Whether you need it for something fun like gaming or something dull like working from home, a good keyboard can make your life much better. If you’re going to spend the money, though, you might as well go big.
Mechanical keyboards are nostalgic, durable, and offer much better performance than other types (no pun intended) of keyboards. They allow you to bang out tens of millions of keystrokes without worrying about wearing out your most-used letters. Yes, we’re looking at you WASD gamers.
The world of mechanical keyboards can get pretty confusing, though. With countless models to choose from and a wide variety of customization options, it can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the five best mechanical keyboards you can get right now for both gaming and productivity.
What is a Mechanical Keyboard?
Before diving into the specs of these keyboards, it’s worth brushing up on your mechanical knowledge. Unlike other types, mechanical keyboards utilize a mechanism, called a switch, to trigger inputs. This is essentially a metal spring that is tuned to offer different levels of response times, travel distance, and noise.
Cherry MX switches are some of the most popular on the market today. They are categorized by color. The Cherry MX Red is typically a gaming switch because of its very light touch that makes rapid actuation possible. The MX Brown switch is perfect for typing keyboards since it offers a tactile response with each keystroke but isn’t “clicky” or loud.
Although there are several other types of switches, these are two of the most common. The keyboards below are all mainstream models that should be appealing to everyone.
Razer Huntsman Elite
If you’re ready to go all-in on a new mechanical keyboard, the Razer Huntsman Elite might be just right. This is a premium keyboard with a premium price tag that is designed first and foremost for avid gamers. Of course, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for typing.
It features Razer’s latest optomechanical switches for some of the fastest actuation times on the market. They use infrared light beams to detect actuation but still offer a satisfying click.
Like most of Razer’s products, the Huntsman Elite looks like it belongs in a high-end PC setup. It features RGB backlighting with endless customization options as well as a leather palm rest. That is a must-have accessory for those who spend a lot of time at the keyboard. The Huntsman Elite also features a volume dial in the top right corner so you can easily adjust your music or in-game sound.
Although this keyboard probably isn’t the best for an office setting, it’s perfect for gamers and those working from home on a permanent basis.
HyperX Alloy Origins
Although most mechanical keyboards are pretty expensive, you don’t have to break the bank. HyperX offers a model that delivers far better performance than its budget-friendly price tag would suggest.
It features a simple design without the flashy extras found in Razer’s Huntsman Elite. There is also no wrist rest or dedicated media keys. That’s about where the cons stop, though.
The HyperX Alloy Origins delivers solid performance and is outfitted with custom switches that are effectively the same as Cherry Browns. You can also opt for a more clicky version that sports HyperX’s Cherry Red equivalents.
This keyboard features LED lighting, making it feel like a premium accessory. You’ll also find macro keys, three adjustable angles, and a small LED screen that lets you switch back and forth between various modes.
For the price, you can’t beat this keyboard.
SteelSeries Apex Pro
Those who are all-around users should consider the SteelSeries Apex Pro. This mechanical keyboard is capable of delivering tremendous gaming performance and then turning around to be your go-to accessory for typing up an email.
Like the Razer Huntsman, this keyboard has a proprietary kind of switch. The Apex Pro sports Omnipoint switches, which use magnetic sensors instead of springs. By default, the keys feel a lot like Cherry Reds. However, you can use the SteelSeries Engine app to adjust the feeling of the keys at any time. The only downside here is that the keyboard doesn’t have an audible click.
Another nifty feature of this keyboard is its programmable OLED screen. You can upload images, your Gamertag, or custom notifications that sync with your desktop. This is a really unique touch that sets the Apex Pro apart from other keyboards on the market.
Corsair K95 Platinum XT
Corsair is another brand synonymous with gaming. Its K95 Platinum XT certainly looks like a gaming keyboard. It comes in three Cherry MX configurations—Blue, Brown, and Speed. The latter is incredibly fast and is perfect for games that require quick, rapid key presses.
This keyboard is arguably the loudest on the list. It makes an audible “thunk” each time you press a key. Again, this makes it a less-than-ideal choice for an office but it should be fine for at-home use.
The K95 Platinum XT comes with an edge-to-edge leather wrist rest that is plush, comfortable, and keeps your hands from getting fatigued during long sessions. It also features six macro keys that can be swapped for the streaming-focused keycaps included in the box.
Razer Pro Type
Razer recently took a step back from its gaming roots to create a series of accessories specifically designed for people in search of productivity. The Pro Type is a classy mechanical keyboard that’s perfect for writing articles, essays, and filling in spreadsheets.
Its white color is a departure from the other models on this list while white backlighting is less in-your-face than the customizable color options that Razer typically offers. The Pro Type sits inside an anodized aluminum case that looks sharp on your desk. It features Razer’s orange switches, which are quieter than most but have good tactile feedback.
For someone that is exclusively looking for a mechanical keyboard for productivity, the Pro Type is a solid choice.