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 cheap gaming keyboard that we’ve tested is the Redragon K552-RGB. It has a simple but practical TenKeyLess design that should give you more space on your desk to move your mouse around. Its build quality is great, especially considering its lower price point, and it feels heavy and durable.
It uses clicky Outemu Blue switches. These can be compared to Cherry MX Blue, with low actuation force and good tactile feedback, so typing feels light and shouldn’t cause much fatigue over time. It has hotkeys for media control and a Windows key lock to prevent you from accidentally minimizing your game. It also has superb RGB backlighting with individually backlit keys.
Unfortunately, it lacks a wrist rest and only has one incline setting. Its pre-travel distance is slightly longer than other gaming keyboards, making it a little less responsive overall. There’s also no software support, so all customization has to be done on the keyboard itself. Nevertheless, this is a good gaming option that won’t break your bank, and it’s also one of the best keyboards we’ve tested.
If you prefer a non-mechanical gaming alternative, consider the SteelSeries Apex 3. It doesn't have individually backlit keys and feels less responsive than the Redragon K552-RGB, but its switches are non-mechanical, and all of its keys are macro-programmable. It has extra features like dedicated media keys, a numpad, and a volume control wheel. It also comes with a detachable wrist rest for improved ergonomics. It uses rubber dome switches, which offer very quiet tactile feedback but have a fairly long pre-travel distance, which isn't ideal for fast gaming. It has great companion software that allows you to easily set macros and customize the RGB backlighting.
Overall, if you're looking for a cheap mechanical gaming keyboard with a shorter pre-travel, get the Redragon. However, if you prefer non-mechanical switches and macro-programmable keys, consider the SteelSeries.
The best budget keyboard with a Bluetooth connection that we’ve tested is the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard. This full-sized 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 is short, so it still feels responsive. It also has some extra features, like a few dedicated macro 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. 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 also one of the best keyboards for writers 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 F-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 small and lightweight model is very portable and should easily fit into a laptop case or 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, the board has a low profile, so you shouldn't need one. While there's some flex to it and the ABS keycaps feel cheap, the board's 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.
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'.
Jun 22, 2020: Changed the Redragon K552 to the 'Best Cheap Keyboard' from 'Best Cheap Mechanical Keyboard'.
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.