20 mechanical keyboards worth splurging on

We think you'll really click with these high-end models.
By Joal Ryan, Contributor
1 of 21 Datamancer via Amazon.com

Keys to success

You've moved up, and now it's time to move back -- back to the clicky days of yore, when the mechanical keyboard ruled.

The tactile delights of computer keys that work (and sometimes sound) like typewriter keys are now enjoying a dramatic increase in demand.

Here's a look at 20 of the most striking and appropriate mechanical keyboards that you can furnish your office with today. They're not cheap. But reclaiming your past rarely is. (Note: Prices listed were current as of this writing.)

2 of 21 Kinesis via Amazon.com

Kinesis Advantage2 Limited - Graphite

The concave keywells are designed for finger and wrist comfort. The responsive, vertically arranged keys, with mechanical switches by category leader Cherry, take it easy on your fingers. The brushed-graphite finish just looks top-notch.

The Advantage2 Limited - Graphite is listed at $399 at Kinesis and Amazon.com.

3 of 21 Matias via Amazon.com

Matias Ergo Pro

Matias is a Canadian company that produces its own keyboards and switches. It boasts its Quiet Click switch is more muted and tactile than Cherry's equivalent. Quiet Clicks are in play in the Ergo Pro, billed as "the world's quietest mechanical keyboard," natch.

PC, Mac, and low-force editions of the Ergo Pro are available via Matias, all at the same list price of $200. Amazon.com's prices are in the same ballpark.

4 of 21 PFU via Amazon.com

PFU Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2

PFU's simple and gorgeous keyboards feature mechanical switches manufactured by Topre and UNIX layouts. The Professional 2 model comes in charcoal black or white and "stampless" -- no, your eyes aren't failing you, there are no letters, numbers, or characters on the keys in the picture. That's a thing in the mechanical-keyboard world.

(And, no, there isn't a right-hand-side numbers keypad, either. That makes the model a tenkeyless keyboard.)

Prices for various iterations of the Professional 2 range roughly from $200 to $300 on Amazon.com.

5 of 21 Datamancer via Amazon.com

Datamancer keyboards

There are keyboards, and then there are museum pieces. The made-to-order mechanical keyboards produced by the born-in-a-Jersey-garage Datamancer are both. Cherry MX Blue switches make typing tactile and clicky, while typewriter-style key caps make the experience retro.

The Seafarer, with its "gold foil map face print," and $1,650 list price, via Datamancer and Amazon.com, is at the top of a very high-end line.

6 of 21 Ducky Keyboard via Facebook

Ducky Shine 6 Special Edition

This keyboard has flash. The "floating" key caps rise up out of their LED-backlit environs, and there's LED lighting on the sides, too. Too loud for your office? Not with Cherry MX Brown switches that make it "excellent for gaming and typing."

MechanicalKeyboards.com offers the Shine 6 Special Edition for $159.

7 of 21 woodguy32 via Etsy.com

'Antique looking Victorian Retro Style - Steampunk - Typewriter'

This handmade keyboard by a self-described "Builder of strange oddities and other stuff" is a must-see mashup of solid oak, custom mechanical switches (in the vein of the Cherry MX Green), and red LED backlighting.

Compatible with Windows, Mac, or Linux systems, the keyboard is available via Etsy.com for $359.

8 of 21 Qwerkywriter via Facebook

Qwerkytoys Qwerkywriter

This retro-styled, modern take on the typewriter features "industrial strength" mechanical switches, Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in stand for your tablet, and a return bar (the shiny metal thing on the left) that functions as the Enter key.

The Qwerkywriter is sold via its own website. At last look, its $349 list price was marked down to $249.

9 of 21 ClickyKeyboards via Facebook

ClickyKeyboards' IBM Model Ms

These keyboards aren't just throwbacks, they're the real deal -- IBM Model M mechanical keyboards from the 1980s and 1990s that are painstakingly restored by an IT manager at Princeton University who does the work of ClickyKeyboards in his off-hours.

ClickKeyboards' treasure trove of old-school keyboards are available for sale via its site.

10 of 21 Crolander via Esty

'Wooden Keyboard with Mechanical switches'

This keyboard has been sanded down, oiled, and outfitted with Cherry MX Red switches. The letters and numbers on the keys have been engraved into the aged oak; you won't wear them off anytime soon.

The Etsy seller lists this one-of-a-kind item for $325.85.

11 of 21 Max Keyboard via Amazon.com

Max Keyboard Nighthawk Large Print

Of all the mechanical switch brands and varieties, the clicky Cherry MX Blue has been called a typist's dream. The dream comes true in this striking keyboard with super-sized key-cap inscriptions.

Amazon.com has Max's Nighthawk Large Print for about $110.

12 of 21 Keyed Up Labs via Amazon.com

Keyed Up Labs ES-87 Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard

As with other tenkeyless makers, the California-based Keyed Up Labs eschews the numbers pad in favor of positioning your right hand closer to the mouse. This model's basic black can be gussied up with an array of (sold separately) colorful top cases.

Amazon.com has the ES-87 Tenkeyless, with the typing-friendly, quieter Cherry MX Brown switches, for about $125.

13 of 21 Cherry MX via Facebook

Cherry MX Board 6.0

This is the motherlode: a mechanical keyboard with Cherry switches made by the German-based Cherry. Its red LED backlight is flashy, but then so is its claim to be "the fastest keyboard in the world."

The Cherry MX Board 6.0, with Cherry MX Red switches, lists for $219.

14 of 21 Filco via Amazon.com

Filco Majestouch 2 Camouflage

The camo-painted Majestouch 2 from Japan's Filco has gotten high marks for its typing experience.

A full-sized Majestouch 2 with non-clicky Cherry MX Black switches is listed at $169 on MechanicalKeyboards.com; a tenkeyless version for the Japanese market is offered on Amazon.com for more than $1,600.

15 of 21 Razer via Amazon.com

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate

Razer's made its mark and then some in the gaming market, but its BlackWidow Ultimate model with Cherry MX Blue switches is seen by keyboard wizards as one of the best mechanical keyboards for typing. The keys are backlit, fully programmable, and billed as durable.

Amazon.com has the Cherry MX Blue edition for about $100.

16 of 21 WASD Keyboards via Amazon.com

CODE keyboards

The CODE line was created by WASD Keyboards' Weyman Kwong and Coding Horror's Jeff Atwood to be a "simple, clean, beautiful mechanical keyboard that [they] truly loved." Their mandate led them to Cherry switches, white LED backlighting, a backplate of steel, and minimalist designs.

CODE keyboards are available directly from WASD and also Amazon.com. List prices range from $120 to $165.

17 of 21 Vortexgear via Amazon.com

Vortexgear POK3R

Described as "petite [and] portable," the POK3R (alternately labeled as the "Poker 3") is a 61-key mechanical keyboard with a metal case, Cherry switches and programming to accommodate Qwerty, Dvorak, and Colemak keyboard layouts.

List prices for the POK3R line range from $119 to $135 on Vortexgear.

18 of 21 Topre via Amazon.com

Topre Realforce

Japan's Topre uses its own mechanical switches for its Realforce keyboards. Made to be ergonomic and durable, the models are said to be popular in banks and data-input centers. The 87-key model omits the numbers pad. Topre also sells full-sized models, as well as a 23-key numbers key pad.

Prices for Topre Realforce keyboards vary on Amazon.com; new ones run from the low $200s to the upper $200s.

19 of 21 Das Keyboard via Facebook

Das Keyboard keyboards

The Texas-based Das Keyboard makes keyboards for gamers and non-gamers alike. The Das Keyboard Ultimate 4, from Das Keyboard's professional line, and available with either Cherry MX Blue or Cherry MX Brown switches, has been hailed as a standout among high-end contenders. Its black keys are blank -- it's a setup that takes getting used to, but "is worth it," one user said on the Das Keyboard Website.

Das Keyboard keyboards are available via the company's site; new models from the pro line will run you at least $100 when not on sale. Pre-orders are now being taken on the Das Keyboard 5Q, its forthcoming cloud-connected mechanical keyboard.

20 of 21 Rosewill via Amazon.com

Rosewill RK-9000V2

The California-headquartered Rosewill may target its mechanical keyboards to gamers, but the RK-9000V2 is a great low-key mechanical keyboard. Start with the models with Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX Red switches to keep the typing racket to a minimum.

The RK-9000V2 sells on Amazon.com for roughly $70 to $90.

21 of 21 Cooler Master via Amazon.com

Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL

The tenkeyless NovaTouch TKL, from Taiwan's Cooler Master and released in the US under the CM Storm subsidiary brand, is a hybrid mechanical keyboard. An electrostatic layer buffers the Cherry-compatible keycap from the spring and steel-plated printed circuit board.

The NovaTouch TKL goes for $199.99 at Amazon.com.

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