The 10 Best Mechanical Keyboards
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in February of 2016. Mechanical keyboards aren't only for nostalgia-loving computer geeks. A good, high quality model can actually help you type more quickly and accurately than a typical membrane version. For those reasons, plus their rugged and long-lasting components and features like backlights and programmable keys, they're favored by gamers and others who spend long hours clicking away. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
March 13, 2020:
There are a ton of keyboards on the market, and while a lot of them are worthy of consideration, it's tough to nail down which are good and which are really great. What we can tell you is that the Massdrop CTRL is one of the overall best not only in its features offered, but also in its quality control and build quality. The only reason it didn't take #1 on our list is that most people aren't willing to spend $250 on a keyboard, and that's understandable. If you want something like it but don't want to spend a fortune, check out the Anne Pro 2, which gets rave reviews from the most diehard mechanical keyboard fans. Of particular note is its high-quality backlight that lets you program each key individually. Also, though it doesn't have arrow or page navigation keys, the 4 keys on the bottom right can function as arrow keys. The Ducky One 2 Mini is another, similar 60% model that is a pleasure to type on, but it doesn't have the same switch selection as the Anne.
Gamers will appreciate models like the HyperX Alloy Elite because of its full RGB backlight, media keys, and durable, heavy construction that won't slide around or break during intense sessions. The Razer BlackWidow Elite is another choice that's as great for typing as it is for playing games. When it comes to double duty, though, it's hard to beat the SteelSeries Apex, which actually features an adjustable key travel distance so you can alter the feeling depending on whether you're working or playing.
If you don't need a backlight, the Leopold FC750R is particularly well constructed, and a great choice for professional users. So is the Logitech G613 Lightspeed, which is one of the few we found that works with both major wireless protocols. If you're new to mechanical keyboards and don't want to spend a fortune, the MotoSpeed 87-Key is a perfectly acceptable introduction, although you may benefit from upgrading to a nicer model later on.
We also want to highlight the Kinesis Freestyle Edge, which features a split design that can reduce discomfort in the short term and possibly prevent injury in the long term. It may take a bit of getting used to -- and will almost certainly require that you know how to touch-type, at least to some extent -- but it is a really great and healthy keyboard.
WASD Keyboards If you're pretty certain what you're looking for but can't quite find the model for you, check these guys out. They can put together something to your exact specifications so you won't have to compromise. As you might expect, though, a custom keyboard will come at a relatively high cost. wasdkeyboards.com
Mechanical Keyboards Online Many excellent models aren't made by big-name manufacturers, they're produced in relatively small batches and imported to the USA by performance-focused dealers. MechanicalKeyboards.com is one such dealer, and you'll find that they have a wide range of options in stock that you can't find anywhere else. Don't take too long deciding, though, as they do regularly run out of the good ones. mechanicalkeyboards.com
What Makes Mechanical Keyboards Different?
The plastic stem is a part of the key itself, and moves between two metal contacts as the key is pressed down.
All keyboards might seem the same to the average user, but for those who demand more of their computers, the distinct differences between keyboard types can make a huge difference to their functionality. Firstly, keyboards are equipped with different types of switch technology. Changing the key switch mechanism results in a significant change in the operation of the keys themselves. In essence, not only does the feel of the keyboard change based on the key switch mechanism, but the actual force required to perform a keystroke changes as well.
The switches in mechanical keyboards are made of a few different parts. These parts include the key, a plastic stem, two metal contacts, and a spring. The plastic stem is a part of the key itself, and moves between two metal contacts as the key is pressed down. When these contacts touch one another, the keyboard sends the signal to the computer that the key has been pressed. The spring attached to the underside of the key forces the key back up to its resting position until it is pushed again on the next keystroke. It is this switching mechanism which defines a mechanical keyboard, giving it the snappy feel many users favor.
Mechanical keyboards are also considered to be of better quality than regular keyboards. Over years of manufacturing, large companies have looked for cheaper ways to produce keyboards. This search resulted in a more commonly used alternative called the rubber-dome keyboard. These don't have as many moving parts as mechanical keyboards. Instead, they have a circuit board which uses a carbon composite and a rubber or silicone pad running across the entire board. Small rubber or silicone bumpers lie under each key, and when pressed they push the corresponding switch on the board. These types of keyboards are cost-efficient, but many users see them as lower quality.
Why Are Mechanical Keyboards So Prevalent In Gaming?
Internet gaming is generally a fast-paced, action-oriented environment. When compared to other fast-paced activities, such as physical sports, gaming is much more cerebral in nature. This has its benefits. Increased brain activity from video games has been linked to better cognitive performance, hand-eye coordination, and even social skills.
When compared to other fast-paced activities, such as physical sports, gaming is much more cerebral in nature.
Because most of the action takes place in the mind, physical action is generally limited to the movement of the hands over the keyboard and mouse. As the fate of a game can be determined in milliseconds, it is vital that a gamer make their keystrokes as efficient as possible.
Mechanical keyboards can help do just that. Where other keyboards require an average of four millimeters of movement to perform a keystroke, a mechanical keyboard requires just two millimeters of movement. Cutting the distance of a keystroke in half may not seem like much, but when combined with a reduced force required to perform a keystroke, many gamers view mechanical keyboards as much more efficient tools.
Another key benefit of mechanical keyboards is their durability. Because of the build of their switch mechanism, they wear down much more slowly than rubber-domed keyboards. Mechanical keyboards can handle years of use and still have the same springy feeling as the day they were first unboxed. The buoyant nature of rubber-domed keyboards is much more likely to wear down over time due to the aging process of elastomers, like silicone.
Are Mechanical Keyboards Right For You?
The number of ways in which the keyboard has been innovated over time is astounding. Whether or not the mechanical key switch is the pinnacle of the computer keyboard is yet to be seen, but they do appear to offer great benefit to users. Gamers are not alone in their use of mechanical keyboards. There are a few key benefits that may make them the smartest choice for a variety of people.
The snappy feel from the spring beneath the keys provides a small level of resistance that can help the user type faster.
Mechanical keyboards are designed for longevity. This is useful for anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a keyboard. If spending hours a day working from a computer is a job requirement, a mechanical keyboard may empower that work longer than a standard keyboard.
The use of computers in professional environments is always increasing, and using mechanical keyboards may be important to promote a higher standard of work. The mechanical switch mechanism provides the brain more useful feedback than a membrane keyboard. The snappy feel from the spring beneath the keys provides a small level of resistance that can help the user type faster. This translates to more productivity over time.
There are some drawbacks to using mechanical keyboards, however. While their complicated build makes them last longer, they also tend to be a bit more costly than other keyboards. In addition, spring-loaded keys have a tendency to click a bit louder than other keyboards. In a quiet office, this may be distracting to coworkers who are used to the quiet strokes of membrane or rubber-dome keys.
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