Mechanical keyboards are slowly taking the place of their membrane/monoblock counterparts even with their higher prices. Monoblock keyboards became popular due to ease of production thanks to the low-cost design, but this also made them prone to break down easily.
Before we get to our list of the best mechanical gaming keyboards in 2021, let’s talk about what makes these keyboards different from the rest.
What Are Mechanical Keyboards?
Contrary to popular belief that mechanical keyboards are a new breed of typing solutions, they have actually existed since the ‘80s and were commonplace in computer setups of the decade. But unfortunately, the then-new monoblock design took over the market by storm for the reasons mentioned above.
Mechanical keyboards are named such due to the way they operate – using physical switches to register keypresses into the screen, whether in typing or playing games. These switches tend to be more accurate due to various factors like actuation points and forces, which can vary depending on the switch variant.
Now staging a comeback, mechanical keyboards have found a niche that fits them quite well – gaming. Manufacturers have started to take notice of how the gaming market has gobbled down mechanical keyboards so much so that they have added various functions like RGB lighting, macro keys, and more to fit this application.
To sum it all up, mechanical keyboards offer precision, accuracy, and feedback that can benefit gamers greatly due to lesser room for errors and faster response times.
The Best Mechanical Keyboards 2021
|Razer Blackwidow Elite||Yes||4.9|
|ANNE PRO 2||Yes||4.4|
|Redragon KUMARA K552||Yes||4.5|
|Das Keyboard 4 Professional||No||4.1|
|Realforce R2 Keyboard||No||4.7|
|Viper Gaming V765||Yes||4.1|
|Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT||Yes||4.2|
|SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL||Yes||4.8|
For gamers, by gamers. This motto of the renowned gaming peripheral company Razer has more or less been their inspiration in giving the community the products they deserve, and it seems to have paid off, as evidenced by their massive fanbase. One of the most successful mechanical keyboards from the brand is their Razer Blackwidow Elite. It doesn’t capitalize too much on the gamer aesthetic and instead follows a simple, ergonomic build that feels premium even if the majority of the keyboard is made from plastic.
The Razer Blackwidow Elite uses the brand’s proprietary mechanical switches, namely the Razer Orange, Green, and Yellow switches, offering different types of actuation feedback and response times that can range from clicky and tactile to linear and silent. These switches are also rated for an 80 million-click lifespan, ensuring you a reliable typing service that’ll last for years.
Razer offers comprehensive software to control a wide variety of its peripherals, the Razer Synapse 3 program. This offers RGB lighting, macro, and key customization support that can be saved as profiles that load up automatically as you turn on your PC. It also has dedicated media controls, a USB passthrough on the side, and full-length padded wrist rest to improve ergonomics and user experience for applications other than gaming.
For those that value space-saving solutions or portability, a small form-factor keyboard might work out just fine for you. Such is the design of the ANNE PRO 2, a compact gaming and typing solution that you can lug around wherever you go without problems. It carries the 60% form factor, which means that it contains 60% of the keys present in a full-sized keyboard. This may be an issue for some, however, so keep in mind what keys are important to you before jumping the gun on this one. That being said, this will allow you to save space on offices with limited real estate, or if you just to jump into the minimalist bandwagon.
The ANNE PRO 2 60% mechanical keyboard is offered in different switch variants, from the tried and tested Cherry MX lineup, to budget-oriented ones like Gateron and Khail. With this amazing range of switch options, you’re sure to get the ones that suit your typing style the most. All of these are assembled in a durable build that feels premium to the touch and will surely last a long time even under constant use.
The keyboard also supports the reprogramming of its keys to accommodate macros, which extends the functionality of the unit even if its physical key layout is missing 40% of the standard setup. Moreover, it has neat RGB lighting features that help illuminate each key and can improve your gaming setup’s overall aesthetic. You may experience some difficulty with the ANNE PRO 2 at first due to the smaller form factor, but it offers a pretty convenient experience once you get accustomed to the whole affair.
With mechanical keyboards, costs will always be significantly greater than their membrane counterparts, discouraging beginners from making their very first purchase – but that is all in the past now with options like the Redragon KUMARA K552. Redragon has been known to provide affordable gaming peripherals – especially mechanical keyboards – for a few years now, boasting viable quality and performance that can match pricier units with ease.
The Redragon KUMARA K552 sports a TKL (Ten-Keyless) design that omits the number pad from the standard keyboard layout to save some space but retains the arrow keys for functional convenience. Its structure is made from plastic with some metal paneling, which may feel cheap for some, but durability isn’t compromised in any way at all. Moreover, the keyboard also hosts keyboard-programmable RGB backlighting emphasized by the rugged double-shot keycaps.
As for performance, the Redragon KUMARA K552 sports custom switches akin to Cherry MX or Gateron Blues, which are rather clicky and noisy but have a satisfying tactile feel to them. The actuation force is quite light as well, adding comfort to your typing experience especially during extended hours of use. Overall, the Redragon KUMARA K552 offers a viable mechanical gaming solution for half or even quarter the price of premium competitors in the market.
For those who want that premium look to elevate their desk space’s aesthetics, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional fits the bill right away. It sports a sleek, professional vibe that’s sure to spruce up your office-themed setup from the get-go while packing innovative features to give you the advantage in serious gaming sessions as well as productivity use cases.
It features a rugged build quality thanks to a mix of metal and plastic structure that increases the rigidity of the keyboard and makes it last through countless button mashings on a daily basis. This also adds a bit of heft to the Das Keyboard 4 Professional, making it feel premium and stable on a gaming desk. Do note that its support base is quite slippery, so if you’re the kind of gamer who’s overenthusiastic when using spells or evading gunshots, you might have to consider planting it on a gripping surface like an extended mouse mat.
The Das Keyboard 4 Professional is offered in Cherry MX Blue and Brown switches, which are both tactile, but the latter makes less noise and is much easier to actuate. This gives you the options to go all clicky-clacky or opt for a more subdued sound profile depending on your gaming/office setup location. It also sports a fully-decked media interface where you control media playback on the fly. Pound for pound, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional provides a well-rounded gaming performance without the in-your-face aura most gaming keyboards possess.
Not everyone will appreciate the Realforce R2 Keyboard, and that’s okay. Only hardcore mech-heads will know the value this unit offers due to it being equipped with enthusiast-grade Topre switches. These switches make up most of the cost of the keyboard, which means you’ll only get a conventional plastic body and rubber cables. Still, the manufacture ensures that you get a rugged unit that will last even when subjected to daily use and abuse.
The premium Topre switches can be toggled between three different actuation distances – 1.5 mm, 2 mm, and 3 mm – which you can choose from depending on your needs, with the shortest one obviously suited for gaming and the longer ones made for general use. To make the toggling process seamless, the Realforce R2 Keyboard sports a dedicated key that you can press to cycle through these actuation settings on the go. Even extending this amazing level of customizability is the ability to individually tweak the actuation distance of each key via software means.
These switches are topped with double-shot ABS keycaps with Cherry MX stems for maximum compatibility with most aftermarket keycaps, and are designed to accentuate the RGB lighting without compromising the print legend integrity and quality. The Realforce R2 Keyboard also supports full NKRO (N-Key Rollover), allowing you to press any number of keys simultaneously and still get accurate keypress registration results.
If you’re all about gaming performance and have no care in the world for aesthetics, the Viper Gaming V765 mechanical keyboard holds great competitive value at an affordable price. Made by Patriot, known for its computer memory and storage solutions, the Viper Gaming V765 proudly sports the sleek aesthetic of the brand’s main players with a hint of gaming gimmick to appeal to the majority of its target market. The build quality is impressive as well, sporting an aluminum top plate that tapers off to the sides for a rugged look and functionality.
It comes with Kailh Box White switches, which are great alternatives for most Blue or Green switches thanks to its amazing tactile feedback and shorter actuation distance. These Kailh Box White switches feature 3.6 mm of travel as opposed to the usual 4 mm offered by similarly-spec’d counterparts. It also has a less intrusive sound profile than most tactile/clicky switches to keep the decibel levels down in intense gaming moments where focus is of utmost importance.
Just like most gaming hardware today, the Viper Gaming V765 sports RGB lighting that can be customized using standard keyboard functions or through the Viper software. You’re also treated to IP56 water and dust-resistance, increasing the keyboard’s resilience against common mechanical failure problems. While some aspects like stability and desk grip can be improved upon, the Viper Gaming V765 guarantees anyone wanting to own their very first mechanical keyboard a grand time.
We can’t stress enough how Razer’s product quality has gone up through the years. That’s why suggesting a mechanical keyboard like the Razer Huntsman is a guilt-free decision for us. It sports a durable build constructed from high-grade metal and plastic, giving it a premium feel and heft that enhances desk stability especially for active gamers.
The Razer Huntsman is also one of the first models from the brand that makes use of their proprietary opto-mechanical switches, which combines a light sensor and the traditional mechanical switch design to deliver an accurate, lightning-fast keypress registration. This provides gamers with an edge over the competition, with the Purple switch offering an amazing 1.5 mm actuation point with just 45g of force. That is evidently shorter and lighter than most mechanical switches at this price point, allowing you to dial in an accurate number of strokes without missing at all.
Knowing Razer, you’ll love the eye-candy RGB features of the Razer Huntsman thanks to its Chroma lighting which can be controlled on the Synapse software, allowing you to choose different effects, cycles, and even macro customization in one comprehensive solution. The Razer Huntsman has an Elite version, which is basically a spruced up model that has an RGB wrist rest, media controls, and more, but for the additional price markup, the standard model offers the best value for money hands down.
For those who know their stuff, one can’t deny the popularity Corsair has been enjoying in the gaming peripheral scene. The brand offers products that are built like tanks and sport the latest technologies to improve the overall gaming experience. As such, we aren’t pulling punches in suggesting the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT, a beefed-up mechanical keyboard that probably has all the bells and whistles any gamer could ask for.
This high-end mechanical keyboard sports a full layout complete with macro and media keys, and an ergonomic padded wrist rest to offer convenience during extended gaming sessions. It also feels premium thanks to the brushed aluminum chassis and robust structure construction, giving it a bit of heft to help with stability and augment the rubberized leg stoppers. Of course, all of this comes at a premium, but you get what you pay for, right?
Moreover, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is available in several switch configurations, from the standard Cherry MX Blues and Browns to the coveted MX Speed Silvers. The MX Speed Silver switch comes with 1.2 mm of actuation distance for that ultra-fast reflex improvement and boasts a long lifespan of over 100 million keystrokes. Augmenting this are the PBT keycaps which also allow the vivid RGB per-key lighting to shine through with minimal obstruction. All in all, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is a no-nonsense gamer’s paradise full of features that one might want in a mechanical keyboard.
A cut-down version of the tried and tested Logitech G915 Lightspeed, the Logitech G915 offers a space-saving TKL (Ten-Keyless) design that also helps with the keyboard’s portability – as it is a wireless model. Just like its parent product, this keyboard has an excellent build quality thanks to its aircraft-grade aluminum construction, making it rugged and resilient to constant transport and handling. Being a wireless model, the Logitech G915 boasts 40 hours of gaming on a single charge and can top up back to full in a matter of 3 hours.
As for performance, the Logitech G915 comes with Logitech’s special line of GL switches, which feature a low-profile design to provide the same mechanical operation of standard switches at half the height. The GL switch features 2.7 mm of actuation travel as opposed to the standard 4 mm, making it optimal for gaming applications as an extension of a player’s reflexes. These switches also come in three variations – tactile, clicky, or linear – to accommodate different user preferences out of the box.
It makes use of a Bluetooth connection or the included USB Type-A dongle that supports Logitech’s Lightspeed technology. With this, the user gets a lag-free, real-time keypress registration to give them a leading edge in competitive titles. You can also improve your gaming setup’s aesthetics thanks to the Lightsync RGB functionality that can be customized using Logitech’s G HUB software.
If you really like your RGB that much, look no further than the SteelSeries Apex Pro. This full-sized beast has some of the best lighting functions around, but that’s not all. Just like its competitors, this mechanical keyboard doesn’t let up in terms of build quality as it is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum to ensure long-term resilience while keeping the weight down. Also, the chassis has a nifty OLED Smart Display integrated into it, allowing you to peek real-time application stats from programs like Discord and Spotify without needing to open a window on your computer.
The SteelSeries Apex Pro also boasts an adjustable switch system thanks to the tweakable Omnipoint switches on which you can change actuation distance on the fly. These switches are also quieter than most standard Cherry MX or Gateron variants due to its linear mechanism, keeping decibel levels down and instead lets its performance speak for itself.
As for aesthetics, the SteelSeries Apex Pro goes ham in terms of its sleek keyboard housing, sporting a dark gray finish to accentuate the vivid RGB lighting it packs. It even makes use of a raised keycap design to further enhance the LED’s underglow to give it a seamless ambient look. You also get a borderless plush wrist rest to ensure comfort when gaming or typing for long periods.
What to Look for When Getting a Mechanical Keyboard
Most people shy away from specifics when looking for their very first mechanical keyboard, which should not be the case at all. We’ll keep things fairly simple in this brief guide on how to spot the perfect mechanical keyboard for your needs.
First and foremost, switches are what make mechanical keyboards unique from every other keyboard design in the market. This actually makes the difference in feel with, say, membrane-type keyboards. But what should you expect with mechanical switches?
From the leading German brand Cherry MX to various innovations by newer players in the mechanical switch market, it might be overwhelming for the first-timer, however, there are three main switch types that are the golden standard for most offerings nowadays.
First is the Clicky-type, which offers a tactile bump that you can feel, along with an audible click to notify you that a keypress has been registered. Then there’s the Tactile-type, which still carries that bumpy response but without the click. Lastly, the Linear-type offers a bumpless and noiseless operation, which also improves actuation speeds and lower force needed to register a keypress.
A mechanical keyboard’s form factor will also dictate which application it is best suited for. It comes in three popular sizes, which will be discussed below.
Full-size is the most common keyboard layout and you most probably have encountered it in the real world. This layout usually sports 104 keys (excluding macros and media keys) and is the most functional choice for users who don’t just game on their computers.
Next is the Tenkeyless or TKL form factor, which ditches the numpad for more mouse or desk space. This size is one of the most popular choices for competitive gamers due to the convenience it offers in terms of space and typing ergonomics as you won’t need to angle it just to have a comfortable typing experience.
Last is the 60% form factor, which removes everything to the right of the main Enter key, along with the function row. You can access the Function row using the FN key in combination with other keys, as these usually have legends that indicate its accompanying functions. These keyboards are usually popular with minimalist enthusiasts or those who value portability and need a mechanical solution on the go (often paired with wireless features).