Which budget mechanical keyboard is best?
Whether you are a serious typist or a casual gamer, the type of keyboard that you have can dramatically affect your productivity, which is why it’s really important to use the right keyboard for your operational style.
Through their highly customizable key switches, mechanical keyboards have steadily been used by gamers and office workers alike. If you don’t know what to look for, they can cost you quite a bit. That doesn’t need to be the case, as the Corsair Strafe is the perfect budget mechanical keyboard.
What to know before you buy a budget mechanical keyboard
The difference in key switches
Mechanical keyboards are known for their ability to swap out the key switches. This will determine the actuation and the feeling when you press on a key. Some switches require a heavier push for them to go all the way down, while others need a light touch. Consider what feels and sounds the best to you, and look for a keyboard with those switches.
Wired or wireless?
Once you have decided on the right switches, consider if you prefer a wired keyboard or one that is wireless. Both have their advantages and drawbacks, but generally, the response times of wired keyboards are much better. Wireless keyboards are charged through the USB cable and tend not to have a USB-passthrough to charge other devices at the same time.
The form of the keyboard is important
Few people might realize that keyboards, whether they are mechanical or membrane, come in different sizes and form factors. A full-sized keyboard will have a row of Function keys, macros, and a numeric pad. Smaller keyboards might omit the numeric pad, while 40% keyboards are exactly what they sound like. They’re 40% the size of a full keyboard and have the minimum amount of keys.
What to look for in a quality budget mechanical keyboard
Ability to change key switches
It’s important that you choose the right switches for your keyboard, but it is just as important that you can change them when you need a different feel. Key switches come in six different color varieties and span between clicky, tactile and linear. Each category requires a different amount of pressure on the keys, and some have a different travel distance. A good quality mechanical keyboard will support all the switch colors and be easily replaced.
To add some custom colors and personalization to your mechanical keyboard, RGB lighting is the way to go. A good budget mechanical keyboard will have an array of LEDs for changing the visual appearance of your keyboard. The included software will also make it possible for the RGB lighting to behave in sync with whatever you are doing.
There are budget mechanical keyboards available that cost under $20, but you need to be aware of the build quality. A good budget mechanical keyboard will have a sturdy construction from materials like high-quality plastic, metal, or aluminum. The build quality will ensure that your keyboard lasts a long time, even under heavy daily use.
How much you can expect to spend on a budget mechanical keyboard
Budget mechanical keyboards can retail for between $40-$90, but that largely depends on the manufacturer. There are several budget mechanical keyboards available for as little as $20, but on average, you can look to spend $70 on a good quality budget mechanical keyboard.
Budget mechanical keyboard FAQ
Does the brand name matter for a mechanical keyboard?
A. As with most electronics, a brand-name product tends to be of better quality than a lesser-known one. It will be to your advantage to go for a keyboard from a brand that you know and trust.
Do you have to use Cherry MX switches?
A. No, you don’t. Cherry MX is one of the four most popular key switch makers. The others are Gateron, Kailh and Outemu. Cherry MX is seemingly more popular, as many keyboard makers include them in their default keyboard build.
What’s the best budget mechanical keyboard to buy?
Top budget mechanical keyboard
What you need to know: A great, full-featured mechanical keyboard at an affordable price.
What you’ll love: The Strafe uses Cherry MX switches that can be exchanged for whatever kind you like. It has per-key backlighting for nearly unlimited customization, and you can reassign and create key combos. For added function, it features USB-passthrough, multimedia controls and anti-ghosting technology.
What you should consider: It doesn’t come with a wrist rest, which some users might want to use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top budget mechanical keyboard for the money
What you need to know: Fight enemies with one of the most iconic keyboards ever.
What you’ll love: The BlackWidow is one of Razer’s best-selling mechanical keyboards. It uses the green key switches for a fast response time and features Razer’s Chroma RGB lighting system. It has a numeric keypad and a complete row of Function keys, but it doesn’t have multimedia controls.
What you should consider: Even though it is a wired keyboard, it doesn’t have the ability for USB-pass through.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A full-size mechanical keyboard that is perfect for gaming.
What you’ll love: Coming in on the higher side of budget mechanical keyboards, the K845 is the perfect device as a first mechanical keyboard. It is compatible with red, blue, or brown switches. It also has white backlighting in five different patterns and is constructed from durable aluminum. It is a wired keyboard, so there is no worry of running out of power. The keyboard can also be tilted at different angles.
What you should consider: It is a full keyboard, but it doesn’t have dedicated multimedia controls.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.