The Best Keyboards 2018
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The Best Keyboards 2018

Deciding which keyboard is best for you is a subjective process that largely depends on what you’ll be doing and what feels comfortable under your hands. As with your mouse, this is the PC peripheral you’ll interact with the most and picking the right one deserves serious thought. We’re here to shave off time from that process, combining our own testing and experience with that of dozens of expert reviews and feedback from users across the web.

Whether you are focused on productivity, or are looking for a gaming-centric keyboard, or something that can connect to multiple devices over Bluetooth, here are our favorite devices on every category.

Best Keyboard for Productivity and Work

Our favorite keyboard on this category for the fourth 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 a number of 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 the years the Das has received a few improvements, like the media hub located on the top right corner, with an oversized volume knob and dedicated play, next track, previous track, sleep and mute buttons. The aluminum top panel which replaced a glossy plastic on previous versions is less prone to finger smudges and feels sturdier, too. The built-in USB hub was upgraded to USB 3.0, with two ports sitting on the back right edge just above the logo. That’s about it as far as extras are concerned.

Das’ minimal approach to providing a first rate typing experience means this board doesn’t have the bells and whistles you’ll find in many competing units. There are no macro keys, no way to change the keystroke speed, no support for profiles and no backlighting.

The Das 4 Pro can be purchased with either blue or brown Cherry MX switches. The blue switches are clickier, louder and have an actuation force rating of 50 grams. The brown switches offer a softer feel and require an actuation force of just 45 grams. This is the sort of board you’d be proud to use at work — it delivers a pleasurable typing experience in a professional looking package — though the lack of features is bound to alienate some at its current price of $150, especially with the increasingly stiff competition.

We like to use our Das Keyboards not only for work but also play, but admitedly hardcore gamers will want more (see below) and the 4 Pro is certainly not designed with that demographic in mind.

Honorable mentions & budget alternatives

There are numerous alternatives with plenty of great reviews, many of which we’ve used but don’t necessarily prefer to the Das. The Code Keyboard is one of its most direct competitors, it uses a variety of Cherry MX switches, it’s even more spartan, well built, and just as expensive. Also from Das, the Prime 13 is pretty good at $129. It adds backlighting and a minimalistic design, but the single pass-through USB port frustrates us.

To round things off, if you are looking for a more affordable alternative, we used to recommend Cooler Master’s QuickFire XT but it appears that model is on its way out and has been replaced by the CM MasterKeys series. On the upside, we’ve been hearing only good things about this replacement, you have both tenkeyless and full-size options selling for less than $100 and using Cherry MX red, brown and blue switches.

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Another similarly attractive option is the Logitech G610 Orion series, particularly the Orion Brown (with the corresponding Cherry MX switches, also available in red), 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 ~$78 price tag, the Orion is worthy of consideration.

Best Gaming Keyboard

Corsair is renown among other things for making great gaming keyboards. The K70 RGB series quickly became a favorite when we first tried it out over two years ago. Since then we’ve had the opportunity to long-term test it on a day to day basis, and it’s nearly impossible to beat at $120.

The Rapidfire is all about speed thanks to the use of new MX Speed switches that reduce travel distance to 1.2mm for a lighting fast 4ms actuation speed. Coming from a keyboard with the full 2mm travel to actuation, the shorter Rapidfire switches takes a little bit of getting used to, but it can make a difference for gamers to whom split seconds really do matter.

The K70 RGB Rapidfire features a clean, straightforward design and looks quite imposing overall. This is complemented by multi-color LED per-key backlighting, which is configurable to create various lighting effects (or download pre-designed ones) through the Corsair Utility Engine, where you can also play with reprogramming keys, making macros, and linking games and applications with different keyboard profiles. Although the bulk of the keyboard has been constructed from plastic, the face of the keyboard features a thick brushed aluminum plate which provides the feel of a premium product that won’t flex.

Aside from the standard 104-key US layout there are physical buttons for light dimming, a Windows button lock, media buttons, and a volume scroll wheel which has been crafted from aluminum and feels great to the touch. There’s also a large, detachable, textured wrist rest which is really appreciated.

At 436mm long, 16mm deep and 38mm thick, Corsair delivers a board that fits in nicely with a work desk but is meant for gamers, with fast actuation times, customizable lightning that looks stunning, and the fantastic tactile feel of a mechanical keyboard.

A straightforward upgrade

The K95 RGB Platinum is a newer (and more expensive) version of the same keyboard, sporting multi-color per-key LED backlighting and a very similar design that adds six programmable macro keys placed on the left edge, ideal for quick access, and a 19-zone light bar called the LightEdge.

If you’ve used other Corsair gaming keyboards before, the K95 feels right at home making an expensive albeit very tempting proposition. For most we believe the K70 will serve you well but if you want to go the extra mile, surely this won’t hurt.

Compact and budget

Three noteworthy mentions include the compact Logitech G Pro, a tenkeyless offering dedicated to esports is sturdy, comfortable, and most owners seem to love it. With support for per-key RGB illumination and a detachable USB cable for better transportation, this quality Logitech keyboard can compete well in the gaming category.

Also from Logitech, the aforementioned G610 Orion is actually aimed at gamers though like the G Pro, uses an understated design, it’s available with brown and red Cherry MX switches.

Another compelling gaming mechanical offering is brought by the Hyper AlloyX FPS line which can be had with Cherry MX brown or red switches for just $75. While overall build won’t compare with keyboards that cost almost twice as much, you do get quality switches, a metal top plate, red backlighting, and a detachable cable.

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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 of comfort, size and features. The keyboard has a streamlined slim 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 to save space — not exactly a quality you’d look for in a keyboard but can come in handy for those with limited real estate on their desks. 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. The first are sensors that control the level of brightness in response to ambient light (with optional manual adjustments, of course). There’s also a motion sensor that triggers backlighting whenever your hands come in close proximity, and slowly fade it out once your hands leave the sensory zone in order to preserve battery life.

The K800 has your typical keyboard layout with a number pad and set of function/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 a good 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, is wireless, backlit, and not overly expensive. 4,400+ mostly positive user reviews later on Amazon, the K800 has tons of adepts who buy the same keyboard years later after great long term experience with it, that’s why we’ve kept this recommendation intact as well.

Best HTPC Keyboard

We liked and recommende the Logitech K830 when it was a tad pricier at $80, but now that it’s less than $60 it makes our decision even easier if you want a carefully designed wireless keyboard built specifically for the couch.

This is a full-sized keyboard with a built in touchpad that’s ample enough for the form factor, along with left and right mouse buttons as well as three hot keys for volume control. Although its low profile keys offer a decent typing experience, the Logitech K830 is designed to be a home entertainment companion first and foremost.

Its standout feature is a backlighting system that automatically adapts to ambient light and slowly fades out when you are not actively using it. This not only saves battery, but also lets you completely focus 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.

A throwaway-cheap option

For similar functionality at less than half the price, there’s a great alternative on Logitech’s own Wireless Touch K400 Plus. It’s not as sleek looking and does not have as many bells and whistles, but it’s just $20! It drops backlighting and USB charging in favor of AA batteries, but it’s light and mobile enough to comfortably use on the lap while kicked back on the couch.

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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 your 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 getting used to, and there’s good spacing between them to keep mistypes down to a minimum, including a complete number pad this time.

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 K780 has a slight front to back incline to make typing more comfortable, but there’s no built-in stand to increase that incline.

It may not have backlighting or LEDs indicators, but the included pair of AAA batteries can last for as much as two years of heavy use, so forget about changing batteries.

Logitech offers a few similar Bluetooth keyboards of which we consider the K780 to be the most well-rounded, but given how similar they are and how close they’re in pricing, it’s worth mentioning the K810 and K811 (for Apple users) that add backlighting. And the cheaper ($30) and more basic K380.

Best Budget Keyboard

First things first, if you want the cheapest possible mechanical keyboard, we went out looking for that last year and came back surprised when reviewed the $40 GranVela MechanicalEagle Z-77. You can find it on Amazon for about $33 right now and know it doesn’t dissapoint (for the price), our full impressions are here.

With that said, among the sea of serviceable yet good looking keyboard & mouse combos around, we’ve usually alternated between Logitech and Microsoft combos that bring a good enough keyboard and mouse for less than $35. The Logitech Wireless MK530 is a wireless combo with average durability, appealing design and a pretty good mouse in the M510, all for about $30.

For even less, if you don’t like to change batteries and are simply looking for a basic keyboard you’ll be hard pressed to find something as solid as Microsoft’s Wired Desktop 600. It has been around a long time, and we’ve seen it bundled with many PC systems over the years, though far from being a bad thing it just means it’s a proven design that has been able to withstand the test of time.

Now, what all the aforementioned recommendations lack is a stylish design, which our main pick does have. The Microsoft Wireless Desktop 900 has a modern yet classy look that is harder to find in affordable combos (it’s only $35). With good reliability marks, this combo uses a low profile keyboard with chicklet style keys and an ambidextrous mouse that gets is comfortable but lacks thumbs buttons, perhaps the only major issue we could find given the price.

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