Best Mechanical Keyboards Windows Central 2021
The keyboard is what you will use to interact with content on your PC, so it's important you get one that you'll enjoy using. We've rounded up the best keyboards you can buy, but if you're in the market for one with mechanical switches, this collection of recommendations will get you on the right track.
- Best Overall: Razer Huntsman V2 Analog
- Best for Gaming: SteelSeries Apex Pro
- Best for Work: Razer Pro Type
- Best Compact: Ducky One 2 Mini
- Best Value: Havit HV-KB390L
Best Overall: Razer Huntsman V2 Analog
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is an expensive keyboard, but it's well worth it. This is one of the more advanced keyboards available, so you're not paying for the Razer branding alone. What sets this keyboard apart from the rest of the competition is the switch. It's optical and is Razer's latest and greatest.
The Analog Optical switch is linear, so it's smooth and has no bump action, and has adjustable actuation. Each key can be altered to a value between 1.5mm and 3.6mm. The lower you go the faster the actuation and thus the quicker you can enter data (or activate abilities in-game). You won't notice any difference in feel since this is all managed digitally.
This is a big deal for not only gamers, but those who use keyboards for typing up documents. It's customizable on a key-by-key basis and since you can lock profiles into the onboard memory, you can use them on any PC. Other features include USB-C, USB-3.0 pass-through port, and dedicated media keys along with a volume dial.
- Adjustable actuation points on per-key basis
- Analog optical switches are light and quiet
- USB-C connection
- Much improved wrist rest included
- Controller-like function for keys
- USB 3.0 pass-through
- Quite chunky and heavy
Best for Gaming: SteelSeries Apex Pro
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is unlike many other gaming keyboards you can buy right now. Some go the typical mechanical route while others have started to utilize optical switches and light beams. SteelSeries went with the latter for the excellent Apex Pro and it'll change the way you play.
It's possible to alter the actuation point between 0.4mm and 3.6mm (larger range than the Razer Huntsman) on a per-key basis. This can all be carried out using the onboard control wheel and OLED display or SteelSeries Engine in Windows 10. This OLED display can be configured to show images and animations too. Internal profile storage allows you to quickly switch between settings.
This allows you to have different profiles for different games, and a mix of instant actuation and, as an example, a heavier actuation on something like a special ability or a grenade to prevent accidental misfires. It's quite pricey, but there's absolutely nothing else on the market like it right now.
- Changeable actuation points
- Onboard storage
- Useful OLED display
- Included wrist rest
Best for Gaming
SteelSeries Apex Pro
The ultimate gaming machine
SteelSeries threw everything (including the kitchen sink) at creating the Apex Pro It truly is the Apex predator of gaming mechanical keyboards with configurable actuation points per-key, an OLED display, connected RGB lighting, and internal profile storage.
Best for Work: Razer Pro Type
The company is best known for gaming, but the Razer Pro Type isn't really designed with PC games in mind. You can play games but it's built for professionals looking for a mechanical keyboard.
Rocking Razer orange switches, this full-sized keyboard rocks a striking white and silver design. The Pro Type offers a fantastic tactile feel while remaining quiet, so your office colleagues won't be irritated by non-stop clacking. It also has a soft-touch finish, further differentiating it as a product designed for comfort and prolonged use through the workday.
Even though it's built with professionals in mind, Razer still managed to bring in some of its gaming-focused features with the Pro Type for the benefit of everyone. The keys are programmable through Razer Synapse 3, just as they are on a gaming keyboard, and you can assign macros. It's also wireless!
- Orange mechanical keys
- Stunning design
- Bright white backlight
- Wireless or USB-C
- Programmable keys
- No wrist rest
- Lack of media keys
Best Compact: Ducky One 2 Mini
We've reviewed the Ducky One 2 Mini and called it "Ferrari of mechanical keyboards." This isn't a statement we made lightly, because few mechanical keyboards would deserve a spot alongside such a wonderful machine, but the One 2 Mini from Ducky really is that good.
It's a 60% keyboard, so it's super compact, and while gamers are the first thought, in certain configurations this is also the perfect mechanical keyboard for the office. Ducky uses a variety of Cherry MX switches in the One 2 Mini, but the stand-out choice is the Cherry MX Silent. Lots of mechanical switches claim to be silent, but few deliver on the level that these do.
While the One 2 Mini is mostly plastic, it's durable feeling with a little weight to it, and certainly doesn't feel cheap or like it might break in anyway. There's full RGB support and like most premium keyboards, the Ducky One 2 Mini connects to your PC via USB-C. Ultimately, you'll have a supreme experience and the feeling that you're typing on something very special indeed.
- Excellent build quality
- Range of Cherry MX switches
- No companion software required
- Two angled sets of feet
- Doubleshot PBT keycaps
- Sturdy typing experience
- Changing RGB settings is awkward
- USB-C port is a tad loose
Best Value: Havit HV-KB390L
The Havit HV-KB390L is the TKL version of the excellent Havit HV-KB395L. There are some fantastic mechanical keyboards out there and we've included the best in our collection here, but if you want one with a more laptop-like feel, this keyboard is for you.
The Havit HV-KB390L comes from a brand that isn't best known, nor is it considered among giants like Razer, SteelSeries, and Ducky. But this keyboard offers a solid typing experience and works wonders in-game, all at a more affordable price. To some, this keyboard may appear to be too thin and the flex may cause some concern but it's a tradeoff that's worth the typing experience.
When you've come to appreciate low-profile keys on laptops, it can feel strange to go back to full-fat keys, which is where the KB390L comes into play.
- Great value
- Great typing experience
- Mechanical keys
- Super-slim profile
- Detachable cable
- RGB lighting is weak on secondary legends
- The thin design causes flex in the middle
- Would be nice to have a software suite (coming soon)
- No media keys
Choosing the best mechanical keyboard
We've rounded up the best mechanical keyboards for work and play right here, but this is only a shortlist of some great options out there. As you start to look through the available options from manufacturers, there are numerous keyboards to consider. Whether you need something to get your work done or to enjoy your favorite PC game, our highlights here are a great place to start.
Picking the right switch for you largely comes down to how you want the keyboard to feel. Usually, manufacturers of switches use colors to differentiate the available options. Here's a quick run-down of Cherry MX switches:
- Cherry MX Black - If you're not a fan of loud click noises and tactile feedback, the Black switches are for you. (60cN)
- Cherry MX Blue - Popular with typists due to the audible feedback, accompanied by the tactile "bump" when pressing down on a key. (60cN)
- Cherry MX Brown - The middle ground in the Cherry MX range. Quieter than the Blue switch, but retains soft tactile feedback. (55cN)
- Cherry MX Red - Similar to Black switches, these offer less resistance and are favored by gamers due to them requiring less force to actuate. (45cN)
The best overall pick for mechanical keyboards is the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog. SteelSeries' Apex Pro comes in a close second, especially if you're serious about gaming. Other recommendations in our collection are great for those who prefer a compact keyboard, one that replicates a laptop keyboard, or for those on a tight budget.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
Richard Devine Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming.
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