There was a time owning a mechanical keyboard was seen more as a luxury for people with deep pockets. Thankfully, these keyboards have seen a lot of success, and that means more manufacturers are willing to mass-produce them. All of that translates to a drop in price for the average decent mechanical keyboard.
If you’ve never had one before, the difference is night and day compared to a membrane keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are definitely worth the cost. While a lot of them are marketed as gaming keyboards, a large number of them are also superior for typing.
But, with so many brands, key switches, and even knock-offs out there, it’s a bit hard to find the right one for you. Especially when on a budget. A good mechanical keyboard should offer good value, but with decent build quality and feel.
We’ve done the research for you, and here our favorite mechanical keyboards on a budget. To keep things simple we won’t go over $100.
1. SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Keyboard
- Fast for a clicky switch
- Great design and construction
- Rock solid volume roller
- Well rounded for the price
- Included wrist rest isn't very helpful
Switches: Hybrid Blue | Backlight: RGB | Dedicated Macro Keys: No | Media Control buttons: Yes
A lot of the times Hybrid or “Mecha-membrane” keyboards don’t live up to their claims. This is mainly because they are just membrane keyboards for the most part, but the SteelSeries Apex 5 is very different. Don’t let that hybrid part of the name full you, this is an excellent keyboard through and through.
Like I said before, SteelSeries could have just called this a mechanical keyboard and no one would have noticed. It does have a rubber membrane, and your keystrokes are registered when the membrane button is pressed. However, on top of that membrane is a hybrid mechanical blue switch, which is spring-loaded.
This makes the keyboard feel snappy and quick, yet incredibly tactile. The Blue switch is clicky and has a satisfying sound accompanying it. As for construction, they decided to use an aluminum alloy for the main body. This gives the Apex 5 that rigid solid feel to it.
However, it can feel a bit hard to the touch, so SteelSeries included a wrist rest to alleviate that pain. But it’s not doing much to provide support. We also have a button near the top right which acts as a play/pause and general media control button. Above that, we have an excellent machine metal volume roller. This makes it feel like a very well polished keyboard.
Overall, this is the best keyboard you can get under $100, and while there are a lot of fully mechanical keyboards out there for less, none of them are this well rounded.
For the longest time, most mechanical keyboards looked the same. Long black slabs of plastic with some poor quality keycaps on top. Most of these also have a thick braided wire, which is a nightmare to manage on the desk. That is exactly why the Velocifire TKL02WS is a breath of fresh air.
The TKL02WS is an 87 key keyboard. As the name itself implies, this is a TKL or tenkeyless keyboard. That makes it more compact than your average full-sized board. It barely takes up any space on your desk, and if you’re switching over from a large keyboard, the difference is noticeable. To top it all off, it’s completely wireless.
This is one of the very TKL wireless mechanical keyboards out there in this price range. It’s also the best TKL keyboard at this price. It’s using a compact plastic frame all around, but that doesn’t make it feel cheap. In fact, that contributes to the comfort a lot, as the keys feel soft to type on.
Velocifire is using Content Brown switches on this board, which are the Chinese version of the Cherry MX Brown switch. They feel spongier and a bit more linear, but they are still incredibly fast to type on. The backlight is white and shines quite brightly, with no flashy RGB here.
This keyboard is all business, yet it’s a very fun typing experience. The only downside is that there is no indication for when the battery runs out. For further details, check out the full review of the TKL02WS here.
3. Redragon Kumara K552 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Dirt Cheap Option
- Great build quality
- Compact size
- Linear and smooth switches
- Thin keycaps make it uncomfortable
- Lighting profile resets after reboot
Switches: Linear Reds | Backlight: RGB | Dedicated Macro Keys: No | Media Control buttons: No
The Redragon Kumara K552 is one of the cheapest keyboards available on the market today. Redragon makes a lot of budget-oriented keyboards, but the K552 is the best option if you want to ultra-cheap. While you do make a lot of sacrifices, in day to day use you barely feel you’re using a budget keyboard.
That is mostly thanks to the great build quality and solid feeling construction on this board. High-quality metal-abs construction and the keys mounted on the solid plate both feel amazing. It’s surprising how robust this cheap keyboard actually is.
This is another tenkeyless compact keyboard with 87 keys. For the most part, the layout is easy to get used to. The arrow keys and the navigation keys are in their usual spot. The space bar is well sized and reasonably clicky. Redragon is using red linear switches, but they haven’t mentioned what brand they are. However, they are definitely not Cherry MX.
For the price, we can’t complain too much about that. But the keycaps have a thin plastic, which makes it uncomfortable to use after several hours. The bigger annoyance is the fact your lighting profile doesn’t stay saved after you turn off the computer. Apart from that, its a solid entry-level keyboard.
We’ve covered two compact keyboard options, so let’s take a step back and have a look at a full-sized keyboard once more. While the Havit HV-KB395L is a full-sized keyboard, it’s actually still a compact option. That’s because it is using low profile keycaps, which makes it one of the most unique budget keyboards.
At first glance, the price for this keyboard seems a bit high, especially since it’s not one of the household names. Still, low profile keyboards tend to carry a premium. The keyboard is about 2.5cm tall, and that’s with the keycaps. That is impressively compact for a full-size mechanical keyboard.
There isn’t any keycap wobble and it’s actually surprisingly rigid, probably due to the aluminum backplate. This board uses Kailh Low-Profile Blue switches. These are similar to many Blue switches out there, but they’re even more low-profile and require a lower actuation force. However, travel is also quite short comparatively, and that won’t be for everyone.
For a low-profile keyboard, it also gets quite loud due to the Blue switches. If you were looking for a stealthy keyboard, that kind of ruins it. Although you can get the Kailh Red switch version. The USB port is in the middle, which makes it difficult to manage the cable.
The Corsair K63 Wireless is a great wireless mechanical keyboard from a brand that you can actually trust. It’s still a little steep at under $100, especially since the wired variant of this doesn’t cost as much. Still, if you don’t want to shell out a fortune for a decent wireless experience, this is a good alternative.
This is a TKL keyboard that uses a USB 2.4GHZ wireless receiver to connect with your PC. It also works with Bluetooth, which is a nice bonus. The K63 is using Cherry MX Linear Red switches so you if you’re really a fan of that Cherry MX feel, these won’t disappoint. Overall, they’re great for both gaming and typing. Plus, they’ll feel familiar to many people.
Of course, the K63 wireless includes dedicated media keys and blue backlighting. There is a major downside to this keyboard, however. It feels incredibly cheap and poorly made.
The ABS keycaps are not the most comfortable and they feel fragile even. The poor battery life is also disappointing. Still, if you absolutely must have a Corsair keyboard and want to wireless, it’s decent if you can face the drawbacks.