If you’re at all interested in computer accessories, you’ve no doubt noticed the trend towards mechanical keyboards. Their satisfying click-clack and deep customization options are appealing to a huge range of people. But that range doesn’t include everyone…and if you aren’t a fan of mechanical boards, you’re probably feeling a little left out.
Well fear not, non-mechanical connoisseur. There are still plenty of keyboards on the market using conventional rubber dome and scissor-switch construction, if you like that sort of thing. Here are the best ones available.
Logitech generally gets top billing among the major keyboard makers, but I prefer Microsoft’s firmer keyboards for their longer travel and conventional layouts. The Sculpt Comfort Desktop ($80) is my pick for the best all-around design, combining a sleek look with a slight rise and curve for a natural typing position. The “wave” shape isn’t quite so dramatic as the newer Surface Ergonomic Keyboard ($109), so it’s easier to adjust to if you’re coming from a standard layout. I also like the flexibility: the keyboard is a full-sized model with 10-key number pad, but the faux leather palm rest is removable if you need more space on your desktop. The wireless keyboard also comes with a mouse in the package, but it’s not worth much—I’d recommend replacing it with a more sturdy alternative. Though the retail price is $80, you can often find it much cheaper if you’re patient.
If you want an alternative to your laptop’s not-so-great keyboard deck, or something to bang out emails on your tablet, the Logitech K810 ($70) is hard to beat. It comes with a full standard key area (60%) with a combined function and command row, on a sleek, super-thin build that should be able to slip into any laptop bag. The Logitech multi-device setup can shift it from desktops to laptops to phones with ease, so long as everything you’re using has a Bluetooth connection. And for those times when you’re working in the dark, it even comes with backlit keys for comfy viewing. A rechargeable battery should see you through weeks of use, and you’ll never want for a pair of AAAs. The K810 is designed primarily for Windows, but will work with macOS too. If you’re looking specifically for Mac keys, try the nearly-identical K811 ($94).
ThinkPad brand laptops have long been revered for their superior keyboards, but the models themselves haven’t been up to their old standard for several years. If you want the great typing feel of the scissor-switch keys without the somewhat questionable PCs that come with them, Lenovo is more than happy to oblige. The ThinkPad Compact Keyboard ($70) is basically a copy of the iconic ThinkPad keyboard design—and yes, it does come with the red trackpoint and mouse buttons, standard. The design uses island-style keys that aren’t as universally praised as the older design, but the classic scissor switches are still underneath. The ThinkPad Compact Keyboard comes in a standard USB model for about $70, or a wireless Bluetooth option that’s a little more pricey ($80).
Anker is a budget brand that’s made a name for itself in the realm of mobile batteries and cheap cables, and they’re extending into the PC accessory market. The Universal Bluetooth Keyboard ($24) is a fairly obvious copy of the Logitech K810 above, but it won’t break the bank. You give up the illuminated keys, but keep the rechargeable battery and 60% layout with full function row. It should work with PCs, Macs, and mobile devices of all kinds, but be aware that it doesn’t have the quick-swap functionality, so you’ll have to manually pair it with new devices via Bluetooth. And if black doesn’t match your desktop’s color scheme, there’s a white option too.
There aren’t many non-mechanical keyboard designs left among the big gaming brands, but Cooler Master knows there are a few gamers who still prefer the softer touch of a membrane. It’s delivered just that with the oddly-named “mem-chanical” switches in the Masterkeys Lite L ($57). Though the board has the big, blocky keys of a mechanical design and an interesting slide mechanic in the switches, the activation point still goes through a plastic dome before firing (and incidentally, it’s much quieter than a mechanical board, too). This gives the keys a long travel but a soft feel. Other standard gaming features, like a robust programming suite, RGB lighting, and full-sized layout, are present and accounted for. The design is also surprisingly affordable at under $60.
By the way, if you’re looking for something that has the satisfying “click” of mechanical keys but the soft feel of a membrane build, you might also want to check out the Razer Ornata. It has a similar design but an extra click mechanism for $80.
The Surface Keyboard ($100) is branded for Microsoft’s machines, but it will work with anything that has a Bluetooth connection. And boy, is it a looker. The steel-grey color scheme will put any Apple model to shame, and while the layout may be the opposite of ergonomic, it gives a clean and organized aesthetic to any desk. You’ll pay for those looks, of course: the standard Surface Keyboard is a hefty $100 (a bit less on Amazon), and for $30 more the Modern Keyboard has an identical design with an added fingerprint sensor. If you’d like a similar but more compact option, the all-black Designer Bluetooth Desktop squeezes the arrow pad and 10-key number pad into a shared space (and also includes a rather uncomfortable mouse) for $100, or $80 street price.