If you’re a gamer — or if you simply type a lot — finding a quality keyboard is “key” to your comfort and success. To find the best one, you could spend hours reading manufacturer specs and advertising, in the hopes of making some sense out of the marketing hype. Or you could do what we do; turn to the people who’ve actually used the keyboards, and see what they have to say.
In the debate between buying a mechanical keyboard vs. regular, Reddit users are clear on their preferences: serious gamers and writers who spend all day typing prefer mechanical keyboards to their traditional brethren. There are a few reasons for this:
On the downside, mechanical keyboards are pricier than traditional keyboards, and they’re also louder. Still, the verdict is clear: if you want the best quality keyboard, you want a mechanical one.
So, we’ve turned to the official mechanical keyboard Reddit at r/MechanicalKeyboards to see what they think. We’ve also listened to the Reddit mechanical keyboard fanatics at r/pcmasterrace, who know a thing or two about gaming. And to round things out, we’ve read what the hardware experts at r/buildapc have to say on the subject.
When you ask the folks on Reddit what keyboard they wish they had, the Leopold FC980C is a consistent winner.Check Prices On Amazon
The Leopold FC980C features Topre electrostatic capacitive switches. These switches are beefy rubber dome switches, and aren’t technically mechanical, but they offer the durability of a mechanical switch, along with quiet operation. As with any keyboard, keep in mind that switch noise is only part of overall keyboard noise. If you’re an aggressive typer and you’re constantly bottoming out your keys, you’re going to hear clicking no matter what kind of board you’re using. Then again, with the FC980C, you won’t need to type aggressively. The sensitive keys easily register every stroke.
This keyboard features a removable USB cable, which makes it a great choice for travel. One Reddit user even modified their FC980C to work with a Bluetooth dongle, so wireless operation is a viable option if you’re tech-savvy enough to make some modifications. And for the less tech-savvy, the removable cable still makes this keyboard easy to take on the road.
The FC980C isn’t just quiet and versatile, it’s also rugged. It features doubleshot PBT keycaps that can take a serious beating. The spacebar is still constructed from ABS, although this is common on all but the latest PBT keyboards.
So why isn’t everybody using this keyboard if it’s really the best on the market? Frankly, it’s the price. You’re looking at 2 to 3 times the cost of a typical mechanical keyboard, and while Topre switches are nice, many folks feel that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
The Qisan Magicforce 68 is one of the best keyboards available if you’re looking for a cheap board to complete your gaming rig.Check Prices On Amazon
The Qisan Magicforce 68 is a tried-and-true mini mechanical keyboard that’s designed to be as portable as possible. It has a compact, tenkeyless design with the number row integrated into the function keys, and it weighs just over a pound, light enough that you can throw it in a backpack and not even realize it’s in there. Transport is even easier thanks to a removable USB cable, so you won’t have to worry about kinks or bends where it plugs into your keyboard.
The downside of this design is that it’s a poor choice for people who have to do a lot of typing. The numberless design is great for gamers, who almost never need number keys and frequently need function keys for quick slots, game functions, and macros. However, for everyday writing it can get frustrating to need to hit the FN key to type a phone number — or to hold FN + Shift to type any of the symbols on the number row such as “$”, “#”, “&”, “%”, or “()”.
Essentially, if you’re a gamer, the Magicforce speeds you up. If you’re an office worker, lawyer, insurance adjuster, or writer, it slows you down.
The keypad design itself is surprisingly ergonomic, with an upward slope that’s ever so slightly curved towards the top to minimize the need to move your fingers. The keys are surprisingly clicky and responsive considering they have non-Cherry switches, although Outemu has one of the better lineups of third-party switch manufacturers.
One thing you’ll really appreciate about the Magicforce 68 is its low price. It’s very affordable, without sacrificing much in the way of function. That said, it’s pretty ugly. The non-backlit gray keys are uninspiring to say the least. But you’re paying for a cheap keyboard, and you’re getting one that works well. If you want looks and performance, expect to pay more.
The iKBC F87 features a sharply-angled, ergonomic design with rugged PBT keycaps.Check Prices On Amazon
The iKBC F87 is a fully backlit keyboard that’s designed specifically for gamers, but is also an excellent ergonomic option for anyone who spends long periods of time typing. It features Cherry MX Red switches, which are linear rather than tactile. Essentially, this means that instead of hearing — and feeling — a mechanical click with each keystroke, you’ll feel a smooth movement with a soft, consistent spring resistance.
Some people don’t like this feature because it can make it hard to tell whether a glancing keystroke actually registered or not. On the other hand, these switches are very low impact, perfect for long gaming or typing sessions. The keyboard surface itself is angled sharply upward. Should you choose to use the collapsible legs, you’ll get an extreme tilt that’s very comfortable to use, particularly on a desk with plenty of clearance over the keyboard tray.
This extreme angle requires top and bottom-row keys that are curved and shaped more than most keyboard keys. For this reason, not all aftermarket replacements will work well with the F87. That said, the stock keys are engineered from double-shot PBT, with factory etching for visibility in low-light. You should never need to replace these keys, but just in case, iKBC includes a key puller and extra gaming keys in the kit.
If you’re looking for a compact keyboard that’s still fully functional, the Vortex Pok3r is a great place to start.Check Prices On Amazon
The Vortex Pok3r is a tight, compact tenkeyless mechanical board that’s designed to pack as much functionality as possible into a very small package. The function key gives you access to most ordinary PC functions without needing to move your fingers around on the keyboard. There’s only one thing missing: a set of arrow keys, which you’ll need to program yourself if you need arrow keys on a regular basis.
That said, customization is easy. The Pok3r has a 3-layer design, with Dvorak and Coleman pre-sets on the second and third layer. Unless you’re using one of these layouts, it’s trivially easy to reprogram the second or third layer to utilize arrow keys, or even to create multiple layouts for multiple purposes. For example, you could program Layer 1 for gaming and Layer 2 for typing.
The Pok3r ships with injection molded PBT keycaps, which are tough enough to stand up for years of use. Long after the switches have failed, these keycaps will still hold their shape and retain their texture. And speaking of switches, you’ll be able to have any feel you like. You can enjoy the clicky feel of Cherry MX Blue switches, the smooth, linear motion of Cherry MX Red switches, or go for a balanced feel with the MX Brown or Silver switches.
The Filco Majestouch 2 can be connected wirelessly or via USB, making it quick and easy to set up.Check Prices On Amazon
The Filco Majestouch 2 is one of the older mechanical keyboards on our list, but it’s still a solid contender. The manufacturer, Filco, is known for being on the conservative side, so they don’t update their products as often as other manufacturers. That said, when they do produce an updated product, it’s usually a significant upgrade.
Enter the Majestouch 2, which features the ability to connect either wirelessly or via USB. This makes it a great travel option, both for business and for gaming. Take your keyboard on the road and use the wireless input for quick, easy connectivity, or use the USB cable at home and save batteries.
Another feature we liked about the Majestouch 2 is that it’s available with a variety of Cherry MX switches. No matter what feel you want from your mechanical keyboard — smooth, clicky, or somewhere in between — this keyboard will perform exactly the way you like.
The keys themselves feature Costar stabilizers and gold contacts, which offer impressive durability. Each individual key is rated for 50 million keystrokes, which means the Majestouch 2 is a great choice if you’re looking to buy a keyboard you’re going to use for the rest of your life.
The downside? This keyboard is expensive. But then again, you’re looking at the best wireless mechanical keyboard on the market. Expect to pay a premium for this kind of quality.
If you’re looking for a well-engineered keyboard that won’t break the bank, this is a solid choice.Check Prices On Amazon
The iKBC MF108 is a full-sized keyboard that’s built like a brick. This isn’t just an analogy. It weighs over 5 pounds, which is the weight of a standard red clay brick. This makes it a poor choice for travel, but a stalwart addition to your desk. The CNC-machined aluminum case and doubleshot PBT keycaps are exceptionally tough. Needless to say, a keyboard that’s built to survive a real-life war zone is going to work just fine for playing Battlefield or Counterstrike.
This keyboard features Cherry MX Red switches, which operate smoothly, without a lot of tactile feedback or noise. The keys and stabilizers are well lubed, so you’ll experience minimal wear and tear, with quiet operation that’s equally well-suited to college dorms and cubicles.
Now, we’re not going to recommend a keyboard based on looks alone, but it’s worth pointing out that the MF108 is one gorgeous-looking board. It has fully customizable RGB backlighting, with factory-etched keycaps, including a faded row of dots on the spacebar that looks really sharp.
The MF108 has a three-layer design. By default, Layers 2 and 3 are programmed for Dvorak and Coleman, but you can use the keyboard’s software to re-program any key for any function, leaving you with limitless layout choices so you can craft your own ideal gaming keyboard.
This isn’t the cheapest option on our list, but it’s reasonably priced. All in all, it offers a fantastic value, especially for gamers.
Topre electrostatic capacitive switches make the Fujitsu Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro nearly silent.Check Prices On Amazon
The Fujitsu Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro has been around since 2006, and it’s still one of the most popular high-end keyboards on the market. It’s not technically mechanical, but it’s often lumped in with mechanical keyboard because the switches are far superior to standard cap-and-dome keyboard switches. Topre switches have a rubber dome design, but they’re significantly beefier than your standard switches, rated for over 50 million keystrokes. This design, as opposed to a true mechanical switch, is very quiet, perfect for office environments.
The one thing we don’t like about this keyboard are the blank keycaps. From what we’ve seen on Reddit, the Happy Hacking Keyboard used to come with marked keys, but most people ended up swapping them out for custom keycaps anyway. The new, blank design makes it ill-suited for anyone who isn’t a touch typer, but then again if you’re not a touch typer you shouldn’t be spending this much money for a high-end keyboard. All of that being said, the layout is standard, so touch typers are going to be just fine.
This is a compact keyboard, with a tenkeyless design that won’t take up a ton of space on your desk. It includes a pair of built-in USB charging ports, but they’re not terribly useful. Unless the keyboard itself is plugged into a high-voltage port, you’re going to get less than 1 amp out of each keyboard port. In other words, they’re a nice extra feature, but not something you’d want to rely on for day-to-day use.
If you’re looking to upgrade your keyboard but money is tight, consider the Redragon K551.Check Prices On Amazon
The Redragon K551 is a full-sized mechanical keyboard that’s available with a variety of backlight options. You can choose from a plain black unlit board, classic RGB backlights, modern rainbow backlights, or understated red backlighting that really pops. Whatever option you choose, you’ve got yourself a gorgeous keyboard.
This is a budget board, so Redragon chose Outemu switches rather than Cherry MX switches. While some people are leery of switches that don’t come from Cherry MX, the consensus on Reddit is that Outemu switches are comparable. This board is constructed with Outemu Blue switches, which have a heavy, “clicky” feel that offers plenty of tactile response. But be careful if you work in an office or live with a light sleeper; they’re also very loud.
Another thing we like about this keyboard is the multimedia keys. These keys have become popular enough that they’re downright pedestrian, even showing up on cheap $10 office keyboards from major manufacturers, but they remain elusive on mechanical keyboards, which tend to favor minimalist designs that are catered to keyboard enthusiasts rather than everyday users. If you’re looking to upgrade your keyboard, but you’re interested in quality rather than typing in Dvorak, consider the K551.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a fancy boutique keyboard. But it does its job, and it’s a significant upgrade from a standard keyboard, both for gamers and for people who do a lot of typing.
So, which of these keyboards is actually the best?
We’ve already talked about the Leopold FC980C. From both a performance perspective and a noise perspective, it’s hard to beat, and the good people of Reddit hold it in high regard. That said, it’s an expensive device, and not everybody is willing to spend a small fortune on a mechanical keyboard.
If you’re looking for a better deal, the iKBC MF108 is a solid, durable choice, and the Redragon K551 is a reliable option if you want to go as cheap as possible. The Vortex Pok3r is a great choice if space is a major concern, and the Fujitsu Happy Hacking Keyboard is a quiet choice for office workers.
Ultimately, it comes down to what you need. The people of Reddit have given us their opinions and shared their personal experiences. Now all you have to do is decide!