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 100 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. This mechanical TenKeyLess model has great build quality, with a body made of a mix of hard plastic and metal that shows no sign of flex. The keycaps are doubleshot ABS plastic and provide a decent 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.
Its 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 it in either black or white, and it comes with full RGB backlighting that can be customized on the keyboard itself.
Unfortunately, the spacebar has a slight wobble to it, and you may find that the audible click doesn't line up with the actuation of the keys. Also, there's no dedicated software, so you have to customize the RGB lighting directly on the board, and you can't set any macros. Nevertheless, this is one of the best keyboards we've tested, and the best cheap gaming option we've tested.
If you prefer a non-mechanical gaming alternative, consider the SteelSeries Apex 3. It doesn't have individually-lit keys and doesn't feel as responsive as the Redragon K552-RGB, but the switches are non-mechanical and every key is macro-programmable. It has nice 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. On the upside, it has a 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 responsive switches, 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. It’s a good full-size office option that feels well-built, even though it’s entirely made out of plastic. It's also well-suited for any noise-sensitive environment as typing on it is very quiet.
The overall typing quality is good, though some people may find the keys to be a bit mushy. It has rubber dome switches that require quite a bit of force to actuate, but the low pre-travel distance helps to keep the typing light and somewhat responsive. It's wireless-only and should work with almost any device that has a Bluetooth connection, including mobile ones. You can also set macros to a few function keys, though it's limited to the F4-F7 keys.
Unfortunately, the ergonomics are only decent, as it’s a straight board with no incline settings and no wrist rest. However, it has a low-profile design, so it shouldn’t cause too much fatigue over time. It also doesn’t have any backlighting, which may be problematic if you work in a dark environment. Nevertheless, this is a good option if you want a cheap option that you can easily connect with Bluetooth, and it’s also one of the best keyboards for writers we've tested.
The best budget keyboard with an ergonomic design that we’ve tested is the Kensington Pro Fit Ergo Wireless Keyboard. This affordable model is great for office use and has remarkable ergonomics thanks to the curved design with a split-key layout, the included wrist rest, and the possibility to create a negative angle with the three feet.
It’s a wireless-only model that can connect with two different devices at the same time, either via Bluetooth or with the USB receiver. It’s also extremely versatile and works with practically any operating system, even on mobile devices, with just a few keys not working properly with some OS. It uses rubber dome switches that need quite a bit of force to actuate, but they still feel light to type on due to the low pre-travel distance. The keys may feel mushy, and some of them are a bit wobbly, but at least you shouldn’t feel much fatigue while typing and it’s quiet enough for an open-office environment.
Unfortunately, the build quality is only decent as it’s entirely made of plastic. It also lacks backlighting, which may be problematic if you want to work in a darker environment, and it doesn’t have any customization software. That said, if you’re looking for a cheap curved board with amazing ergonomics, this is a great choice.
The best cheap keyboard for mobile devices that we've tested is the Logitech K380. It's a very lightweight and compact model that's easy to carry around. You can easily connect it to up to three devices via Bluetooth. It has excellent compatibility with most desktop and mobile operating systems, making it quite versatile.
It uses scissor switches that require a bit of force to go over the tactile bump, though the general typing experience is light and shouldn’t cause any fatigue. The keys have a circular shape, and their short pre-travel distance makes them feel very responsive. Also, thanks to its low profile, it should feel comfortable enough to type on for extended periods.
Unfortunately, you can only reprogram a few keys to a preset list of commands. It also doesn't have any backlighting, and its build quality is only decent as it’s entirely made of plastic. Overall, if you work a lot on your phone or tablet while you're out and about, this is the best budget keyboard for mobile devices we've tested.
12/22/2020: Updated text for clarity and structure, no changes in product picks.
10/23/2020: Changed 'Best Cheap' to 'Best Cheap Gaming'.
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.