The 10 Best Backlit Keyboards
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Backlit keyboards are the ultimate accessory for gamers, editors, and programmers who need to see what they're doing in the dark. If you're planning on burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline, or participating in a marathon gaming session, one of these illuminated models are ideal for any low-light setting - but their high-tech aesthetic looks cool no matter what time it is. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 29, 2020:
Many people aren't aware of the relatively huge cult following that mechanical keyboards have. With that in mind, we've scoured some of the most niche parts of the internet, and there are some readily available models that get high praise from the dedicated enthusiasts.
Among those is the Glorious Modular, which is the flagship model from a well-respected company that identifies closely with its fans. Similarly, the Obinslab Anne Pro 2 is another very well-constructed piece of equipment that accepts a variety of switches and will last for years with reasonable care. The Royal Kludge Sink87G keeps relatively close company with those two, and it's especially nice because each key's color can be programmed, and you can use it with a cable or with a standard Bluetooth connection.
That said, there are many, many commercially available keyboards that are great investments. Some, like the Redragon Kumara K552, cost surprisingly little, and are good for both gaming and typing on. for what it's worth, this research and editor's note were both completed using a Redragon K552, and after nearly a year of heavy gaming and all-day typing, it works as well as the day it was purchased. The Huo Ji Z-77 as a similar 87-key layout and a comparable low price, and its flush, brushed faceplate makes it look notably more expensive than it actually is.
If you prefer something a little less standard, but possibly more classy, the Azio Retro Classic is worth a look, due to its typewriter-like design. Speaking of unusual, the Kinesis Freestyle Edge is a rare backlit split keyboard, and it offers a good way to help reinforce your touch-typing skills.
November 08, 2019:
They're often marketed to gamers, but a lot of people can benefit from backlit keyboards. For example, the Azio Retro Classic and Azio Retro Compact are among the most elegant keyboards on the market, and in fact pretty much the only ones that you could call artisan typing devices. And if you want to ensure your wrists and elbows stay healthy, the split Kinesis Freestyle Edge is an excellent choice. If you are specifically interested in playing games, the Logitech G Pro and Roccat Vulcan Aimo are tough to beat, though they are both pretty expensive.
Of course, many people prefer a more traditional keyboard, and one that doesn't cost a fortune, and there are plenty such options. the Huo Ji Z-77 is one of the simplest, and even though it's offered at a middle-of-the-road price, it doesn't sacrifice craftsmanship at all. Plus, it works with replacement keycaps in case you want to customize it. It's also available in two colors with your choice of one of the 3 most popular Cherry MX switches. The Redragon K556 lets you choose between standard and typewriter-style keys and comes in a full 104-key layout, while the Havit Mechanical is both low-profile and attractive; the 87-key model is especially nice thanks to its soft blue backlight, though the larger models use RGB lighting if you prefer that.
Also take note that all of the keyboards we have listed feature anti-ghosting, n-key rollover technology for a reliable typing experience. If you're interested in some high-quality wireless keyboards or exclusively focused on mechanical models, we can help you out there, as well.
Ducky Shine Series This is one of the first brands recommended by some of the pickiest and most demanding keyboard enthusiasts in the world. The Shine family is their flagship line, and as long as you're willing to make the investment, it's basically a guarantee that you will enjoy typing on one of these impressive devices. duckychannel.com.tw
WASD Keyboards These will cost you a pretty penny, but they're known as some of the most high-end keyboards available, backlit or not. Of course, they're not terribly flashy, but they offer top-of-the-line construction and a variety of the finest switches available. wasdkeyboards.com
Where Ergonomics, Functionality, And Style Align
If your only answer is that they simply look cool, that's more than acceptable.
The more time you spend using a computer, the more important the hardware associated with your system matters. While the sheer computing power of your system can be easy to augment by simply upgrading a program or adding more RAM or storage capacity, the physical items you use to interface with your software can present a more nuanced set of issues. For example, the same mouse that might serve well enough for surfing the web or clicking about while you use a word processor might prove woefully ineffective for gaming or design work. A laptop might make perfect sense for your use in class or while on a business trip but might need to be paired with an external monitor for effective work at home or at the office.
And if you spend hours a day typing away at your keyboard, the keyboard that came with your computer or that which is built into your laptop might contribute to ailments like carpal tunnel syndrome with long-term use. If you're serious about your computer, don't stop with considering its computing power: don't overlook the hardware. And as the two parts of your body most intimately connected with the computer are your fingers and your eyes, don't overlook the possibility that a backlit keyboard might be the perfect piece of hardware for you.
Why should you consider a backlit keyboard? If your only answer is that they simply look cool, that's more than acceptable. Computer hardware has evolved beyond mere functionality to the point of being a part of a person's aesthetic statement; you should be proud to use a keyboard that both works well and looks great.
On a more practical level, backlit keyboards can obviously be seen better in low-light settings, making them perfect for use in shared spaces such as bedrooms or in a dormitory, or for creating a more immersive environment during gaming sessions or while enjoying other media.
As for which backlit keyboard is the best choice for your needs, that decision involves careful consideration.
Choosing The Best Backlit Keyboard For You
While the physical design of the keyboards themselves may vary greatly, there are essentially two varieties of backlit keyboards: those that are intended to help you see the keys for easier, more accurate typing in any light condition, and those that are designed to look interesting and unique. Backlit keyboards in the former category will usually feature keys illuminated with simple white lighting, and often only the key caps themselves will glow when the lighting is activated (i.e. the actual numbers and letters, rather than the entire keyboard). The latter type of backlit keyboard usually illuminates with one or more colors, potentially even at the same time, and they entire keyboard tends to glow, rather than simply the lit key caps.
While these keyboards certainly tend to bring a more youthful feel to a desk, they are suitable for anyone young at heart.
If you are only interested in writing, programming, or other types of work, then there's likely no need for you to consider a multi-colored backlit keyboard. The many colors may well serve as more of a distraction than an improvement as you try to work on a project.
For the gamer or for the person who wants a bit more flair in their computer hardware setup, a colorful backlit keyboard is the way to go. While these keyboards certainly tend to bring a more youthful feel to a desk, they are suitable for anyone young at heart.
And don't let the cost of a backlit keyboard concern you: while some of the more high-end units cost quite a bit, there are plenty of options available that won't break the bank. Of course, when getting into the essentially endless world of mechanical keyboards, know that you can spend just a little, or a jaw-droppingly large amount on the pre-built or custom keyboard of your dreams.
Thinking Beyond The Keyboard Itself
Once you have settled on the type of backlit keyboard you like, choosing between the more basic, "professional" look with basic white illumination for the keycaps, and the more playful, colorful varieties featuring their lurid, colorful lights, next consider the physical shape of the keyboard.
Make sure also to review the angles at which your prospective keyboard can be rested; some people prefer a marked tilt, while others want a keyboard that rests nearly flat.
Consider features like a palm rest for reducing the stress put on your wrists during long hours spent at the keyboard, and consider the sensitivity the keys require. Make sure also to review the angles at which your prospective keyboard can be rested; some people prefer a marked tilt, while others want a keyboard that rests nearly flat. Some people may like a deft, responsive key that hardly requires a touch, while others may prefer a key that needs a good, solid tap. Also of course consider whether or not you prefer a wireless keyboard with remote connectivity options or if you trust a good old fashioned wired keyboard more.
Some backlit keyboards feature full number pads, but many are designed to take up less space and be more posture-friendly by eliminating the keypad and, sometimes, even the directional buttons and home/end key block. If you travel or commute with your keyboard, a smaller option may be an asset; if you use a desktop and rarely range far afield, then there's no reason to consider a unit without a full number pad on one side.
Also consider extra programmable keys; these might be critical for the editor, the programmer, or the serious gamer, but totally superfluous for the more basic uses of your computer's software.