5 best mechanical keyboards for programming


Finding the best keyboard for programming is a bigger deal than you might have initially thought. If you are a programmer, your keyboard is a tool at your disposal. Just as a carpenter needs good saws, a mechanic needs good wrenches, a programmer needs a good keyboard. Without one, you are handicapping yourself somewhat.

A good keyboard won’t make you a good programmer, but it will help. A bad keyboard can limit your speed, efficiency, and comfort. Ultimately resulting in a subpar product. Programming may not be quite as typing intensive as writing standard English, but its pretty darn close.

If you are going to be typing thousands of words a day, tens of thousands of keystrokes, you are going to start to notice the pain in your wrists if your keyboard isn’t up to scratch. This article will cover the basics of mechanical keyboards and how they affect programming, as well as reviewing what I believe to be the 5 best mechanical keyboards for programming that you can buy.

5 best mechanical keyboards for programming
5 best mechanical keyboards for programming

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What is a mechanical keyboard?

A mechanical keyboard is called as such because it has mechanical switches to register keystrokes rather than pressure plates or touchpads. A mechanical keyboard has spring-loaded switches and separate keycaps that allow it to have a somewhat customizable key setup.

If you are directly comparing a mechanical keyboard to, say, a membrane one you might also notice that a mechanical keyboard is far more tactile. It gives a decent amount of audio feedback (“click”-“clack”), as well as gives you the feeling of pressing the key down fully. A mechanical keyboard also typically has quite a low point of actuation. This is the point that a key registers as being pressed.

With keyboards such as the one found on your laptop, the key registers as being pressed almost immediately. On a mechanical keyboard, there is a short gap where the key is pressed but hasn’t yet been registered. Some people like this, some don’t. When it comes to programming, they often don’t. Which is arguably the biggest constraint with a mechanical keyboard.

What makes a good mechanical keyboard?

A good mechanical keyboard hits all of the above-mentioned criteria. Of course. Additionally, a good mechanical keyboard will feel responsive to the user’s touch. This is a combination of having a comfortable point of actuation and a reasonable amount of sound.

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Mechanical keyboards will vary in volume depending on a few criteria. How old the switches and springs are, as well as how clean they are. Additionally, you can change up which switches you use. Most people would agree that using Cherry-MX Silent switches are the best way of reducing the overbearing “click-clack” of your keyboard. Furthermore, you could also use rubber O rings to help dampen the sound of each keystroke. If the noise bugs you that much, you could use both.

A good mechanical keyboard will also be as ergonomic as possible. Ergonomics plays a big part in typing, so ensuring you get a keyboard that fits your hands and is comfortable to use will benefit in almost every other area of your job. At least the keyboard-related sections of it.

Many people also like to have some kind of backlight for their mechanical keyboard. There is a reason that all gaming keyboards seem to come with an RGB backlight. And it isn’t just because it looks cool. The backlight makes seeing each key easier, it helps with speed typing and accuracy too. The benefit is at its most during low lighting or night. But helps just as much in the day, in the office. You just might want to make sure the backlight is white in the office, not strobe rainbow.

Why are mechanical keyboards good for programming?

Most programmers like mechanical keyboards for their comfort and ease of use. Typing on membrane keyboards can be quite uncomfortable, they are also generally very flat which can make them painful for use after prolonged periods.

Imagine how much more comfortable your desktop keyboard is from your laptop one. Mechanical keyboards also give far more tactile feedback. This feedback makes typing more comfortable and even speeds you up. People rely on feedback to asses how they are progressing through a word, or between new ones.

If you are touch typing you can listen to that slightly louder “thump” when you hit the space bar. You hear it and know its time to move on to the next word. This is part of the reason that Apple changed their keyboards to create artificial tactile feedback when typing.

The 5 best mechanical keyboards for programming:

Price comparison chart for all 5 keyboards:

KeyboardPrice Comparison
Razer Blackwidow$$$
Logitech G915$$$$$
Red-Dragon K552 RGB$
Razer Huntsman Elite$$$$
Ducky One 2 RGB TKL$$

Per Amazon rules, I can’t disclose exact prices. This is a visual representation of the price compared to each other. The more “$” means a higher price comparatively.

So, we know why we want a mechanical keyboard for programming. And we know a little bit about how they work. So what comes next? Picking the right keyboard for you!

Now, there are endless mechanical keyboards out there. Dozens could have made this list, but I can only pick 5. These 5 keyboards are all great. If you choose any of them, they would be great for programming. And regular typing or gaming, should you choose to do that too.

These keyboards are in no particular order, each has its pros and cons, they all do different things well. For example, the Red-Dragon is typically a small gaming keyboard but I think it makes a great programming keyboard too.

Which keyboard is best for you is something only you will know, if none on this list appeals to you hopefully you will at least be able to narrow down what it is you ARE looking for. Here are the 5 best mechanical keyboards for programming.

Razer BlackWidow

The Razer BlackWidow might look like a gaming keyboard. If you see the name Razer, that might even confirm that forethought. And I suppose it is. However, it also makes an exceptional keyboard for programming.

The BlackWidow is a full-sized RGB backlit mechanical keyboard. It is wired, with an extra-strong USB cable. It is pretty darn resilient, making it a great keyboard to bring back and forth between the office and home. Or, leave in either or.

The BlackWidow does everything you could want a mechanical keyboard to do. It has a professional look, with matte black keys and frames. It is easy enough to pass off this keyboard as a purely office one. So long as you avoid lighting up those rainbow backlights.

The switches are pretty good since its Razer, they are using their switches. They can be a little loud, but not too loud that it breaks your focus.

Features

The Razer BlackWidow does everything well, it doesn’t have any flashy features (well it has a few). Mostly, it focuses on looking sleek and smart. Its matte black finish means it fits in no matter where you take it. Here is a breakdown of all the best features of this keyboard:

  • Matte black finish.
  • RGB backlight.
  • Razer Switches.
  • USB Thick.
  • Great wrist rest.
  • Reasonably ergonomic.
  • Compatible with most OS. All major ones.
  • Programmable functions. Even with MacOs

Final thoughts

This keyboard is a great choice. It is well balanced, looks good, easy to use, and comes with a reasonable amount of functionality. It does come with some drawbacks. It has floating keys, with a very high point of actuation. This is arguably a good thing for typing but can limit accuracy somewhat.

It is also loud. Razer likes to use their switches, so you are going to be stuck with them unless you have the knowledge and patience to switch them out yourself. The switches are very similar to Cherry-MX Brown. If you know those switches well, you know they are arguably the loudest switches Cherry makes.

If you’d like to learn more or read more reviews, check it out on Amazon.


Logitech G915

This mechanical keyboard is a little different from the rest. It is far slimmer, with very low depth, and it is wireless. If you prefer wired then you can select that option, it will change it to the G815 which is pretty much the same keyboard just wired. The keyboard is great for a lot of reasons.

It is easy to take with you, if you are someone who moves around a lot when they work, that cannot be understated. It is also a reasonably easy keyboard to use. It is easy to type on and type quickly at that. Its low actuation combined with its low profile means speed typing is easy and fun!

This keyboard also has a programmable RGB backlight. Each key can be given unique colors. This is great for programming, as you can bind certain colors to certain keys making them easy to find. For example, outlining the tab key so it’s easier to see and easier to reach can be very helpful.

Features

The Logitech G915 is a highspeed keyboard, it is great for typing. Which ordinarily makes it great for programming, this case is no different. It might look a little bland given its size, but it makes up for it in features and comfort. Here is a breakdown of all the best features of the Logitech G915:

  • Programmable RGB backlight.
  • Small in size.
  • Low profile.
  • High actuation.
  • Wireless.
  • Great for transporting.
  • Multiple profiles (settings + functions) can be saved per keyboard.

Final thoughts

This keyboard is great. In my opinion, if you travel a lot for work this keyboard should be your go-to choice. It is perfect for bringing with you inside your laptop back. Its wirelessness makes it easy to transport. Unfortunately, that means it does come with a battery. Duh!

The battery life is okay, it isn’t the best honestly. It will last through your workday, maybe even a few, but not much more than that. Realistically, this isn’t going to be a problem as it will be accompanying your computer at all times. It will certainly last longer than your laptop that’s for sure. But there is always the chance it just dies on you, and you forgot its cable or spare battery. This isn’t an issue with this keyboard entirely, more so wireless keyboards in general.

If you’d like to learn more or read more reviews, check it out on Amazon.


Red-Dragon k552 RGB

The Red-Dragon is a great keyboard. It has been mentioned many times on this website for different categories. It is great for gaming, its a great mechanical keyboard, and its great for programming. What makes it great is the size.

This is an 80% keyboard, meaning it only has 80% of the standard amount of keys. It has no Num-pad. Which can be great if you are typing almost entirely Alpha-numeric code rather than programming spreadsheets. If you are doing spreadsheets, this keyboard might not be for you.

This keyboard makes up for those missing keys by having a full set of function keys and double function top row numbers. It is great for customizing your personal needs, as well as being small and sleek.

Features

The Red-Dragon is a nifty little mechanical keyboard. It loses some functionality with its 80% key tally but more than makes up for that in programmable function keys. Here is a breakdown of all the best features of this keyboard.

  • RGB backlight.
  • 80% Tenkey.
  • Programmable funciton keys.
  • Loud switches.
  • USB wired.
  • Low Price.
  • Looks cool.

Final thoughts

The Dragon is great, but as with all keyboards, it isn’t perfect. It can be quite loud, The default switches, for lack of a better word, suck. They are loud and very “clacky”. This isn’t an issue if you work from home. Your colleagues might not appreciate it in a crowded office though.

This is a very basic keyboard if you are looking for a budget option on this list you’ve found it. This keyboard is also pretty good to bring with you when you travel, it’s quite small (80%). The wire can be annoying, but no more so than any other keyboard. And, it won’t die on you like the Logitech.

If you’d like to learn more or read more reviews, check it out on Amazon.


Razer Huntsman Elite

The Razer Huntsman Elite is designed to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. They succeeded, too. Its a great looking keyboard. It is about as visually customizable as possible.

It has a 16.8 million color RGB backlight. This means that you can pick any color, any combination, and bring it to life. It also has a detachable padded wrist rest. Which can make it easier to transport, or just gives you the option to take the wrest off. I don’t know why you would want to, but Razer made sure the option is there.

The switches on this Razer keyboard are not the standard Razer ones, they are the Opto-Mechanical switches. This means they are smoother, quieter, and more comfortable to use. This is the elite model, after all.

Features

The Razer Huntsman Elite is an amazing keyboard. It truly is elite, it does everything well. Its reliable, customizable, and looks damn cool. Here is a breakdown of all the Huntsmans best features:

  • 16.8 million colors.
  • RGB backlight.
  • Programmable.
  • Very ergonomic elevation.
  • Detachable wrist rest.
  • A sleek frame and good general design.
  • Intentionally as aesthetic as possible.
  • Dedicated media controls.
  • Very good switches.

Final thoughts

This keyboard is amazing. It does almost everything right. Almost. It does have one glaring issue, it doesn’t allow for USB passthrough. What this means is that other devices cannot be plugged into the keyboard. All USB connections have a male and female part. The computer is typically female, as the male part plugs into it. Many keyboards allow USB passthrough, so you can attach say a mouse, a USB, a NumPad, etc.

If you’d like to learn more or read more reviews, check it out on Amazon.


Ducky One 2 RGB TKL

The Ducky One 2 RGB is, in essence, a gaming first keyboard. It has been made with gaming in mind, it is almost as if the fact its great for programming was considered as an afterthought. Or not at all. That being said, it is a wonderful keyboard for programming.

It is small and sleek, with only a few customizable features. What makes it great for programming is how nice it is to type on. It has smooth, slick, keycaps with the top of the line Cherry-MX switches on. It doesn’t come with the silent ones as default, but they can be swapped in easily. I personally have owned this keyboard and I used silent reds, with no problems.

Features

The Ducky One 2 RGB is not just a gaming keyboard, it is so much more than that. If you are willing to use this smaller keyboard for smooth typing. I applaud you. It is certainly worth it in my opinion.

  • RGB backlight.
  • Slick look.
  • Nice keycaps.
  • Great switches.
  • Very good for typing.
  • Comfortable to use.
  • 80% TKL keyboard.

Final thoughts

This keyboard also has the problem that it too offers no passthrough. However, that is about its only issue. It comes as standard the same any other TKL keyboard does. If you are happy to use an 80% keyboard, this one is for you. Ducky has a reputation for great keyboards, this one is no different. It looks great and is amazing for typing on. Both quickly and comfortably.

If you’d like to learn more or read more reviews, check it out on Amazon.


Conclusion

Hopefully, you now have a clear idea in your mind which mechanical keyboard is right for you. Any mechanical keyboard can be used for programming, I just think these might be the best.

If I had to pick one, the Huntsman Elite might be my favorite. It does everything well, it looks good, and it is the most comfortable. It has a very nice wrist rest, which is important for long sessions of programming. It does come with a hefty price tag. But, you get what you pay for.

Good luck finding the right keyboard for you, I hope your code is error-free!

If you want to see more of my product reviews, check out my Guides and Reviews category!

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