The best keyboards of 2017: top 10 keyboards compared

Though you may not think much of them, computer keyboards are integral to everyday life. They aren’t super exciting to talk about, but as much as you hate to admit it, your comfort level relies on it when you’re using a PC. In some cases, so does your login authentication

When you set out to buy the best keyboard, you’ll notice a striking amount of variety – there are keyboards that cover only the basics and others with crazy amounts of actuation force and lifespans nearing 100 million keystrokes. There are mechanical and membrane, wired and wireless, wacky and ergonomic – even those that are just plain retro.

For that reason, we've narrowed down our picks to ten of the best, designed to satisfy the needs of both you and your wallet.

How to select the right keyboard for you

It goes without saying that if you demand the look and feel only mechanical switches can provide, rather than those that are slim and stealthy, we suggest perusing our top 10 best gaming keyboards round-up instead.

Gamers more or less demand the actuation and clickety-clacks of mechanical keys, but not everyone wants to pester their co-workers with typewriter-loud volumes. That’s why many of the best keyboards are more suited for productivity environments, designed with first-rate professionalism in mind.

Note that the keyboards below were provided to TechRadar by UK-based keyboard re-seller The Keyboard Company:

  • Topre Realforce 87U Tenkeyless
  • Topre Realforce 104 UBS Silent variable
  • Filco Majestouch-2 Tenkeyless
  • Unicomp Classic 104

While many of the best keyboards below have not been given full reviews by TechRadar, please know that each one has undergone extensive testing prior to its inclusion on this list. 

Topre Realforce

1. Topre Realforce 87U Tenkeyless

A low-profile speed machine

Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: No | Switches: Topre electrostatic capacitive (30/45/55 grams variable, 45 grams, 55 grams)

Incredible typing feel
High-quality PBT keycaps
Bulky chassis
Awkward cable position

Made by the Japanese Topre Corporation, the Realforce is, as its name suggests, a force of nature in the keyboard world. It's all down to the Topre switches inside, which in contrast to Cherry's MX switches, are super smooth to type on and are often compared to playing weighted piano keys. The RealForce comes in both 45- and 55-gram configurations, though which one you buy depends on the importance of key weight. Oh, and we should probably mention that neither come cheap.

  • This product is only available in the US. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the HyperX Alloy Elite.

Realforce

2. Topre Realforce 104UBS Silent variable

For a quieter Topre experience

Interface: Wired | Switches: Topre electrostatic capacitive silenced (30, 45 and 50 grams)

Smooth typing action
Very quiet
Typing can feel 'sandy'
Expensive

So long as you don't mind losing some of the "thock" sound associated with a regular Realforce keyboard, opting for a silenced model like the 104 UBS lets you reap real benefits. Hitting the 104 UBS's keys produces sound on a par with membrane keyboards, so it's perfect for busy offices or shared bedrooms. The "dampened" feel of Topre's silenced switches can feel a little bit like typing on sandpaper compared to non-silenced Topre, but we found that it's worth the trade-off if you want a much quieter keyboard.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2.

Filco

3. Filco Majestouch-2 Tenkeyless

Built like a tank and compact

Interface: Wired | Switches: Cherry MX (Brown, Blue, Black, Red)

Solid build quality
Compact
No media functions

Filco's keyboards tend to be built like tanks, and the Majestouch TKL is no different. This space-saving mechanical keyboard features a compact tenkeyless design that has less than 1cm of space between the edge of the keys and the keyboard. Its durability doesn't simply allow it to stand up well to knocks and scrapes – it has a positive impact on its typing feel too. You can hammer away on it at speed, even bottoming out to your heart's content, and the Majestouch 2 will take every bit of punishment.

HHKB2

4. PFU Happy Hacking Professional 2 (HHKB2)

A coder's dream and typist's treasure

Interface: Wired | Switches: Topre electrostatic capacitive (45 grams)

Incredibly portable
Lightweight
Key layout not for everybody
No arrow keys

Somewhat legendary in keyboard circles, the PFU Happy Hacking Professional 2 (or HHKB2 as it's usually referred to) is that rare beast - a 60% Topre keyboard. Aimed at coders but fantastic for document warriors too, it foregoes traditional arrow keys, instead making use of function keys and key combinations to provide such functionality. It only takes a short while to get used to, once you've got there the huge benefit is that the HHKB2 is small and light enough to take anywhere, giving you access to that sweet Topre "thock" sound and feel anywhere, anytime.

FC660C

5. Leopold Fc660c

Has just enough keys to be useful

Interface: Wired | Switches: Topre electrostatic capacitive (45 grams)

Compact, but with arrow keys
Satisfying typing feel
Heavier than HHKB2

Leopold's Fc660c is more portable than the Realforce 87u, but less so than the lighter and more compact HHKB2. However, the Fc660c benefits from its extra heft and feels like the more solid board. Despite having the same 45 gram actuation force as the HHKB2, the Leopold's keys feel slightly weightier - somewhere nearer to 50 grams. It results one of the most satisfying "thock" sounds on a Topre board.

  • This product is only available in the US. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2

Unicomp

6. Unicomp Classic 104

The ultimate keyboard for typing nostalgia

Interface: Wired | Switches: Buckling spring

Snappy buckling spring switch
Retro design
Can lead to tired fingers
Big and bulky

Remember IBM's legendary Model M keyboard? That's what the Unicomp Classic 104 sets out to imitate. Available in USB and PS/2 versions, it uses a buckling spring switch that takes more effort to depress than just about every other switch type. You're rewarded with a tactile response that recalls the classic mechanical keyboards of old, along with a noise that would drive your co-workers insane.

  • This product is only available in the US. UK and Australian readers: check out a fair alternative in the HyperX Alloy Elite.

Best keyboard

7. Das Keyboard Prime 13

Mixing minimalistic style with premium quality

Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: White | Switch type: Cherry MX Red or Brown switches

Cherry MX switches
Solid, minimalistic design
Pricey
No volume rocker

Some keyboards just ooze class, and the Das Keyboard Prime 13 is one of them. Its features a solid aluminum top panel for added rigidity and a very minimalistic look. With Cherry's MX Red or Brown switches under the keycaps, you're given a choice between linear and non-linear offerings with a range of actuation points.

It's a great option for media enthusiasts thanks to side lit media control and the inclusion of white backlighting is another bonus. It's not the most affordable keyboard on our list, but if you're looking for something a little bit more premium, Das is the way to go.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the HyperX Alloy Elite

Logitech K780

8. Logitech K780

A great option for mobile device owners

Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: No

Pairs to three devices
Cradle holds smartphones and tablets
AA, rather than rechargeable battery

According to a government survey, the average British household owned 7.4 internet-connected devices in 2015. Logitech is targeting smartphone and tablet owners who prefer to see their device's display while sat at a computer with its latest keyboard, the K780. If you liked its predecessor, the K380, there's more to love here. (Literally thanks to its added numberpad.)

The K780 can still pair with up to three devices using Bluetooth or wireless, allowing you to chop and change between them, and it features the same comfortable rounded keycaps that remain a pleasure to type on. The star of the show, however, is the keyboard's base, which can hold mobile devices up to 11.3mm thick in an upright position. This places them within arms' reach to make anything from replying to WhatsApp messages or reading a digital magazine easy as pie.

MS Foldable Keyboard

9. Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard

A compact, Surface-like keyboard

Interface: Bluetooth | Features: Compact, USB charging, works with Android, Windows Phone and iOS

Compact
Comfortable keys
Unsuitable for laps

Like a Surface Pro 3 Type Cover that can convert to a tent, Microsoft's Universal Foldable Keyboard is among the most "fun-sized" on our list. Fold it closed and you have one of the most travel-friendly Bluetooth keyboards around, barely larger than a pack of cards.

Also reminiscent of the Type Cover, the Universal Foldable Keyboard is equally uncomfortable for typing on your lap (then again, most keyboards are). Nevertheless, USB charging and simple Bluetooth syncing makes the Universal Foldable Keyboard a preferred option over touchscreen display inputs – so long as you have a flat surface handy.

10. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

An RGB mechanical keyboard stepped up to luxury

Interface: Wired | Switches: Cherry MX Speed (Silver)

Handy media and shortcut keys
Classy aluminum build
Awkward software
Rubber palm rest gets grungy quickly

Complete with a military-grade aluminum frame, RGB backlighting and Cherry’s new, linear MX Speed switches, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum certainly isn’t for everyone, but it does have its audience. If you want all the bells and whistles of a gaming keyboard without compromising on the comfort of linear keys, for instance, this board has all that and then some. Despite having but six macro keys in total, you can save their accompanying profiles to the keyboard itself thanks to Corsair’s thoughtfully included 8MB of onboard memory. As long as you can swallow the pill that is the towering price tag, you won’t regret buying the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum.

Read the full review: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article