Every clack of a well-made keyboard can bring joy. If you spend most of your day typing, coding, or gaming, a mechanical keyboard can be a comfortable, customizable upgrade over the shallow, drab keyboard that came with your computer. After spending months testing the most promising mechanical keyboards, we recommend the Keychron V3, Keychron V5, and Keychron V6 because they offer the best typing experience and the most extra features for their surprisingly reasonable prices.
The tenkeyless Keychron V3 provides the most enjoyable typing experience and the most features—RGB, hot-swap, programmability, and an optional knob—for a reasonable price.
The Keychron V5 offers all the quality and features of the V3, and it provides all the keys of a full-size keyboard, including a number pad, in a significantly more compact layout.
The Keychron V6 feels just as wonderful to type on and has all the same extra features, and its full-size layout includes a number pad. But it takes up much more desk space.
|Dimensions:||V3: 14.17 by 5.75 by 1.46 inches
V5: 14.96 by 5.83 by 1.46 inches
V6: 17.32 by 5.75 by 1.46 inches
Among all the mechanical keyboards we’ve tested, the tenkeyless Keychron V3, the 1800-layout Keychron V5, and the full-size Keychron V6 stand out for their quality and value. All three models have sturdy cases, durable PBT keycaps, and smooth lubricated stabilizers, and they boast fancy features typically reserved for much pricier models, including RGB backlighting, hot-swappable switches, and full programmability with the easy-to-use VIA software. The V3, V5, and V6 all come with keycaps for Windows and Mac, and swapping between the two operating-system layouts is simple. All three models are available with a variety of Keychron K Pro switches; we recommend the Brown switches if you’re not sure which kind you like best. But these models can’t work wirelessly—like most mechanical keyboards, they must be plugged in. And if you want the fun rotary knob that controls volume by default but can be reprogrammed to do other things too, you have to pay around $10 more.
We recommend tenkeyless keyboards—that is, models without a built-in number pad—because they allow you to place your mouse closer to your body, which can reduce strain on your shoulders, neck, and back. Most people don’t use a number pad frequently enough to justify the desk space it occupies. If you do need a number pad sometimes, you can get a separate programmable numpad, such as the Keychron Q0, that you can move out of the way when you’re not using it.
Vortex Multix 87
The Multix 87 feels just as great to type on, and it’s available with a variety of cute keycap options. But it lacks a backlight and isn’t as easy to program.
|Dimensions:||13.78 by 5.75 by 1.5 inches||Connection:||removable USB-C|
The Vortex Multix 87 feels as wonderful to type on as the Keychron V3, thanks to its sturdy case, durable PBT keycaps, and smooth stabilizers. We recommend it if our top pick is unavailable or if you simply prefer this model’s vibes and don’t need a backlight, full programmability, or a knob. Like our top pick, the Multix 87 has hot-swappable switches, works with Windows and Mac, and can easily switch between the two operating-system layouts. But it’s not as easy to customize as our VIA-compatible top pick, and it lacks a backlight. Note, too, that the Multix 87 is available only with a tenkeyless layout; at this writing, Vortex does not offer a full-size or 1800 version.
The tenkeyless Keychron C1 offers solid build quality and a satisfying typing experience. Compared with our top pick, its keycaps feel cheaper and will wear out sooner, and it is not programmable, but you can’t beat the price.
The full-size Keychron C2 is identical to the C1 but has a built-in number pad, so it takes up more room on a desk.
|Dimensions:||C1: 14.06 by 5.12 by 1.57 inches
C2: 17.15 by 5.12 by 1.57 inches
|Keycap material:||ABS||Backlight:||white or RGB|
If you’re willing to trade quality and programmability for a lower price, get the tenkeyless Keychron C1 or the full-size Keychron C2. Both models offer solid build quality, feel good to type on, and aren’t ugly—all uncommon qualities for keyboards in this price range. They’re also compatible with Windows and Mac, and they come with replacement keycaps for both operating systems. But the C1 and C2 have lower-quality ABS keycaps that feel cheaper to type on and will wear out faster than the solid PBT keycaps on our top picks, and these budget models are not programmable. Keychron offers optional upgrades for the C1 and C2, but if you plan to spend extra for RGB or hot-swap, you’re better off getting one of our top picks instead.
Unfortunately, availability is an issue with most great mechanical keyboards. If our picks are out of stock—or if you’re looking for a wireless tenkeyless keyboard, higher-end options, or a gaming keyboard—take a look at the other good mechanical keyboards we found during testing. If you’re seeking a mechanical keyboard with a more compact layout, check out our guide to compact mechanical keyboards.