Generally, mechanical keyboards are quite versatile, depending on what your preferences are. How they’re made differs from other types of keyboards, such as ones with rubber dome and scissor switches.
The three main types of switches are tactile and silent, tactile and clicky, and linear and silent. Linear switches are generally good for gaming, and tactile ones offer better feedback while typing. However, it all comes down to personal preference, and thankfully, a lot of options are available in a wide variety of switches to better suit your needs.
BEST FOR STREAMERS AND MACRO TWEAKERS
With a modest update, Corsair’s K95 RGB Platinum XT turns one of the best gaming keyboards into an obvious go-to for video streamers.
The smooth typing action, the well-placed lighting, the USB pass-through, and dedicated macro keys—while strengthening some of its weaker points, such as adding more onboard profiles and a new padded wrist rest. The biggest improvement, though, comes courtesy of Corsair’s new(ish) streaming gear subsidiary Elgato: The XT’s macro keys are compatible with Elgato’s Stream Deck software, allowing you to use the extra keys as a mini six-key video switcher.
- Same great K95 Platinum design and features.
- Elgato Stream Deck support.
- More onboard profiles.
- New and improved wrist rest.
- PBT double-shot keycaps.
- Not an enormous upgrade over the previous K95 Platinum.
BEST FOR ESPORTS PLAYERS SEEKING A TENKEYLESS DESIGN
A solid aluminum chassis, comfortable custom key switches, and a nifty OLED mini-display set apart SteelSeries’ Apex 7 TKL, our favorite tenkeyless gaming keyboard to date.
It bears a strong resemblance to the company’s earlier Apex M750 TKL, but with some extra flair and functionality, most notably a little OLED display in one corner. “TKL,” for those fluent in keyboard lingo, stands for “tenkeyless,” meaning a reduced-width keyboard without a 10-digit number pad. That’s just about all that this killer keyboard is lacking, though, and it’s not a shortfall. (You buy a tenkeyless keyboard specially for the smaller footprint and the ability to position your hands closer together.) The Apex 7 TKL is attractive, comfortable, and sturdy, and our favorite tenkeyless model of the moment.
- Durable aluminum body.
- Handy OLED mini-display with easy-to-use onboard menus.
- Snappy mechanical switches.
- Per-key-programmable RGB backlighting
- Loud key action.
BEST FOR BEST FOR A PURE TYPING EXPERIENCE
The Drop ENTR is a simple mechanical keyboard, but its premium build makes it feel like so much more. Even better, its sub-$100 price means that you won’t spend an extraordinary amount of money for an excellent typing experience.
Delivering enthusiast-grade parts and build quality, the ENTR is an incredibly well-crafted keyboard. In fact, the ENTR is the best typing experience you’ll encounter at its $90 price. Although it lacks many customization and quality-of-life features found in gaming and productivity keyboards, the ENTR is an excellent high-quality, low-feature keyboard that carries a reasonable price. As a result, the ENTR is the Editors’ Choice for budget mechanical keyboards.
- Compact design
- Incredible build quality
- Gatreon Yellow switches
- Detachable USB-C cable
- No configuration software
BEST FOR NO-NONSENSE MECHANICAL-KEYBOARD BUFFS
If premium features aren’t what you’re after, HyperX’s Alloy Origins may be the nicest no-nonsense midrange mechanical keyboard around.
It’s a simple mechanical keyboard, but it’s well-crafted and feels good to type on. The pieces that set it apart are its new proprietary switches, dubbed HyperX Red, which thread the needle between Cherry’s and Razer’s comparable parts. It doesn’t have flourishes and frills such as USB pass-through ports, dedicated macro keys, or a volume dial, but it’s among the best midrange mechanical keyboards I’ve used in recent memory, and it earns Editors’ Choice award for its class.
- Solidly made chassis.
- Proprietary switches offer unique feel.
- Detachable USB-C cable.
- No creature comforts, such as dedicated macro keys or USB pass-through ports
BEST FOR ERGONOMICALLY MINDED GAMERS
In the Freestyle Edge RGB, Kinesis brings best-in-class ergonomics to the gaming-keyboard scene for players serious about minding their wrists and hands in the course of their gaming endurathons.
The Freestyle Edge RGB improves a number of features on the first Freestyle Edge, but it is very much an upgrade of that original model. Like the original Freestyle, the split keyboard comprises two half-keyboards, made of hard, matte-gray plastic. The halves are connected by up to 20 inches of braided cable, giving you plenty of slack to configure the boards as you see fit.
If you are considering giving a split keyboard a try for the first time, you should know that transitioning to one takes time, patience, and practice. Even though the keys were in the same relative places, I found it takes extra time to get acquainted with the idea of using your two hands separately, and uniquely, on the two parts of the board.
- Great typing feel
- Topre switches
- USB Type-C (cabled) and Bluetooth (wireless) connectivity on a battery-powered keyboard
- Rear DIP switches allow for software-free customization
- Surprisingly comfortable 60-key design
- Steep learning curve from full-size and tenkeyless keyboards
- No 2.4GHz RF wireless connectivity
- Very expensive
BEST FOR BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS WHO DISLIKE CHROMA LIGHTING
Razer’s first productivity keyboard blurs the line between gaming and office gear, and that’s a good thing
Razer has created a new set of “Pro” gear that reframes its products as high-end productivity gear made for discerning home office workers. For many people, particularly people working in an office or otherwise focused on productivity, their signature traits don’t have much appeal
the Chroma lighting, in with Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless support. At the same time, it still offers many of the strong, “gaming grade” features that have always made Razer keyboards appealing. The result is a keyboard that brings the comforts of a gaming keyboard, but with a design that will not distract or make waves at the office.
- Razer Orange switches
- Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless
- Can sync with up to four devices at once
- Synapse software offers customization often reserved for gaming keyboards, including a macro editor
- Built-in dongle storage
- Battery life is less than stellar
BEST FOR HEAVY TYPISTS, GAMERS
Though it cries out for media/macro keys, the minimalist Logitech G513 Carbon gaming keyboard justifies its price with custom, RGB-lit mechanical switches that feel great and won’t wake up your household.
Convenience and speed are directly within reach. The additional, dedicated USB cable connects the USB passthrough port to its own input for full power throughput and data speed. Plug in a device to charge or plug in a mouse to charge your adversaries, without missing a beat.
- Choice of Linear and Tactile switch types.
- Comfortable and quiet for typing and gaming.
- Slick design.
- Roomy palm rest.
- Per-key RGB lighting.
- Software takes patience to learn.
- No dedicated macro or media keys.
- Subdued RGB illumination
BEST FOR EXTREME TWEAKERS, KEY-SWITCH CONNOISSEURS
How particular are you about your gaming keyboard’s key switches? Logitech’s G Pro X adds the , if super-niche, ability to change them out, one by one. It’s extreme, but it’s also one of the better esports keyboards around
Logitech’s latest bit of “Pro” esports kit, the Pro X gaming keyboard, is more customizable, in a deep way, than almost any other mainstream keyboard to date. How so? The actual switches in the keyboard are swappable, one by one. Going from a particular key with a clicky Logitech Blue switch to a different-texture Red or Brown variety is as easy as changing out a keycap. (You use the same tool for both.) Until recently, swapping out switches was the sole purview of serious keyboard geeks with soldering irons. Logitech isn’t the first company to support easily removable switches, but it’s by far the biggest.
- Allows for swapping out actual key-switch mechanisms on a per-key basis.
- Switch-swapping isn’t hard.
- Compact design.
- Feels good to type on and game on.
- Expensive, especially if you buy multiple switch sets on day one.
- Onboard memory stores only one profile.
The bottom line
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our mechanical keyboard reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no product is perfect for every use, most keyboards are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them. Be sure to know your key switch preferences before choosing.