Whether ergonomic, mechanical, or both, there’s a wealth of keyboards to explore.
Keyboards aren’t always high on the list of considerations for folks looking to upgrade their computer, but they should be. Like a new monitor or a new chair, a good keyboard can make a world of difference for anyone that spends the better part of a day typing for work or pleasure. Unlike most computer upgrades, however, there’s a good chance that any high-quality keyboard you buy now will outlast your current Mac or PC.
Finding just the right one for you, however, is no easy task. Mechanical keyboards, once largely given up as a relic of the early days of computing, are a popular choice again. Ergonomic keyboards may look a bit strange but could give you a bit of relief from wrist pain. And there are countless keyboards that run the gamut of prices offering wireless capabilities, backlighting and a range of other features beyond the basics.
Here are a few of the best.
WASD Code 87-Key or 104-Key
There’s no one mechanical keyboard that’s sure to please everyone, but one of the best-liked on the market is the WASD Code keyboard, available with or without a dedicated number pad. It was the overwhelming choice among The Wirecutter’s testers for best mechanical keyboard, and also comes highly-rated by the keyboard specialists at Keychatter.
WASD Code keyboards can be ordered with a range of different key switches to suit your preference for a clickety-clack sound (more options are available direct from WASD than on Amazon), any of which will provide a more satisfying tactile response than your standard keyboard. It’s also decidedly no-frills in appearance, with basic white backlighting. But they’re not cheap— these boards will cost you between $145 and $160 depending on your choice of configuration. Keep in mind though, they’ll last a very long time.
Don’t be fooled by the “gaming” branding, Qian’s 68-key “Magicforce” keyboard is a worth a look from anyone interested in getting into mechanical keyboards without paying a premium price. It’s nice and compact at 60% of the size of a standard keyboard but still, keeps an arrow cluster that other similarly small boards lack.
Magicforce boards are available with your choice of a range of different key switches to suit your preference for a more clicky or quiet keyboard (not to mention your choice of colors). Some configurations run as little as $40, while higher-quality switches will push things up to $70 or more. If you’re looking for a cheap mechanical keyboard that won’t break the bank, look no further.
Matias Tactile Pro and Quiet Pro
Matias has long served Mac users looking for a mechanical keyboard reminiscent of the old school Apple Extended keyboard, and the Tactile Pro ($140) remains a popular choice. It will give you all the dedicated Mac keys you need if you’re hesitant to switch to a board with a generic layout, in which all the keys will still work, but some may be mislabeled.
The Matias Tactile Pro not one of the quieter mechanical keyboards, however, so you may want to consider the company’s similar but slightly more dampened Quiet Pro model if you have a desk mate or aversion to noisy keyboards. A black version of the Tactile Pro is also available for Windows users.
The latest in the highly-regarded Das Keyboard line, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is the most refined version of the keyboard to date, and one that PC Gamer says makes “an already superb keyboard even better.” While it keeps things relatively sleek and basic in terms of design, you do get a nice big volume knob, as well as a built-in USB 3.0 hub. You also get your choice of quiet or clicky key switches for the somewhat hefty $170 asking price, and no backlighting for typing in the dark.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard
A split-key or ergonomic keyboard will take some getting used to, but there’s no shortage of people who swear by them and could never go back to standard horizontal layout. At just $60 (or $80 for a bundle including a mouse), Microsoft’s Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard is both one of the more affordable ones available and a favorite of many regardless of the price; it was PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for wireless keyboard, even taking non-ergonomic models into account, and also The Wirecutter’s pick for Best ergonomic keyboard.
Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard
One step up from the Sculpt Ergonomic is Microsoft’s newer Surface Ergonomic model, which boasts a higher-end fit and finish and a palm rest made of a suede-like material called Alcantara. Unlike the Sculpt—which uses a USB receiver for wireless connectivity—the Surface keyboard boasts Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and Windows Central also found an improvement in the quality of the keys, which they describe as more satisfying. At $130, though, you may want to try both to see if the improvements are enough to justify the costs for you.
If even Microsoft’s Ergonomic keyboards aren’t comfortable enough for you, there’s always something like the Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue, a full-size wireless keyboard that’s split completely down the middle with two sections you can position however you like. Available in both Mac and Windows versions (starting at $90), it can also be used with a range of Kinesis’ accessories, including palm supports, a number pad, and a kit that lets you adjust the slope of the keyboard.
It doesn’t come cheap, but the Qwerkywriter (marked down to $280 from $350 as of this writing) will no doubt please anyone looking for a keyboard with some truly old-school inspiration.
While its design really lays the gimmick on thick, PC Magazine was impressed with its sturdy metal construction and high-quality mechanical key switches (a rarity on a Bluetooth keyboard), although it notes the angle of the integrated tablet stand may be too steep for some. It’s not strictly a tablet keyboard, however, and is just at home paired with a desktop or laptop computer.