I'm looking for a new or better keyboard!
You've come to the right place. This guide will explain the current available types of keyboards and help you choose the best type for said types for each price point. Gaming and typing are both already assumed, and all keyboards listed will be nice for both purposes.
What are the options?
You've got two different kinds of keyboards today that are common. First, you have rubber dome keyboards. These are the most common, cheap to produce, and easy to find. Second, you have mechanical. Mechanical keyboards, unlike rubber dome keyboards, have a separate authentic physical switch under each key. In contrast, rubber dome keyboards have a single layer of rubber under the keys with squishy divots stamped into them.
Rubber dome is the lowest of the low. That doesn't mean it's bad, it just means pretty much everything else is better. Since the better alternatives start at around $50-$75, it's best to keep with rubber dome keyboards only if you're spending less than $30.
Here's a table of recommended rubber dome keyboards.
|Microsoft Keyboard 200||$8||PCPartPicker|
|Microsoft Sidewinder X4||$49||PCPartPicker|
Mechanical keyboards have been around for a very long time, but they've probably never been as popular as they are today. It all started with the IBM Model M: the father of modern mechanical keyboards. The Model M reigns popular with keyboarding enthusiasts, even today (this guide was written using one). Luckily, you don't have to hunt down a vintage one that's still in good shape, because Unicomp bought the patent from IBM and still manufactures them over 30 years later. Enough with the Model M though, let's take a look at the more common options: keyboards that use Cherry switches. Less common switches include Buckling Spring(IBM Model M) White Alps and Topre.
Cherry switches come in several "flavors". MX Blue, MX Brown, MX Black, and MX Red are the four most common. They're just color codes that describe how the keyboard buttons feel. Below is a table that takes a basic look at all four.
|Switch Type||Availability||Audible Click||Physical Click||Force Requirement|
More information on Cherry switch color types.
Here's a table of recommended mechanical keyboards, a few of each.
Other feature considerations
There's a lot more to a keyboard than just its switch type. Some are back-lit, meaning they have LEDs under the keycaps next to the switch. Almost all keyboards with this feature let you adjust them. Some keyboards have alternative font selections. Some have alternative key layouts (make sure your candidates have layouts you're comfortable with, SteelSeries likes to screw with the left Windows key).