Best Mechanical Keyboards:The world of mechanical keyboards can be overwhelming and confusing, especially if you’re just starting out. There are so many options that it can seem overwhelming to pick the right one. It is possible to find the perfect mechanical keyboard if you know what you are looking for.
Many people purchase mechanical keyboards to relive childhood memories or simply because they love the sound of the clacking keys. Some people gravitate to them for the ability to fine-tune their typing experience. A mechanical keyboard uses a mechanism called a switch. This is basically a spring made of metal that can be tuned to provide a range of sounds, response times and travel times. The most popular switch is the Cherry MX, which can be categorized according to color. (Mechanical Keyboards provides a useful guide on how each switch works. Manufacturers may also make their own switches, with different names.
There are also people like me who love mechanical keyboards. They’re so customizable. To change the appearance of my workspace, I spend a lot on custom keycaps or desk mats. Because of the importance they provide to my daily typing experience, I stick with Cherry MX Browns or their cheaper offshoot Gateron Browns.
Because this guide is about starting, customization will not be covered. However, you should know that both linear and tactile switches provide a smooth, direct pressing experience that ends at the stroke’s end. While tactile switches, or “clicky”, have a slight bump at the actuation point that lets you know when the keyboard recognizes the press. One of these keyboards use a professional writer, who works at a website that does your homework.
Best Mechanical Keyboards Overview
Most of the keyboard models in this guide are mainstream and made by your favorite peripheral manufacturers. These keyboards are easy to find and can be purchased now. They don’t require long waitlists or group buys, as well as no lengthy waitlists.
These keyboards have all the hallmarks that make great mechanical keyboards: nice switches, swappable keycaps and nice switches (except for the low-profile or otherwise noted). They have LEDs under the keys, and are full-size keyboards. However, you may find them without the numberpad to save space. They also offer some extras for programmers and gamers who may need them.
We also included our picks for the top wireless membrane keyboards. For those who don’t like the idea of having to be tethered at their desks by a USB cable with braided ends.
Best Overall Keyboard
Our Choice: SteelSeries Apex Pro ($199).
SteelSeries Apex pro is an excellent all-around keyboard that anyone can use. Because it is so comfortable, I found myself returning to this keyboard over and above the other models.
I was also thrilled by the OLED screen that could be programmed in the upper right corner. It displayed my handle every time. SteelSeries Engine Desktop App lets you adjust the display and the backlight for each key. It can be set up to receive notifications from Discord or for status changes in games such as League of Legends.
The Apex Pro’s proprietary Omnipoint switches use magnetic sensors instead of springs to adjust its actuation point. This is the amount of force required to make a key recognize. The OmniPoint switches are similar to MX Cherry Reds by default. You can adjust the actuation point using the SteelSeries Engine app. It’s anywhere between 0.4mm and 3.6mm. This is represented by a 1-10 scale with 10 being the longest. It was initially dismissed by me as a gimmick, but I soon felt the difference in sensitivity. I didn’t feel the “finger exhaustion”, which I experience with more resistant switches. The Apex Pro won’t satisfy those who love the sound of a keypress.
Although I have played more than 600 hours of Skyrim, I am not a serious gamer so I could not take advantage of all the gaming-specific features. The best thing about Apex Pro is the fact that these abilities are not the main focus. You can program navigation keys such as Page Up or Page Down in macros, or leave them alone.
The Apex Pro is priced similarly to other mechanical keyboards that offer the same range of features. What ultimately sets it apart from the rest of the pack is that it feels like a customizable package–a choose-your-own-adventure-type of a keyboard, which is what all good mechanical keyboards should strive to be.
Best Gaming Keyboard
Our Pick: Razer Huntsman Elite ($199)
Razer’s Huntsman Elite is a great choice for esports players who are constantly clicking on the most clicky, loudest switches. The Huntsman Elite’s optomechanical purple switches are loud but not as loud as a trampoline. Its springs take the brunt your jumps. This keyboard’s springs provide a comfortable landing, even for those who aren’t very good at typing. Razer’s Linear Optical Switches are also available for the Huntsman Elite. They are quieter and more comfortable to use. Both types of switch use infrared light beams for actuation. Although I cannot speak to the reaction time of this switch type versus a mechanical keyboard, I found it easy to tell the difference.
The Huntsman Elite is a dedicated gamer’s keyboard. The keyboard’s design is gamer chic from the circular volume dial at the upper right-hand corner to RGB backlighting woven into a comfortable leather palm rest. Huntsman Elite’s general M.O. Your commemorative Phantom Menace cup will be void of Mountain Dew. Razer Synapse software has many features, but the interface can be confusing. You can customize the color of each key, the color of the wrist rest, and the outer edge lighting. An applet can sync the keyboard lights with a Philips hue bulb. You can also use the software for Macros and other integrations in-game.
Best Budget Keyboard
Our Pick: HyperX Alloy Origins (110).
A fully-equipped mechanical keyboard doesn’t require you to spend a lot of money. Although the HyperX Alloy Originals appears basic with its LEDs off it can be customized to do almost anything you want.
Although the HyperX Alloy Originals’ design is simple, it is a subtle look. The keyboard does not have a wrist rest or media keys. Additionally, the keycaps can become fingerprint-laden with use. However, the Alloy Origins has three programmable profiles on its board, along with macro keys, three adjustable angles and a small LED screen to switch between modes. The USB cable can be detached, which I found very convenient.
The Alloy Origins type like a high-end keyboard. HyperX can make custom switches. The Alloy Origins were tested with HyperX Aqua switches which are Cherry Browns. However, it is also available with HyperX Reds which are similar to Cherry Reds. The HyperX Alloy origins are a great buy, regardless of which switch you choose. You can make the Alloy Origins your own by adding a customized keycap set or HyperX’s translucent pudding keycap set.
Best Wireless Keyboards
Our Pick: Logitech MX Keys ($100)
Maybe you’ve gone through the entire list and realized that you want a membrane keyboard with less bounce than one with tactile springs. We’ve got you covered.
If my mechanical keyboard was lost or damaged, the Logitech MXKeys wireless keyboard would serve as my backup. The slim design fits well into modern offices. Its scalloped keys are able to withstand both long claws and stubby fingers. Logitech MX keys also have a full number pad that is useful for data entry. It can be connected via Bluetooth or the included Unifying Receiver which can also work with other Logitech peripherals.
The Logitech MX Keys, despite its wireless capabilities, is strictly a desktop keyboard. This is not a wireless device you can just throw in your bag and take with you. Check out our runners-up picks below. It’s cordless, which means it can be used anywhere. You can also adjust the angle to suit your typing preferences. Logitech claims that the battery will last for about 10 days. Logitech claims that the battery has a 10-day lifespan. I didn’t test it long enough to verify this claim. Nevertheless, small features such as automatic dimming of backlights or fast standby mode can help to preserve the battery’s remaining life.
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