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Microsoft Surface Keyboard Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.2
Reviewed Feb 14, 2020 at 07:38 am
Latest change: Test bench update Jun 21, 2023 at 12:44 pm
Microsoft Surface Keyboard Picture
6.7
Gaming
7.6
Mobile/Tablet
7.9
Office
7.1
Programming
4.1
Entertainment / HTPC

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is a good wireless Bluetooth keyboard that's intended for office use. It has an outstanding build quality and it provides a great typing experience. It has a low profile that feels comfortable to type on, and its scissor switches provide good tactile feedback. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any backlighting and there are no programmable keys. It requires the use of disposable batteries, which can be disappointing for some, but most people should be satisfied with its overall performance.

Our Verdict

6.7 Gaming

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is a mediocre keyboard for gaming. Although it feels very light and responsive, it lacks programmable keys and you can't set any macros for MMO games, since there's no software support. Additionally, it doesn't have backlighting for those who like to play in a dark room.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great typing experience.
Cons
  • No backlighting.
  • No software for customization.
7.6 Mobile/Tablet

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is mediocre for mobile use. It can be paired with any mobile devices that has a Bluetooth connection; however, some keys don't work on mobile operating systems and its large size makes it hard to carry it around.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great typing experience.
Cons
  • No backlighting.
  • No software for customization.
7.9 Office

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is a very good office keyboard. Its low profile is comfortable even without a wrist rest, and it provides a great typing experience while keeping noise to a minimum. It works fully on Windows, but some keys don't work if you're on macOS or Linux.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great typing experience.
Cons
  • No backlighting.
  • No software for customization.
7.1 Programming

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is mediocre for programming. Its scissor switches feel light to type on and they aren't tiring, but the keyboard doesn't have any programmable keys and can't be customized. It has an excellent build quality that should last for years; however, some keys don't work on Linux and macOS.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great typing experience.
Cons
  • No backlighting.
  • No software for customization.
4.1 Entertainment / HTPC

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great typing experience.
Cons
  • No backlighting.
  • No software for customization.
  • 6.7 Gaming
  • 7.6 Mobile/Tablet
  • 7.9 Office
  • 7.1 Programming
  • 4.1 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Jun 21, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.2. This update introduces new Backlight Features and Backlight Clarity test boxes. We've also added a new Switches test box, added additional test comparisons to our Hardware Customizability test box that we introduced with our last Test Bench. For an in-depth look at our changes, you can see our full changelog here.
  2. Updated May 31, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.1. This update adds several new tests addressing Hardware Customization, Macro Keys And Programming, and Wireless Mobile Compatibility. We've also added new objective evaluations to the Typing Noise test, and we've simplified several tests and removed several others that were no longer relevant. For an in-depth look at all our changes, you can see our full changelog here.
  3. Updated Apr 16, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  4. Updated Feb 14, 2020: Review published.
  5. Updated Feb 11, 2020: Early access published.
  6. Updated Feb 06, 2020: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  7. Updated Dec 31, 2019: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

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Compared To Other Keyboards

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is a low-profile wireless keyboard that's very similar to the full-size variant of the Apple Magic Keyboard 2017. It's mostly intended for office use, as it's easy to type on and it doesn't make a lot of noise. Compared to other keyboards on the market, this keyboard feels a bit bare-bones, as it lacks programmable keys, backlighting, and software support. For other options, check out our recommendations for the best ergonomic keyboards, the best keyboards for writers, and the best wireless keyboards.

Logitech MX Keys

The Logitech MX Keys is significantly better than the Microsoft Surface Keyboard. The Logitech has better wireless versatility, as it can be paired using an USB receiver or through Bluetooth, and it can be paired to three devices simultaneously. The Logitech also has programmable keys and can be customized using Logitech's Options software, however, the Microsoft's build quality is much better.

Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is much more premium than the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard. It's better built, and the scissor switches offer a better typing experience than the mushy rubber dome switches on the Bluetooth keyboard. On the other hand, you can set a few macros on the F4-F7 keys of the Bluetooth Keyboard, which you can't do on the Surface Keyboard.

Apple Magic Keyboard 2017

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard and the Apple Magic Keyboard 2017 are very similar in build and features. The main differences are that the Apple keyboard has a built-in rechargeable battery, while the Microsoft uses disposable batteries. The Microsoft keyboard also offers somewhat better typing quality and has slightly longer pre-travel and total travel distances, which may help you make fewer unintentional keystrokes. The Microsoft is a full-size keyboard that includes a numpad, while the Apple is a compact 75% model. That said, the Apple keyboard also has a full-sized variant available.

Keychron K4

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard and the Keychron K4 are very different keyboards. Both are Bluetooth keyboards, but only the K4 has a multi-device pairing feature. The Microsoft uses scissor switches and chiclet-style keys, while the Keychron is a mechanical keyboard that you can customize with the switches of your choice. The LK Optical Brown switches on our K4 provide a better typing experience, but the Microsoft's low profile makes it a bit more comfortable to type on without a wrist rest. The Keychron has backlighting, which the Microsoft doesn't have, and it has a built-in rechargeable battery instead of using disposable batteries.

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard and the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard are very different keyboards. The Sculpt has an ergonomic design with a very specific purpose, while the Surface is more of a stylish minimalistic keyboard. Build quality and typing experience are much better on the Surface, but the Sculpt Ergonomic is more comfortable and has software support, which the Surface lacks.

AmazonBasics K4R

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is a better overall keyboard than the AmazonBasics K4R. The Microsoft is noticeably better built, and it offers a better overall typing quality. It connects via Bluetooth instead of a dedicated receiver, which means it can also be used with mobile devices. On the other hand, the AmazonBasics has a built-in touchpad instead of a Numpad, which can be useful.

Matias Ergo Pro

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is a marginally better keyboard than the Matias Ergo Pro. It's a wireless keyboard with Bluetooth connectivity, but it doesn't have multi-device pairing. It's not nearly as heavy as the Matias, so it's also a better portable option. However, the Matias is somewhat better for office use because it has a better ergonomic design with a wrist rest and multiple incline settings. The Ergo Pro also uses mechanical switches, which deliver good feedback when typing.

Corsair K83 Wireless

The Corsair K83 Wireless is a better keyboard than the Microsoft Surface Keyboard. The Corsair has customizable backlighting, rechargeable batteries, a trackpad and joystick for cursor control, and companion software for customization. On the other hand, the Surface Keyboard feels more premium and has a slightly better typing quality.

Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard and the Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad are both very good office keyboards with different purposes. The Microsoft is designed to work with Windows computers while the Apple is meant for Mac computers, specifically those with M1 chips. However, they both connect to any device via Bluetooth so you can use either with any operating system, but some keys don't work. The Apple has a rechargeable battery and the Microsoft uses disposable batteries. Other than that, they're very similar because they have great typing quality and decent ergonomics, but they each lack backlighting and customization features.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Size
Full-size (100%)
Height
0.7" (1.8 cm)
Width 16.5" (42.0 cm)
Depth
4.4" (11.2 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
0.88 lbs (0.400 kg)

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard is full-size keyboard with a fairly large footprint.

8.5
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material ABS

The build quality is outstanding. It has a plastic bottom and an aluminum top. There's a slight flex to the keyboard but it shouldn't have any durability issues in the long run. It's very light and the battery cover is held on magnetically. It feels much more premium than the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard.

7.0
Design
Ergonomics
Curved/Angled
No
Split Keyboard
No
Key Alignment
Staggered
Minimum Incline
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
N/A
Home Row Height
13.7 mm (0.5")

The ergonomics are decent. The keyboard has a very low profile that's similar to the Apple Magic Keyboard 2017. It has an incline due to the battery compartment and it isn't adjustable. It doesn't come with a wrist rest, but as it's a low profile keyboard, you shouldn't need one.

0
Design
Hardware Customizability
Replaceable Cherry Stabilizers
No
Stabilizer Fixation
Non-Customizable Design
Spacebar Stabilizer Size
Non-Customizable Design
Size Of Right Mod Keys
Non-Standard
Hot-Swappable Switches
No
Switch Stem Shape
Non-Customizable Design
Switch PCB Socket
Non-Customizable Design
North-Facing Cherry MX Interference
Non-Customizable Design
0
Design
Backlight Features
Backlighting No
RGB
No
Per-Key Backlighting
No
Effects
No
Software Controllable
No

There's no backlighting on the Surface Keyboard.

0
Design
Backlight Clarity
Design
Cable & Connector
Connectivity Wireless
Detachable
No
Length N/A
Connector (Keyboard side)
No Cable

This is a wireless keyboard and can't be used wired.

7.3
Design
Wireless Versatility
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Multi-Device Pairing
No
Proprietary Receiver
No
Battery Type
2x AAA

The Surface Keyboard is a wireless Bluetooth keyboard that uses disposable AAA batteries. Battery life is advertised as lasting up to 12 months, but this isn't something that we test for. If you work on multiple devices at once and you need a keyboard with multi-device pairing capability, check out the Keychron K4.

0
Design
Macro Keys And Programming
Dedicated Macro Keys Count 0
Onboard Macro Programming
No
Macro Programming With Software
No
Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Non-Dedicated
Trackpad / Trackball No
Scroll Wheel
No
Control Knob
No
USB Passthrough
No
Numpad Yes
Windows Key Lock
No
Lock Indicator Caps, Scroll & Num lock

The keyboard has media control keys that are shared with the function keys. The keys are set to media control by default and you need to use the 'fn' key in order to use the function keys. There are also keys to access Windows settings, calculator, brightness, task view, and notifications.

If you want a keyboard with more features like macro programmable keys or dedicated media controls, take a look at the Das Keyboard X50Q.

Design
In The Box

  • Microsoft Surface Keyboard
  • User guide
  • 2x AAA batteries

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Switches
Switch Name
No Marketed Name
Switch Type
Scissor
Feel
Tactile
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Operating Force
63 gf
Actuation Force
39 gf
Pre-Travel
1.5 mm
Total Travel
2.2 mm

The Surface Keyboard uses scissor switches. They have a fairly high actuation force to get over the tactile bump, but once you get over it, the overall feeling is light. Their pre-travel distance is very low, which makes the keyboard feel very responsive.

8.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

The typing quality is great. It feels very much like the Apple Magic Keyboard 2017 but with slightly more travel distance. The keys are well-spaced, which is great for typing accuracy, and typing feels light despite the high tactile bump. The keys are stable and responsive, and shouldn't cause any fatigue over time.

9.7
Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Average Loudness
38.7 dBA
High Pitch Clicks
No

Typing noise is very quiet and shouldn't bother surrounding colleagues in a quiet office setting.

6.4
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
N/A
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
25.9 ms
Software and Operating System
Software and Operating System
Configuration Software
Software Name No Software
Software Windows Compatible
No
Software macOS Compatible
No
Onboard Memory
No
Profiles
No Profile

There's no customization software for this keyboard.

10
Software and Operating System
Computer Compatibility
Windows
Fully Compatible
macOS
Fully Compatible
Linux (Ubuntu 22)
Fully Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
Windows, MacOS & Linux

This keyboard has excellent compatibility. The keyboard functions fully on Windows and most keys function on Linux, except for shortcuts. On macOS, shortcuts, Pause/Break, and Print Screen don't work.

10
Software and Operating System
Wireless Mobile Compatibility
Android
Fully Compatible
iOS
Fully Compatible
iPadOS
Fully Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
Android, iPhone & iPad

On mobile devices running on iOS, iPadOS, or Android, Print Screen, Scroll Lock, Context key, calculator, and most shortcuts don't work.