Get insider access
Preferred store
Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.
If you want to see more about how specific mechanical switches perform, we've recently launched reviews of keyboard switches!

The 5 Best Keyboards For Programming - Spring 2024 Reviews

Best Keyboards For Programming

Finding the best keyboard for coding is a tall order. However, making the right choice can work wonders for your workflow. Spending countless hours coding requires a comfortable keyboard above all else. But you may also be interested in features like dedicated macro-programmable keys, backlighting, and multi-device pairing. Of course, your personal preference plays a big role in finding the perfect model, so our recommendations cover a wide range of keyboards, from compact mechanical units that are easy to bring around to full-size options with numpads for numerical data entry and everything in between.

We've tested over 220 keyboards, and below are our top recommendations for the best programming keyboards. For other recommendations, check out our picks for the best keyboards or the best wireless keyboards. Or, if you're doing more long-form writing than coding, check out the best keyboards for typing.

  1. Best Keyboard For Programming

    The best keyboard for programming we've tested is the Keychron Q5 Max, a compact (96%) model in Keychron's wider Q Max lineup. Note that this keyboard isn't typically available from major online retailers but is reliably in stock directly from Keychron's website. This wireless keyboard has outstanding build quality and looks, feels, and sounds great right out of the box. Part of what makes typing on this keyboard feel so different is its double gasket-mounted design, which has a softer sounding, almost springy-feeling typing experience compared to most prebuilt mechanical keyboards.

    Another major selling point of this keyboard is its freedom in terms of hardware customizability. It has a hot-swappable PCB, so you can easily change out the stock switches for your chosen switches. Other components like the stabilizers and keycaps are also easily replaceable, and there's even an included toolkit to help you disassemble your keyboard. While we recommend the Q5 Max specifically for most programmers, the entire Keychron Q Max Series is worth checking out as there are various sizes and layouts.

    If you don't rely on F-row keys for your workflow, you may appreciate the more compact (75%) Keychron Q1 Max. Or, if you prefer a more conventional full-size layout, you'll want to check out the Keychron Q6 Max. Either way, each model in this series offers the same outstanding typing quality, wireless connectivity, and hardware customization. Each variant is also fully compatible with VIA customization software and QMK, meaning you can make software and firmware-level adjustments to complement your workflow.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Keyboard For Programming

    The NuPhy Air75 V2 is one of the best mechanical keyboards for programming at a mid-range price point. Note that this keyboard isn't always in stock from online retailers, but you can also find it on Nuphy's website. It offers an incredible typing experience without any modifications and excellent build quality, wrapped in a much more lightweight, portable, and versatile unit than the Keychron Q5 Max above. It also supports VIA software, allowing you to customize backlighting, key assignments, custom layers, macros, and more. You can access this software using any Chromium-based web browser.

    Thanks to the low-profile mechanical switches and chiclet-style keycaps, you can rest your wrists comfortably on the surface you're working on and reach the keys without straining upwards, which can make a big difference over long stretches. The keycaps are made of durable PBT with a slightly rough texture that feels great on your fingertips. Additionally, you won't have to worry about charging it too frequently as it has an impressive battery life with the RGB backlighting turned off. As a final note, this keyboard is also available in two other size variants: a more compact (60%) NuPhy Air60 V2 and a larger NuPhy Air96 V2.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Keyboard For Programming

    For a less expensive option, you'll have difficulty finding a keyboard that offers everything the Keychron V5 Max does. It's essentially a budget version of our top pick, the Keychron Q5 Max. This keyboard can also be difficult to find in stock from major retailers, but you can find it directly from Keychron here. While it doesn't feature the solid aluminum frame found on Keychron's Q Max series boards, it has a surprisingly sturdy plastic frame. It also boasts PBT keycaps, screw-in stabilizers, and layers of sound-dampening foam inside the board to help reduce the ping and rattle while you type.

    Like the Q5 Max, everything, from the internal hardware components to the firmware, is customizable, making this a great budget-friendly base to start with if you're interested in a fully bespoke unit for programming. The V5 Max and other size variants in Keychron's wider V Max series are also easy to deconstruct thanks to the included toolkit, and it only takes about an hour to change out the stock components.

    If wireless connectivity isn't your priority, we recommend checking out the original Keychron V Series keyboards. These wired-only models are typically available for cheaper and also come in a variety of sizes and layouts to best suit your needs and setup.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Keyboard For Programming

    We recommend the ROYAL KLUDGE RK61 if you need a cheap, dependable coding keyboard. Despite its low price, it's also wireless and small enough to carry around. But know that this compact unit lacks a dedicated function row and arrow keys, which can be a dealbreaker if your workflow relies on these keys and you're not a fan of using shortcut combinations to access these commands.

    This compact model also has a hot-swappable PCB, so you can easily replace the stock switches with the ones you prefer. It's an extremely versatile unit that lets you connect with up to three devices simultaneously via Bluetooth. There's also a variant with a wireless USB receiver that can be a lifesaver if you use it in a noisier Bluetooth environment, like an open office.

    That said, the battery life on the RK61 is on the lower side and maxes out at around 10 hours when used wirelessly. Fortunately, it also includes a USB-A to USB-C charging cable, and you can use the keyboard normally while it charges. A few different variants of this keyboard are available; some, like the unit we tested, only have Bluetooth connectivity and single-color backlighting, while other variants include a USB receiver and RGB backlighting.

    See our review

  5. Best Non-Mechanical Keyboard For Programming

    The best non-mechanical option for coding we've tested is the Logitech MX Keys S. We recommend this keyboard if you need a quieter model for working in a noise-sensitive setting or prefer a tactile typing experience similar to typing on a laptop. Its keycaps have small dish-shaped indents that keep your fingers centered, which can help you minimize typos from glancing blows on neighboring keys. Like other picks on this list, it provides excellent wireless versatility; you can connect it using its included USB receiver or pair it with up to three devices via Bluetooth. It also has white backlighting and keycaps with shine-through legends for great visibility in darker rooms. The lighting can also be set to automatically increase or decrease in brightness depending on the lighting conditions around you.

    That being said, unlike our picks above, the MX Keys S doesn't offer hardware customizability. Also, while it has a very thin, low-profile design that makes it comfortable to type on without a wrist rest, it's still quite large and isn't designed to be slipped into a bag or used on the go. If portability is paramount for your workflow, we suggest looking at the smaller version of this keyboard, the Logitech MX Keys Mini, which has a much more compact (75%) layout.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • NuPhy Halo75: If you prefer a high-profile keyboard with expanded RGB lighting, the NuPhy Halo75 is a terrific alternative to the NuPhy Air75 V2. It also has layers of silicone foam inside the board, providing a slightly quieter and softer overall typing experience. That said, it isn't as easy to carry around as the Air75 V2 if you move between workspaces in your home or office. Also, because of its high profile, it is more comfortable to type on with a wrist rest, which can take up considerably more space on your desk. See our review
  • System76 Launch: The System76 Launch is a compact (75%) configurable keyboard. Unlike our other picks on this list, every bit of this keyboard, from the design files to the software, is open-source. It means you can take your customization to the furthest possible level. However, it's more expensive than our best pick, the Keychron Q5 Max, and the unconventional size of some of the keys, including the two spacebars, can take some getting used to. See our review
  • Mountain Everest Max: The Mountain Everest Max is a great keyboard for programmers looking for a modular media dock and numpad. It's designed for complete customization, and it's been a favorite amongst programmers since its release. Unfortunately, the companion software is only available on Windows, so you can't program macros or remap keys on Linux or macOS. See our review
  • Epomaker TH80 Pro: The Epomaker TH80 Pro is a great alternative to the ROYAL KLUDGE RK61 if your workflow demands something a little larger with dedicated arrow keys and a function row. It also offers a better overall typing experience with higher-quality PBT keycaps. It's typically quite a bit more expensive, and its PBT keycaps don't have shine-through legends. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Mar 14, 2024: We've replaced the Keychron Q1 Pro as our best pick with the Keychron Q5 Max and swapped the Keychron V1 as our budget pick with the Keychron V5 Max, as they provide better value. We've also removed the Razer Pro Type Ultra, as it's no longer as competitive with other models on this list. Lastly, we've added a new category, with the Logitech MX Key S as a non-mechanical option.

  2. Feb 08, 2024: We've checked our picks and confirmed they continue to represent the best options available for their categories. We've also verified all picks for price and stock availability.

  3. Dec 13, 2023: We've replaced our recommendation for the 'Best Mid-Range Keyboard For Programming' from the NuPhy Air75 to its newly-released successor, the NuPhy Air75 V2. It's a bit more expensive but has considerably better wireless performance and several minor build quality changes that deliver better typing quality.

  4. Sep 22, 2023: We've audited this article and haven't changed our lineup of recommendations, but we've added some contextual detail about the compact (60%) form factor of our budget pick, the ROYAL KLUDGE RK61, and we've added the Epomaker TH80 Pro to our list of Notable Mentions.

  5. Jul 25, 2023: We've changed our best pick in this article from the Keychron Q2 to the Keychron Q1 Pro. While the Q1 Pro is a bit more expensive, it has added wireless connectivity, a slightly larger (75%) form factor, and a dedicated function key row.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best keyboards for coding for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.

If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our keyboard reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no keyboard is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.