Best mechanical keyboard

Reviews

Unicomp developed one of the most durable mechanical keyboards, the Model M, back in the 1980s. The company had a hard time selling the keyboard because they would last so long that customers would only need to buy one.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which mechanical keyboard is best?

You may have seen them on your favorite streamer’s videos or you may have tried one in store. But there’s no denying that once you type on a mechanical keyboard, there’s no going back. Beyond just that “clicky” sound, the mechanical keyboard offers various advantages over the traditional keyboard, from durability to aesthetics. 

If you’re in search of the best mechanical keyboard, consider purchasing the Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Not only is it one of the highest-rated keyboards on Amazon, but it comes with a plethora of extras, including macros, media keys and side ports. 

What to know before you buy a mechanical keyboard

The advantages of a mechanical keyboard

There are plenty of reasons to buy a mechanical keyboard. Of course, the top reason is its clicky, satisfying feel. But mechanical keyboards are also more robust and durable, so they can last a long time even if you type a lot. They are also highly customizable. Some people have taken to customizing their keys to be more or less colorful. Finally, there’s the aesthetic. Some people prefer more compact, simple keyboards than many of the stock keyboards that come with most computers. 

You can customize a mechanical keyboard

Did we mention that you can swap keys out? There are various key types that produce different feels and sounds. For example, you may opt for a more responsive key that clicks a lot when you type. Or you may prefer a looser, quieter key. Depending on the keyboard you get, you can totally change your keys in terms of color, rigidity and sound. 

The Cherry MX switch

The most popular key switches are the Cherry MX switches, made by a company called Cherry CmbH. They were originally sold and patented in the 1980s and continue to be popular today, used by brands such as Cooler Master and Corsair. Cherry MX switches come in various colors, which determine their sound and feedback when pressed down. 

What to look for in a quality mechanical keyboard

Layout

Mechanical keyboards come in various layouts, known as 60%, 80% or 100%. Without going into too much technical detail, the percentage basically refers to how many keys there are compared to a full-sized keyboard; 100% means full-sized and includes all function keys, arrow keys and the number pad; 80% means it has the function keys, but no number pad; and 60% is the smallest and doesn’t feature function keys or a number pad. Smaller keyboards give you more mouse space, while bigger keyboards give you more diverse functionality.

Durability

Mechanical keyboards are built to last. Even with significant use, expect your keyboard to outlive most of your PC peripherals. Be sure to find a mechanical keyboard made by a reputable company. Most brands will measure their keyboard’s durability in terms of clicks, such as supporting 80 million clicks. 

Customizability

While not completely necessary, keep in mind most mechanical keyboards have replaceable key switches, allowing you to change keys to different colors, types or icons completely. You may end up buying one keyboard and customizing it over the next few years.

How much you can expect to spend on a mechanical keyboard

The most affordable mechanical keyboards will cost about $50 and are designed to get the job done. The rarest and most expensive keyboards can reach up to $1,000, depending on the model, material and production run. 

Mechanical Keyboard FAQ

What does 60%/80%/100% mean?

A. The 60% and 100% versions are standard keyboards, with the 100% being the most common keyboard sold with PCs and the 60% having no number pad or function keys. The 80% model is somewhere in the middle, having function keys, but no number pad.

Why does one mechanical keyboard feel different from another?

A. It all depends on the mechanical key switch used. Some rely on Cherry MX, which is the most commonly used one and has a solid feel. Then there are knockoffs by other brands, as well as alternative switches that may use a rubber dome or a spring. 

What ARE the best mechanical keyboardS to buy?

Top mechanical keyboard

Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

What you need to know: Ideal for gamers, this mechanical keyboard is precise, programmable and ergonomic.

What you’ll love: Besides the feel of each key, the keyboard has macro support, meaning you can map complex key combinations to a single key.

What you should consider: Some people have shared frustrations with Razer’s proprietary software, which might have more than a few bugs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top mechanical keyboard for the money

HyperX Alloy Origins Core - Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

HyperX Alloy Origins Core – Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

What you need to know: For less than $100, you’re paying for a tenkeyless (no number pad), RGB tactile keyboard.

What you’ll love: RGB lights and effects give your PC some personality in low light. 

What you should consider: No dedicated media keys, can be a hassle if you like to listen to music.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Redragon K556 RGB LED Backlit Wired Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Redragon K556 RGB LED Backlit Wired Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

What you need to know: A great tactile keyboard with removable keycaps and numerous backlit modes. 

What you’ll love: The key switches strike a perfect balance between clicky and quiet enough for personal use.

What you should consider: The keys are difficult to remove. If you’re not careful or don’t practice, you may risk damaging them.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Leo Herrera-Lim 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.