Building a gaming PC setup on a budget can be hard sometimes, but thankfully, having good peripherals can be done 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 over 115 keyboards, and below is a list of 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 that we've tested is the Redragon 552-RGB. This wired, TenKeyLess model feels well-built for its price range, made with a mix of hard plastic and metal that exhibits no flex. It has full RGB backlighting with 18 different effects you can cycle through directly from the board.
It's fully compatible with Windows and Linux, but some of the keys don't work on macOS. The clicky Outemu Blue switches feel fairly light and responsive, but the click of the feedback doesn't quite line up to the actuation, which may feel weird to some. The latency should be acceptable for regular tasks, but it's quite high and may feel too unresponsive for gaming.
Unfortunately, there aren't many customization options since it doesn't have a compatible software. Also, it has ABS plastic keycaps, which are more prone to shine than PBT keycaps. The board has a fairly high profile but doesn't come with a wrist rest, so you may need to buy one yourself in order to feel more comfortable. All in all, if you're looking for a simple mechanical keyboard that's cheap, this is a good option.
The best budget mechanical keyboard under $100 that we’ve tested is the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. This wired-only option feels very solid and durable, thanks to its aluminum alloy top and doubleshot ABS keycaps. It also has good ergonomics as it comes with a wrist rest and one adjustable incline setting.
It uses proprietary SteelSeries Hybrid Blue Mechanical switches that feel very responsive and have a satisfying tactile bump as well as an audible click when a key is actuated. The keyboard comes with a good number of extra features, like an OLED screen that can show you almost anything you want, and a Windows key lock to prevent you from minimizing your game accidentally. It's also highly customizable within the user-friendly SteelSeries Engine software.
Unfortunately, typing on it is fairly loud due to the audible click of the switches. It also doesn’t have any dedicated macro keys. However, it has full RGB backlighting, which is great for dark-room gaming, and you can easily control its brightness directly on the board. All in all, if you're looking for an exceptional mechanical gaming keyboard for under $100, this is an excellent choice.
If you prefer a model without a Numpad, check out the Razer BlackWidow Lite. This TenKeyLess board doesn't have RGB backlighting or onboard memory like the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, but it has a lower latency, and it's a TenKeyLess size. It's a well-built board with plastic and metal body, but its ABS keys have some wobble to them. All of its keys are macro-programmable, it has media hotkeys, and its latency should be decent enough for casual gaming. Unfortunately, it has a fairly high profile and doesn't come with a wrist rest, so you may need to buy one in order to feel more comfortable.
If you're looking for a full-sized keyboard with clicky switches and RGB backlighting, get the SteelSeries. If you want a smaller board with lower latency and don't mind white backlighting, go with the Razer.
The best compact mechanical keyboard we've tested under $100 is the Obinslab Anne Pro 2. This wireless model makes for an outstanding gaming keyboard with plenty of room for your mouse, and it's also well-suited for traveling with your mobile devices due to its connectivity options. You can pair it with up to four devices over Bluetooth, and switching between them is quick and easy.
It's available in many different types of switches, including Cherry MX, Kailh, and Gateron. Our particular unit uses Gateron Brown switches, which have excellent tactile feedback and are smoother but also mushier than Cherry MX Brown switches. The backlighting is outstanding, as it has full RGB lighting that can be customized in the ObinsKit software. This software also allows you to reprogram every key, set macros, and save multiple profiles to the onboard memory.
Unfortunately, due to its compact size, there aren't any dedicated arrow keys, media keys, a Windows key lock, or a Numpad. It also lacks incline settings or a wrist rest, so the ergonomics are mediocre. Additionally, even though it's an excellent mobile and tablet keyboard, you may have trouble connecting it to Android devices. However, this is still remarkable for gaming and is one of the best mechanical keyboards we've tested.
The best wireless mechanical keyboard for less than $100 that we’ve tested is the Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. It's quite versatile and has good ergonomics thanks to the included wrist rest and the adjustable incline setting. You can connect it with two different devices at the same time, either with the USB receiver or via Bluetooth, and you can easily switch between them directly on the keyboard.
It uses linear Cherry MX Red switches, which require a bit of force to actuate and don’t offer any tactile feedback. The pre-travel distance isn’t as short as other gaming keyboards, but the switches still feel very responsive, and typing on it shouldn’t cause any fatigue. It also has a few extra features, like dedicated media keys and a Windows key lock, and although there aren’t any dedicated macro keys for MMO players, it's possible to reprogram any key.
Unfortunately, the build quality is only decent, as it’s entirely made out of plastic that feels a bit cheap, but at least the keys are very stable. Also, there isn’t any onboard memory or cloud sync feature, so you can’t keep your customization settings when you switch devices. Note that this keyboard has blue backlighting only, so fans of RGB may be disappointed. That said, among all the wireless options we've tested, this is the best cheap mechanical keyboard.
Apr 16, 2021: Added the HyperX Alloy Origins 60 as a Notable Mention; no change to main product picks.
Feb 16, 2021: Verified that recommended keyboards are still the best picks and that they're available.
Dec 18, 2020: Updated text for clarity and structure; no changes in product picks.
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.