SKILL KM360 “The LAST Keyboard You’ll Ever Need for $50”, which is high praise indeed.
It’s a pretty minimalist look with the full white color, so it differs from the Redragon in that it doesn’t scream “GAMING”. It also has an aluminum backplate to help with rigidity.
Those Red switches do cost more than their Chinese counterparts though, so there were a few compromises to put this G.SKILL KM360 all together. It’s quite light at 685g, which you might not like if you want a keyboard that’s guaranteed not to budge on your desk. It also doesn’t have any dedicated media keys which might be a deal-breaker for some.
All in all though you get a heck of a good keyboard with the peace of mind of genuine Cherry MX Red switches — not bad for the price at all.
The Logitech K840 is more of a typing keyboard than a mechanical gaming keyboard, as it’s primarily designed for quiet office use. Logitech’s Romer-G key switches are quiet, but still have an actuation point so you know when you’ve ‘clicked’. Some may find they are a bit to light, however, which may lead to unintended keystrokes.
It has some strong build components, like an aluminum top plate, but the lettering on the keys is printed on, so they will almost certainly fade over time. Additionally, for a keyboard designed for office use, it doesn’t come with wrist support, which is odd. Not so odd is the lack of backlighting, as, after all, you don’t often work in a pitch-black office.
All in all though, if you are looking for quiet typing, and you’re light with your fingers, the Logitech K840 is a very solid choice. It may not be exciting, but it gets the job done!
If the Ajazz AK510 Retro looks like it’s straight from the ’80s, well, that’s kind of the point. Looking very much like the original IBM keyboard that so many keyboard nerds lust after, it also endeavors to act like one too.
You get the choice of Cherry MX Blue equivalents or genuine Cherry MX reds, which while an odd choice is a welcome one, so you can choose quiet typing or that old school clickety clackety typing experience.
The AK510 isn’t entirely retro, however, as it does have full RGB backlighting, the first keyboard on our list to offer it. Keep in mind though, you only get the RGB backlighting if you choose the Blue equivalents. The Red model does not have any backlighting.
The look of this keyboard will be very subjective, but if you like it, you know the AK510 will be on your shortlist for the best mechanical keyboard.
If the brand HyperX doesn’t sound familiar, its parent company, Kingston, should. Kingston is of course very well known as the world’s largest independent maker of memory modules, so they have a good reputation for reliability.
The HyperX Alloy FPS Pro is their foray into the tenkeyless gaming keyboard format, and as the name suggests it has a steel frame to bring its weight up to almost two pounds, which is great for rigidity.
While it’s pretty slim on features, in a way that adds to the charm of the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro — it’s simple, solid, inexpensive, and gives you just what you need at a great price. It doesn’t even come bundled with software, it is a strict plug and play device.
If you really want the full RGB experience with dedicated macro keys and media controls, you’ll probably skip this one. But if you want a very solid keyboard, with genuine Cherry MX switches, you’ll definitely want to give the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro a good look.
Heading into Mac territory now, the Keychron K2 Wireless can be used on both Mac and PC, as it comes with separate keycaps for each. The K2 Wireless’s party trick is obvious — it has Bluetooth connectivity to connect wirelessly to your Mac or PC, or Android device.
It also has a wired option if you don’t want to rely on the K2’s battery power alone. However, the built-in 4,000mAh battery should last you at least 10 hours with the LED backlights on.
If you use a Macbook or iPad a lot, you might find typing is a bit cumbersome or even painful over time. Being a 75% layout with an absolutely minimal footprint (that doesn’t compromise keystroke comfort), you’ll find that the K2 is an excellent option for comfortable mechanical typing on-the-go.
In all of that portable glory are Gateron Blue Switch (Cherry MX Blue equivalents), so you’ll get a clicky, tactile response you’d never get from any Apple keyboard. Keep in mind that it might annoy the other patrons at Starbucks.
If you’re looking for a reasonably inexpensive wireless mechanical keyboard that can also be used on a Mac, look no further than the Keychron K2 Wireless.
If you don’t live in Asia, or if you’re not tech-savvy to know what the best mechanical keyboard is, we don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of the Durgod brand. They are not widely known in Western markets, but take our word for it when we say they make a pretty solid mechanical keyboard nonetheless.
While the Taurus K320’s case is plastic, it’s very solid to the touch and weighs in at nearly two pounds for added heft. The keys themselves are Doubleshot PBT, which essentially means they are very solid and predictable to the touch, which could be used both as a gaming keyboard and a typing keyboard.
Perhaps best of all, you can choose from eight different genuine Cherry MX switch types, which provides terrific customizability for the price point.
It does come with bundled software, that while simple and straightforward to work with, is in broken English, which is par for the course with most Chinese software.
Yes, it’s not a widely known brand, but it is a robust mechanical keyboard with a huge range of switches to choose from. If it’s in your price range, take a second look at the Taurus K320, we think it deserves it.
The G Pro is Logitech’s answer to the eSports gaming scene — goodbye numbered keypad, hello blinding full RGB! This thing has RGB backlighting that is so customizable you could probably use it to direct traffic.
It’s not all gimmicks though, as Logitech has developed their own Romer-G switches, that claim to allow 25% faster keystrokes than their Cherry MX competition. For the average gamer, that may not be super-noticeable, but for the pros, every edge counts.
It’s ready for battle in the real world too, as it features a steel backplate to create weight despite its tenkeyless design. The cable is also detachable so it’s easy to stow away whether you’re heading to a LAN party at a friend’s house or off to a gaming convention.
One weird omission, however, is that it only has 26 key rollover support. You’re not likely going to need to mash more than 26 keys at once, but it does seem odd that much cheaper keyboards have a full n-key rollover. You also can’t see the letters/numbers on the keys unless the backlighting is on.
Yes, the G Pro is kind of pricey, but for true gaming (and typing) performance with a durable design and heaps of customization, it’s overall an excellent keyboard. Have a look at the link and see what you think.
The Das Keyboard Model S Professional is a big, heavy slab of black plastic with 2 USB slots and works on Mac, Windows, and Linus. And with its included Cherry MX Blue key switches, the people around you will know that you’re hitting your keys with intent!
The Model S Professional certainly is serious about typing and has done it’s best to emulate the feel of the legendary IBM Model M.
While it should last pretty much forever, it is still very expensive for what you get — there are no dedicated media controls or backlighting which may well be a deal-breaker.
If you want to type on a Mac/Linux/Windows compatible tank and let everyone in the room know about it, the Model S Professional is a decent choice. Otherwise, we think there are better value-for-money options out there.
If you loved the feel of Apple’s Extended II keyboard, as well as the crisp white, minimalist looks, you’ll immediately be drawn to the Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard for Mac. It’s probably a good thing you’re used to Apple gear, too because this keyboard definitely has an Apple-esque price.
Being a primarilyMac keyboard (it will work with a PC though), you’re unlikely to be using it as a gaming keyboard, so the Tactile Pro is most certainly about the typing feeling. It offers a long travel distance on the keys, and a satisfying click (even louder than a Cherry MX Blue) to round things off.
It will plug and play very nicely with a Mac, and has four dedicated media buttons, as well as a welcome three USB 2.0 ports, so you can basically use it as a USB hub for your computer.
It’s expensive, loud, and definitely isn’t suitable for gaming. But if you are a hardcore Apple fanboy, and have the budget, you will absolutely love the Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard for Mac.
You might like to think of the Das Keyboard 4 Professional as similar to the Razer BlackWidow Elite, but it’s been taken to the car shop to get full tints and a murdered-out paint job. It even has an option for pure black keys, with no labeling at all. This thing is a tank, and it has no need for flashy lights (or even letters and numbers) to get the job done.
You get to choose from Cherry MX Blue switches for the full-noise approach, or the Brown ones, if you want to run in stealth mode. It has a decent array of dedicated media switches (including an addictively pleasant volume knob), and there is the pleasing addition of two USB 3.0 ports for some extra juice to your peripherals.
The word “Professional” in its name is probably more apt for office use rather than gaming — while it offers a first-rate typing experience, it’s nothing spectacular in the gaming department. It also misses some things that its high-end competitors have, like macro keys and backlighting for example.
So if you want something solid to get the job done with no fuss, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional will no doubt serve you well for many, many years to come. But if you’re all about the RGB/macro life, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
PC World called the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum “the luxury car of keyboards”, and we can see why, it’s big, flashy, and has all the bells and whistles — there is nothing subtle about it. The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate may have Full RGB backlighting, but the K95 Platinum also has an RGB bar light up across the top of the keyboard and under the logo.
It also has a 32-Bit Arm Cortex Processor and 8MB storage for profiles. The first mission to the moon probably had less processing power than this keyboard.
It’s made of a ‘military grade’ aluminum, but rest assured you’ll be comfortable using it since it comes with a decent wrist pad included. It’s also one of the few keyboards where you can get the both of best worlds — genuine Cherry MX switches, and RGB backlighting.
On the downside, the wrist rest can get dirty pretty easily, and the included software has no place being near a keyboard of this price — it’s just too complex for its own good.
Otherwise, if you want speedy Cherry MX switches to tap along to your RGB overkill light show, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is worth its price — you’ll most likely be grinning for weeks.
Yes, you may need a bank loan to afford the SteelSeries Apex Pro, but it is a ridiculously capable, versatile, and durable keyboard. In fact, it may well be the last keyboard you’ll ever need to buy.
Forget about picking the right key switch type, or trying to figure out what the Cherry MX equivalent is — this thing actually lets you adjust the actuation on the keys. Do you want fast and responsive keystrokes for gaming? Done. Or do you need heavy keystrokes to increase accuracy when typing? Also done. Do you accidentally hit one key in particular in a game? You can reduce the sensitivity on that one key too.
Oh, and did we mention it has an actual OLED screen on it? You can use the screen to adjust the key travel as you go, add a custom media key, or just have a GIF displaying, because why not?
And it’s not going to take up your whole desk either, it’s by no means a massive keyboard, so it’ll fit in even the most modest gaming or office nooks.
This is massively innovative stuff, and we have to take our hats off to SteelSeries — it’s without a doubt the best keyboard on the market. You will pay for the privilege of course, but if you can afford it, you will not regret it in any way shape, or form.
And just like that, we’ve gone through the 14 best mechanical keyboards available to suit all budgets. If you’re like us you might be surprised at the great value that can be had right now, so you can get a lot of keyboard for your money.
If we really had to pick a winner out of this great bunch though, it would have to be the Razer Blackwidow Elite. It has just about everything you could ask for in a mechanical keyboard (yes, including the dazzling RGB lights), all for a reasonably mid ranged price.
What do you think about our pick? If you think we’ve left anything out, please let us know in the comments!