If you're looking for a good keyboard on a tight budget, there are a ton of options online and it isn't hard to get one at a low price. But are they actually good? We've tested a number of them and have compiled a list of the best cheap keyboards to share with you, so you can get the most bang for your buck. They may be cheap in price, but they can compete with significantly more expensive keyboards in terms of build quality, features, and typing experience.
We've reviewed over 60 keyboards, and below are our recommendations for the best cheap keyboards that are available for purchase. For other options, see our recommendations for the best keyboards, the best gaming keyboards under $100, and the best wireless keyboards.
The best cheap mechanical keyboard that we've reviewed so far is the Redragon K552-RGB. At such a low price, this keyboard stands out for its great build quality and decent typing experience. The frame is a mix of plastic and metal, with no signs of flexing, and it features mechanical switches that are similar to Cherry MX Blues, which provide tactile feedback as well as an audible click. The keyboard is easy to type on, but the lack of a wrist rest can cause a bit of fatigue for some. Also, its typing noise is quite loud, so it's best to avoid using this keyboard in a noise-sensitive environment.
This keyboard comes with full RGB backlighting, and you can customize it directly on the keyboard since it doesn't have software for customization. The keys are individually-lit and there are several preset lighting effects to choose from. You can also create a custom lighting effect, although the keyboard can only save one custom profile at a time. Unfortunately, there aren't any macro-programmable keys or dedicated media controls.
Compatibility with desktop operating systems is good, as all keys function properly on Windows and Linux, while only a few OS-specific keys don't work on macOS. On the whole, although it doesn't have much in terms of extra features, this is a very decent mechanical keyboard for a budget-friendly price.
If the Redragon K552-RGB's loud typing noise doesn't suit you or you simply prefer keyboards with rubber dome switches, then go with the SteelSeries Apex 3. This keyboard also has great build quality, and it comes with a wrist rest that attaches magnetically. It has RGB backlighting, but it's zone-lit rather than individually-lit. All the keys are macro programmable through SteelSeries' Engine software, and there are even dedicated media controls. The rubber dome switches require a moderate amount of force to actuate, which can be fatiguing for some, but luckily, the keys are stable and don't wobble at all.
Overall, if you like mechanical switches, go with the Redragon; otherwise, the SteelSeries' typing quality is nearly as good, and its silent typing noise won't bother your surrounding colleagues.
The best cheap Bluetooth keyboard that we've tested so far is the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard. It's a very straightforward looking keyboard that doesn't have many bells and whistles. Its wireless design makes your setup a bit clutterless and the rubber dome switches are quiet enough for an open-office environment.
The overall typing quality is good, although nothing too special about it. It's fully compatible with Windows and only a few non-alphanumerical keys don't work on either macOS or with mobile devices. You can set a few macros in its Windows software, which can help make your workflow a bit more fluid if you find yourself always doing the same inputs.
Unfortunately, the ergonomics of this keyboard aren't the best, but it's fairly low profile so you probably won't need a wrist rest. Also, it can't be recharged and instead uses disposable AAA batteries. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a Bluetooth keyboard while staying on a tight budget, this is a great option.
The best cheap keyboard that has an ergonomic design that we've tested so far is the Kensington Pro Fit Ergo Wireless Keyboard. If you often feel soreness in your forearms or wrists after a long work day, a split keyboard with a curved board design might help you. This keyboard offers a comfortable typing experience and even comes with an integrated plushy wrist rest.
The board even has front feet, which create a negative angle when typing to reduce wrist-bend. This wireless keyboard can be used with its USB receiver or via Bluetooth, and you can easily switch between the two connections. Thanks to its Bluetooth connection, this means you can use it on pretty much any platform, including mobiles and tablets for a better typing experience.
Unfortunately, the rubber dome switches might feel a bit mushy to some and the board lacks any type of customization, but it's to be expected at this price point. It also can't be recharged and uses disposable AAA batteries like the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard on this list. Still, if you want to upgrade your work ergonomics, the Kensington board is a great entry-level option to try out this type of design.
The best cheap keyboard for mobile devices that we've tested so far is the Logitech K380. It has a light weight and a compact form factor that's easy to carry around. It connects via Bluetooth and operates on two AAA batteries, and its multi-device pairing feature lets you multitask with ease. It doesn't have any backlighting; however, it's understandable given that it runs on disposable batteries.
This keyboard uses scissor switches that are fairly easy to type on. The keys do require a bit of force to get over the tactile bump, but the general typing experience is still light and doesn't cause any fatigue. The keys have a circular shape that can help with typing accuracy and their short travel distance make the keyboard feel very responsive. Sadly, there are only a few keys that are programmable and you can only choose from a preset list of functions.
With its low profile, most people shouldn't need a wrist rest to type comfortably. The keyboard has excellent compatibility with most desktop operating systems as well as mobile ones, although the customization software is only available for Windows and macOS. That said, Logitech's Options software doesn't offer much in terms of customization, so you won't be missing much. Overall, if you tend to work on mobile devices while you're out and about, this is an excellent keyboard to take with you.
05/11/2020: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap keyboards 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.