Below are some of the best currently available boards, categorized by their various desirable characteristics (wired, wireless, and low profile).
Tactility, durability, and aesthetic appeal are hard to beat on a mechanical keyboard, but finding one that suits your needs can be a challenge. Here are some of the best options available, from inexpensive to... not so inexpensive, and from compact keyboards with laptop-style layouts to full-size keyboards with numpads.
While standard membrane keyboards like Apple's Magic-branded devices are perfectly serviceable, many people find the tactile typing experience and long lifespan of mechanical keyboards to be preferable. There is a sizable subculture of enthusiasts who enjoy tinkering with them to improve their performance and aesthetics; this makes them more than just a practical PC addition.
We only included readily available, ready-to-use keyboards on our list. This eliminates the possibility of purchasing any products that require assembly on your part or that are only sold in extremely small quantities through collective purchases or timed releases. With one notable exception, we gave preference to keyboards with hot-swappable switches, which allow you to quickly swap out individual keys in the event of damage or boredom.
We evaluated each keyboard's chassis, keycaps, stabilizers, keymapping, lighting, and compatibility with Mac and Windows computers in addition to the obvious typing feel and sound (such as by offering keycap legends for either OS or being able to easily swap layouts with a switch or shortcut). We took note of the orientation of the switches, as this can affect the brightness of the keyboard and whether or not the keycaps will fit.
Like most laptops, the keyboards below use a 75% layout, which reduces the size while keeping the function row and arrow key cluster. Unless you know you need a different layout or want a separate number pad, this is the best option. Whenever possible, we've provided a link to an alternate format of one of our suggestions.
Lastly, this guide focuses on the best keyboards for typing and general office work, so input latency and responsiveness weren't major deciding factors. Keep an eye out for our forthcoming gaming-focused guide if you're in the market for a new keyboard.
Best Mechanical Keyboards 2022
The best wired keyboard for most people in 2022
Our top pick for a wired keyboard at the beginner level is the Keychron V1. It's one of the more reasonably priced options here at $84 for a fully assembled model, and it feels almost as nice to type on as keyboards costing twice as much. It has a fantastic tone with no audible stabilizer rattle, and its 75% layout strikes a great balance between portability and full functionality, with no essential keys left out.
The V1 is loaded with functions typically found on enthusiast keyboards, but at a budget price. It has nice, smooth, hot-swappable switches and stabilizers, and its RGB backlighting is directed south. It's fully programmable; you can remap any key by using the VIA software built on top of QMK, which is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux and allows you to do everything from rearrange keys to insert custom macros.
The keycaps on the V1 are sturdy double-shot PBT, and they come pre-printed with both Mac and Windows legends. A volume knob adds $10 to the price (pictured), while skipping the keycaps and switches saves you $20. We received a model outfitted with Keychron's tactile K Pro Brown switches, but the company also offers clicky and linear models.
Keychron also offers the smaller V2 (with a 65% layout that omits the dedicated function row) and the even smaller V4 for those who like the look of the V1 but not the layout (with a 60 percent design that omits the arrow keys entirely). Given how quickly Keychron is releasing new models, the tenkeyless V3 may or may not be available by the time you read this, and there is currently no full-sized option (which would include a number pad).
The best premium wired keyboard in 2022
We were blown away by Keychron's Q-series keyboards because they have the feel and functionality of high-end, limited-edition models but are available to the general public. They're still pricey compared to other PC peripherals, but their premium aluminum build, smooth typing experience, and personalization options put them in the same league as keyboards costing several times as much. However, many of the Q-series' most appealing features, such as VIA programming, hot-swappability, and per-key south-facing RGB backlighting, are also available on V-series boards, so they shouldn't be the first option most people consider.
The Q-series feels much more substantial than the plastic keyboards I've tested, thanks to its full aluminum case and gasket-mounted design. Unlike tray-mounted keyboards like the Keychron V-series, this keyboard's switch plate and PCB are effectively suspended between gaskets, allowing for some flex as you type. Keychron also offers replacement switch plates in a variety of materials, making it more modifiable than the V1.
For good measure, the Q series also offers a mind-boggling variety of design options. As of this writing, the lowest-priced fully-assembled Q1 v2 costs $170.10. (The v2 model improves upon the original Q1 in terms of fit and finish; these enhancements have been rolled out to the other designs as well.) There are a variety of switch types available, including tactile Gateron G Pro Brown in our sample in addition to clicky and linear.
In addition to the Q1, you can choose from a 65 percent layout, a larger layout, such as tenkeyless, or a full size layout. Some of the more unusual layout choices include 40%, 60%, and Alice (not to mention a standalone number pad). All of them can be purchased with or without a volume control, and some of them are as bare as the bones, requiring the user to provide their own switches and keycaps. While Keychron does sell ISO keycap sets separately, the ISO versions (for UK and European layouts) are only available in a stripped-down form.
A fantastic wireless mechanical keyboard that is 75% mechanical
The Epomaker TH80 is our top pick if you're looking for a wireless mechanical keyboard. It has a great feel when typing, can pair with up to three devices at once via Bluetooth, and comes with a 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle in case you'd rather not deal with Bluetooth at all. There are Mac-specific keycaps included in the package, and switching between Mac and Windows layouts is as easy as pressing a single key.
The Keychron V1 and the Keychron Q1 are both 75% keyboards, but the Epomaker TH80 is also equipped with hot-swap switches and a volume control. Although it lacks the premium feel of Keychron's Q-series keyboards thanks to its plastic body and steel switch plate, this model's PBT keycaps in MDA profile, smooth stabilizers, and overall typing experience are on par with those of the slightly less expensive wired-only Keychron V1. Although the review unit we received was equipped with linear Gateron Pro Yellow switches, other linear and clicky options are readily available.
The Epomaker TH80 has cross-platform software that allows for the customization of the controller's button layout on Mac and Windows computers. Unlike the VIA app used by Keychron's boards, this one allows you to remap every key (except the Function key) to a different key or macro. (VIA, on the other hand, allows you to reposition the function key and even add new ones for new layers.)
You'll need to keep the user manual handy in case you forget what the TH80's secondary functions are, as they aren't printed on the keycaps. Furthermore, it has RGB per-key lighting (with south-facing LEDs), but using it with the backlighting on while wireless will quickly deplete the battery. With the keyboard's RGB lighting at its brightest setting, I was only able to use it for two and a half days over Bluetooth before I had to plug it in for a recharge.
While Epomaker only offers the TH80 in our preferred 75 percent layout, they do offer it in two other sizes: one larger with a numpad and a smaller 65 percent layout. The Royal Kludge RK84 costs $80 and is a slightly cheaper alternative without sacrificing too much in terms of typing feel, though its software is Windows-only and its layout is a little more crammed.
The Iqunix L80 Cosmic Traveler was also a great tool. It costs $189 more than the Xbox One S, can't be remapped easily, and has an extremely bright color scheme that some people may find offensive. The plate-mounted Cherry-style stabilizers make for a smooth typing experience, and the keyboard can go up to two months without charging via Bluetooth when the backlight is turned off.