Every developer begins with whatever keyboard is available, which is most likely the one on your laptop these days. You’ll want to invest in a quality keyboard once you start making a livelihood punching keys to create code. A keyboard for programmers should have the “correct” feel for your typing style, allowing you to text quickly and comfortably.
The more at comfort a developer is with his keyboard, the more productive he will be, since he will be able to type hotkeys without making mistakes and using the mouse less. Advanced programmers will also want a programmable keyboard: there are keyboards with unique keys that can be configured to launch certain apps or tasks. If you spend your days typing like there’s no tomorrow, you might think about investing in an ergonomic keyboard.
What’s inside a Mechanical Keyboards anyway?
The inexperienced may get jargon anxiety from reading keyboard reviews these days. Don’t worry; all you need to know about contemporary PC keyboard technology is membrane, rubber dome, and mechanical keyboards. Membrane-based keyboards are the least expensive to produce and have a rubbery feel. Membrane keyboards are likewise cheap and disposable due to their lack of durability.
On the keycaps, on top of rubber domes, on top of a membrane, most laptop keyboards contain a scissor mechanism. In other terms, a rubber dome is frequently referred to as a “membrane keyboard.” These keyboards are likewise quiet, which makes them useful in some settings, but they won’t last as long and, with a few exceptions, provide little or no customization.
With a mechanical keyboard, each key has its own switch, making the entire mechanism more dependable and allowing you to type more comfortably with greater tactile feedback, which improves your mood and makes long coding sessions less stressful and fun. You also receive a slew of customization possibilities, like easy replacement keycaps and programmable function special keys.
It’s no surprise that we chose mechanical keyboards for many categories: their lifespan is measured in decades rather than years, and they allow you to swap out keycaps, change switches for a different tactile feel, and choose between different noise levels depending on the type of mechanical switch.
Top 10 Mechanical Keyboards to Buy for Developers
1. Kinesis Freestyle Pro
Form factor: Tenkeyless + productivity keys (“65%”) | Numeric keypad: No | Switches: Cherry MX Brown (Standard), Cherry MX Red (Option) | Ports: USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 1)
- Three layouts are supported: Qwerty/Windows, Mac, and Dvorak.
- Keyboard shortcuts for increased productivity
- Macro Recording on the Fly
- Typing for health
- Separately sold are the tenting kit and the palm rests
- There are no specialized media keys
- A little costly
Standard keyboards can cause long-term discomfort and exhaustion, as well as serious illnesses. Ergonomic keyboards avoid strain and injury by enabling your hands to rest in a more comfortable posture. There are numerous ergonomic designs available, with fixed forms being the most common. When typing at a desk, split ergonomic keyboards take up less room and provide you greater freedom to alter the posture of your left and right arms. They also enable you to maintain your wrists straight, reducing tendons strain and preventing repetitive strain injuries.
The Kinesis Freestyle Pro has a ten-keyless design with a complete row of function keys at the top and eight customizable macro buttons on the left. It has Cherry MX switches in two variants as a mechanical keyboard: one with Cherry MX Brown tactile switches that don’t click and another with Cherry MX Red linear switches, which are popular by gamers. Windows, Mac, and Dvorak are the three main layouts supported. Control, option, and command keys, which replace the Windows and alt keys, are supplied as keycaps for Mac.
Developers will love the placement of the Home, Page Up and Down, End, and Arrow keys, which can be tented or lifted to create a more comfortable typing posture. The large Escape button is the icing on the cake. The left-side macro keys on this keyboard include numerous handy tasks preprogrammed, like as the Desktop key, which sends Windows-D to minimize all applications and reveal your desktop, or the Last App key, which sends an Alt-Tab back to your last open application. Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Undo, and Menu all have their own dedicated keys.
2. Mountain Everest Max
Form factor: Full size | Numeric keypad: Yes | Switches: 3-Pin Cherry MX, hot-swappable | Ports: USB Type-C (3.2 Gen 1)
- There’s plenty of space for customization
- Media dock and detachable numpad
- Stream decks of cards
- ABS keycaps and an aluminum base
- The same weight as a laptop
No two programmers are alike: coders are accustomed to altering things and stretching the boundaries of the virtual world. They may now experience customized nirvana in the real world as well, due to the Mountain Everest Max keyboard.
Starting with its most visible feature: the detachable number keypad that can be put on either side of the keyboard, this keyboard pushes the boundaries and innovates in places where others have never gone before. The keycaps may be replaced with the provided keycap remover tool, and MX switches come in a variety of colors, including MX Red, MX Brown, MX Blue, MX Silent Red, and MX Speed Silver. If you’re unhappy with the original switches for whatever reason, you can replace them out by simply taking them out – no soldering necessary.
Mountain’s “media dock” is just what it sounds like: a little keyboard inserted into the top right corner. It has a display dial that allows you to change the setup on the fly. When idle, it displays a personalized image provided by you as a “screen saver” on its small display, which might show vital information like CPU use or download speed. Its media controls allow you to change the system’s music level or swap tunes while you’re coding.
A Macro Wizard and editor are included with the “Base Camp” application, allowing you to bind custom keys to your preferred hotkeys or macros. It also enables for firmware upgrades and RGB lighting changes, as well as altering the legends on the graphics keys.
Its PU-Leather coated palm rest with magnetic connection is a blessing for those lengthy coding sessions. Yes, it is costly, but it is well worth it.
3. Obinslab Anne Pro 2
Form factor: Compact (61 key) | Numeric keypad: No | Switches: Gateron (Blue/Red/Brown), Cherry (Blue/Red/Brown), Box (Blue/Red/Brown) | Ports: USB-C
- Minimalist style
- Very reasonably priced
- It may be used both wired and wirelessly
- With fewer hand movements, you can access full functions
- You yearn for distinct function keys
- You despise tapping Fn keys
You want a programming keyboard that is as tiny as feasible while yet preserving the feel and functionality of bigger ones with regular desktop key sizes if you have limited desk space or are on the go switching locations throughout the day. By using key combinations, small – also known as 60 percent – format keyboards are the most compact approach to accomplish 104-key capability with only 61 keys. While coding, however, not every coder will appreciate having to press two keys to access the Function Keys or arrow keys.
The Anne Pro 2 is a small wonder that can be used wired or wirelessly. It is available in White and Black and is about 11.2″ by 3.8″ inches. It barely weighs 635 grams when the internal 1900mAh battery is included. With a lever on the rear, the Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity can be turned on and off, and it may be associated with up to four devices. The Fn2 key, together with the digits 1 to 4, can be used to switch between paired systems. This keyboard is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux operating systems.
The manufacturer offers a variety of switch alternatives, and the software allows you to macro-program all of the keys. Many programmers like Gateron Brown switches because they give adequate feedback and allow for superb typing without being overly noisy. Although this keyboard lacks a wrist rest or changeable inclination settings, customers indicate that a 12-inch keyboard wrist rest from another brand, such as Glorious, may be used.
We’ve left the decision of the best portable keyboard for programmers up to you: tenkeyless or compact, because not every programmer wants a 61-key layout.
4. Glorious GMMK PRO
Credit: Square Space
Form factor: Tenkeyless (87 key) | Numeric keypad: No | Switches: Gateron Brown | Ports: USB-C
- Durable construction
- Size of portable TKL
- Removable, long-lasting braided cord
- The standard Gateron brown switches are lovely
- There are no specialized media keys
A tenkeyless variant is ideal for those who desire a smaller, more portable keyboard. The Glorious GMMK Pro is available in full, tenkeyless, and compact variants. We went with this version sans a numeric keypad since it has the right mix of keys for developers. The only variation between the three is the amount of keys, but they all have a lovely design and are well-made.
The aluminum casing, which has a rich, sandblasted surface and raised keycaps, is stunning. Gateron brown switches, which are identical to Cherry brown switches, are installed. The flexibility to personalize the keyboard is crucial: you may replace not just the keycaps, but also the switches. If you like, you may mix and match any Cherry, Gateron, or compatible switches. It’s easy to tuck into your bag because the braided cord is detachable.
You can remap all of the keys on this keyboard using the open source QMK firmware, including moving particular keys around, adding functions, and altering the purpose of the knob.
5. Logitech MX Keys
Form factor: Full (104 keys) | Numeric keypad: Yes | Switches: Scissors | Ports: USB-C
- Dishwashed keycaps
- Incredible battery life
- Backlighting is activated automatically
- Detection of hand proximity
- Bluetooth and a wireless USB dongle are supported
- If you want a mechanical keyboard, this is the one to get
- Not macros, but programmable buttons to preset functions
- There are no inclination settings
People seeking for a wireless mechanical keyboard should skip this section altogether; this buying guide includes mechanical keyboards that are also wireless. Despite this, Logitech shocked us by using the tried-and-true “rubber dome and scissors” mechanism seen in most laptop keyboards. And they did an excellent job of it: the spherically dished keys are comfortable to use for lengthy periods of programming.
It is available with or without the included wrist rest, with the difference in price being only $19 at the time of writing. We went for the one with the extra wrist rest, which is composed of memory foam, a soft and sturdy substance that allows your hands to stay in a calm posture as you code for hours.
Every key push is accompanied by gratifying feedback from the scissors mechanism. When tapped, the keys have a small travel distance and need little force. It’s silent, like other scissor keyboards on computers, so your coworkers won’t be disturbed by your typing. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, and iPhone, and it can connect to up to three devices over Bluetooth. You can easily switch between linked devices 1/2/3 using three dedicated keys.
It stands out from the crowd thanks to a variety of unique features such as hand proximity sensing and automated backlighting. Its programmable buttons, however, may only be assigned to preset functions, not macros. However, as programmers, you are aware that third-party software exists. If you want less latency than Bluetooth, a 2.4 GHz USB receiver is supplied that you may attach onto your computer.
It has a long battery life; Logitech claims it can last for over a week without recharging with the backlight on and up to five months without it. Indeed, impressive!
6. Apple Magic Keyboard with Keypad
Form factor: Full (104 keys) | Numeric keypad: Yes | Switches: Scissors | Ports: USB-C
- It may be used both wired and wirelessly
- Design that is thin and light
- It is not mechanical
- There is no backlight
Even though PC keyboards may be used on a Mac, Apple-only keycaps like the Option and Command keys are lost. For Mac users, certain mechanical keyboards come with replaceable keycaps. Why bother when Apple offers a good alternative?
The Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad has a more expansive layout that will appeal to most programmers, including document navigation controls for rapid code scrolling and full-size arrow keys. The normal Magic Keyboard is 5.5 inches longer than the Magic Keyboard NK. The insides are comparable to any other Magic Keyboard: a scissor mechanism under each key and a very small key travel distance.
The gadget can be used while it is plugged in and charging, but once it is completely charged, it can be used wirelessly and its battery can last up to a month without needing to be recharged. A three-inch USB-C to Lightning cable is included with the device. Although most, if not all, mechanical keyboards are compatible with Macs, purchasing one is more of a pastime than a necessity.
7. EVGA Z15 Keyboard
Form factor: Full (104 keys) | Numeric keypad: Yes | Switches: Kailh Speed Silver Switches (Linear) with a 3mm travel distance | Ports: USB-A
- Keyboard with mechanical action
- Backlight customization
- Completely programmable
- Excellent ergonomics
- Decent media keys
- The cord cannot be removed
The EVGA Z15 in the mechanical keyboard category is a terrific bargain for programmers who don’t want to spend a lot of money. It’s great for individuals transitioning from membrane and rubber domes to mechanical marvels.
The brushed metal plate on top of a plastic base gives it a solid appearance and feel. The magnetically-attached wrist rest serves the aim of keeping hands comfy when typing long stretches of code. It is not as comfy as those made of soft fabrics because it is composed of hard plastic. Because there are two inclination settings and the keycaps are slightly bent, it is quite ergonomic.
Hot-swappable switches enable you to choose the most suited switch for your needs. The legends are illuminated by RGB lighting at night to make them easier to read, which, coupled with the media buttons and volume control wheel, will satisfy music-loving developers.
It has total programmability meaning that you may set macros to any key. On the disadvantage, the cord isn’t removable, but you can’t have everything for this price.
8. Corsair K70 Mk.2
Form Factor: 104 Keys | Numeric keypad: Yes | Keyswitches: CHERRY® MX Brown | Ports: USB 2.0 Type-A
- Beautiful design
- Key switch configuration
- High-quality hardware
- For a game keyboard, it’s a little costly
We evaluate a keyboard like the Corsair K70 Mk.2 every now and then and discover that it has no serious problems. This is the only keyboard we’ve ever given a five-star rating, and it’s our selection for the best mechanical keyboard on the market right now.
Thanks to genuine Cherry MX key switches, the K70 Mk.2 is pleasant and provides a faultless typing experience. Thanks to comprehensive RGB lighting choices, it’s beautifully designed and pleasing to the eye. But, most significantly, it performs admirably in-game, parsing every instruction swiftly and precisely. You may also create individual profiles for each of your favourite games, then match them with a lighting design.
The K70 Mk.2 is a joy to use in every way, from its separate media keys to its game mode, which stops you from mistakenly tabbing out of a game. The K70 Mk.2 is the best mechanical keyboard you can get if you can afford its exorbitant price tag.
It’s worth noting that Corsair followed up with the Corsair K70 RBG Pro, which is practically comparable and nearly as excellent. The main changes are that the Pro model has no USB passthrough, Tournament mode, and a magnetic wrist rest that, in our opinion, seems a little flimsier than the hinged wrist rest on the K70 Mk.2.
9. Logitech G915
Form Factor: Full-size | Numeric Keypad: Yes | Ports: USB port | Switches: Clicky
- Outstanding key switches
- Amazing design
- Robust software
- There is no wrist rest
- More than $200 in price
The G915 highlights how mechanical keyboards may follow suit without losing aesthetics or performance, much as gaming mice and headsets have grown increasingly wireless in recent years. The G915 is a stunning, ultra-thin mechanical keyboard that can be connected to computers through USB dongle or Bluetooth. There is no latency, and no communications are lost. It works just like any other connected peripheral in terms of speed and responsiveness.
The G915 is both ergonomic and aesthetically attractive, with to low-profile key switches and full RGB lighting. Its only significant flaw is that it is quite expensive. However, considering that it will keep your desk free of ugly cables and will endure for years, it might be a wise buy.
10. HyperX Alloy Origins 60
Form Factor: Compact (60%) | Switches: Linear | Numeric keypad: Yes
- Profile is really small
- Convenient key switches
- Beautiful RGB lights
- Not optimal for productivity
- The keys are a tad too loud
The HyperX Alloy Origins 60 proves that small mechanical keyboards can be just as excellent for gaming as larger ones. This 60% keyboard lacks a numpad, function row, or arrow keys, but it’s a great method to simplify your gaming experience while reducing desk space if you’re willing to learn some button shortcuts. The Alloy Origins 60 also has comfortable HyperX Red key switches and a full range of RGB lights.
If you’re not already sold on the small keyboard design, the Alloy Origins 60 can be a tough sell. Many of touch typists’ favorite buttons are absent, and the key changes are noisier than you might think. Even so, this is one of the best compact gaming keyboards.