The best mechanical keyboards

Every tap on a well-done keyboard can bring joy. If you spend most of your day typing, coding, or gaming, a mechanical keyboard can be a comfortable, customizable upgrade to the drab, shallow keyboard that came with your computer. After spending months testing the most promising mechanical keyboards, we recommend the Keychron V3, Keychron V5, and Keychron V6 because they offer the best typing experience and most extra features for their surprisingly reasonable prices.

Our selection

Keycron V3

The keyboardless Keychron V3 provides the most pleasant typing experience and most features (RGB, hot swapping, programmability, and an optional knob) at a reasonable price.

Keychrono V5

The Keychron V5 offers all the quality and features of the V3, providing all the keys of a full-size keyboard, including a number pad, in a significantly more compact design.

Keychrono V6

The Keychron V6 feels just as wonderful to type on and has all the same extra features, and its full-size design includes a number pad. But it takes up much more space on the desktop.

Purchase options

*At the time of publication, the price was $95.

Dimensions:V3: 14.17 by 5.75 by 1.46 inches
V5: 14.96 by 5.83 by 1.46 inches
V6: 17.32 by 5.75 by 1.46 inches
Connection:removable USB-C
Key Cap Material:PBTBacklight:rgb

Among all the mechanical keyboards we’ve tested, the Keychron V3 without a numpad, the Keychron V5 with 1800 layout, and the full-size Keychron V6 stand out for quality and value. All three models have rugged cases, durable PBT keycaps, and smooth lubricated stabilizers, and boast sophisticated features normally reserved for much more expensive models, including RGB backlighting, hot-swappable switches, and full programmability with easy-to-use VIA software. The V3, V5, and V6 come with both Windows and Mac keys, and switching between the two OS layouts is simple. All three models are available with a variety of Keychron K Pro switches; we recommend the brown switches if you are not sure which type you like best. But these models cannot work wirelessly, like most mechanical keyboards, they must be plugged in. And if you want the fun rotary knob that controls the volume by default but can also be reprogrammed to do other things, you have to pay around $10 more.

We recommend tenkeyless keyboards—that is, models without a built-in numeric keypad—because they allow you to position the mouse closer to your body, which can reduce shoulder, neck, and back strain. Most people don’t use a number pad often enough to justify the desktop space it takes up. If you sometimes need a number pad, you can get a separate programmable number pad, like the Keychron Q0, that you can remove when you’re not using it.


Multix Vortex 87

The Multix 87 feels just as good to type on and is available with a variety of nice keycap options. But it lacks a backlight and it’s not as easy to program.

Dimensions:13.78 by 5.75 by 1.5 inchesConnection:removable USB-C
Key Cap Material:PBTBacklight:none

The Vortex Multix 87 feels just as wonderful to type on as the Keychron V3, thanks to its rugged case, durable PBT keycaps, and smooth stabilizers. We recommend it if our top pick isn’t available or if you just prefer the vibes of this model and don’t need a backlight, full programming, or knob. Like our top pick, the Multix 87 has hot-swappable switches, works with both Windows and Mac, and can easily switch between the two operating system layouts. But it’s not as easy to customize as our top VIA-compatible pick, and it lacks a backlight. Note, too, that the Multix 87 is only available with a keyless design; As of this writing, Vortex does not offer a full-size or 1800 version.

budget selection

C1 keyboard

The keyboardless Keychron C1 offers solid build quality and a satisfying typing experience. Compared to our top pick, the keys feel cheaper and will wear out sooner, and it’s not programmable, but you can’t beat the price.

Keycron C2

The full-size Keychron C2 is identical to the C1 but has a built-in number pad, so it takes up more space on a desk.

Dimensions:C1: 14.06 by 5.12 by 1.57 inches
C2: 17.15 by 5.12 by 1.57 inches
Connection:removable USB-C
Key Cap Material:ABSBacklight:white or RGB

If you’re willing to trade quality and programmability for a lower price, get the keyless Keychron C1 or the full-size Keychron C2. Both models offer solid build quality, feel good to type on, and aren’t ugly—all uncommon qualities for keyboards in this price range. They are also compatible with Windows and Mac, and come with replacement keys for both operating systems. But the C1 and C2 have lower-quality ABS keycaps that feel cheaper to type on and will wear out faster than the solid PBT keycaps of our top picks, and these budget models aren’t programmable. Keychron offers optional upgrades to the C1 and C2, but if you’re planning to spend more on RGB or hot swapping, you’re better off getting one of our top picks.

Unfortunately, availability is an issue with most large mechanical keyboards. If our picks are out of stock, or you’re looking for a tenkeyless wireless keyboard, higher-end options, or a gaming keyboard, take a look at the other good mechanical keyboards we found during our tests. If you’re looking for a mechanical keyboard with a more compact design, check out our guide to compact mechanical keyboards.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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