If you're looking for a good keyboard on a tight budget, there are a ton of options online. 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 that 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 tested over 95 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 keyboard that we've tested is the Redragon K552-RGB. This mechanical gaming keyboard has a compact TenKeyLess (80%) design made of a mix of hard plastic and metal, resulting in a great build quality that shows no sign of flex. The keycaps are doubleshot ABS plastic and provide a stable typing experience. Also, it's fully compatible with Windows and Linux, with only some minor buttons like hotkeys and scroll lock not working on macOS.
This keyboard's Outemu Blue clicky switches are very similar to Cherry MX Blues. The actuation force is very low, meaning you won't have to apply much force to press each key. The switches have tactile feedback and even provide an audible click once a keypress has been registered. You can get this keyboard in either black or white variations, and it comes with a full RGB backlight that can be customized on the keyboard itself.
Unfortunately, while typing is stable, the spacebar has a slight wobble to it. Also, it doesn't have any customization software, relegating RGB customization to hotkeys on the keyboard. You also can't program macros, and there's no onboard memory or cloud sync. Typing quality is decent overall, but you may find that the click doesn't line up with the actuation, resulting in a sometimes unusual sensation. Overall, this is one of the best keyboards we've tested.
If you want a non-mechanical gaming alternative, consider the SteelSeries Apex 3. It doesn't have individually lit keys, and its switches are non-mechanical, unlike the Redragon K552-RGB, but every key is macro-programmable, and it has a detachable wrist rest for improved ergonomics. It has dedicated media keys, a numpad, and a volume control wheel. It uses non-mechanical Rubber Dome switches, which offer very quiet tactile feedback, but has a longer pre-travel distance, which could get tiring to type on overtime. On the upside, the wrist rest is quite plushy and should help alleviate some of the tension caused by typing. Also, unlike the Redragon, it has software to customize the backlighting and for setting macros.
Overall, if you're looking for a cheap mechanical gaming keyboard with backlighting, get the Redragon. However, if you prefer to have non-mechanical switches and macro-programmable keys, consider the SteelSeries.
The best cheap keyboard with a Bluetooth connection that we've tested is the Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard. This wireless, full-sized keyboard is a decent choice for office use. The board itself is made of plastic and feels solid overall, and the keycaps feel stable. There's no incline settings or wrist rest, but the low profile switches are decently comfortable and shouldn't cause much fatigue.
It can be used wirelessly over Bluetooth but can only be paired with one device at a time. It has non-mechanical rubber dome switches, which can feel a bit mushy and tiring to type on, but are very quiet and are suitable for an office environment. The entire F row doubles as hotkeys, which includes the media keys, and there are a few dedicated macros, which aren't limited to a preset list of options.
Unfortunately, there's no backlighting, which may be a dealbreaker if you work in the dark often. Its companion software, Mouse and Keyboard Center 11, is only really capable of programming the macros. Also, the wireless versatility of the board is powered by two AAA batteries, which may be disappointing for some. That said, this is 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's a split keyboard with a negative incline setting, which helps reduce the strain put on your wrists, but this isn't something we test. The wrist rest also has a nice leather finish, which is a good touch for a cheap keyboard.
Like the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard, it has rubber dome switches that require a decent amount of force to press, but the low pre-travel distance doesn't make the keys too heavy, and they're also very quiet. The typing quality is decent, but the keycaps are a bit wobbly. This keyboard has multi-device pairing with up to two devices, as you can connect one device via Bluetooth and another with its proprietary receiver, but the button to switch devices is located underneath the keyboard, which isn't very convenient.
Unfortunately, it doesn't offer any customization, and there's no backlighting, but it's still a great choice for office use due to its outstanding ergonomics. It might take some time getting used to the split keyboard design, but once you do, it's the best cheap ergonomic keyboard we've tested.
The best cheap keyboard for mobile devices that we've tested is the Logitech K380. It's a lightweight and compact keyboard 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, which is understandable given that it runs on disposable batteries.
It uses scissor switches that are light to type on. The keys 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 makes the keyboard feel very responsive. Also, with its low profile, most people shouldn't need a wrist rest to type comfortably.
Sadly, there are only a few programmable keys, and you can only choose from a preset list of functions, but you can also use its software on Windows or macOS. Still, the keyboard has excellent compatibility with most desktop operating systems as well as mobile ones. Overall, if you tend to work on mobile devices while you're out and about, the Logitech is the best cheap keyboard for mobile devices we've tested.
10/23/2020: Changed 'Best Cheap' to 'Best Cheap Gaming'.
08/25/2020: Updated text for clarity and structure, no changes in product picks.
06/22/2020: 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.