A keyboard can make or break your gaming experience.

After all, what’s the point of having a powerful PC if you can’t control your character with any sort of consistency?

That’s where mechanical keyboards come in, they offer the best quality and response times available on the market today.

But which is the best mechanical keyboard? Which mechanical keyboard is right for you?

Well, ultimately it comes down to the best feel and your budget. So we put together a list that tries to cover both of those aspects.

Check it out…

Mechanical Keyboards 101: What You Need to Know

A mechanical keyboard is definitely a worthwhile upgrade over the cheaper, less comfortable membrane keyboards available out there. Mechanical keyboards are not only more comfortable but they are also a lot more durable and responsive. That makes them perfect for gaming.

Mechanical Vs Membrane Keyboards

The main difference lies in the type of switches used.

Membrane keyboard electromechanical membrane that is laid inside a keyboard casing. This means that the keys are not separate, moving parts but rather pressure pads. The problem with this is that when pressing a key there is very little tactile feedback (this makes precise typing more difficult) and the overall quality of the keyboard is very poor. This causes the keys tend to wear out very fast.

On the other hand…

Mechanical keyboards use mechanical switches, as you might have guessed. Each key has a switch that individually triggers a pulse, this has the advantage of having a more precise output and a much longer key lifespan.

Mechanical switches do not only last longer, they also hardly wear out. Even after several years, typing on a mechanical keyboard almost feels like on the first day. There are no clattering keys or keys getting stuck.

Different Mechanical Switches

Mechanical keyboards come in a variety of different mechanical switches, each has their pros and cons. You will find that switches are more of a personal preference than anything else.

There are three main varieties of a mechanical switch: linear, tactile, and clicky.

From left to right, Cherry MX Red – linear, Cherry MX Brown – tactile and Cherry MX Blue – clicky.

Looking at the switch illustration above, you will see that linear switches are smooth when pressing them down, where as the other two will have more of a noticeable bump to them.

Here’s a list of popular switch types, and their attributes:

Switch Name:Type:Actuation force:Stiffness:Noise:
Cherry MX RedLinear45gLightLow
Cherry MX BlackLinear60gHardLow
Cherry MX BrownTactile45gLightAverage
Cherry MX ClearTactile65gHardAverage
Cherry MX BlueClicky50gMediumHigh
Razer GreenClicky55gMediumHigh
Cherry MX GreenClicky70gHardHigh

For a more thorough guide of switches we recommend you can check out the video below as Linus does a great job of explaining mechanical switches:

And you could even try a switch tester kit to get a true feel for the different kinds of switches before you choose a keyboard.

Full size Vs Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboards

When it comes to shopping around for mechanical keyboards you will notice that they also come in different layouts such as full-size and tenkeyless.

You’ll notice that with Tenkeyless keyboards (often referred to as “TKL” for short) there will be no number pad. This does have a few benefits and makes TKL keyboards great if you have space limitations, would like to have a slightly more ergonomic keyboard or you want your keyboard to be a bit more portable if you are doing things like LAN events etc.

Again, the choice is really up to you and your preferences between the two.

We will include both full-size and TKL keyboards in our top mechanical keyboard list to give you a broader view of what keyboards are out there, and hopefully, help you make a better decision.

Common Keyboard Terms

When shopping around for a keyboard, you will often come across things like Ghosting and N-key rollover. They both sound pretty complicated but really they aren’t.

Check out the video below to learn more:

If you’re curious what your current keyboard can handle, you can try out Microsoft’s rollover demonstration here.

Our Top Rated Mechanical Keyboards for 2017:

Now that we have laid down the foundation and discussed the basics of mechanical keyboards, it’s time to check out some of the best keyboards on the market.

Best Overall Mechanical Keyboard

The Corsair STRAFE

The Corsair STRAFE is the perfect blend of quality and price. For that reason, we gave it the title of best overall.

This keyboard uses true Cherry MX switches and will provide a great experience for gamers and keyboard enthusiasts. We tested out the keyboard in the Cherry MX Red version, however, Cherry MX Blue, Brown and Silent switches are available.

Within the box, you will find a keycap puller so that you are able to change to a set of textured keycaps which work great for gaming but may take some time to get used to when typing.

The keyboard is the full 104 key layout that features 100% anti-ghosting and n-key rollover. Under the keycaps, you will find a red base that in return helps the red LED backlighting to seem more vibrant.

On the top, you will find 2 additional keys that lock the windows key when gaming and another to control the brightness of the backlighting. However, this keyboard features no dedicated media keys and in return uses the fn keys to control media playback.

Along the front side of the keyboard, you will find a USB passthrough which you can use to plug in a mouse and clear up desktop clutter or plug in a USB flash drive straight into the keyboard.

When it comes to the bottom of the keyboard, you will find rubberized feet as well as 2 legs that flip outward.

Overall, this keyboard feels very sturdy, typing and gaming feels great and the build quality is phenomenal especially considering the price is less than $100.

PROS:
  •  Full Mechanical Keyboard
  •  Cherry MX switches
  •  100% Anti-Ghosting
  •  Allows a great deal of customization
  •  Good quality

CONS:
  •  None

Best High-End Mechanical Keyboard

The Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire

Now, as you could have guessed by now Corsair makes some pretty good keyboards, and this one is no different. The K70 RGB Rapidfire is one of the most full-featured and attractive e-sports keyboards around. The Rapidfire contains the new responsive Cherry MX Speed switches and some of the best backlighting on the market.

Much like the Corsair STRAFE, the K70 features 100% anti-ghosting and n-key rollover. You will also notice that the K70 features discrete media buttons and a volume rocker. There are also buttons to control backlighting brightness and to activate a “game mode,” which disables the windows key that can potentially interrupt gameplay.

Also similarly to the STRAFE, you get a set of textured keycaps that you can swap out at will.

When it comes to the speed switches, they only require the slightest bit of pressure to activate, making them super responsive. This, however, can be a good and bad thing. For gaming it’s great, for typing, I noticed that I had much more errors due to the fact that I accidentally set off keys with the slightest touch.

But, once you get used to the switches you will notice that the errors start to disappear.

When it comes to the backlighting on this keyboard, it features some of the deepest, richest and most vibrant RGB lighting of any keyboard I’ve ever seen to date. Very impressed.

Controlling the backlighting is fairly simple, but you will need to install the Corsair Utility Engine. Once installed you will be able to set various profiles and designs that meet your preferences.

Overall, this keyboard is a solid choice for gamers.

PROS:
  •  Full Mechanical Keyboard
  •  Cherry MX speed switches
  •  100% Anti-Ghosting
  •  Beautiful backlighting
  •  Ideal for gaming

CONS:
  •  Corsair Utility Engine can be a little complex

Best Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard

The WASD Code 87-Key Illuminated

A favorite among many, the WASD Code 87-Key is one of the best tenkeyless mechanical keyboards you can buy at the moment.

This keyboard is available in most of the popular Cherry MX switches including Brown, Blue, Clear and Green. Perfect for those who want a great keyboard for day to day use as well as gaming every now and then.

The WASD Code 87-Key is a very minimalist keyboard overall, it has no visible branding on top, no edgy fonts, no strange keycaps, and no macro or dedicated media buttons.

What it does feature, however, is white backlighting. The backlighting on this keyboard is quite impressive. Much like the Corsair STRAFE’s design, the WASD Code 87-Key features a white-painted steel back plate that reflects the LED backlighting and gives the whole keyboard a pleasant glow that shines through each keycap to evenly.

PROS:
  •  Full Mechanical Keyboard
  •  Cherry MX switches
  •  100% Anti-Ghosting
  •  Excellent quality

CONS:
  •  Pricey when compared to other options

Best Budget Mechanical Keyboard

The Redragon K552

Now, when it comes to finding a budget mechanical keyboard the first thing you’ll notice is that most of them use Cherry MX clone switches to cut down the cost.

So it’s important to find a keyboard that has plenty of reviews. Good thing the Redragon k552 has over 900 Amazon reviews.

Redragon claims that their custom switches are a Cherry MX Green equivalents, but many advanced users notice that the keys have the lighter action pressure of Cherry MX Blue switches.

We found that for gaming, they work great. However, they could be better with less key travel.

The Redragon k552 features an 87 key layout that sits on top of an aluminum base plate, a nice touch by Redragon. This gives the keyboard some nice weight to it.

In terms of backlighting, this keyboard adjustable red LED backlighting that accentuates the keycap design.

Overall, this keyboard does lack some of the features of the other keyboards listed but for the price, this is one of the best budget mechanical keyboards you can find.

PROS:
  •  Full Mechanical Keyboard
  •  100% Anti-Ghosting
  •  Good quality

CONS:
  •  Cherry MX clone switches
  •  Keycap font might not suit everyone

Care And Maintenance

How To Clean A Mechanical Keyboard

When it comes to cleaning a mechanical keyboard, the process can seem to be quite complicated. Thankfully, Pauls Hardware has created an excellent guide on how to clean and maintain your keyboard.

Check out the video below:

Final Thoughts

Finding a great mechanical keyboard can sometimes be difficult, but hopefully, we have given you a better idea of what to look for when choosing a new keyboard.

If I had to go with one keyboard on this list, it would definitely be the Corsair STRAFE. Having used it for the past year it’s been a pleasure and it’s still working great.

However, any keyboard on this list would be a good choice.

In the future, we plan to test more keyboards out and add them to this list.