Nearly every computer on the market comes bundled with a keyboard. That doesn’t mean you should stick with it.
Most offer a typing experience that’s less than ideal, especially when it comes to productivity and comfort when using your desktop at home or at work. Thankfully, there’s a host of capable keyboards specifically designed for keyboard enthusiasts who take their typing seriously. The selection varies from gaming and mechanical keyboards to those built with ergonomics in mind, all of which pose significant advantages over a basic bargain unit. Best of all, their capabilities and increased functionality don’t always equate to a high price tag. Below are our current favorites, whether you’re looking for an old-school throwback to the IBM Model M, or something a bit more “in” with the times.
The German-engineered Das Model S Professional is loud, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The mechanical, gold-plated key switches provide a satisfying tactile feel, while the design of the keyboard itself is built to withstand 50 million strokes. Other hallmarks include the dual USB 2.0 ports and an instant sleep function, along with support for full n-key rollover (meaning multiple keypresses can register at the same time), a 6.6-foot cable, and an assortment of dedicated keys for controlling media playback. The black-matte design keeps it subtle, too, even if the blue LED lights add a touch of color to an otherwise drab design.
Logitech is a household name when it comes to keyboards. The company’s Illuminated Keyboard K740 shines with its backlit design and ultra-thin profile, while boasting a rubberized palm rest designed for the utmost comfort in between typing sessions. It lacks frills — there’s no integrated USB hub or wireless functionality — but its strong tactile feedback and back-to-the-basics approach render it a standout when it comes to minimalism. Plus it offers three levels of illumination, so you can adjust for your surroundings accordingly.
Microsoft’s Wireless Comfort 5000 offers more than you might think within its ergonomic build. The curved design and asymmetrical button layout take some getting used to, but once done, the design allows you to type with greater accuracy and speed than ever before. The perforated rest pad also cushions your hands as you type, while the melange of media control shortcuts grant you one-touch access to all of your favorite tasks and applications. The keyboard even comes packaged with a basic, uniform mouse as an added bonus.
Razer BlackWidow ($100)
There’s no denying the Razer BlackWidow is one of the finest gaming keyboards available, but it’s also simply one of the best mechanical keyboards you can currently buy. The key switches are rated up to 60 million keystrokes and provide welcome tactile feedback when typing, and moreover, each device comes lined with a set of dedicated macro keys and 10 customizable software profiles you can switch between at any given moment. And who doesn’t like USB pass-through and 10 key roll-over anti-ghosting on a keyboard?
Logitech MK270 ($30)
Logitech’s budget-based MK270 offers no more or less than you’ll need. Period. Although the full-size keyboard showcases a generic design, it still provides ample reliability, allowing you to type from up to 30 feet away when using the bundled nano-receiver and 2.4GHz wireless signal. The eight shortcut keys also provide quick access to various playback controls and tasks, giving you a means to pull up emails and control volume without ever touching your mouse. The keyboard’s quiet operation when typing only adds to its minimalist, sturdy appeal.
Corsair Vengeance K95 ($150)
Simply put, the Corsair Vengeance K95 is as apt a gaming keyboard as it is a professional one. It basks in a black-on-black design comprised of aluminum construction, one outfitted with a detachable palm rest and 18 macro keys fit for on-the-fly programming. Unlike most backlit keyboards, the K95 also lets you manually adjust the brightness behind each individual key, whether it be one housed on the number pad or within the media controls. It’s expensive, but robust customization doesn’t come cheap.
Apple Wireless Keyboard ($70)
Apple’s Wireless Keyboard remains a mainstay among Mac enthusiasts, even if it does still lack a number pad and feels somewhat cramped. The low-profile device pairs with your machine in a matter of seconds via Bluetooth, and provides you with a top row of keys designed to give you one-touch access to popular Mac features (Mission Control, Launchpad, etc.). Apple also retrofitted the keyboard with an automatic shut-off feature aimed at conserving energy, though, little else feature-wise.