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The 5 Best Keyboards For Programming - Spring 2023 Reviews

Best Keyboards For Programming

As a programmer, a keyboard is one of the most important tools of the trade, and finding one that works for you can work wonders for your workflow. Spending countless hours coding requires a comfortable keyboard, light and responsive switches, and features like macro-programmable keys. 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 195 keyboards, and below are our top recommendations for the best keyboards for programming. 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 that we've tested is the Keychron Q2. Note that this keyboard isn't always available from major online retailers, but it's more reliably in stock directly from Keychron's website. This keyboard has outstanding build quality and looks, feels, and sounds great right out of the box. One of the standout selling points of Keychron's entire Q-series of keyboards is their high level of customization. It has a hot-swappable PCB, so you can easily change the switches, stabilizers, or keycaps. There's even an included toolkit to help you completely disassemble your keyboard and take your modding hobby to the next level.

    While we recommend the compact Q2 size here, you can't go wrong with any of Keychron's Q-lineup, which includes even more compact options like the Keychron Q4 to full-size boards like the Keychron Q6. All of the Q Series keyboards deliver a highly customizable and comfortable experience. They're also fully compatible with VIA customization software and QMK, meaning you can make both software and firmware-level adjustments to dial in your keyboard to complement your workflow.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Keyboard For Programming

    The NuPhy Air75 is one of the best mechanical keyboards for programming you can get at a solid price point between not too expensive and not too cheap. It offers an incredible typing experience without any modifications and excellent build quality, wrapped in one very portable unit. Additionally, it's fully compatible with any operating system, including Linux. It connects wirelessly with Bluetooth and has an included USB receiver that offers a more reliable connection if you often work in congested wireless spaces like open offices. You can also plug it in directly and use it in a wired mode, which is great as you can use it while it charges. This keyboard's F1-F12 keys are on a secondary layer by default. Thankfully, a recent firmware update adds an FN-lock function that can reverse this behavior, which is helpful if you rely heavily on your F-row for your workflow.

    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 48-hour battery life with the RGB backlighting turned off.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Keyboard For Programming

    At a budget price point, you'll have difficulty finding a keyboard that offers everything the Keychron V1 does. It's essentially a budget version of our top pick, the Keychron Q2. While it doesn't feature the solid aluminum frame found on Q-Series boards, it has a surprisingly sturdy plastic frame in either a solid black or a Y2K-esque frosted black colorway. It still has the same high-quality 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 Q-series boards, everything, from the internal hardware components to the firmware, is customizable, making this V Series board a great budget-friendly base to start with if you're interested in a fully bespoke unit for programming.

    These boards are also easy to deconstruct thanks to the included toolkit, and it only takes about an hour to change out the stock components. There's a bit of a compromise since the V Series boards are wired only. So, if you're looking for a wireless recommendation around the same price range, we recommend the Obinslab Anne Pro 2. It isn't nearly as customizable as the V Series keyboards, but it comes in an impressive range of switch options from various manufacturers. It also connects wirelessly with up to four devices at once using Bluetooth, so it's an excellent choice for multi-device setups. Unfortunately, the battery life isn't great, maxing out at eight hours of continuous use, so you'll likely have to charge it daily.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Keyboard For Programming

    If you need a good cheap keyboard for coding, we recommend the ROYAL KLUDGE RK61. Despite its affordable price point, this compact model 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.

    Unfortunately, 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 Full-Size Keyboard For Programming

    While all the above picks are compact units, you may need a Numpad. In that case, we recommend the Razer Pro Type Ultra, a full-size wireless unit with great ergonomic features, impressive backlighting, and a nice, sleek aesthetic that looks great in any setup. It includes a nicely padded wrist rest and linear Razer Yellow switches that are incredibly light to press, so your fingers don't tire out as much. While it's a minor detail, this keyboard's default F-row functions are hotkey shortcuts, like media keys. However, this keyboard's most recent firmware version adds an FN-lock function that allows you to set the F1-F12 keys as the primary input, which can be helpful if you rely heavily on the F-row for your workflow.

    This keyboard also has an outstanding battery life of up to 200 hours with the backlighting turned off. You can connect it wirelessly with its USB receiver, which also pairs with select Razer productivity mice, like the Razer Pro Click, or you can connect it with up to three devices using Bluetooth, which is great if you're in a multi-device setup.

    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. 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 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, the layout may feel a bit cramped for some, and the non-standard sizes of the modifier keys aren't for everyone. See our review
  • Mountain Everest Max: The Mountain Everest Max is a mechanical keyboard that's unique from our other recommendations in this article due to its 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

Recent Updates

  1. May 30, 2023: We've reviewed our picks on this list and confirmed they continue to represent the best options in each category. While we haven't changed our primary picks, we added the newly-reviewed NuPhy Halo75 as a Notable Mention.

  2. Mar 31, 2023: We've gone through this article and confirmed the availability and pricing of all our picks but haven't made any changes to our recommendation lineup.

  3. Jan 30, 2023: We've refreshed our text in this article, but we haven't made any changes to our recommendation lineup as each pick remains the best option available for their respective categories.

  4. Dec 01, 2022: Replaced the Obinslab Anne Pro 2 with the Keychron V1 as the 'Best Budget' pick for consistency across articles. Moved the Obinslab Anne Pro 2 to an in-text mention.

  5. Nov 14, 2022: Changed picks to opt for more mechanical and compact options. Replaced the Dygma Raise with the Keychron Q2 as the Best Keyboard for Programming due to the customizability, better typing experience, and easier accessibility.

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.