The best mechanical keyboard offers a sublime typing experience. You won't just find them sleek to use, you'll actually want to type on these keyboards. They feel good and happen to sound pretty great too. Mechanical switches are in another league to even the best membrane options, and of course they're great for gaming, too.
The supreme feel of mechanical keyboards comes down to their key switches. There are tons of different types of mechanical switches. The key switch spectrum is vast and caters to a variety of tastes. From loud and tactile, to quiet and spongy, each has a different feel. Our guide can help you determine which might suit you best, and you can often find keyboard switch samples if you're invested but want to check them out first.
In the meantime feel free to peruse the list below, where we've jammed the best mechanical keyboards we've tested over the years. These made us feel super productive, and many are the keyboards the PC Gamer hardware team uses in the office today. If you find that price is a barrier, and it will be with the more premium mechanical keyboards, our best cheap gaming keyboards guide has some great options for those on a budget.
Best mechanical keyboards
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The Wooting Two HE is the best gaming keyboard, so unsurprisingly it's also great for typists. Many of its awesome analog features are gaming-centric, but not all, and you'll find a great deal of use in its adjustable actuations and clever macros to level up your typing.
Essentially, the Wooting works like this: if you depress a key, say the W key, rather than send a simple on/off signal to your PC, the keyboard will measure the full range of that key's motion. This is especially useful in games that blend gameplay that best suits both analog and digital inputs on a regular basis, such as Red Dead Redemption 2, GTA V, or Mass Effect.
Wooting helped usher in the analog age of gaming keyboards, and it's still ruling the roost with every new keyboard it designs. The latest, the Wooting Two HE, uses magnets and the Hall effect to achieve what is an incredibly accurate analog movement across every key on the keyboard. And because every key is analog, you can use the analog functionality to your advantage in heaps of interesting ways.
The Wooting Two HE differs from the Wooting One and Wooting Two in how it measures analogue input, however. Where the older Wooting boards relied on optical Flaretech switches, the newer HE board uses the Lekker switch, made by Wooting with popular switch maker Gateron, and relies on the Hall effect (hence Wooting Two 'HE') to achieve analogue input.
In the Wootility v4 software (amazing), a game will need to register this switch actuation as either DirectInput or Xinput. That means you'll largely want to set your left analogue stick up, down, left, right to your WASD keys on the Wooting, in order to replicate the best bits of analogue controller movement.
Of all the peripheral-specific applications out there, and boy are there a lot of them, I don't mind the Wootility one bit, either. It's simple, well put together, and has only improved since I last used it. It puts some other larger manufacturers to shame with how easy and smart-looking it is, in fact.
Do you want to have your entire moveset mapped to a single power key in-game? It's certainly possible. You could chain skills, moves, or spells in-game by applying them all to a single keypress. Or if you're really accurate, have a key do two different things depending on how far you press it.
The keyboard is solid, well-built, and comes with a two-year warranty. If a switch breaks, you can swap it out, as the board itself is hot-swappable. That's one benefit of there not really being all that many mechanical moving parts with a magnetic Lekker switch, and another is that there's less to break in the first place.
The Wooting Two HE is analog at its very best, and if you want heaps of customisability, this is the gaming keyboard for you. There's also the superb Wooting HE60, which we're big fans of but it is admittedly not for everyone due to its compact size.
Read our full Wooting Two HE review.
The Mountain Everest 60 is just as ickle as the other 60% competition, just as cute, and has all the enthusiast keyboard extras you could want, but crucially has the total utility to be your daily driver of a keeb.
the Everest 60 isn't modular like its bigger sibling, the Mountain Everest Max, but there is a dedicated numpad that can be purchased separately, and it's hot-swappable. Crucially, for me, it will also attach to either side of the board.
If you're still rocking a numpad on the right-hand side of your gaming keyboard then you're just plain doing it wrong. The key benefit of a smaller keeb is that your mouse and WSAD hands are closer together, and switching the numpad to the left means you still get to use the extra buttons and the extra desktop real estate for your gaming rodent. And, hell, it's also way more convenient when thrashing your way through a good spreadsheet, too. Those benchmark numbers don't enter themselves, you know.
That extra mouse space is the main reason 60% boards can have a place in gaming, but, at least for me, the traditional lack of cursor keys makes them incredibly frustrating to use full-time. Mountain obviously thinks so, too, and has squeezed them into the right-hand side of the board, squishing down the right shift key and adding in a del key as well.
The original Everest Max is reassuringly solid, and feels good to type on. But the Everest 60 feels sooo much better. It's easily the best typing experience I've ever had, and is a real joy to use. The base of the keyboard has a layer of silicone inside it, to add weight and dampen the sound, but then there are also two layers of foam, on either side of the PCB, to again improve the aural experience. Mountain has used genuine Cherry stabilisers on the board, too, but has made sure they're fitted and lubed properly for the Everest 60 to ensure there's no rattle on even the broad spacebar.
So the Mountain Everest 60 meets our needs as gamers and as gamers with jobs, which is what we want out of a mini 60% mechanical keyboard.
The Everest 60 package isn't completely perfect, however. The main thing that lets it down is—as always seems to be the case with peripherals—the software. It's mostly fine. Mostly. But there are quirks, and the odd little bug I've experienced both in early review testing of the Everest 60, and in my time using the Base Camp software day-to-day with the Everest Max. Thankfully, once you've set your preferred RGB lighting layout, and maybe picked a few macros, you can pretty much just ignore it and get on with enjoying the experience of an outstanding gaming keyboard.
All this good keeb stuff does come at a price. However, the modular nature also means you don't have to go for everything right away. Pick the base board, then grab a numpad some other time if you find it makes sense for you. And then later on maybe pick a mineral PBT keycap set, or some new switches if you feel the need for a change. Because if there's one thing I'm confident of, this board will be with you for many, many years to come, it's certainly earned a place on my desktop.
Read our full Mountain Everest 60 review.
I've had not a single issue with the Everest software either, not in use anyway, and I've been messing around with it a whole lot, from adding in new images and program-launching buttons, to customising the media dock with my own gurning DOOM face.
That said, updating the app and the Everest's firmware fills me with dread. The last Base Camp update failed for no given reason, and the latest firmware update has been sat at 100 percent for the past two hours. That's been ironed out now for the most part, and I'm still using my sample on a day-to-day basis as it totally suits how I game and work on my PC.
While you might not have heard of Mountain, a fresh-faced upstart in the cutthroat world of PC peripherals—it's maybe not the most memorable of names for a keyboard and mouse manufacturer—we've been impressed with the products it's produced so far. The Everest Max is just as excellent, too.
Read our full Mountain Everest Max review.
If you can't cope without your gaming board being lit up like a rainbow then you may be disappointed with the single-colour option, but damn, the white LEDs on this G.Skill board are the brightest I've ever seen. Normally I like to keep at max brightness all day long, but the KM360 would burn out my retina if I did.
It is very bright, but at least the lack of rainbows has helped to keep the price at a more reasonable level.
This TKL board is basic, but what it does, it does very well. It's solid, well-built, reliable, and looks pretty decent too. I was a little disappointed at the lack of wrist rest, and the fact there's no passthrough, or media controls, but I'll happily give those a pass in favour of affordable functionality. The detachable USB Type-C is a real boon to the longevity of this board, too.
It's a simple and reliable option all-round.
If you've got your heart set on a wireless keyboard, then the Logitech G915 is a great example of the genre. It's not a peripheral we believe requires wireless functionality; we much prefer a wireless gaming mouse or wireless gaming headset. But there are a few moments when a wireless keyboard is helpful, like gaming on the couch or if you regularly move your keyboard between devices and locations.
You'll be required to spend that little bit more for wireless functionality than what we tend to see for wired mechanical keyboards with similar features—the Logitech G915 is $250 (£210). There's a slightly cheaper TKL version, but not so much so that we'd instantly recommend it over the full-size model.
What you get for that significant cash investment is a sleek and sturdy board plated in brushed aluminum. There are some smart media controls in the upper right-hand corner of the board, including a volume wheel that feels great to twizzle, and there's a handful of macro keys down the left side of the keyboard. These can be programmed to whatever you see fit on a per-app or per-game basis within the Logitech G software.
Macro functionality has been shifted to a secondary program of the Function keys, can be flipped via the Logitech G gaming software in order to prioritise macro functionality in which case the Fn key will revert F1-12 back to the original input.
Beneath that stylish exterior lies fantastically responsive Kailh-made GL key switches. You can pick from linear, tactile, or clicky, and we recommend the latter if you really want to make a racket.
It packs in all this without a massive overall footprint, too, coming in as one of the sleeker boards of the lot today. The wired Cherry MX 10.0 has it beat there, though, for better or worse.
Yet there's a reason that I use this keyboard most days when I'm working from home. It feels great to type on over the course of an entire day, and its low-profile standing takes some of the strain off my wrists. I don't feel the need for a wristrest when I'm leaning my wrists on the desk, either.
Read our full Logitech G915 TKL review (that's the slightly smaller version).
Best gaming keyboard | Best graphics cards| Best gaming chair
Best VR headset | Best wireless gaming mouse | Best wireless gaming keyboard
The Asus ROG Azoth is the Taiwanese tech giant's first real enthusiast gaming keyboard. And, honestly, it's a doozy. That's a technical term which translates as a quality keeb that ticks all the boxes, then draws in some more at the bottom of the list and ticks those off, too.
Asus is no stranger to mechanical keyboards. I've tested a bunch of its previous ROG mech boards, even its almost smart hybrid Claymore board which got ahead of Mountain in the detachable numpad game, but failed to make it stick. I mean, literally. The floppy attachment of the extra keypad was one of the reasons I hated it so much.
But it's only really ever just dipped its toes into the enthusiast keyboard market. Well, the ROG Azoth is Asus going in with both feet, which is no real surprise given the burgeoning market for high-end custom keyboards.
It is though offering everything you could possibly want from an enthusiast keeb. The build quality is absolutely exceptional and the weight of the Azoth is extreme. And I love it for that. It's also been built with all the pre-lubed, gasketed, dampened trimmings you'll want for that premium typing experience.
And premium it is. The Azoth is a delight to tap away on, even more so now that I've completely replaced all of the supplied ROG NX switches the board shipped with. Not that they're bad at all, the custom linear mechanical switches are Cherry MX Red analogues, but do have a nice feel. No, it's just that I've got a bunch of delightful Halo True switches that I bought to go into my Mountain Everest Max(opens in new tab) board. That board's been retired in favour of the Everest 60, and I've left the Mountain Tactile switches in place.
That's one of the must haves for any keyboard with enthusiast pretentions—hot swappable switches. Us keyboard nerds love needlessly replacing switches for an infinitesimal difference in feel that even the princess of pea fame would struggle to notice. And the Azoth happily caters for that, and with what I will say is my absolute favourite switch puller bundled into the package. Yes, I actually now have a favourite.
You also get a two-tone OLED display in the top right hand corner, with a three-way switch that can be customised via the weakest part of the whole kit.
As is its wont, the ROG Azoth relies on Asus' horrible Armoury Crate software, and it just takes…so…damned…long...to do anything. Just switching between tabs in the app, or trying to check for firmware updates, oh it's interminable. And sometimes it just doesn't work at all—particularly when you switch from USB to Wi-Fi and vice versa—and the app will get stuck on a permanent loading animation, tanking all the tweaked profile settings you've saved into it, somehow completely resetting the device. Peripherals software, it's the worst.
The frustrating thing is that once you're in there it does actually offer some pretty handy knobs to tweak regarding the controls or the display. Aside from the requisite LED backlighting controls you're also able to adjust the control knob to deliver exactly what you want it to do. As standard the control has five discrete modes, which you can cycle through via a button on the end of it, but in the app you can add a customisable sixth and that can be for practically anything. There are three 'buttons' on the switch (up, down, and a click) and each can open a website, an application, further multimedia, keyboard or mouse functions, or even some preset input text.
It's pretty damned powerful.
The ROG Azoth is absolutely the best gaming keyboard Asus has ever released, and the best enthusiast keyboard I've ever seen from a proper established brand that doesn't focus on the segment. The utility of the Everest 60 and its detachable numpad still gets my personal vote, but this is a very close second in terms of its day-to-day use. And it's certainly going to be my new office board... though only if I can swing it with Asus to leave the expensive Azoth with us. Because the real sticking point is that price.
Read our full Asus ROG Azoth review.
A sleek, low-profile gaming keyboard that doesn't let up on speed.
- Sturdy construction
- Great looks
- Light, snappy switches
- Simplistic software
- Lack of macro keys
Almost the best new gaming keyboard around, but not close enough to be a solid recommendation.
- Great key layout
- Volume wheel is ace
- Poor stabilisers
- Awkward buttons
- Stuck key
An ultra-thin, wireless gaming keyboard with exclusive Cherry MX keyswitches, though that exclusivity comes at a price.
- Great actuation
- Svelte design
- Super durable
- My wallet hurts
- Missing some extras
- No passthroughs
Can you improve on keyboard perfection? Corsair thinks it can.
- Optical switches
- All the RGB
- Premium build quality
- Incredibly expensive
- Needs Elgato & iCue software
A highly customizable, wireless gaming keyboard that asks a little too much.
- Good connectivity
- Gorgeous colours
- Compatible with common keycaps
- Dedicated media controls
- Accessories are expensive
- Tenkeyless only
- No clicky switches in UK
- No passthroughs
Best mechanical keyboards FAQ
Which keyboard switch type should I choose?
It's entirely up to personal preference with keyboard switches. If you love a noisy keyboard, go for the clicky kind. If you like a spongier feel, go for linear switches. Or, if you prefer some feedback with your keypresses, go for a tactile switch.
It's possible to order keyboard switch tester packs from some suppliers, so if you want to try some out before you fork out, it might be a good idea to grab one of those.
Check out our mechanical keyboard switch guide for a more in-depth look.
Jargon buster - keyboard terminology
The height to which a key needs to be pressed before it actuates and sends an input signal to a device.
A switch that delivers an audible click every time it's pressed, generally right around the point of actuation.
A technique to ensure that only one input registers every time a key is pressed.
The shell that surrounds the internal components of a switch.
The result of the actuation point and reset point in a switch being misaligned. This generally means you need to release the key further than usual would before it can be actuated again.
A switch that moves directly up and down, generally delivering smooth keystrokes without noise or tactile feedback.
A keyboard built around individual switches for each key rather than a membrane sheath mounted on a PCB.
A keyboard on which all the keycaps are mounted on a membrane sheath; when a key is pressed, a rubber dome depresses and pushes against the sheath and PCB beneath, actuating the key.
The component of a switch on which the keycaps are mounted on a mechanical keyboard.
The physical component of a mechanical keyboard beneath the keycaps on a mechanical keyboard. The switch determines how a key is actuated, whether or not it provides audible or tactile feedback with each press, and more. You can read a detailed explanation in our complete guide to mechanical keyboard switches.
A switch that provides a 'bump' of feedback every time it's pushed.
A keyboard that lacks the right-hand number pad.