The 5 best mechanical keyboards for 2024

A keyboard is one of the few pieces of technology you may use for hours every day. Why not make it something that brings you joy? Sure, the people who gush over these things can be intense, but the upgraded comfort, durability and customizability that comes with a good mechanical keyboard is a real thing. If you’re looking to make the switch (ahem), we tested a couple dozen mechanical keyboards over the past few months and rounded up our favorites below. We’ve also broken down what to look for when shopping for one.

What to look for in a mechanical keyboard


The first thing to decide with any keyboard is what size and layout you want. Full-size layouts have all the keys you’d ever need — a number pad, a full function row, arrow keys, etc. — but they also have the largest physical footprint. A 96-percent or “1800” keyboard is similar, but crunches the navigation cluster (Page Up, Home, etc.), numpad and arrow keys closer together to save space. Tenkeyless (TKL) or 80-percent keyboards omit the number pad entirely; they’re often considered the best blend of size and functionality. 75-percent keyboards keep almost all of the buttons of a TKL model but further reduce any “dead” space between them — think of them like the TKL versions of a 96 percent layout.

It gets more and more minimal from there. The smallest popular layout is the 60 percent keyboard, which removes the arrow keys, function row, numpad and navigation cluster. This kind of design can be particularly useful for gaming, as it opens up a ton of desk space to swing your mouse around. It typically relies on shortcuts to make up for its missing keys, but it comes with a learning curve as a result.

Even more compact options exist beyond that. These can be adorable, but they usually involve removing the number row, which is a step too far for most people. There are all sorts of ergonomic keyboards that utilize different shapes to improve your wrist and arm comfort as well, but we have a separate guide for those.

Switch type

No component has more of an impact on how a mechanical keyboard feels and sounds than the switches beneath its keycaps. The market for these tiny mechanisms is vast and complex but, to keep it simple, you can separate them into three types: linear, tactile and clicky. Which you prefer ultimately comes down to personal preference, so we encourage you to go to a store, try out a friend’s keyboard and test switches out to determine what you like best.

Linear switches feel smooth and consistent all the way down. Many PC gamers prefer them because they’re often light and fast to actuate, so they can register inputs quickly. They tend to be quieter than other switch types as well, but some may find them too sensitive.

Tactile switches create a noticeable “bump” partway through a press. They generally aren’t as fast as their linear counterparts, but many (including yours truly) enjoy the tangible sense of feedback they provide with each keystroke. This bit of resistance can make it a little easier to avoid typos, too. Many tactile switches are neither outright quiet nor disruptively loud.

Clicky switches are, well, clicky. They work similarly to tactile switches but use an extra mechanism that makes a sharp click sound when pressed. The exact design of that mechanism can differ depending on the switch. Some people love the audible feedback of clicky switches. The people who work or live with them? Probably not so much.

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Remember: These are general buckets. Within them lies an enormous variety of switches with differing actuation points, weights, springs, bump sensations and more. One linear, tactile, or clicky switch can feel and sound noticeably different than another.

There are more dramatic variations as well. Low-profile switches, for one, can be linear, tactile or clicky but aren’t as tall and have a shorter travel distance. They allow for flatter and more compact designs, with keys that are fast to press but also easy to bottom out.

Optical and Hall effect switches rely on different mechanisms entirely. Instead of a physical contact point, the former uses a beam of infrared light to register keystrokes, while the latter uses tiny magnets. Both commonly have a linear feel. They can also enable a few gaming-friendly features: You could set custom actuation points and make any key more or less sensitive, map multiple actions to one keystroke or even use an “analog mode” that emulates gamepad controls. These are niche tricks, but they can make a difference for competitive-minded players. Boards that use these “analog” switches are frequently more expensive and less customizable than traditional mechanical options, though.

Switch modifications

It doesn’t stop at switch types: Manufacturers (and you!) can make several other tweaks to shape how a mechanical keyboard feels and sounds. Some have layers of different foam inside their case to tamp down noise, for instance. Some have switches that are lubricated out of the box to provide a smoother feel and more muted sound. A few others put plastic, rubber or foam “films” between the upper and bottom housing of a switch to keep it from wobbling and further tune its acoustics. Or they stick a layer of tape on their printed circuit board (PCB) to absorb higher-pitched sounds. We think most people will find that some well-applied foam and lubing makes things feel nicer, though this is another matter that comes down to taste.


Keycaps play a huge role in defining a keyboard’s character. First off, they should look nice! There’s a huge market for third-party keycaps in all different styles, from the playful to the professional to the proudly impractical. The majority of mechanical keyboards make it easy to swap in new keycaps, so it’s usually not a huge deal if you ever get bored with your device’s stock set.

Most keycaps are made from one of two types of plastic: ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PBT (polybutylene terephthalate). Keycaps using the latter tend to be higher-quality. They’re often thicker, more durable, deeper-sounding and less prone to developing a shiny or greasy finish over time. Still, premium ABS keycaps do exist, so this is another case where what’s “best” partly comes down to personal taste. You may prefer an ABS keycap that feels smooth over a PBT model with a rougher texture.

Keycap sets are available in several different shapes and sizes. Some are totally uniform; many others are distinctly sculpted to meet your fingers in (ostensibly) more natural positions. Which is most comfortable is something you’ll have to figure out for yourself. You can check out to see what the most popular keycap profiles look like.

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Keyboard makers have several different methods of printing the letters and symbols (aka “legends”) that go on a set of keycaps. The two most common are known as double-shot and dye-sublimation. Double-shot caps are typically more durable but cost more to produce — they’re made by molding one color of plastic for the keycap around a second color of plastic for the legend. “Dye-sub” caps, in contrast, use heat to stain in the legends but are decently durable in their own right.

For keyboards with RGB backlighting, it’s best if the legends to be “shine-through,” so those color effects are visible through the keycaps. We don’t think it’s the end of the world if they aren’t — as you’ll see below — but the RGB won’t be as fun otherwise.


Stabilizers (or “stabs”) are little components that go under large keys like the space bar or backspace to keep them from rattling or wobbling when pressed. These come in different types as well. Many a decent keyboard has been hindered by subpar stabilizers, so it’s worth checking your bigger keys first to ensure they aren’t distractingly shaky or uneven.

Mounting styles and case quality

A keyboard’s mounting style determines how its PCB and plate — i.e., a common (but not universal) layer that holds the keycaps in place above the PCB — are secured within its case. This, too, comes in varying styles and can have a significant effect on how the board feels and sounds. It’s also something that’s best explained visually, so we’ll point you to this excellent infographic from Thomas Baart instead of running through every possible configuration here. It’s hard to say one mounting style is always better than the others, but many enthusiast boards these days use some sort of gasket mount, which puts a gasket material on either side to separate the plate from the main case. Done well, this can make typing feel softer and bouncier than it would on a more traditional, tray-mounted design.

Regardless of what’s going on under the hood, a good keyboard shouldn’t feel cheap on the outside, either. Its case shouldn’t flex under pressure or feel hollow as you’re clacking away. Higher-end models often have cases made from metal or sturdier plastic — the former may feel more premium but it’s typically heavier and pricier.

Customizations and software

We focused on pre-built models here, but that doesn’t mean customization isn’t important. Experimenting with different switches and keycaps is half the fun of this hobby, after all. For this guide, we prioritized keyboards that are “hot-swappable,” which means they let you easily remove and replace switches without having to desolder anything. Permanently attached switches may be more stable, but fixing a broken hot-swappable switch should be relatively painless — and more affordable to boot.

We also valued keyboards that are easy to program and customize through software, whether it’s a manufacturer-specific app or popular open-source programs like VIA. Not everyone will go through the trouble to set macros, customize backlighting or remap keys, but it’s better to have the option if your mindset changes down the road.

It’s a plus if a keyboard works across multiple operating systems, particularly Windows and macOS, just in case you ever switch allegiances. If the device comes with OS-specific keycaps you can pop on to make the experience less clunky, that’s even better.


Wireless connectivity isn’t essential with a device that mostly sits on your desk, but it’s always nice to cut down on cables. Though wireless keyboards still cost more than wired ones, today you can get something great for less than $100. If you do go wireless, look for a model that can connect over Bluetooth and a USB wireless dongle. The former is convenient for travel, while the latter can provide a more stable connection. For wired keyboards, you want a detachable USB cable so you don’t have to replace your entire device if the cord ever frays or breaks.

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget


Good backlighting will make any keyboard easier to use in the dark. We gave bonus points to keyboards with fully programmable RGB lights, as they can be particularly fun to mess with, but they’re not essential. As noted above, the strength of your backlight will be neutered if your keycaps’ legends aren’t transparent.

Rotary knob

Some mechanical keyboards come configured with a rotary knob, which typically controls volume by default but can be customized to control other inputs as well. This is more of a fun bonus than anything else, but we found it hard to give up on devices without one.

How we tested

To be clear, there isn’t one “best” mechanical keyboard for everyone. Yes, some are likely to be better for most people than others; that’s what we set out to find with this guide. But ultimately, this is one of those categories that’ll largely depend on your personal tastes.

It’s also worth reiterating that we only considered pre-built models for this guide. We still valued keyboards that are configurable with different switches, keycaps and other design tweaks upfront and easy to customize after purchase. However, we recognize that many people just want to pay for a nice thing and enjoy it, without having to do homework on how they can make it better. If you want to get hardcore later on and start building your own custom keyboards, we have a whole separate guide for that.

With that said, we started our research by reading a ton of reviews from both professionals and everyday users, trawling enthusiast forums along the way. This helped us whittle down the devices that had a shot of being a top pick and were readily available from reputable brands. From there, we used each keyboard as our daily driver for a few days, typing up thousands of words, playing PC games and paying attention to the key aspects noted above. We fully charged each wireless model and monitored its battery drain to ensure it lined up with their advertised rating. We also ensured any companion software worked as intended.

It’s worth keeping in mind that new mechanical keyboards are coming out all the time. It’s very difficult to get to everything, but we’ll continue to monitor the market and update this guide as noteworthy boards arrive.

Other mechanical keyboards we tested

Just a few of the other mechanical keyboards we tested for this guide. Clockwise from top left: the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless, the G.Skill KM250 RGB, the Lofree Block, the NZXT Function 2 and the Lofree Flow.

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Lofree Block

The wireless Lofree Block feels great and has a fun retro aesthetic that looks like it belongs next to an old Mac. Its keys are wonderfully smooth to the touch and create a nice thocky tone. At $169, it’s a good middle ground between the Keychron Q Max and V Max series if you dig the look. However, it doesn’t have any software for programming macros, it only has a white backlight and it only comes in a full-size layout. Are those huge issues? No. But there are fine margins separating these things once you get to a certain point.

Lofree Flow

It’s a similar story with the Lofree Flow, a low-profile model. Its full-POM switches are softer and noticeably quieter than the NuPhy Air V2, and its thin aluminum case looks and feels high-quality. It can only work wirelessly using Bluetooth, though, and we noticed a couple of connection hiccups in testing. There’s still no software, either, plus its backlight is fairly weak. It also costs $40 or so more than the Air75 V2. Still, it’s a great alternative.

Keychron K Max

The low-profile Keychron K Max series has all the requisite features and costs less than the NuPhy Air75 V2 and Lofree Flow. If you don’t like the Air V2’s style and want a cheaper low-profile model, it’s worth a look. That said, the keycaps on NuPhy’s board feel a bit higher-quality, and the tactile Gateron switches in our K Max unit sound thinner.

NZXT Function 2 & Function 2 MiniTKL

The full-size NZXT Function 2 and tenkeyless NZXT Function 2 MiniTKL are perfectly solid gaming keyboards with fast optical switches, durable PBT keycaps, tasteful RGB lighting, sound-dampening foam and aluminum top plates. They support a fair amount of customization through NZXT’s CAM app, including the ability to swap between two different universal actuation settings. The stabilizers on larger keys exhibit some rattle, though, and the Wooting 60HE+’s magnetic switches are far more versatile for not too much extra cash.

The Razer Huntsman V2 TKL.

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

MelGeek Modern97

With its fun speckled color scheme, gasket-mounted design and multiple foam layers, the MelGeek Modern97 is a solid value at $139. The linear, pre-lubed Kailh Box Plastic switches in our unit are smooth and enjoyably clacky, while the larger keys are neither hollow nor overly loud. All of the switches are hot-swappable, and the whole thing works over USB-C, Bluetooth or a 2.4GHz dongle. Alas, its ABS keycaps start to feel slicker and greasier with extended use. This model also has a 90 percent layout, which saves a little extra desk space compared to a 96 percent board but can lead to more accidental presses around the arrow keys.

Razer Huntsman V2 TKL

The Razer Huntsman V2 TKL is a quality gaming keyboard with light optical switches, crisp shine-through keycaps, a sturdy frame and an impressively muffled sound thanks to some internal foam. (If you buy the model with Razer’s linear optical switches, that is; another variant with clicky switches isn’t nearly as quiet.) It’s often available in the $100 range, and at that price it’s a solid pick. It’s neither wireless nor hot-swappable, though, and its keys wobble more than those on the Keychron V Max.

Razer Huntsman V3 Pro

The analog Razer Huntsman V3 Pro is a decent alternative to the Wooting 60HE+ if the latter’s shipping delays become too great. It’s available in a 60 percent, TKL or full-size layout, and it offers a similar set of gaming features, including an adjustable actuation range and a rapid trigger setting for repeating keystrokes faster. But its optical switches are noisier and more hollow-feeling than Wooting’s Hall effect setup, so it’s not as pleasant for typing.

SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless

We recommend the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless in our guide to the best gaming keyboards, and it remains a good choice if you want the granular customizability of the Wooting 60HE+ in a wireless design. It also comes with a wrist rest, unlike Wooting’s models. Its magnetic switches are somewhat harsher-sounding, however, and its space bar is louder. SteelSeries’ companion software is clunkier to navigate as well. We haven’t tested the 60 percent Apex Pro Mini Wireless, but it should perform similarly.

G.Skill KM250

The $50 G.Skill KM250 is the top budget pick in our gaming keyboard guide, and it’s still a better buy than the Keychron C3 Pro is gaming is your chief concern. Compared to Keychron’s board, it adds hot-swappable switches, full RGB backlighting, PBT keycaps and a rotary knob in a smaller 65 percent layout. That said, the C3 Pro’s fuller sound and springier keystrokes make it superior for typing, and its tenkeyless design should be more comfortable for a wider swath of people. It’s typically available for $10 to $15 less, too.

The ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Logitech G Pro X TKL & G Pro X 60

The Logitech G Pro X TKL and 60 percent Logitech G Pro X 60 are well-built but far too expensive for gaming keyboards that lack hot-swappable switches and the analog functionality of competitors like the Wooting 60HE+.

ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless

The ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless is a wireless 96 percent keyboard that’s marketed toward gamers but should feel great to anyone. The pre-lubed, linear ROG NX Snow switches in our test unit are smooth and quiet, while the PBT keycaps feel stable and high-quality. The keycaps let the RGB backlight shine through cleanly, plus there’s a clever multi-function key that puts various lighting and media controls in one place. ASUS’ Armoury Crate software is sloppy, though, and the board’s overall look may be too gamer-y for some. At $180, it’s not cheap either. The Keychron Q5 Max costs $40 more but gets you a more premium (if heavier) all-aluminum chassis; here, the housing is plastic.


The ASUS ROG Azoth is like a 75 percent version of the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless with a few more enthusiast touches. Its gasket-mounted design gives keystrokes a slightly softer landing, it has a programmable OLED display and it even includes a switch lubing kit in the box. Like the Strix, its hardware is very clearly high-grade. But its software is much more aggravating and, with a list price of $250, it’s a worse value than the Keychron Q Max.

Corsair K70 RGB TKL

The Corsair K70 RGB TKL isn’t bad in a vacuum, but it lacks wireless functionality and fully hot-swappable switches. It’s on the noisy side, too, and Corsair’s iCue software is rough.

The Logitech G Pro X 60.

Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Corsair K70 Max

The full-size Corsair K70 Max is another high-end gaming keyboard with magnetic Hall effect sensors and Wooting-style features, but trying to program those settings through Corsair’s iCue app gave us headaches. The 60HE+ also feels better for typing, with less rattling on large keys like the space bar. Wooting’s HE keyboards support a slightly wider actuation range on top of that, plus they cost $30 to $55 less depending on size.

Razer Huntsman Mini

The Razer Huntsman Mini is a fine value if you want a no-frills 60 percent keyboard for less than $100, but it’s another wired-only model that isn’t truly hot-swappable.

Logitech G915 TKL

The Logitech G915 TKL is a wireless low-profile model with a metal frame and handy media controls. The GL Tactile switches in our test unit are comfortable and not particularly noisy. But the thin ABS keycaps feel way too cheap for something that costs $230, the keys themselves are a little too wobbly and the switches aren’t hot-swappable. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at 

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