Ergonomic keyboards have been around for a while now, but it’s only in the past few years that they’ve really blown up. They’re purported to have tons of benefits in terms of avoiding injury and strain for your wrists, arms, and upper body in general. Either way, it’s pretty obvious that designing keyboards around keeping hands in a natural position is probably a good idea.
While even the best mechanical keyboards can have a lot of variety, you’ll find that ergonomic keyboards have even more; more than I could even fit into this article. Either way, make sure you read the guide and frequently asked questions at the bottom for some important information.
So, what are the best ergonomic keyboards?
Best Choice: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business
Pros & Cons
- Really quiet
- Included separate numpad
- Palm rest isn’t great
- No function key
- Switches: Scissor
- Palm Rest: Yes (non-Detachable)
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business Review
Easily one of the best ergonomic keyboards on the market, the Microsoft Sculpt was originally made to work with Microsoft surface devices, although it can work with pretty much any computer that has a wireless connection.
As you can see, it has the traditional keyboard split that you’d expect from pretty much any ergonomic keyboard. In addition to that, it has a domed shape that takes the form of your hand much better. The keys are also similarly arched, making it so that you immediately rest your hands in the correct position whenever you go to type.
Thankfully, it also comes with a separate number pad that you can position in any way you prefer, a nice little touch in an otherwise non-customizable keyboard.
Typing on the Microsoft Sculpt is great, with the scissor switches being a nice middle ground between membrane and mechanical switches. This is also helped by the softness of the keys, and of course the ergonomic shape that allows you to easily reach everything you need to.
Unfortunately, the palm rest isn’t detachable, although that’s not a deal-breaker, even though it takes up a bit more space. The only other big downside is that it doesn’t have a function key, which is a letdown, and that the key separation isn’t great, putting more emphasis on your right hand rather than balancing out a bit more.
Overall though, the Microsoft sculpt is a sleek, minimalist ergonomic keyboard that does the job at a great price.
Premium Pick: Kinesis Advantage2
Pros & Cons
- Concave key wells
- Great configurability
- Lots of thumb keys
- Very expensive
- Pretty loud
- Switches: Cherry MX
- Palm Rest: Yes (Non-Detachable)
Kinesis Advantage2 Review
Right off the bat looking at this thing you’ll probably think that it looks weird and unwieldy. Truth is though, that it’s considered the best ergonomic keyboard on the market and for good reason. While the Kinesis Advantage2 doesn’t have the bent ergonomic shape that we’re used to, it does have keyboard wells that your fingers hang off of.
This is actually an incredibly comfortable and natural position since it doesn’t ask you to bend your wrist upwards as some other keyboards do. It’s also really well made so that pretty much all the keys are within the distance of your hand, so there’s almost no need to make any movements
Even better than that is the inclusion of thumb buttons, something you don’t really see often in ergonomic keyboards and is actually a great addition. By not having to move your hand around to reach shift and enter keys, that’s overall less movement for you and better protection against hurting your wrist.
Of course, the big downside is that it can take a few weeks to get used to this new keyboard layout, so don’t expect to be typing 300 words a minute right off the bat. The good stuff doesn’t stop there though since the keyboard features actual mechanical switches, Cherry MX to be precise.
This means that the keyboard could legitimately be used for gaming and that it’s actually an easy switch for mac users to just take the keycaps off and put in the mac specific ones. On top of that, the whole keyboard has a ton of configuration you can do through the utility software, so it’s a pretty awesome bit of kit all around.
That being said, it has a really whooping high price for any kind of keyboard, let alone an ergonomic one. Of course, it is a highly R&D’d and custom-built body, with mechanical switches and tons of customization, so I can’t really blame for the high price. If you’re looking for the best ergonomic keyboard out there, this is the one.
Best Value: Perixx PERIBOARD-512
Pros & Cons
- Great pricing
- Multimedia keys
- Pretty quiet
- Arrow keys aren’t great
- Switches: Membrane
- Palm Rest: Yes (Non-Detachable)
Perixx PERIBOARD-512 Review
Sometimes you don’t necessarily want all the bells and whistles, and would just prefer something simple and cheap. This entry-level ergonomic keyboard is a great option if you’re looking to dip your toes in the waters.
For starters, it has the split key ergonomic design that we’re all familiar with, yet it also features individual space bar keys, which is a great feature to have.
Similarly great is the individual multimedia keys, something which you don’t really find even in more expensive ergonomic keyboards. It also has an integrated palm rest and number pad, making it a little bit big compared to some other keyboards.
It does have a couple of downsides though, mainly in the vertical layout and that the arrow keys are a little bit awkward. It’s also a membrane keyboard which is can be either hit or miss; on the one hand, it’s much quieter, but on the other, it doesn’t have the same performance as mechanical switches.
Neither is really a deal-breaker, but certainly something you should keep in mind if you are considering buying this keyboard. Probably the best aspect of the Perixx Periboard-512 though is it’s dirt-cheap price, meaning that you don’t have to plop down $100 just to get into ergonomics.
Not only that, but it’s very much a great option if you manage or own a business and want to get everybody ergonomic keyboards (or at least those who type a lot). The overall design will help avoid repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel, so it’s certainly worth the investment.
It’s nothing particularly great to look at though, which, in an office environment, isn’t that big of a problem, although it might put off those who want a swanky looking keyboard for their home setup. Whichever way you cut it though, it’s actually a pretty great keyboard that costs less than $100.
Best Portable: MoKo Universal Foldable Keyboard
Pros & Cons
- Foldable and compact
- Compatible with smartphones
- Looks pretty good
- Not sturdy
- Switches: scissor
- Palm Rest: No
MoKo Universal Foldable Keyboard Review
You’re probably not aware of the fact that there actually is a portable ergonomic keyboard, but MoKo manages to pull one out of the bag regardless . . . because it’s portable . . .
In all seriousness though, it’s not often you find a portable and foldable ergonomic keyboard, especially one this snazzy-looking. When it folds completely open, it has a 166-degree angle, giving you the split keyboard style most ergonomic keyboards are known for. It also manages to have split space bars, which is incredibly useful.
It’s also pretty smart, in that it powers on and off when you open and close it, saving you the hassle of having to switch it on/off.
While it takes about two hours to fully charge up the 110 mAh battery, it should last around 30 days of standby time, as well as 40 hours of type, which is quite a lot. It also supports Android and iOS, so you can connect it to your phone and is a great ergonomic alternative to other smartphone specific keyboards. So, if you’re a fan of mobile gaming, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite android games or awesome iOS titles as if you were playing on a PC.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t use a membrane but instead has scissor switches, similar to the Microsoft sculpt, so you’re going to get some great typing feel. The only real downside is that it doesn’t have a palm rest, although, considering it’s meant to be portable, that doesn’t really surprise me (and shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for you).
It also looks pretty great overall and it’s the size of a handheld gaming console, so it shouldn’t take up too much space.
Best Mac: Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue
Pros & Cons
- Great split cable design
- Thing build
- Nice to type on
- Not very durable
- No numpad
- Switches: Membrane
- Palm Rest: No
Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue Review
There’s not a lot of options in terms of peripherals for Mac users, so it’s nice that there’s actually an ergonomic option that doesn’t cost $300 like the Kinesis Advantage2.
What’s interesting about this keyboard though, is that instead of having one uniform body that’s shaped at an angle, it instead has two separate parts that are tied together with a cable. This means that you can angle it exactly how you prefer, without having to worry about an integrated design not being comfortable enough.
Of course, one of the downsides of this design is that it has no numpad so that it can be symmetrical.
Interestingly, this ergonomic keyboard isn’t powered by a cable, but is instead wireless, connecting with Bluetooth. The internal battery should last you around 300 hours of typing, which is absolute tons. It also has three channels, so you can connect up to three devices on it, with a button on the keyboard that makes it a cinch to switch between the three.
What I particularly like is that it has function keys, as well as multimedia buttons, something which really should be standard for most keyboards nowadays.
It’s also rather thin and has a compact design, with about 9 inches of separation with the cable, so it’s going to be easy for you to set up and handle. The typing on it is also great, so it’s an overall amazing ergonomic keyboard for Mac users.
Ergonomic Keyboards: Buying Guide
While ergonomic keyboards are quite different than your standard keyboard, the principles remain the same for the most part. The only real difference is in the type of ergonomic tech you’re looking for, as there’s quite a bit of variety out there.
Switches are those little things under the keycaps that tell your computer what key you’re pressing on. There’s actually a ton of variety in what you’ll find, but for the most part, ergonomic keyboards tend to have membranes. The second most likely option you’ll find is scissor switches, which is a middle ground between mechanical and membrane switches.
So which one is best? Well, that really depends on preference. Most people prefer mechanical switches for gaming, but for general typing, the membrane is absolutely fine. Scissors seem to be a great middle-ground, although they aren’t very common in standard keyboards (unless we’re talking laptop or compact ones).
Of course, there are also mechanical switches with their own complexities, such as the differences between Cherry MX Red vs Brown. For ergonomic keyboards, the most important thing is having an ergonomic layout that you find comfortable, with the switches really playing a secondary part to the whole experience.
As you’ve probably noticed in the products above, there’s actually quite a bit of variety in the types of ergonomic keyboards.
In the case of the Kinesis Advantage2, it uses a concave design, where your fingers are hanging down, rather than resting directly on the keys. This is probably one of the better designs, although it’s incredibly rare, mostly due to the fact that it’s hard to manufacture, which is why the Advantage2 is so expensive.
The majority of designs though tend to have a domed or arched shape, with split keys. This is because it’s a sort of middle-ground in terms of ergonomics and price, being ergonomic enough to make a difference, but not so hard to make that it brings the price up really high.
Finally, you’ll find some devices that have physically split the keyboard in two and connected them by a cable. This allows you more freedom in how you want to angle your keys so that you don’t have to rely on an angle which you don’t necessarily find comfortable. They are also easier to move about, so if want a portable option, these are reasonably good ones
These are mostly the stuff you’ll want to look for in any keyboard, regardless of whether it’s ergonomic or not. One example is function keys, which can be super helpful for more compact keyboard designs. They allow to basically use some keys (such as the F keys in several different ways). Whether you need this or not is up to your specific use case, and they aren’t necessarily that important for most people.
One other thing that can sometimes be missing from keyboards is the number pad. Again, this is something that is up to your personal preference, as there are tons of people who don’t use the number pad often (or at all), such as myself.
Finally, one thing which you really should look for is multimedia keys, which are incredibly useful and should really come as standard in most keyboards. That being said, they aren’t critically important, so don’t let them be a dealbreaker if you don’t think they’ll be useful to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does an Ergonomic Keyboard Do?
For the most part, ergonomic keyboards are designed to help or avoid muscle strain, carpal tunnel, and repetitive strain injury. They accomplish this by angling the keys so that they more naturally fit the resting angle of your hands. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but for the most part, when you go to type, your hands make an unnatural angle from your arms, which can create or exacerbate problems.
What Are the Proper Ergonomic Keyboarding Techniques?
There are a few things you can do to naturally help yourself.
- Try and keep your wrists in a natural position as much as you can. Try to keep your middle finger parallel with your forearm.
- Don’t bang down on the keys, but instead try and use only as much force as required to actuate them.
- Don’t rest your palms while you are actively typing. Instead, float them over the keyboard. Only rest them when you are not typing.
- Don’t try and do some weird finger gymnastics to reach hard keys, just move your forearm to reach them instead
- Imagine that you are trying to play piano, and by that I mean to try and keep your fingers curved downwards/inwards, and don’t curve your pinky or thumbs up.
- Try not to use one hand for multiple key combinations, such as shifting to capitalize a letter. There’s a reason there’s two shift, alt, ctrl and command keys on the keyboard.
Should You Rest Your Hands on the Keyboard?
No, as stated above, you should try and float your hands over the keyboard when you’re tying. You can do this by using the edge of your desk as a sort of fulcrum with your forearm to angle your forearm upwards. This will more naturally rest your hands downwards and make them curved inwards rather than in weird angles.
The only time you should rest your hands on the keyboard is when you aren’t typing or moving them.
Is RSI Permanent?
RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury can be made permanent if you don’t get it checked soon enough. The way that RSI works is that it’s essentially an inflammation of the tendons, joints, and muscles of your body, and as such you can get anywhere, not just the wrists. If you get it treated on time, you can avoid any permanent injury, but if you just ignore it, RSI can lead to internal scarring tissue which is pretty painful.
So yeah, if you experience regular pains in your fingers, hands, wrist or your upper body, you’ll want to get it checked out and try and take some steps to avoid making the issue worse or permanent.
Well, there you have it, a great collection of ergonomic keyboards, as well as some important advice on typing a healthy way. While it’s true that some of the best ergonomic keyboards are really expensive, there’s enough on this list that comes at a reasonable price that you shouldn’t feel put off.
Ideally, we recommend also going for a wireless keyboard and mouse combo that’s ergonomic as it might further decrease the strain on your back.
There’s also quite a ton of variety, so I can’t blame you if you have to consider this choice very hard, especially since there’s not much to compare it to. Regardless of the choice you go for though, I hope you the best, and stay healthy!