Our Picks

Best Ergonomic Keyboard for Programming   
Kinesis Advantage2    

Best Mechanical Keyboard for Programming   
Redragon K552   

Best Compact Keyboard for Programming   
Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad   

A programmer’s fingers are their livelihood, and the keyboard is their primary tool. That makes choosing the right one a serious and important task. A quality keyboard will help you work more productively today and ensure you’ll keep typing efficiently in the long-term. A poor choice will lead to frustration and possibly pain—not to mention long-term physical issues.

You can feel the difference when typing on a premium keyboard. Every keystroke feels confident; you have a strong sense of flow. You type faster. There’s less strain on your fingers, hands, and wrists. You can work long hours without fatigue (though we recommend taking regular breaks).

Should you purchase a high-end ergonomic keyboard? The Kinesis Advantage2, for example, was created by specialists in ergonomic design and uses several design strategies to make a usable, comfortable keyboard. It takes some time to adjust to the different placement of the keys. However, users found after about a week, they were faster on this keyboard than their previous one.

How about a mechanical keyboard? They’re popular among gamers and developers alike. That’s because the old-style switches and wired connection result in confident, responsive key presses. The best ones, though, can be very expensive. The Redragon K552 is a quality option with a price point that’s easier to swallow than most top-tier mechanical keyboards.

Maybe neither of those will work for you, though: not all developers want a keyboard as large as most ergonomic and mechanical models. Some developers might have a smaller desk, or want to carry their keyboard with them when working away from their desk, or just prefer minimalism. The Apple Magic Keyboard 2 fits that bill, especially for Mac users.

In this article, we’ll cover many other highly-rated keyboards to help you find one with the strengths and features that suit your working style and office perfectly.

Quick Navigation

// Why Trust Us?
// Programmers Need a Better Keyboard
// How We Tested
// The Winners
// The Competition

Why Trust Us?


I’m no stranger to keyboards and have used dozens over the years, many on a long-term basis. Some came with a computer purchase; others I chose carefully to improve my productivity and protect my long-term health.

A decade ago, I decided to put some real money towards purchasing a quality ergonomic keyboard. I chose a Logitech Wave KM550 and used it daily for years. I still use it for long writing sessions. My son chose Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard instead, and other programmers I know swear by wired keyboards with mechanical switches.

None of those keyboards are small, though. When space is at a premium, I often use the Apple Magic Keyboard 2 that came with my iMac. It feels great and is about as minimalistic as you can get.

I find there’s always an adjustment period when changing keyboards. A new keyboard may feel strange when you start to use it, but very natural after a few weeks. This can make testing new keyboards difficult. Be aware that the one that feels a little strange in the store may become your favorite if you give it some time.

Programmers Need a Better Keyboard

What types of keyboards best meet the needs of programmers? Why would a programmer consider upgrading to a premium keyboard?

Ergonomic Keyboards Are Healthier and More Efficient

Many keyboards place your hands, wrists, and elbows in an unnatural position. This will likely cause you to type slower and may cause injury in the long-term. Ergonomic keyboards are designed to fit your body, avoiding injury and allowing you to type more efficiently.

They achieve this in several ways:

  • A wave-style keyboard fits the different lengths of your fingers, making the distance they travel more consistent. This results in a wave-shaped profile.
  • A split keyboard is designed to fit the angle of your wrists. The two halves of the keyboard are placed at angles more fitted to your body’s shape, placing less strain on your wrists. On some keyboards, those angles are fixed; on others, they are adjustable.
  • Longer key travel means you need to move your fingers further to complete a key strike. This is better for your health in the long run. Even fingers need more exercise to stay healthy!
  • A padded palm rest allows you to rest your hands.

If you’re looking for an ergonomic keyboard, select one that places your hands in the most neutral position. Also, be aware that ergonomic keyboards may be significantly larger than other modern keyboards.

Mechanical Keyboards are Tactile and Confidence-Inspiring

Many developers decide to use a keyboard with actual mechanical switches rather than a simple plastic membrane. The difference in the way these keyboards feel can’t be overstated.

Here’s a breakdown on mechanical keyboards:

  • They use real mechanical switches (often from the high-quality Cherry MX range), and you can choose from a variety of switches to achieve the feel you prefer. There’s a good summary on The Keyboard Company’s website.
  • They can be quite noisy (that’s part of the appeal). The noise can be controlled to some extent by the switches you choose.
  • They often have wired connections, though some Bluetooth models exist.
  • Like ergonomic keyboards, mechanicals have long key travel.

The article Writer’s Tools and the Forgotten Keyboard lists their benefits:

  • Positive feedback from the keys means you’ll make fewer typos.
  • You’ll find typing more satisfying.
  • The crisp action allows you to type faster.
  • They are robust, so they have a long life.

There is a wide selection of mechanical keyboards available, so try a few in person before making your decision. Not everyone enjoys using them: some don’t appreciate the extra noise, while others feel like typing on them is too much work. There will definitely be an adjustment period before you start to reap the benefits of a mechanical keyboard.

If you’d like to learn more, take a look at the following articles:

Some Developers Take Their Keyboard when Working our of the Office

The most convenient keyboard when you’re out of the office is the one your laptop comes with. But not everyone enjoys the short travel most laptop keyboards have. Some laptops have keys that are smaller than normal, which can be frustrating. Fortunately, some quality keyboards are highly portable. Some can be paired with multiple devices, allowing you to switch between them at the press of a button.

How We Tested

Positive Consumer Ratings

While researching this article, I consulted many reviews and roundups by programmers and industry professionals. I found them on reputable websites, forum threads, Reddit, and elsewhere. I compiled a long initial list of over 50 keyboards to consider.

But not all reviewers have long-term experience with the keyboards they recommend. For that, I turned to consumer reviews, which detail the positive and negative experiences real users have with keyboards they purchased with their own money. Some of these are written (or updated) months after the initial purchase. I limited my attention only to keyboards with a consumer rating of four stars and above.

From there, I chose twelve leading keyboards. I then chose one winner for each category: ergonomic, mechanical, and portable.

I gave special attention to the 4-star products that have been reviewed by hundreds or thousands of users. The fact they are used and reviewed by so many is a show of good faith. The rating is more likely to be reliable than if only a handful of users gave their input.

Here are the keyboards including in our roundup that attracted more than 500 reviews:

  • Logitech K811: 4.0 stars, 1,205 reviews
  • Corsair K95: 4.3 stars, 1,099 reviews
  • Perixx Periboard: 4.3 stars, 992 reviews
  • HyperX Alloy FPS Pro: 4.6 stars, 917 reviews
  • Razer BlackWidow Elite: 4.6 stars, 806 reviews
  • Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad: 4.7 stars, 788 reviews

And those that attracted over 2,000 reviews:

  • Redragon K552: 4.5 stars, 5,199 reviews
  • Omoton Ultra-Slim: 4.3 stars, 4,628 reviews
  • Arteck HB030B: 4.4 stars, 4,309 reviews
  • Microsoft Natural Ergonomic: 4.2 stars, 2,775 reviews
  • Logitech K350: 4.3 stars, 2,693 reviews

Wired vs. Wireless

I love the convenience of a wireless keyboard. They are easier to transport and leave your desk less cluttered. They also require batteries. There’s nothing worse than your keyboard going out while you’re being productive! Fortunately, many wireless keyboards are now rechargeable, and others have incredibly long battery life.

Wired keyboards also have some big advantages. Because they don’t rely on wireless technology, they’ll never lose contact with the computer, response times are faster, and you’ll never get a flat battery!

Wired or wireless? The choice is yours. Here are our wireless recommendations along with their expected battery life:

  • Logitech K350: 3 years (AA batteries)
  • Arteck HB030B: 6 months (backlight off, rechargeable)
  • Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad: 1 month (rechargeable)
  • Omoton Ultra-Slim: 30 days (AAA batteries)
  • Logitech K811: 10 days (backlit, rechargeable)
  • Perixx Periboard (battery life not stated)

And here are the wired models:

  • Kinesis Advantage2
  • Redragon K552
  • Microsoft Natural Ergonomic
  • Razer BlackWidow Elite
  • HyperX Alloy FPS Pro
  • Corsair K95

Size and Weight

Greater comfort can leave less space on your desk. Ergonomic and mechanical keyboards are often quite large and heavy. If you have a small desk or work outside of the office a lot, you may prefer a small, light keyboard.

Here are the weights of our recommended keyboards:

  • Arteck HB030B (compact): 5.9 oz, 168 g
  • Omoton Ultra-Slim (compact): 11.82 oz, 335 g
  • Logitech K811 (compact): 11.9 oz, 338 g
  • Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (compact): 13.76 oz, 390 g
  • HyperX Alloy FPS Pro (mechanical): 1.8 lb, 816 g
  • Redragon K552 (mechanical): 2.16 lb, 980 g
  • Logitech K350 (ergonomic): 2.2 lb, 998 g
  • Microsoft Natural Ergonomic (ergonomic): 2.2 lb, 998 g
  • Perix Periboard (ergonomic): 2.2 lb, 998 g
  • Kinesis Advantage2 (ergonomic): 2.2 lb, 1.0 kg
  • Corsair K95 (mechanical): 2.92 lb, 1.32 kg
  • Razer BlackWidow Elite (mechanical): 3.69 lb, 1.67 kg

Backlit Keys

Many developers prefer backlit keys. They’re useful when pulling an all-nighter or working in dim lighting. The backlighting uses quite a lot of power, so most are wired:

  • Redragon K522 (mechanical, wired)
  • Razer BlackWidow Elite (mechanical, wired)
  • HyperX Alloy FPS Pro (mechanical, wired)
  • Corsair K95 (mechanical, RGB, wired)

However, many wireless keyboards offer backlighting which can be turned off when required to prolong battery life:

  • Arteck HB030B (compact, RGB, wireless)
  • Logitech K811 (compact, wireless)

The models marked RGB allow you to choose the color of the backlight and, in most cases, can be customized to produce dynamic effects.

Additional Keys

Some keyboards are quite compact and offer just the bare essentials. Others offer additional keys for your convenience. These include a numeric keypad, media keys, and programmable keys.

Many developers type a lot of numbers and find numeric keyboards invaluable. Others prefer a more compact keyboard without them. Keyboards without a numeric keypad are commonly referred to as “tenkeyless” or “TKL”, especially in the mechanical keyboard community.

Here are our recommendations that offer a numeric keypad (best if you type a lot of numbers):

  • Logitech K350
  • Redragon K552
  • Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
  • Microsoft Natural Ergonomic
  • Perixx Periboard
  • Razer BlackWidow Elite
  • Corsair K95

Here are our recommended keyboards with no numeric keypad (best if you want a compact keyboard):

  • Apple Magic Keyboard 2 (the standard model)
  • Kinesis Freestyle2
  • HyperX Alloy FPS Pro
  • Arteck HB030B
  • Omoton Ultra-Slim
  • Logitech K811

If you listen to a lot of music, you may value dedicated media controls. Many devs love to program the customizable keys offered on some keyboards.

The Winners

1. Best Ergonomic Keyboard for Programming: Kinesis Advantage2


The Kinesis Advantage2 has almost everything a programmer needs. It’s fully programmable, and the SmartSet Programming Engine allows you to customize the keyboard’s layout. It’s designed by specialists in ergonomics and features low-force Cherry MX Brown tactile mechanical key switches.

However, it’s fairly heavy, not wireless, and not cheap. Some devs may prefer the company’s Freestyle2 keyboard, which is more compact and connects via Bluetooth.

Get It On Amazon

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.4 stars, 154 reviews
  • Type: Ergonomic, Mechanical
  • Backlit: No
  • Wireless: No (USB)
  • Battery life: n/a
  • Rechargeable: n/a
  • Numeric keypad: No
  • Media keys: No
  • Weight: 2.2 lb, 1.0 kg

The Advantage2’s combination of ergonomic design and mechanical switches is quite rare. When it comes to ergonomics, Kinesis used just about every trick in the book:

  • A concave profile reduces hand and finger extension and relaxes muscles.
  • Splitting the keyboard at shoulder width keeps your wrists at a natural angle to reduce nerve strain.
  • The keys are arranged in vertical columns to reflect the natural motion of your fingers.
  • The keyboard is “tented” at 20 degrees (sloping down from the center towards the left and right) to place your wrists in a natural “handshake” posture.
  • A palm rest supports your wrists.
  • Frequently-used keys such as Enter, Space, Backspace, and Delete are clustered near your thumbs for easy access.

The keyboard looks big, but with the removal of the numeric keyboard and other extra keys, it’s actually about the same size as many other ergonomic and mechanical keyboards.

How effective is the design? One C# programmer loves the look of the Advantage2 and finds the keys responsive. But he found the first few days very difficult. After a week, he fully adjusted and now types faster than on his previous keyboard.

A 46-year-old user discovered the value of ergonomics in his thirties. When using a normal chair, keyboard, and mouse, there was a point he couldn’t work for more than 10 minutes without blinding head pain. He found using the Advantage2 resolved strain on his neck, back, shoulders, fingers, and chest. He can now type for 8-10 hours a day, six days a week, without pain.

Another review was left by someone who has been using Kinesis keyboards for a decade. He purchased his third keyboard after getting 20,000 hours each out of the first two. This upgrade was due to his cat knocking a cup of coffee onto the keyboard. Despite those hours (and the coffee), all three keyboards are still usable. That’s durability!

Alternatives:

  • Kinesis also offers a more compact ergonomic keyboard, the Kinesis Freestyle2 (for Mac or PC). It’s Bluetooth, and the design allows you to adjust the angle of each keyboard half independently.
  • If you prefer something ergonomic but don’t want to go with a split keyboard, the Logitech Wireless Wave K350 (below) is an excellent choice. I use one at my desk.
  • Other ergonomic keyboards with a split layout include the Microsoft and Perixx alternatives below.

2. Best Mechanical Keyboard for Programming: Redragon K552


Choosing a mechanical keyboard is like joining a club of connoisseurs. These experts have acquired a taste for tactile typing, know the properties of every Cherry MX switch, and are willing to pay a premium for the perfect typing experience. The Redragon K552 is the cheapest and easiest way to join the club, so you can see what all the hype is about. It’s a popular keyboard, having been reviewed by more users than any other in this roundup, yet holding on to an exceptional Amazon rating of 4.5 stars.

Get It On Amazon

At a glance:

Current rating: 4.5 stars, 5,199 reviews

  • Type: Mechanical
  • Backlit: Yes
  • Wireless: No
  • Battery life: n/a
  • Rechargeable: n/a
  • Numeric keypad: Yes
  • Media keys: Yes (on function keys)
  • Weight: 2.16 lb, 980 g

Redragon made some design decisions that allow them to price this keyboard lower than the competition. First, they use a red backlight rather than a customizable RGB one (well, that is an option if you’re willing to spend more). Second, they use third-party switches from Outemu rather than the premium Cherry brand. According to Technobezz, these feel almost the same but have a shorter life span.

The affordable price makes experimenting with a mechanical keyboard more palatable. If you find you’re more comfortable and productive, you keep it and customize it. Like other mechanical keyboards, the keycaps can be switched out (to the Cherry brand if you like), giving the keyboard a different aesthetic, sound, and feel.

The K552 is quite durable: the keys are tested to 50 million keystrokes. A member of the Writing Forums says it’s “built like a beast” and, in his experience, it survived punishment that would have destroyed a normal keyboard. He also commented he finds the backlit keys very helpful after dark.

It’s also a reasonably compact keyboard. It helps that the Redragon is tenkeyless—it lacks a numeric keypad. It’s splash-proof and should survive most spills.

How does it feel? “Pillows on your fingers”, answers one user who also enjoys the satisfying sound as they type. While it’s not particularly heavy, users report that it has a satisfying weight that speaks of quality. It’s an affordable mechanical keyboard with all the hallmarks of a premium one.

Alternatives:

  • Razer (the gaming company) has a range of fairly expensive mechanical keyboards that use the company’s switches (see below).
  • Corsair keyboards use Cherry switches. They, too, are expensive. We cover a range of them below.
  • HyperX keyboards are priced in-between. They offer excellent value, especially as they feature real Cherry MX switches.

3. Best Compact Keyboard for Programming: Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad


The Apple Magic Keyboard 2 is included with every iMac and makes an excellent compact keyboard. Its minimalist design makes it easy to transport, and it adds very little clutter to your desk. However, many developers would be happy to sacrifice a little portability for a model with a numeric keypad. Though it works with Windows, PC users may consider an alternative. We’ll include some options below.

Get It On Amazon

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.7 stars, 788 reviews
  • Type: Compact
  • Backlit: No
  • Wireless: Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 1 month
  • Rechargeable: Yes (Lightning)
  • Numeric keypad: Optional
  • Media keys: Yes (on function keys)
  • Weight: 13.76 oz, 390 g

It’s our highest-rated keyboard, and for good reason—if you use a Mac. It’s very compact, looks amazing, and is surprisingly comfortable. I use one myself. Its rechargeable battery lasts around a month, and you can recharge it as you work.

It’s a good choice if you don’t want a keyboard that takes up half your desk, or you like to carry it with you. Some laptop keyboards have short travel and small keys, making the Magic keyboard much more suitable for long coding sessions.

User reviews are overwhelmingly positive. The build quality and long battery life are appreciated. Some find the Magic Keyboard 2’s low profile easier on their wrists. But it’s not for everyone. If you have enough space on your desk, you may find an ergonomic or mechanical keyboard to be faster and kinder to your fingers in the long-term.

Alternatives:

  • A model without a numeric keypad is available.
  • The Omotion Ultraslim (below) looks very similar, is significantly cheaper, and can pair with multiple devices.
  • The more expensive Logitech K811 Easy-Switch (below) has backlit keys, and also pairs with multiple devices.
  • The Arteck HB030B is an affordable, compact keyboard with backlighting.

Below are some other options worth considering.

The Competition

1. Alternative Ergonomic Keyboards for Programming

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000

The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 is a wired keyboard with almost every feature available in a keyboard except a backlight. It has a numeric keypad, dedicated media keys, and a standard cursor key layout. In terms of ergonomics, it offers a split keyboard, keys at different heights to match the differing lengths of your fingers, and a comfortable wrist rest.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.2 stars, 2,775 reviews
  • Type: Ergonomic
  • Backlit: No
  • Wireless: No
  • Battery life: n/a
  • Rechargeable: n/a
  • Numeric keypad: Yes
  • Media keys: Yes
  • Weight: 2.2 lb, 998 g

I already mentioned the numeric keypad and media buttons. Here are some other additions you may find helpful:

  • a zoom slider strategically placed between the two halves of the keyboard
  • back and forward buttons on the palm rest to simplify web browsing
  • a bank of programmable buttons
  • buttons for specific apps, like your calculator, internet, and email

Consumer reviews are very positive, especially from those who type all day, every day. New users usually adjust within a few weeks. Consumer reviews are very positive, though some find it too loud and too large. If you’re serious about your long-term productivity, this is one to consider.

Microsoft offers two other wireless ergonomic keyboards:

Perixx Periboard-612

The best inexpensive alternative to Microsoft’s ergonomic models is the Perixx Periboard-612. It offers a split keyboard with a numeric keypad and dedicated media keys, and a palm rest to reduce strain on your wrists. It’s available in black or white.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.3 stars, 992 reviews
  • Type: Ergonomic
  • Backlit: No
  • Wireless: Bluetooth or dongle
  • Battery life: not specified
  • Rechargeable: No (2xAA batteries, not included)
  • Numeric keypad: Yes
  • Media keys: Yes (7 dedicated keys)
  • Weight: 2.2 lb, 998 g

The Periboard’s split keyboard design allows you to type with a natural hand position, reducing the risk of RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome. The palm rest relieves forearm tension and nerve pressure, while a lower-than-normal activation force is required to depress the long-action keys.

Several carpal tunnel sufferers reported they found significant relief by switching to this keyboard. The keys are quieter than the Microsoft’s. However, the cursor keys are in a non-standard arrangement, causing frustration to some users.

Logitech Wireless Wave K350

If you want an ergonomic keyboard without a split design, this is it. The Logitech K350 opts for a wave-shaped profile, and its keys have a satisfying, tactile feel. You’ll find a numeric keypad, dedicated media buttons, and a cushioned palm rest.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.3 stars, 2,693 reviews
  • Type: Ergonomic
  • Backlit: No
  • Wireless: Dongle required
  • Battery life: 3 years
  • Rechargeable: No (2xAA batteries included)
  • Numeric keypad: Yes
  • Media keys: Yes (dedicated)
  • Weight: 2.2 lb, 998 g

This keyboard isn’t new—I’ve had mine for a decade—but it has a proven design that continues to be popular. Because it doesn’t have a split keyboard, it takes less time to adjust to. It’s also available in the Logitech MK550 keyboard-mouse combo.

Logitech’s ergonomic design has the keys following a slight curve to place your wrists at an angle. The height of each key is also different, following a wave-shaped contour designed to match the different lengths of your fingers.

The keyboard’s legs offer three height options. You’re likely to find one angle more comfortable than the others. A cushioned palm rest lowers wrist fatigue and gives you somewhere to rest your hands.

Battery life is very impressive. The K350 is powered by two AA batteries, which last for an estimated three years. That’s not an exaggeration—I’ve owned this keyboard for ten years and only remember changing the batteries twice. User reviews indicated that the original batteries are often still working after years of use. There is a low battery light to indicate when it’s time to change them.

The keyboard offers plenty of additional keys:

  • A numeric keypad for easy access to numbers
  • Seven dedicated media keys to control your music
  • 18 programmable keys for power users

Here is some user feedback about the keyboard’s durability, efficiency, and ergonomics:

  • The wave-shaped contour noticeably relieved Bill’s pain levels after switching from one of Microsoft’s ergonomic keyboards. Others also found the keyboard comfortable but preferred Microsoft’s. One keyboard doesn’t fit all.
  • Bill found his speed increased 10% when he switched to the K350.
  • Crystal is thrilled with the keyboard’s durability. Hers has lasted six years so far, which convinced many of her fellow workers to purchase one as well.

2. Alternative Mechanical Keyboards for Programming

Razer BlackWidow Elite

Razer is a gaming company, and a keyboard that works well for gamers is highly suitable for coders as well. The BlackWidow Elite has a durable, military-grade construction that supports up to 80 million clicks. The magnetic wrist rest will maximize your comfort. It comes with an incredibly high consumer rating, and also a premium price.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.6 stars, 806 reviews
  • Type: Mechanical
  • Backlit: Yes
  • Wireless: No
  • Battery life: n/a
  • Rechargeable: n/a
  • Numeric keypad: Yes
  • Media keys: Yes (dedicated)
  • Weight: 3.69 lb, 1.67 kg

It’s a highly customizable keyboard. You choose the type of switches you prefer:

  • Razer Green (tactile and clicks)
  • Razer Orange (tactile and silent)
  • Razer Yellow (linear and silent)

The RGB backlighting can be tweaked, and you can configure the keyboard and create macros using the Razer Synapse app.

Razer makes excellent keyboards, and one user describes the BlackWidow Elite as “by far the best keyboard I have ever owned.” The company makes several other mechanical keyboards, including:

HyperX Alloy FPS Pro

Another very highly-rated keyboard, the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro, is more compact, omitting the numeric keypad and wrist rest. Quality Cherry MX mechanical switches are used, and you can choose between the red (effortless and fast) and blue (tactile and clicky) varieties.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.6 stars, 917 reviews
  • Type: Mechanical
  • Backlit: Yes
  • Wireless: No
  • Battery life: n/a
  • Rechargeable: n/a
  • Numeric keypad: No
  • Media keys: Yes (on function keys)
  • Weight: 1.8 lb, 816 g

HyperX is the gaming division of Kingston, the manufacturers of popular computer peripherals. The FPS Pro has a tough, solid steel frame, and the compact design and detachable cable make it more portable than other mechanical keyboards.

The standard version comes with a red backlight, but if you like to create custom lighting effects, you can upgrade to the RGB model. The FPS Pro is just one of several HyperX Alloy keyboards. Each one has a different sound and feel, so if you can, test them before making a decision.

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

The Corsair K95 is built like a tank and comes with all the trimmings—with a price to match. It has an aircraft-grade aluminum frame a with brushed finish, genuine Cherry MX switches, a numeric keypad, dedicated media controls, six programmable keys, a comfortable wrist rest, a customizable RGB backlight, and even a small speaker.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.3 stars, 1,099 reviews
  • Type: Mechanical
  • Backlit: Yes (RGB)
  • Wireless: No
  • Battery life: n/a
  • Rechargeable: n/a
  • Numeric keypad: Yes
  • Media keys: Yes (dedicated)
  • Weight: 2.92 lb, 1.32 kg

It’s a highly-configurable keyboard, and your profiles are stored where they make the most sense: on the K95’s own 8 MB of storage. That means you can switch computers without losing your custom settings, and that you don’t have to rely on proprietary software or drivers being installed on the computer.

One user gave it five stars and describes its build quality like this: “The metal casing on the keyboard looks and feels incredibly durable. The buttons, volume roller, and other non-key hardware all feel very solid.”

Corsair offers more highly-rated mechanical keyboards, including:

Alternative Mechanical Keyboards

There are more quality mechanical keyboards than I can cover in detail in this review. Here are some others you might consider:

  • Filco Majestouch-2 (wired, no number pad, no backlight)
  • Das Keyboard 4 and Model S (both wired, with a number pad and no backlight)
  • Code V3 104-Key (wired, number pad, white backlight)
  • Logitech G Pro (wired, no number pad, RGB), G710 (wired, number pad, no backlight), G910 (wired, number pad, no backlight)
  • HAVIT Mechanical Keyboard (wired, number pad, RGB)
  • Unicomp Ultra Classic Model M 104 (wired, number pad, no backlight)

3. Alternative Compact Keyboards for Programming

Arteck HB030B

The Arteck HB030B is very compact. By far, this is the lightest keyboard in our roundup. To achieve this, the Arteck utilizes smaller keys than normal, which won’t suit all users. If you’re looking for an inexpensive keyboard to take with you, this is it. The HB030B offers adjustable color backlighting as well.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.4 stars, 4,309 reviews
  • Type: Compact
  • Backlit: Yes (RGB)
  • Wireless: Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 6 months (with backlight off)
  • Rechargeable: Yes (USB)
  • Numeric keypad: No
  • Media keys: Yes (on function keys)
  • Weight: 5.9 oz, 168 g

This keyboard is not just portable, it’s durable as well. The back shell is composed of a strong zinc alloy. The alloy allows the Arteck HB030B to be built with a thickness of only 0.24 inches (6.1 mm).

The backlight can be switched between seven colors: deep blue, soft blue, bright green, soft green, red, purple, and cyan. It is turned off by default to save on battery life—you’ll have to turn it on manually each time.

Omoton Ultra-Slim

The Omoton Ultra-Slim is a Magic Keyboard look-alike with Mac layout—but it costs only a small fraction of the original and is available in black, white, and rose gold. It’s the second-lightest keyboard in our roundup. Unlike the Arteck HB030B above, it isn’t backlit, isn’t rechargeable, and is thicker at one end.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.3 stars, 4,628 reviews
  • Type: Compact
  • Backlit: No
  • Wireless: Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 30 days
  • Rechargeable: No (2xAAA batteries, not included)
  • Numeric keypad: No
  • Media keys: Yes (on function keys)
  • Weight: 11.82 oz, 335 g (official website, Amazon claims 5.6 oz)

The keyboard seems durable, though it’s not made of zinc as the Arteck is. Jan updated her review after using the Omoton for more than a year, reporting that the keyboard was still working and the original batteries were still installed.

This ultra-slim keyboard hits the sweet spot of looks, price, and functionality. Unfortunately, you can’t pair it with multiple devices at the same time (say, your computer and tablet) as the Logitech K811 (below) can.

Logitech K810 and K811 Easy-Switch

The Logitech K811 and K810 Easy-Switch is Logitech’s premium compact keyboard (the K810 for PCs, while the K811 is for Macs). It has a sturdy brushed-aluminum finish and backlit keys. What makes it especially handy as a portable keyboard is that you can pair it with three devices and switch between them at the press of a button.

At a glance:

  • Current rating: 4.0 stars, 1,205 reviews
  • Type: Compact
  • Backlit: Yes, with hand proximity
  • Wireless: Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 10 days
  • Rechargeable: Yes (micro-USB)
  • Numeric keypad: No
  • Media keys: Yes (on function keys)
  • Weight: 11.9 oz, 338 g

There is some smart technology built into this keyboard. It can sense when your hands approach the keys and wake up automatically. The backlight also turns on automatically, and its brightness will change to match the ambient light in the room.

But the backlight will quickly chew through the battery. Logitech is quite honest about this when estimating battery life. Ten days is quite usable, and you can turn off the backlight to extend it further. You can continue to use the keyboard as it charges. The backlit Arteck HB030B (above) claims six months’ battery life, but that’s with the light off.

Logitech has discontinued this keyboard, but it’s still readily available. It remains popular due to its quality build and unique features. Logitech’s newer compact keyboards are more affordable, but not true replacements:

  • The Logitech K780 is a more affordable multi-device keyboard that includes a tablet tray and numeric keypad,
  • The Logitech K230 is so new it only has one rating on Amazon so far (a low one). That user’s concern is that the backslash is in a non-standard location, making it easy to press instead of the Shift key, resulting in frequent typos.

Alternative Compact Keyboards

Here’s another compact keyboard that programmers can consider: