The Best Keyboards – TechSpot

No PC build is complete without a decent set of peripherals, and your keyboard is arguably the most important of them all. Between this and your mouse, these are the devices you’ll be interacting with the most throughout on the day-to-day.

Picking the right keyboard is an important process, however it can also be a difficult and overwhelming one. There are hundreds of options on the market, and some are certainly better than others. To assist you in the selection process, we’ve leveraged our own experiences and user reviews from across the web to compile a list of the best keyboards around. TechSpot regulars may notice that a few of our picks have remained unchanged for the past year, but there’s a good reason for that: they’re still the best choices in their respective categories.

Whether you need a keyboard for gaming, productivity, or something else entirely, here are our top device recommendations.

Best Keyboard for Productivity and Work

Our favorite keyboard on this category for the fifth time in a row, Das Keyboard has built a loyal following among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts since 2005. The Das Keyboard 4 Professional has been around since 2014, and despite several new features and additions, the board stays true to its roots in terms of aesthetics and its 104-key layout. If you have been using yours for a few years and feel no need to change, then like us, you have a full understanding of why this recommendation is as solid as they come.

Over time, the Das Keyboard 4 has received a few notable improvements, including a dedicated media hub, an oversized volume knob, and buttons for pausing or playing music, skipping between tracks, and muting your system’s volume entirely. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the keyboard’s sturdy aluminum top panel, too, which not only adds some greatly-appreciated durability but staves off fingerprints with relative ease.

The Das is a bit limited when it comes to other luxury features, but it does house two built-in USB 3.0 ports toward the back right edge — a nice extra for those who use tend to use other USB-powered desk accessories.

Of course, additional features aren’t everything. The 4 Pro was first and foremost designed as a productivity device, and that shows in its first-rate typing experience (and its $145+ price tag). The Pro ships with either Cherry MX Blue or Brown switches, with the former offering louder, clickier feedback, and the latter a quieter, softer feel.

While we enjoy using our Das devices for both gaming and productivity, we recognize that hardcore gamers will expect more from their keyboards: macro keys or RGB lighting, at the very least. Unfortunately, you won’t find any of that in the 4 Pro, but we’ll get to our top gaming-oriented picks shortly.

At any rate, another similarly attractive productivity option is the Logitech G610 Orion series, particularly the Orion Brown (with the corresponding Cherry MX switches, also available in red). It has an understated look that will fit most settings even though the keyboard belongs to Logitech’s gaming series. With well-rounded features including customizable white backlighting, media controls, your choice of Cherry MX switches and a ~$73 price tag, the Orion is worthy of consideration.

Best Gaming Keyboard

Corsair is renown among other things for making great gaming keyboards and they’re taking the crown for the second year in a row but with a different recommendation. Last year, we advised our readers to opt for Corsair’s K70 RGB Rapidfire; an excellent, straightforward, and as-of-then affordable mechanical keyboard.

For 2019-2020 we’re recommending instead the K95 RGB Platinum. Compared to the K70, the K95 is a direct upgrade, with little in the way of downsides or trade-offs. The only reason it wasn’t our number one pick last year was its hefty price tag — at the time, it came in at a whopping $250. Now, it can be had for $160, which is significantly more reasonable.

For your money, you’re getting a durable aluminum construction, a plethora of RGB lighting customization options (everything from the top light bar to the Corsair logo can be recolored), a handy metal-plated volume scroll wheel, and six fully-programmable macro keys, labeled G1 through G7.

The K95 ships with your choice of Cherry MX Brown or “Speed” mechanical key switches. Both switch types are almost entirely silent, but the latter will trigger after 1.2mm of travel distance versus the former’s 2mm. While this keyboard isn’t strictly intended for productivity use-cases, it’s certainly no slouch when it comes to typing — that’s pretty much granted with decent engineering and Cherry MX switches.

As was the case with the K70, the K95 includes keys for media controls, a Windows button lock toggle (helpful for preventing accidental presses), and a key for rapidly adjusting backlight brightness. Naturally, many aspects of the keyboard can be changed using Corsair’s iCUE software. Finally, the K95 ships with a nicely-textured rubber wrist rest, which is always appreciated.

Gaming and Budget Friendly

If you’re looking to spend a bit less, Logitech’s G513 is another solid option, coming in at $125 with a standard 104-key layout. It offers a better wrist rest and more switch options (Tactile, Linear, or GX Blue) than the K95 at the cost of dedicated macro keys, a volume scroll wheel, and media buttons.

Even more budget-conscious PC gamers might consider Corsair’s $70 K68, which ships with Cherry MX Red, Blue, or Speed switches, as well as IP32 dust and spill resistance. It’s not a tenkeyless device, so you’ll still have access to a full set of function keys and a numpad. Like the G513, it lacks a dedicated scroll wheel and macro keys, but it does include media buttons and a wrist rest (though it doesn’t look nearly as comfortable as the K95 or G513’s). It’s also worth noting that the K68 connects via USB 2.0, which isn’t ideal in modern times.

Best Wireless Keyboard

If you want more freedom and less cable clutter on your desk, the Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminated Keyboard is a versatile option that strikes a nice balance between comfort, size, and features. The keyboard has a slim, streamlined design that’s thin on the front and tapered towards the rear, giving it a wedge shape that allows it stand upright whenever it’s not in use — handy for those with limited desk space. The portion outside the keys features a glossy black plastic finish, and there’s an ergonomic palm rest to help you type comfortably.

As the name suggests, this is a backlit keyboard, but Logitech has added a few features to make it stand out from the pack.

First, the K800 has built-in ambient light sensors, which allows the keyboard to dynamically adjust its brightness based on current lighting conditions (you can tweak things manually, of course). The second backlight-related feature of note is the K800’s built-in motion sensor, which aims to save battery by only switching on the lighting when your hands draw near.

The K800 has your typical keyboard layout with a numpad as well as a set of function and media keys. Typing on the keyboard’s sculpted keys is an overall comfortable experience, showing no sign of lag over its 2.4 GHz RF connection. The keystrokes strike the right balance between rigidity and softness, and compared with other keyboards, the K800 is significantly less clacky.

The keyboard will stay charged for about 10 days with the included AA NiMh batteries, which can recharge via micro-USB. The K800 can also be turned on and off with a switch located on the keyboard to conserve battery life and lengthen the time between charges.

If you’re primarily looking for comfortable typing that is closer to a good laptop keyboard in terms of feel and low noise, compared to what you get from a mechanical keyboard, the Logitech K800 checks all the important boxes. The fact that it’s wireless, backlit, and not overly expensive at $60 is just icing on the cake. 5,170+ mostly positive user reviews later on Amazon, the K800 has tons of adepts who buy the same keyboard years later after great long term experiences with it, and that’s why we’ve kept this recommendation intact as well.

Best HTPC Keyboard

We liked and recommended the Logitech K830 when it was a tad pricier at $80, but now that it’s just under $60, our decision is even easier. If you want a carefully designed wireless keyboard built specifically for the couch, the K830 is a no brainer.

This is a full-sized, tenkeyless keyboard with a built-in touchpad that’s ample enough for the form factor, along with left and right mouse buttons and three hotkeys for volume control. Although its low profile keys offer a decent desktop typing experience, its smaller form factor and tighter key spacing make it clear that the Logitech K830 is designed to be a home entertainment companion first and foremost.

Like the K800, one of the K830’s stand-out features is its ambient light sensor. As before, this feature automatically fades out the backlight when you aren’t actively using the keyboard. This not only saves battery, but in this case, it lets you focus entirely on your movie without bright keys shining in your face. The upper row of keys feature secondary functions for helpful tasks like closing windows, showing the desktop, searching, and playing/pausing media. These are all reprogrammable using Logitech’s companion software.

For those on a tighter budget, the $24 K400 Plus might be worth considering. There’s no backlight (not ideal for late-night TV binges), the key spacing is tighter, and it doesn’t look quite as sleek, but at half the price, those trade-offs may be reasonable for some.

Best Bluetooth / Multi-Device Keyboard

Wireless? Check. Bluetooth? Check. Device switching? Check. Integrated tablet stand? Check. Logitech’s K780 can manage up to three devices running distinct OS’s (iOS, Android, Windows, Chrome OS, you name it), and if you’re on a desktop or laptop that doesn’t have Bluetooth, Logitech includes its own Unifying receiver.

The K780 has round keys, which might feel unusual at first but doesn’t take much time to get used to. A side benefit of this design is more generous spacing between keys, which helps to keep mistypes down to a minimum.

Pairing to a new device is easy: you simply hold down the F1, F2, or F3 buttons until their respective lights flash rapidly. At this point, the keyboard is in Pairing Mode and will be visible to all nearby devices. Complete the connection on that device, and you’re ready to go.

The K780 is comfortable and responsive enough for most people’s typing needs with a good amount of travel, and Logitech’s PerfectStroke key system makes it quieter than most keyboards. Unfortunately, the device suffers somewhat due to the lack of a built-in stand — the K780 does have a slight front to back incline to make typing more comfortable, but extra adjustment options would have been excellent. The K780 lacks a few fancier features like backlighting, but since it can withstand up to two years of heavy use before needing a battery swap, we won’t complain too much there.

Logitech offers a few similar Bluetooth keyboards, but at $60, we consider the K780 to be the most well-rounded.

If that’s a little more than you were hoping to spend, the cheaper and more basic K380 ($30) is a solid option, too. Its smaller, lighter form factor makes it easier to carry around than the K780, but it lacks a built-in smartphone or tablet holder, which means you’ll need to get much more creative with your positioning.

Best Budget Keyboard

In this category, we previously recommended Microsoft’s Wireless Desktop 900 combo. However, if you want to spend as little as possible on your next keyboard, we now consider the wireless Logitech MK270R to be the better option. It comes in at just $21 on Amazon (MSRP is $30, so don’t expect any huge price spikes), and like the Microsoft kit, it ships with its own mouse.

It may not look quite as sleek as Microsoft’s alternative, but the MK270R offers a more natural typing experience for most users thanks to its slightly concave keys and familiarly-grouped function and numpad buttons. It includes a full set of programmable hotkeys toward the top, too, which isn’t all that common among low-priced keyboards. By default, these keys are mapped to things like media controls, a calculator, or a system power toggle, but you can tweak them as needed.

Al in all, the MK270R is a perfectly serviceable mouse-and-keyboard combo with just a little bit extra, which is the best you can hope for in this cost bracket. However, the budget keyboard market is broad, and there are plenty of other decent low-cost options out there for you to peruse.

There’s the GranVela MechanicalEagle Z-77, for example. It’s one of the cheapest mechanical keyboards around at $32, but also one of the most well-received. In our own testing, we were pleasantly surprised by the Z-77’s typing experience, and its semi-customizable, multi-colored backlight is a nice touch.

The Z-77 is also a wired device, so if the MK270R’s battery-swapping needs deter you, this could be a great alternative. However, it is tenkeyless, so you’ll need to grab a separate numpad if your work or play demands one.

It’s also worth tossing a mention to Microsoft’s Wired Desktop 600 mouse/keyboard combo. Like the Z-77, it’s a wired device, and we’ve seen it bundled with many a PC over the years. You shouldn’t expect a first-rate typing experience, but if you need a cheap, basic wired keyboard with a full numpad for under $30, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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