The differences between typing on a mechanical keyboard and a regular keyboard is almost night and day. If you’re not familiar with mechanical keyboards, they are essentially different types of keyboards that use “switches” when you press down on a key. When this switch is clicked, the keyboard sends the input to your computer. The biggest difference I can point out to you without physically demonstrating it is that you can feel each individual button press. With a regular computer keyboard, everything feels very collective. With a mechanical keyboard, even the cheap ones, you feel some sort of feedback that lets you know you have pressed that button.
Some mechanical boards offer a clicky sound, which is intentional to give you feedback that you have already pressed that button. Regular keyboards don’t give you feedback, thus resulting in using more force than necessary for the same input. This could then lead to fatigued fingers while typing, since you are pushing down more than you have to. There are also silent mechanical keyboards, those that still have the switch underneath the key but does away with the audible feedback.
Mechanical keyboards are mostly used for those that type frequently or for video gaming. These are activities that could span hours at a time, and so a quality keyboard comes in handy. Even cheap mechanical keyboards are good because they still offer the linear or tactile feedback you need, while also being durable.
I will say that mechanical keyboards are often more expensive than regular keyboards. This is because there is more to the manufacturing and generally more small parts involved with assembling the final product. Luckily, we were able to find some budget mechanical keyboards to test out for quality, typing experience, durability, and value.
This list will feature the best mechanical keyboards overall, as well as keyboards with more specific uses (10 keyless, etc). You will also learn a bit more on the different color switches that mechanical keyboards use. Simply follow the subheading that pertains to your needs and browse on our recommendations.
Best mechanical keyboard under $50:
Redragon K552 KUMARA
The K552 Kumara by Redragon is hands down the best budget mechanical keyboard. Of course, there are more expensive keyboards that do a lot more. But for the price (retail at around $32.99 as of last updated date), it is among the cheapest there are, while maintaining incredible functionality and value.
Cherry Mx Green-type switches
The Kumara keyboard mimics the Cherry Mx Green switches in famous mechanical keyboards like the CM Trigger. The switches in the Kumara aren’t actually Cherry Mx Green’s, but they are pretty close. For those that don’t know, the green switches put up some of the most resistance among all mechanical keyboard switches. You would have to push with a little more force to get the switch pressed down, so I would advise against the Kumara for those unwilling to learn. However, the typing experience after getting used to Cherry Green-type switches is awesome. You get a more responsive “click” to let you know the key has been pressed. For gaming, I would highly recommend the Redragon K552 Kumara because of the type of switches it uses.
It is properly backlit and looks pretty darn cool while doing so. The design is absolutely monster, with the sick Redragon logo to the side, and the keys feel clicky for a board that retails for $49.99. I will say one thing I didn’t like, however, and that is the overall color scheme. At night, it gets difficult for me to read the keys and the backlighting does not help because black and red is simply not a workable color scheme.
TOMOKO Mechanical Keyboard
If you are only looking for a regular old keyboard that also happens to be mechanical, look no further than TOMOKO. The aesthetic design and colors remind me of a normal office keyboard, which isn’t necessarily bad if you were looking for that style. It basically complements any desktop, but it won’t really add any appeal either. Besides the regular look, you are getting a perfectly functional mechanical keyboard that costs much less than $50. The build itself feels like it was made of hard plastic, which is fine for a board of its price. It is also waterproof with holes around the bottom so any drink you spill will just go through. Be sure to actually give your keyboard care, though, since sticky drinks such as juices can mess up the mechanical keys and ruin the point.
One thing to note is that the keys actually curve in an attempt to match the typing posture your hands create. I will say that if you aren’t used to this, it will probably take a while to get used to it, but other than that it truly isn’t a big issue.
I’d also like to note that you should not fear the TOMOKO name if you have never heard it. Many brands, especially on eBay, sell very cheap and poorly made “mechanical keyboards”. These brands, in my opinion, ruin it for smaller companies like TOMOKO because they give the reputation that if it isn’t name brand, like Razer, then it simply isn’t worth it. Despite this, TOMOKO has managed to sell well on various platforms and has gained my confidence as a trustworthy keyboard manufacturer.
Corsair Vengeance K65
The Vengeance K65 is a very compact keyboard, ridding the 10-key pad that comes with almost all other keyboards. This has its pros and cons, but in summary, people that are tight on space (eg. apartments, shared rooms, or just general limited desk space) or people that travel a lot will find its compactness incredibly useful. It fits perfectly in my backpack, for example, without any struggle on my end to zip the whole thing up. If you are wondering, by the way, I bring my laptop with me from time to time and while its built-in keyboard is useful, I love the mechanical nature of the Vengeance, especially if there is a chance I can catch a game or two. To add to that, the precision on the keys are top notch, so when I need to write a blog post or reply to some emails, I love typing on an actual keyboard, much less a mechanical keyboard, rather than on one built-in to my laptop.
Despite its size, the keys are definitely full-size and feel just like a keyboard. I would say everything but the frame remains the same size, so do not worry about your hands cramping up while typing or playing. The design is very basic, going with a gray and black colorway and absolutely no backlighting. That’s fine for simple people, plus if you were going to travel with this thing, you likely wouldn’t need backlighting anyway. The chasis of the device is well-built and feels really sturdy, unlike mechanical keyboards made of plastic.
The board also has designated places to put the USB cable away so it stores nicely, rather than having to wrap the cord all the way around the board.
(Video credit to Newegg.)
Is it worth it to buy more expensive mechanical keyboards?
My opinion says no if you are a casual gamer. These three mechanical keyboards, all of which cost under $50 at the time of writing, are enough if all you need is a mechanical keyboard. Other features start to creep up once you get past the $50 budget such as more backlighting options to match with your desktop setup, custom keys, programmable keys, better designs and materials built-in, and of course the brand names that you trust. If you need or want those, by all means venture out to more expensive mechanical keyboards. But this post was to clarify that it is indeed possible to buy a mechanical keyboard for less than $50 without sacrificing build quality.