Best mechanical keyboard 2023: 15 picks for gaming, typing and coding |

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Best mechanical keyboard 2023: 15 picks for gaming, typing and coding |

Digital Foundry's expert recommendations for quiet, compact and full-fat gaming keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards are now a mainstay of the gaming and programming communities, offering more customisability, better performance, improved longevity and just a better typing experience than your standard rubber dome keyboard. We've come a long way since these keyboards first hit the mainstream in 2010, and now there are thousands of different models available from brands big and small. But which is the best option for you?

To answer this question, we've tested more than a hundred keyboards over the past five years, including wireless and low profile models, modular keyboards offering deep customisation and high-end premium keyboards with unique features and eye-catching designs. Whether you're looking for the ultimate gaming keyboard, a surprisingly solid budget offering or just something to code on, we've got you covered. Let's take a look at the 15 best mechanical keyboards on the market, all tried and tested by Digital Foundry.

Note: The pictures of each keyboard show either a UK or US layout, but I've linked to the appropriate regional layout wherever possible - so don't worry if you see a keyboard with a different-sized Enter key than what you're used to!

Click the links below to jump right into the category you're most interested in. We've chosen keyboards for programming, gaming, building yourself and much more, so take a look. If you're not sure, scroll on to browse our full selection of recommendations!

When it comes to gaming-focused mechanical keyboards, few can match Corsair's high-end models for pure depth of features. The £210/$215 Corsair K70 Max is their latest flagship-grade option, with the standout feature being Hall Effect Corsair MGX mechanical switches*, an 8000Hz polling rate and added layers of sound-dampening foam. This, combined with the high-quality PBT keycaps, produces a very comfortable typing experience that's a noticeable step up from earlier Corsair K70 models - although these options remain solid for gaming and cost significantly less than the Max.

*Hall effect switches essentially use a magnet to detect precisely how far down a key has been pressed, allowing you to do things like have a half-press and a full-press trigger different actions, or set up the keyboard to respond right at the very top of a key press for fast-paced games or right at the very bottom to avoid typos. However, full analogue control of the type that Wooting offer, which allows keys to be used to mimic analogue sticks or triggers, isn't included, and a promised rapid trigger mode (which actuates the key after any downwards movement rather than at a set point) hasn't arrived via firmware update yet. These type of switches were brought to gaming keyboards initially by Wooting and have since adopted by Razer and SteelSeries, amongst others.

The K70 may not be the best choice for FPS gaming, as its full-size layout (complete with volume roller, media keys and tournament mode toggle) doesn't leave much space alongside for low-DPI mice to be flicked around. I dig the low profile metal chassis though, which is newly inscribed with a hexagonal motif seen on other recent Corsair releases - though boutique keyboard makers offer more visually interesting designs, it has to be said.

Overall, the K70 Max is a reliable choice that ticks all the boxes in terms of gaming features while improving the typing experience over its predecessors. This is a strong option in the here-and-now, and will become even better value when Corsair's typically aggressive pricing strategy brings it to a ~£150 price point.

We have more full-size options in our dedicated best full-size mechanical keyboards article too!

The £95/$110 Fnatic Streak 65 is our new favourite compact keyboard, offering all of the functionality you need for competitive games in a small, convenient form factor that gives you plenty of space for your mouse and superior ergonomics. The keyboard uses Fnatic's own silent, linear and low profile 'speed' mechanical switches, allowing extremely rapid key presses and making double-taps easier. The layout is slightly wider than the 60 percent size Razer Huntsman Mini below, but adds dedicated arrow keys and four programmable keys - I think most people will benefit from these inclusions. As well as not taking up much desk space, a 22mm height and 420g weight means that this keyboard will fit in a bag or even the front pocket of a hoodie easily. The compact dimensions and aluminium frame contribute to a very sturdy feel too.

Beyond the form factor, Fnatic have done well to nail the details here as well. The stabilisers on larger keys are pre-lubed for silent and easy operation, the USB-C port is offset to the left to ensure the cable doesn't interfere with your mouse and the legends on each keycap are inscribed with a legible font that feels more grown-up than those on most gaming keyboards. The switch housings are even transparent and two extra LEDs are embedded beneath the space bar to ensure that the customisable RGB lighting is evenly distributed throughout the board. I particularly liked the inclusion of a 'competition mode', which sets to the lighting to dim orange and locks the Windows key.

The only downsides I've discovered while testing the Streak 65 have concerned the 'Fnatic OP' software, which didn't permit a single colour to be set and didn't offer an option to change the four numbered macro keys to act as their listed secondary functions (Insert, Delete, Page Up, Page Down). (There's a Function lock key combo, but this also changes the arrow keys to control the music - not ideal for text editing.) None of these are dealbreakers, but they're the only forthcomings I have about recommending this narrow keyboard to a wide audience. Altogether, this new tiny Streak is every bit as easy to love as its bigger brothers and certainly among the best gaming keyboards on the market.

See our best 65 percent keyboard picks for more recommendations in this form factor.

The best mechanical keyboard for laptops we've tested is the Nuphy Air75 which costs £79/$99 (with code DF10). This is a gorgeous keyboard with a ton of clever design innovations, from slim and spherical PBT keycaps in a pleasant colour scheme, 'AirFeet' that allow the keyboard to be placed directly on top of MacBooks and many Windows laptops, and even RGB light bars on either side that indicate the current mode and battery life. The Air75 provides a welcome upgrade when it comes to the typing experience too, providing bags more tactile feedback, key travel and comfort. You can even pick up a beautiful $19 folio case which folds around the keyboard to protect it during travel and props up smartphones and tablets.

You have the option of USB-C, 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, while both Mac and Windows systems are supported with keycaps for both in the box. The low profile switches are hot-swappable too, so you can use a wide range of replacements with different characteristics. I tested a model with low profile Gateron Brown switches, and found they offered a good blend of tactility and smooth, silent operation. Given its flexibility, quality and aesthetics, the Air75 is a superlative option for its price.

The 60 percent size is a favourite of mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, but one that saw remarkably little attention from major gaming brands before 2020. Our current favourite is the £98/$90 Razer Huntsman Mini.

Like other 60 percent boards, there's no f-key row, no num-pad, no nav cluster and no arrow keys. That results in a beautifully clean keyboard that takes up minimal desk space, while still allowing access to the excised functions via a Function layer. As 60 percent is an aesthetic as much as a practical choice, it's nice to see Razer offer both black and white colour options for the keyboard's chassis and keycaps - and a completely standard layout that allows for custom keycap sets to be installed. Similarly, it's great to see a removable USB-C cable, allowing fans to install custom-made cables to further customise their board.

Of course, the Huntsman Mini doesn't get a spot on our list just for looking nice. It also feels great to use, with Razer's individually-stabilised optical switches delivering consistent feedback with minimal key wobble. We tested a unit with soft linear red switches with a 1mm actuation distance and 40g actuation force, but clicky purple switches with a 1.5mm actuation distance and 45g actuation force are also offered. The keycaps themselves are also unusually high quality, made from PBT with shine-through legends, so they feel great and won't succumb to the shiny patches that can afflict lower-quality ABS keycaps.

As well as these unique switches, the Huntsman Mini also sets itself apart with its Synapse software, which allows you to set intricate custom lighting modes - something impossible on keyboards that can only switch between a few preset effects. You can also synchronise your lighting with other RGB-encrusted Razer peripherals or supported Razer Chroma games, which is a nice bonus.

See our best 60 percent keyboard picks for more compact keyboard ideas.

The £145/$219 Logitech G915 TKL is the fusion of two growing trends from the very companies that promulgated them: dependable, low-latency wireless connectivity from Logitech and low-profile, laptop-like mechanical switches from Kailh. The combination is an impressive one, allowing the construction of an ultra-thin keyboard for gaming and typing that feels great to use and looks super clean on your desk - especially in this new compact form factor. There are three low profile switch types offered here right off the bat - clicky, tactile and linear - so you can opt for the amount of tactile and audible feedback that makes sense to you.

The Lightspeed wireless connection worked perfectly in our testing, providing the same wired feel as Logitech's G Pro Wireless gaming mouse. Battery life was also strong, at around 40 hours with backlighting at max brightness - ten more hours than the full-size G915. (If you turn down the backlight, the G915 TKL manages over a thousand hours!) Bluetooth is also available, which adds more latency but allows the keyboard to work with devices like phones and tablets; it's possible to switch between Bluetooth and Lightspeed connections with a press of a button which makes it a convenient companion for a smartphone, iPad or laptop without a full-size USB port.

Elsewhere, Logitech has paid an impressive amount of attention to detail. The aluminium alloy body of the G915 TKL feels incredibly robust despite its thin design, with softly rounded corners and a comfortable "zero friction" volume roller in the upper right corner. The tenkeyless design means that there's no dedicated macro keys or number pad, as we saw on the full-size G915, but there are still media controls beneath the volume roller and various profile settings along the top. RGB backlighting is included beneath each key, which of course can be set to a single colour, turned down or disabled entirely if you prefer.

Full-height alternative: Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro

If you prefer the feel of full-height mechanical switches, the £149/$181 Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro is your best bet. It sports a gorgeous full-size layout, a wrist rest, a convenient volume wheel and media keys, a long-lasting battery and your choice of 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth support. Razer's software is more advanced than Logitech's, so this might be a better choice if you want to set intricate or game-specific RGB lighting effects. Both clicky/tactile (Razer Green) and linear/silent (Razer Yellow) switch options are available; we used the clicky version in our testing and had a lovely time typing and gaming at maximum volume.

The $129 Epomaker Lite, aka the Skyloong GK61S Lite is a supremely quiet 60 percent size mechanical keyboard with a stylish look. The soft key feel is down to the keyboard's unique 'shallow gasket' design, which places a 2mm silicone pad between the keyboard's metal plate and the PCB. This gives every key a soft landing, and together with sound absorbing foam drastically cutting the noise that normally accompanies typing on a mechanical keyboard. I'm a big fan of how this keyboard looks too, with keycaps in retro-inspired yellow or red colourways and a weighty aluminium chassis. The feature list is strong as well, with wired and wireless connectivity, hot-swappable switches and accompanying software for PC and Mac. The Lite has been great fun to use - the muted, raindrop-like sound it produces is brilliant - and it's so rare to find something unique like this in the keyboard space.

If you can get on with the relatively restrictive 60 percent size layout, then this innovative indie keyboard is well worth a look.

The $139 Drop CTRL is the best-built and most cleanly designed mechanical keyboard for gaming we've tested. Available in a compact yet convenient TKL (tenkeyless, aka 'no numpad') layout, the CTRL has a minimal footprint, with no extra keys for macros, media controls and the like; these functions are handled by a Fn layer. The keyboard comes in black or grey with six different switch options; I opted for the delightfully light and clicky Kailh Box Whites rather than alternatives from Cherry or Kailh. The switch mounts are hot-swappable, so you can fit any other standard MX-style switches in if you prefer.

The aluminium used on the top and bottom makes the keyboard extremely resistant to deck flex; it feels as well-built as an old IBM Model M but in a much more compact form factor. USB-C is also included, with a non-recessed port that means that pretty much any USB-C data cable can be used. The black and grey PBT keycaps provided with the board look great, and the entirely standard layout means that you can swap them for a set of custom keycaps in the colour or material of your choice without difficulty.

An RGB wave lighting effect is enabled by default, but there are several calmer presets available and you can use Drop's configurator to make your own custom key layouts and lighting settings. This is a powerful option for advanced users, but lacks the accessibility of software from more prominent keyboard brands.

All things considered, the CTRL is a fantastic keyboard for gaming or programming with a nice clean aesthetic. For something a bit cheaper, more widely accessible and with easier (if more limited) software, consider our previous picks for this category - the HyperX Alloy Origins or Alloy Origins Core.

The £89/$99 Xtrfy K4 TKL is one of the best mechanical keyboards on the market when it comes to gaming, and given its feature set and build quality it's surprisingly affordable at less than £100. We like its high quality Kailh Red plate-mounted switches for fast-paced FPS games like Counter-Strike and Valorant, which provide a soft and linear feel ideal for quick taps or double-taps. They're quite comfortable for typing too, with a good amount of feedback despite not having a tactile bump or click like Brown or Blue switches.

The bright RGB backlighting looks great too, especially as you can control all of the effects on the keyboard with no software required. As well as backlighting controls, you can also adjust the volume, access media controls or launch common programs using the Function (Fn) layer.

Xtrfy's attention to detail is also impressive. For example, rather than using expensive but trendy PBT keycaps that would raise the price, the Swedish company has found a middle ground with thicker-than-normal ABS keycaps that provide more durability and a nicer feel than standard ABS caps. Each stabiliser is oiled to reduce noise, and combined with foam padding in the bottom of the chassis, the K4 TKL is actually reasonably quiet for a mechanical keyboard. The key legends are also neat and tidy, with even the secondary functions clearly visible. These small details are often ignored, so it's great to see them taken care of here.

There are three colour schemes available for the K4 TKL: black, white and "retro". We tested the latter, and the off-white, grey and red keycaps provide a unique look that we really dig. If you're after a well-made keyboard for gaming that doesn't cost the earth, then the Xtrfy K4 TKL comes highly recommended. A full-size model, simply titled the Xtrfy K4, is also available.

The Redragon K551/552 are some of the most popular budget mechanical keyboards available, thanks to their low price, good range of regional layouts and full complement of mechanical switches. The keyboards are available in a variety of switch configurations, from clicky Blues to tactile Browns and soft linear Reds, with the £45/$38 K551 being a full-size board and the £45/$37 K552 being the more compact TKL variant. (The K551-R and 552-R add RGB lighting, rather than single-colour.) Despite its low price, the keyboard feels reasonably well built, with an aluminium frame, plate-mounted switches and decent backlit ABS keycaps. There are few advanced features here; this is just a simple keyboard that delivers a great typing and gaming experience for the money.

The best compact keyboard I've tested is the £95/$59 Keychron K2. Originally on Kickstarter, this 84-key mechanical keyboard comes with a choice with Brown, Blue or Red switches and - unusually - both macOS and Windows keycaps in the box. This keyboard has an 80 percent layout, so it misses out the numpad but still has arrow keys on the bottom right, F keys at the top of the keyboard and a single column of navigational keys on the right side. That provides considerable space savings compared to a standard or tenkeyless design, while still keeping the most important keys within easy reach. As you'd hope for such a portable keyboard, the K2 supports both Bluetooth and USB-C connections, so it can be used in both wired and wireless modes with a range of devices.

The Keychron K2 performed excellently in my testing, with a satisfying feel from the Brown Gateron switches, while the aluminium frame looks great and ensures this keyboard can survive quite a bit. This model also comes with full RGB backlighting, including a number of different effects. Given this keyboard's long feature list and great build quality, it's a surprise to find that it's also among the most affordable keyboards in its category. The deluxe model with an aluminium frame and RGB costs $89 plus shipping. Swap the metal frame for plastic to save $10, and chop another tenner off the price by opting for white backlighting instead of RGB.

The Das Keyboard MacTigr is an excellent choice for Macs, with a brilliant typing experience, plenty of nice touches and tank-like build quality at an ultra-premium $219.

The fact remains that there simply aren't a lot of dedicated mechanicals for MacOS, which is arguably why the MacTigr exists in the first place. The best way to actually describe the MacTigr is that it's a 'thoughtful' keyboard - Das has put every effort in to make it as functional and as lovely to use as possible. You'll find a twiddly volume wheel with tactile-feeling multimedia playback buttons, as well as an entire function row to play with, complete with additional keys for things like sending your Mac to sleep or adjusting screen brightness on the fly. Did I also mention you get a pair of USB-C passthrough ports on the back of the board? It seems Das really has thought of everything.

Keeping in with that pleasant user experience theme, it's also a keyboard that offers a smooth and light keypress with Cherry MX Low Profile Red switches. The MacTigr also comes with full N-Key rollover so you can push down as many keys as you want, which is critical for some game genres and otherwise ensures no key presses go unregistered. The keyboard is also supremely built and should last for decades, which is nice.

As for bugbears, the lack of any form of key illumination, RGB or not, is a bit of a pain, as is the lack of any software-based configuration to unlock the MacTigr's true potential. It would have been nice to see Das' own Q software bundled here, but alas, it's not to be.

And of course, there's the $219 asking price. This is up there with some of the most expensive and therefore premium mechanicals out there, and it arguably doesn't seem like you get much outside of the keyboard for that money - especially given the existence of Keychron's Mac-friendly keyboards such as the K2, our pick as the best compact mechanical keyboard out there. While these keyboards may be better value though, the MacTigr remains the superior choice.

Okay, okay, so this isn't really a retro keyboard. Instead, it's a modern keyboard with a retro aesthetic, with colourways and design language that evoke memories of the 80s. The £129/$130 Durgod Fusion is a compact keyboard - a 65 percent, if you want to be specific - with both wired (USB-C) and wireless functionality, accessible via a chunky switch in the upper right. A built-in battery provides up to 40 days of use, thanks to the lack of LEDs on the keyboard, and you have the choice of standard Bluetooth 5 or lower-latency 2.4GHz wireless via a USB dongle hidden under the Durgod logo. That makes it a good choice for a wide range of mobiles, tablets and computers. I did have some issues connecting via the wireless dongle in my testing, but that was solved by a firmware update to the keyboard and shouldn't affect retail units.

The keycaps are made from durable double-shot PBT, while the switches beneath come in seven different flavours of Cherry MX from clicky Blues and tactile Browns to quiet Silent Reds. The typing experience is generally excellent and the compact layout makes sense - although it may require some mental effort if you're used to a larger keyboard with F keys or a numpad. The build quality is impressive too, given the reasonable price, but the small frame means that the keyboard is still portable if you want to put it in a backpack or simply carry it into another room.

Another nice 65 percent keyboard with retro sensibilities is the $60 Epomaker B21. This one is covered in knobs, with one on each corner to control your computer's volume and the keyboard's lighting brightness, and the F keys have been replaced by media controls, a calculator button, three profiles and a Mac/Windows toggle. I don't think these are necessary more helpful than F keys, depending on the workload, but they certainly contribute to a unique design. There are round corners and soft colours everywhere here, and if you like the look this Bluetooth and USB-C combo keyboard certainly does the job.

The £167/$182 Wooting Two HE is something special: an analogue mechanical keyboard. That's an interesting prospect for gaming, as their pressure-sensitive keys allow you to steer into corners or creep around a level with the same fine-grained control you only normally only get with a wheel or controller. You can adjust the actuation point of the keyboard in software too, anywhere from 0.1 to 4.0mm, making a trade-off between speed and control that normally demands switching to an entirely different keyboard with different mechanical switches inside. You can also trigger up to four different effects as a single key is pressed and released - eg selecting a grenade with a light touch, throwing it when you bottom out the key and swapping back to your weapon as the key is released. All of this requires some setup and tweaking, but the result is something special.

The Two HE is a solid keyboards even if you use it entirely digitally, with a clean 'floating keys' design, programmable RGB backlighting and a comfortable full-size layout with four extra keys. The use of an advanced Hall Effect sensor also means that key presses should be registered faster than traditional switches, especially when combined with the keyboard's 'tachyon mode' that strips out nonessentials like RGB effects for a lightning-fast response. For more on this special keyboard, check out our full Wooting Two HE review!

The £230/€230 Mountain Everest Max is a modular keyboard in the strictest sense of the word, offering novel customisability and a multi-part design. The centrepiece is a TKL (tenkeyless, ie no numpad) keyboard, to which three additional components can be joined: a numpad with four Stream Deck style LCD keys, a multi-function LCD wheel and media controls piece, and a palm rest. There's flexibility in the way in which these pieces come together too - the numpad can be positioned to the right as standard or on the left, an alternative that combines easy access to numeric inputs while leaving loads of room to the right of the keyboard for your mouse. The volume wheel part can also be placed on the top left or top right, according to your preference. The smaller pieces connect via USB-C and magnets, and can be freely swapped around in just a couple of seconds. The Everest Max offers all of the components in one box, along with a handful of extra switches (all of the switches here are hot swappable, so you can install your own switch of choice) and magnetically attached discs that angle the keyboard (as an alternative to flip-out feet). You can also get the base model Everest Core, which is just the TKL keyboard, or even the Everest Core Barebones which comes without switches or keycaps at a lower price.

The Everest Max is extremely convincing as a full package, and thanks to its LCD keys and the Base Camp software it can function as a mini Stream Deck alternative for controlling scenes in OBS. I found the software package a little flaky as it's still under active development, but I didn't encounter any serious bugs and the possibilities here are powerful indeed - with comprehensive controls for lighting, key binding, macros, the LCD wheel and multiple profiles. The keyboard itself is a pleasure to use too, especially with that left-handed-style layout with the numpad on the left and the multi-function wheel in the upper right. Having quick access to volume controls as well as lighting selections, a clock, PC stats and even an APM (actions per minute) counter is entirely novel and I'd love to see this on more boards in future - it's much more powerful than the OLED screen on the likes of the SteelSeries Apex Pro, which includes some similar functions but is much clumsier to use and is mostly relegated to showing a custom graphic in my experience.

So: a very interesting keyboard and I'm curious to see how the package develops further over time! I'd love to see more add-ons available that really push the boundaries of what the mechanical keyboard is capable of - and the LCD keys built into on the numpad make this a really canny pick for streamers and content creators already.

The $320 Ultimate Hacking Keyboard is a split-design ergonomic keyboard, similar to the Ergodox but with a much smaller footprint and the ability to use it both joined up (for portability) and split apart (for ergonomics and having a mug of tea in the middle). If you're already used to a 60 percent keyboard for your work, then this split layout should be ergonomically superior while including some useful functions not found on standard compact keyboards like built-in mouse controls, two extra keys below the space bar and easily accessible arrow keys.

Based on my testing, the chief advantages of the UHK over the Ergodox are two-fold: the closer-to-standard layout is easier to learn and the keyboard is more easily programmable, thanks to an excellent UHK Agent software. It is trivial to change layouts on the fly, with the small LED display in the upper left of the keyboard reminding you which layout is active. Windows, Mac and Linux are all well supported, with preset layouts for Qwerty, Colemak and Dvorak.

A wide range of case colours, mechanical switches, key legends and accessories are also available - including click-into-place add-ons like thumb keys, touchpad, trackpoint or trackball. A palm rest is also available, adding more options for tenting, tilting and otherwise positioning the keyboard in an ergonomically optimal way. Sadly, key backlighting is not offered currently, something that is possible with the Ergodox Glow. Regardless, the UHK is a well-designed ergonomic keyboard worth considering for anyone that relies on a keyboard for work.

With that, our recommendations come to an end. Of course, even if we chose 200 keyboards we'd still not scratch the surface of the many options available - so if we didn't cover your favourite keyboard, it's nothing personal. If you think we've missed a good option though, feel free to get in touch with me @wsjudd.

I hope you've found this article useful, and I look forward to the feedback. If you haven't read it before, I'd also encourage you to check out our feature on how - and why - mechanical keyboards become popular in the first place.

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Will has been writing about games and technology since 2001 (age 12), but went full-time in 2011 after receiving his MEng in Computer Science. As well as Eurogamer, Will contributes articles to giffgaff and Rock Paper Shotgun. Following the recent release of Counter-Strike 2, Will is now dreaming of new StarCraft and Fallout sequels - plus more Cossacks, of course.

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