Most models have an adjustable white backlight; some have an ice-blue backlight. The form factor calls for … For example, you can switch between Windows and Mac layouts, swap the Caps Lock key to Ctrl, or disable OS-specific keys like the Windows or Command keys. This could be fixed with a future firmware and software update from Vortex, and we’ll retest the Tab 60 if that happens. If you just can’t get enough of that number pad, we recommend the Leopold FC900R. The FC750R’s one-year warranty is serviced by MechanicalKeyboards.com if you purchase from that site. Mechanical keyboards, called such because they have individual mechanical switches under each key, are more enjoyable to type on, more durable, and more customizable than the typical membrane, butterfly, or scissor-switch keyboards that come with laptops or desktops. Hot-swap switches: This is a newer feature typically found only on expensive, high-end mechanical keyboards, but the ability to trade out switches at any time without having to break out a soldering iron is a nice bonus. In that time they’ve tested hundreds of laptops and thousands of peripherals, and built way too many mechanical keyboards for their personal collection. A keyboard made of metal or thicker plastic is sturdier and doesn’t do that. The Alt doesn’t come with any extra keycaps, but the package does include a nice aluminum-handled wire keycap puller, a metal tool to change out the hot-swappable switches, and two magnetic aluminum feet. Cancel comparison MK Exclusive. All the media keys and other actions on the function layer are clearly labeled on both the ABS and PBT keycap sets. Other keyboards offer onboard programming, where you press certain keys to record macros and customize backlighting. The Ctrl offers excellent build quality, hot-swappable switches, and RGB backlighting, and it’s fully programmable, but it’s expensive and frequently out of stock. Removable cable: A removable USB cable is preferable to a built-in one, because if the cable breaks it’s easier to replace just the cable rather than the whole keyboard. And while the plastic RGB light bar in the front is a fun addition to a gaming keyboard, it looks a bit tacky next to the minimalist, no-nonsense keyboards in this guide. But the One 2 SF’s keycaps lack that top bar, so the legends look normal. We found these pairing instructions (PDF) to be a little clearer than those on the Obins website, but the process is still fairly straightforward. If you’re curious to learn even more detail, see our explainer on how to shop for a mechanical keyboard. The WASD Code V3 and WASD V3 are both solid keyboards, and the previous version of the Code (the V2) was our former top pick. You have to pay quite a bit more to get a better small keyboard. Open Daily: 12pm - 8pm Get Connected. A compact mechanical keyboard combines the layout of a laptop keyboard with the comfort of a mechanical keyboard. The Best Ducky Keyboards. There are many Ducky keyboards to choose from, but the One 2 series is the one to look for. On top of that, as a fun bonus, it has customizable RGB backlighting. I’ve spent thousands of hours typing on all these different types of keyboards and switches to land on some reasonable recommendations for people who need only one keyboard. Wirecutter is reader-supported. Hot-swap switches: This is a newer feature typically found only on expensive, high-end mechanical keyboards, but the ability to trade out switches without having to break out a soldering iron is a nice bonus. Plus, the Alt is fully programmable and has hot-swappable switches, so you can try different switches without having to break out a soldering iron. Open Arduino IDE — Preferences Tools-> Board-> Boards Manager From the drop down menu select “Contributed”, Select the Digistump AVR Boards package and install it.. Now we need to install Digispark Bootloader Driver. It’s by far the easiest 60% keyboard to program thanks to its straightforward, user-friendly software, which makes a huge difference on such a compact keyboard. Neither performs better than the other; it’s an aesthetic choice. If you just can’t get enough of that number pad, we recommend the Leopold FC900R. It also has clearly labeled media keys along the bottom alphabet row, and you can reach Fn plus the volume up, volume down, and mute keys with a single hand. The One 2 SF isn’t fully programmable and is tricky to customize, but most people don’t need to mess with that. We explored each keyboard’s customization options and paid attention to the quality of the cases and keycaps. Is the Ducky One 2 mini as good a mechanical keyboard today as it was then? This makes the FC660C delightful to type on—it’s the next keyboard I’m saving up for—but it’s even more expensive and not compatible with most third-party keycap sets. The Anne Pro 2 doesn’t come with a manual (a point against it), but it does have software that works on Windows and macOS and makes it super easy to remap every layer of the keyboard, customize the RGB backlight, and update the keyboard’s firmware. (Swapping out switches on most mechanical keyboards requires the equipment, expertise, and time to desolder all the old switches and solder in new ones.) Like the One 2 SF, the Magicforce has a gentle slope that isn’t as bad for wrists, and it has feet to raise the back if you need them. It has equally excellent build quality and a similarly compact, minimalist tenkeyless design, and it comes in all the most popular switch types. The Ctrl has a removable USB-C cable that you can plug into either port on the back of the keyboard. Although it doesn’t feel as rock solid as the all-metal case of the Drop Alt or the Leopold FC660M, it doesn’t flex during ordinary or even heated typing, and overall the One 2 SF is a delight to type on. To pair: This is one extra step to connect in comparison with the more user-friendly process on the Keychron K2, but it’s not arduous. We chose them not only for build quality, but style, size, and efficient layout. We also love that the VA87M is available with a variety of fun keycap sets and matching cases. We recommend the FC750R plus a standalone number pad that you can move around your desk as needed over the FC900R with a built-in number pad. Programmability: You can customize many mechanical keyboards to change the default behavior of certain keys and have them perform other actions. The Anne Pro 2 can also connect via Bluetooth, and in our tests we didn’t experience any issues on Windows and macOS. Backlight: Although backlighting can be a nice addition, it isn’t a requirement for typing or coding. But the FC750R’s media keys aren’t labeled on the keycaps (or explained in the manual), so you’ll have to memorize them. It works on Windows and Mac. Their surface doesn’t feel as gritty as that of most PBT keycaps, but they don’t feel cheap, either, and after months of typing they haven’t developed the shine typical of lower-quality ABS keycaps. It also lacks a warranty. Learn more. For typing and coding, however, its build quality falls short of that of our other picks here—its case felt and sounded hollower when we were typing, its spacebar rattled, and it comes with thinner ABS keycaps. The keyboard is not fully programmable, and the included manual can be hard to follow. Limited Chinese Zodiac Edition. The Tab 75 is deeper because of its additional top row, but that doesn’t negatively impact the ergonomics of your workspace. Many shine-through PBT keycaps have ugly fonts with lines through some legends (what’s printed on the keycap), which is a result of the way PBT keycaps are designed, with a cross of plastic bars under each keycap. Apple Magic Keyboard: The Apple Magic Keyboard is a good alternative to the Logitech MX Keys if you prefer a smaller size, but its compatibility is limited when using it with non-Apple operating systems. Whereas the Vortex Tab 75 runs on two replaceable AAA batteries, the Anne Pro 2 has an internal battery that you can’t easily replace. It’s available with a wide variety of switches and keycaps. It’s available with a variety of Cherry switches to accommodate the sound and feel you like when typing; we recommend MX Brown switches if you’re not sure. The most common change is a 1.75u right Shift key in place of the standard 2.75u right Shift key, and in the bottom row some have 1u modifier keys instead of the standard 1.25u size. We tested each keyboard by using it for at least one day of work, which involves lots and lots (and lots) of typing. Although the VA87M comes with all the functions most people use frequently and allows a bit of customization, it does not support macro programming and does not let you customize it to the degree that some other mechanical keyboards do. Unfortunately, availability is an issue with most great mechanical keyboards. Many of them involve buying a kit, or buying all the components—the circuit board, the case, the switches, the keycaps—and soldering and programming it yourself. While testing for the 2019 update to this guide, I fell in love with a brand-new type of switch, and I now have plans to buy a ninth mechanical keyboard. One 2 Series. We tested our picks against more readily available options and found that these models were of significantly higher quality and worth the effort to track down, but if you can’t wait that long for a new keyboard, take a look at the other great options we found during testing. It’s also available with a ton of switch options and colorful high-quality keycaps to match your preference. Across the top of the keyboard are the function keys and their alternative actions. Kimber Streams is a senior staff writer and has been covering laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more for Wirecutter since 2014. On Amazon, we messaged the seller, who told us that the warranty was “the same as the Amazon policy” and that we could exchange the keyboard within three months, but Amazon’s return policy is 30 days. Mechanical Keyboard. The Ducky keyboard brand is the brainchild of the manufacturer, Ducky Channel. You can switch between Windows and Mac modes with Pn+Q and Pn+W, respectively. We don’t love the angled bezels on the front and back of the case in comparison with the minimalist cases of our other picks. Next to other budget keyboards with flimsy, ugly cases and gritty-feeling, cheap switches, the Magicforce is well made and provides a superior typing experience for the price. We have full-size picks for people who need to use a number pad frequently, but most people are better off with a tenkeyless keyboard paired with a standalone number pad for occasional use. The simplest way is to use DIP switches on the bottom of a keyboard that alter the layout or behavior of a few keys. Then you have to flash that layout to your keyboard—which is where things get complicated. The One 2 SF’s shine-through PBT keycaps are some of the best-looking and best-feeling keycaps we’ve tested. It sounds a bit louder and cheaper because of its more resonant backplate, but it still provides an enjoyable typing experience. What that means is, the manufacturer got rid of the num pad and F1-F12 keys for a minimalistic clean design. Most models have a tasteful white backlight, but some lack a backlight; Varmilo also has a Double Rainbow model with rainbow keycaps and RGB backlighting. If you already love the HHKB layout, you don’t need us to tell you to get this keyboard, and if you’re not sure, you probably don’t want it. No dedicated macro keys, but you can bind macro to keys and move the FN key also for extra convenient ( for example on my Ducky One tkl I have FN key moved to right alt, and FN + [ ] \ as volume control, FN + ; ' enter as tracks control which are very easy to reach ). (The One 2 SF does have feet in the back with two height options if you need them, but we found that the keyboard slid around on a desk more on the highest setting.). The Magicforce feels better to type on than any other cheap mechanical keyboard, though its keycaps and case don’t look or feel as nice to type on as our top pick’s. DIP switches on the underside let you swap the locations of Caps Lock and left Ctrl, the OS key and left Alt, and the OS key and the Fn key; you can also lock the OS key. It’s by far the easiest 60% keyboard to program thanks to its straightforward, user-friendly software—this makes a huge difference on a keyboard that lacks frequently used keys. (If your computer happens to be to the left of your desk, that positioning is annoying.) Its Cherry MX switches and PBT keycaps are uncommon perks in this price range. It also works with both Windows and Mac out of the box, though you need to swap the OS key location in macOS or go through the full programming process if you want to move it. 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