Wired vs wireless keyboard: which keyboard is best?

 a wired and a wireless keyboard against a blue background
(Image credit: Future)

Keyboards are one of the most important, yet overlooked components of a full desktop PC setup. While the monitor gives us our visuals and the PC itself powers everything, the keyboard is the medium in which we interact with the rest of the machine. And the right one is not only built with solid ergonomics in mind but one that has features that best match your needs and lifestyle.

Buyers already understand how important it is to have the best monitor to suit their specific needs like color accuracy or refresh rate, as well as the best mouse that will have proper ergonomics to avoid long-term injury or improve productivity. And having one of the best keyboards is just as important, since it will impact how easily you can work on your desk or how easily and accurately you can type.

That’s why choosing from the best-wired keyboard or one of the best wireless keyboards is something to be strongly considered, as it determines a plethora of options that we’ll be breaking down: pricing, design, and performance. From there we break down each option based on said criteria and demonstrate which is the best option for you.

Wired keyboard vs wireless keyboard: Price

RGB gaming keyboard. Bright colorful keyboard with mouse, neon light.

(Image credit: Om.Nom.Nom / Shutterstock)

As a whole, wireless keyboards tend to be priced higher than wired keyboards. This is mainly due to the additional tech required to power wireless keyboards when they’re off the charger, while wired keyboards are always connected to the PC as a power source. And when looking for super budget options for a new keyboard, they are always wired versions due to the same reasoning of them simply costing less to manufacture.

Of course, there are more complex factors at work like the brand, build quality, and size, but when comparing two keyboards of the same model and brand, you’ll find the price of the wireless version at least $10 more, and sometimes even higher. For instance, the retail price difference between the wired and wireless versions of the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is pretty significant, and only a heavy discount on the wireless version brings it down to near equal. 

If you’re not worried about pricing, then comparing other aspects would be a smart way to make your decision, as there are plenty of other factors to look into. However, if you’re on a budget, then a wired keyboard would be the better choice as you’ll save quite a bit more, especially when searching for much cheaper options.

  • Winner: Wired keyboards

Wired keyboard vs wireless keyboard: Design

Pentaform's Abacus mini PC

(Image credit: Pentaform)

Design is a bit more difficult to pin down since there are so many options and features intermingled between keyboard types. But generally speaking, wireless keyboards tend to be made of better materials as a whole, since wireless keyboards are usually more premium and more expensive, versus the multitude of bargain wired keyboards. They also tend to be more portable and convenient to use versus wireless keyboards. 

And while there are wired versions of the mini keyboard variety, like the HyperX Alloy Origins 65 or the Corsair K65 Mini Keyboard, the wireless ones are much easier to move around and set up without cables to worry about. And you can use them from further away without the hassle of cable lengths or hangups as well. 

Another small but important point to consider: since you only need to insert a dongle into the USB port to make a wireless keyboard work, there’s no worry of losing wire length if you choose to use a slot from the back of the PC versus the front. An issue that wired keyboards content with, along with getting tangled up with other wires connecting to the PC chassis.

  • Winner: Wireless keyboards

Wired keyboard vs wireless keyboard: Performance

Best business keyboard

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Performance is where wired keyboards truly thrive. When looking for a keyboard that will always perform at its best, no matter what, these are the kinds of keyboards you need to look at. This is definitely not to say that no wireless keyboard can be used for competitive play or long workloads, as there are brands like the aforementioned SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini keyboards that are made for it.

But by and far, the majority of gaming and high-productivity keyboards tend to be wired, like the Logitech G PRO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. This is because even the best wireless keyboards must contend with input lag, which affects how quickly an action is carried out between it being pressed through the key and it actually occurring on screen. For light gaming or work, this is a non-issue. But for intense professional gaming sessions that can hinge on a less than 1ms reaction time, or time-sensitive productivity work that cannot be interrupted. input lag can be a killer. But wired keyboards never contend with such issues. It will always be at peak performance no matter what. 

And you will never have to worry about recharging or replacing batteries for a wired keyboard either since it has a permanent power source, which is ideal for highly intense situations that would otherwise drain battery power from wireless keyboards at a faster rate.

  • Winner: Wired keyboards

Wired keyboard vs wireless keyboard: Which should you buy?

Though both are great options that have their pros and cons, the best all-around choice for a keyboard is a wired keyboard. Wired keyboards overall are better priced with more cheap options for those in need of budget pricing, are powered indefinitely with no need to charge or purchase batteries, and have no input lag to speak of.

Though wireless keyboards do have the important benefit of being portable and having no wires to get tangled or take up precious desk space. Not to mention that it tends to have the most premium options available. So if portability is your main concern and money or input lag isn’t, then invest in a wireless keyboard.

But for buyers who need to worry about either performance, cost, or both, then getting a wired keyboard has the most benefits by far, with the cons being more than easy to work with.

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.