A mechanical keyboard is a special type of spring-assisted keyboard that improves the feel of typing and gaming. Most standard keyboards are rubber dome keyboards that use a thin rubber membrane to hold keys in place and register keystrokes. While these keyboards usually work for the most part, some users find that keys have a tendency to stick when their rubber gets older.
Mechanical keyboards use individual springs underneath each key. This makes the keys more durable, more satisfying to press and more accurate. In recent years, mechanical keyboards have become popular with PC gamers, thanks to their accuracy. However, these models are now also gaining mainstream appeal, as everyone from casual internet users to business professionals take advantage of the improved functionality mechanical keyboards offer.
Hardcore gamers know that top-of-the-line mechanical keyboards can cost hundreds of dollars. But you don’t need to spend weeks tweaking your favorite budgeting app or picking up extra shifts to afford a great mechanical keyboard. We’ve created a list of some of our favorite mechanical keyboards — all under $50 online.
Quick Look: The Best Cheap Mechanical Keyboards
- Best Overall: Redragon K552W-RGB Gaming Mechanical Keyboard
- Best RGB Keyboard: Redragon S101 Gaming Keyboard
- Best Backlit Keyboard: Eagletec KG011 Mechanical Keyboard
- Best for Gaming: AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard LED Backlit Gaming Keyboard
- Best Wireless: G-Cord Full Size Wireless Mechanical Keyboard
- Best for Businesses: Redragon K552 RED LED Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Key Features of a Good Keyboard
Just because a keyboard is mechanical doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Consider these key features while you shop for a keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards don’t have a layer of rubber under them, which means that designers have more freedom to implement lighting and colors beneath the keys. Backlit keyboards make typing in low light easier, which is useful for both late-night gaming sessions and burning the midnight oil at the office.
There are 2 types of backlighting available in mechanical keyboards: single color or RGB. Single-color displays a single color throughout the keyboard and costs less. RGB allows you to select a different color for each “zone” of the keyboard, but these models cost more. Consider your taste and design needs when you decide which type of backlighting is right for you.
A Comfortable Wrist Rest
Comfort is key for any keyboard! Look for a keyboard that offers a wrist wrest. Low-cost models usually make their rests out of plastic, but higher-end models may also have a padded or leather rest.
If you have the chance to check out your keyboard in person before you buy it, test it out and type a few sentences to feel the padding on your wrist. If you’re shopping online, give your keyboard a “test run” within the return window to make sure it’s right for your arm shape.
If you’re like most people, you probably use your desk for everything from checking emails to playing games. This means that you might not have enough room on your desk for a full-size mechanical keyboard. If you’re low on space or your desk is always a little cluttered, look for a keyboard with a tactile, trim design.
A Low Price
While you shop, you might see mechanical keyboards retailing for $100 or more. Many professional gaming keyboards include additional options that most everyday users don’t need, like customizable macros. Our list only includes options that are under $50 — but it’s also possible to get a mechanical keyboard for as little as $25 if you’re really on a budget.
A Sturdy USB Cable
Keyboards connect to your computer via a USB cord attached to the back of the device. A cheap USB cord will fray and bend easily, which will render your keyboard unable to communicate with your modem. Look for a keyboard with a sturdy USB cord to ensure that it’ll last.
Our Top Picks for Affordable Mechanical Keyboards
Ready to start shopping? Begin your search with a few of our favorite affordable selections.
Best Overall: Redragon K552W-RGB Gaming Mechanical Keyboard
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants an affordable mechanical keyboard that feels and performs as good as it looks.
The first thing that you’ll notice about this model from Redragon is its gorgeous rainbow-colored interface. But don’t let the pretty pastel colors confuse you — this keyboard packs some serious tech under its unassuming outer shell.
The K552W-RGB features 18 different RGB lighting modes, with colors displayed vividly and beautifully from beneath the keys. Each key is 100 percent conflict-free, meaning that it’s one of the most accurate keyboards you’ll find on the market.
This model’s mechanical keys are made with aircraft-grade aluminum and plate-mounted keys, so you can count on it working for a long time. Fashionable and functional, the Redragon K552W-RGB offers a perfect blend of affordability and strength.
Best RGB Keyboard: Redragon S101 Gaming Keyboard
Who it’s for: Gamers and non-gamers looking for a well-lit keyboard built for low-level work and play.
Another excellent offering from Redragon, the S101 Gaming Keyboard is perfect for both playing games and working. Its 7-color RGB backlight is bright and well-lit, making it perfect for seeing your keys in darkness.
This model also features a braided USB cord, a sturdy rarity in low-cost keyboards that strengthens your keyboard’s connection to the modem. It also has a plastic wrist rest that feels good and blends effortlessly with the cool design of the rest of the keyboard.
As an added bonus, this model also includes a matching gaming mouse that looks great alongside your new keyboard.
Best Backlit Keyboard: Eagletec KG011 Mechanical Keyboard
Who it’s for: Men and women who are looking for a quiet, good-looking keyboard with a bright backlight.
The Eagletec KG011 Mechanical Keyboard is carefully made and meticulously designed. Composed of aircraft-grade silver aluminum, each plate-mounted mechanical key is fully functional and won’t bleed into the other keys on the deck.
We love this keyboard because it features a blue backlit design that’s both bright and modern, making it perfect for a home office or business that often has employees who work late at night.
The Eagletec KG011 is a “grown-up” keyboard, shedding the black and red gaming motif that most mechanical keyboards are built around. This makes it a great choice for professionals and gamers who want a keyboard that can go from work to a session of Grand Theft Auto V without missing a beat.
Best for Gaming: AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard LED Backlit Gaming Keyboard
Who it’s for: Gamers who want a customizable keyboard that registers every keystroke—and doesn’t register keystrokes you don’t make.
The AUKEY mechanical keyboard features n-key rollover and anti-ghosting features, both of which are essential for serious gamers.
Anti-ghosting means that your keyboard doesn’t register keystrokes that you don’t make. In addition to a rainbow backlight, AUKEY’s gaming offering features a strong steel-top frame and even has water resistance.
Best Wireless: G-Cord Full Size Wireless Mechanical Keyboard
Who it’s for: Anyone willing to spend a little more for a wireless, rechargeable keyboard.
Okay, the G-Cord mechanical keyboard isn’t quite under $50, but if you know your keyboards, you’ll know that the wireless mechanical models often cost up to $100. This model from G-Cord is exceptionally less expensive and includes a full range of n-key rollover and anti-ghosting features as well as a whopping 240 hours of battery life.
Looking to recharge and move a little closer to your keyboard? No problem: The G-Cord mechanical keyboard also includes an optional USB cord for working or gaming at a closer range. Ideal for everything from programming to gaming, the G-Cord wireless mechanical keyboard is worth the splurge.
Best for Businesses: Redragon K552 RED LED Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Who it’s for: Business owners or corporate professionals who need a professional-looking mechanical keyboard that will fit on their desk alongside all their other essentials.
Another small and tactile option for people who want their keyboard for work, this model from Redragon is professional enough that you can show it in front of clients and customers.
Skipping the traditional rainbow backlight design that’s often seen in gaming keyboards, the K552 RED instead lights your keyboard with a subdued red hue that’s noticeable without being overly bright. Its small size means that it will fit on any desk, and its durable USB cord makes it ideal for computer users who are looking to save money — or treat their team to a new fleet of long-lasting keyboards.
Choosing The Right Keyboard For Your Needs
Some people think that the best way to save money when shopping for electronics is to choose the cheapest option in every category.
However, taking a little bit of time to research all of your options beyond price can actually help you save money over time by choosing a long-lasting model that fits your needs. Don’t be afraid to take your time and choose your keyboard carefully. After all, you’ll likely be using it every day.