10 of the best mechanical keyboards you can buy right now
Want to feel like a hacker when typing an email to Karen? We’ve got you covered.
You’re probably used to membrane keyboards, like the ones that came bundled with your PC. That’s cool if all you need is a functioning keyboard to get shit done on, but your fingers deserve better. If you have an office job, you probably spend more time using your keyboard than anything else in your life, except maybe your bed or your smartphone.
Isn’t it about time you gave your fingers something luxurious to type on? If this is the case, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s a look at some of the best mechanical keyboards on the market
To save you from that membrane keyboard that came with your PC, here are some of the best mechanical keyboards on the market:
Roccat Aimo 121
Roccat always turns out some solid peripherals, and this Aimo 121 is no exception. It’s got Roccat’s self-designed Titan switches, which are super-responsive, easy to clean, and show off your RGB lighting effects superbly.
The brushed aluminum top-plate gives it some class, and the Aimo lighting system really knows how to show off your gear. Round that off with dedicated media keys, a remappable wheel, and macro functionality and the $160 Aimo 121 is a winner.
Das Keyboard X50Q and 5Q smart keyboards
Have you ever thought “I don’t get enough notifications for things?” Well, you’re in luck with these smart keyboards from the dependable Das Keyboards. The $250 5Q and the $100 X50Q have cloud-based Q software that lets you put per-key notifications on your keyboard’s RGB lighting. Want your CPU temperature as a colored readout? How about a sound meter for when you’re listening to your jams?
You can do all of that, and more, with the versatile Q software. You get Das Keyboard’s custom Gamma Zulu keyswitches to give you typing nirvana, and that German build quality. Sweetness.
Happy Hacking Keyboard and Realforce TKL
Okay, so this might be a duo for when you’ve tried a few more switches. The electro-capacitive Topre keyswitches in the $255 HHKB or $260 Realforce TKL have to be experienced in any keyboard fan’s life. They’re not quite mechanical, not quite membrane, but they’re all magical.
I’m typing this from an HHKB right now and it’s like writing on marshmallows, if marshmallows made a pleasing “thock” sound every so many keystrokes. Highly recommended.
Maybe you’re just dipping your toes into the mechanical market, and don’t want to spend a huge amount on a custom keyboard (just yet). That’s fine, there’s a bunch of lower-cost mechanical keyboard makers like Vortexgear who can provide you with all the happy clacking noises you want.
The Cypher is $80, comes with a choice of Cherry MX keyswitches, and even gives you the choice of a single spacebar or a split one. That’s like two spacebars for the price of one!
If you want to add more functionality to your keyboard, check out the $140 Wooting One. We reviewed it here at KnowTechie and loved the additional dimension of gameplay that the analog keyswitches brought to the table.
Yes, analog, just like your Xbox controller sticks. That means the harder you press, the higher the input, and vice versa. Pretty darn cool, and it all uses the xinput libraries so most games are compatible.
Whitefox from Kono Store and Input Club
Now we’re into the custom realm. You can’t actually buy the ready-assembled Whitefox anymore, thanks to a microcontroller shortage that affects the circuit board, but you can get kits to build your own if you’re feeling brave.
You’ll need to know how to use a soldering iron, so this is a step up from buying ready-to-use boards. For $71 plus shipping, you can get a kit, which you’ll need to add keyswitches, keycaps and a USB-C cable to create your own classic Whitefox. I’ll be building a Nightfox soon with some special parts, so look out for that article.
1upkeyboards 60-percent skeleton kits
If you like the thought of building your own keyboard, check out 1upkeyboards for some easy-to-configure kits. They start at $70, to which you’ll need to add a PCB, standoffs, legs, keyswitches, keycaps, stabilizers, and some time to solder on the switches.
Once done, you’ll own something that you can truly call your own. Careful though, it’s a slippery slope to buying keycaps, different keyswitches, lube and other enhancements to your keyboard.
Maybe you want to delve into the world of ortholinear keyboards. See, normal keyboards are staggered, to mimic the design used on typewriters to slow typists down enough so they didn’t jam up the parts that created letters on the page. Ortholinear keyboards are arranged in straight lines, which are said to make it easier to type.
Of course, you have to unlearn the muscle memory from years of the usual QWERTY layout. The Planck EZ is all the fun of a custom keyboard without the stress. Hot-swap sockets mean you can change keyswitches at will, and you can choose from 11 types of keyswitch at ordering time. The keyboard starts at $195, but you’ll know that you are ordering from a company that has sustainability at the core. That’s got to feel good.
X-bows ergonomic keyboard
Maybe you want to go for a different layout altogether? The $180 X-Bows ergo keyboard is designed for a more natural wrist positioning, to reduce your risk of things like carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s programmable with five layers, has a central triangle of modifier keys for your thumbs to do more work, and it’s got RGB because, at that price, it should.
It’s also got anti-ghosted keys, so you can press as many as you want when typing or gaming.
Mistel 650L Barocco
This $215 split-design keyboard has low-profile Cherry MX keyswitches, which are closer to your laptop keys than a full-sized keyboard. There’s all the macro programming you could want, arrow keys (something missing off many smaller keyboards), and you can split the keyboard into half for the ultimate in ergonomic customizability.
I mean, just take the right half away when you’re playing FPS games so your mouse hand has more desktop to roam on. Can you say 360noscope?
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