Best budget mechanical keyboards | Digital Trends

Investing in the best mechanical keyboard can bring a huge improvement to the way you type or game on your PC. Available in all sorts of shapes and sizes, these keyboards usually cost a fortune. But there are quite a few options that are suited for someone who wants to buy their first mechanical keyboard or maybe someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money.

Now whether you are looking for a new gaming keyboard or just something that offers great tactile feedback while typing, there is one for everyone! Our top pick has to be the EVGA Z15 which is a full-size keyboard offering a bunch of features including the ability to swap key switches. Similarly, if you are looking for something that is compact, do have a look at the Keychron K12.

An angled shot of the evga z15 mechanical keyboard on a white background.

EVGA Z15

Best full-size mechanical keyboard on a budget

Pros

  • Low-click latency
  • Custom RGB lighting
  • Hot-swappable switches
  • Macro-programmable keys

Cons

  • ABS keycaps
  • Questionable logo size
  • No USB passthrough

Why should you buy this: It is the most feature-packed budget mechanical keyboard.

Who’s it for: Serious gamers and for those who want a mechanical keyboard that is packed to the brim.

Why we picked the EVGA Z15:

EVGA is better known for making graphics cards, but the company also sells peripherals including keyboards and mice. The Z15 is a great keyboard and our pick for the best mechanical keyboard on a budget as it comes with a wide range of features. Now it isn’t the cheapest one compared to other products on this list, but it has a solid metal top-plate, hot-swappable key switches, customizable per-key RGB lighting, a volume wheel, and the ability to set macros to almost any key. The keyboard also comes with one of the fastest polling rates of 4000Hz, while the Kailh Speed switches have a low actuation point making your keystrokes even faster. The keyboard also comes with dedicated RGB software, a bundled wrist-rest, multimedia keys, and a warranty of three years which is more than most keyboards on the market.

For about $75, this is the best mechanical keyboard on the market, but there are a few gripes that we have. The Z15 features ABS keycaps which are not the best as they become shiny after prolonged use, while the keycap font is also something that might not appeal to all. Another point of concern is that huge belt-buckle style EVGA logo sitting on top, it just looks out of place. Apart from that, the keyboard is pretty solid and should last you for a long time.

Evga z15

EVGA Z15

Best full-size mechanical keyboard on a budget

The logitech k845 mechanical keyboard showcased on a grey background.

Logitech K845

Best budget mechanical keyboard for productivity

Pros

  • TTC and Cherry MX switch options
  • Simple design approach
  • White backlighting in 5 patterns

Cons

  • No customization software
  • Non-detachable cable

Why should you buy this: It is a no-frills mechanical keyboard that gets the job done without any fancy gimmicks.

Who’s it for: Working professionals looking for a simple and straightforward mechanical keyboard for typing.

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Why we picked the Logitech K845:

Logitech is a reliable brand when it comes to PC peripherals and the K845 is a simple, no-frills mechanical keyboard that gets the job done. It features a clean design with a dark grey finish and a full-size 104-key layout. It also comes with white backlighting so you can work in the night/dark if that is something you prefer. The keyboard isn’t really loaded with extra features, and in our opinion, it is well suited for professional spaces or home offices for everyday productivity. Logitech offers the keyboard with TTC key switches or you can pay a little extra and go for Cherry MX. Both are available in linear red, clicky blue, and tactile brown switches, and while TTC should be really good, expect the Cherry MX to be more reliable. With no macro keys or support for any dedicated software, all the settings (including lighting) can only be accessed manually. If you are looking for a mechanical keyboard on a budget and don’t care about the fancy features, then this is the one for you.

Logitech k845

Logitech K845

Best budget mechanical keyboard for productivity

Hyperx alloy origins core keyboard sitting on a desk.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

HyperX Alloy Origins Core

The best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard on a budget

Pros

  • Aluminum body
  • Per-key RGB lighting
  • Removable USB-C Cable
  • Programmable macros

Cons

  • Ngenuity software needs more work
  • ABS keycaps
  • No wrist rest

Why should you buy this: It is one of the best budget mechanical keyboards with a tenkeyless layout.

Who’s it for: Gamers looking for a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard on a budget.

Why we picked the HyperX Alloy Origins Core:

The HyperX Alloy Origins Core is a great mechanical keyboard that doesn’t cost a bomb, yet feels quite premium. It features a tenkeyless layout which means it doesn’t include a number pad, thus accommodating less space on your desk. It features a solid aircraft-grade aluminum body while the feet at the bottom offer three different levels of adjustment for the perfect angle while typing. HyperX gives you the option to choose between linear, tactile, or clicky switches, and while they aren’t Cherry MX, they feel pretty good to use. It also comes with per-key RGB lighting, onboard profile storage, macro support, and a detachable USB-C cable.

The lack of a wrist rest, and dedicated media buttons, are a letdown, and we really wish that the company didn’t use ABS keycaps as they get shiny and slippery with all your finger oils. Other than that, the HyperX Alloy Origins Core is well worth the asking price of $70.

Hyperx alloy origins core rgb

HyperX Alloy Origins Core

The best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard on a budget

Keychron k12 wireless mechanical keyboard

Keychron K12

A versatile 60% mechanical keyboard on a budget

Pros

  • Great build quality
  • Hot-swappable key switches
  • Multi-device connectivity
  • Support for both Windows and macOS

Cons

  • Additional cost for RGB model
  • Keys cannot be programmed
  • No dedicated software

Why should you buy this: It is one of the best 60% mechanical keyboards with wireless connectivity.

Who’s it for: For the ones looking for a compact, multi-purpose mechanical keyboard on a budget.

Why we picked the Keychron K12

Keychron started off as a Kickstarter project and today offers an impressive range of keyboards offering a wide variety of layouts ranging from 60% to 100%. They make some of the best value for money keyboards and one such product is the Kerychron K12, a 60% keyboard with a lot of potential. First of all, it is wireless and can be paired with up to three devices at once via Bluetooth. There are a variety of customization options including a solid aluminum frame with RGB backlighting instead of the standard white backlight, and the option of getting the keyboard with hot-swap key switches. By default, you can get the keyboard with Gateron G Pro mechanical or Keychron’s optical switches. The keyboard supports both Windows and MacOS and even comes with additional keycaps corresponding to the operating system that you intend to use. The USB-C port can be used for wired operation or charge the 4000mAh battery that should last for around 2 months (8hrs of daily usage) with the backlight off.

Logitech g613 lightspeed gaming keyboard showcased on a white background.

Logitech G613 Lightspeed

Best wireless mechanical keyboard for gaming and productivity

Pros

  • Lightspeed wireless is impressive
  • Multi-device pairing
  • Great battery life
  • Switches perform well

Cons

  • Non-removable wrist rest
  • No backlighting

Why should you buy this: It is the best wireless mechanical keyboard available at a low price point.

Who’s it for: Gamers looking for the best performing wireless keyboard with mechanical switches.

Why we picked the Logitech G613 Lightspeed

The G613 Lightspeed is an impressive gaming keyboard featuring Logitech’s Romer-G tactile switches. It is fairly old but still holds relevance in the market as it is priced well and offers Bluetooth along with proprietary 2.4Ghz based ‘Lightspeed’ connectivity. This means you can pair multiple devices with the keyboard and don’t have to worry about cable clutter. It has a rigid plastic build that doesn’t feel cheap while the Romer-G key switches offer a very short pre-travel distance making them great for gaming. You also get a row of additional macro keys and multimedia controls which can be quite handy. It uses standard AA batteries and is claimed to last for about 18 months, which is pretty impressive. We wish the built-in wrist-rest was removable as the entire keyboard takes up a lot of space on the desk. Also, there is no backlighting for the keys, which can be a dealbreaker for certain customers.

Logitech g613 lightspeed

Logitech G613 Lightspeed

Best wireless mechanical keyboard for gaming and productivity

Redragon k552 mechanical keyboard sitting on a desk

Redragon

Redragon K552

Best ultra-budget mechanical keyboard

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Rugged build quality
  • Decent RGB lighting

Why should you buy this: It is the best entry-level mechanical keyboard.

Who’s it for: For those who want to get their first mechanical keyboard at an ultra-low budget.

Why we picked the Redragon K552

Available for as low as $35, the Redragon K552 is perfect for someone who wants to buy their first mechanical keyboard on a tight budget. It features a tenkeyless design having a total of 87-keys and is available with blue, red, or brown key switches. The build quality is surprisingly good and robust for a keyboard at this price and you get RGB backlighting with 19 different modes and six brightness levels. The adjustable feet at the bottom are flimsy, but get the job done.

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The Otemu key switches aren’t the most premium when compared to Cherry MX, but one can’t really complain at this price. Coming down to the keycaps, they are probably the weakest part of the keyboard, made of ABS plastic with pad-printed legends. Expect these to quickly develop a shine on top due to finger oils while the legends shouldn’t last long.

Still, for $35, even if this keyboard only lasted you a few years, you’d easily get your money’s worth.

Redragon k552

Redragon K552

Best ultra-budget mechanical keyboard

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a mechanical keyboard?

The distinct feature of a mechanical keyboard is its high-quality key switches. They are faster, more responsive, and have a more satisfying actuation than rubber dome membrane keyboards. That makes them better for typing and gaming, or a combination of the two. Most mechanical keyboards are also built to a higher standard, with better quality materials.

Although they’re typically more expensive than membrane or scissor-switch boards, they don’t have to be, as the above list shows.

What are the different types of mechanical key switches?

Mechanical keyboards come with mechanical key switches that are available in different types depending on various factors like actuation point, travel distance, and the type of feedback. Although switches from different manufacturers are quite different, there are primarily three types of mechanical switches:

  • Linear switches are smooth and easy to depress as there is no tactile bump while bottoming out. These switches are usually preferred by gamers as they are easy to press and are usually quiet. The most common linear switches are marketed as red or black.
  • Tactile switches come with a noticeable bump that offers feedback before bottoming out and sometimes forces the user to apply additional actuation force. These key switches are usually preferred by typists as one can easily make out each keypress, though gamers can also benefit from the notable actuation. Common tactile key switches are marketed as brown or clear.
  • Clicky switches are similar to tactile switches but make additional noise when they hit the bump during the keypress. They can get quite loud and thus are only preferred by users who prefer audio feedback while typing or someone who usually works in a quiet room all by themselves. The most common clicky switches are marketed as blue and green.

There are also optical switches which are often lumped together with the above options. They tend to vary dramatically by manufacturer but offer an even faster actuation if you want it.

For more information, check out our guide to mechanical switch types.

Are there any disadvantages of mechanical keyboards?

Mechanical keyboards are usually more expensive when compared to rubber dome keyboards. Having said that, there are quite a few affordable keyboards that offer slightly cheaper mechanical key switches. Certain users might also find typing on a mechanical keyboard to be more difficult or slower as the keys are usually raised higher. Another point of concern can be noise, as tactile and clicky key switches tend to be noisier than membrane boards.

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