For those of us who work in front of a computer all day, it is easy to forget what are the important tools that we use. It’s easy to focus on how much memory is installed, how many CPU cores, are we using SSD. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the other components that we use all day long. The keyboard we type on is just as important. They keyboard is the IT professionals primary tool, and we should select just as any artisan selects his tools. I’m looking at some of the best keyboards available in 2016.
There’s a number of high-end features to look for in a professional keyboard. You may not be familiar with what these mean, so I’ll briefly summarize what some of these are.
Mechanical Keyboards – Most keyboards are made of stacks of plastic sheets that have been printed with silver ink to make a grid of columns and rows that the keys are above. Depressing a key connects the circuit and indicates the location of the key which is then translated to a character. Mechanical keyboards are made up of individual mechanical switches. Depressing a key causes the switch to close and indicates that character. This makes mechanical keyboards much more accurate from a typing perspective. And because the switches require force to depress they have a different feel and sound.
NKRO (N-Key Rollover) – NKRO is a function of the hardware of the keyboard. Isolation diodes are used to isolate each individual key. This allows the keyboard to scan each key independently, and detect each keypress no matter how many keys are being pressed at the same time. This can be extremely helpful for programmers, gamers, or other very fast typers.
Anti-Ghosting – In cheaper keyboards when 3 or more keys are pressed at the same time, the 3rd or 4th key press is not registered. Because mechanical keyboards have dedicated switches for each key the problem doesn’t occur. Microsoft has a very good detailed explanation of keyboard ghosting.
Best Keyboards for Professionals
Razer BlackWidow Chroma Mechanical Keyboard
Razer created one of the most popular high-end keyboards with the BlackWidow Chroma. It is expensive, but for a reason. The Razer BlackWidow Chroma has all the bells and whistles backed into one keyboard. The keyboard is fully backlit in multiple colors and each key can be custom colored. Razer’s Synapse utility, that comes with the keyboard, allow you to fully customize the lighting and the key functions. All the keys can be customized, and there are five fully customizable keys to run macros. The Razer also has headphone and microphone connections on the keyboard to make cable connections easier. The Razer truly is a beautiful typing tool that really stands out.
EagleTec KG010 Keyboard
This is currently one of my favorite keyboards. The EagleTec KG010 is a full mechanical keyboard for a great price. It has a full numeric keypad and cobalt blue backlighting. One the nice things about the EagleTec keyboard is that its built really well with ABS plastic and an aluminum body. But its looks are very subdued and definitely fit into a professional work environment. If you want to get started with a full-sized mechanical keyboard that is priced under $50, you’ll want to check out the EagleTec KG010.
Redragon K552 KUMARA
The Redragon K552 KUMARA is a nice compact mechanical keyboard. I posted a full review of this keyboard a few weeks ago. But overall it’s a solid and very well performing keyboard, available for an attractive price. One major difference between the Redragon and the EagleTec is that the Redragon does not have the numeric keypad. Keep that in mind if that’s a major factor for you.
The Logitech K380 is an interesting keyboard. The K380 is a Bluetooth keyboard that can be used with just about any device. It will work with PCs, Macs, Androids, iOS, and Chrome Books. It’s very lightweight and compact, but it’s still a very well performing keyboard. They keys are circular vs. the normal square shaped keys, but they feel comfortable. One of my favorite features is the ability to connect 3 different devices to the keyboard and then switch between the devices using 3 keyboard devices. If you are working on multiple devices this keyboard could really help you.
EagleTec K104 / KS04 2.4 GHz Wireless Combo Keyboard and Mouse
If you’re looking to pick up a nice wireless keyboard and mouse for next to nothing, this is what you want to look at. Both the keyboard and mouse are wireless, so they run on 3 AA batteries total. This also means your free of any wires, also a great solution if there’s some distance from where you sit and where your computer is. The keyboard is a quiet click, not mechanical. But all in all its a great bundle for the price.
Corsair Vengeance K65
If you’re looking for something with a unique professional look, check out the Corsair Vengeance K65. This is a compact keyboard, it doesn’t have a number pad, but it’s easier to pack and transport. The USB cable detaches to make transportation easier. The whole chassis is brushed gunmetal anodized aluminum, which gives it a really unique and cool look. It also uses Cherry MX Red switches for smooth accurate typing.
Das Keyboard 4 Professional
The Das Keyboard 4 Professional uses Cherry MX Brown mechanical key switches, so you get a very high-quality keyboard. It has dedicated media controls with an oversized volume knob. It also has a built-in USB Hub, so you can easily connect devices like phones right to the keyboard on your desk. The Das Keyboard has full NKRO and anti-ghosting.
Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The Logitech G710+ is a high-end mechanical keyboard but unlike some of the other mechanical keyboards, it’s designed with quiet keys. So if you like the tactile feel of a mechanical keyboard, but don’t like the clickety sounds, this might be the keyboard for you. The Logitech G710 keyboard also has 6 custom programmable keys, that allow you to configure things like Copy/Paste with the click of a button. There are also dedicated media control buttons, and volume control buttons.