Whether you like to believe it or not, mechanical keyboards are slowly becoming the standard in the PC gaming market. While the membrane keyboards still exist, they do so largely because of the fact that mechanical keyboards aren’t that cheap to begin with.
However, what if we tell you that you can actually buy a mechanical keyboard for a cheap price? Well, the thing here is that majority of high end mechanical keyboards use German made mechanical switches that are made by Cherry, with that out of the way, as soon as Cherry’s patent on the mechanical keyboard switch expired, more and more companies started copying the design.
By simply copying the design, several Chinese manufacturers were able to clone the Cherry switch without any issues. At the same time, companies like Logitech and Cooler Master started using their own switches that were still mechanical, but different than what Cherry had been producing.
This shift allowed several independent Chinese companies to come out with their rendition of mechanical keyboards that work like one, and are comparatively cheap when put against the likes of Corsair and Asus.
A lot of people believe that cheaper mechanical keyboards aren’t worth the money, however, to prove the opposite, we conducted an extensive research on the mechanical keyboards, and tested several different mechanical keyboards that are priced under a $100.
The results were surprisingly good, and we decided it would be best if we pick the 10 best mechanical keyboards that fall under the price tag we initially looked at. Before we start taking a look at the keyboards that we reviewed, we are going to take a look at some of the important things about mechanical keyboards.
Table of Contents
- Advantages of Buying a Mechanical Keyboard.
- Tips on Buying a Mechanical Keyboard.
ii. CM Storm QuickFire Rapid
iii. G.SKILL RIPJAWS KM780R
iv. Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth
v. Azio MGK1-K
vi. Logitech G610 Orion
vii. Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum
viii. SteelSeries Apex M500
ix. Corsair K63
x. HAVIT HV-KB378L RGB
Advantages of Buying a Mechanical Keyboard
Now when it comes to buying a mechanical keyboard, things aren’t as easy as buying something like a mouse, or even a membrane keyboard. You see, mechanical keyboards are expensive, and in some cases, as expensive as $200. So, in order to convince yourself to buy a mechanical keyboard, you really need to go over a list of advantages.
In case you are hopelessly looking to justify the price of a mechanical keyboard, let’s take a look at some of the advantages you’ll get when you buy a mechanical keyboard.
For those who don’t know, the best thing about mechanical keyboards is the lifespan they have. A standard mechanical keyboard has a lifespan of 50 to 70 million keystrokes, and in comparison, a membrane keyboard only has a lifespan of 5 to 7 million keystrokes.
This stark difference is one of the biggest reasons why mechanical keyboards are slowly becoming the standard for gaming. Another thing that you should keep in mind is the entirety of its lifespan, a mechanical keyboard will feel as responsive as it was on the first day.
However, a membrane keyboard will not feel as the quality will start degrading over time; this is perhaps another reason why the gamers are preferring mechanical keyboards over the membrane counterparts.
Another great thing about mechanical keyboards is the responsiveness they offer; while membrane keyboards require you to bottom out the key completely to have a keystroke register, a mechanical keyboard has something called an actuation point.
For those who don’t know, the actuation point is the point on which the keystroke finally registers, and while the standard actuation point is 2mm, there are some keyboards that offer the actuation point as low as 1.2mm, making them really fast for gaming, as well as typing.
However, this isn’t the best part about mechanical keyboards, the best part is that there are different actuation points for different uses. While gamers would prefer to have a small actuation point, typists may prefer the standard actuation point to avoid any mistypes.
They Don’t Wear Out
Last but not the least, the biggest advantage of mechanical keyboards is just how robust they are. No, we are not talking about the build quality, we are talking about just how reliable the switches are. You see, when you’re using a membrane keyboard for typing, and gaming, the keyboard will wear out soon. You’ll start to notice the keys getting mushier, and in addition to that, you’ll also encounter the keys getting stuck.
However, the good thing about mechanical keyboards is that the experience is largely different; even if you are using a mechanical keyboard for years, there’s a guarantee that it will feel the same way as it did the day you took it out of the box.
Sure, the keycaps may wear out, and feel slippery after a use, but another great benefit lies in the fact that these keyboards offer you a lot of customization, something that we are going to talk about in the next section.
Most mechanical laptops that ship with RGB backlighting has individually lit keys, which means that you can individually make the keys light up based on whatever colour you prefer. Not only that, if your keyboard’s lighting is being controlled by the software like Corsair’s CUE, the good news is that you will be able to make some really complex and brilliant looking light shows from within the software.
While we are at the topic of customization, another great thing about mechanical keyboards is that you can actually use custom keycaps in order to enhance your keyboard’s look and feel. For instance, if you don’t want the industry standard ABS plastic keycaps, you can opt for something more durable like the PBT double shot keycaps.
Not only this, but there are several enthusiasts who use 3D printed keycaps on their mechanical keyboards. Just make sure that the keycap set you’re looking at is supported by the switch, as well as the keyboard layout, this is because sometimes, the companies tend to a non-standard key layout.
Tips on Buying a Mechanical Keyboard
When it comes to buying a mechanical keyboard, your knowledge should be good enough to actually make a purchase that is meant for your purpose. Unlike membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards are available in a variety of different forms.
For starters, there is an extensive list of mechanical switches that go in the keyboard, and while Cherry is pretty much the industry standard, even Cherry switches are available in a variety of types. This all leads to a lot of confusion.
In order to make your buying experience a lot easier, we have come up with a guide that will help you pick the best mechanical keyboard that you can. Before we begin, do keep in mind that our list has switches from different companies, as well as some of the Cherry MX clones, and when we say clones, we don’t say it in a bad manner, we’re just telling you that they are the cheaper variants that are available for a smaller price tag.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the really important tips that you can use when you’re in the market looking for a mechanical keyboard. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
Choosing the Right Switch Type
First things first, when you’re in the market for a mechanical keyboard, you’re presented by a lot of options to choose from. Mainly, these options reflect upon the type of switch that goes into a mechanical keyboard. For starters, if you’re looking at a keyboard that offers the genuine Cherry MX switches, chances are that you’re going to find the keyboard in red, blue, and brown switches.
Now it’s important to know the difference between the switches; for starters, the red is the most commonly used switch among the gamers, these switches are linear and have no tactile bump or whatsoever.
The next up is the blue switch which is slightly stiffer than the red switch, and has a very audible tactile feedback that lets you know when the keystroke has been registered. These switches are often preferred by people who have a lot of typing to do as the feeling is almost identical to using an actual typewriter.
Then we have the brown switch that is somewhere between red and blue; the audible, tactile feedback is still there, but the switch is comparatively lighter than the Cherry MX blue. Ordinarily, brown switch is somewhat rare, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s up to no good.
Do keep in mind that these are just Cherry switches that we talked about, there are switches by other companies as well, for instance, the infamous Romer G switch in the Logitech keyboards, the Kailh switch used in cheap mechanical keyboards, and Cooler Master’s hybrid capacitive mechanical switch as well.
However, at this point, it’s safe to say that most gamers, as well as companies are largely focusing towards the tried and true Cherry MX switch. Before you spend money on a mechanical keyboard, make sure you’ve done your research on what type of switch you’re looking for because that is something extremely important.
RGB or Not?
RGB is something that is becoming a very common fad in the PC gaming industry, from RGB water coolers, to RGB power supplies, and even mousepads. The only thing that’s left out is the RGB storage, something that may change in the coming future.
When it comes to mechanical keyboards, you either have a choice to go with a solid colour like red or white, or you can go for an RGB backlit keyboard that will comparatively cost higher than the rest. The good thing about the RGB keyboard is that it lets you customize your keyboard however you want. However, at the same time, the downside is that the keyboard will cost you a pretty penny, and the white on the keyboard will either look blueish or pinkish.
This is mainly because instead of using a completely white LED, the white is produced by mixing the RGB LEDs, hence the tint. Still, there are some great keyboards available in the market that are available in only white LED option. So, if that’s something you want, you can easily get that.
Another thing about RGB keyboards is that if the lighting is software controlled, you can easily customize it as per your requirements and even create some very cool looking lighting effects. Most RGB keyboards even have specific profiles for different games that highlight the buttons, as well as interact based on what you’re doing in the game.
Size of the Keyboard
Last but not the least, another important tip we have for you is the size of the keyboard; for those who don’t know, mechanical keyboards are available in different sizes, this is because people who prefer to carry their mechanical keyboard with them also prefer the keyboard to have a smaller footprint and a lesser weight.
Now when it comes to sizes, there are several different sizes available in the market. If you are someone who wants to keep the keyboard at home, and you have plenty of desk space, the full sized keyboard is your best choice.
However, if you want something smaller, you can opt for a TKL (ten keyless) keyboard; these keyboards don’t come with number pads, but there are some TKL keyboards that have number pad as an optional accessory that can be added or removed based on your personal preference.
Then we have the 75 percent keyboard layout that is rather small, and still has the function keys, but things don’t end here. There’s a 65 percent keyboard as well that gets rid of the function keys, and the number pad. Last but not the least, the smallest is the 60 percent layout that doesn’t really come with anything apart from the essential QWERTY keys. There are no function keys, no arrow keys, and no number pad. This form factor is best suited for people who are strictly going for a mechanical keyboard just for the sake of gaming.
When choosing a mechanical keyboard, make sure that you have the size in mind, because otherwise, you may end up with the keyboard that is either bigger or smaller than what you were initially looking for, and in all honesty, it’s not really a pleasant experience.
Now that we are done looking at the important information about mechanical keyboards that you should keep in mind, we can finally head straight to the reviews. For reviewing purpose, we took around 30 mechanical keyboards that were priced under $100 or $100, and started testing them thoroughly.
While a lot of people will tell you that you need to spend at least $150 or above, however, the good news is that it’s not entirely true as we were surprised by the amount of amazing keyboards we found in the given price range.
After thorough and extensive testing, we finally narrowed town the ten best budget mechanical keyboard that are priced under a $100. Do keep in mind that while some keyboards do use Cherry MX switches, other use some sort of variation or clone.
Rest assured, we didn’t include a single keyboard with membrane keys. Last but not the least, each review is separated into 3 different categories in order to help everyone have a better understanding of what they are spending their money on.
You’ll get a proper insight on the design/build quality, typing/gaming experience, and extra features; these will be followed by a conclusion, pros, and cons. So, without further ado, let’s start taking a look at all the keyboards that we have narrowed down.
10 Best Cheap/Budget Mechanical Keyboard Under 100
1. Corsair Strafe – 4.5/5
Best Budget Gaming Mechanical Keyboard
Corasair’s foray into the gaming peripheral market was met by a shock, the company that is known for creating some of the best looking cases, and top of the line power supplies wanted to try out its hand in peripherals.
Needless to say, their entrance was met by great response by critics and longtime users alike. Today, we are going to take a look at the Corsair Strafe, a mechanical keyboard by Corsair that is available in multiple Cherry MX switch options, as well as red backlit, or RGB backlit based on your preferences.
Corsair released the Strafe to close off the gap between the K65 and the K70, the keyboard is modestly priced, and while it may lack some of the more premium features, it doesn’t shy away from providing an enjoyable experience.
Considering how we had to keep a check on the budget, we went with the cheaper, red backlit version for the review, and needless to say, it didn’t disappoint us at all.
For starters, you’ll notice that instead of aluminum like the elder siblings, the Corsair Strafe uses high quality material, and while it may put some people off, the good thing here is that the keyboard is made out of high quality plastic and doesn’t flex even if you try to.
Moving on, the design is a pure reminiscent of the K70 keyboard, however, the iconic volume wheel and the dedicated media keys are missing. Do keep in mind that Corsair didn’t completely get rid of these features as they are no assigned to the function keys for easy access.
Corsair has also ditched the detachable wrist rest to keep the price in check, and although it’s an understandable thing to do, the company should have provided a chance to buy the wrist rest separately for a nominal price.
You get textured as well as simple keycaps, along with a plastic keycap puller. Now the one thing that you should keep in mind that Corsair has opted for ABS plastic keycaps, but thanks to the Cherry MX stem, you can use custom made PBT keycaps as well.
Overall, the design is really, really simple, and one can’t simply deny that it looks really good. As far as the build quality is concerned, while it is not as solid as the K series of keyboards by Corsair, it doesn’t mean that the keyboard doesn’t manage to hold up.
It is one of the most solid built keyboards we have tested, and we can assure you that your gaming experience won’t be hindered at all.
Considering how it’s a Corsair mechanical keyboard, we decided to take it for a spin, out of love for Corsair, we look at their products with keen interest to find some mistakes that could have been fixed. The Strafe comes with red, blue, brown, and the newly introduced silent switches.
For our testing, we had the red switch version; we have already talked about the red switch being for gamers as it is linear, and requires lesser force to actuate. The good thing is that Corsair’s keycap design combined with the brilliant switch makes up for an epic combo.
Not only the keys are responsive in game, but the overall typing experience remains as good as it can get. As a matter of fact, there have been several situations in which we didn’t even bottom out the keys and they were being registered. Sure, it does require some getting used to, but once you’ve mastered it, nothing can come close to it.
To be fairly honest, there’s nothing really wrong with the typing and gaming experience on the Strafe keyboard, however, one thing that is important to keep in mind is that if you are someone who prefers putting the weight of their hands on the table, you’re not in luck as the Strafe doesn’t have a wrist wrest.
So, keeping that in mind, make sure that you’re already aware of that because your experience can drastically change.
While the Strafe looks like a normal keyboard with no additional features whatsoever, the truth is far from different. The keyboard comes with RGB LED lighting or red backlit lighting, and while the red may not be as freedom friendly as RGB, you still get a good amount visualization options.
In addition to that, every key is individually lit, giving you the chance of controlling your lighting as you please. In addition to that, you can also set macro keys on the existing keyboard keys as Corsair didn’t include dedicated macro keys in order to keep the price down.
Last but not the least, Corsair was generous enough to add a USB pass through, and while it’s not USB 3.0, it’s still a very welcoming feature, especially for people who want to attach their mouse or other USB device onto the keyboard.
The Corsair Strafe keyboard is perhaps one of the best mechanical keyboards in the market strictly because of the value and the features. Needless to say, the keyboard is the best bang for the buck, and you’re getting a lot of features with it.
Sure, there are some missing feature like the dedicated macro keys, but if you’re on a tight budget, you can’t go wrong with this keyboard at all.
- Great value for money.
- Red backlighting looks great and can be controlled.
- USB pass through.
- Genuine Cherry MX switches.
- No dedicated macro keys.
- No wrist rest.
2. CM Storm QuickFire Rapid — 4/5
Best Cheap Mechanical keyboard for gaming
Cooler Master is a company known for perfecting things like coolers, casings, and power supplies. So, when they launched their line of gaming peripherals, we were genuinely excited about what we will be getting for the money. The company launched an amazing TKL keyboard known as the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid.
Now, this keyboard does use the original Cherry MX switches that was a relief considering how they have become something of a favourite. Another important thing that you should keep in mind that that this keyboard doesn’t come with any backlighting whatsoever. So, if you want something even with a solid colour backlighting, you’re going to have to look somewhere else.
So, is the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid a keyboard good enough for gamers are typists? Well, let’s not waste any time and get straight to the basics of this amazing keyboard by Cooler Master.
While most companies are trying to make their gaming keyboards even more futuristic, Cooler Master is one of the few companies that still believe in simplicity, with that in mind, the QuickFire Rapid is perhaps one of the simplest looking gaming keyboards that are available in the market. For starters, the keyboard doesn’t have any additional keys whatsoever.
In order to save space as well as the production cost, Cooler Master made sure that the function keys double up as media keys as well as lighting control keys, something that we actually like. Other design elements include a dual tone colour language of grey and black, something that looks very stylish, and minimal at the same time.
As for the build quality, we are surprised and happy to say that Cooler Master has created one of the best feeling keyboards out in the market. Despite the fact that keyboard isn’t as aggressively priced at all. The keyboard feels solid in hand with almost no flex or whatever, and the keys are nicely designed.
It’s great to see that Cooler Master has decided to stick with the standard looking ABS keycaps instead of some fancy, contoured keycaps that make absolutely no sense at all. As far as design language and build quality is considered, the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid nails it.
Considering how Cooler Master decided to stick true to the industry standard and the mechanical keyboard legacy by using the Cherry MX switches, we didn’t really have any second doubts. Our review unit arrived with Cherry MX blue switches, and while some people definitely have their issues with these switches due to the audible, tactile feedback, we really didn’t face any issue whatsoever.
As a matter of fact, the typing experience on the QuickFire Rapid was really, really good; the switches were responsive, and thanks to the perfectly balanced keycaps, our typing experience was a breeze, as a matter of fact, the whole review is written on the same keyboard as well as edited on the same one.
Gaming experience was slightly different, it’s a common known fact that blue switches aren’t really meant for gaming due to a higher actuation force, still, while playing games we didn’t really feel a lot of difference. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you’re someone who’s a hardcore gamer and require responsiveness, and lighter keys, the MX red version is best for you.
Considering how Cooler Master decided to take everything super simple, there aren’t a lot of extra features available on the keyboard. There’s no wrist rest, no backlighting, and absolutely no availability of dedicated macro keys.
What you get, however, is a keyboard that looks minimal enough to actually convince people that it’s a membrane keyboard.
The CM Storm QuickFire Rapid is a great, if not perfect gaming keyboard. It’s not without its flaws, but the good thing is that despite the small shortcomings like the absence of backlighting, the good things manage to easily overshadow everything.
For a keyboard priced this competitively, and a long list of features, the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid is definitely a go to for any gamer who happens to be on a budget, and is looking for a gaming keyboard that will last them for quite some time thanks to the genuine Cherry MX switches, and an overall sturdy build quality.
- Budget friendly.
- Genuine Cherry MX switches.
- Great build quality.
- Simplistic design.
- No backlighting available.
3. G.SKILL RIPJAWS KM780R – 4/5
The next keyboard we’re looking at is from G.Skill, the company famous for creating some of the most wicked looking memory modules. The company’s Ripjaws and Trident series of memory look amazing, and are built for gamers and enthusiasts.
However, we’re not talking about memory modules, we’re talking about the mechanical keyboards that is simply named RIpjaws KM780R. This full sized mechanical keyboard from G.Skill comes with a lot of neat features that are usually found in higher end keyboards; you get dedicated media buttons, aluminum chassis, dedicated macro keys, and even something like a wrist rest.
In case you are wondering if G.Skill is offering all of these on the expense of having a Cherry MX clone, then you’re wrong. The keyboard uses original Cherry MX switches, and that’s when things get interesting because you’re getting so many amazing things in such a little price tag.
First of all, the build quality. To be fairly honest, we were actually surprised by the build quality we saw on this keyboard because considering the price you are paying for and the keyboard you are getting, it baffled us. The keyboard is made out of a solid brushed aluminum chassis that looks great, and feels even better to hold.
You also get a full sized wrist rest that can be detached based on your personal preferences. Moving on to the design, and here’s the point where most jaws dropped; instead of opting for a simplistic design, G.Skill decided to up the notch and made a keyboard that looks as futuristic as possible.
The keyboard is full of aggressive design language that are on the frontline shouting “gamer” again, and again. This design language has also made the keyboard much larger than other full sized keyboards. So, while you may love the design, make sure you have enough desk space to actually put your keybnoard in place.
Overall, the build quality couldn’t have been better, but we would have loved if the keyboard followed a simpler design language that didn’t make it look a lot bigger than its size.
Now comes the most important bit of any gaming keyboard; how’s the gaming experience, and how’s the typing experience? Well, don’t worry, if you have your eyes set on this keyboard because of the futuristic design language, and additional features like keycaps, and dedicated macro keys, then the good news is that both the typing experience, and the gaming experience are impeccable.
Our keyboard arrived with Cherry MX brown switches that are made for both typing and gaming, and the performance couldn’t have been better. The keycaps are perfectly designed, and for those who prefer the weight of their wrists on the keyboard, the good news is that the wrist rest has ample amount of room for that.
Keys were responsive, and the switch did justice to both gaming, and typing experience. Needless to say, we didn’t really face any issues when using the keyboard.
For anyone who’s always looking for a keyboard loaded with features, the KM780R gets the job done; first of all, you get custom keycaps that are made for gaming, they are textured for better grip, then you get a pretty huge wrist rest that can be detached as well, you also get dedicated macro buttons, as well as dedicated media keys, and last but not the least, you get the red backlit lighting.
Now, do keep in mind that even if your keyboard doesn’t come with RGB lighting, you’re still granted some effects with the static red lighting. These effects can be changed from the G.Skill software that comes bundled with the keyboard.
The software is one of the most complicated ones we have used, and for a keyboard with only red backlighting, the software is still quite complicated. Almost as complicated as Corsair’s CUE if not more.
While the G.Skill’s approach to this gaming keyboard may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to the large design, and heft, the fact that it’s one of the most amazing gaming keyboards out in the market is something that we can’t deny.
You get, amazing aluminum built chassis, genuine Cherry MX switches, dedicated macro and media keys, additional keycaps, backlit lighting, and a large detachable wrist rest. Now add up all of these, and then look at the price. It’s a recipe for perfection.
The only thing we didn’t like is the large design, something that can hinder the end user experience, and if you’re okay with it, then there’s nothing really wrong with the keyboard.
- Built with aluminum, solid construction.
- Aggressive design that is built for gamers.
- Dedicated macro and media keys.
- Extra keycaps.
- Large wrist rest.
- Cherry MX switches.
- Size isn’t as user friendly.
- Software can be complicated for newcomers.
4. Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth – 3/5
Razer is perhaps the oldest company in the gaming peripheral industry, they have been around since the time of membrane keyboards, and it would be safe to say that they have served their fair share of time being a status symbol. However, things have changed, and Razer is no longer the only king fighting for the crown.
Keeping that in mind, Razer had to make a move, and start rolling out keyboards that were affordable, and offered great performance. Considering how Cherry MX switches weren’t really cheap to implement, Razer took the easy way out and decided to team up with Kailh to create Cherry MX clones thanks to the expired patent.
The keyboard we are looking at today uses green switches that are produced by Kailh, and according to Razer, these are the perfect blend of the Cherry MX black, and blue. So, just how good the BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth is? Well, let’s find out.
Razer’s attention to detail when it comes to design and build quality is something that is admirable to say the least, the keyboard comes in a matte black finish that is a pleasant surprise and feels good to put your hands on, and type. The keys follow the same suit, however, they are made from ABS plastic, so they will get shiny over time.
The design is rather simple with 5 programmable macro keys on the left side that you can configure using the Razer Synapse. AS for the build quality, in order to cut down the cost, Razer decided to go with matte black plastic that is solid nonetheless.
However, do keep in mind that the matte finish is something that can easily get ruined, so make sure you to treat the keyboard with care. Razer also implemented a braided USB cable that’s always a nice touch because that protects the cable from getting nicked or damaged because of too much movement in tight spaces.
The build quality is not perfect, but keeping the price in mind, it’s not bad either, and the design is simplistic enough to keep you using the keyboard. Also, keep in mind that there’s no wrist rest, but the keyboard does extend from the bottom, giving some amount of space to put your wrist on.
Now this is the point when we got really skeptical about the keyboard, considering how we have grown accustomed to the standard set by Cherry, it kind of felt odd using a keyboard that didn’t use switches made by Cherry. Our review unit came with a Razer Green switch that the company designed specifically for gaming.
In all honesty, after testing the keyboard for about a week, we didn’t really notice any issues with the switch, however, the constant feeling of the switch giving up was there, but then again, it’s pretty natural when you’re trying out a switch that isn’t made by Cherry.
While the responsiveness is something that doesn’t suffer at all, the one thing that we felt different was the fact that the switches felt a little on the mushier side. However, responsiveness was something on point. There’s no denying that Razer has done a great job creating this switch.
For those who are wondering just how good the typing experience with this switch is, let’s just say that for anyone who’s willing to type using this keyboard, it’s always a better option to go for the Razer’s Orange switch as that is a direct clone of Cherry’s blue switch that is made specifically for people who want to type away on their keyboard.
We’re not saying that the typing experience on the green switch is bad, it’s just not optimal enough to actually let you type properly without really making any typos.
A Razer keyboard wouldn’t be complete without the extra features, and good for you, there are plenty to boot. First of all, the keyboard comes with 5 programmable macro keys on the left side, and while there are no media keys, Razer has implemented them in the function keys, something that happens to be a smart idea. In addition to that, the keyboard features an all green backlit l9ighting that looks rather cool to be honest.
Last but not the least, the Razer Synapse is also one of the best customization softwares available in the market, it’s easy to use, and most importantly, it’s user friendly. Something that is incredibly important for the softwares because they make the overall experience a lot easier.
Overall, the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth is a keyboard that is made for gamers and typists both, sure, the whole experience of using a switch that isn’t made by Cherry made us skeptical at first. The keyboard managed to do well in all the paces, and impressed us.
The downsides are basically the construction which felt a bit flimsy as compared to some of the other mechanical keyboards that we have used, and we would love to see the same keyboard with a different lighting colour.
- The matte black finish looks and feels great.
- Responsive switches.
- Dedicated macro keys.
- Green backlighting gives the real feel of using a Razer keyboard.
- Synapse software is a joy to use.
- The matte black finish wears off.
- Build quality feels a bit flimsy.
- Green colour can be too striking at times.
5. Azio MGK1-K – 3.5/5
Next up we have something from the lesser known brand that is known as Azio. Now, Azio is one of the better brands out there when it comes to cheaper mechanical keyboards. The keyboard we are looking at is simply named the Azio MGK1-K. A mechanical keyboard that uses Kailh mechanical switches, quite possibly the best Cherry clones there are in the market.
Now the good thing is that the Azio MGK1-K, uses a very familiar design language, and believe it or not, the keyboard looks so much like the Corsair K70, it’s not even funny. The keyboard even has a wrist rest, and that volume wheel that was made iconic by Corsair.
But the important question remains different, is the keyboard really worth the price you’re spending or you’re better off buying a keyboard that actually isn’t a clone? Let’s find out.
Now this is the important bit here because Azio is a company that is primarily making cheaper mechanical keyboards. So, it would be safe to assume that they went cheap on the materials as well. To be fairly honest, that isn’t the case here. The Azio MGK-1 is actually built out of an amazing combination of anodized, brushed aluminum as well as high quality plastic.
It features a braided USB cable, a textured wrist rest with amazing grip, and most importantly, a clever use of design. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for the logo placement, it would be really difficult to actually tell the MGK-1 apart when put next to the Corsair K70.
The design is another strong forte of the Azio MGK-1, and thanks to the build quality, the keyboard feels sturdy as anything in the hands, with absolutely no flex whatsoever. We believe that for a cheap mechanical keyboard that isn’t from a well-known company, it’s a really amazing thing to begin with.
Build quality wasn’t the only thing we were skeptical about, given the fact that we are so used to switches like Cherry MX, it’s almost impossible to adjust to something new. However, considering how Kailh is basically the cheaper version of Cherry MX switches, it was made a lot easier for us to pass a judgement.
The typing experience on the Kailh brown switches was a lot like the typing experience on Cherry MX brown, the switches felt tactile, and the audible feel was there. Unlike some other clones, Kailh didn’t just copy the colour, but the actual specifications too. Meaning that the actuation force, as well as the actuation point remained the same.
The keycaps were nicely made, allowing for an amazing typing experience as well as the gaming experience. The good thing here is that brown switches are a balance between red and blue switches. So, needless to say the gaming experience was as good as it could be.
While we didn’t find any inconsistencies in the switch, we were genuinely curious as to how much the key switches are going to last because it literally scared us. Still, during our week of extensive gaming and typing, the keyboard managed to hold itself together, further strengthening the fact that Kailh switches are in fact not bad at all.
Though, do keep in mind that the wider keys like shift, space bar suffer from a rattling issue, something that is very common in most high end keyboards, so we can actually let this go.
Speaking of extra features, the Azio MGK-1 offers completely white backlight lighting that looks amazing, the lighting is consistent, and yes, it is per key. The brightness can easily be adjusted without really tinkering a lot.
Although the keyboard doesn’t have dedicated media keys, Azio cleverly implemented those features in the function keys, giving you a full control over your keyboard. The keyboard is missing the dedicated macro keys, but considering the price you’re paying for this excellent hardware, it’s something that we can easily overlook.
Azio MGK-1 happens to be a mechanical keyboard that looks good inside out. Sure, it’s not using the industry standard Cherry MX switches, but do keep in mind that the switches you have are still way better than some of the cheaper options that are available in the market.
In all honesty, it would be really hard for someone to actually tell the difference between Cherry MX brown, and Kailh brown switches. With that said, we’re not saying that these are better than Cherry brown, it’s just that if you can’t afford a Cherry MX powered keyboard, this is the next best thing.
- Solid aluminum construction.
- White backlighting looks great.
- Familiar design is a welcoming sight.
- Large, comfortable wrist rest.
- Kailh brown switches are almost as good as Cherry MX Brown.
- Priced very close to some entry level mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches.
6. Logitech G610 Orion – 4/5
Going back to the big league, the next mechanical keyboard we are looking at is none other than the Logitech G610 Orion, this is one of the latest gaming keyboards from the companies that is aimed at gamers and professionals both.
The reason why we say that gamers are professionals will be able to take full advantage of this keyboard is because it isn’t made like it’s for the gamers. As a matter of fact, the keyboard follows a very simple design language with no aggressive curves, no fancy lighting, and no weirdly angled keycaps.
Another really great thing about this keyboard is that it doesn’t use the proprietary Romer G switches, instead, the keyboard uses genuine Cherry MX switches and is available in both red and brown variants. Our review unit came with red switches and without keeping you all waiting, let’s take a look at just how good the Logitech G610 Orion is.
First things first, the design on the G610 Orion has to be one of the simplest we have seen from Logitech, and we’re not saying it in a negative way as we actually like the simplistic approach from Logitech.
Now in case you are wondering, the major reason behind this approach is the amount of backfire Logitech received after they released their flagship G910 Orion. As compared to G910, the G610 Orion is designed with simplicity in mind. There are no aggressive curves on this keyboard, the keycaps are of standard design, and the keyboard isn’t oddly huge.
From the looks of it, the keyboard looks so simple that it will actually fit on your office desk without attracting any unwanted attention. With that out of the way, if you’re wondering if Logitech paid any attention to the build quality, you’re lucky because they did.
Although the G610 Orion isn’t made out of metal or aluminum, the simple plastic design doesn’t look bad at all. Logitech certainly didn’t cheap out on the quality of plastic as the G610 feels solid in hand, and works as intended.
So, as far as the design and build quality goes, you can relax going that your money is going into the right spot.
To be fairly honest, we weren’t really hoping that the typing experience will be bad mainly because the keyboard uses Cherry MX switches. Our review unit came with Cherry MX red switches, and we got to work by putting the keyboard through the paces.
Considering how it takes almost 6 days to evaluate just how good the keyboard is, we spent 3 whole days testing the typing, and 3 whole days testing the gaming on this keyboard.
You’d be glad to know that the typing experience was an absolute joy, sure, the experience wasn’t as satisfying as using the Cherry MX blue switch, but the whole feeling of being able to type rather quickly on the keyboard felt really nice.
The Cherry MX switches worked wonderfully, and thanks to the Logitech’s brilliant implementation of the keycaps, the both components managed to perfectly complement each other. However, do keep in mind that if you are buying this keyboard for solely typing, you’ll be better off with the brown switch because of the tactile bump.
As for the gaming experience, the good thing is that it is as good as it can get. The red switches are among the finest for gaming, the lower amount of actuation force, as well as the responsiveness, and linear nature of these switches make up for a fantastic experience here.
For the sake of comparison, the Logitech G610 Orion is much, much better in gaming when you compare it to the G910 Spectrum. This is a testament that Logitech is finally learning from some of the mistakes they have made in the past, and we’d say that they learned really well.
While we appreciate Logitech being careful with the G610 Orion, we believe the company ended up being a bit too careful. For those who are not aware of what we are talking about here, we’re basically talking about how the G610 isn’t loaded on features, but then again, considering the price tag, we’re not really blaming the keyboard.
The white LEDs look absolutely stunning, and the Logitech gaming software remains as polished as ever. Even though there are no dedicated macro keys, but the good thing there is that you can actually map the buttons on to the actual keys through the gaming software.
Overall, we’re not really displeased with the Logitech G610 Orion, but it would have been nice to see at least some way to actually have a wrist rest on the keyboard, because we believe that the keyboard can actually tire you out, but then again, same is the case with all the other keyboards that don’t have a wrist rest.
To be fairly honest, there are a lot of good things with the Logitech G610 Orion that we wish Logitech brings in their higher end keyboard. Now that Cherry and Corsrair’s exclusive agreement has come to an end, Logitech along with other companies are free to use the Cherry MX RGB switches.
With that out of the way, the Logitech G610 Orion is a huge step in the right direction, and we can’t wait Logitech pay the same amount of attention to detail in the higher end models as well.
- Minimal design.
- Solid build quality.
- Available in Cherry MX red and brown switches.
- White backlighting looks amazing.
- No way to attach a wrist rest.
7. Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum – 3/5
For those who don’t want the simplicity offered by the G610, and at the same time, don’t want to spend a lot of money, Logitech has an offering for you that you can use without really facing a lot of hassle. Say hello to the Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum.
Now as the name suggests, it is safe to say that this is in fact an RGB keyboard that is available for less than $100. However, there are a few catches; for starters, it’s a ten keyless keyboard, which means that you don’t have the number pad with you. However, the more serious issue is the fact that the keyboard uses Romer G switches paired with the same keycap design Logitech put on the G910 Spectrum.
Now that is something that only means that the keyboard won’t be having a pleasant typing experience. Still, for the sake of readers, we decided to go ahead and put the keyboard through the paces and see just how good it is.
Now when it comes to the design language, it’s safe to say that Logitech took cues from the G910, and in all honesty, the G410 looks exactly like G910, however, without the number pad on the right side. The keyboard is still considerably large for a TKL keyboard, and that can be concerning because it’s mainly developed for gamers who are on the go.
With that out of the way, the build quality is still largely plastic, which is not a good thing for a keyboard price at this point. It makes more sense in the keyboards like G610, but if Logitech is planning on selling this as a flagship model in the TKL range, then they should have stepped up the build quality.
It’s not bad by any means, and the keyboard doesn’t flex either, but the plastic just gives it a cheap feeling even though it’s pretty solid. Last but not the least, the keycaps are just like they used to be on the G910 Spectrum, something that we don’t approve of. More on that later.
Now for the typing and gaming experience on this keyboard; before we go any further, we would like to let you readers know that if you are planning on buying this keyboard for typing, then simply don’t. Not because it won’t be ideal, but because the keycaps are designed in such a way, that typing experience is completely abysmal.
While the switches do have some sort of feel to them, the keycaps mess up everything because you’re basically hitting the edge of the keycaps while you’re trying to type. The sadder part is that these switches aren’t using the same stem as Cherry switches so finding custom keycaps isn’t something that’s easy.
As for gaming, well, the Romer G switches aren’t the best of the best as they feel mushier, however, considering how the amount of keypresses in gaming are a lot less than they are in typing, so your gaming experience shouldn’t be hindered as much.
Overall, the only perfect way to express the dismay caused by the G410 is by saying that Logitech had plenty of good ideas, but the keyboard seems out of place mainly because of the weird keycaps.
Speaking of extra features, the G410 has some tricks up its sleeves, the RGB implementation happens to be one of the best, and even better than the competitors. This is one of the things that we liked about the G910.
The reason why the lighting on these keyboards is so good is because instead of having the LED mounted on top of the switch, it’s mounted inside it. That means there’s absolutely no light bleed, and the keycaps look absolutely brilliant
Couple that with Logitech’s Gaming software and you have a recipe for success. Not to forget, there’s another interesting feature about this keyboard, and that is the Arx docking station where you can put your phone. Interesting feature to be honest, and useful for people who prefer to be fully immersed in their gaming experience.
Last but not the least, Logitech’s lighting is programmed to interact with some of the games, something that sounds like a gimmick, but a rather cool one.
The Logitech G410 Spectrum is a good gaming keyboard that is marred by the issues that it tries to promote. While having different switch types is a nice way of having variety in the market, it also causes an issue because you’re left with switches that feel mushy and not as responsive.
If Logitech could address the issues such as diversion from the keycaps they are using, and properly utilize Cherry MX switches in their future keyboards, then we can guarantee that their gaming keyboards will earn the same amount of respect as some of the competitors have.
- One of the finest RGB implementation.
- Ton of customization options.
- Logitech Gaming software remains amazing.
- Game integration is a cool gimmick.
- Romer G switches don’t feel as good.
- The keycaps are horrible for typing.
8. SteelSeries Apex M500 – 4/5
SteelSeries has earned itself some good amount of fame over the past couple of years; the company has released some of the best gaming keyboards, as well as other peripherals in the market. For those who don’t know, the company is known for sponsoring several pro gamers across the world, however, that doesn’t mean that they are not good with providing some of the amazing peripherals to the consumer level.
Today, we are looking at the SteelSeries Apex M500, a mechanical gaming keyboard with blue backlighting, and genuine Cherry MX red switches. Considering how SteelSeries is targeting this keyboard towards the gamers, they decided it would be best if they actually go for a switch that attracts the gamers more than anyone else.
Instead of going flashy or over the top, SteelSeries has decided to stick to the basics, and that is something that we really love about the company. The keyboard is designed with minimalism in mind, and much like some of the other keyboards in the market, it’s minimal enough for the consume to actually carry it to their office.
Needless to say, the keyboard gives way to a very professional vibe, and it actually looks really well. The keyboard offers only blue backlighting which may seem like an odd choice, but the blue is bright, and vibrant. Luckily, that is something that you can control through the software, if you please.
The keycaps are designed with simplicity in mind, that means that you won’t be finding any weird contours or curves on it, something that most people don’t really like. As for the build quality, we’re pleased to tell you that they are built rather well. There isn’t much of an issue with the build quality as the keyboard is made to get the job done for most of the gamers in the market, and it will do what it’s made for without any issues.
Next up is the typing and gaming experience on the SteelSeries Apex M500, to be honest, upon receiving the keyboard, the excitement level wasn’t there as much as we would have preferred. In case you are wondering why that’s the case, it’s mainly because we knew that the keyboard is using the famous Cherry MX red switches, and we have already tested them on several different occasions.
However, one thing a lot of people don’t know is that the switches have to work in synergy with the keycaps in order to give the perfectly balanced experience. Upon testing the SteelSeries Apex for our 3 day long typing period, we realized that despite being the fact that we have red switches, the keyboard felt amazing in typing.
This is coming from a person who prefers blue switches for typing, and while the tactile bump and audible click feedback was missed, the typing experience remained as pleasant as possible. Moving on to the gaming, we were welcomed by another great experience because of the fact that the red switches are linear, require less actuation force, and are much gamer friendly.
SteelSeries Apex M500 is one of the best gaming keyboards in the market mainly because the red switches are pleasant to use, and in addition to that, the keycaps work wonderfully with the key switches, making the whole experience proper, and streamlined.
Considering how SteelSeries has decided to play safe with the Apex M500, there aren’t a lot of extra features that are included in this keyboard; there’s no wrist rest, no dedicate macro keys, no media controls, and no USB or audio pass through ports.
However, what you are getting is a rather simple, and pretty straightforward keyboard that is built to last. The construction is solid, and the blue lighting looks great. As for the customization, you can do so by using the SteelSeries Engine 3 utility that lets you handle the lighting as well as individually program all the keys on the keyboard.
Yes, despite not having dedicated macro keys, you are still getting the option to setup your own macros through the software. Plus, the software is easy to use, so it shouldn’t be any issue for you at all.
The SteelSeries Apex M500 is definitely a great gaming keyboard that is built for gamers and professionals alike. By deciding not to go for something over the top and extremely flashy, the company has decided to keep things as simple as possible, and true to its core.
The Apex M500 is an amazing gaming keyboard that gets the job done rather quickly, and doesn’t really bow down against anything.
- Simple, minimalistic design.
- Solid build quality.
- Cherry MX Red switches are as pleasant as always.
- Simple, elegant, and easy to use.
- No wrist rest.
9. Corsair K63 – 3.5/5
As a company, Corsair’s grasp on high end peripheral market is very strong, their K95, and K70 keyboard series happens to be one of the best. However, one thing Corsair is missing out is the mid-range consumer market mainly because their gaming keyboards can be quite expensive.
Well, don’t worry. In order to make everything fall into place along with the rest of their lineup, the company has introduced their new mechanical keyboard that is built on the same brilliant design we have come to love so much.
The Corsair K63 is perhaps one of the most affordable mechanical keyboards from Corsair featuring genuine Cherry MX switches, red backlighting, and a familiar design. Is it good enough? Let’s find out.
The design is a familiar sight, Corsair has taken the cues from their Strafe keyboard, and we actually admire that because despite being plastic, the Strafe happened to be one of the best gaming keyboards in the market. However, the major differences are basically that there’s no wrist rest included, but the good thing is that Corsair has provided mounting points under the keyboard so you can attach it with great ease.
In addition to that, Corsair has also parted ways with the number pad, making the K63 a ten keyless keyboard. As for the construction, in order to save the overhead cost, Corsair has decided to use plastic in the construction, and while it may turn some people away, the good news here is that the construction happens to be very solid with absolutely no flex whatsoever.
Under the keys, Corsair has put red back plate, something that we have already seen on the Strafe, the purpose of this back plate is to basically reflect the red LEDs that shine on it. This whole approach makes the keyboard look a lot vibrant than some of the other keyboards in the market, and we’re certainly hoping Corsair follows the same routine on some of their higher end motherboards.
At this point, it’s safe to say that Corsair knows how to create an unprecedented gaming experience, as well as the typing experience there is. Now in case you are wondering, the switches are Cherry MX red. It was rather strange to see Corsair opting for just the red switches and not the blue, or brown options, but still. Considering how reds are the favourite among gamers, it made sense.
The typing experience remains the same as on any other Corsair gaming keyboard out in the market, the keycaps are still of the same brilliant design, and the red switches feel good. Another good thing is that the larger keys suffer from absolutely no rattle whatsoever, making the keyboard an absolute breeze to type on.
We would have loved to see the keyboard available in other switch options like the Cherry MX silent, or even blues, but considering how this is a relatively new keyboard, we may see some new versions in the future, and even with RGB lighting options.
As for the gaming experience, considering how we’re talking about Cherry’s MX red switches, the overall experience is a lot better thanks to how the keycaps work really, really well. Needless to say, the gaming experience on the Corsair K63 is perhaps one of the best we have used, and that is saying something.
It’s good to see that Corsair has put the same amount of attention to detail even in their lower end keyboards, goes to show how the company is dedicated towards providing the mid-range, budget minded gamers a good chance.
Corsair has parted ways with some of the iconic inclusions that we have seen in their higher end gaming keyboards, you are not getting the braided USB cable, or the USB pass through. The macro keys are missing too, but it’s good to see that the dedicated media keys are still there.
Despite not having macro keys, you can make your own through the Corsair CUE, the software used to be confusing at the early stage, but has improved a lot over the past couple of years. Although Corsair doesn’t include a wrist rest, it’s really nice to see that the company actually bothered to add the mounting positions for it.
The Corsair K63 is a keyboard that managed to surprise us by giving one of the best gaming and typing experiences. Sure, it’s a low budget mechanical keyboard, but the biggest selling point is the fact that it doesn’t use Cherry clones or some other cheaper knockoffs.
The Corsair K63 is easily one of the best mechanical keyboard under 100, and that is saying something.
- Genuine Cherry MX switches.
- Great typing and gaming experience.
- Solid build quality.
- Tried and true design.
- Mounting points for a wrist rest.
- No braided cable.
10. HAVIT HV-KB378L RGB – 3/5
The last keyboard on our list is a treat for gamers who prefer RGB lighting, and guess what, it’s modestly priced, and while it uses the Cherry MX clones, the keyboard still manages to hold up pretty well thanks to the overall specifications, and the great typing experience it provides.
Say hello to the HAVIT HV-KB378L RGB, a budget oriented gaming keyboard using the Otemu blue switches, the perfect Cherry MX blue clones, RGB lighting, full sized key layout, and a proper wrist rest for the maximum comfort while gaming or typing.
The HV-KB378L also comes with a metallic back plate, reassuring the buyer that the keyboard is actually very, very solid.
First things first, Havit decided to make sure that there’s nothing conventional about their gaming keyboard, that’s why they actually made this keyboard look like it’s something out of the future. The silver and black accents are absolutely stunning.
Needless to say, this isn’t the keyboard that you’ll be putting on your office desk, but that’s the beauty of it, the keyboard requires as certain space that’s made for the keyboard, and the keyboard alone. As for the build quality, we had some reservations, but upon close inspections, we finally figured out that The keyboard actually uses a metallic back plate to hold everything in place.
This is a nice touch, and while a lot of people may not see the point, it’s good because it can save your keyboard from breaking, and having the back plate also ensures that there’s no flex whatsoever.
The Havit HV-KB378L is perhaps one of the best built keyboards in the given price range.
What is strange about this keyboard is the fact that despite being a keyboard that is aimed strictly towards gamers, the keyboard is only available in blue switches. In case you’re not aware, the blue switches are basically best suited for people who want to type on the keyboard and not game.
The keyboard passed our typing test with flying colours, and it was almost impossible to tell the difference between the clone and the original switches, however, keyboard enthusiasts will be able tell the difference a lot easier than some of the other people. The typing was consistent, and the tactile bump was pretty satisfying to be honest.
As for the gaming experience, well, what can we say? We really thought that the keyboard won’t make up for a good gaming keyboard, but the experience was relatively fun, and actually really nice. Yeah, the blue switches had the tactile bump and slightly higher actuation force, but it’s the overall feel that made the keyboard so damn amazing.
Havit has really done an amazing job making this keyboard what it is.
Havit has made sure to include some of the extra features, like the fact that the keys are programmable, however, you will need a 3rd party software to get the job done. The RGB lighting is on board, and you get to choose 10 different lighting modes, all from the keyboard itself. Meaning that there’s absolutely no need for a software.
The wrist rest is large, and comfortable to put your hands on, making the keyboard a pleasant experience to use. There shouldn’t be too much judging this keyboard because the price completely beats out every other aspect of the Havit HV-KB378L.
While not the top of the line mechanical keyboard, the Havit HV-KB378L gets the job done for the most part, the extremely futuristic looks make sure that they keyboard gets to stay on your gaming table and nowhere else.
For anyone who’s on a budget, and looking for a slightly different approach, the Havit HV-378L is a great gaming keyboard with an even better price tag.
- Excellent looks and feel.
- Great value for money.
- RGB lighting with multiple lighting modes.
- Wrist rest is a nice inclusion.
- The clone switches feel good.
- Design is too over the top.
So, there you have it, folks. All the top gaming keyboards tested and reviewed. The whole process wasn’t as easy as we thought mainly because there were just too many options to look at. Still, we tried our best to make sure that the keyboards that we reviewed are fairly treated and scored.
Here’s to hoping that you have pleasant and easier time choosing the type of keyboard you’re looking for. In case you believe we missed out on a keyboard, feel free to let us know.