As with your book collection, your choice of mechanical keyboard can says a lot about you. Sure, you could get by with a simple rubber dome keyboard, but mechanical keyboards and their breadth of variety provide not only more options, but also opportunities to experiment. It's not just about picking the right tool for typing—learning the ins and outs of mechanical keyboards can be a lifetime hobby.
Maybe you already know exactly what you're looking for, or have a rough idea of what kind of mechanical keyboard you want. Keep in mind that novelty and flexible customization often come at a premium. If the budget is tight, then our best cheap gaming keyboards guide lists some good alternatives.
This guide includes a range of great mechanical keyboards that aren't gaming specific. The best gaming keyboards are mostly mechanical, but our selection here is more varied, with sizes and key switches that can feel great for typing but aren't purpose-built for gaming.
These keyboards mostly skip the ornate (or even ugly) designs of their gaming counterparts. Options like the Fujitsu Realforce R2 RGB, Ducky One 2 TKL, and Das Keyboard 4 Professional are trusty boards that don’t show off. They focus on what's essential: serving as great typing tools. These keyboards are tried-and-true models that are still among the best keyboards you can buy.
You'll also find a board with unique topre switches, and the Logitech Pro X, which lets you customize the style of switch under your fingers. Whatever you pick, it should keep your fingers happy for years to come.
Best Mechnical Keyboards
The best mechanical keyboard comes with Razer's excellent opto-mechanical switches
Switch: Razer Opto-mechanical | Size: Full size | Backlights: 16.8 million color RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: Detachable magnetic
Razer's proprietary opto-mechanical switches, which are currently only available on their Huntsman and Huntsman Elite boards, are an interesting and well executed blend of technologies, an artful mix of traditional mechanical switch design and the optical sensor not unlike the one probably lurking inside your mouse.
Instead of using the contact of metal leaves inside the switch to register a keypress, the opto-mechanical switch actuates when a beam of light passes through the stem as it descends. This means there's virtually no actuation delay whatsoever, making the opto-mechanical one of the most responsive switches on the market.
The rest of the board shares the thoughtful design of its switches, allowing users to change the backlighting under each key individually and sporting dedicated media keys and onboard storage, all in an attractive aluminum plate design. Other than its lack of an option for USB passthrough, an unfortunate oversight, it has all the features you want out of a mechanical keyboard while taking full advantage of one of the best switches ever developed.
2. Ducky One 2 RGB TKL
A great all-around keyboard with tons of switch choices
Switch: Cherry MX Black, Blue, Brown, Red, White, Silver | Size: TKL | Backlights: RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: No | Wristrest: No
Despite using Cherry MX switches like a majority of candidates here, the Ducky One 2 RGB has the smoothest Cherry stabilizers I’ve ever felt right out of the box. When you have to hit the spacebar between every word, this little detail has a tremendous impact on typing comfort.
Stabilizers aside, the keycaps are as good as they get for a stock board. The Ducky One 2 RGB comes with PBT plastic keycaps and double-shot legends, both the most durable types in their respective categories. This matters because it means the keycaps will last for years, and the print on them wont fade away. Ducky also includes an extra set of colorful keycaps for the escape, space, and control keys. Try swapping to them on a rainy day.
There’s just one minor caveat behind it all. Although it has a metal backplate, the Ducky One 2 RBG is sadly encased in a plastic chassis. A fully metal case—or even just a metal front plate—would have driven up its cost. And at $125, this keyboard hits a real sweet spot, with great features and performance for the price.
3. Filco Majestouch 2
A barebones, reliable typist's keyboard
Switch: Cherry MX Black, Blue, Brown, Red | Size: Full size | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: No | Wristrest: No
The Majestouch 2 is to typing as water is to thirst: They both represent the simplest solutions to a basic problem, and they're equally bland.
Even against the next most boring keyboard on this list, the Filco Majestouch 2 seems lifeless in comparison. It doesn’t have any fancy features to boast of, nor does it have a special trick. Customization is limited to picking your preferred Cherry MX switch from a roster of Black, Brown, Blue, and Red. What you see here is what you get.
This simplicity, however, also explains its popularity. As it turns out, some people love no-frills keyboards. Filco simply stuffed 104 Cherry MX switches into a durable chassis and sold it at $139, establishing the Majestouch 2 as a fantastic starter board or as a dependable backup.
With that said, the Majestouch 2’s monotony may be a bit too mundane for even the strictest of typists, and it's lack of backlighting can work against you in a dim room. Some users have also complained that the key legends fade too easily. Plain and reliable is the name of the game, here.
4. Das Keyboard 4 Professional
An iconic mechanical keyboard design
Switch: Cherry MX Blue, Brown | Size: Full size | Backlights: No | Passthroughs: Yes | Media controls: Dedicated | Wristrest: No
Productivity doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Those who want a bit more style and a few more features from an otherwise down-to-earth keyboard can opt for the Das Keyboard 4 Professional. Das has been around in the mechanical keyboard game for ages, and for good reason.
Stylistically speaking, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional strikes a nice balance between professional and flamboyant. Its weighty metal front plate helps with both function and form; planting the keyboard firmly on your desk while keeping it looking sharp. Whereas other keyboards use small volume rollers, the Das includes a large tactile volume knob decorated with eye-catching red chrome accents.
But aesthetics aren't what put Das on the list. Performance did. Designed for typists first, the Das only comes with either the clicky Cherry MX Blue or the tactile Cherry MX Brown, two of the most popular switches for typing. Cherry MX Brown is especially favored as a superb all-around switch, for typing and gaming, thanks to its silent actuation and tactile bump.
You get all the goodies above for $169, but don’t expect premium keycaps, backlights, or stable elevator feet. The elevator feet are especially irritating since they don't grip as well as they should. Otherwise, the Das Keyboard 4 blends important features and great typing performance into a stylish package.
5. Fujitsu Realforce R2 RGB
Our favorite keyboard with one-of-a-kind Topre switches
Switch: Topre | Size: TKL or Full | Backlights: RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media controls: Dedicated volume keys | Wristrest: No
Fujitsu is one of the few manufacturers with a catalog of Topre keyboards. We picked the Realforce R2 RGB to represent one of the best typing switches around.
Revered by ardent keyboard fans as the ultimate typing switch, the Topre switch (pronounced toe-prey, as it stands for Tokyo Press) rarely appears in gaming keyboards due to its high cost. Being a capacitive switch, Topre’s distinguishing feature is its adjustable actuation distance. It also boasts supremely smooth travel and zero key debounce. You can find its detailed breakdown in our mechanical switch guide.
To please all kinds of gamers and typists, the Realforce R2 RGB can toggle between 1.5mm, 2mm, and 3mm actuation distances—the first for fast-paced gaming, and the latter two for typing and general use. Fujitsu even reserved a key to cycle through them on the fly. Moreover, you can individually set the actuation distance for every key through the optional driver software.
Aside from bright RGB backlights, the Realforce R2 has excellent ABS keycaps with double-shot legends. The keycaps are paired with Cherry MX stems instead of Topre stems, an important feature for keycap swapping. At the top right corner are volume controls to take the edge off of music controls.
Unfortunately, Topre’s prestige and novelty have a matching price tag. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Topre keyboard for under $200. The Fujitsu Realforce R2 RGB costs $250+, and that still won’t net you a metal case or braided cables. For die-hard fans, that's a fair price to pay for their favorite switch. Everyone else should try it in person before swiping their credit card.
6. Logitech Pro X
The best mechanical keyboard for analysis paralysis
Switch: Logitech Romer-G Brown, Red or Blue | Size: Tenkeyless | Backlights: RGB | Passthroughs: No | Media Controls: Function key integrated | Wristrest: No
The Logitech G Pro X is a reimagining of the original G Pro tenkeyless design. Virtually nothing has changed here, with a small exception, that you can now swap key switches. Logitech has fully embraced hot-swappable PCB designs, allowing you to change the types of switches you use on their keyboard with relative ease. Because of their general uniformity, you can use just about any aftermarket key switch you'd like on the G Pro X. However, due to small differences in switch manufacturing sizes, it's recommended that you use Logitech's switches, which are offered in linear, tactile and clicky varieties to avoid any compatibility issues.
This is the first time we've seen this feature outside of the DIY market for mechanical keyboards and is certainly a welcome and interesting way to shake things up with a tried and tested design.
Jargon buster - keyboard terminology
The height to which a key needs to be pressed before it actuates and sends an input signal to a device.
A switch that delivers an audible click everytime it's pressed, generally right around the point of actuation.
A technique to ensure that only one input registers every time a key is pressed.
The shell that surrounds the internal components of a switch.
The result of the actuation point and reset point in a switch being misaligned. This generally means a key needs to be lifted off of further than normal before it can be actuated again.
A switch that moves directly up and down, generally delivering smooth keystrokes without noise or tactile feedback.
A keyboard built around individual switches for each key, rather than a membrane sheath mounted on a PCB.
A keyboard on which all the keycaps are mounted on a membrane sheath; when a key is pressed, a rubber dome depresses and pushes against the sheath and PCB beneath, actuating the key.
The component of a switch on which the keycaps are mounted on a mechanical keyboard.
The physical component of a mechanical keyboard beneath the keycaps on a mechanical keyboard. The switch determines how a key is actuated, whether or not it provides audible or tactile feedback with each press, and more.
A switch that provides a 'bump' of feedback every time it's pushed.
A keyboard that lacks the right hand number pad.