Top 10 Best Cheap Mechanical Keyboards of 2017

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(Amazon)

Mechanical keyboards are the next step up from standard keyboards, and are popular among all types of users, especially gamers.

Individual mechanical switches beneath each key offer a number of benefits, namely an improved tactile response that can speed up typing—and of course offers that satisfying click.

Even if your budget for peripherals is tight, you can still afford a quality mechanical keyboard, and we’ve chosen our ten favorites that you can get for under $100.

Don’t let yourself get caught with a slow and mushy membrane keyboard. Check out some of the best alternatives keyboards below.


1. Tomoko Blue Switch 104-Key LED Mechanical Keyboard

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Tomoko’s full-size mechanical keyboard is definitive proof that you can have all the bells and whistles without paying top dollar.

This keyboard has a full 104 keys, including a number pad multimedia shortcut keys. These keys have a rainbow LED arrangement with individual lights for each key.

You are able to adjust brightness, pattern speed, and choose from nine pattern modes. Sadly, the LED colors of each row are set, so you cannot color-code key groupings, but it is still a fun addition.

Behind the LEDs, this keyboard backs Blue Gaote switches, a set of switches meant to imitate the well-known Cherry brand switches.

These seem to work just as well, and have the same N-key rollover (which means you can press all the keys at once, and they will all register).

Blue switches from any brand are a great choice for a clicky and tactile experience. The more distinct clicking from blue keys are great for speed typing, but can easily be heard from rooms over, so won’t be the best choice for everyone.

In terms of build quality, this keyboard is hefty and durable. It has a fairly large palm and wrist rest, plus a spill-resistant design that has drainage holes to prevent water damage. For its price, the Tomoko 104-key keyboard offers immense value, as long as you don’t mind the loud volume of the blue switches.

Price: $54.99 (30 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Tomoko Blue Switch 104-Key Mechanical Keyboard here.


Pros:

  • Included number pad
  • Customizable rainbow LED array
  • Ergonomic water-resistant design

Cons:

  • Blue switches can be quite loud
  • No color-changing LEDs means no color mapping
  • Large desk footprint

Find more Tomoko Blue Switch 104-Key Mechanical Keyboard information and reviews here.



2. CM Storm QuickFire TK

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(Amazon)

The Storm QuickFire TK from Cooler Master is one of the most popular budget mech keyboards out there, likely because it is one of the only sub-$100 mechanical keyboards that actually packs the industry-standard Cherry mechanical switches under each of its keys.

Most other brands are held to Cherry’s standard, and they do seem to meet them quite well, but it is still a point of pride to have the genuine product.

The QuickFire sports the highly-rated Red Cherry MX switches, which are a linear key style. This type of switch has very light actions and offers some gaming advantage where double-tapping or half-pressing keys might be handy.

This keyboard is also available with Cherry Brown or Green switches, and for some reason the ten key version here is now cheaper than their standard Rapid tenkeyless model.

The QuickFire is well-built, and has laser-etched RGB backlit keys that have survived years of abuse on my own keyboard (which I used to write this very article). The plastic casing around the keys, however, has worn out on all sides after a few years of use, and looks quite ugly. Speaking of ugly, I find the font on the keys to be a little weird. But you may find them cool.

Price: $93.49 (7 percent off MSRP)

Buy the CM Storm QuickFire TK here.


Pros:

  • Linear Red Cherry MX switches are great for gaming
  • Clicks are slightly muffled
  • Nice removable braided USB cable

Cons:

  • Paint will peel off the plastic casing
  • Key font is not my style
  • High price tag

Find more CM Storm QuickFire TK information and reviews here.



3. Tomoko Blue Switch 104-Key Black Mechanical Keyboard

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(Amazon)

While I had originally listed Tomoko’s compact 87-Key Mechanical Keyboard here as the second best choice from this company, a Tomoko rep reached out to me and made me aware of their newest full-size keyboard design. This new keyboard is slightly pricier than their 87-key version, but delivers the same great build quality in a no-frills form factor.

This 104-key model has the same sturdy metal base as the above model from Tomoko, and the sample unit that I was sent handled a weekend of high-octane gaming quite well.

I have been using a Gripmaster to strengthen my fingers lately, so in my testing, I just punched the hell out of those keys, and they held up fine. Unlike the 87-key version of this board, the keycaps on the latest Tomoko keyboard are long-lasting and attractive.

Some downsides are that there is no wrist rest or backlit keys, but this keyboard still has the same functionality of the best mechanical keyboards out there with their responsive blue switches.

This model has the same Blue Gaote switches as its LED-heavy counterpart, which means that this keyboard is also a great option for an improved tactile feel via louder clicking switches (without being too loud). This board also has N-key rollover, which helps prevent ghosting and missed presses.

The keys are well-rounded and easy to navigate. It took me quite a bit of time to adjust to the lower key travel when switching from my CM Storm Quickfire, but ended up being one of my favorite aspects of typing on this keyboard.

Function key shortcuts are a great touch, and in my gaming tests, the Windows lock key helped me finally stop minimizing my games behind the start menu on accident.

If you need certain luxuries like LED keys or a number pad, this won’t be the keyboard for you. But if you are just looking for a good value on a blue switch mechanical keyboard, then Tomoko is definitely a great pick.

Price: $43.99 (12 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Tomoko Blue Switch 104-Key Black Mechanical Keyboard here.


Pros:

  • Better (and louder) tactile feedback from blue switches
  • Windows key lock
  • Durable and water-resistant design

Cons:

  • Integrated USB cord
  • No backlit keys
  • No wrist rest

Find more Tomoko Blue Switch 87-Key Mechanical Keyboard information and reviews here.



4. Razer BlackWidow Stealth Keyboard

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(Amazon)

Razer’s BlackWidow keyboard claims to be the first mechanical keyboard to be specifically designed for gaming. Their Stealth design combines this iconic design with more silent gaming switches that is forgiving to non-gamers you live with.

This keyboard comes with vibrant green LEDs which can be somewhat controlled through the complicated software that comes with the BlackWidow. It is best to just avoid this software.

Another part of the Razer style is the font on the key caps. Again, I prefer a more traditional font, but you might actually prefer’s Razer’s design. But just because this keyboard has a lot of style doesn’t mean that it sacrifices durability, as this keyboard has a hefty frame, solid key caps, and a braided detachable USB cable.

Razer keyboards use proprietary switches, which are considered to be some of the better options available. The BlackWidow’s Razer Green switches are great for gaming, as they have a shallower activation point as well as a lighter action than the common blue switches.

This keyboard has 10 key rollover, and performs fine under even the most frenzied use.

As the name suggests, this design takes extra effort to muffle key clicks, though it is still quite loud. Between this added muffling feature and the light action of the gaming-oriented switches, the BlackWidow offers a lot reasons to spend the extra dough on this midrange keyboard.

Price: $78.99

Buy the Razer BlackWidow Stealth Keyboard here.


Pros:

  • Razer Green Switches have a shallow activation point (great for gaming)
  • Vibrant green LED lighting
  • Quieter keystrokes

Cons:

  • Included software is basically useless
  • Key font is not my style
  • Higher price tag

Find more Razer BlackWidow Stealth Keyboard information and reviews here.



5. Azio MGK1-K Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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The Azio MGK1-K is a midrange mechanical keyboard that shows attention to detail with a huge selection of convenient and ergonomic features.

This full-size keyboard sports shortcut keys and a number pad, all of which are illuminated by a simple white LED backlight. This is a nice departure from busy gamer designs, and has adjustable brightness to keep you in control. There is also a Windows key lock for gaming, so you’ll never minimize your game mid-round again.

Beneath the sturdy key caps, the MGK1-K sports Kailh Brown switches, a fairly clicky tactile switch set that compares closest to the Cherry Clears or Cherry Brown.

Kailh switches are quite a bit heavier than other brands, so feather-fingered typists will probably be able to type faster on a different keyboard. If you normally bottom out your keys anyway, this will hardly affect your performance.

The keyboard itself is high quality all-around, offering cool extras like a detachable wrist rest and volume controller. A black anodized aluminum face plate holding everything together.

Aside from small nitpick, the only real issue is that you will sometimes experience stickiness or a metallic rattling from the wider keys (space, shift, enter, backspace) because of and issue with the stabilizer wire that keeps the keys from tilting.

This small issue aside, the Azio MGK1-K is an elegant and clever mech keyboard that stands as a viable alternative to top brands that are double the price.

Price: $64.99 (10 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Azio MGK1-K Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard here.


Pros:

  • Tactile non-clicky brown switches are weighted for gaming
  • Detachable wrist rest
  • White LED backlight with adjustable brightness

Cons:

  • Wider keys might be clunky or squeaky
  • Number/symbol keys are printed backwards
  • Higher price tag

Find more Azio MGK1-K Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard information and reviews here.



6. HAVIT HV-KB378L RGB

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The HAVIT HV-KB378L is a full-size keyboard that offers a full set of features for the user who wants to customize their keyboard from the top down.

The HV-KB378L should be a top choice for the budget-minded LED lover, as it is the only keyboard on this list that offers full RGB back lighting. That means that you can customize you board’s color key-by-key, using specific colors to mark key groups for different games.

You also have control over the five levels of brightness and color changing speed across the six preset patterns you can cycle through.

These LEDs can also be turned off if they get too distracting, except for the the blue indicator lights at the top of the keyboard, which stay on even when your PC is powered down. Also on the topic of keys, this board requires you to download your choice of third party keyboard programmer software if you want to change the built-in hotkeys, and you probably will.

Beneath these keys, the HV-KB378L uses the Gaote or Otemu version blue switches, which are not far off from the Cherry switches they were based on. Blue switches are particularly loud and clicky, which many prefer for the physical feedback.

The only keys that are somewhat tricky to use are the bottom row of keycaps. These are not rounded like the spacebar, making them harder to press while gaming with your hands over WSAD.

And at the base of this keyboard, we have a sturdy metal base with a built-in wrist rest. From top to bottom, this Havit keyboard is exceptionally well-designed, and will catch the interest of anyone looking for a fully customizable typing experience.

Price: $64.99 (19 percent off MSRP)

Buy the HAVIT HV-KB378L RGB here.


Pros:

  • Customizable key-by-key RGB LEDs
  • Loud, clicky tactile feedback from blue switches
  • Built-in wrist rest

Cons:

  • Requires a third party software to reprogram hot keys
  • Top indicator LEDs are always on
  • Bottom key cap row is not rounded

Find more HAVIT HV-KB378L RGB information and reviews here.



7. EagleTec KG011

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(Amazon)

The KG011 from EagleTec is a keyboard with a full numeric keypad that combines a unique color scheme and aesthetic with high performance switches. This keyboard stands out from others right away with its brushed aluminum back plate. It looks nice and should last a very long time, but it is slightly lighter and easier to flex than other keyboards.

The white key caps with transparent symbols are another awesome detail from EagleTec, and they look fantastic with the brightness-adjustible blue LEDs. Do note that these white key caps will accumulate dirt over time, so you’ll want to remove the key caps and wash them every now and then.

The blue switches from Otemu are a fine Cherry clone, proving that relying on brand names can be a pitfall. They are just as tactile and responsive as the next pair of blues out there. For a basic keyboard, the KG011 delivers everything you need, and looks great with any setup.

Price: $41.99

Buy the EagleTec KG011 here.


Pros:

  • Full 104-key array with tactile blue switches
  • Brightness-adjustable blue LEDs
  • Beautiful brushed aluminum finish

Cons:

  • White key caps will accumulate dirt over time
  • Board is lighter and flexier than others
  • No wrist rest

Find more EagleTec KG011 information and reviews here.



8. SADES K10 LED Mechanical Keyboard

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(Amazon)

The K10 keyboard from Sades is a rainbow LED keyboard with a gold ABS baseplate and a full 104-key array (number pad included). Like on Tomoko’s 104-key option, each row of the board is a set color. These do not change like a full RGB keyboard, but the board does offer several different light patterns, as well as nine brightness settings.

Overall, the keyboard has a cool look (as long as you like the gold), and is a lot of fun to type on. This keyboard has Huano blue switches, yet another clone of the classic Cherry Blues. These have a lighter activation weight, and a great overall feel. The keyboard also has a Windows lock key, which helps prevent interruptions from accidentally minimizing a game.

By now this form should be familiar, and although it does not come with a wrist rest, you will be drawn to the excellent rhythm that typing on a mechanical keyboard provides, regardless of how it is used.

Price: $49.99 (50 percent off MSRP)

Buy the SADES K10 LED Mechanical Keyboard here.


Pros:

  • Full set of program keys
  • Full 104-key array with tactile blue switches
  • Windows key lock helps prevent gaming interruptions

Cons:

  • No wrist rest
  • Blue switches can be particularly loud
  • No color-changing LEDs means no color mapping

Find more SADES K10 LED Mechanical Keyboard information and reviews here.



9. Redragon K552 LED Mechanical Keyboard

best cheap mechanical keyboard, cheap mechanical keyboard, best gaming keyboard

(Amazon)

The Redragon K552, on the merits of its low price alone, is one of the best options for a budget keyboard at only $40. And for that lower price, you still get the same quality out of this mech keyboards as others in its bracket.

The K552 stands out with its red LED 87-key arrangement. They sit atop a baseplate of both aluminum and ABS, which provides good weight and has spill resistant properties similar to those of pricier Tomoko keyboards.

Redragon claims that their custom switches are a Cherry Green equivalents, but many advanced users notice that the keys have the lighter action pressure of Cherry Blue switches, and are therefore more similar to blues. They still work great for gaming, although the K552 would be even better for gaming with slightly less key travel.

Also, sorry for being a font purist, but the Redragon has to have to worst font of the lot in my opinion. You may enjoy its awkward mix of sci-fi sleekness and dungeon manual chunkiness, but it’s not for me.

Price: $32.99

Buy the Redragon K552 LED Mechanical Keyboard here.


Pros:

  • Durable and water-resistant design
  • Low price
  • Custom switches with light action for gaming

Cons:

  • All plastic design
  • Ugliest key cap font
  • Key travel could be smaller

Find more Redragon K552 LED Mechanical Keyboard information and reviews here.



10. AULA LED Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

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(Amazon)

To throw one last rainbow LED keyboard into the mix, this AULA keyboard offers a compact tenkeyless mech board for a great price.

Unfortunately, the rainbow boards don’t have the same customization as RGB boards, but with eight preset lighting effects and several brightness settings, this will provide all of the kaleidoscopic entertainment of a board three times its price.

And also for its price, you are getting a great typing experience with the generic blue switches, which provide a loud, clicky, and feedback-driven experience. Typists will almost always prefer this, as it allows for an audible cue if a key is missed.

There are several versions of this keyboard, and some of the pricier ones have a number pad. While this one does not, it does have many programmed functions, and a handy windows lock key, which helps prevent interruptions from accidentally minimizing a game.

AULA definitely keeps thing simple with this design, but if a colorful and functional keyboard that frees extra space on your desk by skipping on the numpad, then consider this pick.

Price: $39.95 (37 percent off MSRP)

Buy the AULA LED Mechanical Gaming Keyboard here.


Pros:

  • Loud and tactile feedback from blue switches
  • Low price
  • Windows key lock helps prevent gaming interruptions

Cons:

  • No wrist rest
  • Blue switches can be particularly loud
  • No color-changing LEDs means no color mapping

Find more AULA F2012 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard information and reviews here.


Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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Anonymous

The EagleTec KG011 price is a little off “Price: $494.97” it should be 49.00

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