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 offer similar performance to their more expensive counterparts.
If you're new to mechanical keyboards, we recommend taking a look at our article on mechanical switches. Many of the picks on this list are available in a variety of switch types, so it's helpful to know about each switch type before making your decision.
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 even 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 on the market. 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.
The keycaps, though made of ABS plastic, 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 different 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 specifically toward gaming. If so, we recommend the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition thanks to its exceptionally low latency and sensitive optical linear switches—both of which are features normally found on boards with much higher price tags. This unit is simply an older model from Razer's flagship Huntsman lineup, so it's gone down in price but certainly not in quality.
In addition to its high-performance gaming features, this keyboard has a high build quality with a hard plastic frame, metal top plate, and durable double-shot PBT keycaps that aren't prone to fading or becoming slippery over time. There's a detachable cable that's easy to replace if it gets damaged. 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.
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 of this keyboard to best suit your needs. These keyboards come in 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 also offer a suite of software customization options. The VIA companion software is available on all major desktop operating systems, including Linux, and 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 of the more 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 for a wallet-friendly price. It's a compact unit that's lightweight and portable, 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.
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. There's a range of other variants available, including a hot-swappable version that allows you to change out the stock switches to get the typing experience you want.
The Obinslab Anne Pro 2 offers unparalleled wireless connectivity options for its price point. You can pair this compact unit with up to four devices using Bluetooth, making it 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 factor makes it easy to slip into backpacks and use in tight workspaces. Just note that this keyboard has a fairly small battery compared to some wireless models, so you can expect about eight hours of wireless usage, which typically means a few days of regular use between charges.
While this unit isn't hot-swappable, like other recommendations on this list, including the Keychron V1 or ROYAL KLUDGE RK61, it's available with a variety of different switch types from various manufacturers, so you'll surely find a switch type that works for you. It includes a handful of brightly colored extra keycaps if you want to add visual flair.
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.
Jun 21, 2022: Article overhauled to better align with user expectations.
Apr 07, 2022: Updated text for accuracy and clarity; no changes to 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.