If you work at a computer all-day, RSI (repetitive strain injury) and other related injuries are a major concern. Taking breaks helps, but if you want to take further steps to avoid these issues, then an ergonomic keyboard can save your wrists from more permanent damage.
Of course, the keyboard is only half the battle when it comes to these issues. While we’re solely focusing on ergonomic keyboards in this article, ergonomic mice are also extremely important when it comes to avoiding injury.
There are a few things to keep in mind when comparing various ergonomic keyboards.
- Design: There’s more than one way to make a keyboard ergonomic. Some angle the keyboard away from you, putting the wrist in a more natural position, others curve the entire keyboard to prevent a lot of finger travel (how much your fingers have to move around to hit certain keys), and some are split right down the middle to enable more freedom in where you place your hands. All of these designs have their benefits, with various learning curves attached to them. The curved design of something like our first pick, the Logitech K860 is the easiest to learn and most natural if you’re new to ergonomic keyboards.
- Wired or Wireless: Having one fewer wire on your desk is great, especially if you’re into cable management. But that doesn’t mean wireless is always better—when you’re working with a wireless keyboard, latency can be an issue (but that’s mostly just for gaming) along with the need to recharge the battery. Most of the keyboards on this list are wired, so we’ll be sure to make special note of the wireless options and their battery lives when they come up.
- Switch Type: Whether it’s mechanical, membrane, rubber domes, or scissor switches, they all offer different typing experiences. Mechanical switches are loved for the variation between different switch types, but they’re also the most expensive option out of the bunch. Membrane, rubber domes, and scissor switches are all fairly inexpensive and, when done right, can still deliver quality typing experiences.
- Customizability: Ergonomic keyboards tend to have some pretty strange layouts. You may be forced into changing up your muscle memory because a certain key has been moved drastically compared to normal keyboards. Fortunately, a good chunk of the ergonomic options out there have great reprogramming tools, so you can make the layout whatever you want. It’s especially great if you want to make more drastic changes, such as switching to something like the DVORAK layout.
When it comes to ergonomic keyboards, the K860 is one of our favorites for its curved shape and comfortable wrist rest. It’s the standard QWERTY layout spread out across a curvy board that raises certain keys, so you can avoid stretching your fingers too far. Thanks to the adjustable feet below the wrist rest, you can angle the keyboard in one of three angles: 0 degrees, -4 degrees, and -7 degrees. These feet angle the board away from you, so your wrists aren’t pointed upwards while typing.
The K860 provides great ergonomic benefits without requiring you to spend weeks learning a new layout—which is good because it’s lacking any reprogramming features. And the two-year-long battery life (with a pair of AAA batteries), wireless connection, and quality scissor switches only make the K860 an even better board.
Logitech Ergo K860 Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard with Wrist Rest - Split Keyboard Layout for Windows/Mac, Bluetooth or USB Connectivity
Microsoft has been making ergonomic keyboards for a while now, and the latest iteration keeps the great ergonomics of past boards while adding a detached Numpad. Having the Numpad separate not only saves space for those who don’t need it but also means you can place it wherever you wish (for example, putting it on the left side of the board, so the right side is freed up for more mouse movement).
The cushioned, non-detachable wrist-rest is comfortable and helps make sure your wrists are positioned properly along with the feet that angle the board away from you. The layout remains faithful to the QWERTY boards you’re used to while still making slight adjustments to improve ergonomics, and the scissor switches under each keycap feel great to type on. This is a wireless board and you can expect the two AAA batteries to last about a year.
If you’re on a tight budget but still want those ergonomic gains, the mundanely named Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard should deliver on what you’re looking for despite the low price tag. There’s not much to say about this board; it’s curved, wired, uses rubber dome switches, and the included wrist rest is merely made out of plastic instead of a softer material.
But for the money, it’s still a good deal if you’re looking for a keyboard like this—it’s a simple board but still a great one.
If you’re new to ergonomic keyboards and/or you don’t have a lot of extra space to work with, the Cherry Ergo KC 4500 is worth a look. This keyboard rivals and often beats the Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard in price, and it takes up less space. But its palm rest isn’t as comfortable and doesn’t lift your wrist as well, you’ll need to do that on your own. And like many of the keyboards in this list, this one is a wired keyboard with a full-sized numpad.
Because of its smaller and more compact size, it makes for a good “first time” ergonomic keyboard. It’s easier to adjust too than the other larger keyboards on this list, but that also means it isn’t quite as ergonomic. If you thinking about trying an ergonomic keyboard and you’re worried you can’t get used to the style, this is a good starting place.
Cherry Ergo KC 4500 Keyboard - Cable Connectivity - USB Interface - 109 Key - English (US) - QWERTZ Layout - Computer - Windows - Black
Moving away from the curved boards, the Kinesis Freestyle Pro offers something a bit different. This is a wired, mechanical board split in two with nothing but a cable connecting the halves. This fluid ergonomic design enables you to place your hands wherever you wish while typing, giving you a greater level of freedom when it comes to how your arms and wrists are positioned. You can even reprogram all the keys on the board using the SmartSet app.
You can pick up an accessory kit from Kinesis as well, which includes adjustable feet for each half of the board along with nice cushioned palm pads for added comfort. You also have your choice when it comes to what mechanical switches are on your Freestyle Pro: Cherry MX Browns (which have a satisfying tactile bump) or Cherry MX Quiet Reds (smooth, linear switches with an emphasis on cutting down the noise).
However, this isn’t the only version of the Freestyle Kinesis offers. If you’re looking for something similar at a lower price, the Kinesis Freestyle2 is your board. It offers the same type of design as the Freestyle Pro but opts for membrane switches instead of mechanical and loses key reprogramming. There’s also the Freestyle Edge, which offers the same split design with more mechanical key switch options, some dedicated shortcut keys for reprogramming, and full RGB backlighting all for a higher price than the Freestyle Pro.
If you want to go all out, the ErgoDox is a fully split mechanical keyboard that, while costing a pretty penny, delivers on many useful features. The custom adjustable feet mean you can angle each half of the keyboard in any way you want, and the open-source nature of the keyboard’s software means you can reprogram keys that several perform different actions. (There is also a more traditional reprogramming tool if you’re not interested in the open-source options.)
When you arrive at the purchase page, you’re presented with plenty of choices. You can choose to have blank or printed keycaps, a total of 13 different mechanical switch types, you can add RGB lighting (for an added charge), and get the keyboard in either black or white. The ErgoDox is certainly aimed at those already into mechanical ergonomic keyboards, and it beats a lot of other options in that category price-wise. But if you want to get into this world of high-end ergonomic keyboards, there’s hardly a better starting point than the ErgoDox.
An excellent split choice with premium features starting at $325.
From the same company behind the ErgoDox, the Moonlander Mark 1 comes in at a higher price than the ErgoDox but with a few notable improvements. While the design of the keyboard has been changed, the same principle applies—the split nature provides more freedom in where you place your hands with the highly adjustable feet granting plenty of options for how you want the halves to be angled. You also still have access to some great reprogramming options.
As far as what’s new, there’s now RGB backlighting included, a total of 10 mechanical switches available, and the keyboard is hotswappable, which means you can swap out what switches you’re currently using without having to touch a soldering gun. The build of the Moonlander is also more minimal than the ErgoDox, with a thinner frame around the keys and the height being knocked down a few inches—great for portability. While the Moonlander Mark 1 costs more than the ErgoDox, it does a lot to justify the price and is certainly worth it if you want a hotswappable keyboard.
Moonlander Mark 1
A split-keyboard with the added bonus of being hotswappable, starts at $365.
The Kinesis Advantage2 is a strange keyboard—it’s unlike anything else on this list. It’s a massive hunk of metal and plastic with an unusual, but extremely ergonomic, concave key setup. All of the keys you’d expect are split between two of these concave clusters with navigation keys placed where your thumbs will lie.
Because this keyboard keeps your wrists completely flat while typing, it’s sure to do wonders for avoiding injury, but only if you can get used to it. Out of the keyboards here, this one probably has the steepest learning curve and one of the highest price tags. If you’re new to ergonomic keyboards, it’ll probably be best to start somewhere else, but if you’re in a bad spot health-wise and need a solution now, the Advantage2 may be it.
You can reprogram all the keys on the Advantage2, so if there’s something about the layout that’s particularly annoying to you, you can change it—you can find instructions on how to do that on Kinesis’ site. The Advantage2 is also available in two colors: Black and Gray.
To end this list, the Dygma Raise is a wonderfully customizable split, mechanical keyboard that keeps a compact profile. When conjoined, the Raise looks like a standard 60% keyboard, but when detached, you get to see the true split nature of the keyboard. Each half of the board is outfitted with magnets to make connecting and splitting the board as easy as possible, which also means this can be used as a traditional keyboard.
Besides the splitting mechanism, the Raise also offers multiple customizable thumb buttons (reprogrammable through the Bazecor software), a total of six different mechanical switch types available, and comes in three colors: Black, Silver, and black keycaps with a silver body. It’s also fully hotswappable and includes RGB backlighting. The Dygma Raise is a great option for those not ready to fully commit to an ergonomic board or gamers who want to be able to switch to a standard layout gaming keyboard.
But if there’s one issue with the Dygma Raise, it’s the buying process—you can’t just add this to your cart and be on your merry way. The Raise is sold in limited batches, which are on a “first-come, first-served” basis. At the time of writing, a new batch has just started, but if you miss out on it, you’ll need to join the company’s email notifications and just wait for the next one.
The Raise is a great option if you’re willing to jump through the hoops (and pay the high price) to get it. Otherwise, you should probably go with one of the other high-end split keyboards previously mentioned such as the Moonlander Mark 1.
A hotswappable mechanical keyboard that can switch between a standard layout and split easily. Starts at $319.