The best mechanical keyboards can offer so much more than their membrane counterparts. If you’re considering switching to one, you've come to the right place. Read on for our guide to the best mechanical keyboards you can buy right now. Or, for a wider selection, explore our main roundup of the best keyboards in 2019.
What is a mechanical keyboard?
There are two main types of keyboard: membrane and mechanical. While the former is generally more affordable, as well as sleeker and swankier, mechanical keyboards tend to offer its users a leg up over the competition.
To start, the best mechanical keyboards are typically more durable than their membrane counterparts, with some even promising up to 100 million keypresses of service life. They’re also more comfortable to use. Next to membrane keyboards whose keys feel mushy, mechanical keyboards deliver better tactile feedback and a more satisfying typing experience.
Many of them also feature colourful backlighting – these are known as RGB keyboards. There's no real practical benefit, but it does look cool if you're into that kind of thing.
Do I need a mechanical keyboard?
Typists and gamers know that kitting out your rig with one of the best mechanical keyboards is an integral part of having the best computing experience. But are they useful for designers? Well, it's mainly a case of personal preference.
Performance-wise, mechanical keyboards are more responsive and usually have a shorter travel distance or actuation point, which also means that they require less effort from you when pressing keys. The best mechanical keyboards on the market also typically come with some level of rollover functionality, so that each keypress is detected, making them all the more accurate.
Convinced yet that one of the best mechanical keyboards should be your next important investment? Here are five of them that get our vote.
01. SteelSeries Apex Pro
The best mechanical keyboard overall
Size: 43.7x13.9x4 cm | Weight: 970.7g | Interface: USB | RGB: Yes | Switch: OmniPoint adjustable
Is it a wonder that the SteelSeries Apex Pro tops our list of the best mechanical keyboards? It’s beauty and beast rolled into one, delivering breathless performance, all while looking good doing so. Design-wise, it’s as immersive as a gaming keyboard should be with its gorgeous dynamic per-key RGB lighting with 16.8 million colour options.
More importantly for gamers, designers and coders alike, it is 8x more responsive (with a 0.7ms response time) and has 5x faster actuation (with an actuation point of 0.4mm) compared to many of its rivals. That’s mostly thanks to the OmniPoint switches that it uses that also gives it up to 100 million keypresses.
It isn’t the most affordable mechanical keyboard on the market. However, its impressive feature list does make the hefty price tag a little more justifiable. Rounding things out is its own OLED Smart Display, a premium magnetic wrist rest, dedicated media controls, and a USB Passthrough port. When you test this mechanical keyboard out, you’ll have a hard time looking back.
02. Razer Huntsman Elite
The best hybrid keyboard with on-board memory
Size: 44.8x23.4x3.6cm | Weight: 1,705g | Interface: Two USB | RGB: Yes | Switch: Optomechanical
The Razer Huntsman Elite’s optomechanical switches are something else to behold: they’re a new type of switch that uses a light beam to do the actual actuation. This means they’re faster and require less pounding (unless, of course you prefer the satisfying sound of those clicks), but still offer many of the other benefits of a purely mechanical keyboard. In this keyboard’s case, each switch even has a key stabiliser bar to deliver well-balanced actuation.
Of course, as exciting as this new design by Razer is, there are many other things to love about the Razer Huntsman Elite. It boasts a comfortable leatherette wrist rest to improve your all-day typing experience, a multi-function digital dial with three customisable media keys, and a hybrid on-board memory and cloud storage so you can save any configurations and keyboard profiles you may have.
And for gamers who adore RGB lighting, this one’s even more immersive, with underglow lighting that fringes the device on all sides.
03. Filco Ninja Majestouch-2
The best no-frills mechanical keyboard
Size: 35.9x13.7x3.9cm | Weight: 980g | Interface: USB | RGB: No | Switch: Cherry MX Brown
The Filco Ninja Majestouch-2 Tenkeyless mechanical keyboard may not offer much in terms of bells and whistles, but has all the features, power and build quality you could ever need to satisfy your computing needs. This no-frills keyboard might just be ideal for you if you’re looking for something simple, solid and sensible.
However, those aren’t the only reasons why it’s made our best mechanical keyboards list. This Cherry MX Brown mechanical keyboard has foregone its numeric keypad and its compact form factor makes it ideal for small desks. It also gives you true N-key rollover and is sturdy enough that it'll withstand plenty of bashing without breaking down.
It’s not the cheapest keyboard, it might not be great for traveling as it’s a tad heavy, and it doesn’t have backlighting. However, it’s one of the most durable and comfortable keyboards out there.
04. Kinesis Advantage2 Quiet LF
The most ergonomic keyboard for RSI prevention
Size: 41.9x20.3x7.3cm | Weight: 998g | Interface: USB | RGB: No | Switch: Cherry MX Silent Red
While the Kinesis Advantage2 Quiet LF may be among the more expensive keyboards you’ll come across, it is so for a reason. It is one of the best mechanical keyboards available because of Kinesis’ emphasis on ergonomics, making it a fantastic choice for those who suffer from RSI or might be susceptible to it.
These typing peripherals boast key wells for easier typing, each positioned at shoulder-width for minimal stress to the arms and hands. The ergonomics also include integrated palm rests and keys, such as Enter, Space and Backspace, clustered near where your thumbs rest. While some of the key placements will take some getting used to, your shoulders and neck will thank you at the end of a long day of working.
On top of that, Kinesis also utilises low-force mechanical switches to make typing even easier. Finally, a SmartSet Programming Engine enables you to personalise this keyboard through remapping keys and recording macros.
05. Havit Low Profile
A feature-rich, budget-friendly powerhouse in a slim body
Size: 35.4x12.7x2.3cm | Weight: 520g | Interface: USB | RGB: Yes | Switch: Kailh Blue Switch
The Havit Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard has a few things going for it. A thin and light body? Check. Rock-solid performance? You got it. Stunning – not to mention, fun – RGB lighting? It has that covered too. One of the best mechanical keyboards on the market right now, this gaming keyboard is excellent for sorting out your daily productivity tasks as well.
It all boils down to that impressive actuation, zero discernible latency or missed keystrokes, and a response time of down to 2ms that it delivers to users, which it then combines with high comfort. Its soft 7mm keys, all of which are individually customisable, still deliver that satisfying bounce we all love with mechanical keyboards.
It isn’t perfect – the keys are pretty loud and there are no multimedia buttons. However, at such a reasonable price level, it doesn’t need to be. Combining performance with a compact form factor and some nifty features, you’re getting a lot of value for not much money.