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Best Mechanical Keyboards for Gaming and Typing in 2021

best mechanical keyboard

If you’ve ever used a mechanical keyboard before, then you know that there is nothing else like it. The satisfying and consistent feel along with the reliable performance of the switches makes them ideal for gaming, and typing. If you haven’t used one before, then you are missing out on what typing and gaming could and should feel like.

Whether you’re shopping for your first mech keyboard, or are looking to add to a collection (buy all 6 keyboards, even if you already have them!), below you’ll find our reviews of the six best mechanical keyboard along with a short guide about mechanical keyboard switches.

Image
Product
Specs
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

Durable aluminum frame

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

  • Switch Options: Cherry MX Brown or Speed
  • Macros: 6 keys
  • Backlighting: RGB with Corsair CUE
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: No
Razer BlackWidow Elite

unique Razer switches

Razer BlackWidow Elite

  • Switch Options: Razer Green, Orange, or Yellow
  • Macros: No
  • Backlighting: RGB with Razer Synapse
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: Yes
  • Onboard Storage: Yes
HyperX Alloy Elite RGB

Solid steel frame

HyperX Alloy Elite RGB

  • Switch Options: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red
  • Macros: No
  • Backlighting: RGB with Ngenuity
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: Yes
Kinesis Freestyle Edge

Ergonomic mechanical

Kinesis Freestyle Edge

  • Switch Options: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Red, or Silver
  • Macros: 8 keys
  • Backlighting: Blue only
  • Media Keys: None
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: Yes
Logitech G613

Best Wireless mechanical

Logitech G613

  • Switch Options: Logitech Romer G
  • Macros: 6 keys
  • Backlighting: None
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: No
Redragon K552

Most affordable

Redragon K552

  • Switch Options: Custom (Cherry MX Blue “equivalent”)
  • Macros: No
  • Backlighting: Red only
  • Media Keys: Function row
  • Wrist-rest: No
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: No

1. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

Aluminum keyboard purpose built for gaming

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum
  • Switch Options: Cherry MX Brown or Speed
  • Macros: 6 keys
  • Backlighting: RGB with Corsair CUE
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: No
  • Highly customizable RGB
  • Durable aluminum frame
  • 6 dedicated macro keys
  • Hard wrist rest

The first keyboard we’re looking at is the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum. This keyboard is top of the line with tons of gamer oriented features that make it the best mechanical keyboard for gaming. For starters, the entire frame is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum lending the keyboard incredible durability without weighing a ton.

The K95 also comes with RGB backlighting that can be controlled via Corsair’s CUE software. While you can not control the lights for individual keys, there are 19 individual zones allowing you to set up cool patterns and color schemes across the keyboard. You can also configure the six programmable macro keys along the left side of the keyboard in the CUE software.

The K95 has dedicated media controls that include a volume wheel. It also sports a full size layout, so if you like to have a number pad, you’re in luck. The K95 can be purchased with either Cherry MX Browns, or Cherry MX Speed (which are also referred to as MX Silver).

2. Razer BlackWidow Elite

Comfortable gaming keyboard with unique Razer switches

  • Switch Options: Razer Green, Orange, or Yellow
  • Macros: No
  • Backlighting: RGB with Razer Synapse
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: Yes
  • Onboard Storage: Yes
  • Comfortable padded wrist rest
  • Individually addressable RGB
  • Unique high quality switches
  • No macro keys

While Cherry MX switches are preferred by many and are held up in the mechanical keyboard world as the gold standard, Razer has given Cherry a run for their money with their own proprietary switches. The Razer BlackWidow keyboard can be fitted with either Razer Green, Orange, or Yellow switches, which we’ll discuss in more detail in the guide at the end of this article.

What is important to know is that they have won many awards for these switches. Cherry MX mechanical switches are rated for an impressive 50 million key presses, while Razer rates their at a jaw dropping 80 million. Aside from the high-quality switches, the BlackWidow is also very comfortable to use. It comes with a padded detachable wrist rest that makes for a very ergonomic design.

The keyboard also has RGB lighting that can be controlled on a key by key level in the Razer Synapse software. The BlackWidow sports a full size layout, along with some very nice dedicated media controls. A dial on the top right of the keyboard can control volume, or be configured to perform a number of other tasks using the Synapse software.

While this keyboard does have some programmable keys with configurations that can be saved directly to the keyboard’s onboard memory, it does not have any dedicated macro keys. If you want to set up macro keys or program a certain key to launch a program, you’ll have to use one of the standard keys to do so.

3. HyperX Alloy Elite RGB

Solid steel keyboard for incredible durability

  • Switch Options: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red
  • Macros: No
  • Backlighting: RGB with Ngenuity
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: Yes
  • Solid steel frame
  • Comes with custom keycaps
  • No dedicated macro keys

When playing games sometimes it can’t be helped. Things get heated and you end up slamming the WASD keys rather than gracefully dancing across them. The HyperX Alloy boasts a solid steel frame that is incredibly durable, so if you’re heavy handed, then this could very well be what you’re looking for.

Its solid steel frame doesn’t flex when under pressure and feels stable thanks to its sturdy heft. And in your choice of Cherry MX Blues, Reds, or Browns, and you have a keyboard that truly feels premium.

The Alloy Elite has customizable RGB lighting that can be controlled in HyperX’s Ngenuity software. There are dedicated media controls at the top of the keyboard along with an RGB light bar that makes the whole keyboard glow.

HyperX also includes a handful of custom keycaps for the 1 through 4 keys and WASD. These textured keys aid in gaming by letting you easily find your bearings without looking away, acting almost like the home row.

4. Kinesis Freestyle Edge

Ergonomic mechanical keyboard

Kinesis Freestyle Edge
  • Switch Options: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Red, or Silver
  • Macros: 8 keys
  • Backlighting: Blue only
  • Media Keys: None
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: Yes
  • Ergonomic split design
  • 8 dedicated macro keys
  • Learning curve to use
  • Backlighting is blue only

If you’ve ever had a repetitive strain injury, or have a persistent one (a repetitive repetitive strain injury?), then you know how important ergonomics can be. One of the things that causes repetitive strain injuries is wrist flexion, which is caused by your hands being close together and bending outward at the wrist.

Sadly, this is how most people will have to use a keyboard in order to reach all the keys. Happily, the Kinesis Freestyle Edge is designed to eliminate this problem.

Rather than being one piece, the keyboard is divided into two sections that are connected to each other with a braided cable. This means you can space your hands as far apart as necessary in order to have a comfortable wrist position. This ergonomic design makes this the best mechanical keyboard for typing.

This keyboard is also well suited to gaming. There are eight dedicated macro keys that can be easily programmed to do just about anything. Also, a split keyboard like this is excellent for FPS games as you can use the WASD section with your left hand, set the right portion of the keyboard aside, and have tons of room for your mouse.

5. Logitech G613

Best Wireless mechanical keyboard

Logitech G613
  • Switch Options: Logitech Romer G
  • Macros: 6 keys
  • Backlighting: None
  • Media Keys: Dedicated
  • Wrist-rest: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: No
  • Low latency wireless connection
  • Good battery life
  • No backlighting
  • Uses Logitech proprietary switches

If you’re looking for the best wireless mechanical keyboard, then you’ll know that they’re surprisingly hard to find. Luckily, Logitech is always reliable in these situations and will almost always have a niche product if they think there is any market for it.

For starters, the keyboard comes with a USB dongle that uses Logitech’s lightspeed connection technology that offers a sub 1ms latency time. This means you (and your gaming) won’t suffer from the slight delay that most wireless peripherals have. Aside from the dongle, the keyboard also has Bluetooth compatibility and a dedicated button for switching between multiple connected Bluetooth devices and the Lightspeed dongle.

In addition to the excellent wireless and gaming features, the G613 has an insane 18 month battery life from two AA batteries. It would have been nice to see rechargeable batteries, but having to change batteries every year and a half isn’t so bad. If you’re looking for a backlit mechanical keyboard, though, then you’ll have to forego the wireless functionality.

Finally, the G613 uses Logitech Romer G switches, which most people find inferior to Razer and Cherry switches.

6. Redragon K552

Most affordable mechanical keyboard

  • Switch Options: Custom (Cherry MX Blue “equivalent”)
  • Macros: No
  • Backlighting: Red only
  • Media Keys: Function row
  • Wrist-rest: No
  • Passthrough: No
  • Onboard Storage: No
  • Best budget mechanical keyboard
  • Very compact
  • Uses custom switches
  • No macros keys or num pad

Mechanical keyboards can be very costly, but luckily there are budget options out there that are surprisingly good if you know where to look. Redragon is a budget friendly brand that consistently offers good quality for the price.

The Redragon K552 uses custom switches, since Cherry MX switches cost about a dollar a piece on their own (and since this keyboard has about 87 keys on it…). Redragon claims that the keys are “Cherry MX Blue equivalent”. While this is debatable, they actually do a very good job emulating the feel of the blue switches.

The frame of the keyboard has a plastic and metal construction that has little flex and feels much nicer than the modest price would suggest. The keycaps are double-shot injection and let the backlight shine through nicely. This is also the most and best compact mechanical keyboard on our list with its tenkeyless format that lacks any macro keys and a number pad.

There are media controls, but not through a dedicated button. The media keys are on another layer that is reached through a function key.

How to Pick the Best Mechanical Keyboard for Your Needs

The most important thing to consider when shopping for a keyboard is whether you want mechanical switches or a membrane, but since you’ve already decided you want a mechanical keyboard we should focus on the switches. If you want to see a more detailed list of other things to consider, then check out our best keyboard buyer’s guide.

There are tons of switches on the market, but the most used type of switches are manufactured by the German company Cherry. Cherry produces the MX line of switches that are used in most high end mech keyboards and are held as the gold standard of quality. While other companies do make their own switches, they are usually designed to closely emulate one of the color coded Cherry switches.

Terms to Know

Before we talk about the individual switches, there are a few terms you might want to be familiar with. None of it is too complex, but it will help you start thinking about what you want from a keyboard.

Actuation Point: The actuation point of a mechanical switch is how far it must be pressed in order for a keystroke to actually be registered. Short actuation points mean the key has a shorter distance to travel, which can mean slightly faster reaction times in games, however, it can also mean more misclicks while typing.

Actuation Force: This is the exact amount of force required on the key in order to make it register a keypress.

Tactile bump: A tactile bump is a small point of greater resistance immediately before the actuation point. It offers physical feedback to let you know the keystroke has been registered.

Bottoming Out: Keyboard switched will have some travel distance left from the actuation point to the point at which they contact the deck of the keyboard itself. Pressing the key all the way past the actuation point to the point at which it hits the keyboard is referred to as bottoming out and can result in slower typing speeds.

There are also 3 main types of switches as defined by the above qualities we talked about:

  • Linear: Linear switches offer the same feel from the top all the way to the bottom of the keystroke. These are usually ideal for gaming, where you’ll have the WASD keys bottomed out most of the time anyways.
  • Tactile: Tactile switches have a tactile bump to offer physical feedback as to when a keystroke has been registered, but lack any auditory feedback.

Clicky: Clicky switches offer both the physical feedback of a tactile bump as well as an auditory click that some people find very satisfying.

Cherry MX Blue

The first switch we’ll look at are the Cherry MX Blue switches. These switches feature a tactile bump when the key hits the actuation point, along with a sharp and distinct clicking noise. This clicking noise is what many people will know mechanical keyboards for and a lot of people find it very satisfying. The physical, tactile feedback along with the auditory feedback of the click make it very clear when you have hit the actuation point.

This feedback, along with the relatively light 50 gram actuation force of the switch, makes Cherry MX Blues highly desirable for people who do a lot of typing. The ability to easily tell you’ve activated the switch from the feel and click without having to bottom out makes them much less tiring to type on.

In short, if you want a clicky keyboard, then these are the switches you’ll want. If you want a quiet mechanical keyboard, though, then the three below switches are all quieter than these.

Similar Switches: Razer Green

Cherry MX Brown

While some people find the clicking sound of mechanical switches pleasing and helpful, others find it grating. This is where the Cherry MX Brown switches come in. These switches still have a tactile actuation point that lets you feel when the switch has been activated, but does not make an audible click while doing so. These switches are also very light, requiring a mere 45 grams of force to be activated.

Similar Switches: Razer Orange

Cherry MX Red

Cherry MX Red switches have the same light 45 gram actuation force that the Brown switches have, but do not have a tactile bump or an audible click. The switches have the same feeling all the way down and have a smooth keystroke from top to bottom. This lack of a tactile bump at actuation makes them less than ideal for typing and productivity, but they are preferred by many gamers for their smooth feel.

Similar Switches: none

Cherry MX Speed or Silver

Finally, we have the Cherry MX Speed switch, which is also sometimes called the MX Silver. These switches are relative newcomers to the Cherry switch lineup and are almost identical to the Cherry MX Red switch with one key difference: they have a substantially shorter travel distance.

Cherry MX Speed switches are 45 gram linear switches, meaning they have no tactile feel or sound, just like the Red switches. However, red switches have a 2mm actuation distance, while the Silver switches have a 1.2mm actuation distance. This makes them, as the name implies, much quicker to use and ideal for gaming.

Similar Switches: Razer Yellow, Logitech’s Romer G

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