It’s hard to beat the tactility, durability, or good looks of a mechanical keyboard, but there are a lot of options out there, and not all of them are created equal. Here are our top picks, including both wired and wireless models ranging from compact keyboards with laptop-style layouts to full-size keyboards complete with numpads — from budget to… not so budget.
Most of the keyboards below use a 75 percent layout, which is a compact form factor that maintains a function row and arrow key cluster, like most laptop keyboards. It’s a great place to start unless you really want an attached number pad or know you prefer a different layout. Nearly all of our recommendations also come in other layouts, which we’ve linked where possible.
While any keyboard can be used for gaming, this guide focuses on the best keyboards for typing and general office work, so input latency and polling rate weren’t major deciding factors. If you’re after a keyboard specifically for gaming, check out our guide to the best gaming keyboards.
The best wired keyboard for most people
Connectivity: USB / Keycaps: Double-shot PBT / Hot-swappable: Yes / Available sizes: 60 percent, 65 percent, 70 percent, 75 percent, TKL, 1800, Full size, 65 percent Alice, 75 percent Alice / Available layouts: ANSI, ISO / Switch options: K Pro Red, K Pro Blue, K Pro Brown / Battery size: N/A / North- or south-facing switches: South-facing
The Keychron V1 is the best entry-level wired keyboard. Starting at just $84 for a fully assembled model (though frequently on sale for less), it’s among the more affordable options on this list, but it feels almost as nice to type on as keyboards that cost twice as much. Its build quality is lovely and sturdy, and it sounds great to type on.
While the V1 has a 75 percent layout, a popular compact design that omits the numpad and other keys to give you a laptop-style experience, Keychron has other V-series keyboards in a variety of sizes. These range from more traditional keyboard layouts like the tenkeyless V3 and full-size V6, to more compact models like the V2 (which has a 65 percent layout that omits the dedicated function row) and the even more compact V4 (with a 60 percent design that omits the arrow keys entirely). Some V-series keyboards are also available in international layouts.
For such a low price, the V1 is packed with features usually found on enthusiast keyboards. It offers hot-swappable switches with south-facing RGB backlighting, and its switches and stabilizers feel nice and smooth. It’s fully programmable: you can remap every key using the intuitive and powerful VIA software on top of QMK — which works on Windows, Mac, and Linux and lets you do everything from moving keys around to programming macros directly into the keyboard itself.
The V1 comes with durable double-shot PBT keycaps. You get a choice of Mac and Windows keycaps in the box, and a switch on the back of the keyboard lets you toggle between layouts instantly. You can get it with a volume knob for an extra $10 (pictured) or save $20 and buy a bare-bones version without keycaps or switches. Our sample came with Keychron’s own tactile K Pro Brown switches, but there are also clicky and linear options.
If wireless connectivity is important to you, then Keychron has recently released the Keychron V1 Max, which can connect to your computer using either Bluetooth or a 2.4GHz USB dongle. It also uses a more premium-feeling gasket-mounted construction, which makes for a nicer typing feel. We seriously considered recommending the V1 Max over the V1 but decided against it for three reasons. Firstly, the V1 Max has a higher starting price, partly because it comes with a volume knob as standard and partly because the V1 is frequently discounted. And secondly, the wired V series that the V1 is a part of is — as outlined above — available in a much wider choice of sizes and international layouts, meaning it’s more likely that you’ll find a model that suits your needs.
Expect this to change in the coming months as supply of the V1 Max improves and Keychron inevitably adds more sizes to the V Max series, but for now the V1 remains our top pick for most people.
The best premium wireless keyboard
Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth, 2.4GHz dongle (1000Hz) / Keycaps: Double-shot PBT / Hot-swappable: Yes / Available sizes: 60 percent, 65 percent, 75 percent, TKL, 1800, Full size, 65 percent Alice, 75 percent Alice / Available layouts: ANSI, ISO / Switch options: Gateron Jupiter Red, Gateron Jupiter Brown, Gateron Jupiter Banana / Battery size: 4,000mAh / North- or south-facing switches: South-facing
If you’re after something fancier than the V1 and the rest of Keychron’s V-series, the Keychron Q1 Max is a great step up. It has a sturdy aluminum chassis with a built-in volume knob, offers a much nicer typing experience, it’s fully customizable, and it’s wireless, with an option to connect over either Bluetooth or an included 2.4GHz USB dongle.
If you’re considering a premium keyboard, we think it makes sense to pick the Keychron Q1 Max over the Q1 Pro ($199) or wired Keychron Q1 ($189 with knob). The Max has all the features of the earlier two boards, with the extra flexibility of connecting via a 1000Hz 2.4GHz USB dongle in addition to Bluetooth and USB-C.
If you’re happy with a “good” rather than “great” typing feel, then many of the Q1 Max’s most compelling features — like VIA programming, hot-swappable switches, and per-key south-facing RGB backlighting — are also available on the wired V1 and wireless V1 Max above as well as Keychron’s other V-series boards.
Use the keyboard wirelessly, with its RGB lighting disabled, and the Q1 Max can happily go for weeks without needing to be recharged. But turn on its backlighting, and its rated battery life drops by around half. The reliability of the 2.4GHz connection was flawless in my testing — I didn’t experience any dropouts during a month of use.
In addition to its sturdy aluminum case and wireless connectivity, the other advantage the Q1 Max has over the V1 (though not the V1 Max) is its gasket-mounted construction, which gives it a more premium typing feel. By effectively suspending its polycarbonate switch plate and PCB between gaskets, the keyboard has a substantial amount of flex to it. That might not sound preferable, but it gives the Q1 Max a much more satisfying typing sound compared to what are known as tray-mounted keyboards like the Keychron V series. Replacement switch plates are also available in different materials if you want to further customize how the Q1 Max feels and sounds.
A potential downside of the Q1 Max is that its battery life is only great if you turn off its RGB lighting. It’s also very heavy compared to some of the other wireless keyboards on this list, which means it’s not a great pick if you plan to use the keyboard while out and about.
Like most of Keychron’s other boards, the Q Max series is available in a wide range of different layouts. Sizes range from the compact Q60 Max through to the full-size Q6 Max. So unless you’re after a niche layout like the 40 or 70 percent, you should be able to find the right size for you.
A more affordable wired 65 percent keyboard
Connectivity: USB / Keycaps: Not disclosed / Hot-swappable: Yes / Available sizes: 65 percent, 75 percent, Full size / Available layouts: ANSI / Switch options: Blue, Brown, Red (unbranded) / Battery size: N/A / North- or south-facing switches: North-facing
At less than half the price of some of the other keyboards on this list, the $55 65 percent LTC Nimbleback punches well above its weight. It’s very full-featured for its price, with shine-through RGB lighting and hot-swappable switches, and it even has a built-in USB hub with a pair of USB Type-A ports to plug extra accessories into your computer.
As you might expect given the price difference, the LTC Nimbleback’s construction isn’t as solid as the Keychron V1’s, and it doesn’t feel as nice to type on as many of the picks above. Its switches feel slightly less smooth and more scratchy with each press, there’s a slight rattle to the stabilizers on larger keys like the space bar, and it sounds a bit hollow overall. It’s also made of plastic, and while it is reprogrammable, its companion software is only available on Windows. But the LTC Nimbleback’s typing feel holds its own against more similarly priced competitors, including the $60 Keychron K6.
The LTC Nimbleback is available with clicky, linear, or tactile switches (we had the latter). If the model listed here looks a little too small for your liking, there are also 75 percent and full-size versions available.
A good low-profile wireless mechanical keyboard
Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth, 2.4Ghz / Keycaps: PBT Dye-sub / Hot-swappable: Yes / Available sizes: 65 percent, 75 percent, 96 percent / Available layouts: ANSI / Switch options: Gateron low-profile Red, Gateron low-profile Brown, Gateron low-profile Blue / Battery size: 2,500mAh / North- or south-facing switches: North-facing
If you’re after the tactility of a mechanical keyboard but prefer a low-profile design that’s similar to a traditional laptop keyboard, there’s an increasing number of options available. Of these, we think the $110 NuPhy Air75 offers the best mix of price and performance. It feels great to type on, is equally at home on Mac or Windows, and connects either over Bluetooth or an included 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle. We used the keyboard with linear Gateron Red low-profile switches, but it’s also available with tactile or clicky options.
Unlike the more expensive Logitech MX Mechanical Mini, it’s also hot-swappable, which we think gives the NuPhy Air75 a slight edge. Hot-swappable sockets aren’t quite as important on low-profile keyboards given there simply aren’t as many low-profile switch options out there — and there are several different mutually incompatible low-profile switch types — but it’s still a nice feature to have, and NuPhy sells compatible switches.
There’s one very good reason to consider the more expensive Logitech MX Mechanical Mini, and that’s battery life. In my testing, the Nuphy Air75 ran dry after around a week of use, while Logitech’s had enough juice for two even with backlighting on (this extends up to a lengthy 10 months with backlighting off). Logitech’s low-profile mech is also available with a larger full-size layout (great if you need a numpad).
A split ergonomic option
Connectivity: USB / Keycaps: Not disclosed / Hot-swappable: No / Available sizes: Split / Available layouts: ANSI / Switch options: Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Silent Red / Battery size: N/A / North- or south-facing switches: North-facing
They’re very much a niche option, but plenty of people swear by split keyboards, which are designed to let you type with your hands further apart and your shoulders in a more neutral position. Of these, we recommend the Kinesis Freestyle Pro.
It doesn’t have hot-swappable switches, which means you’re stuck with the Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX Silent Red switches that it comes with unless you’re willing to do some soldering. But at $179, it’s relatively affordable by the often exorbitant prices of split keyboards (the ErgoDox EZ Original starts at $325, for example, while the ZSA Moonlander is $365), and it has a layout that’s much closer to a traditional keyboard than a lot of other ergonomic options. It means there’s less of a learning curve if you’re coming from a standard keyboard layout.
That’s not to say there aren’t hot-swappable ergonomic options out there. We really enjoyed the ZSA Moonlander, for example. ZSA’s Oryx configurator software offers a ton of options to create highly customized layouts, and optional accessories like an angled stand and tripod mounting kit mean you can tailor the keyboard to your exact needs. It also offers hot-swappable switches, which we normally consider an essential part of a modern keyboard, but we don’t think that justifies the price premium for most people. But at $365, the Moonlander is, by some margin, the most expensive keyboard on this list, and its columnar layout and thumb clusters take a lot of getting used to. (Though ZSA does allow you to return the keyboard within 30 days of when you get it.)
If you absolutely must have the most customizable ergonomic option available, then the ZSA Moonlander is a great pick. But most people who just want a more ergonomic keyboard with a familiar layout will be satisfied with the Kinesis Freestyle Pro.
Additional reporting by Jay Peters.
Update February 5th, 11:53AM ET: Updated to swap the Keychron Q1 Pro for the Keychron Q1 Max and to remove the out-of-stock Epomaker TH80.