The Best Keyboards for 2021

keyboards

Logitech Ergo Keyboard

A crucial ergonomic feature to look out for is the capability to perform angle adjustment. This can be done by flipping two feet made of plastic to the right of your keyboard, which can alter the angle of your forearms and wrists. There are many keyboards–not just models that were specially designed for ergonomic use–use these feet. Studies have proven that it is important to test them until the keyboard is level or at a minimum, to a little away from the wrists. (See our article on the best ergonomic keyboards.)

Keys and Switches: The Basics

One of the aspects of the design of keyboards that will be discussed in review articles, but which the majority of people do not think about, is the kind of switches that are used to control the individual keys. It’s not likely that you’ll be concerned about the particular mechanisms beneath keyboards, however you’ll be able to feel the distinction. The three most common kinds of switches include silicon domes, scissor switches and mechanical switches.

The majority of keyboards that are budget-friendly including ones that are included with desktop computers utilize silicone-dome switches which make use of two dimpled membranes of silicone which form an array of domes or rubber bubbles for the springback of switches for every key. The elasticity of the silicone rubber creates the sensation of soft, mushy mush when you press each key. 

The type of switch also requires users to “bottom out” with each keystroke by pressing the key until the lower part of the key to write an alphabet. Because the repeated flexing of rubber membrane results in it breaking down the silicone dome switches lose their elasticity and responsiveness as time passes.

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Certain keyboards from the newer generation mimic chiclet-style keyboards with a low profile that can be used on laptops with full size keyboards as well as ultraportables. Although a handful of them have simple silicone-dome switches, most use scissor switches which include an electronic stabilizer to each key for a consistent experience and a plunger underneath each keycap allows for more space for the keys. In the end, the E7250 keyboard offers a softer typing experience, but generally lasts longer than switches with rubber domes on their own.

Models That Just Click: Mechanical Keyboards

Many keyboard enthusiasts will not speak much about either of these styles. Instead, they’ll be singing songs on the mechanical keyboard.

Many variations are available with each one tweaked to give an entirely different feeling or sound. The robust springs and switch mechanisms are much longer-lasting, too. They can also record every keystroke with a less travel time and are therefore ideal for people who use touch typing.

Mechanical keyboard with spring mechanisms displaying

The drawback to mechanical switches? They generally require greater vertical room than dome switches made of silicone, so keyboards tend to be more hefty. They aren’t typically found on keyboards with a lower profile, shallower design. This could change with the announcement the venerable maker of switches Cherry has released low-profile, mechanical switches, however the majority of mechanical switches are hefty.

The past was when the majority of mechanical keyboards that were popular made use of switches made by Cherry Industrial, with the switches being available in various MX Blue, Red, Black and Brown variants. Cherry switches are still in high demand however, you can also find home-brewed mechanical switches from the top keyboard makers like Logitech and Razer and “imitation Cherry” switches, that use the same color-related nomenclature and are made by companies like Kaihua.

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Deep Customization: Gaming Keyboards

While the E4300 keyboard has the essential QWERTY layout of keys that is required for regular typing, there are occasions when typing isn’t your primary concern. Gaming keyboards are made to be used in competition and emphasize various aspects.

Gaming boards offer maximal control and specialization, designed for specific types of play, and manufactured to the highest standards of responsiveness and endurance. They are also appealing to gamers’ design, and feature designs that are both impressive and intimidating with flashing backlighting and striking colors.

Keyboard glowing with purple light under the keyboard

Premium gaming models almost entirely make use of high-quality mechanical keys and keycaps that are sculpted and come with a variety of features that can be customized like macro keys that are programmable and tactile WASD keys and keycaps that swap. Other models let you alter the intensity and color of the backlighting, making the process of finding specific keys quicker and personalizing the look of the keyboard. On lower-end keyboards the backlight’s coloration is likely to be a single shade however, as you move higher up the line you can programmable RGB lighting that can be customized by zone and, at the top of the line, you can assign it to each key individually (so-called “per-key RGB”).

Other options include passes-through USB ports, or audio connections to the keyboard which make it simpler connecting peripherals to desktop computers that have ports that are difficult to access from under desks.

So, Which Keyboard Should I Buy?

The keyboard market is massive and it is a good idea to begin your search with our guide below of the top keyboards that are available. Are you in the market for a mouse? Take a look at our top mouse choices and our top gaming mouse picks and the best wireless mouse selections.

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