When it comes to computing, you only ever want the best equipment. You want something that’s fantastic, but what about if you’re on a budget? Is it even possible to buy great equipment when you don’t have lots of money to spend?
If you’re in the market for a great mechanical keyboard, you will be pleased to know that you can get one even if you’re on a tight budget. In fact, you can get one that’s cheaper than $100. Pretty crazy, right? How exactly do you find one, though? Read our article to find out!
How We Picked
Buying the right mechanical keyboard for you can be tricky, especially if you’re on a tight budget. There are so many different things to think about. Luckily, we’ve thought about it so that you don’t have to.
For starters, we’ve checked if the keyboard is fit for purpose. Is it good for office work, or is it better for gaming and basic entertainment?
We’ve considered how comfortable it is to use the keyboard. We’ve also considered the type of switches on the keyboard, and how durable it is. Most importantly of all, we’ve thought about how much the mechanical keyboard costs and whether it will give you good value for your money.
Best Mechanical Keyboard Under $100 in 2021
Attractive and sleek design
Ideal for gaming and for office work
Effective RGB lighting – ideal for night time use and for low light conditions
HyperX makes some pretty incredible Alloy keyboards for gamers, and the HyperX Alloy Origins Core keyboard is just one in their great lineup. This is a sturdy keyboard that doesn’t have a whole lot of bells and whistles, yet it is second to none in terms of performance.
The first thing worth noting about this keyboard is the sheer simplicity. Some mechanical keyboards have a million buttons that can take a long time to get used to – that is not the case with this one. It’s nothing fancy in terms of function, but it still works incredibly well. It makes it especially well suited to office work and daily computing tasks.
In addition to this, the keyboard features a sleek design that will fit into any environment. It’s a little bit heavy, but this is to be expected from a product that’s built this well. The keyboard features vivid RGB lighting, which is especially handy for working during the night. For the sake of your comfort, the keyboard has two-step adjustable feet. These allow you to change the board in up to three different angles – as high as 11 degrees. This is plenty of adjustability, making it very suitable for the vast majority of users.
The keyboard features linear red or aqua switches, but if you get the larger version of this keyboard you can get blue switches. They work incredibly well, and the keys make a satisfying sound when you press them. Of course, it does cost a little bit extra to buy this keyboard, but it’s worth splashing a little bit of extra cash for if you have it.
Switch Type: Razer Yellow
Lighting Options: Full RGB
Media keys: Yes, volume wheel included
Passthrough: Yes. 1 USB 2.0 and headphone jack
Onboard Storage: Yes
Great for gaming
Very attractive design
Comfortable to use
The software can be a little temperamental
Looking for a truly spectacular keyboard for gaming? Look no further than the Razer BlackWidow Elite. This is a wired keyboard that’s durable and effective, both for gaming and office use. This is an innovative keyboard that has a lot to offer.
Right off the bat, it’s hard not to notice the stunning design. It consists of black plastic which is fairly simple, but it has raised keycaps that make it truly stand out. When you combine this with the high quality RGB backlighting, it’s truly a sight to behold. If you examine the keyboard further, you will notice that there are media controls positioned on the left. With these, you can change your songs or any media that’s playing with just the press of a button. It’s pretty handy if you’re in the middle of playing a video game or you’re working and don’t have the time to manually open your music player.
The keyboard is somewhat large, though it doesn’t take up an excessive amount of space – it measures 17.5 x 6.5 inches. You will also get a standard wrist rest with it too for extra comfort. The keys are highly responsive, and very durable too. The software can sometimes be temperamental though, which is something to keep in mind.
Easy to use
The keys are very quiet – may not be ideal for all users
With a great RGB backlit keyboard and a comfortable design, the SteelSeries Apex 5 combines functionality with an attractive price tag. How could you refuse?
The SteelSeries Apex 5 is a hybrid mechanical keyboard that has 104 keys. It measures 1.4 by 17.4 by 5.5 inches, and it features a sleek dark grey appearance that looks great. These keys are especially great for allowing the RGB lighting to look extra good. The keyboard features one solitary media control button, which is better than nothing but it would still be better to have more functionality in this respect. There’s also a volume roller so you can change the volume of your PC with ease. The keyboard also features an OLED display, so you can change your settings and lighting with ease.
The keyboard is a good choice if you want a high quality gaming keyboard, and it’s fantastic for portability – it weighs a mere 2 pounds! The keys are a little bit too quiet in many respects though, which may be unnerving for many people that are used to their keys making more noise.
Cherry viola switches
Different RGB profiles to choose from
Doesn’t have onboard memory
The Corsair K60 RGB Pro SE mechanical keyboard is everything that you could ever want in a keyboard. It’s durable, simple to use and effective. It also comes at a very affordable price, which is always a bonus.
Of course, this isn’t all that there is to love about this keyboard. It features Cherry’s Viola switches which is already a fantastic selling point, but it is thanks to these budget switches that the keyboard is as affordable as it is. Typing on the keyboard is incredibly comfortable and you will get quick actuation. As a whole though, the keyboard is very basic, and this is not a bad thing! It’s not particularly large which is great since it doesn’t take up a lot of space on the desk either.
The keyboard also allows you to alter the RGB brightness – you can even choose between 11 different premade RGB lighting effects, such as watercolor, rainbow wave and more. This is ideal if you’re a big fan of extra customizability. It doesn’t have any onboard memory that you can use though, which is a bit of a bummer since it means you can’t have customized macros built into the memory of the keyboard.
Short travel distance between keys
Comfortable thanks to wrist rest and incline settings
Works with disposable batteries, which can be expensive to constantly replace
Looking for a high quality gaming keyboard that’s also wireless? You are sure to love the Logitech G613 Lightspeed mechanical keyboard. This versatile mechanical keyboard functions well in a vast range of situations, and is especially handy if you’re not a fan of having cables covering your entire desk.
The keyboard features Romer-G tactile switches, and these are a great choice for gaming. The travel distance between the keys is short, making it a good choice for typists or writers that want to get their work done quickly. It’s great in terms of ergonomics thanks to the wrist rest and the incline settings available.
In addition to this, the keyboard doesn’t make a lot of noise when you’re typing either, which is handy if you’re in an office environment where people don’t like the sound of noisy keys! It works with a wide variety of devices too, as you can connect it either using a dongle or by using Bluetooth connectivity. The only real issue is that it works on disposable batteries, which can mean that it’s pretty expensive to run.
Things To Consider
The mechanical keyboards that we’ve listed above are all fantastic choices. With that being said, a keyboard that may be great for one person may not be so good for another person. As a result of this, there are some things that you should think about before you buy your mechanical keyboard, such as the layout and the switches. If you aren’t sure exactly what you’re looking for, read on for our buyers guide!
One of the main things to think about before you buy your mechanical keyboard is the layout. You can get a lot of layout options on mechanical keyboards, and different types can fit different people. You will most often see 104 key full size layouts. They’re generally best for people that are new to things like gaming, or for people that want easy access to all of their key features on their PC.
If you would rather a slightly smaller keyboard then there are also small options available. These may not have a NUM pad but they will usually give you more space and will cost you less money to buy. These are sometimes called Tenkeyless or 80% keyboards.
Another type of keyboard is the 60% keyboard, also called the mini keyboard. On these options you will only have the alpha keys – there aren’t any complicated keys on it. You will still have full functionality, you’ll just have to hit a few different keys to do what you need to do. This isn’t even the smallest type of keyboard either – you can get 40% keyboards too!
The next thing that you need to think about is the switch type on the keyboard. After all, not every mechanical switch is the same, and the type of switch can determine a lot of things in terms of how you use your keyboard. For instance, it can influence the typing travel distance, the feedback that you get and more. There are three primary kinds of switches out there – linear switches, clicky switches and tactile switches.
Tactile switches usually have bumps and this helps to give you a very obvious feedback. They require a little extra actuation force to work. They’re a good choice for people that type on a regular basis because you can physically feel each press of the keys. These are usually clear or brown switches.
These are much easier to press down because the keys don’t have tactile bumps. They’re a good choice for gamers that need to press certain keys a lot in succession, and they also don’t make a great deal of noise. These keys are usually black or red.
These are very much like tactile switches but they make a lot more noise when the user hits the bump as they press the keys. These are ideally a good choice for people that work by themselves and love the cathartic sound of tapping on keys. They may not be the best choice for people that work in crowded offices – some people just don’t want to hear the sounds of your keyboard keys all day! These switches are generally green, blue or white.
You can also get a switch tester that will allow you to play around with lots of different switches. It may cost you a little bit more money, but it’s a much better alternative than replacing the entire keyboard.
Wired or Wireless?
The other thing that you will want to consider when buying a mechanical keyboard is whether the keyboard is wired or wireless. This is a fairly basic thing to think about – do you want something that will plug right into your computer, or would you rather something that can operate without being plugged into your computer?
If you’re using a wireless keyboard, you will probably need to have a Bluetooth connection on your computer to set it up. You will also need to make additional considerations about charging and battery life too.The last thing you need is to be in the middle of a gaming session and your keyboard suddenly dies.
Mechanical keyboards can sometimes cost quite a bit of money, so it’s important to make sure that it lasts a long time. Sure, you could spend barely any money at all on buying a keyboard and get something for 6 months. On the other hand, you could spend a little bit of extra money on getting a keyboard that can last you for at least a few years.
It’s hard to know whether a keyboard is durable or not from first glance, so it helps to do a little bit of digging. First of all, check the other customer reviews. If people have commonly said that the keyboard has had durability issues, then you may want to stay away. You can also check the warranty period. If the product has a good warranty then it’s a good indication that the manufacturer is confident that they have a reliable product that will stand the test of time.
This is particularly important if you are going to be using the keyboard for typing or for general work purposes. You don’t want a keyboard that’s going to be uncomfortable to use! With this in mind, you should check other customer reviews to see how comfortable it is to use the keyboard. You should also have a look at the spacing between the keys to see what will suit you the best. It’s a good idea to check how easy it is to use too. You shouldn’t have to read an instruction manual in order to use a keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards do have their own features that you need to think about, of course, but you can also think about the same sorts of things that you would think about when buying any average keyboard. For instance, if you’re a gamer or you tend to work on your laptop or computer during the night, having backlighting may be good for you. This will allow you to see the keys more easily during low lighting conditions. With many of them you can also alter the color of the backlighting to fit your preferences.
You can also look for keyboards that have multimedia controls – you may have designated keys for this or you can access them using a function key instead. This is handy if you don’t want to manually go to your music streaming software to change a song while you’re in the middle of an intense gaming session.
Some keyboards also come with other functions, such as volume dials or rollers. It’s also handy to have specific macro buttons if you’re a gamer.
Mechanical keyboards are handy for a wide variety of reasons, from the customizability they offer to how comfortable they are to use. Thankfully, to reap these benefits, you don’t need to break the bank. In fact, all you need is $100 or less to get a fantastic mechanical keyboard to enjoy, no matter what you’re doing on your computer.
In our opinion, if you’re looking for the absolute best mechanical keyboard under $100, you should pick up the HyperX Alloy Origins Core. It not only has great overall aesthetics and RGB lighting, it also boasts fantastic switches for top tier performance in both gaming and typing.