Mechanical keyboards have conquered the world like some of the high end keyboards you can buy, but they are not for everyone. Some users don’t like the high travel distance that most mechanical keyboards boast about, and others don’t like the sound of the quieter MX switches. Fortunately, there are still many quality keyboards that do not use mechanical switches.
What to look for in a non-mechanical keyboard
You are going to spend a decent amount if you want a good keyboard, because of that, there are a few things to consider.
- Switch type: Obviously, none of the cards on this list will use the MX style switches used by mechanical keyboards. But even in this case, there are still several types of switches. The most common are scissor and diaphragm switches. Scissor switches are comparable to most laptop keyboards, they are unobtrusive and have a very short travel distance. Diaphragm switches have a bad reputation as they are commonly used in super cheap keypads with a soft feel. But still, you can find membrane keyboards that are worth owning, they shouldn’t be immediately ruled out.
- Manufacturing quality: Any $ 20 keyboard will allow you to type, the difference between budget boards and premium boards is the build quality. If you spend a lot on a keyboard, it should be solid to type and be made of quality materials, it’s that simple.
- Additional features: Backlight, reprogrammable keys, multimedia controls, and other additional features are never necessary, but can be useful for having your keyboard. We will particularly note the cards which offer such functionalities.
- Wireless or wired: For most people, a wireless keyboard is the best option. Cutting the cord makes your desk cleaner and without having to mess around with the wires, it’s just more convenient. There are still a few advantages to wired cards, namely their shorter response time and not having to worry about recharging them, so it still depends on your personal preferences.
With all of that in mind, here are our favorite keyboards that don’t use mechanical switches.
Best overall: Logitech MX Keys
One of our favorite keyboards is the Logitech MX keys. It has a sleek all-gray look that fits any desk, it’s completely wireless and can easily switch between three connected devices with the push of a button, and high quality concave keys and scissor switches provide excellent typing experience. MX keys are charged via USB-C and you can expect the battery to last up to 10 days with the backlight on (up to 5 months without turning it off).
But it’s only the hardware – the software is just as important. MX keys are compatible with Logitech options, where you can change the action of each key, adjust the backlight, create a duo of links with Logitech mice, and even create application-specific settings so that, for example, the arrow keys perform different actions in Google Chrome compared to Premiere Pro.
MX keys are supplied in several batches. We recommend the MX keys + palm rest bundle for more comfort but you can also get the keyboard by himself (you can also buy the hand rest separately) or with a variety of Logitech mice, including MX Master 3, MX Vertical, MX Anywhere, and MX 2S, if you prefer.
the Logitech Craft is another great choice – it’s very similar to the MX keys, but has an input dial that can be customized with the previous one Logitech options. The dial has three inputs: turn it, push it down, and turn it while it is pressed. All three can be customized to perform different actions, such as opening different programs and adjusting volume levels. While for the most part the dial isn’t worth the extra $ 100 compared to the MX keys, it can have some uses in niche cases, especially for creative professionals in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.
Packed with features: Corsair K83
If you prefer a keyboard with a few more bells and whistles, the Corsair K83 could be for you. Its solid, brushed aluminum body and concave key caps with scissor switches are nice, but the real star of the show is multimedia controls.
On the right side of the keyboard, you will find a scroll wheel, a touchpad for gesture commands, two reprogrammable buttons and a joystick for navigation in menus and games. All of these commands and the keyboard backlight can be customized using Corsair iCUE software and are great bonuses to have.
The K83 is wireless, charges via USB and will last up to 40 hours of continuous use.
Ideal for travel: Logitech K480
If you travel a lot or tend to work on a tablet, you will need a smaller, more portable keyboard. This is where the K480 comes in. This slim (1.6 inch) keyboard is perfect for typing on the go. It has a cradle designed for tablets and phones, and it can easily switch between three connected devices by turning the Easy-Switch wheel. The switches are diaphragm, but they are fairly high quality and are pleasant to type.
The K480 works with 2 AAA batteries; no official estimate is given on the battery life, but according to customer feedback, it will take some time.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860
Ergonomic keyboards can be essential for people with RSI (repetitive strain injury) problems or for those who want to prevent them. Their goal is to make sure that your arms and wrists are not tilted in an uncomfortable or harmful way. The K680 does this with a curved design that reduces the distance it takes for your hands to stretch to reach certain keys. The caps are slightly concave for comfort, and the switches are the same high-quality scissor switches that the MX keys use.
Logitech does a lot of research on its “Ergo” product line, so you can be sure you get a keyboard that can back up its claims of superior ergonomics. The keyboard also comes with an adjustable palm rest and can be supplied with two ergonomic Logitech mice: the MX Vertical and MX Ergo Trackball.
And, if you’re looking for an ergonomic keyboard but don’t have the budget for the K860, Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard should also do the job.
Best Split Keyboard: Kinesis Freestyle2
Another ergonomic option, this time putting more power in your hands. The divided keyboards allow you to find the position of the hand that suits you best, and with the adjustable crutches on the board, you can tilt it as you wish. There may be some habit of moving certain keys, but if you care about ergonomics, this transition period will be worth it. The Freestyle2 uses high quality membrane switches that have a surprising amount of tactility, which makes the typing experience, overall, more satisfying.
The Freestyle2 is available in two different models, one with a maximum separation of 9 inch and one with a maximum separation of 20 inch. Which one you buy simply depends on the freedom of movement you want or need. The Freestyle2 is wired, so keep this in mind before purchasing it.
Spring Singeing Spring: Unicomp Ultra Classic
The IBM Model M was one of the largest and most popular keyboards of all time; it standardized the layout of the keys that most keyboards use today. While the original fell out of production years ago, Unicomp, a company made up of former IBM employees, purchased all of the Model M patents and relaunched it with its Ultra Classic keyboard.
This keyboard uses the same “buckling spring” switches as the original M model, which many praise for their high tactility. These switches make more noise and have a higher travel distance than anything else on this list, but they still feel very different from a modern mechanical keyboard. Speaking of modern, it’s 2020 now, so these keyboards have been updated with modern USB cords and operating system keys. Even with these updates, this keyboard still looks like an older keyboard and is worth a try for anyone looking for a more unique keyboard.