Mechanical keyboards have been around as long as PC keyboards have, even if the larger portion of the population only became aware of their existence in recent years. Decades-old historical icons like the IBM Model M keyboard defined the solid-feeling, reliable, and extremely long-lasting reputation keyboards of this type of retail to this day.
Modern mechanical keyboards have become incredibly diverse. They can provide everything from that vintage clicky sound, to dead-silent typing and ship in form factors as small as 40% and as large as full-sized and above. Boards are available now to suit everyone from hardcore gamers to the business-focused professional. While most particular mechanical keyboard hobbyists may want to build their own boards (or at least heavily modify an existing board), the larger portion of the potential user base will likely opt for a solution that's both excellent out of the box and can also be tinkered with down the road.
However, as convenient as they are, mechanical keyboards can also be more expensive than your average keyboard. That is why it is important to be sure that you buy the best mechanical keyboard at the right price point for your budget.
I can help.
I talked to the users and experts themselves to assess today's market and formulate a list of the best mechanical keyboards you can buy today. Based on factors like user experience and design, these are the best mechanical keyboards users can't get enough of.
Also:The best typewriter keyboards
Pros & Cons
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Supports multiple devices
- Ergonomic design
- Limited to linear switches
- Not compatible with Mac
Razer Pro Type Ultra tech specs: Type: Full size | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Number of keys: 104| Dimensions: 19.17 x 8.82 x 3.23 inches
The Razer Pro Type Ultra combines convenience with connectivity and affordability to create the best mechanical keyboard that users love.
Using the Android operating system, this keyboard works with a variety of different devices, including your laptop, tablet, and PC. Wireless connectivity means that you can connect up to four devices at a time, allowing you to easily switch between your computer, tablet, and TV screen. Razer's HyperSpeed technology means you can easily connect to a compatible Razer mouse while using the same Productivity Dongle for greater convenience.
It has 104 keys total made of ABS plastic with a soft touch coating. Incorporated are silent mechanical switches that are devoid of the traditional sounds associated with typing, offering a comfortable, ergonomic design that is surprisingly durable, lasting up to 80 million clicks. You also have the option to customize your keyboard with the ability to remap your keys or create exclusive shortcuts that you can use later.
Cushioned wrist support comes included, saving you a step when shopping and helping to provide hours of use without the strain of traditional keyboards.
Review: Razer Pro Type Ultra
Pros & Cons
- Excellent lighting
- Cherry MX Red switches
- Compact design
- Lacks wrist rest
- On the louder side
Cooler Master CK552 tech specs: Type: Full size | Wired/wireless: Wired | Number of keys: 109 | Dimensions: 18.11 x 5.31 x 1.61 inches
If you're looking for a wired mechanical keyboard, The Cooler Master CK552 is the best option, and at under $100, it is budget-friendly to boot. It is easily compatible with gaming consoles so you can skip the headaches of a cumbersome setup, and it is rated to last 50 million clicks for assured durability.
With a brushed aluminum design, floating keycaps, and a curved top plate, this keyboard boasts Gateron Red mechanical switches and floating keycaps for super-fast response times while maintaining an ultra-comfortable feel.
Where this keyboard truly shines is in its backlighting. There are 109 keys in total that incorporate RGB backlighting with per-key LED color support. With On-the-Fly Controls, you can choose from different lighting modes for each individual key. No software is needed to make adjustments, so you do not have to worry about weighing down your device with unnecessary programming.
You can also create your own custom settings and macros with mapping for over 16.7 million colors that can be customized to each individual key.
Pros & Cons
- Strong latency
- Excellent compatibility
- Slight flex
- Easily detachable feet
NuPhy Air75 tech specs: Type: Compact | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Number of keys: 84 | Dimensions: 12.4 x 5.2 x 0.63 inches
The NuPhy Air75 is a versatile wireless mechanical keyboard that works nicely with Windows, Mac, and Android laptops.
Professional users, such as Simon Bachersays he purchased this model for its connectivity, helping with his productivity workflow, noting that its build and even sound makes all the difference.
"It's ultra-thin and comes with two RGB lighting," says Bacher."I like that it has a distinct 'click' sound when depressed beyond the tactile point, making it the loudest switch and that's amazing."
Like the name suggests, the The NuPhy Air75 is also light and portable. As a busy CEO, Layla Acharya has taken a lot of trips, and notes how well the Air75 travels even with a suite full of features.
"[The keyboard] also has an unexpected variety of features, making it the first sleek-line keyboard we've seen that could satisfy even die-hard keyboard enthusiasts: triple-mode connectivity to handle anything from workplace use to gaming, thick PBT keycaps, exceptional low profile switches that put earlier generations of LPs aside, and native Mac assistance," she says.
While it may not be the best for a gaming set-up, Acharya gives the Air75 high praise, saying it's "quite simply the greatest low-profile keyboard you'll find right now. "
Pros & Cons
- Compact design
- Wide compatibility
- Very low latency
- Mediocre battery
- Lacks a wrist rest
Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed tech specs: Type: Compact | Wired/wireless: Wireless | Number of keys: 68 | Dimensions: 5.14 x 1.61 x 12.55 inches
The Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed is the best compact mechanical keyboard, offering wireless Bluetooth connectivity in a condensed format.
Josh Chambers, avid gamer and How To Game editor is currently using this mechanical keyboard and doubts he will ever return to a full-size model after using this compact design. "In terms of its performance, I feel like it has been extremely responsive when gaming, and Razer's custom mechanical switches are some of the best around. The trademark RGB lighting is always nice and you can sync it with your other devices."
Additionally, the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed offers Bluetooth, which is something Chambers believes sets this model apart from others, given the feature "could help you out if your PC is being overloaded with Bluetooth connections already."
Razer also advertises that the keyboard has over 200 hours of battery life and HyperSpeed wireless for lag-free gaming.
Pros & Cons
- Very low latency
- Beautiful backlighting
- Solid construction
- Wobbly keys
SteelSeries Apex Pro tech specs: Type: Full size | Wired/wireless: Wired | Number of keys: 104 | Dimensions: 5.5 x 17.2 x 1.6 inches
The SteelSeries Apex Pro comes ready to go as the best mechanical keyboard for gaming. It boasts 104 backlit keys with an OLED smart display to work as your control center. Using it is easy, too; there is wide compatibility with a number of different devices and systems.
Gamer,Jeff Johnsonsays the keyboard is an excellent gaming tool."Besides its customizable settings, the keyboard has a sturdy construction and includes dedicated media keys, as well as a comfortable magnetic wrist rest. I also love the way it lights up," he says.
Fellow gamer, Marco Andolfatto, echoes Johnson's sentiment, impressed that you can even "modify the amount of pre-travel distance required to input a keystroke using a special option" and adjust preferences based on gaming experience.
Aside from gaming, the Apex Pro is also great for typing and navigation. Alvin Wei spends a lot of time at his desk as the Co-Founder and CMO of SEOAnt, where he uses this model to help navigate each day. He says, "I would confidently say that the SteelSeries Apex Pro is the best mechanical keyboard on the market for typing and gaming."
Review: SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini keyboard: A small but mighty gaming tool
What is the best mechanical keyboard?
Users love the Razer Pro Type Ultra for its excellent performance. It may not be the most affordable on our list of best mechanical keyboards. However, with 104 keys, it is a full-sized model that is larger than some of the others.
To see how it compares, here is an overview of the best mechanical keyboards.
Best mechanical keyboard
Number of keys
Razer Pro Type Ultra
Cooler Master CK552
Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed
SteelSeries Apex Pro
How did I choose these best mechanical keyboards?
When comparing the best mechanical keyboards and talking to users, I took several factors into consideration.
Size: There are several different keyboard sizes from which you can choose.
A full-size keyboard, or 100% keyboard, is your standard keyboard that includes not only your typical function, arrow, and navigation keys but also a full number pad for easy numerical entry. There are typically 104 keys.
A tenkeyless keyboard is your standard 80% keyboard that includes most keys but skips the number pad. It usually includes 87 keys.
A compact keyboard, or 60% keyboard, is a more condensed version that does not include a number pad or navigational keys.
Clicks: Keyboards are often rated to last a certain number of clicks. For example, Cooler Master CK552 is rated for 50 million clicks, while the Razer Pro Type Ultra is rated for over 80 million clicks.
Switch type: There are three main types of mechanical switches that are commonly seen in mechanical keyboards: linear, tactile, and clicky. Linear switches offer a smoother feel with no resistance, while you can actually feel the bump on tactile switches. As the name suggests, clicky switches have an audible noise when you push them.
Backlighting: The best mechanical keyboards also incorporate backlighting as an added feature. Some keyboards even allow you to customize the lighting for each individual key, creating custom color coding based on your specific tasks.
Design: In addition to the number of clicks, there is the actual design to consider. Look for heavy-duty materials that promise durability, especially if you plan on traveling with them. For example, the Cooler Master CK552 boasts a brushed aluminum design that is far tougher than your standard plastic construction.
What is the best mechanical keyboard manufacturer?
Many different companies manufacture mechanical keyboards but not all of them may offer the best quality or features to do the job. In my search, I found that the best mechanical keyboards come from companies like Razer, NuPhy, and SteelSeries, but you are likely to find many others in your search.
Is a mechanical keyboard worth it?
Experts and users agree -- a mechanical keyboard can be a fantastic addition to your setup, especially if you want a great "feel" for typing and gaming. They're also a great option if you want fast button press-to-screen response, custom key-stroke capabilities, durability, and long-lasting battery.
How much do mechanical keyboards cost?
It is possible to spend less than $100 when searching for the best mechanical keyboard, but it all depends on what you are looking for in a keyboard. The best mechanical keyboards range in cost from $80 to nearly $200, depending on factors like the keyboard size and manufacturer that you choose.
Which key switch is right for you?
This can be decided based on a combination of what your most common use case for a keyboard is, as well as your personal preference for typing feel. I'll explain each of the three main switch types, and who they're generally considered best for, briefly.
Typically blue, these switches make an audible click when they reach their actuation point. They were initially the most popular switches among many manufacturers, but fell out of favor due to some users finding their incessant clicking an annoyance to themselves or their house/office mates. Still, some prefer the rhythmic sounds of typing or the audible assurance these provide. They're equally well-suited to gamers or practical typists.
Typically brown, these keep the tactile sensation of the clicky switches above, but purposely dampen the noise. That said, they're still louder than the linear switches below. Some prefer the surety of the tactile "bump" denoting the actuation point, while others find the sudden increase in keypress resistance jarring and disruptive. Many practical typists prefer tactile switches as the "bump" can sometimes prevent accidental keypresses, reducing typos. While some gamers do enjoy the surety of feeling the actuation point, others don't appreciate the slow-down that tactile bump adds to their keypresses. That extra moment of key travel can often be the split-second difference between in-game life and death.
Typically red, these switches are pure up-and-down. There's no audible or physical indication of their actuation point, providing the smoothest operating experience of any switch here. This smoothness and speed has made linear switches the go-to choice for many gamers interested in reducing their reaction times to the bare minimum. For that same reason, some serious typists avoid linear switches due to their tendency to introduce unintended errors thanks to their generally lighter weight and unrestricted travel.
It's worth noting that all of the above statements apply most aptly to the standard clicky, tactile, and linear switches that ship with most boards. These switch designsand their semi-standard color-coding are all based on designs originated by German switch maker Cherry. It still creates versions of all three, as well as far more exotic variants. Many other manufacturers also create countless variants with higher actuation points, heavier or lighter springs, unusual case and stem materials, and more.
Ideally, if you're ever considering a new switch, try to buy one, or just a few, to test the feel before you commit to enough for a full board. The same goes for any pre-made boards with pre-installed switches you can try before you buy as well.
Is wireless connectivity OK for gaming?
This is a more nuanced subject than it might seem at first. Wireless keyboards that rely on Bluetooth (as well as other peripherals that rely on it) can suffer from latency. This means any command entered on them will be delayed, usually by about 0.2 seconds or less. Wired keyboards don't suffer from this delay, meaning that commands are registered almost instantly.
In an ideal world, any keypress during a game will be instantly recognized to give the player the minimal amount of delay before that life-saving jump or vital crouch is registered. While Bluetooth might get you close enough to instant for more casual games, I wouldn't recommend it for competitive shooter games and high-pressure MMORPGs. Thankfully, many wireless keyboards also offer a wired mode for just this reason.
The only exception I'd make for using a wireless gaming keyboard is if the board in question used 2.4GHz wireless, like some options from Logitech. These dongle-based wireless connections offer far lower latency, and can be just as ideal for gaming as high-end wireless mice have become.
What parts of a mechanical keyboard can you modify?
Short answer: all of them.
Longer answer: the most common would be the key switches and keycaps. Both of these can completely change the feel of a board and, if you have hot swap sockets in your board, both can be swapped out with no more difficulty than unplugging a USB cable and plugging in a new one.
More exotic mods can include things like replacing the stabilizers that help keep longer keys (space, shift, enter, etc.) level while traveling, as well as adding sound-dampening foam or silicone. Just about every moving part can also be lubricated to make it feel smoother and dampen its sound a bit. The possibilities are nearly endless when you start to get into all of the available switches, caps, case options, and unique parts being created for mechanical keyboard modding today.
Are there alternative best mechanical keyboards worth considering?
There are many different types of mechanical keyboards that you can buy. For help sorting the best from the rest, consider these best mechanical keyboards that almost made our list.
The Asus ROG Azoth is a 75% wireless mechanical keyboard that is perfect for gaming. Set yourself up for success with this game-worthy splurge.
If you want ultra-fast performance, this is the best mechanical keyboard for you. The Corsair K100 doesn't hesitate, thanks to AXON Hyper-Processing Technology.
Choose the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB Split Gaming Keyboard for ultimate comfort. The ergonomic design of this best mechanical keyboard makes it easy to type for hours.
For other options, check out our top picks for the best ergonomic keyboards, the best gaming keyboards, and the best gaming mechanical keyboards!
- The best smartwatches you can buy: Apple, Samsung, Google, and more compared
- The 5 best VPN services (and tips to choose the right one for you)
- The best Android phones you can buy (including a surprise pick)
- The best robot vacuum and mop combos (and if they're worth the money)