Mechanical keyboards are great because they feel and sound like you’re really getting work done. People who do serious typing swear by them for their sleek, speedy, and responsive feel. They’re not just for work, in fact, few love mechanical keyboards quite as much as gamers. Special switches are great for getting more than one input on a single button, making them incredibly more versatile than any gamepad and ten times over at that. They run a little pricier than most, but nabbing one may be more than worth the investment. Here’s a selection of the best mechanical keyboards.
— Best Overall: Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro Mechanical Wireless Gaming Keyboard
— Best for Typing: 7KEYS Retro Typewriter Keyboard
— Best Backlit: ASUS ROG Strix Flare Pink Limited Edition Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
— Best Budget: Logitech K845 Mechanical Illuminated Keyboard
— Best for Gaming: SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
How We Picked the Best Mechanical Keyboards
What is a mechanical keyboard? To put it simply, it’s a keyboard where each button uses an individual spring and switch. On the whole, these keyboards are built a little tougher and naturally run a bit pricier. Here are a few of the things we considered when picking out the best mechanical keyboards.
Size: Space is precious on any desktop, no matter how sprawling. A keyboard’s footprint shouldn’t take up any more space than it needs. Occasionally, a flashier keyboard will include extra buttons that may streamline everything from adjusting the volume on your PC to easy emoji access. Whether you decide to dedicate extra space to these additions is incumbent on what you want from a keyboard.
Build Quality: Spending extra money on a mechanical keyboard should feel like an investment. Keyboards should look as expensive as they are, with sleek and polished keys that both stay in place while also being easy to remove from the base easily using a simple tool for regular cleaning and maintenance.
Responsiveness: Whether you go wireless or analog, a mechanical keyboard should have incredibly quick response times. If there’s any noticeable lag, just walk away. Lag can lead to major headaches in both work and play situations and keyboards with less-than-reliable input acuity are complete non-starters.
Extra Features: Since many keyboards tend to run together, many models tend to have extra accouterments that make them stand out among the pack. This could be anything from customizable RGB lighting to interesting color palettes. If the price is right, extra features are always a good thing.
Best Mechanical Keyboards: Reviews and Recommendations
Why It Made The Cut: You don’t have to be a gamer to take full advantage of the Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro Mechanical Wireless Gaming Keyboard.
— Dimensions: 9.79 inches L x 17.76 inches W x 1.67 inches H
— Weight: 1.1 pounds
— Connection: Wired USB, Bluetooth, Wireless 2.4 GHz
— Razer HyperSpeed minimizes lag, even in wireless
— Seamless RGB customization
— Cushioned wrist rest provides optimal comfort
Gamers bet on the rapid response rates provided by Razer keyboards, and the BlackWidow V3 Pro is one of the speediest mechanical keyboards available.
This keyboard packs Razer’s yellow switches, which are located under the keycaps and are built for speed. With an actuation point of just 1.2 millimeters, there’s no tactile feedback and minimal clacking sound so you can immerse yourself in audio instead of key clicks. If you’re into satisfying click-backs along with a tactile feel, this keyboard is also available with Razer’s green switches. Whichever switch style you prefer, you can take full advantage of Razer Chroma RGB, which offers the best in RGB customization with 16.8 million colors and a full suite of lighting effects. The build quality here is intensely good, with thick keys that withstand years of use, an aluminum casing with a matte finish, and even a multi-function digital dial and media keys to tweak everything from video playback speeds to speaker volume. And with a cushioned wrist rest, you won’t feel the strain after hours of typing reports or side-questing in “Red Dead Redemption 2.” All of these downright luxurious features come at a heavy cost, but consider it an investment since these keyboards are built to last.
Best for Typing: 7KEYS Retro Typewriter Keyboard
Why It Made The Cut: This retro keyboard blends old-school form with 21st-century function.
— Dimensions: 6.6 inches L x 12.8 inches W x 1.6 inches H
— Weight: 1.6 pounds
— Connection: Wired USB, Bluetooth
— Wide-device compatibility including tablets and smartphones
— Looks and feels like an old-timey keyboard
— Runs 10 hours in wireless mode
— Requires a very hard and stable surface
Popular novelists and writers of yore like James Baldwin and Phillip K. Dick utilized sturdy Olympia typewriters to crank out their art. The 7KEYS Retro Typewriter Keyboard lets you tap into this retro magic, without any of the headaches that typically come from going analog.
With wood grain plating and thick metal keys, clacking away on this mechanical keyboard almost feels like “the real thing.” It’s not just the keys that smack of the 20th century. This keyboard comes with two side revolvers and a metal rod that adjust volume, brightness, and the keyboard’s backlight. Feel and form aside, this keyboard won’t come with an impressive amount of versatility. Connect it wired via USB, or using Bluetooth, connect it to Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. The device compatibility doesn’t stop there. You can use this keyboard on tablets and smartphones too, and there’s even a slot to prop up your device of choice. When in wireless mode, it runs for an impressive 10 hours on a full battery. It does lack a little versatility when it comes to surface types. For the best performance, ensure that the device is on a flat and very hard tabletop.
Why It Made The Cut: With tons of customization for the backlight including an illuminated badge, pink is the new black.
— Dimensions: 6.1 inches L 17.8 inches W x 1.2 inches H
— Weight: 4.59 pounds
— Connection: Wired USB
— Dedicated media keys
— Aura Sync dynamic lighting events
— Customizable illuminated badge
— Misleading pictures
Occasionally, you run into a keyboard that really pops. ASUS ROG Strix Flare Pink Limited Edition Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is as striking as it is impressive.
Within these keys are Cherry MX Red switches, which input smoothly with minimal resistance. It’s also available with Cherry MX Brown switches, which have a little more give and a moderate sound level. Both styles offer fantastic actuation, for all manner of gaming situations. Aside from gaming functions, this keyboard packs dedicated media keys to adjust playback speed and brightness. There’s even a handy scroll for volume that’s handy enough to maneuver using a single finger. ASUS ROG Strix Flare Pink also comes with some of the best backlighting options. Aura Sync offers a wide spectrum of color and dynamic effects that you can customize on the fly. There’s even a personalizable illuminated badge to further customize your keyboard. That said, pink and gray aesthetics aren’t for everyone. And the gray parts of the keyboard run a little darker than they do in pictures. The keyboard is also available in standard black, for those who prefer a more muted design.
Best Budget: Logitech K845 Mechanical Illuminated Keyboard
Why It Made The Cut: For many, the most simple tech is also the best, and the Logitech K845 Mechanical Illuminated Keyboard is both no-nonsense and an eco-friendly choice.
— Dimensions: 5 inches L 17.3 inches W x 0.26 inches H
— Weight: 1.71 pounds
— Connection: Wired USB
— Climate Pledge friendly
— Backlighting great for typing at night
— Customizable with five different switch types
— No bells or whistles
Frills: who needs them? For many, extra features aren’t necessary. Logitech K845 Mechanical Illuminated Keyboard is a barebones workhorse, and happy to be one.
Like many of Logitech’s products, this device is Amazon Climate Pledge friendly, which means it's manufactured a little more sustainably than typically for tech. This doesn’t mean there are any compromises on quality, far from it. Anodized aluminum construction is extra durable, with keys that sport a 50 million click lifespan. Characters on keys won’t wear off even after intense use. While it doesn’t pack RGB light, there is some backlighting, complete with five different lighting effects. Night typing has never been so smooth. Switches are totally customizable too, with five styles to choose from, including smooth and linear red to loud and clicky blue. Still, you may miss some of the extra additions that fancier models pack, but for the price point and the green bonafides, it may be an easy tradeoff.
Best for Gaming: SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Why It Made The Cut: The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is packed with a surprising level of features.
— Dimensions: 5.5 inches L x 17.2 inches W x 1.6 inches H
— Weight: 2.14 pounds
— Connection: Wired USB
— OLED smart display command center
— Aluminum frame built for durability
— Convenient USB passthrough port
— Less than optimal keycaps
As far as the best mechanical keyboards are concerned, the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is chock full of surprises.
Before touching on those, let’s state the obvious. The frame is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, which provides a lifetime’s worth of unbreakable durability and sturdiness. OmniPoint adjustable switches provide response times as low as 0.7 milliseconds, and a life of up to 100 million key presses. Unlike traditional fixed actuation switches, OmniPoint switches can be adjusted to register any point from 0.4–3.6mm. This is perhaps the most customizable switch, which provides plenty of possibilities for gaming. Like other gaming keyboards, Apex Pro packs media keys but this tech beast packs so much more. A small OLED display near the top right corner doubles as a complete command center which adjusts settings on the fly and even keeps tabs on app activity so you never have to tab out of your game. Combined with a clickable metal roller right next to it, this keyboard is as streamlined as it gets. Keycap quality isn’t as great as it is in other keyboards, but all the extra features may be worth the tradeoff.
Things To Consider Before Buying a Mechanical Keyboard
Classic v. Mechanical
What’s the difference between a mechanical keyboard and a classic membrane keyboard? It all has to do with switches. Mechanical keyboards use spring-loaded mechanisms. In a way, these keyboards almost click back, providing some great feedback. Mechanical keyboards are expensive, even the ones on the lower end of the price spectrum like the sustainable Logitech K845 Mechanical Illuminated Keyboard. And aside from the investment, there are plenty of typists who do not like the feel of a mechanical keyboard. In general, you should try clicking and clacking on a mechanical keyboard to see if you like the tactical feel on your fingers. That said, those who like the feel and secondary benefits of these keyboards find it hard to ever go back to lesser devices. Here are a few of the features to tap into with a mechanical keyboard.
— Gaming: Mechanical keyboards typically sport at least two actuation points, meaning that tapping a key softly will render one input, and pressing it all the way down will render another. Plenty of PC games allow you to create shortcuts using these different actuation points, for the most personalized and optimized gaming experience using a keyboard.
— Typing: Because of their spring-loaded keys, typing on a mechanical keyboard feels a little better than typing on a membrane keyboard. Keys aren’t simply pressed, they are felt, which means more precise, more accurate typing. especially if you’re the kind of keyboardist who performs this task for hours on end.
— Customization: One of the often-overlooked features of mechanical keyboards is that they are totally customizable. Switch types and keycaps can be changed out at will, to make keyboards that are less PC accessories and more works of art.
Easy Cleaning and Maintenance
A fairly simple way to make sure you get the most out of your mechanical keyboard investment is by servicing it every once in a while. This includes removing each key, wiping them down, and brushing messes from between the keys that wear keyboards down. Cheeto crumbs, cat hair, and good old-fashioned dust can seriously damage your fancy keyboard, but cleaning it is easier than you might think. OXO Good Grips Keyboard & Screen Deep Clean not only cleans keyboards and computer screens with ease, but it also tucks away into any spare desk drawer.
So you’re getting a mechanical keyboard. That’s the easy part. What’s a little more complicated is choosing which switch type works best for you. Underneath each keycap lies a special colored switch that changes how each key is pressed. There are plenty of options here, but they can be broken down into three switch types.
— Tactile: When hitting the actuation point, tactile switches provide tons of feedback. When pushing keys with these switches down, you’ll feel a faint bump letting you know a key has registered.
— Clicky: Keys with this switch type provide that familiar mechanical keyboard click sound even at lighter actuation points.
— Linear: These keys provide far less feedback than either tactile and clicky switches, and button presses feel the same whether pressed lightly or all the way down. These are the quietest of the bunch as well.
Popular switch manufacturers include Cherry MX and Kailh. PC accessory brands including SteelSeries, Logitech, and Razer all make their own proprietary switch types, such as SteelSeries OmniPoint switches found in its SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Razer makes a new style called Optical Switches, which are also called optomechanical switches which are triggered by light signals instead of metal-to-metal contact.
Q: How much do mechanical keyboards cost?
On average, a mechanical keyboard runs anywhere from the low end of $60 to several hundred dollars. The best ones tend to hover around $100 and change, including our overall favorite, Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro Mechanical Wireless Gaming Keyboard.
Q: Do mechanical keyboards make a difference?
Results will vary depending on the typist, but many mechanical keyboard fans swear by the sound, feel, and feedback that mechanical keyboards provide compared to regular keyboards.
Q: What’s the difference between normal and mechanical keyboards?
Compared to regular inexpensive keyboards, mechanical keyboards provide smooth actuation, provide better feedback, and have key rollover. However, they are a bit pricier than standard keyboards.
Final Thoughts on Mechanical Keyboards
The best mechanical keyboards don’t just click, they click back, and provide some of the best tactile feedback when you’re gaming or doing some serious typing. For a keyboard that works equally well in both work and play situations, the Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro Mechanical Wireless Gaming Keyboard is easy to recommend and is our overall best pick. The 7KEYS Retro Typewriter Keyboard and ASUS ROG Strix Flare Pink Limited Edition Mechanical Gaming Keyboard are fantastic options and score plenty of points on originality. For an affordable and incredibly simple approach, Logitech K845 Mechanical Illuminated Keyboard is easy on the environment and your wallet.
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