August 2

5 Best Mechanical Keyboard

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Table Of Contents

A lot of people tend to think of those big, clunky, and loud keyboards whenever they hear ‘mechanical keys’ but nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past 5 years or so, a lot of big companies such as Cherry MX and Razer have started coming out with their own mechanical switches targeted specifically to gamers.

These switches (such as the Cherry MX Red) are not only quieter, they’re also much smoother to use and have better gaming and typing performance than older switch varieties.

Because of this dearth of options when it comes to putting mechanical keyboards together, all the big brands have gotten into the game from Logitech to Corsair (which started out as a RAM manufacturer) and it can be a little bit confusing for the end-user. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the best, it should give you a good idea of what keyboards (and what switches) you should be thinking about for your gaming and day to day use.

So, what are the best mechanical keyboards? 🤔 ⌨️

Best Choice: Logitech G513 RGB

Pros & Cons

  • Great switch choice
  • Big palm rest
  • Works for both typing and gaming
  • No discrete media keys or macros
  • RGB not that bright

Specifications:

  • Switches: Romer G Linear
  • Palm Rest: Yes (Detachable)
  • Backlit: Yes (Full RGB)

Logitech G513 RGB Review

When it comes to making gaming keyboards, it’s pretty hard to balance useful features with nice haves, especially when you want to keep the budget as low as you can. Thankfully, Logitech seems to have cracked that egg with the Logitech G513 RGB.

Of course, the first thing we have to look at is the switches, which are a departure from the traditional Cherry MX switches you see in most mechanical keyboards. Instead, Logitech has swapped out those with two different variants for you to pick from: Romer-G Tactile and Romer-G Linear.

Not going into too much detail, the Tactile is a bit more bumpy and clicky, whereas the Linear flows more, something similar to a Cherry MX Red.

The keycaps that accompany those switches are also pretty nice, being sloped and easy on the fingers, but not necessarily breaking any molds or doing anything purely innovative. What is nice though, is that the keys match the body of the keyboard really well.

That scored lines of the anodized aluminum backplate both look nice and give it that office-like, and industrial vibe. So you could use this at your work without raising too many eyebrows.

What might raise eyebrows is the RGB backlighting, which isn’t necessarily outrageous in its proliferation but instead is just really, really bright. I’m not even kidding about this btw, It’s easily one of the brightest gaming keyboards on the market, so if you’re blind as a bat, like me, and like having tons of light around, then the G513 is a great option.

Thankfully, it does come with Logitech’s own LightSync software which gives a ton of control.

Moving on from there, I’d like to address the wrist rest which is surprisingly big for what Logitech was going for in the overall design, although unfortunately, it doesn’t connect magnetically but rather just with the force of friction. I mention the overall design because even though the G513 isn’t exactly portable, it is easier to carry around than other mechanical keyboards.

Reinforcing this design decision is the rubber-reinforced and braided double-usb cable, one for the keyboard and the other for the internal passthrough. That rubber actually helps avoid a ton of strain for the cable, and the passthrough is pretty handy for a mouse or maybe even a headset or microphone.

Unfortunately, due to the lower price bracket, you do give up macro keys and discrete media buttons.

Overall the G513 is a great value choice if you don’t necessarily need the aforementioned macro keys and buttons, and is certainly worth the compromise considering the other features it offers. While the Romer-Gs might not be fit for everybody, they are a nice extra choice to have, and they’re both pretty comfortable to boot.

On the other hand, if you want the G513 with those macro keys and wireless, the G613 is a good option, and you can even find a review of it in our very own article on the best wireless mechanical keyboards.

Premium Pick: Razer Huntsman Elite

Pros & Cons

  • Keyboard layout is well-designed
  • Great actuation
  • Lovely tactile response
  • Palm rest requires its own power
  • No USB passthrough for the palm rest

Specifications:

  • Switches: Optomechanical
  • Palm Rest: Yes (Detachable)
  • Backlit: Yes (Full RGB)

Razer Huntsman Elite Review

While it may cost a pretty penny, the Razer Huntsman Elite introduces really interesting innovations, making it one of the top-notch mechanical gaming keyboards out there.

You see, what really makes the Huntsman Elite standout, is Razer’s new optomechanical switches, essentially switches that work on optics, rather than springs, for activation. Basically, instead of making a contact against a plate to close a circuit and ‘activate’ the key on mechanical switches, optical lasers use a laser (which is really cool).

As you type, that laser is broken every time you pass a certain point when you press down on the key, which activates it.

Due to this pretty cool tech, typing on these switches is incredibly fast . . . no seriously, it may even be one of the fastest keyboards to type on. Of course, that’s not only great for people who type a lot, but also for people who game, where quick repetitive presses are essential for maintaining a high amount Actions Per Minute (APM).

Since it brings the actuation and activation point incredibly close, reaching and maintaining a high APM is much easier, and the low force required to push them down makes it feel almost as if you’re typing in thin air.

Thankfully, Razer didn’t only focus on the switches, and the overall keyboard looks sleek and minimal, and much like the Logitech G513, it wouldn’t seem too out of place in an office, except for the RGB Lighting.

While it may not be as bright as the G513, there’s certainly tons and tons more; not only backlighting, but also an LED strip around the keyboard and . . . wait for it . . . the actual wrist rest, something which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on a keyboard before.

Unfortunately, the wrist rest lighting does come at a price, since it needs its own usb connection and for some unfathomable reason, the main body of the keyboard doesn’t have a USB passthrough, so it’s a bit irritating.

While unfortunately you don’t get any macro keys here either, you do get discrete media buttons, as well as that wheel that you see in the top right which is actually very clever. You see, you can actually set that wheel to alter whatever you like from volume, to the brightness and even things in-game like weapon zoom level.

While you might not see a massive use out of it (especially since you’d need to take your hand off the mouse to use it), it’s still an extra little detail to have and definitely raises the keyboard up in my estimation.

All in all, the Razer Huntsman Elite certainly is elite, with some of the newest and most interesting switches on the market. Actually, if you like the keyboard and want to know a bit more, we’ve got a review for the Razer Huntsman Elite.

Best Value: HyperX Alloy FPS Pro

Pros & Cons

  • Good build quality
  • Backlighting
  • Replacement keycaps with textures
  • Backlighting is not RGB
  • Cherry MX Blue switches might not be for everyone

Specifications:

  • Switches: Cherry MX Blue
  • Palm Rest: No
  • Backlit: Yes (Red LED only)

HyperX Alloy FPS Pro Review

It’s not easy finding a cheap mechanical keyboard for gaming, especially one that goes below $100, but HyperX has managed a reasonably good budget offering for those who don’t want to spend a ton of money.

Much like the Huntsman Elite, the first thing I need to point out is the switches, which aren’t your traditional MX Red or even MX Brown, but instead are MX Blue, some of the weightiest switches you’ll find.

It’s certainly an interesting choice, and there are those who like the blue switches, although they tend to be somewhat annoying to those who also type on their keyboards, rather than just game. Similarly, the switches are pretty loud, so the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro is more suited to an environment where you’ll be alone rather than surrounded by a bunch of people.

Aside from the choice of switches which might be divisive, the rest of the keyboard is great. It’s small and compact design means that it’s pretty easy to carry around if you need to, and HyperX has even thrown in different keypacs with a more metallic and ridged feel for the WASD and 1,2,3 and 4 keys, a nice addition.

Unfortunately at this price bracket you do miss out on any macro keys as well as discrete media keys which even though is a bit off-putting, is about expected for this price range.

The good news is that the keys are completely backlight, with the bad news being that it’s only in the color red. It’s not all bad though, since you can actually increase and decrease the brightness, as well as give it some patterns, something you don’t see often on budget mechanical keyboards.

That being said, it doesn’t come with any additional software or drivers, as it’s meant to be plug and play, so the amount of control you have over the lighting is minimal, although again, that isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.

Finally, in terms of construction it’s rather good. The ‘alloy’ in the name refers to the backplate the switches contact, as well as the top surface of the keyboard, so it looks nice and sleek.

The back of the keyboard itself is actually plastic, although it’s surprisingly rigid, so it doesn’t worry or bother me too much. It also has a USB for charging only for any of your devices, which is a nice little touch. At the end of the day, the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro is a great budget mechanical keyboard with a rather interesting choice of switches.

If you’d like a similar keyboard with alternative switches, I’d suggest the SteelSeries Apex M400 for around the same price.

Best Budget: Redragon K552

Pros & Cons

  • Portable and compact
  • Backlighting
  • Great price
  • Switches are a bit heavy and loud

Specifications:

  • Switches: Custom mechanical switches
  • Palm Rest: No
  • Backlit: Yes (Red LED only)

Redragon K552 KUMARA Review

If you’re a fan of simpler and cheaper products, then boy do I have a product for you. While the Redragon K552 KUMARA won’t compete with the Logitech G513 or the Razer Huntsman elite, it actually packs a big punch for its small price.

You don’t often see even the big companies making mechanical switches, so it’s pretty interesting to see a small and relatively unknown one come in with their own custom made switches. Thankfully, they’re pretty good and are made to simulate Cherry MX Blue switches, which they do a great job recreating.

Of course, as I mentioned for the HyperX Alloy, MX Blue switches can be quite heavy and loud, and that carries onto these switches as well, so be fairly warned.

Another similarity it has to the HyperX offering is that it is in fact backlit, which I’m pretty happy to see on such a cheap keyboard, and surprisingly you also get some brightness control, something else that’s quite impressive. Of course, don’t expect the brightness to be anything too amazing, and you unfortunately only get it in red, rather than RGB.

I should also mention that the keycaps are also pretty good and shit handles any gamer quite easily. Along with those keycaps are full anti-ghosting and 12 multimedia keys, although they’re function keys rather than discrete ones. You’ll also notice that this keyboard is tenkeyless, which means it doesn’t have the associated number pad on the left as you might expect.

One other interesting tidbit is that the K552 is spill-proof, so I guess you don’t have to be as careful with your drinks (but please, don’t just pour a mug of coffee on the keyboard to test it out).

Even the Redragon K552 KUMARA might not seem like much, a lot of its value comes from it’s a cheap price and the surprising amount of features on it. As such, it’s a good second option if you don’t have the budget for the HyperX Alloy.

Best Design: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

Pros & Cons

  • Discrete media keys
  • High quality and sturdy build
  • RGB lighting is fantastic
  • Palm rest can get very dirty
  • iCue software is a bit of a pain

Specifications:

  • Switches: Cherry MX Speed
  • Palm Rest: Yes
  • Backlit: Yes (Full RGB)

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum Review

Of you like the Razer Huntsman Elite but didn’t want to necessarily go with Razer, Corsair has you covered with their top-end entry into the mechanical keyboard field. There are slight differences between Corsair and Razer, but you’ll manage. It’s actually a bit hard to know where to start with the K95 RGB Platinum, it really is that well rounded.

That being said, probably the best place to start is with their switches, which actually use a new switch made by Cherry called the MX Speed (sometimes also referred to as MX Silver). Essentially, as the name might suggest, these switches are actually much faster to actuate and activate and have an incredibly low actuation force, even less than MX Reds.

Essentially, MX silver is a super souped-up MX Red. Actually, yours truly has written a guide on Cherry MX Speed vs Red, so you can check it out for a bit more detail if you like.

Moving on from the switches themselves and to the actual keycaps, they’re absolutely excellent and since I actually use a previous version of this exact keyboard for my day to day life, I can attest to how nice they feel, even for general use. The lighting is full RGB of course, and you even get yourself a lightbar going across the top of the keyboard, which is kinda cool.

I’m not sure if they’ve fixed the issue on the RGB Platinum, but with the older version one, I have the LEDs behinds individual keys would start to fade at different rates, so the lighting might not be uniform after a year or two of use.

In terms of overall design though it’s really awesome, and the fact that the keys aren’t recessed into the keyboard means it’s just so, so much easier to clean. The aluminum plate is also really cool and combined with the key layout, it gives it a sort of modern industrial look that’s become popular over the past few years.

You’ll also be happy to know that the palm rest is detachable, although why you would take it out is beyond me, it really doesn’t get in the way.

The only thing that really mars the otherwise excellent keyboard is the utility software called iCUE. Again, since I use a Corsair keyboard on a day to day basis, I’m familiar with iCUE and I can tell you it’s a bit of a pain to both set-up and use, mostly due to the fact that it’s a bit bloated and takes a lot of resources to run.

It’s not necessarily bad software, it’s just not as user-friendly as it could be. Thankfully though, you’ll only need to use the iCUE once or twice, and for the rest of the time, you’ll be happily enjoying your Corsair K95 RGB Platinum. And hey, if you don’t mind the iCUE software and want a different Corsair keyboard, check out my article on the top Corsair Keyboards.

 

Mechanical Keyboards: Buying Guide

Choosing a mechanical keyboard may seem daunting, especially with all the variety of switches out there, but it really isn’t that bad, especially if you’re mainly going for a gaming keyboard.

Switches

Most switches tend to come from Cherry MX, a company that manufactures and sells them. For gaming keyboards, they tend to go for MX Reds, the first switch that’s made specifically for gamers. It’s not as loud, and it’s much easier to press, which is what makes it great for the kind of stuff you’d do while gaming, such as fast repetitive presses for quick-time events or what have you.

AKWOX 9-Key Cherry MX Switch Tester

Unfortunately, it’s kinda hard to explain how each switch feels, so thankfully there’s a handy thing called a switch tester that you can buy like the AKWOX 9-key Cherry MX Switch Tester. If that’s a bit too much to spend, you could maybe find a local computer shop and see if they have one for you to test it out.

Lighting

In the past 5 years or so, RGB lighting has become a bit crazy and everything from keyboards to PC fans all coming with RGB.

The real question is whether you need them or not, as often times the RGB lighting can add quite a little bit of extra price to the keyboard. In my humble opinion, they aren’t needed, although they are nice to have and even then the only benefit is if you play or type in a dark environment, otherwise RGB lighting doesn’t add that much.

As I mentioned I have an RGB keyboard and I barely ever use the colors, most of the times its just bright white backlight to make the keys more visible.

Cooler Master - SK621 60% Size Mechanical Keyboard

Other Features

A keyboard can have a variety of different stuff from passthrough USB ports to palm rests and discrete media keys. How important it is to you really depends on your individual case use, but you should be aware that higher-end wireless keyboards tend to have extra stuff.

Personally, I care a lot about the media keys and the palm rest, but I never even think about USB pass-throughs.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are mechanical keyboards better?

That really depends on what you’re using it for. Membrane keyboards tend to be quieter and are generally preferred for typing a lot. On the other hand, mechanical keyboards have a ton of different switches to choose from, whether it’s loud and hard to press down or super quiet and easy to press down on. The only real advantage I’d give for mechanical keyboards is the variety of choice.

Logitech K840 Mechanical Keyboard

Why do gamers prefer mechanical keyboards?

Surprisingly, not all gamers prefer mechanical keyboards, a lot like to use membrane ones instead. At the end of the day, it really depends on what you’re using an awesome gaming keyboard for and what technology you want (membrane or mechanical), so don’t let somebody gatekeep you from using whatever keyboard you think works best for you.

What are the different types of mechanical keyboards?

There aren’t different types of mechanical keyboards as much as there are different types of mechanical switches. While there’s a ton out there, you should know that Cherry MX tends to be the most popular brand with quite a lot of variety. Cherry MX Red also tends to be the most popular switch for gaming, with brown and black coming close seconds, and we actually have a good article on the difference between Cherry MX Red vs Brown.

cherry mx switch types deconstructed 8 switches with different colors

How long do mechanical keyboards last?

For the most part, the switches are rated to last 50million presses, with certain switches like Razer’s optomechanical switches being rated to 100million presses (which is an insane amount).


Conclusion

As you can see, mechanical keyboards offer a lot of variety and a lot of different price points. So, hopefully, I’ve managed to give you a reasonably good overview and some info on what you should be looking for. With that in mind, good luck and have fun with your shopping.


Sources:

  1. Lauren Hall-Stigerts, Best Gaming Keyboard Features, BigFish Games, March 24th, 2014
  2. Cherry MX Mechanical Key Switches, NamingCrisis, September 18th, 2013
  3. Keyboard Connection Issues, Logitech Support

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