No matter how hard they try, keyboards today aren’t the iconic, mechanical IBM Model M of the ’80s. Older keyboards used to rely on buckling spring mechanisms and mechanical switches under every key, many modern keyboards have taken a more affordable route to reduce keypress distance and optimize keystrokes. Somewhere along the way we lost the satisfying click and a few other things that were once the hallmark of the standard computer keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards are also known to feature more durable designs and components far easier to maintain than their rubberized, membrane-equipped counterparts. Even typos, the undeniable enemy of any affluent keyboardist, are reduced using mechanical keyboards thanks to the tactile feedback they offer, especially with new switch designs.
Below are five of the best mechanical keyboards, so you can resurrect the thrilling keyboard sensations of decades past.
Although it might be marketed to gamers, the Logitech G Pro is a fantastic keyboard whether you’re fragging enemies or feverishly typing away. In fact, it received a near perfect score when we tested it in mid-2017.
Logitech has ditched the age-old Cherry MX switches for its own, lower-profile, fast-response Romer-G switches, and the result is a compact, high-performance mechanical keyboard that is hard to beat. The switches are rated to last for up to 70-million key presses and these keyboards go through rigorous testing to make sure.
With 26-key-rollover, there is no chance of multiple key-presses going unrecognized, even if you happen to mush your palm into the board for some reason, and the back-end customization software is top notch. Whether you’re customizing the RGB LED backlighting or remapping the keys so that they do exactly what you want, the tools are intuitive and powerful. You can even create bespoke profiles for individual games so the Pro G responds exactly as you want as soon as the game starts.
Thanks to the combination of fast -and surprisingly quiet — switches, a compact and light package for LAN gaming, RGB backlighting, and a price tag that’s not exorbitant, the Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard is our favorite mechanical board in quite some time.
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Razer BlackWidow X Chroma ($150)
Razer might make all sorts of great hardware these days (like the Razer Blade) but never forget that its true pedigree is in creating some of the best peripherals in the world and that includes top-notch mechanical keyboards. Our recent favorite of its lineup is the BlackWidow X Chroma, a mechanical keyboard that prides itself on its RGB LED backlighting, multiple switch options and improved aesthetics over its predecessors.
The new look isn’t all about bragging rights though. The BlackWidow X Chroma’s new metallic facade is anything but, using “military grade” metal work to provide a sturdy frame for your typing and gaming experience. The layout does away with previous BlackWidow dedicated macro keys, but you can remap everything to anything you want using the Razer Synapse backend software, with full access to the Chroma suite so you can customize lighting to your heart’s content.
We admit the BlackWidow is likely overkill for the everyday typist, but for anyone who wants a top-notch typing and gaming experience, you can’t go wrong with this board. We have our qualms over a lack of detachable USB cable and not everyone will like the non-standard bottom key row, but it’s still an absolutely fantastic keyboard that is well worthy of being on this list.
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Das Keyboard 4 Professional ($170)
American-made but German-engineered, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is one of many in the Das lineup. It features a standard 104-key layout, but it’s added some multimedia keys in the top right for play/pause and track skips. They sit along an attractive dial that offers fine-tuning of your system volume with just a single hand — great for adjustments mid-game. It flaunts full n-key rollover, so you can press as many keys as you like without interruption — no need for retro PS/2 adaptors anymore.
Additionally, the 4 Professional’s gold-plated Cherry MX key switches are rated to endure more than 50 million keystrokes, which is now a mechanical keyboard standard. The key caps even feature a new Das Keyboard font for a more refined look and easier reading.
The ergonomics and aesthetics remain intact regardless of which keyswitches you choose, but the tactile feedback and active response rate are entirely up to you. We prefer the Cherry MX Blue keyswitches given that satisfying audible click, but check out the brown or red keyswitches if you’re looking for something a bit quieter with less action.
On the underside, you’ll find a unique footbar solution that raises the keyboard by an optimal four degrees for angled typing and it can even be detached and used as a precise ruler if needed.
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Corsair K95 RGB Platinum ($200)
Corsair might be most well-known to some as a memory manufacturer, but in recent years it has taken the peripheral world by storm by producing some of the world’s best mechanical keyboards, for gamers and typists alike. Its K95 Platinum is the peak of that click-clacking mountain with some of the best features of any keyboard out there.
Available with a selection of Cherry MX switches — Brown or Speed (silver) — and a choice of a black or gunmetal grey paintjob, the K95 includes RGB backlighting with deep customization options and a set of dedicated, textured macro keys. The frame is made from anodized, brushed aluminum and comes with a detachable wrist rest for comfort and ease of transport.
Arguably the best part of the whole package though, is that it’s all backed up by the Corsair Utility Engine. The backend software is hands-down the best available at the moment, offering deeper customization than most for backlighting and key remapping, as well as an easy to understand interface. The K95’s on board storage means you can keep your profiles with you wherever you go, which makes this a great choice for regular LAN goers who don’t want to bring their whole PC along with them.
The only downside to the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is the price, but that $200 will be well spent.
Updated on 12/28/2017 by Jon Martindale with Logitech G Pro and Corsair K95 Platinum.