Building a gaming PC setup on a budget is tough right now, but thankfully, having good peripherals can be done without breaking the bank. A mechanical keyboard is typically considered the best option when it comes to gaming, and you can find some for under $100. They might lack some high-end features, but for the most part, they're just as sturdily built as their more premium counterparts, and they come in a wide variety of switch types to suit your preferences.
We've tested over 160 keyboards, and below is a list of our top recommendations for the best budget and 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 EVGA Z15 is the best budget mechanical keyboard that we've tested. It's an entry-level keyboard with surprising performance and extra features that help it compete with more premium models. It's full-size and comes with a comfortable wrist rest for good ergonomics, so you shouldn't be easily fatigued by using it for long periods.
It's available with linear Kailh Speed Silver or clicky Speed Bronze switches. The Bronze switches we tested have a short pre-travel distance, are light to press, and offer tactile feedback, but not as much as other clicky or tactile switches. This keyboard also has remarkably low latency and supports a maximum polling rate of 4000Hz, higher than most gaming keyboards.
You can reprogram keys and set macros using the EVGA Unleash RGB software, and it has full RGB backlighting with individually lit keys. Unfortunately, the ABS plastic keycaps are prone to shine, and the keys may feel too sensitive to some while typing, but it still provides a great typing experience. The keyboard is also hot-swappable, so you can put whichever compatible switches you prefer. Overall, it's a high-performing option with a budget-friendly price point.
If you don't need a Numpad, the best TenKeyLess budget mechanical keyboard we've tested is the Redragon K552 KUMARA RGB. This TKL board has a small desk footprint, leaving you with more space for notebooks or mouse movements. Surprisingly, it has full RGB backlighting that's customizable, which is fairly uncommon for cheap mechanical keyboards.
This keyboard only comes with clicky Outemu Blue switches, which provide a satisfying audible click. Also, the typing experience overall is decent, as the keys feel stable, and the keycaps feel nice to the touch. It also has a Windows lock feature, so you won't accidentally minimize games or media by pressing the Windows key.
Unfortunately, the click of the switches doesn't align with the actuation point, which could be a bit odd if you rely on the click to know when a key's been registered. The switches are heavy to press, meaning you might experience fatigue during long stretches of use. Also, its latency is pretty high, so it's not a good choice for playing fast-paced FPS games. With that said, it's a good choice if you're looking for a starter mechanical keyboard with a smaller form factor.
If you're looking for a wireless option, the best budget wireless mechanical keyboard we've tested is the Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. It connects wirelessly with a USB receiver or Bluetooth and supports multi-device pairing with up to two devices, making it a great addition to a setup with a PC and a mobile device.
It has individually-lit keys with shine-through keycaps, meaning you can see your keys in a dark environment. However, the backlighting only comes in one color: blue or red, depending on the variant you opt for. Unlike some other mechanical keyboards on this list that come with a wide choice of switch options, this keyboard is only available with Cherry MX Red switches, which provide a responsive typing experience, though they take a bit of force to actuate.
Unfortunately, it's made entirely of plastic, which feels cheap, but that's normal for a budget wireless board. It also lacks some features found on more premium boards, like onboard memory and customizable RGB lighting. With that said, it's still a solid option if you're looking for a wireless mechanical keyboard at a budget-friendly price point.
Compact-sized keyboards are having something of a moment right now. Whether you're a minimalist or you have a tiny desk, if you're interested in a compact keyboard, you should check out the Obinslab Anne Pro 2, the best compact budget mechanical keyboard we've tested. It's a 60% compact keyboard that takes up a very small footprint on your desk. It has a plastic frame, but it feels very well-built and has high quality, doubleshot PBT keycaps.
It connects wirelessly with a USB receiver or via Bluetooth, but you can also use it wired. Using it wired eliminates your need to worry about running out of battery and makes it a much more viable choice for gamers, thanks to its exceptionally low latency over a wired connection. The model we tested has tactile Gateron Brown switches that don't require too much force to actuate but have slightly higher pre-travel than linear switches, which are typically preferred by gamers for how responsive they feel. Thankfully, this keyboard is also available in a wide selection of other switch types, including linear switches.
Unfortunately, it doesn't include wrist rest, so it may not be a great choice if you need to use your keyboard for long uninterrupted stretches. Despite this, it's a performant option in a neat package that's easy to incorporate into almost any setup.
If you'd prefer a wired connection with your compact board, check out the Redragon Dragonborn K630 RGB. While it doesn't feel as well-built and sturdy as the Obinslab Anne Pro 2, it's much cheaper and is hot-swappable. Though it only works with Outemu brand switches, you can change the switches at any point to get your desired feel. This keyboard has full RGB backlighting and individually lit keys, a rare feature on a budget board. You can customize the lighting effects in the companion software, which lets you create up to three profiles and program macros and hotkeys. Unfortunately, the keys are very wobbly, especially the larger keys, which takes away from the overall typing experience, and its latency is too high for fast-paced or competitive games.
If you're looking for a wireless compact model that feels well-built and sturdy, go with the Obinslab, but if you're alright with a wired-only board for a cheaper price, get the Redragon.
Apr 07, 2022: Updated text for accuracy and clarity; no changes to picks.
Feb 08, 2022: Picks verified for accuracy and availability; text updated for clarity; no changes to picks.
Dec 10, 2021: We've replaced the Logitech G413 with the EVGA Z15 as our pick for the 'Best Budget Mechanical Keyboard'. We've added a 'Wired Alternative', and chosen the Redragon Dragonborn K630 RGB as our pick. We've turned the 'Smaller Alternative' category into its own 'Best TenKeyLess Budget Mechanical Keyboard' category, keeping the Redragon K552 KUMARA RGB as our pick. Lastly, we've added the Royal Kludge RK61 to our list of Notable Mentions.
Oct 12, 2021: Replaced the SteelSeries Apex 5 with the EVGA Z15 because it provides better gaming performance for less; added the EVGA Z20, HyperX Alloy FPS RGB, Keychron K8, and Keychron C1 to Notable Mentions.
Aug 13, 2021: Verified availability of products and updated text for clarity and accuracy.
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.