Hardware

Best Mechanical Keyboards for Gaming or Work in 2020

If there’s one relatively affordable upgrade that can completely change how your computer feels, it is a new keyboard. In 2020, mechanical keyboards dominate best-selling lists around the world and for a very good reason: they are an absolute pleasure to type on, and their outstanding durability more than makes up for their higher prices compared with simple rubber dome keyboards.

When selecting a new mechanical keyboard for gaming or work, there’s a lot you should pay attention to, such as the type of switches the keyboard comes with, its size, ergonomics, and extra features such as backlights. To make the selection process easier for you, we picked the top 10 mechanical keyboards available in 2020.

1. Razer Huntsman Elite

Switch: Razer Opto-mechanical Size: Full size Backlights: Yes (RGB)

The Razer Huntsman Elite is an impressive mechanical keyboard that features Razer’s proprietary opto-mechanical switches. Whereas traditional mechanical switches register a keypress when two metal parts touch each other, opto-mechanical switches have an optical light sensor that sends an electrical impulse as soon as it registers the stem descending. As a result, the Razer Huntsman Elite provides unprecedented responsiveness and durability (up to 100 million keystrokes).

In addition to its innovative switches, the keyboard features several other technological innovations that put it into a league of its own. Located in the top-right corner is a multi-functional digital dial that lets you easily control everything from media playback to volume to brightness. You can fully customize it through Razor’s Synapse 3 software, which is also used to modify the 4-side underglow and 38 RGB customization zones.

To ensure that you won’t have to reconfigure the keyboard every time you unplug it from your computer or reinstall your operating system, Razer equipped the Huntsman Elite with onboard memory capable of storing up to 5 profiles. Included with the keyboard is a comfortable magnetic wrist rest that also features customizable RGB lights.

2. Ducky One 2 Mini

Switch: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Red Size: 60% Backlights: Yes (RGB)

Not everyone has a use for a full-sized mechanical keyboard with dedicated multimedia keys. If you never use the numpad and don’t remember the last time you needed the arrow keys, the Ducky One 2 Mini might be just the right choice for you. Its 61-key design saves you a ton of space on your desk, allowing your mouse to roam more freely and helping you avoid shoulder pain due to incorrect positioning of your arm when holding the mouse.

Hidden under PBT double-shot seamless shine-through keycaps are Cherry MX switches (Blue, Brown, or Red), which effortlessly handle any number of simultaneous key presses and have a lifespan of up to 50 million presses. All switches are individually backlit, and the keyboard supports 10 RGB lighting modes and several levels of brightness.

The Ducky One 2 Mini connects to your computer using a detachable USB Type-C cable. The ability to disconnect the cable comes in handy when traveling with the keyboard, and it also means that you can easily use a longer or shorter USB Type-C cable to improve your cable management.

3. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

Switch: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, Silver, Speed Size: Full size Backlights: Yes (RGB)

You can always count on Corsair to offer sensibly priced high-end products, and the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT proves this yet again. From a distance, it may look like a fairly standard full-sized gaming keyboard with customizable RGB lights, but a closer inspection quickly reveals that it’s more than that. On the left are six fully programmable keys, which you can use to execute custom macros to increase your productivity or gain an in-game advantage. If you’re a streamer, you can swap the G-caps for the included S-caps and use Elgato Steam Deck software to program special streaming commands.

The top part of the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is dedicated to multimedia controls and LED status lights. The dedicated aluminum volume roller arguably deserves the most attention because it provides a very enjoyable and novel way of adjusting the volume. The multimedia keys are the only keys on this keyboard that don’t have Cherry MX switches. Alongside more usual Cherry switches, Corsair sells this keyboard with two hard-to-find MX Speed options.

What makes typing on the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT even more comfortable is the included detachable plush palm rest with a soft texture. Just keep in mind that the palm rest makes the already large keyboard even larger, so make sure you have enough space for it on your desk.

4. Logitech G Pro

Switch: Logitech GX Clicky Size: Tenkeyless Backlights: Yes (RGB)

The Logitech G Pro is a great option for all gamers, programmers, and other Linux users who are looking for a compact mechanical keyboard that doesn’t stand in the way of productivity. As a tenkeyless keyboard, the Logitech G Pro is essentially a standard full-sized keyboard without the numpad section. For most users, it’s the ideal size because numbers can still be easily entered using the numerical row.

To meet the requirements of professional gamers, Logitech developed its own mechanical switches, called GX Clicky. Similar to Cherry MX Blue switches, GX Clicky deliver performance, responsiveness, and durability, with a tactile feedback bump. All keys are backlit, and you can customize lighting and animations with G HUB software to make the keyboard match your computer.

On the rear is a unique slot for a Micro USB cable. The slot has two deep holes on its sides, which are intended for the included three-pronged Micro USB cable, and their job is to ensure an extra safe connection and prolong the life of the cable. The built-in rubber feet can be adjusted to three different angles, making it easy to find a comfortable position.

5. Das Keyboard 4 Professional

Switch: Cherry MX Brown and Blue Size: Full size Backlights: No

So far, we’ve listed only gaming-oriented keyboards with RGB backlights, but what if you’re looking for something a bit more productivity-oriented? In that case, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional deserves your attention. As its name suggests, this keyboard is intended for professionals who don’t have time to individually configure the color of each and every key. Its down-to-earth design highlights   every fine detail, and its rugged construction makes you feel that your money was well spent.

The Das Keyboard 4 Professional is available with Cherry MX Brown and Cherry MX Blue switches. The former switches have a soft tactile bump in the middle of the key press for precise but relatively quiet typing experience, while the latter switches have significantly more noticeable tactile bump, which reduces the need to push the keys all the way down.

A new keycap font ensures excellent readability while underscoring the keyboard’s professional appearance. If you often Skype with your colleagues, you’ll appreciate the oversized volume knob and dedicated media controls. There’s even a handy sleep button that lets you instantly stop what you’re doing and go grab a quick snack.

6. SteelSeries Apex Pro

Switch: OmniPoint Switch Size: Full size Backlights: Yes (RGB)

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a feature-packed mechanical keyboard with a Series 5000 Aircraft grade aluminum frame and detachable soft touch magnetic wrist rest. One of its main attractions is the built-in OLED display, which delivers information from compatible games and apps, such as CS:GO and Discord.

Another attraction are the OmniPoint Switches, the world’s first adjustable mechanical switches. Unlike traditional mechanical switches, which have a fixed attenuation point, OmniPoint switches have a variable travel distance (0.4 – 3.6 mm), allowing you to adjust each key individually to the exact point you want to register a key press. For example, you can make the keys more sensitive when playing games and turn their sensitivity all the way down to eliminate typos and accidental key presses when working.

As one would expect from a gaming keyboard, the SteelSeries Apex Pro has RGB backlighting and USB passthrough for the mouse or any other USB device. The bottom side features cleverly designed channels that let you route the USB cable coming out from the keyboard in three different ways so that you can keep your desk tidy.

7. Kinesis Freestyle Pro

Switch: Cherry MX Brown Size: Tenkeyless Backlights: Yes

The Kinesis Freestyle Pro is designed to provide maximum comfort during long typing sessions. Because each half of the keyboard is completely independent, both of your hands can be in the ideal ergonomic position regardless of how narrow or wide your shoulders are.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a good idea to lift the back of your keyboard for increased comfort. Instead, you should keep your wrists as flat as possible, and the Kinesis Freestyle Pro allows you to do this with its zero-degree slope form-factor. You can, however, take advantage of its three easily adjustable slope settings (5, 10, and 15 degrees) to reduce forearm pronation.

Ergonomics aside, the Kinesis Freestyle Pro is a fairly regular mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches. It supports custom macros and shortcuts, but the application through which you can configure them (SmartSet) is compatible only with Windows and Mac.

8. Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO

Switch: Titan Switch (Linear or Tactile) Size: Full size Backlights: Yes (RGB)

Many mechanical keyboards are guilty of simply using readily available Cherry MX switches to offer more or less the same functionality, durability, and typing experience. The Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO stands out because it brings to the table its own switches, called Titan. According to Roccat, its switches are more consistent, reliable, and precise than Cherry MX and other mainstream switches. Their clear housing maximizes the effect of RGB backlighting, and it also protects the contacts against water and dust.

The Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO is definitely built to last. The aluminum plate at the top eliminates flex and makes the keyboard feel premium to the touch. Its brushed finish does a great job of hiding fingerprints, so you don’t need to worry about the keyboard looking dirty after every gaming session.

The dedicated mixer-style media keys let you pause, play, or skip songs with a single button press, and the oversized volume knob makes it easy to find just the right volume level for any occasion. Completing this high-end mechanical keyboard is a large detachable palm rest.

9. Obinslab Anne 2 Pro

Switch: Cherry MX, Gateron, or Kailh Size: 60% Backlights: Yes (RGB)

The Obinslab Anne 2 Pro offers a lot of features in a very compact package. For starters, it’s the only wireless keyboard on this list. Because it uses Bluetooth 4.0, it works with all popular operating systems, including Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Its built-in 1900 mAh battery can power it for up to 8 hours, long enough to get you through the entire day of work. Of course, you can easily use it in wired mode because the keyboard is equipped with a standard USB Type-C port.

To make up for the limited number of keys, the Obinslab Anne 2 Pro has a few clever tricks up its sleeve. You can press one of its two Fn keys to access F-keys, multimedia functions, and more. Arrow keys can be accessed directly without pressing a modifier key thanks to the so-called tap functionality. When enabled, this functionality makes certain keys behave differently when quickly tapped or help.

Believe it or not, but the Obinslab Anne 2 Pro can store up to 16 offline macros to make your work easier. The keyboard is available with virtually all popular switches, including Cherry MX Blue, Brown, and Red.

10. Koolertron Macro Pad

Switch: Gateron Red Size: Custom Backlights: No

The Koolertron Macro Pad isn’t a full-fledged keyboard. It’s a programmable macro pad with 48 keys, each of which can be programmed to execute a complex macro. Because the device has its own memory, it doesn’t matter that the official configuration software isn’t compatible with Linux. You can simply use a Windows computer to set up your macros and then connect the Koolertron Macro Pad to your Linux machine. All keycaps are blank, so you can mark them with a pen or do some DIY laser carving.

About the author

David Morelo

David Morelo

David Morelo is a professional content writer in the technology niche, covering everything from consumer products to emerging technologies and their cross-industry application