Our Favorite Mechanical Keyboards

Our Favorite Mechanical Keyboards

Our pick

Varmilo VA87M

Varmilo VA87M

For typists and coders

The tenkeyless VA87M has top-notch build quality and a tasteful, minimalist design. It’s available with a wide variety of switches and keycaps.

Buying Options

$140 from MechanicalKeyboards.com

The Varmilo VA87M is available with many different switch types, including Cherry MX Clear, MX Brown, MX Blue, MX Black, MX Red, and more. If you don’t already know what switches you like, we recommend Cherry MX Brown, because they offer a satisfying tactile bump without making too much noise for a shared space. We also love that the VA87M is available with a variety of fun keycap sets and matching cases. It comes with a removable Mini-USB cable and a wire keycap puller, and it works on Windows and Mac. The VA87M isn’t fully programmable, but it does have clearly labeled media keys, and you can customize a couple of functions. The VA87M typically costs around $130—about average for a great mechanical keyboard—though some switch types, keycap sets, and backlight options cost a bit extra.

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Runner-up

Leopold FC750R

Leopold FC750R

The next best thing

The FC750R has similarly excellent build quality and design, but it doesn’t offer as much switch or keycap variety as the VA87M, and its media keys aren’t labeled.

Buying Options

$120 from MechanicalKeyboards.com

If the Varmilo VA87M isn’t available, we recommend the Leopold FC750R. It has equally excellent build quality and a similarly compact, minimalist tenkeyless design, and it comes in all the most popular switch types. It’s available with a few different tasteful, high-quality keycap sets, though it doesn’t provide as much variety as the VA87M and has no backlight options. Like the Varmilo, this Leopold model has a removable Mini-USB cable and works on both Windows and Mac. But the FC750R’s media keys aren’t labeled on the keycaps (or explained in the manual), so you’ll have to memorize them. The FC750R typically costs around $120, though some switch options cost an additional $5.

Also great

Leopold FC900R

Leopold FC900R

The best full-size keyboard

The Leopold FC900R is almost identical to the FC750R, and we recommend it if you need a full-size keyboard with a built-in number pad.

Buying Options

$124 from MechanicalKeyboards.com

If you just can’t get enough of that number pad, we recommend the Leopold FC900R. It’s nearly identical to our runner-up, the Leopold FC750R, as it offers equally excellent build quality, it’s available with all the most popular switch types, and it’s available with a few different PBT keycap sets. Like the tenkeyless model, it has a removable Mini-USB cable and works on both Windows and Mac, but—also like the tenkeyless model—its media keys aren’t labeled. (We don’t recommend the Varmilo VA108M, the full-size version of our top pick, because its case is significantly different and not as good.)

Unfortunately, availability is an issue with most great mechanical keyboards. Most are made in Taiwan or China and shipped to the United States in batches to be sold by specialty retailers such as MechanicalKeyboards.com. If our picks aren’t available in the switches you want or with the keycaps you want, you can preorder at MechanicalKeyboards.com, keep an eye on that seller’s incoming-shipments page, or set availability alerts on Amazon using a price tracker such as CamelCamelCamel or Keepa. We tested our picks against more readily available options and found that these models were of significantly higher quality and worth the effort to track down, but if you can’t wait that long for a new keyboard, take a look at the other great options we found during testing.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Varmilo VA87M

Varmilo VA87M

For typists and coders

The tenkeyless VA87M has top-notch build quality and a tasteful, minimalist design. It’s available with a wide variety of switches and keycaps.

Buying Options

$140 from MechanicalKeyboards.com

Runner-up

Leopold FC750R

Leopold FC750R

The next best thing

The FC750R has similarly excellent build quality and design, but it doesn’t offer as much switch or keycap variety as the VA87M, and its media keys aren’t labeled.

Buying Options

$120 from MechanicalKeyboards.com

Also great

Leopold FC900R

Leopold FC900R

The best full-size keyboard

The Leopold FC900R is almost identical to the FC750R, and we recommend it if you need a full-size keyboard with a built-in number pad.

Buying Options

$124 from MechanicalKeyboards.com

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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