Best mechanical keyboard

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thermoplastics
Ryan
Rashaad
Stuart Kearney
Marco Romero
HardwareHero
Francisco
Endi Sukaj
Aubrey
Jonathan
Andris Pelcbergs
42 contributors
Up to date as of
After considering 17 mechanical keyboards, the Slant community recommends CM QuickFire Rapid for providing the best value for money, Apex M800 for gaming and Das Keyboard 4 for being the best high-end mechanical keyboard. These recommendations are the result of hundreds of contributions from the Slant community.
88
Slant Score

Best value for money

CM QuickFire Rapid

The QuickFire Rapid is the best choice for those want a quality product without spending too much. It has great build quality and a diverse selection of good mechanical switches, on top of being substantially cheaper than other high-end alternatives. It’s ideal for both beginners who are experimenting with mechanical keyboards, and for experienced users looking for a new, worthy product.

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon
Detachable USB
Yes
Backlighting
No
Full media controls
Yes
Macro keys
No
USB hub
No
Typing feel
Durability
Portability
Customizability

Long-lasting, well-built and portable

The QuickFire Rapid’s solid physical design makes the keyboard feel sturdy and comfortable to use. This is true even after prolonged use, due to sturdy construction and soft coating that is pleasant to the touch and masks wear marks and small scratches. Even better, the Quickfire weighs only 2.1 lbs (0.95 kg), making it easily carriable in a bag. A micro-USB cable detachable at the base of the keyboard means less cable hassle as well.

High-quality mechanical key switches

The Cherry MX switch family, used on the QuickFire Rapid, have impressive levels of durability and consistently pass vigorous and demanding tests with flying colours. The keyboard has five different options of Cherry switches, including the light, rapid-actuating Red for fast paced gaming, and the tactile, non-clicky Brown for quiet typing.

Surprisingly low price for its quality

The QuickFire Rapid’s selection of switches and resistant and long-lasting build gives it a competitive edge against more expensive keyboards, so it’s also surprising to see it retailing at a price of $84.99 (depending on the switch option, prices may vary slightly.)

Some aspects of the key layout are inconvenient to use

This keyboard’s key layout could be better. For example, the dedicated Fn modifier key that activates the Fn keys’ secondary features, like media control or display settings, is inconveniently placed next to the right Control key, making use inconvenient.

Other things to note

The QuickFire Rapid can be hard to use in the dark, since it has no backlighting. In addition, getting keycaps to swap to an alternate layout (like Dvorak) or to a macOS or Linux layout (the keyboard only comes with the Windows specific keys) is not as easy as with other keyboards because the manufacturer offers no spare parts at all. It would be more convenient to get both the keyboard and the extra keycaps from the same place. While the standard version has no number pad, an alternate version with a number pad is available as well.

AubreyG
February 3, 2017

I’m very happy with my recently purchased QuickFire Rapid. Small, compact, efficient and clearly well manufactured. The protection layer is very pleasant to touch. It’s hefty and therefore, stable. The MX Brown switches I selected are perfect, they don’t have the annoying loud clacking sound made by most mechanical switches. This is my second CM keyboard and I truly have nothing negative to say: they really make excellent keyboards that are quite reasonably priced given their quality.

75
Slant Score

Best gaming keyboard

Apex M800

The Apex M800 is the most customisable mechanical keyboard with the best gaming-centered features. It offers fully customizable RGB backlighting and has a set of keys just for user-built macros. Its low-profile keys are great for fast typing and it’s designed for consistent and comfortable typing, perfect for long gaming sessions.

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon
Detachable USB
No
Backlighting
Yes
Full media controls
Yes
Macro keys
Yes
USB hub
Yes
Typing feel
Durability
Portability
Customizability

Macro keys fit your exact needs

Users can create macros tailored exactly to their gaming needs and assign them to each one of a set of 6 keys reserved for this purpose. Macro creation is done via the SteelSeries Engine 3 companion software and the editor options are impressive, allowing for nearly any combination that can be thought of. These keys are well positioned at the left side of the board, conveniently reachable but not too close that they can be pressed unintentionally.

Virtually limitless backlighting options

The M800 puts its impressive backlighting to practical use: each key’s LED is individually configurable with options like color, brightness or patterns, allowing users to do things like configure certain keys to be configured to light up when certain in-game commands are ready to be used. SteelSeries takes backlighting so seriously that the M800 even has a second processor just for handling lighting effects, while the main one deals exclusively with inputs.

Silent, low-profile mechanical switches

This keyboard uses QS1 mechanical switches, custom-made by SteelSeries. It’s one of the quieter mechanical switches currently on the market and they have a very low profile: the travel distance is 3 mm and the actuation distance is 1.5 mm (0.5 mm shorter than the most common Cherry MX switches), meaning the keys register earlier than on other keyboards, facilitating fast typing.

Functionality comes at a steep price

The M800 has a retail price of $199.99, which is more than twice the price of the QuickFire Rapid and even slightly more than the Das 4 Pro. This is by no means a low-cost keyboard, but the functionality it offers makes up for the steep price. For those looking for the most advanced gaming features, this is the best choice.

Other things to note

This keyboard’s space bar is much bigger than usual and has a slightly curved surface for quick and easy actuation. This makes sense for gaming, but for typing it can become inconvenient since it’s easy to press it unintentionally. The M800 has two USB 2.0 ports for external devices. Its layout can’t be changed at all, since alternative keycaps don’t exist.

Rsnbl
January 22, 2017

Recently, I’ve finally decided to invest on a proper gaming keyboard, and the M800 was the one I chose. I was hesitant about spending this much on a keyboard but, alt the end of the day, I am very happy I did. It’s very comfortable and the large space bar is really convenient. The option to light up key blocs according to the current application is super useful, since a quick look directs us to the application-specific keys. This is all configurable using the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, which is really simple and intuitive. The only disadvantage I can point out is that the surface of the keyboard gets fingermarks and dust very easily.

93
Slant Score

Best premium keyboard

Das Keyboard 4

The Das Keyboard 4 Professional is the most durable and has the best build quality and feel, making it the best premium mechanical keyboard available. Sleek and professional-looking, it’s perfect for those looking for a lasting product that’s simply the best at fulfilling it’s purpose.

Available on Amazon
Available on Amazon
Detachable USB
No
Backlighting
No
Full media controls
Yes (dedicated)
Macro keys
No
USB hub
Yes
Typing feel
Durability
Portability
Customizability

Solid and built to last

The Das 4 Pro is the most durable keyboard out there, built to last the longest. It uses the best available materials, having an aluminum top panel that’s feels terrific and provides a bend-resistant frame. It’s also much more resistant to fingerprints and other superficial damage than the film-protected plastic frequently found on other keyboards. The bottom casing is made of textured plastic and designed to be vibration-free.

First-class mechanical key switches

A premium keyboard asks for premium switches, and the Das 4 Pro features the reputable Cherry MX switches. You can choose between the clicky Cherry MX Blue and the quiet Cherry MX Brown switches.

Expensive

This keyboard retails at $169, which is costly for a keyboard. Purchasing this keyboard should instead be seen as an investment, considering that this keyboard can withstand punishment and is built to last.

Other things to note

The Das 4 Pro has two USB 3.0 ports, a volume knob and unobtrusive media controls. At only 0.8’’ (20 mm) thick, this is one of the thinnest mechanical keyboards available. For extreme users that type without looking down, there’s an Ultimate version of this keyboard with blank keys. Unfortunately, the Das 4 Pro has no variant that comes with backlighting.

BarretP
January 13, 2017

Throughout the years, I’ve tried different kinds of keyboard: membrane, virtual, mechanical, etc. and this is, without a doubt, the best keyboard I’ve ever used. It offers unmatchable comfort and writing speeds, looks very classy and it’s amazingly resistant. I’m not exactly the most careful person with keyboards (i.e., they suffer from frequent damage and chronic dirtiness on my hands), but the Das 4 Pro has withstood this harsh treatment with no damage. It’s pricey, but worth it.

What others are saying

Here are some of the best reviews from around the web on mechanical keyboards.

How they compare

When picking the best mechanical keyboard for you, the Slant community thinks you should consider the following criteria: Typing feel, Durability, and Portability.
Typing feel
Keyboards should feel pleasant and comfortable to type with. Sturdiness and key switches play a major role in this aspect.
Das Keyboard 4
    • This keyboard is outstandingly stable due to its robust build and the materials it’s composed of, that include aluminum.

    • The Das 4 Pro uses Cherry MX switches, with a possible choice between the Brown (for quiet typing) or Blue (for clicky typing) versions. Typing with these switches is very enjoyable and allows for fast, unrestrained typing.

    CM QuickFire Rapid
      • The Quickfire Rapid doesn’t move or shake at all, even under intense, fast typing thanks to solid build quality and anti-slip rubber feet.

      • The Cherry MX mechanical switches are very comfortable to type with and are easy on the hands and fingers. With five different kinds of switches to choose from, you can easily select the switch that most suits your needs.

      Apex M800
        • The M800 remains stable during frantic gaming, maintaining a good hold on the desk thanks to its hefty build and removable rubber feet.

        • The QS1 switches, manufactured by SteelSeries for exclusive use on their keyboards, perform remarkably well and create a very nice typing feel.

        Durability
        A well-designed, well-built keyboard should last for a number of years without suffering considerable damage from daily use. The materials used and the quality of the keyboard’s superficial components are important factors when it comes to durability.
        Das Keyboard 4
          • The Das 4 Pro is exceptionally durable, thanks mainly to the inclusion of an aluminum top panel. This panel makes the keyboard very resistant not only to structural damage, but also to fingerprints and other kinds of surface damage.

          • The non-aluminum parts also withstand damage very well, since they’re made of resistant, textured plastic.

          CM QuickFire Rapid
            • Even though it’s made entirely from plastic, the QuickFire Rapid is not flimsy at all and it’s clearly made to last long. The plastic surface has a pleasant to touch, smooth coating that protects from superficial damage.
            Apex M800
                • The overall build quality of the M800 is decent, but it isn’t as solid or well-built as its price tag might suggest. The plastic keycaps feel somewhat cheap and easily breakable.

                • Except for the keycaps, the M800’s plastic surface is uncoated, so it gets a dirtied look really quickly.

              Durability Specs
              CM QuickFire Rapid
              Apex M800
              Das Keyboard 4
              Keycap Material
              Laser printed ABS
              -
              Laser printed ABS
              CM QuickFire Rapid
              Laser printed ABS
              Apex M800
              -
              Das Keyboard 4
              Laser printed ABS
              Coating
              Soft touch paint
              -
              -
              CM QuickFire Rapid
              Soft touch paint
              Apex M800
              -
              Das Keyboard 4
              -
              Backplate
              Reinforced steel backplate
              -
              -
              CM QuickFire Rapid
              Reinforced steel backplate
              Apex M800
              -
              Das Keyboard 4
              -
              Portability
              A keyboard’s portability is an important factor, particularly for those that don’t have a set working environment, like freelancers or students. It depends not only on the keyboard’s volume and weight, but also cable design.
              CM QuickFire Rapid
                • The Quickfire Rapid is easily carriable inside an everyday backpack. It’s small and light, weighing only 2.1 lbs (0.95 kg) and has dimensions of 14.1’’ x 5.4’’ x 1.5’’ (359 mm x 138 mm x 39 mm),

                • This keyboard’s cable is detachable from the board end, minimizing cable hassle while carrying around.

                Apex M800
                    • The M800 isn’t a very portable keyboard, since it’s neither light nor compact: it weighs 3 lbs (1.4 kg) and its dimensions are 20.1’’ x 6.8’’ x 1.6’’ (511 mm x 173 mm x 41 mm).

                    • It doesn’t have a detachable cable.

                  Das Keyboard 4
                      • The Das 4 Pro is the slimmest mechanical keyboard on the market, with a maximum height of only 0.8’’ (20.3 mm). Despite this, it isn’t very portable at all since it’s width and length of 18’’ (457 mm) and 6.8’’ (173 mm) and weight of 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg) makes it not an easy keyboard to carry around.

                      • Its USB cable is not detachable from the keyboard body.

                    Portability Specs
                    CM QuickFire Rapid
                    Apex M800
                    Das Keyboard 4
                    Detachable USB
                    Yes
                    No
                    No
                    CM QuickFire Rapid
                    Yes
                    Apex M800
                    No
                    Das Keyboard 4
                    No
                    Weight
                    932 g / 2.05 lbs
                    1390 g / 3.06 lbs
                    1.3 kg / 2.9 lbs
                    CM QuickFire Rapid
                    932 g / 2.05 lbs
                    Apex M800
                    1390 g / 3.06 lbs
                    Das Keyboard 4
                    1.3 kg / 2.9 lbs
                    External dimensions
                    359 x 138 x 39 mm 14.1 x 5.4 x 1.5 in
                    511 x 173 x 41 mm 20.1 x 6.8 x 1.6 in
                    457 x 173 x 20.3 mm 18 x 6.8 x 0.8 in
                    CM QuickFire Rapid
                    359 x 138 x 39 mm 14.1 x 5.4 x 1.5 in
                    Apex M800
                    511 x 173 x 41 mm 20.1 x 6.8 x 1.6 in
                    Das Keyboard 4
                    457 x 173 x 20.3 mm 18 x 6.8 x 0.8 in
                    Customizability
                    The amount of customizability you can do with a keyboard can be measured in the pre-sale customization choices offered to users and the configuration adjustments that can be done after purchase.
                    Apex M800
                      • The M800 backlighting features are highly customizable. Users can tweak individual key settings like color, brightness or patterns.

                      • Key functionality is highly adjustable in this keyboard. For example, you can alter key mapping to various commands including mouse functions or media controls. Not only that, complex macros can be created and assigned to dedicated macro keys. This is useful for gaming as well as simplifying repetitive tasks.

                      • Key layout can’t be altered, since there aren’t any alternative keycaps.
                    CM QuickFire Rapid
                      • You can choose from a set of five different types of switches from the Cherry MX family, each with their own functionality to suit your needs and preferences.

                      • There are alternate versions of the Quickfire Rapid that offer options the original version doesn’t have, like backlighting, number pads or media function keys.

                      • The manufacturer doesn’t offer any spare parts or keycaps sets, so if you want to switch to an alternate layout, you have to secure components from a third party.
                    Das Keyboard 4
                      • Buyers have two switch choices: they can select either the clicky Cherry MX Blue or the silent Cherry MX Brown.

                      • The Das 4 also comes in an Ultimate version with blank keys, for those that don’t need/want to look at the keyboard while they type.

                      • Some alternate keycaps for key customization can be bought from Das.

                      Customizability Specs
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      Apex M800
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      Backlighting
                      Backlighting illuminates the keys allowing you to view them in dim or dark environments.
                      No
                      Yes
                      No
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      No
                      Apex M800
                      Yes
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      No
                      Full media controls
                      Media controls allow you to control media playback via dedicated keyboard keys.
                      Yes
                      Yes
                      Yes (dedicated)
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      Yes
                      Apex M800
                      Yes
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      Yes (dedicated)
                      Macro keys
                      Macros are recorded sequences of actions that can then be executed via macro keys.
                      No
                      Yes
                      No
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      No
                      Apex M800
                      Yes
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      No
                      Other Specs
                      Specs
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      Apex M800
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      USB hub
                      A keyboard that has a built-in USB hub allows you to plug in other USB devices into it. This allows for more devices to be connected to the host machine and in some cases can simplify access to USB ports.
                      No
                      Yes
                      Yes
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      No
                      Apex M800
                      Yes
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      Yes
                      Warranty
                      2 years
                      1 year
                      3 years
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      2 years
                      Apex M800
                      1 year
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      3 years
                      Accessories
                      Other items that come with the purchase.
                      Keycap puller
                      Extra keyswitches, rubber pads
                      Multi-functional footbar
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      Keycap puller
                      Apex M800
                      Extra keyswitches, rubber pads
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      Multi-functional footbar
                      Polling rate
                      1000 Hz / 1 ms
                      -
                      -
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      1000 Hz / 1 ms
                      Apex M800
                      -
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      -
                      n-key rollover
                      The ability to independently scan each key, so that each keypress is correctly detected regardless of how many other keys are being pressed or held down at the time.
                      Yes (N key in PS/2 mode)
                      Yes
                      Yes
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      Yes (N key in PS/2 mode)
                      Apex M800
                      Yes
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      Yes
                      93
                      Slant Score
                      93
                      Slant Score
                      Best premium keyboard
                      Das Keyboard 4
                      Available on Amazon
                      88
                      Slant Score
                      88
                      Slant Score
                      Best value for money
                      CM QuickFire Rapid
                      Available on Amazon
                      75
                      Slant Score
                      75
                      Slant Score
                      Best gaming keyboard
                      Apex M800
                      Available on Amazon
                      Other products we considered
                      Check some of the 17 other products our community recommends.
                      Community Discussion
                      Have a question about picking the the best mechanical keyboard? Ask Marco Romero, Tal Ben-Ari and the 40 other Slant community enthusiasts that contributed to this guide.
                      What are keyboard switches?

                      Keyboard switches are devices lodged under each individual key that are responsible for sending the data to the computer with each key press. There are different switch families whose actuation mechanisms work differently and have different characteristics, like the audible feedback they create, the force needed to activate them or their tactile feedback while being pressed.

                      Francisco's avatar
                      Francisco
                      What kinds of switch families exist?

                      Several families exist, but some major ones are rubber dome switches, membrane switches and mechanical switches. Some switches can be hybrids merging technologies from different families. On rubber dome switches, each key is place above a rubber dome that, when the key is pressed, deforms and touches the board below, closing the circuit and registering the signal. Membrane switch keyboards typically have two membrane sheets placed over each other and the signals are sent when they come in contact wich each other on certain points: this contact is caused by the pressed key’s pressure. Mechanical switches are individually composed by a housing that lodges a stem, a spring and contact points. When the keys are pressed, the stem comes down and allows the contact points to contact each other, sending the signal. Note that this mechanism means that the key doesn’t need to be pressed all the way down to register. This allows typing to be less tiresome and more agile, fast and reliable. For this reason, many people prefer mechanical switches over the alternatives.

                      Francisco's avatar
                      Francisco
                      What are the advantages and disadvantages of mechanical switch keyboards?

                      Most of the advantages and disadvantages of mechanical keyboards are subjective, depending on people’s taste and on how they like to use keyboards. The notable exception is price: overall, mechanical keyboards are objectively more expensive. Advantages commonly mentioned are that they are more accurate, allow for faster typing, are more comfortable and provide a pleasant acoustic feedback. Besides cost, detractors of mechanical keyboards usually mention the noise they create and their general lack of portability (there are exceptions, of course) as important disadvantages.

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