Mechanical keyboards have taken the world by storm as some of the highest-end keyboards you can buy—but they’re not for everyone. Some users don’t like the high-travel distance that most mechanical keyboards boast, and others dislike the sound of even the quietest MX-style switches. Fortunately, there are still plenty of quality keyboards out there that don’t use mechanical switches.
What to Look for in a Non-Mechanical Keyboard
You’re gonna be spending a decent amount if you want a good keyboard, because of that, there are a few things to consider.
- Switch Type: Obviously, none of the boards on this list will be using the MX-style switches that mechanical keyboards do. But even then, there are still multiple switch types out there. The most common are scissor and membrane switches. Scissor switches are comparable to most laptop keyboards, they’re low profile and have a very low travel distance. Membrane switches do have a bad reputation because they’re commonly used in super-cheap, mushy-feeling keyboards. But still, you can find membrane keyboards worth owning, they shouldn’t be immediately ruled out.
- Build Quality: Any $20 keyboard will let you type, the difference between the budget boards and the premium boards is the build quality. If you’re spending a good amount on a keyboard, it should feel solid to type on and be made out of quality materials—simple as that.
- Additional Features: Backlighting, reprogrammable keys, media controls, and other additional features are never necessary, but can be useful to have your keyboard. We’ll make special note of the boards that offer such features.
- Wireless or Wired: For most people, a wireless keyboard is just the better option. Cutting the cord makes your desk look cleaner and not having to mess around with wires it just more convenient. There are still a couple of advantages to wired boards, namely, their lower response time and not needing to worry about recharging them, so it still comes down to personal preference.
With all that in mind, here are our favorite keyboards that don’t use mechanical switches.
Best Overall: Logitech MX Keys
The Logitech MX Keys is one of our favorite keyboards. It has a sleek all-grey look that matches any office, it’s fully wireless and can easily switch between three connected devices at the push of a button, and the concave keycaps and high-quality scissor switches make for a great typing experience. The MX Keys charges via USB-C and you can expect the battery too last up to 10 days with backlighting on (up to 5 months with it off).
But that’s just the hardware—the software is just as important. The MX Keys is compatible with Logitech Options, where you can edit what each key does, adjust backlighting, create a duo-link with Logitech mice, and even create application-specific settings so that way, for example, the arrow keys perform different actions in Google Chrome compared to Premiere Pro.
The MX Keys comes in a few bundles. We recommend the MX Keys + Palm Rest bundle for some added comfort, but you can also get the keyboard by itself (you can also buy the palm rest separately) or with a variety of Logitech mice including the MX Master 3, MX Vertical, MX Anywhere, and MX 2S, if you prefer.
The Logitech Craft is another great choice—it’s very similar to the MX Keys but has an input dial that can be customized with the previously mentioned Logitech Options. The dial has three inputs: turning it, pushing it down, and turning it while it’s pushed down. All three can be customized to do different actions, such as opening different programs and adjusting volume levels. While for most the dial is not worth the additional $100 compared to the MX Keys, it can have some uses in niche cases, especially for creative professionals in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.
Logitech MX Keys Advanced Wireless Illuminated Keyboard, Tactile Responsive Typing, Backlighting, Bluetooth, USB-C, Apple macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Metal Build - Graphite
A solid keyboard with great features that feels great to type on. What else could you want?
Feature-Packed: Corsair K83
If you prefer a keyboard with a few more bells and whistles, Corsair’s K83 might be for you. Its solid, brushed aluminum body and concave keycaps with scissor switches are nice, but the real star of the show is the media controls.
On the right side of the keyboard, you’ll find a scroll wheel, a touchpad for gesture controls, two reprogrammable buttons, and a joystick for menu and game navigation. All of these controls and the keyboard’s backlighting can be customized using Corsair’s iCUE software and are great bonuses to have.
The K83 is wireless, charges via USB, and will last up to 40 hours of continuous use.
Corsair K83 Wireless Keyboard - Bluetooth and USB - Works w/ PC, Smart TV, Streaming Box - Backlit LED
A keyboard with plenty of bells and whistles.
Best for Travel: Logitech K480
If you travel a lot or tend to work on a tablet, you’ll need a smaller, more portable keyboard. This is where the K480 comes in. This thin keyboard (1.6 inches) is perfect for on-the-go typing. It has a cradle tailored for tablets and phones, and it can easily switch between three connected devices with a turn of the Easy-Switch dial. The switches are membrane, but they are fairly high-quality and do feel nice to type on.
The K480 runs off of 2 AAA batteries; no official estimations are given on battery life, but according to customer reviews, it will last quite a while.
Logitech K480 Wireless Multi-Device Keyboard for Windows, macOS, iPadOS, Android or Chrome OS, Bluetooth, Compact, Compatible with PC, Mac, Laptop, Smartphone, Tablet - Black
A thin and wireless keyboard tailored for on-the-go typing.
Best Ergonomic Keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860
Ergonomic keyboards can be vital for people with RSI (repetitive strain injury) issues, or those who want to prevent them. Their whole purpose is to make sure that your arms and wrists aren’t angled in an uncomfortable or harmful way. The K680 achieves this with a curved design that reduces how far your hands need to stretch to reach certain keys. The keycaps are slightly concaved for some added comfort, and the switches are the same high-quality scissor switches that the MX Keys uses.
Logitech puts a lot of research into its “Ergo” line of products, so you can be sure you’re getting a keyboard that can back up its claims of superior ergonomics. The keyboard also comes with an adjustable palm rest and can be bundled with a couple of Logitech’s ergonomic mice: the MX Vertical and MX Ergo Trackball.
And, if you’re looking for an ergonomic keyboard but don’t have the budget for the K860, Microsoft’s Sculpt keyboard should also get the job done.
Logitech Ergo K860 Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard with Wrist Rest and MX Vertical Wireless Mouse
This keyboard makes typing more comfortable and might just save your wrists.
Best Split Keyboard: Kinesis Freestyle2
Another ergonomic option, this time putting more power in your hands. Split keyboards allow you to find whatever hand position works best for you, and with the adjustable kickstands on the board, you can angle it however you like. There may be some getting used to with certain keys being moved around, but if you care about ergonomics that transition period will be worth it. The Freestyle2 uses high-quality membrane switches that have a surprising amount of tactility, making the typing experience, overall, feel more satisfying.
The Freestyle2 comes in two different models, one with a maximum separation of 9 inches and one with a maximum separation of 20 inches. Which one you buy just comes down to how much freedom of movement you want or need. The Freestyle2 is wired, so do keep that in mind before you purchase it.
Kinesis Bluetooth Freestyle2 Ergonomic Keyboard for PC (20" Extended Separation)
If you're looking for an adjustable, ergonomic keyboard, this is it.
Buckling Spring Revival: Unicomp Ultra Classic
The IBM Model M was one of the most important and popular keyboards of all time; it standardized the key layout most keyboards use today. While the original fell out of production years ago, Unicomp, a company made up of former IBM employees, has bought all of the patents pertaining to the Model M and revived it with its Ultra Classic keyboard.
This keyboard uses the same “buckling spring” switches as the original Model M, which many praise for their high tactility. These switches do make more noise and have a higher-travel distance than anything else on this list, but they do still feel quite different than a modern mechanical keyboard. Speaking of modern, it’s 2020 now, so these keyboards have been updated with USB cords and modern OS keys. Even with these updates, this keyboard still looks the part of an older keyboard and is worth trying out for anyone looking for a more unique keyboard.
You can choose between a black or white color scheme for the keyboard on Unicomp’s website.