The Only Mechanical Keyboard Buying Guide You’ll Ever Need
Casual keyboard users often don’t pay much attention to differences in keyboards. Most use whatever keyboard is available or buy one of the cheaper models. We were actually in this category of people until we discovered the significant differences in using mechanical keyboards.
Writers and hard-core gamers will tell you without hesitation that the best mechanical keyboard is the only option for them. If you’re at all like we were, you are probably wondering what could possibly be so different in a mechanical keyboard and regular keyboards with a membrane sheath. Or, you may already know a mechanical keyboard is what you want, and you just need a little help figuring out which one is the best buy for you.
Hopefully, this guide will help you understand mechanical keyboards and the available functions and/or it will assist you in narrowing down your favorite one. We will discuss the benefits of using mechanical keyboards, what features to look for, and list several ideal gaming mechanical keyboards in different price ranges.
First of all, here’s our quick list of what we think are the best mechanical keyboards for gaming out there on the market today.
Comparison Table Of Mechanical Keyboards For Gaming
|Best High-End Mechanical Keyboards||PICTEK TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||27 Rainbow LED Backlit Modes|
Blue Equivalent Switches for Quicker Click Response
|Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard: Green Mechanical Switches||Fully programmable keys + 5 additional gaming keys|
Rated up to 80 million keystrokes
|Logitech RGB G910 Orion Spark Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||World's fastest RGB mechanical gaming keyboard|
9 programmable G-keys
|Razer Huntsman Elite Gaming Keyboard: Fastest Keyboard Actuation - Optical Key Switches||Best Selling Gaming Keyboard In The USA!|
Lightning Fast Razer Optical Switches
|Best Mid-Range Mechanical Keyboards||Redragon K556 RBG LED Wired Backlit Mechanical Keyboard||Mechanical Brown Switches|
N-key Rollover, Ergonomic And Durable Design
|HyperX Alloy FPS Pro - Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (HX-KB4RD1-US/R1)||Cherry MX Brown Switches|
Linear & Quiet
|Tecware Phantom Mechanical Keyboard||18 pre-set configurations|
Outemu mechanical switches for precise gaming
|Best Budget (Cheap) Mechanical Keyboards||Redragon K552 Kumara LED Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||87 standard conflict free keys, 12 multimedia keys|
Cherry Green equivalent switches
|Havit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Combo||Mechanical Keyboard and Gaming Mouse|
Professional Blue Switches Anti-Ghosting Keyboard
|Aula LED Backlit Wired Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||Three color LED backlight|
Ergonomic gaming design
|Best Quiet Mechanical Keyboards||Cooler Master SK630 Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Low Profile Switches||Mechanical Cherry MX Red Low Profile Switches|
|Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||Tactile, high-speed keys|
Configure up to 18 unique functions per game
|SteelSeries Apex 7 Mechanical Keyboard||OLED smart display|
Aircraft grade aluminum alloy
Keyboard Queen’s Best Mechanical Keyboards 2020 Reviews
After a lot of research, we narrowed our top 3 gaming mechanical keyboards in 4 different categories. Along with the price range and features, we have added as much information as possible for each keyboard listed. We hope you find this guide helpful in your search for a new gaming mechanical keyboard.
Mechanical Keyboards (High End)
In this section below, we have listed 3 of the best high-end mechanical keyboards on the market. This is just our own opinion, and many others would have a different view on this, but really you can’t go wrong with these keyboards which are suitable for gaming.
PICTEK puts all of the top features of mechanical keyboards in this one, which costs a fraction of the price that others do. Each cap has a scratch-resistant design that keeps the white letters and numbers from rubbing off. The backlit display has 27 modes that show all of the colors in the rainbow along with modes that let you adjust how bright the display is and how quickly it moves between colors. With the 12 multimedia keys, you can quickly access your favorite apps and create shortcuts. The shortcuts can pause your game or change the volume with one touch of a button.
- 27 Rainbow LED Backlit Modes
- Blue Equivalent Switches for Quicker Click Response
- Full Keys Anti-ghosting & 12 Multimedia Keys
Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard: Green Mechanical Switches – Tactile & Clicky – Chroma RGB Lighting
Razer developed every detail of their mechanical keyboard, and their own mechanical switches specifically for gamers. The Green Switch keys contain a tactile feel and have an actuation force of 50g. The Razer BlackWidow Elite has a back lighting function with over 16.8 million color options. The keys are fully programmable and include 5 macro keys. Easy access to the multi-media keys allows users to quickly adjust volume and media playback. It contains the 10 key rollover for anti-ghosting.
The Razer BlackWidow Elite is rated to last for 80 million keystrokes and comes with a 2-year warranty. It has USB, 3.5mm headphone, and microphone ports that allow easy cable setup.
It is a feature rich, popular gaming keyboard among serious gamers and is certain to not disappoint.
- Fully programmable keys + 5 additional gaming keys
- Rated up to 80 million keystrokes
The futuristic look of the Logitech Orion Spark is a bonus, and the exclusive Romer-G mechanical switches make it hard to beat. These switches have up to 25% faster actuation than most other keyboards. The RGB illuminator allows keys to be individually customized from a huge range of 16 million colors.
9 programmable G keys allow users to create custom game macros. Media controls are directly on the keyboard, and the 113 keys provide anti-ghosting.
The Orion Spark contains Arx control applications and a smartphone dock. Users can access in-game date directly from their smartphones or tablets without interfering with their game. It is designed to withstand 70 million keystrokes making it a worthy investment.
It has a wired connection and is compatible with Windows 10 or later, 7, 8.1, 8, Vista, and Mac OSX.
- World’s fastest RGB mechanical gaming keyboard
- 9 programmable G-keys
The Hunstman Elite Gaming Keyboard, is one of Razer’s best achievements. It is the most popular gaming keyboard in the USA and that is no accident. The Razer Huntsman Elite brings together a combination of tried and tested design elements, with cutting edge technology. The Razer Optical Switches are one of, if not ‘the’ best switches around. With a 30% shorter (1.5 mm) actuation distance than other ‘clicky’ mechanical switches and incredible speed. The keys are rated for over 100 million keystroke clicks.
The Razer Huntsman Elite is also highly compatible and customizable with huge opportunities for connectivity. Some of the main compatibility features include:
- Compatible with all Razer hardware and peripherals
- Compatible with Phillips Hue, so you can control your room lighting etc from your keyboard!
- Will work with peripherals and gear from over 30+ third-party partners
In terms of customizing, the Huntsman has per-key backlighting, and a detachable wrist rest. It also has Razer Hyphershift technology provides extensive macro capabilities, allowing you to repeat complex commands by mapping key combinations. This is a serious mechanical keyboard for serious gaming!
- Best Selling Gaming Keyboard In The USA!
- Lightning Fast Razer Optical Switches
Other Keyboard guides you should check out..
Gaming Mechanical Keyboards (Mid-Range)
Perfect for both home and office use, this mechanical keyboard has the tactile feel that you want and responds quickly to your commands without making as much noise as similar keyboards do. With 18 backlit modes available, it lets you pick the best mode for all of the games that you play. The keyboard uses a metal construction with a matte finish that is resistant to scratches and has caps that you can easily remove for cleaning. As a wired keyboard, the K556 saves you from the hassles of keeping spare batteries around or charging an internal battery before you can play.
- Mechanical Brown Switches
- 18 Backlit Modes
- N-key Rollover, Ergonomic And Durable Design
The HyperX Allow FPS Pro keyboard could easily have fit into the selection of best quiet mechanical keyboards, with it’s Cherry MX Brown switches. However, it’s also one of the best mid range mechanical keyboards so it slotted in nicely to it’s place here. The 87 key board is ultra compact and minimalistic. There are 100% anti-ghosting and n-key rollover functions for gamers, but it makes a great quiet mechanical keyboard for typists too.
The case if the HyperX is detachable, which is great for cleaning, or even for customizing. The steel chassis frame provides great durability and the red backlit keys come with some funky dynamic lighting effects. It’s a great mid-range, quiet mechanical keyboard for any purpose.
- Cherry MX Brown Switches
- Linear & Quiet
The Phantom from Tecware makes gaming a breeze. It features mechanical switches that provide a tactical experience while also helping you transition across keys without any ghosting. Tecware includes spare switches in the box along with a cap puller that helps you replace broken switches whenever you need them. Made from an ABS process, the caps are resistant to most types of damage and have a finish that won’t scratch off. It also has a design that lets the keyboard pick up on every button that you touch to ensure that it always detects the combos that you need to win your games.
- 18 pre-set configurations
- Outemu mechanical switches for precise gaming
- SMD LEDs and FR-4 fiberglass
Best Budget Gaming Mechanical Keyboards
Buying budget gaming keyboards doesn’t mean you have to give up all of the great features that the more expensive ones contain. It’s still possible to get the popular Cherry MX switches and backlighting. The Redragon Kumara is a perfect example. It incorporates the Cherry MX green switches with medium resistance, tactile feedback, and an audible click.
The Kumara has red LED adjustable lighting, 87 standard keys with 100% anti-ghosting, and 12 multimedia keys. The WASD and arrow keys are switchable for specific apps and gaming.
Made of aluminum and ABS construction, this keyboard supports Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP, and later.
- 87 standard conflict free keys, 12 multimedia keys
- Cherry Green equivalent switches
Save money with this combo, which comes with both a keyboard and a matching mouse. The keyboard has a mechanical design with a backlit display that lets you choose between 21 modes. You can adjust both how bright the lighting shines and how quickly it moves between shades. Each of the blue switches on the keyboard makes a soft clicking sound when you type and prevents ghosting in your favorite games. You also get 12 built-in key commands that go along with popular multimedia apps. Both the keyboard and mouse are compatible with all operating systems and use aluminum alloy to extend their overall lives.
- Mechanical Keyboard and Gaming Mouse
- Professional Blue Switches Anti-Ghosting Keyboard
- Durability & Ergonomic Comfort
The Aula gaming keyboard contains brilliant backlit colors and blue switch keys for a comfortable touch, tactile feedback, and an audible click. The ergonomic design creates a more comfortable posture.
Multi-functional F keys are also included. The easy plug and play makes it quick and painless to set up without the need for drivers. This keyboard supports Windows 2000, XP, 7, 8, 10, and Mac OS. It also includes a one-year product replacement warranty.
- Three color LED backlight
- Ergonomic gaming design
The Best Quiet Gaming Mechanical Keyboards
Cooler Master SK630 Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Low Profile Switches in Brushed Aluminum Design
For gamers that do not like the loud audible click of a mechanical switch, there are several gaming keyboards available with the brown switches that remove the key sound. Or in the case of the Cooler Master SK630 Tenleyless Mechanical Keyboard, there is the Cherry MX Red Low Profile switches.
The CM SK630 is a tenkeyless gaming keyboard that incorporates these low profile Cherry MX switches that have medium resistance, tactile feedback but with a reduced distance and actuation point. It contains the n-key rollover function allowing multiple keys to be pressed at once without conflict. The 87 keys provide anti-ghosting and on-the-fly controls for adjusting the RBG per key lighting and macros.
The design is compact without the number pad and this keyboard is compatible with Windows, Vista, 7, 8 and 10.
- Mechanical Cherry MX Red Low Profile Switches
- On-the-fly controls
The Logitech G710+ contains high speed, quiet, tactile feedback key switches with adjustable dual-zone backlighting. Users can adjust the brightness of the WASD and arrow keys independently from the other keys in low light environments.
6 programmable G-keys allow users to configure up to 18 different functions per game. This includes single keypresses, complex macros, and detailed Lua scripts. The 110 anti-ghosting keys in addition to the 26-key rollover create a seamless gaming experience. Game or desktop modes allow users to disable windows and context keys during gaming. One-touch media keys and a removable palm rest are also included.
This keyboard will sustain 50 million keypresses and is compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista, and Mac OS x 10.6.8-19.9x.
- Tactile, high-speed keys
- Configure up to 18 unique functions per game
With 86 keys, this SteelSeries keyboard can handle all of your gaming needs. The linear red switches let you move through levels quickly and ensure that your onscreen character responds as quickly as possible. A built-in command center allows you to customize the keyboard to work the way that you want it to and to handle all of your favorite apps. Made from aluminum alloy, it uses the same type of metal that military planes do. SteelSeries guarantees that the Apex 7 will last for years and up to 50 million presses of the buttons. You’ll also like the built-in wrist pad that keeps your wrist comfy during long gaming sessions.
- Linear red switches
- OLED smart display
- Aircraft grade aluminum alloy
What are gaming mechanical keyboards?
First, we’ll explain what a mechanical keyboard is, and then we’ll explain why some are geared more toward gamers and how they can enhance the gaming experience.
The major difference in mechanical keyboards are the keys. Each key has an individual key switch mechanism that registers its keystroke. Membrane keyboards contain a cover that all the keys share.
By having separate keys with their own switch mechanism, certain aspects of the typing feel can be created differently. These aspects are listed below along with a few other mechanical keyboard terms we will be discussing.
- Actuation-the point at which the key press is recognized by the keyboard
- Activation Force-the force required to press a key for it to be recognized
- Key Feel-the speed a key returns to normal position and its lack of resistance
- Tactile Response-a bump in response to finger pressure at or near the point where the key registers before bottoming out
- Bottoming Out-pushing a key all the way down
- Linear Switches-keys that require users to push the key all the way down in order for it to register
- Travel Distance-the distance between fully extended keys (at rest) and an activated key (pressed)
- Click-the noise made by the switch when a key is depressed to activation point
- WASD-keys used in place of arrow keys that allow the user to have access to more of the keys around them
- RGB-the colors red, green, and blue are used in this system on a computer’s display-the combined probabilities can obtain any color in the visible spectrum-RGB can range from 0-100% full density
What Gamers Look For
One of the main reasons gamers insist on using mechanical keyboards is accuracy. They have the ability to pick and choose features that work well with the types of games often played. Response time is an important factor as well as macro key availability. Gamers have their own preference of key feel. Some like to know without a doubt that a certain key was pressed while immersed in a high-action game. And, others may feel strongly about a certain brand offering a short travel distance in keystrokes. The ability to customize their keyboard is very important as well. All of these features combined create a large variety of options for gamers to choose from.
What are the benefits of using a mechanical keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards offer users the ability to customize their keyboard in varying degrees depending on brand and price. Their length of use far surpasses membrane keyboards. Mechanical keyboards are designed to stand up to 50 million or more key presses. Membrane keyboard users often have to deal with the rubber degrading which causes sticky keys. Their key press life is right at around 10 million. So, while mechanical keyboards may cost a little more, they’re certain to last much longer.
As far as maintenance, mechanical keyboards will allow you to easily remove individual keys for cleaning. With membrane keyboards, the rubber or silicone material often attracts dirt and the attachment methods make it harder to clean.
Other mechanical keyboard terms you should know
There are a few more factors that require a little more explanation than simply listing in a bullet list we thought we should cover. One is the percentage which is the term for determining the size of a keyboard which can sometimes mutually connect to the features available. Next, is the different types of switches available that offer different key feels, noise, and tactile response. Last, is the option of macro key availability. We will dig into these terms a little deeper below.
Types of keyboard percentages
- 60% – 60-61 keys; no function key row
- 65%/70% – miniature layout with arrow keys; 66 keys
- 75% – miniature layout with a function key row
- TenKey – full-sized keyboard with a number pad
- TenKeyLess – full-sized keyboard without a number pad
Types of mechanical switches
Mechanical keyboards contain keys that each have their own spring-loaded switch. They are designed to provide the user with excellent audio and tactile feedback. There are several varieties with each offering different features. Some keyboard brands only offer certain switch brands while other keyboard brands may offer a choice.
The Cherry MX switches are a very popular choice among gamers. Differentiated by color, the Cherry MX black has no tactile or audio feedback. This simply means you will not feel a bump upon activating the key nor will you hear any noise. The lack of tactile and noise makes this switch known as a linear switch. The travel distance also feels the same from the start of the keystroke to letting go.
Cherry MX Blue
The Cherry MX blue switch has a slight bump and a clicking sound that you can hear upon key activation. This switch activates the key half way through the key press which requires less effort per keystroke. This switch is often preferred among writers.
Cherry MX Brown
The Cherry MX brown is very similar to the blue but is much quieter.
Cherry MX Red
The Cherry MX red switches are especially popular among gamers as it has a higher actuation point allowing a faster response.
Topre, Buckling Switch, Kailh, and ALPS-mount are a few other known switch types.
Check out this video to get a more detailed understanding of mechanical switches.
Very popular in gaming, macro keys can be customized. When pressed, a saved sequence of commands or keyboard strokes can be recalled. This is an excellent feature for high-action gamers, but not all mechanical keyboards have them. If this is an important feature to you, be certain to check the keyboard specs before purchasing.
Things to consider before buying
After studying the different features, you should decide which ones will benefit you the most. These are the features most gamers consider when purchasing a new mechanical keyboard.
- Backlighting and whether or not it can be customized
- Actuation response
- Click or quiet keys
- Tactile feedback
- Keyboard percentage
- WASD keys
- Macro key availability
- Programmable function keys
We hope you have enjoyed this mechanical keyboard buying guide. We wish you the best of luck in deciding which keyboard will best suit your needs. Please check out our other guides on the best RGB keyboards if you’re going for a keyboard with a bit of color and excitement about it. We have also covered all the best wireless keyboards as well.
If you have any questions about this post or mechanical keyboards then please feel free to leave a comment below, and I will try and answer it as soon as possible.