Most people type away at their keyboard, thinking little about the efficiency of individual keystrokes. Programmers have a different mindset because each of those keystrokes gets them closer to a final product (and paycheck). The comfort and efficiency of the keyboard can enhance your work experience and help you code better and faster.

A keyboard that lets you program macros, swap switches, or fiddle with presets can benefit how you work and play. Some keyboards are modular, letting you change the layout as needed. Others let you reprogram and customize almost every key. Your typing style and interest in customization greatly affect the model that will be right for you. Keep reading for our list of the best keyboards for programming, from wireless and ergonomic to a budget-friendly model.

— Best Overall: Mountain Everest Max Mechanical RGB Gaming Keyboard
— Best Ergonomic: KINESIS GAMING Freestyle Edge RGB Split Mechanical Keyboard
— Best for Mac: Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
— Best Wireless: Logitech MX
— Best Budget: Corsair K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard

How We Picked These Products

Finding the keyboards for our list started with the level and type of customization options. Models that automatically launch work files or change the layout can speed up your work process. Many of the models on our list are mechanical because you can customize the keycaps and switches. Customizing the keycaps can also let you change the layout from the standard QWERTY to the newer, faster “Colemak,” or other customizations.

Comfort and responsiveness were the other two major factors that came into consideration. Some people like a tactile feel with a satisfying sound with each keystroke, while others prefer their work to be nearly silent. Keyboards that come in different switch options or that you can swap switches to adjust responsiveness are more likely to make the list. We also looked at ergonomics, wrist pads, and other comfort features.

Best Keyboards for Programming: Reviews and Recommendation

Best Overall: Mountain Everest Max Mechanical RGB Gaming Keyboard

Customizable and Durable. Mountain

Why It Made The Cut: You can customize almost everything on the Mountain Everest, giving you the freedom to set up your dream keyboard.

Specs:
Form Factor: Full-size
Switches: Mechanical 3-pin Cherry Max, swappable
Numeric Keypad: Yes

Pros:
— Detachable media dock and number pad
— High-quality build with aluminum base, ABS keycaps
— Incredible customization options
— Display dial

Cons:
— Base camp software can have some issues
— Heavy

The Mountain Everest Max Mechanical RGB Gaming Keyboard is one of the most customizable keyboards on the market, from the keycaps to the number pad. The modular design lets you move the number pad or media dock to different locations based on your preferences. You can change everything from layout orientations to key switches as well.

The overall build is impressive with aluminum base and ABS keycaps. It comes with a keycap puller tool to easily swap them. You can purchase it in your favorite type of MX switches — MX Red, MX Brown, MX Silent Red, MX Blue, or MX Speed Silver. However, it’s no problem to pull the switches (no solder necessary) out if you want to change them later on. The Mountain Everest comes with four bright macro keys that you can set a custom picture for the key. And, finally, there’s the display dial, which shows you your CPU/GPU usage as you go.

However, this keyboard is no lightweight. It’s heavy, sturdy, and durable. Some users also have a few issues with the Basecamp software. It works well overall, but there are certain areas that are a bit glitchy.

Best Ergonomic: KINESIS GAMING Freestyle Edge RGB Split Mechanical Keyboard

Split the Difference. KINESIS

Why It Made The Cut: Program nine custom layouts and enjoy highly responsive keys in an ergonomic split design.

Specs:
Form Factor: 75 percent
Switches: Mechanical Cherry MX
Numeric Keypad: Yes

Pros:
— Can fully program all 95 keys
— Nine profiles to build custom layouts
— Highly responsive
— Split design for more comfortable position

Cons:
— Elevation stand sold separately

The KINESIS GAMING Freestyle Edge RGB Split Mechanical Keyboard lets you customize the position and, to a great extent, the layout. However, the ergonomics come in with the split keyboard layout. You can adjust the angle and separation distance based on comfort or the project at hand. For the best ergonomics, you need the elevation stand which is sold separately.

It features nine profiles to build your favorite custom layouts. Assign each one to one of the nine game keys to easily transition between them. This keyboard comes with one of four Cherry MX switches. All of them offer excellent responsiveness, but you can decide which option works best for your style.

Best for Mac: Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad

Sleek Design. Apple

Why It Made The Cut: This keyboard features all of the Apple-only keycaps in a thin, attractive design.

Specs:
Form Factor: Full-size
Switches: Rubber dome with scissors
Numeric Keypad: Yes

Pros:
— Can be used wired or wireless
— Built-in Apple only keycaps
— Thin and light

Cons:
— Not mechanical
— No customization

The Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad lacks some of the customization features of the other keyboards on our list. However, it already has the built-in Apple-only keycaps that most third-party keyboards lack, although you can swap keycaps with many of those keyboards.

This model can be used wired or wireless and is super thin and light. It has a broader layout than the standard Magic Keyboard because the number pad provides extra space. You can also use the document navigation to make your way down the screen.

The rubber dome scissor switches create a short distance for each keystroke, making them low mileage on your hands. You can use this keyboard wireless or wired, depending on the charge status. On the downside, this is the only keyboard on our list without customization options.

Best Wireless: Logitech MX

Works with Bluetooth. Logitech

Why It Made The Cut: A brag-worthy battery life and proximity detection put this keyboard at the top of the wireless options.

Specs:
Form Factor: Full-size
Switches: Rubber dome with scissors
Numeric Keypad: Yes

Pros:
— Impressive battery life
— Hand proximity detection
— Excellent compatibility
— Supports USB dongle and Bluetooth

Cons:
— No macros
— No incline settings

The Logitech MX may not be mechanical, but it offers a satisfying tactile feedback from the rubber dome scissor switches. It doesn’t take much pressure, potentially saving users from repetitive use injuries. This Logitech can pair with up to three devices, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. You can switch between devices by pressing one of three programmed keys.

This wireless keyboard combines a few unique features, including proximity detection and automatic backlighting that work together to preserve battery life. These features work well enough that you will rarely need to think about the charge. There are a few programmable buttons, but they can only be set to presets. However, as you probably already know, there are third-party software options that can get you around that. This model also supports both Bluetooth and a USB dongle for connectivity. Besides wishing that it had macros, we also wish it had some incline settings for better ergonomics.

Best Budget: Corsair K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard

Under $50. Corsair

Why It Made The Cut: With six macro keys and several lighting options, you can customize this keyboard and look good doing it.

Specs:
Form Factor: Full-size
Switches: Rubber dome
Numeric Keypad: Yes

Pros:
— Dedicated media keys
— Six programmable macro keys
— Customized lighting

Cons
— Not mechanical

The Corsair K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard is an affordable (definitely a best under $50) option that still offers some decent customization. You can set up to six macros with the dedicated keys. There are also dedicated media keys for easier media control when you’re deep into your work.

However, this is first and foremost a gaming keyboard, so it comes with some extra features like the customized lighting that aren’t necessary for programming but can make it more interesting. It features rubber dome switches that are quiet but, unfortunately, not swappable.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Keyboard for Programming

Customization Options

While customizing a keyboard might seem overboard for the average user, for a programmer, customization makes business sense. The more you can customize your keyboard, the faster you work. Keyboards with macros, programmable layouts, and hotkeys can cut down on your typing time, which means more money in your pocket.

Customization also extends to the keyboard’s looks and feel. Swappable keycaps or a keyboard that comes in various switch types like a Cherry MX or Cherry MX Brown let you customize the look, sound, and feel of each keystroke.

Personal Preferences and Comfort

Everyone is different. Some people prefer a nearly silent keyboard (or work in an office where a loud keyboard won’t work), while others love the tactile feel and sound of a keyboard’s clickety-clack. Some keyboards allow you to change the switches and keycaps to adjust the sound and feel, while others are what they are.

You also have to decide whether you want a standard keyboard or an ergonomic design. Most programmers spend a good deal of time using the keyboard, so ergonomic design is worth considering even if you don’t have any current repetitive use injuries. A keyboard that works with your body’s natural biomechanics can prevent those kinds of injuries in the future.

Keyboard Size and Type

There are lots of ways to categorize keyboards, from their size and key location to their construction. Here are a few types to consider. None are inherently better than the others, but one type could work better for your style and preferences.

Popular Sizes

Full-size: A full-size keyboard has 104 keys and a number pad. These large keyboards often have the most customization options, but they can be large, bulky, and expensive.

Tenkeyless (TKL): The average tenkeyless keyboard has 87 keys but does not have a number pad. These keyboards are more compact, leaving you more desk space, and they’re less expensive than a full-size model. If they're mechanical (a less expensive option), you could potentially find one for around or under $50.

60 Percent: These small, compact keyboards are popular for gaming and those who prefer mechanical keyboards. Many people will buy and build a 60 percent keyboard themselves for the ultimate in customization options. However, these keyboards don't have arrow keys or a keypad, which means you’ll need to know a few shortcuts.

Other sizes may include a 75 percent, 65 percent, 40 percent, and just a number pad. These sizes aren’t as common but might work for the right programmer.

Keyboard Switch Types

Membrane: Membrane keyboards, also known as membrane-switch keyboards, have a thin, flexible membrane layer that contains the switches. These keyboards are quiet and inexpensive, but you can’t swap switches, and they get work out fast.

Rubber Dome: A keyboard with rubber dome switches has collapsible rubber domes for each switch. The domes offer slight resistance and provide a tactile feel to pressing the keys. However, you can’t swap switches with this design.

Mechanical: Mechanical keyboards are popular among programmers for a couple of reasons. First, each key has an individual switch so you can customize each key, including the keycaps. Second, they offer a distinct tactile and audio experience. They can be loud or relatively quiet based on the switch design and your typing style. Third, they last longer than either membrane or rubber dome switches.

FAQs

Q: What type of keyboard is best for programming?

Full-size, mechanical keyboards are usually best for programming. The Mountain Everest Max Mechanical RGB Gaming Keyboard offers a wide array of customization options, plus it’s heavy duty and durable.

Q: Is a mechanical keyboard better for programming?

You can program on any keyboard. Mechanical keyboards, however, let you customize the keyboard to make your programming faster and more efficient. They’re also the most durable.

Q: Does the keyboard matter for programming?

The keyboard does matter for programming. While you can program on any keyboard, one that lets you program macros or set different layouts can improve efficiency and comfort.

Q: What is the best keyboard for programming?

The Mountain Everest Max Mechanical RGB Gaming Keyboard is one of the best keyboards for programming, thanks to its many customization features and durable build.

Q: How much does a keyboard for programming cost?

Keyboard for programming can cost anywhere from $50 to $200. The best keyboards typically run in the $150-$200 range. At this price, you can change layouts, program macros, and customize presets.

Q: Is a membrane keyboard good for coding?

Membrane keyboards can be comfortable and quiet for coding. However, they’re not necessarily the most efficient or durable. Mechanical keyboards take the top prize for coding.

Q: Is a full-size keyboard better for programming?

A full-size keyboard is better for programming because it provides access to a full number pad and usually contains a few presets or macros. Of course, you can program with a 75 percent, tenkeyless, or other size keyboard, but you’ll get the best efficiency and customization with a full-size.

Final Thoughts

Change layouts, set macros, and swap switches and keycaps with the Mountain Everest Max Mechanical RGB Gaming Keyboard. This model’s modular design also lets you get the most comfortable and efficient setup for your typing style. However, if you don’t need quite that many customizations, the Corsair K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard offers six macros and fun custom lighting at an affordable price.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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