If you're looking for a good keyboard on a tight budget, there are many options online. But are they good? We've tested a number of them and have compiled a list of the best cheap keyboards to help you get the most bang for your buck. They may be cheap, but some can compete with significantly more expensive keyboards in terms of build quality, features, and typing experience.
We've tested over 120 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 budget keyboard for gaming with mechanical switches that we've tested is the Logitech G413. It's a simple entry-level keyboard that offers fantastic gaming performance, especially for its price. It's a well-built full-size model that comes with doubleshot ABS keycaps, but they do feel a bit cheap and develop shine easily.
The keyboard only comes with proprietary Romer-G Tactile switches, so you won't have to worry about choosing one switch over another, and you know what you're getting. The switches have a low pre-travel distance, are light to press, and offer good tactile feedback. The low latency helps provide a responsive gaming experience too. It has good ergonomics thanks to its incline settings and typing quality feels good, so you shouldn't experience any fatigue.
Unfortunately, even though it has individually lit keys, they're only available in red, so there's no RGB lighting. You can reprogram the function keys and set macros, but sadly, you can't customize any other key. It doesn't have onboard memory, but you can still save the settings to its cloud sync feature. All things considered, if you want the best cheap keyboard for gaming, you should be happy with this one.
If you want something a bit smaller, then look into the Redragon K552-RGB. It doesn't have macro-programmable keys like the Logitech G413, but it has full RGB lighting with individually lit keys. It's only available in Outemu Blue switches, which also offer tactile feedback and are light to press, but they're clicky and loud in case you were considering it for an open-office environment. Despite its cheap price, it's very well-built with a plastic and metal frame, and the ABS keycaps feel stable. Sadly, the latency is on the high side, so it's not ideal for competitive, reaction-based gaming, but you might not notice it with lower games.
If you want the best budget keyboard with mechanical keys, you can't go wrong with the Logitech, but if you prefer something cheaper that's smaller, look into the Redragon.
The best cheap keyboard for gaming with non-mechanical switches is the SteelSeries Apex 3. It has more features than other cheap keyboards and is a good choice for gaming. It's full-size and has good build quality thanks to its ABS keycaps and solid plastic frame.
It has rubber dome switches, which have a higher pre-travel distance than mechanical keys, but they're still pretty light to press, and the tactile bump won't cause accidental keypresses. All keys are macro-programmable through the SteelSeries Engine software, which is available on macOS and Windows. It even has dedicated media keys with a wheel for volume control, which is a nice touch for a keyboard in this price range. It has good ergonomics and comes with a detachable wrist rest, so you shouldn't feel any fatigue.
Unfortunately, even though it has RGB lighting, it's zone-lit with 10 zones, so you can't customize it on a per-key basis. Still, it has nice effects, and you can control the brightness directly on the keyboard. Typing quality is decent, but the keys feel a bit mushy. If these things don't bother you, then this is the best cheap keyboard with non-mechanical switches for gaming.
The best budget keyboard with a Bluetooth connection that we’ve tested is the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard. This full-size model is a good option for the office. It feels solid even though the frame is plastic, and its keys are stable. It has good typing quality and is well-suited for open environments as typing on it is very quiet.
It uses standard rubber dome switches that require quite a bit of force to go over the tactile bump. This results in a heavier typing experience, but the pre-travel distance is short, so it still feels responsive. It also has some extra features, like the select function keys that you can use for media control or remap to almost any other function you want.
Unfortunately, while it works with almost any device with a Bluetooth connection, it doesn’t support multi-device pairing, and it uses disposable batteries. It also doesn’t have any backlighting and lacks a wrist rest or incline settings to make it more comfortable. That said, if you need something that easily connects via Bluetooth, this is a good option for its price and is one of the best cheap keyboards we've tested.
The best cheap keyboard with an ergonomic design that we've tested is the Kensington Pro Fit Ergo Wireless Keyboard. It has three incline feet below its fixed wrist rest that create a negative angle, designed to put your hands at a more natural typing position. It uses rubber dome switches with a tactile bump that requires some force to get over.
It can pair with two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth and its wireless receiver, and you can shift between them thanks to a switch on the underside of the board. It's compatible with a wide range of operating systems, including iOS and Android, but some function keys only work on Windows. There are media hotkeys, a calculator button, and a Windows lock button on the function row.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have backlighting, so it may be hard to see the keys in a dim-lit room. Also, while the build quality feels decent, the board has a lot of flex to it, and the keycaps feel wobbly and cheaply made. There's no companion software, so you can't set macros, create profiles, or remap any of the keys. If you're looking for a cheap board with an ergonomic design, this is a great option.
The best cheap keyboard for mobile devices that we've tested is the Logitech K380. This lightweight model is very portable and should easily fit into any bag. It can pair with up to three devices at once via Bluetooth, and it's compatible with a wide range of mobile operating systems, although some function keys work on Windows only.
It has scissor switches that require a lot of force to get over the tactile bump, and it has a very short pre-travel distance, which should feel responsive but may cause more accidental keystrokes. While it doesn't have any incline settings or wrist rest, it has a low profile, so you shouldn't need one. While there's some flex to it and the ABS keycaps feel cheap, its plastic body feels decently solid.
Unfortunately, there's no backlighting, so you may not be able to read the key labels in a darker environment. While it should have compatible customization software, it lets you program only some of the function keys; on the bright side, it's available on macOS, and cloud sync is available if you make an account. That said, this is an excellent option if you need a small keyboard to use with your mobile devices but don't want to spend too much money.
Jun 18, 2021: Moved the Redragon K552 to an alternative pick and added the Logitech G413 as the main pick for consistency; moved the SteelSeries Apex 3 to its own category; updated the Notable Mentions.
Apr 20, 2021: Added Logitech G413 to Notable Mentions.
Feb 19, 2021: Verified that recommended keyboards are still the best picks and that they're available.
Dec 22, 2020: Updated text for clarity and structure, no changes in product picks.
Oct 23, 2020: Changed 'Best Cheap' to 'Best Cheap Gaming'.
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.