The best mechanical keyboards are fundamentally great for typists, but you'd not be out of pocket picking one up for gaming, too. Mechanical switches just make for a more responsive, slicker, and speedier typing experience, but perhaps it's also the sound of the clickety-clack of a mechanical keyboard that makes you feel productive.
There's no denying that as amazing as these keyboards are for typing, they are just as good for gaming, however. These keyboards may not be as flashy as some of the stuff on our best gaming keyboards list, but they make up for it with exceptional feel and tactility.
Mechanical keyboards feel great because of the switches at their core. There are tons of different types of mechanical switches. These key switches come in all types to fit all sorts of tastes. Loud and tactile? There's a switch for you. Quiet and spongy? Yep. Each has a different feel, so consult our guide and determine which sounds like it's for you.
Our recommendation if diving into the world of mechanical keyboards is to try them out. Next time you're at a big box retailer, head to their computer gaming section, mess around with some mechanical keyboards and see which ones feel best under your fingertips. In the meantime, below are a handful of our favorite mechanical keyboards we've tested over the years and felt super duper productive with. In fact, many are the keyboards the PC Gamer hardware team use in the office today.
If you find that price is a barrier, which can be a factor with premium mechanical keyboards, our best cheap gaming keyboards guide has some great options for those on a budget.
Best mechanical keyboards
The best mechanical keyboard just so happens to be the best gaming keyboard. Who'd have guessed? There's just something about the Corsair K100 RGB Optical that we can't get enough of.
The fundamental core of the K100 is very much like the K95, with the same premium quality throughout, the same overall design, the same macro keys down the left hand side, the same metal roll in the top right corner, the same media keys just below it, and the same double-shot keycaps. USB passthrough is easy to access and you get a comfortable wrist rest that snaps on magnetically just like before.
But look a bit closer and there are differences. The switches in this particular model are completely new, and are in fact Corsair's first optical offering. Then there's the big glowing iCue control wheel in the top left hand corner, which takes on a number of guises depending on what mode it's in: You can use it to skip music tracks, adjust light levels, use it as a zoom or scroll wheel, plus a few more.
As for the switches themselves, they are Corsair's new OPX optical-Mechanical switches. It's worth noting from the outset that the OPX switches are still digital units, not the variable analogue type that can be found in the likes of the Wooting keyboards, which can detect how far down the key is pressed and respond by turning harder (for example).
These switches feel great for typing, with a 1mm actuation point and 45g actuation force, bottoming out at 3.2mm. If those figures don't mean much to you, they're very sensitive. I found myself watching my fingers in games as I turned left and right without realising I'd actually started pushing down on the keys. This is a sensitive keyboard, and needs to be treated as such. After a week of use though, it feels incredible to work and play with.
At the backend you have Corsair Axon Hyper-Processing Technology doing the grunt work of actually keeping the keyboard up and running. This new engine supports a native polling rate of 4,000Hz, although the benefit of this isn't obvious, and by default it is set at the more standard 1,000Hz anyway.
The K100 also has more of that lovely RGB lighting that Corsair knows we love so much. In total there are now 44 zones for you to throw light out of (it spills out of the sides as well as out of the back too). And having rippling, wavy patterns play off your keyboard can be every bit as distracting as you can imagine.
When you want to go the extra mile and upgrade to the absolute best of the best, it's hard to find a more premium option than the Corsair K100 RGB. Be warned, though; this is a big keyboard: its enormous footprint still requires some desk clearing before it can be nested comfortably. But feature-wise, the K100 RGB's got it all. Dedicated media controls and a USB pass-through, a metal volume wheel, RGB lighting. The K100 RGB nails the basics and includes the fancy extras, which is why it's top of the list.
Read our full Corsair K100 RGB Optical review.
The Ducky One 2 RGB is a much more bare bones mechanical keyboard to the Corsair; it's more office life than esports arena. But don't let that fool you into thinking the Ducky doesn't have some style and panache. It looks great and clean-cut, but most importantly it is built like a tank.
It's Ducky's famous quality and sturdiness that convinces me that the One 2 is worth your money. Despite using Cherry MX switches just like most candidates here, the Ducky One 2 RGB has the smoothest Cherry stabilizers I've ever felt right out of the box. This little detail significantly impacts your typing comfort when you have to hit the spacebar between every word.
Stabilizers aside, the keycaps are as good as they get for a stock board. The Ducky One 2 RGB comes with PBT plastic keycaps and double-shot legends, the most durable types in their respective categories. This matters because it means the keycaps will last for years, and the print on them won't fade away, and with the best mechanical keyboards designed to endure, that's important. Ducky also includes an extra set of colorful keycaps for the escape, space, and control keys. Try swapping to them on a rainy day.
If you want even more wild styles for the Ducky, there are actually heaps of options available. All sorts of special editions and unique colourways. However, most of the time you will have to forego on the RGB backlighting for improved looks. If you're a fan of bright as hell RGBs, we recently spent some time with the limited-run HyperX x Ducky One 2 Mini collaboration, which we also loved.
There's just one minor caveat behind it all. Although it has a metal backplate, the Ducky One 2 RGB is sadly encased in a plastic chassis. A fully metal case—or just a metal front plate—would have driven up its cost. And at $125, this keyboard hits a real sweet spot, with great features and performance for the price. The indicator lights are also a little ugly, but that's a pretty minor complaint.
The Ducky One 2 TKL may be a little slim for some users due to its lack of numpad, but there is a full-size option available. There's even a diddy Mini RGB 60% board if that's your style. All offer a detachable USB Type-C cable, which once again adds to the longevity of these boards, and have three-level adjustable feet for a good level of control and customisable ergonomics.
Productivity doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Neither do you have to put up with a budget membrane that came free with your work PC just to look professional in the office. Those who want a bit more style and a few more features from an otherwise down-to-earth keyboard can opt for the Das Keyboard 4 Professional.
Das Keyboard devices have been floating around the best mechanical keyboard lists for ages, and for good reason. Stylistically speaking, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional strikes a delicate balance between professional and flashy. Its weighty metal front plate helps function and form, planting the keyboard firmly on your desk while keeping it looking sharp. Where other keyboards use small volume rollers, the Das includes a large tactile volume knob decorated with eye-catching red chrome accents.
But aesthetics aren't what put Das on the list. Performance did. Designed for typists first, the Das only comes with the clicky Cherry MX Blue or the tactile Cherry MX Brown, two of the most popular switches for typing. Cherry MX Brown is especially favored as a great all-around switch for typing and gaming, thanks to its silent actuation and tactile bump.
Though we'd recommend the Cherry MX Blue switch if you don't need to keep your keyboard clacking down to a minimum. The Blue switch is loud as heck, but it's so responsive and feels great under finger for typing quickly and accurately. We love it, and Brown switches are a bit hot or cold; some people love them, others find it a bit grainy. Blue it is, then.
You get all these goodies for $169, but don't expect premium keycaps, backlights, or stable elevator feet. The elevator feet are especially irritating since they don't grip as well as they should—otherwise, the Das Keyboard 4 blends essential features and excellent typing performance into a stylish package. It's by no means as fully featured as what we'd expect from a gaming keyboard, but we're here for mechanical operation and construction. The Das Keyboard 4 has that in swathes.
The Majestouch 2 is to typing as water is to thirst: they both represent the most straightforward solutions to an underlying problem and are equally bland. It's boring, but it is still one of the best mechanical keyboards for pure typing. That's because it's a purely mechanical upgrade to your bog standard office board, so if you're used to one of those and want something mechanically better but not much different, the Majestouch 2 is it.
Even against the next most boring keyboard on this list, the Filco Majestouch 2 seems lifeless in comparison. It doesn't have any fancy features to boast of, nor does it have a unique trick. Customization is limited to picking your preferred Cherry MX switch from a roster of Black, Brown, Blue, and Red. What you see here is what you get.
This simplicity, however, also explains its popularity. As it turns out, some people love no-frills keyboards. Filco stuffed 104 Cherry MX switches into a durable chassis and sold it at $139, establishing the Majestouch 2 as a great starter board or dependable backup. You can find some pretty great gaming keyboards for that price nowadays, however. Or simply more modern offerings.
The Majestouch 2's monotony may be a bit too mundane for even the strictest of typists, and its lack of backlighting can work against it in a dimly lit room. Some users have also complained that the key legends fade too quickly. Still, we're happy recommending the Majestouch 2 for those users that care little for excess or excitement, and instead want a workhorse that will dependably keep typing for years to come. It's simple, straightforward, and doesn't ask too much of your wallet.
Revered by ardent keyboard fans as the ultimate typing switch, the Topre switch (pronounced toe-prey, as it stands for Tokyo Press) rarely appears in gaming keyboards due to its high cost. The Topre is a mechanical switch for typists first and foremost. It takes some getting used to, but once you get up to speed it is rapid and responsive to type on in a way quite unlike any other mechanical switch available.
Fujitsu is one of the few manufacturers with a catalog of Topre keyboards. We picked the Realforce R2 RGB to represent one of the best typing switches around, but it's also a good form factor for a spot of gaming in either its full-size or tenkeyless form. Though we'd usually recommend other keyboards for gaming alone.
The Topre switch for typing is firm and allows for a rapid typing speed thanks to its quick key return. The switch is sometimes likened to a fancy membrane switch, which is understandable but undersells what the Topre is able to offer. It's squishy like a membrane, but it's not imprecise or sluggish as a result. If this is like a membrane switch, think of it more like the ultimate version of a membrane with few, if any, of the downsides.
To please both gamer and typist, the Realforce R2 RGB can toggle between 1.5mm, 2mm, and 3mm actuation distances—the first for fast-paced gaming and the latter two for typing and general use. Fujitsu even reserved a key to cycle through them on the fly. Moreover, you can set the actuation distance for every key individually through the optional driver software. That's not something you can do with most mechanical keyboards, at least not without optical switches like those on the Wooting Two HE.
Aside from bright RGB backlights, the Realforce R2 has excellent ABS keycaps with double-shot legends. The benefit of the R2 RGB model is that the stems on the Topre switches, which usually require bespoke keycaps, also offer compatibility with the far more popular and widely available Cross Stem design used with Cherry MX and compatible boards. That opens up this Topre board to the wonderful world of custom keycaps.
Unfortunately, Topre's prestige and novelty have a matching price tag. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Topre keyboard for under $200. The Fujitsu Realforce R2 RGB costs $250 or more, and that still won't net you a metal case or braided cables. For die-hard fans, that's a fair price to pay for their favorite switch. Everyone else should try it in person before swiping their credit card. You either love it or think it's just fine. At least that's our experience in the office getting people to try out a Topre for the first time.
Primarily in the market for a keyboard to fulfil your WASD needs? Look no further than our best gaming keyboard guide.
The Mountain Everest 60 is just as ickle as the other 60% competition, just as cute, and has all the enthusiast keyboard extras you could want, but crucially has the total utility to be your daily driver of a keeb.
the Everest 60 isn't modular like its bigger sibling, the Mountain Everest Max, but there is a dedicated numpad that can be purchased separately, and it's hot-swappable. Crucially, for me, it will also attach to either side of the board.
If you're still rocking a numpad on the right-hand side of your gaming keyboard then you're just plain doing it wrong. The key benefit of a smaller keeb is that your mouse and WSAD hands are closer together, and switching the numpad to the left means you still get to use the extra buttons and the extra desktop real estate for your gaming rodent. And, hell, it's also way more convenient when thrashing your way through a good spreadsheet, too. Those benchmark numbers don't enter themselves, you know.
That extra mouse space is the main reason 60% boards can have a place in gaming, but, at least for me, the traditional lack of cursor keys makes them incredibly frustrating to use full-time. Mountain obviously thinks so, too, and has squeezed them into the right-hand side of the board, squishing down the right shift key and adding in a del key as well.
The original Everest Max is reassuringly solid, and feels good to type on. But the Everest 60 feels sooo much better. It's easily the best typing experience I've ever had, and is a real joy to use. The base of the keyboard has a layer of silicone inside it, to add weight and dampen the sound, but then there are also two layers of foam, on either side of the PCB, to again improve the aural experience. Mountain has used genuine Cherry stabilisers on the board, too, but has made sure they're fitted and lubed properly for the Everest 60 to ensure there's no rattle on even the broad spacebar.
So the Mountain Everest 60 meets our needs as gamers and as gamers with actual jobs, which is what we want out of a mini 60% mechanical keyboard.
The Everest 60 package isn't completely perfect, however. The main thing that lets it down is—as always seems to be the case with peripherals—the software. It's mostly fine. Mostly. But there are quirks, and the odd little bug I've experienced both in early review testing of the Everest 60, and in my time using the Base Camp software day-to-day with the Everest Max. Thankfully, once you've set your preferred RGB lighting layout, and maybe picked a few macros, you can pretty much just ignore it and get on with enjoying the experience of an outstanding gaming keyboard.
All this good keeb stuff does come at a price. However, the modular nature also means you don't have to go for everything right away. Pick the base board, then grab a numpad some other time if you find it makes sense for you. And then later on maybe pick a mineral PBT keycap set, or some new switches if you feel the need for a change. Because if there's one thing I'm confident of, this board will be with you for many, many years to come, it's certainly earned a place on my desktop.
Read our full Mountain Everest 60 review.
Best mechanical keyboards FAQ
Which keyboard switch type should I choose?
It’s entirely up to personal preference with keyboard switches. If you love a noisy keyboard, go for the clicky kind. If you like a spongier feel, go for linear switches. Or, if you prefer some feedback with your keypresses, go for a tactile switch.
It’s possible to order keyboard switch tester packs from some suppliers, so if you want to try some out before you fork out, it might be a good idea to grab one of those.
Check out our mechanical keyboard switch guide for a more in-depth look.
Jargon buster – keyboard terminology
The height to which a key needs to be pressed before it actuates and sends an input signal to a device.
A switch that delivers an audible click every time it's pressed, generally right around the point of actuation.
A technique to ensure that only one input registers every time a key is pressed.
The shell that surrounds the internal components of a switch.
The result of the actuation point and reset point in a switch being misaligned. This generally means you need to release the key further than usual would before it can be actuated again.
A switch that moves directly up and down, generally delivering smooth keystrokes without noise or tactile feedback.
A keyboard built around individual switches for each key rather than a membrane sheath mounted on a PCB.
A keyboard on which all the keycaps are mounted on a membrane sheath; when a key is pressed, a rubber dome depresses and pushes against the sheath and PCB beneath, actuating the key.
The component of a switch on which the keycaps are mounted on a mechanical keyboard.
The physical component of a mechanical keyboard beneath the keycaps on a mechanical keyboard. The switch determines how a key is actuated, whether or not it provides audible or tactile feedback with each press, and more. You can read a detailed explanation in our complete guide to mechanical keyboard switches.
A switch that provides a 'bump' of feedback every time it's pushed.
A keyboard that lacks the right-hand number pad.