Mechanical keyboards offer a typing experience that's much different from your standard scissor or rubber dome keyboards. While you might think mechanical keyboards cost more for this "premium typing experience," this isn't always the case. There are high-performing, quality options available at an affordable price point, so you don't have to break the bank to get a good keyboard. While they might lack some high-end features, for the most part, they're just as sturdily built and performant as their more premium 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 best to learn about each switch's properties before deciding which one to purchase.
We've bought and tested over 180 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.
Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you have to settle for a cheap-feeling keyboard. There are plenty of excellent options that offer you a quality typing experience without the premium price tag, like the Keychron K10. The K10 offers a fully wireless experience, as it connects with up to three devices using Bluetooth. Plus, with its outstanding battery life of over 240 hours, you won't have to worry about charging it very frequently. The K10 offers a typing experience that feels and sounds good right out of the box. So, while you can purchase a variant with a hot-swappable circuit board to customize the switches, the stock Gateron G Pro switches feel great as is.
The keycaps, though made of ABS, feel great on the fingertips, and the keys themselves are very stable. And, like all other K-series boards, it has a compatibility toggle to switch operating systems and includes extra system-specific keycaps, ensuring you can use your board regardless of your setup. While we recommend the full-sized K10 here, Keychron's K-series consists of wireless keyboards of many different sizes and configurations, 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 you're most interested in.
While the Keychron K10 is an outstanding out-of-the-box option for general use, you might be looking for something specifically geared to gaming. The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is our solid recommendation thanks to its exceptionally low latency and sensitive optical linear switches—both of which are features normally found on more boards with much higher price tags. There's no catch, either. This unit is simply an older model from Razer's flagship Huntsman lineup, so it's since 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 smooth over time. There's also a detachable cable that's easy to replace if it gets damaged. However, you should 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 V1 is a programmer's dream. Currently, this keyboard is only available through Keychron's website, so be sure to check it out there if you're interested. As a fully customizable keyboard, you can alter the switches, stabilizers, and internal components of this keyboard over and over again to best suit your tastes and needs to keep you clicking away at lines of code all day long. And, it comes in at a nice budget price point, meaning you don't need to spend a small fortune to get a bespoke unit. Though, it's important to note that you don't have to customize to get a great unit. The V1 offers an excellent typing experience with all the stock materials.
In addition to its physical customizability, the V1 also offers a whole suite of software customization. The VIA companion software is available on all major desktop operating systems, including Linux, and allows you to program macros to any key, remap key assignments, create layers and profiles, and adjust the RGB lighting effects and colors, and you can save these customized settings to the keyboard's onboard memory for easy access. Plus, this keyboard is fully compatible with QMK firmware for even more thorough customization if that's more your speed.
For writers, your keyboard is the tool of the trade, but sometimes high-quality or premium options fall a bit too far out of the price range. 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. As it's a compact unit, it's perfectly suited for writers on the go, as it's lightweight and portable. It also easily fits into tight working spaces, like libraries or cafes.
In addition to its good overall build quality, this keyboard comes in a ton of different variants with slightly different features. You can get a hot-swappable variant that accepts most 3-pin or 5-pin switches, so you can change out the stock switches to get the typing experience you want. Plus, the versatility of this keyboard is excellent. 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.
The Obinslab Anne Pro 2 offers unparalleled wireless connectivity 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 on-the-go use. Though the whole body is plastic, it still feels high quality, and it's much lighter to carry around than a metal keyboard. Plus, its compact form factor makes it easy to slip into backpacks and use in tight workspaces, like airplanes or trains.
While this unit isn't hot-swappable, like the Keychron V1 and ROYAL KLUDGE RK61, it does come in a variety of switch options from various manufacturers, so you'll surely find a switch type that works for you. Plus, it includes extra keycaps of bright colors and a keycap puller so you can add a bit of personalization to your board.
While technically any of these keyboards will work with Mac setups, few budget mechanical keyboards can recreate the typing experience of an Apple Magic Keyboard like the Keychron K3 (Version 2). While the typing experience is a bit different, the low-profile keycaps and switches feel much closer to a scissor switch than a typical mechanical switch. Plus, as it's a Keychron board, it has a toggle for OS compatibility and comes with a set of Mac-specific keycaps.
Like its larger cousin, the Keychron K10, the K3 V2 is fully wireless and connects with up to three devices over Bluetooth. It also comes in several variants with different low-profile switch options, backlighting options, and even with a hot-swappable PCB. Regardless of what configuration you get, you'll end up with a sleek keyboard that feels comfortable to type on and is a great mechanical alternative to the usual Magic Keyboard.
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.
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.
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.