If you're still sitting hunched over your laptop at the dining room table, it's time to invest in some real work-from-home equipment. An external keyboard will feel a lot more comfortable to type on than the one built into your laptop, and many even offer custom shortcut keys or improved ergonomics. Below, we'll be recommending some of the best keyboards to consider right now.
SKIP AHEAD Best keyboards to buy
How to buy a keyboard
You may not give a lot of thought to your existing keyboard but it's where your hands spend most of their time when you work — you want it to be comfortable, durable and functionally convenient. Achieving those means looking out for some essential features and types.
Keyboard size and number of keys
Some keyboards are slim and compact, while others may be a bit chunkier and wider. Larger keyboards often allow for deeper key travel, which means more comfortable typing over long spells of work. If you don't need a number pad, you might even want a tenkeyless keyboard — that is, a short keyboard that does away with the number pad — so you have more room for your mouse on the right side of your desk (or working surface otherwise).
Wired keyboard vs wireless keyboard
A wired keyboard is virtually always going to be more affordable than an equivalent wireless model, but wireless models eliminate the ever-dreadful cable clutter.
You will have to charge wireless keyboards, though, or replace the batteries every so often, depending on the model. Some wireless keyboards may require placing a receiver in one of your USB ports, though these are often designed to be flush and compact. Bluetooth models, on the other hand, will connect to your laptop or desktop without a USB dongle, as long as your computer supports Bluetooth — gamers may prefer wired keyboards to minimize input lag as much as possible.
Keyboard switch type
Most traditional keyboards use a single rubber membrane beneath their keys, which is fine enough for most people.
If you want a more premium typing experience, though, mechanical keyboards equip individual switches that slide up and down, one per key. These can feel a lot better because of the deeper, smoother key travel, and they last a lot longer since you aren't pounding on a weak rubber membrane that wears down quickly. These keyboards also offer multiple switch types.
- For example, clicky switches give you strong tactile feedback when the key actuates, which is great for typing accuracy (though it can be rather loud).
- Linear switches, on the other hand, are smooth all the way down, which makes them a tad quieter and more ideal for gaming, when you have to tap or double-tap keys quickly.
Other tactile switches may lie in between. These keyboards may also be referred to by colors such as "blue," "red," and "brown," respectively (blue being clicky, red being linear, brown being "in between"), thanks to the colors used by switch manufacturer Cherry.
Best keyboards to buy
If you’re considering an upgrade to your own keyboard, here are some of the best options to consider right now.
Best wireless keyboard overall: Logitech
For a slim, comfortable, wireless keyboard, Logitech's MX Keys doesn't disappoint. Spherically dished keys let your fingers sink right in and backlighting helps you see the key legends at night (or mid-afternoon depending on how far north you are). This keyboard does, however, include a number pad, which isn't ideal for ergonomics. But if you've become accustomed to a keyboard with a number pad, you may not be willing to give it up anyway. Logitech also offers a Mac version if you're an Apple user.
Best compact wireless keyboard: Logitech
If you can give up the number pad, Logitech's K380 is more affordable, more compact (so you have more room to move your mouse) and can even fit in your backpack — for when, you know, when coffee shop work becomes a thing again. It does not come with a USB dongle, though, so you'll need a computer with Bluetooth built-in.
Best mechanical keyboard that’s affordable: Durgod
While some prefer the slim form factor of the Logitech MX keys, many — including myself — prefer mechanical keyboards for their smoother typing experience, higher build quality and extended longevity. There are dozens of great mechanical keyboards out there, ranging from as little as $30 to as much as $300, but if I had to pick a good place to start, I'd check out the Durgod Taurus K320 TKL. It's a tenkeyless keyboard so you don't have a number pad getting in the way of your mouse and it comes in many different colors and switch variants — I'd try Cherry Brown if it's your first mechanical model.
Best split ergonomic keyboard: Kinesis
Not everyone needs a split keyboard, but if you find a traditional keyboard causes you wrist pain, the Kinesis Freestyle Pro could be worth a shot. Unlike most "ergonomic" keyboards, the Kinesis Freestyle Pro is fully split, meaning you can adjust it to the exact angle you like, as well as "tent" each half to keep your elbows closer to your sides. I recommend the mechanical version with brown switches, but there's also a more affordable rubber dome version and a backlit gaming version.
Best gaming keyboard: Corsair
If you take some serious gaming breaks in between your work, you might be interested in a more gaming-focused keyboard like the Corsair K95 Platinum. With custom per-key lighting, a volume wheel along the top and extra macro keys on the left side, you can program the keyboard to fit your use case perfectly. And hey, some of those macro keys can even help you be more productive at work.