We know our keyboards here at TR. Churning out news and reviews requires hours of typing at a stretch, so any flaws or uncomfortable design choices quickly make themselves known under our fingers.
Generally, we prefer keyboards with mechanical key switches, like Cherry's famous MX clickers. They feel good under all typing conditions, from article composition to heavy gaming, and the wide variety of available switch types makes it possible to get a keyboard with a feel that's best matched to your preferences. If you're not familiar with the most common Cherry MX switch types, check out our run-down of the various colors.
We also have a couple of options for those who need an ergonomic keyboard or an all-in-one option for the living room. Read on to find out more.
|Corsair K70, K70 RGB||$119.99-$169.99|
|Cooler Master QuickFire series||$79.99-$149.99|
|Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum||$129.99|
|Topre Type Heaven||$154.83|
|Hausbell Mini H7||$35.99|
Our favorite Cherry-flavored option: Corsair Gaming K70
Corsair's K-series keyboards are long-time favorites of TR staffers. I use the RGB version of the Editor's Choice-winning K70 as my daily driver, and I appreciate the K70's rock-solid chassis, aluminum top plate, and Cherry MX mechanical switches. This keyboard also features volume and media controls, plus a Windows key lockout and adjustable backlight brightness.
If a single-color backlight is too tame, Corsair also makes an RGB version of the K70, which adds per-key RGB LED backlighting and some fancy animated effects. When we reviewed the K70 RGB, we found the backlight to be a cool feature, but whether it's worth the $40 premium is ultimately a matter of personal taste.
Vivid LEDs and unique switches: Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum
Logitech's G410 Atlas Spectrum lops off the number pad for an easier reach to one's mouse. This mechanical board uses Logitech's proprietary Romer-G mechanical keyswitches. They're tactile but not clicky, somewhat like Cherry's MX Browns, and they feel great for both gaming and extended typing alike.
The neatest thing about the Romer-Gs may be their backlighting design, though. Each key stem doubles as a light tube to focus the output of the RGB LED under each key. That design reduces light bleed around the bottom of the key caps while making the letters and markings on the board more vivid. If you're really picky about the quality of the backlighting on your keyboard, Logitech's design is the best-looking of any I've seen.
Logitech's Windows utility can detect events in certain titles to trigger lighting effects on the keyboard. For example, kick off a police chase in Grand Theft Auto V, and the G410 will blink its function row in red and blue. The utility can also sync lighting effects across other Logitech peripherals. Turn on the scrolling-rainbow effect common to many RGB LED peripherals these days and the software can be configured to automatically apply the same effect to the user's Logitech mouse and headset, too.
No-frills solidity: Cooler Master's QuickFire and MasterKeys series
Cooler Master's QuickFire XT is another rock-solid, Cherry-equipped option. Cooler Master also offers an accessible tenkeyless board with its QuickFire Rapid, which dumps the numpad for a shorter reach to the mouse.
If you want exotic flavors of Cherry MX switches, like MX Greens, the QuickFire XT is one of the few mainstream keyboards to be offered with them, though availability of keyboards based on the Green switches is spotty.
Since our last peripheral guide update, Cooler Master has introduced its Cherry MX blue-equipped QuickFire XTi, which offers dual-color, per-key LED backlighting that can be customized to produce shades of red, blue, and purple. If you're not interested in Corsair's RGB keyboards but still want a light show, the QuickFire XTi could be just the ticket.
The QuickFire Ultimate is an excellent alternative, too. It features the same Cherry MX switches as its siblings, plus a beefy chassis and full backlighting. We found it worthy of a TR Recommended award in our testing.
Cooler Master's MasterKeys Pro L and Pro S boards are also TR Recommended award winners. These Cherry MX RGB-equipped boards offer the full range of backlight color and animation options we've come to expect on today's gaming keyboards. Like the QuickFire XTi, the MasterKeys boards expose a great deal of their buttons and dials through shortcuts on the hardware itself. That's handy if you regularly take your keyboard out and about and don't want to fuss with a software utility to manage its custom settings.
Cherry switches and quiet competence: Rosewill RK-9000V2
Rosewill's RK-9000V2 is another TR Recommended award winner. This keyboard features the same Cherry MX key switches that we know and love in a slightly more bare-bones package than the Corsair Gaming K-series boards. The V2 refresh of the RK-9000 features a strengthened USB port that might solve the durability issues inherent to the original RK-9000's USB connector. The RK-9000V2 doesn't have a lot of extras, but we aren't complaining at this price.
For something different: Topre's Type Heaven
Next up, we have the Editor's Choice-winning Topre Type Heaven, which is outfitted with Topre's trademark electrostatic capacitive switches. You can read all about this keyboard and its unique switches in our review. It's not a mechanical keyboard in the strictest sense, but it provides smoother, quieter action than conventional mechanical designs—without the mushiness typical of rubber domes. The one downside of Topre-equipped keyboards is their cost: the Type Heaven sells for $150, despite its minimal feature set.
The ergonomic option: Microsoft Sculpt
For those who want or need an ergonomic keyboard, we recommend Microsoft's Sculpt. This wireless keyboard is designed with Microsoft's classic ergonomic layout, but unlike the company's older, rubber-dome-equipped Natural keyboards, the Sculpt uses high-quality scissor switches.
TR staffers praise the Sculpt's organic shape and snappy switch feel, and the flat keys require less finger movement to actuate than the taller keys on most conventional keyboards. The Sculpt comes with a separate wireless numpad that can be put into position when needed and stowed away when not in use.
For the couch: Logitech K400+, Hausbell Mini H7
Full-size mechanical keyboards are great, but they don't work well in the living room. Lightweight wireless keyboards with integrated trackpads are much better choices. To that end, we recommend Logitech's K400+ and Hausbell's Mini H7. The K400+ is a nearly-full-sized keyboard with a multi-touch trackpad on its right side, while the Mini H7 is sort of like an oversized remote. Pick your poison.
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