Mechanical keyboards offer a different typing experience from standard keyboards using scissor or rubber dome switches. Many mechanical keyboards carry a premium price tag, but this isn't always the case. While more affordable models may not have all the high-end features, some are just as sturdily built and perform similarly to their more expensive counterparts.
If you're new to mechanical keyboards, we recommend looking at our article on mechanical switches. Many of the picks on this list are available in various switch types, so it's helpful to know about each type before deciding.
We've bought and tested over 185 keyboards, and below is a list of our top recommendations for the best cheap mechanical keyboards. If you're looking for more gaming keyboards, check out the best gaming keyboards under $100. Likewise, if you want something cheaper, check out the picks for the best cheap keyboards. Alternatively, if you want a broader scope of the mechanical keyboard market, check out the list of the best mechanical keyboards.
The Keychron K10 is the best budget mechanical keyboard that we've tested. It offers a fully wireless experience, connecting with up to three devices using Bluetooth. With an outstanding battery life of up to 70 hours with backlighting on or up to 240 hours with it off, you won't have to worry about charging it frequently. The K10 offers a typing experience that feels and sounds good right out of the box. So, while you can purchase a hot-swappable version that allows you to easily change out the switches, the stock Gateron G Pro switches feel great as they are.
Though made of ABS plastic, the keycaps feel great on the fingertips, and the keys themselves are very stable. Like all other keyboards in Keychron's K-series, it has a compatibility toggle to switch operating systems and includes extra system-specific keycaps. While we recommend the full-sized K10 here, Keychron's K-series has a range of sizes and configurations available, and all of these boards come in at a budget-friendly price point, so it's worth checking out their website to see what configuration works best for you.
While our top pick, the Keychron K10, is an outstanding out-of-the-box option for general use, you might be looking for something geared toward gaming. If so, we recommend the Razer Huntsman Mini thanks to its exceptionally low latency and highly responsive Clicky Optical switches, though quieter Linear Optical switches are also available. These features are normally on boards with much higher price tags. However, note that this keyboard is best suited as a dedicated gaming unit since you might find the optical switches cause you to make more typos during regular use due to their sensitivity. Its compact size allows for dynamic mouse movements, but it isn't a good fit for general productivity work, like data entry or spreadsheets, due to the lack of arrow keys and a number pad.
In addition to its high-performance gaming features, this keyboard has a high build quality with a hard plastic frame, aluminum top plate, and durable double-shot PBT keycaps that aren't prone to fading or becoming slippery over time, though they are a little wobbly. There's a detachable cable that's easy to replace if it gets damaged.
The Keychron V Series keyboards are a programmer's dream. As they're fully customizable, you can alter the switches, stabilizers, and other internal components to best suit your needs. These keyboards come at a budget price point, meaning you don't need to spend a small fortune to get a bespoke unit. Though, you don't have to customize it if you don't want to. The keyboards in the V Series offer an excellent typing experience with all the stock materials, which include PBT keycaps, a layer of sound-dampening foam, and a retro-style transparent plastic frame.
In addition to its physical customizability, V Series boards offer a suite of software customization options. The VIA companion software is available on all major desktop operating systems, including Linux. It lets you program macros to any key, remap key assignments, create layers and profiles, and adjust the RGB lighting effects and colors. You can also save these custom settings to the keyboard's onboard memory for easy access. These keyboards are fully compatible with QMK, an open-source tool that allows you to build personalized firmware for your board.
As a writer, your keyboard is one of your most important tools, but many premium models also carry premium price tags. That's why we recommend the ROYAL KLUDGE RK61. This solidly built unit offers everything a writer needs right at their fingertips at a price that won't strain your wallet too much. It's a compact, lightweight, and portable unit, making it perfectly suited for writers on the go. It fits naturally in working spaces, like libraries or cafes, and is easy to slip into backpacks. Just note that it lacks dedicated arrow keys (although it does have hotkeys that act like arrow keys when you hold down the Fn button).
In addition to its good overall build quality, this keyboard offers excellent connectivity options. You can pair it with up to three devices using Bluetooth, use it wired, or get a variant with a USB receiver to use the keyboard pretty much anywhere and with any device. A range of other variants is available, including a hot-swappable version that allows you to change out the stock switches to get the typing experience you want.
If you're using a mobile device and want a mechanical keyboard, consider the Obinslab Anne Pro 2. It can be hard to find in stock from some online retailers, but it's restocked fairly often. This keyboard offers unparalleled wireless connectivity options for its budget price point, allowing you to pair with up to four devices using Bluetooth; it's an excellent choice for multi-device setups or use on the go. The whole body of the keyboard is plastic, but it still feels sturdy and high quality, and this plastic construction makes it much lighter to carry around than a metal keyboard. Its compact form makes it easy to slip into backpacks and use in tight workspaces. Just note that there aren't any dedicated arrow keys (although the WASD keys function like arrow keys when you hold down the Fn key). Also, this keyboard has a fairly small battery compared to some wireless models, so you can expect about eight hours of wireless usage, meaning a few days of regular use between charges.
While this unit isn't hot-swappable, like other recommendations on this list, including the Keychron V Series or ROYAL KLUDGE RK61, it's available with a variety of different switch types from various manufacturers, so you'll find a switch type that works for you. It also has a handful of brightly colored extra keycaps to add visual flair.
May 19, 2023: Replaced Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition with Razer Huntsman Mini as 'Best Budget Mechanical Keyboard For Gaming' pick due to current availability.
Mar 24, 2023: We've audited this article and made some minor additions for clarity but we've made no changes to our lineup of recommendations as all our picks remain the best choices for their categories.
Jan 24, 2023: We've verified that all our recommendations on this article remain the best options available and made some minor changes to the structure and phrasing in some entries.
Nov 25, 2022: Removed the Keychron K3 (Version 2) from the article as the 'Best For Mac' pick due to lack of relevance for the article.
Sep 27, 2022: Restructured article by usage. Added the Keychron V1 as 'Best For Programming' and the ROYAL KLUDGE RK61 as 'Best For Typing'. Removed Notable Mentions that are no longer relevant.
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 mechanical 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.