Building a gaming PC setup on a budget can be hard sometimes, but thankfully, having good peripherals can be do-able without breaking the bank. A mechanical keyboard is often considered the best option when it comes to gaming, and you can find some under $100. They might lack some high-end features, but for the most part, they're quite solid and can even use standard switches like the Cherry MX or proprietary ones.
We've tested and reviewed over 60 keyboards, and below are listed our top recommendations for the best cheap mechanical keyboards. For more options, you can also check out our best mechanical keyboards, the best gaming keyboards, and the best gaming keyboards under $100.
The best cheap mechanical keyboard for under $50 we've tested so far is the Redragon K552-RGB. It offers decent gaming performance with a great build quality for a cheap keyboard, but it's limited on features.
There are a few different variants with different colors or backlighting styles, but they're all available with Outemu Blue switches. The switches are clicky and provide good tactile feedback, and they don't require much force to press, giving you a quick gaming experience. If you also want to type with this keyboard, the typing experience is decent, but the audible click doesn't line up with the actuation, which enthusiasts might find odd. The frame is made out of a mix of plastic and metal, which gives it a robust feel, and there's little flex to it.
Unfortunately, there's no dedicated software and you can't set macros to any keys. Our unit has full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys that you can customize on the keyboard, but the other variants have red and rainbow backlight or none for an office-friendly look. Overall, for less than $50, this keyboard offers good performance for its price.
The best mechanical keyboard under $100 we've tested so far is the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. This good overall keyboard has all the same great features found on other higher-end SteelSeries keyboards, providing you an outstanding gaming experience.
It uses hybrid mechanical switches, which are a mix between typical mechanical switches and rubber dome switches. The proprietary Hybrid Blue Mechanical switches offer good tactile feedback and are fairly easy to press, making sure your commands are registered quickly. It has full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys, which you can customize through the SteelSeries Engine software. Each key is macro programmable, it has dedicated media keys, a scroll wheel for volume control, and an OLED screen on which you can display anything you want.
Unfortunately, if you use this in an open-office environment, the switches are loud and might disturb others around you. However, they still offer a good typing experience, and it's a really well-made keyboard, so it should last you a while. Overall, this is the best cheap mechanical keyboard you can find under $100 that we've tested so far.
If you're looking for a TKL alternative, check out the Razer BlackWidow Lite. It doesn't have full RGB backlighting like the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, but instead, it has white backlighting with individually-lit keys. It's mainly designed to be a more office-friendly option than other mechanical keyboards, so the typing quality is much better than on the SteelSeries. The Razer uses proprietary Razer Orange switches, which offer good tactile feedback similar to Cherry MX Browns, and if you use the included O-rings, there's minimal noise, which is great for an office environment. Unfortunately, the Razer Synapse 3 software isn't available on macOS or Linux and there's no onboard memory on the keyboard. Still, if you're a Windows user, you can set macros to any key through the program.
Overall, if you want the best mechanical keyboard under $100, check out the SteelSeries, but if you want to save some space on your desk, look into the Razer.
If you're looking for a compact 60% layout, then the best cheap mechanical keyboard under $100 we've reviewed so far is the Obinslab Anne Pro 2. This very well-built and small keyboard leaves a ton more room for your mouse, which is great for FPS players who need to flick shot on low sensitivity.
The board features doubleshot PBT keycaps that feel durable and let the full RGB lighting shine through. Our unit features Gateron Brown switches, but it's available in a wide variety of Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh switches, making it easier for you to choose your preferred ones. Brown switches offer good tactile feedback, are light to press, and overall, the typing quality is excellent. This keyboard can also be used wireless via Bluetooth, which makes it even more versatile.
Unfortunately, some people might not like the lack of dedicated arrow keys, although this is expected in a 60% layout. Its small form also means there aren't a lot of extra features like dedicated media keys; everything is mostly on function keys. On the upside, this keyboard has dedicated software that allows for lots of customization. Overall, this is the best compact mechanical keyboard under $100 we've tested so far.
The best wireless cheap mechanical keyboard for under $100 we've tested so far is the Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. It's an excellent gaming keyboard packed with features most gamers should enjoy.
This keyboard has Cherry MX Red switches, which are linear and provide you a quick actuation for when you need to register your actions quickly. Even though the switches don't offer any tactile feedback, the typing quality is still great as the keys are stable and it isn't tiring typing on this keyboard for long periods. It has individually-lit keys, but with blue backlighting instead of RGB, and you can control the brightness directly on the board. Every key is macro programmable through the iCUE software and there's a Windows Key Lock that prevents you from accidentally closing your game.
Unfortunately, the plastic build of the keyboard feels cheap and the wrist rest isn't very comfortable either. However, it has multi-device pairing with up to two devices at once, and changing between them is easy. For a wireless gaming keyboard for under $100, it's great overall, making it one of the best cheap mechanical keyboards we've tested so far.
06/23/2020: Minor text changes for accuracy; no changes in recommendations.
06/02/2020: Updated notable mentions to reflect current market.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap mechanical 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.