You’ve probably spent more time repeatedly hitting a part of your computer than: Keyboard. So, it makes sense to get one that is ergonomic, responsive and reliable. Keyboard enthusiasts prefer mechanical keyboards as they are more comfortable to use for long periods of time. Longer travel (the speed required to press a key) and more positive action (how the keyboard feels when you press a key) make for a pleasant typing experience.
If you’re not sure which one to go with, we’ve got you covered. We’ve tested over a dozen of the best mechanical keyboards available today is our top pick Logitech G513 (Available on Amazon for $129.99), a durable keyboard made of aircraft-grade aluminum that’s great for typing for long periods of time. For those on a budget, our best value picks are Hewitt Mechanical Keyboard and Mouse Kit (Available on Amazon), which offers a responsive keyboard with an attractive minimalist design If you’re looking for something different, there are plenty of great options below.
How do we test
For testing, we used each keyboard for several days on a daily basis, making sure to get familiar with the different feel of each keyboard and switch types. In addition to writing thousands of words of deathless prose, we play games on every keyboard and use any special features like macros, keyboard mapping, etc. We also look at lighting, any software that comes with the keyboard to configure. Different keyboard layouts, etc
What is a mechanical keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards use a physical switch, a mechanism inside the keys that detects when you press a key by connecting two pieces of wire. There are different types of switches that require different amounts of force to push. This differs from membrane keyboards used in laptops, where the key presses on a small bubble of plastic that closes a circuit. The advantage of a membrane keyboard is that they are cheap to make and don’t require a lot of space, which is great for a laptop. The downside is that it feels like typing on wet cardboard. You drag the key instead of getting a satisfying click.
What is a 100%, 60%, or 40% keyboard?
These numbers indicate the size of the keyboard. A 100% keyboard, like the ones we tested for this article, has the main keyboard, direction keys, and a numeric keypad. 65% and 60% keyboards lose the numeric keypad while 40% keyboards lose direction guidance. The downside is that they are smaller, so they take up less desk space and are easier to carry. The downside is that you have to use key combinations (eg Ctrl-W) to access the missing controls. We will test these keyboards in future updates
Types of switches
Most manufacturers refer to the switches their keyboards use by a color, based on the variety of switches offered by Cherry, whose MX switches are used in many of the keyboards we’ve tested. Each color has a different feel:
Red: It requires little force to press down, so you can press the key quickly and often.
Blue: More force is required to press down with an audible click as the switch is triggered.
Brown: Like blue, but without the audible click.
Black: Original mechanical keyboard switch design, requires moderate power and is silent.
Silver: Requires little power and has short travel (the distance you have to press the key).
Not all mechanical keyboards use Cherry MX switches, but most use the same color scheme to indicate the feel of the switches they use.
Which one works for you depends on what type of typist you are. If you like to hammer the keys (and miss the clack-clack-clack sound of a typewriter), try blue. If you want to hammer the keyboard but have to share an office with others, brown is the same but without the noise. The red and black colors are great for gaming, as the low power means you can often press the same keys without straining your fingers, which is great for strafing, jumping and other gaming-related activities.
Cherry and others also make variants on these switches, including RGB LEDs and extra padding for extra quiet.
Why all LEDs?
Keyboards with LED lights that glow in different colors started as a way to find keys in a dark room It’s easy to see which is which if they have a light behind them. Now it seems like a race to see who can create the brightest and most stylish colors. Is that a good thing? It depends. A keyboard’s backlights can be useful for helping non-touch-typers find their way around, but having a keyboard that pulses different colors in time with your soundtrack won’t make you a better (or faster) typist.
Ergonomic keyboards are those that are specially designed to be comfortable to use This is a loosely defined term, but it usually refers to keyboards that have a design that differs from the standard, such as placing the keys at an angle or tilt, or dividing the keyboard into two parts that can be moved independently. Again, we will examine these keyboards in an upcoming article.