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 under $50 we've reviewed so far is the Redragon K552-RGB. This TKL board is very well-built for its price point and even features fully programmable RGB lighting. It has a sturdy base and has doubleshot ABS keycaps that should be durable.
This wired keyboard has Outemu Blue switches, which feel and sound quite similar to standard Cherry MX Blue switches. They offer decent tactile feedback and there's an audible click at each keystroke. It can be connected via USB to pretty much every computer, although there are some keys like some hotkeys that don't work on macOS.
Unfortunately, there's no interface to control the RGB lighting and everything can be done directly on the board, which can be a bit complex for some. Additionally, this won't be the ideal keyboard for an office due to the clicky and noisy switches. Overall, if you're looking for a full RGB backlit mechanical keyboard but don't want to pay too much, this Redragon is one of your best bets.
The best mechanical keyboard under $100 we've tested is the SteelSeries Apex 5. It's called a hybrid mechanical keyboard due to its proprietary blue switches that aim to be as smooth as membrane switches. The board is very well-built and feels premium thanks to the aluminum alloy frame. The keycaps are doubleshot ABS and let the full RGB lighting shine through.
The proprietary switches are rather quick to actuate and they provide good tactile feedback. There's also an audible clicking noise at each keystroke, which might be bothersome for some. On the upside, they feel quite similar to Cherry MX Blue switches when typing, and the board comes with the same wrist rest as the high-end SteelSeries Apex Pro, which is very comfortable.
However, even though this is a full-size keyboard, there are no dedicated macro keys, but at least all keys are programmable in the SteelSeries Engine software, which also lets you customize the full RGB backlight. You also have access to a customizable OLED screen. This is our top recommendation if you want the best budget mechanical keyboard under $100.
If you want more space for your mouse and have no use for a NumPad, then get the Razer BlackWidow Lite. It might only have white backlighting and doesn't come with a wrist rest like the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, but the Razer offers a much more satisfying typing experience. The Razer Orange switches offer good tactile feedback and won't bother people around you as they're not noisy like blue switches. The board is well-built, although its overall body seems a bit high, so an included wrist rest would have been nice. On the upside, the keyboard even comes with O-rings to dampen the sound of the keys.
If you want the best performance and tons of customization options, go with the SteelSeries, but if you want a mechanical keyboard for mostly typing and don't care for RGB, then get the Razer.
If you are looking for a compact 60% layout, then the best 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. This keyboard can also be used wireless via Bluetooth, which makes it even more versatile.
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.
Unfortunately, some people might not like the lacking 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, which is great. Its cable is also USB-C and detachable, which makes it easy to replace and customize.
The best wireless mechanical keyboard under $100 we've tested so far is the Corsair K63. This TKL keyboard uses a proprietary USB dongle to wirelessly connect to your PC and ensures low-latency performance, although this isn't something we currently test for. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, and you can easily switch between the two connections.
This board features Cherry MX Red linear switches and provides great overall performance for gaming and typing. It has blue backlighting, which is very useful for use in the dark, and it even comes with a nice wrist rest. The board also features dedicated media keys and a USB receiver extension cable.
Unfortunately, this is one of the cheapest-feeling Corsair keyboards we've tested so far. It feels very plasticky and the ABS keycaps feel thin and fragile. Additionally, it doesn't have onboard memory, but since it's compatible with the iCUE software, you can easily create macros, set your preferred lighting effect, and save your profiles inside the app.
05/12/2020: Minor text changes for accuracy; no changes in recommendations.
04/21/2020: Corsair K63 is now the 'Best Wireless Mechanical Keyboard Under $100".
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap mechanical keyboards under $100 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.