Mechanical keyboards are having a moment.
With big-name streamers investing thousands of dollars in custom builds and big consumer electronics brands like Corsair making a concerted effort to reach new audiences at scale through partnership programs, mechanical keyboards have become increasingly popular.
This has sent more than a few folks on a hunt to buy a mechanical keyboard of their own, but knowing where to start can be daunting, especially with so many options available. Should you go with the name recognition of a big-name brand or the niche appeal of a boutique shop? What sort of options are available for those looking to go beyond the standard layout? And should you actually be considering a custom keycult commission? (Probably not… but maybe?)
Seasoned veterans of the hobby know that taste in keyboards is subjective, and while knowing exactly what model is right for you is beyond the scope of this article, what we can provide is a fairly comprehensive list of options when it comes to where you buy a mechanical keyboard. Whether you’re looking to pick up your first board or your fiftieth, you’ll find a shopping option on this list to help you get started.
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Check out The Ultimate Guide to Mechanical Keyboards for even more expert advice and information.
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While there’s no shortage of options, we’d suggest you start by considering the Happy Hacking Keyboard. The HHKB uses electrostatic capacitive switches to offer a refined and satisfying key press beloved by writers, developers, and typing enthusiasts of all stripes. The design, which was first created more than 25 years ago by computer scientist Eiiti Wada, uses an intelligently redesigned arrangement of keys, and its superior ergonomics and space-saving 60% layout have only gotten better in the years since. Click the button below to explore the full HHKB line, or read on for a full list of places to buy a mechanical keyboard.
One of the best ways to start your search is to go straight to the stores run by leading mechanical keyboard brands. Shopping directly from brands is a great way to capitalize on one of the greatest strengths of mechanical keyboards, their customizability, with everything from switches, keycaps, and even lighting options to choose from. It also means fewer worries about authenticity, since cutting out the middleman also means cutting out potential avenues for counterfeiters.
On the other hand, the selection will inherently be limited by whichever brand runs the mechanical keyboard store in question. It will take more legwork to compare and contrast products from one store to another, and you may need to consult secondary sources if they don’t include all the same information in the same format. On top of that, both potential discounts and shipping options are likely to be less impressive when buying straight from the manufacturer, since they don’t have the same sales volume as big box stores.
Here are some of the best leading mechanical keyboard brands:
Broadening your search for a mechanical keyboard shop to include all the big keyboard brands, not just those who specialize in mechanical models, means tons more options. The popularity of specialist keyboards has exploded in recent years, particularly for options that target fans of gaming, and that’s reflected in the dizzying array of models across switch types and form factors available. Taking a step closer to the mainstream also means you’ll likely find more budget-friendly options that offer at least as many features as their pricier counterparts.
Granted, you may not want all of those features to begin with. Compared to more dedicated manufacturers, big keyboard brands often load up their models with bells and whistles — media control panels, built-in lighting adjustments, third-party branding, and so on — which may just be a distraction for typing purists. Shopping with the big brands also adds a significant wrinkle: now you have to make sure the keyboards you’re considering are actually mechanical, because the same manufacturers likely offer more traditional designs as well.
The options we’ve covered so far have all been dedicated to specific brands. If you want to get the maximum number of options to buy a mechanical keyboard in one go, you’ll need to head to dedicated mechanical keyboard stores, and perhaps even broader online marketplaces. Dedicated stores are great for getting a more in-depth rundown of what to look for in keyboards, with many offering tutorials and explanatory articles on helpful topics such as the difference between key switches and form factors.
The growing popularity of mechanical keyboards means even generalist online marketplaces offer a substantial number of options from major brands as well as boutique creators. It’s nice to be able to pick up other accessories such as a desk mat or mouse in the same order. Sometimes it’s too many options, though. An overwhelming number of varieties can make it harder to focus on the product features that will make the biggest difference for your desires, and even if you have a specific model in mind, sponsored placements and imitators alike may mean more chaff to sort through.
Ready to get deep into mechanical keyboards not just as a means to an end, but as an aesthetic choice and perhaps even a hobby all its own? It’s time to start looking into boutique keyboard brands. Independent creators offer small batches of beautiful designs, with every imaginable color scheme and theme on offer (often for a limited time, but more on that in a bit). Their fresh ideas extend to the key layouts and form factors as well, and handmade products from the best boutique sellers will last you for thousands upon thousands of key presses across the decades.
Of course, that’s only if you’re willing to pay for the privilege. Smaller production runs mean you should expect to spend three or four times as much on a mechanical keyboard from a boutique seller as you would from a bigger brand — and that’s just for the entry models. On top of being harder to buy financially speaking, they’re also often literally harder to buy. Many boutique keyboard brands offer group buy mechanical keyboard sales; this means people can buy into an upcoming product many weeks or even months before it will be delivered, helping keyboard artisans cover the costs for creating smaller batches of items. You end up with a truly special end product once it finally ships out, but it can also be very frustrating if you see a model you like after the buy-in window has already closed.
- Prime Keyboards
- Jkeys Design
- Hex Core
- James Donkey
- Royal Kludge
Despite all the many ways to customize switches or form factors, most of the mechanical keyboard shop options we’ve covered so far have all roughly agreed on one thing: the basic shape of the keyboard itself. Pushing beyond this baseline will require you to look into the thrilling, mind-bending, and undeniably expensive world of specialized keyboards. Beyond the usual staggered stack of keys you can find options that offer specialized ergonomics, including split keyboards which purport to reduce shoulder and wrist strain.
Many of these specialized keyboards are nigh-infinitely customizable in terms of both their hardware options and built-in software support, making it easy to create your own key layouts filled with efficiency-enhancing macros. The way they break with standard conventions also makes them a desk-crowning conversation piece. However, on top of paying a hefty premium for these specialized typing experiences, you’ll also have to come up with your own solutions for tasks that wouldn’t require a second thought on a standard keyboard (like how to use the arrow keys) and it will likely take a while to get used to a markedly new layout.
Finally settling on the keyboard of your dreams is a great feeling. But fully committed mechanical keyboard enthusiasts know that’s just the start of the journey. With keyboard in hand, it’s time to consider alternative keycaps for a fresh look, swapping out switches to refresh your typing experience, and even picking and applying the perfect lubricant to make your switches feel even better.
Picking up keyboard switches and accessories a la carte can get expensive fast, and it’s purely for the most hardcore of keyboardists. That said, you’ll feel that extra investment every time you press your handpicked, hand-installed, and hand-lubed keys. For many diehards, this is one rabbit hole worth going down.
Whether you’re a coder, writer, gamer, or just someone who expects more from the everyday parts of their digital life, the Happy Hacking Keyboard may be just what you need to put together the perfect setup.
Happy Hacking Keyboard's creator, computer scientist Eiiti Wada, understood that for some individuals, typing was much more than a task or a means to an end — it was part of life itself. He recognized that a keyboard is the physical bridge that connects a human's body and mind to the digital world of creation, progress, and innovation.
That's why, more than 25 years ago, he set out to design the ultimate keyboard, for the ultimate users. A keyboard not for the masses, but for the masters. A keyboard built to last a lifetime, with only the purest of intentions in mind.
With a HHKB you can feel the difference years of innovation makes after typing for just a few seconds. Check out the full HHKB range today and you’ll soon find out what your fingers have been missing.