top of page

Mechanical Keyboard Buying Guide

A mechanical keyboard is a keyboard built with high quality, typically spring activated, key switches.

While some of the first widely sold keyboards such as IBM’s Model M in the 1980’s utilized mechanical switches, the 1990’s brought on a wave of inexpensive rubber dome keyboards that flooded the keyboard market. Rubber dome keyboards represent over 90% of keyboards in use today and provide an inexpensive but dissatisfying feel and typing experience.

Mechanical keyboards raise the bar in every way. A mechanical keyboard’s switches, framing, functionality, type print methods, key construction, PCB board, LED lighting (sharpness, brightness, adjustability), and a slew of other features are far superior compared to traditional rubber dome keyboards. Most of these improvements boil down to one thing - feel. Mechanical keyboards simply feel better than rubber dome keyboards.

How to choose your first mechanical keyboard?


Linear switches are switches that simply go up and down with no gimmicks. When you press a linear switch, you’ll feel it depress smoothly until it’s all the way down. This is the vanilla of mechanical switches: it is very good and very enjoyable but it is also very simple. If you see a switch called a “red” or a “black,” it is almost certainly a linear switch. Blacks are typically the stiffer of the two.

Clicky switches are the other end of the spectrum. Clicky switches have two parts inside of them that smack against each other as you press them down, which results in a satisfying sensation for your fingers as well as a clicky noise that you may enjoy but that other people in the room will almost certainly hate. If you see a switch called a “blue” or a “green,” it is almost certainly a clicky switch, and greens tend to be the stiffer of the two.

Tactile switches are something of a fusion of these two options. Tactile switches have “bump” on the way down, a small physical sensation that is reminiscent of a click, but much more subtle and, perhaps more importantly, entirely inaudible. Tactile switches are a little rarer than linear or clicky switches, but are very popular among enthusiasts for this best-of-both worlds-quality. They’re also, by far, my favorite. If you see a switch called a “brown” or a “clear,” it is almost certainly a tactile switch, and clears are generally the stiffer of the two.


Full-size keyboards have all the keys you could ever want: a full suite of letters and numbers (obviously) but also arrow keys, a row of F1-F12 function keys above the numbers and a dedicated numpad. This is your safest bet, with a few minor downsides. Bigger mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive, and they have a larger footprint on your desk.

Tenkeyless boards are a full-size keyboard, but without the numpad. Simple! After all, you can just pick up a numpad separately if you really miss it.

60 percent keyboards dispense with the numpad, but also function keys and, most notably, arrow keys. In lieu of dedicated keys for these functions, 60 percent boards make use of a feature called layering. Just like you would hold shift to access the “layer” of keys where symbols like @ and * live on a normal keyboard, 60 percent keyboards use an additional “function layer” to give you temporary access to the keys it is missing. Some slightly larger keyboards known as 65 or 68 percent keyboards, find a way to cram in those arrow keys somewhere by getting creative with the size of certain keys.


Keyboards by Budget

Under $50

Compact Office Keyboard

Havit KB487L Mechanical Keyboard is a perfect entry level mechanical keyboard who is looking for a quiet option. It built with Red Switches and it is easier to click and well meet the needs of office environmental typing. Downside is no backlit feature available for this model. But it features ten keys in such a compact design.

Tenkeyless Keyboard (60% Compact)

Redragon K552-RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a great gaming entry mechanical keyboard. It built with 87 keys with custom switches (Cherry Blue equivalent) for longevity with greater durability and responsiveness offering clicky medium resistance audible loud click sound crisp precise tactile feedback for typing and gaming. This keyboard features 18 different RGB lighting modes, 9 different colors, 5 backlight brightness levels, breathing speed. Precision engineered keycaps offering crystal clear uniform backlighting. All Anti-Ghosting 87 keys are conflict free n-Key Rollover for ultimate gaming performance.

Also available in white version.

Full-Size Keyboard

FIODIO F-2068 Mechanical Keyboard is a great option for daily users. This keyboard designed with blue switches, which provides crisp key clicks and pleasant paragraph feeling. The colorful rainbow Backlit can bring you into a great gaming keyboard atmosphere. There are permanent lighting and automatic breathing lighting modes for your options. You can also adjust the brightness of the backlight according to your preference. 104-key rollover with anti-ghosting design ensures the most accuracy of your commands in any use case scenario, and will never miss a single key-press or confuse your commands under any conditions. Tested over 10, 000, 000 keystrokes, the keyboard is extremely durable to ensure longer service life with Splash Resistant Design.


Under $100

Compact Modern Design