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Best keyboard 2021: The best USB and wireless keyboards from £14


Tired of noisy keys, aching hands and typos? Treat yourself to a better desktop keyboard

Never underestimate the importance of a decent keyboard. If you do anything on your PC that involves typing, you’ll spend more time physically interacting with the keyboard than anything else bar your mouse or monitor. Spending just £10 or £20 more can take you to a different level of usability and comfort. If you do a lot of writing – whether for business, clubs or study – one of the best keyboards will help you get your work done faster with fewer typos, and with less strain on your poor pinkies. This is something you might only appreciate when you switch from your old, bad keyboard, but it makes a tangible difference all the same.

READ NEXT: Best wireless mouse

How to choose the best keyboard for you

What should you look for in a keyboard?

First of all, there’s no perfect, best keyboard that will work for every user. Some people love ergonomic keyboards with split layouts, some hate them. It’s the same with modern, laptop-style chiclet keyboards, mechanical keyboards and just about every other type. The best thing you can do is try a range of types and work out which feels best for you, though that’s easier said than done – unless you have a big PC store nearby.

Keyboards break down into four different styles:

Traditional: These have old-fashioned, typewriter-style keys above a membrane or mechanical switch (more on this later). The keys tend to have more travel (the distance the key moves before a press is registered), although the action (the weight and feel of the keys) can vary enormously from keyboard to keyboard.

Chiclet: These use the flatter "Scrabble-tile" keys introduced with the Sony Vaio and Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops. These generally have a shorter travel and a lighter action, which can improve typing speeds when you get used to the overall feel.

Ergonomic: Ergonomic keyboards combine traditional keys with a specially shaped form that aims to put each key at the most comfortable position and angle for the finger that you should – with good typing habits – use to press it. The idea is that your hands are supported by the generous wristrests while the fingers do the heavy lifting. This reduces strain and the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Many ergonomic keyboards have a split design, too, with the left-hand keys tilted outwards to sit under the left hand and the right-hand keys doing the same in the opposite direction to sit under the right.

Compact: These keyboards have all the extra keys, such as the numeric pad, removed, and are designed to be as small and light as possible. In this way, they reduce the space they take up on your desktop or and are easier to travel with.

As we said, one of these keyboard types will usually work better for you than the rest. However, making the transition from one type to another can be worth the effort if, for example, you’re finding that using a chiclet keyboard all day is making your wrists ache at night.

Does the switch technology matter?

The growth of gaming keyboards has raised interest in the switch mechanisms used in various keyboards. At the most basic level, you have membrane keyboards. In these, the keys don’t cover any separate switches, but instead are mounted on plungers that press on a membrane, which itself contains a matrix of electrical switches.

Above these you have dome-switch keyboards, where the key presses a metal or plastic dome, which creates a connection between two layers of circuit printed on silicone or rubber. This gives you a more responsive, clicky keyboard than the membrane keyboard, but without the cost of a mechanical construction.

Scissor-switch mechanisms can be found in most respectable chiclet-style keyboards, and augment the dome-switch with two interlocking metal or plastic pieces that hold the keytop in place. The result is a low-profile keyboard that still has some travel and a satisfying tap.

Finally, mechanical keyboards have a switch and spring arrangement under each key. This inevitably costs more to produce – and thus to buy – but it does allow the manufacturer to tune the feel of the keyboard and every key on it.

Each technology has a different feel. Membrane keyboards are quiet, but can feel cheap and unresponsive, while mechanical keyboards have more weight and a satisfying – but noisy – click. Dome-switch keyboards and scissor-switch models sit somewhere in the middle.

What else should you look for?

The layout is crucial. Most keyboards have a conventional layout with a dedicated numeric pad, function keys and a cluster of Home, Insert and Delete keys, though some will ditch certain of these to save space. If you use the numeric pad or the PgUp and PgDn keys a lot, this is something you ought to bear in mind. Shrunken Shift keys and Enter/Return keys are a perennial problem, while some keyboards have a cramped layout, where the keys are smaller and very close together, or a smaller space bar.

Similarly, many keyboards have additional media or internet keys, which you may (or may not) have a use for. They may also have switchable function keys, with different roles when an additional Function Shift key is pressed. If you use the F keys all the time this can be hugely annoying. Finally, watch out for oddities. For instance, Lenovo keyboards have a great reputation, but Lenovo has a tendency to stick a Function Shift key in the bottom-left corner, right where you expect to find Ctrl. This isn’t a disaster, but it takes some getting used to.

Needless to say, you also have to choose between wired and wireless keyboards, and between wireless keyboards that use Bluetooth and those that work with a bundled USB receiver. Wired keyboards don’t run out of batteries and sometimes come with extras, like a built-in USB hub. Wireless models have an obvious advantage, though, and some will even support several different PCs or mobile devices, allowing you to switch between them with the click of a switch. The only problem is you’ll sometimes have to splash out on a wireless desktop bundle to get them, whether or not you need the included mouse.

READ NEXT: The best gaming keyboards

The best keyboards you can buy in 2021

1. Logitech MX Keys and MX Keys for Mac: The best backlit keyboard for under £100

Price: £100| Buy original model from Amazon | Buy Mac version from Amazon

The Logitech MX Keys is a brilliant high-end keyboard that's essentially the same as the Logitech Craft (see below) but without the fancy rotary ‘crown’ control and £150-plus price tag. It has ultra-comfortable chiclet keys, each with a convex recess to guide the fingertips. The feedback on each keystroke is superb and the layout is too. The regular MX Keys is both MacOS and Windows 10 friendly, with function doubling to help you get work done whatever machine you have connected to the keyboard. However, there's also a new Mac-specific model with the familiar Control, Option, Command and function-key shortcut layout for those who don't want to change the way they work. 

With a choice of Bluetooth or USB wireless dongle, the MX Keys is also very flexible when it comes to connection and it has an impressive array of less obvious party tricks, allowing you to switch between up to three computers or devices at the tap of a key, and even allowing you to cut and paste between them.

Meanwhile, the subtle but effective backlighting adjusts automatically depending on the ambient lighting in the room, and even sleep and wake in response to the proximity of your hands. The battery lasts for up to ten days with the backlight on or up to five months when it’s turned off, and recharges via USB-C. All told, the Logitech MX Keys is our favourite all-rounder for both Windows and Mac users; if typing comfort is your priority, why consider anything else?

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: Reactive backlight; Connections: Bluetooth 4, USB, USB wireless dongle; Dimensions: 430 x 132 x 20.5mm; Weight: 810g

2. Microsoft Surface Keyboard: The best Bluetooth chiclet keyboard

Price: £90 | Buy now from Currys PC World | Buy now from Microsoft

As it was built to match its line of Surface tablets, all-in-ones and laptops, it’s no surprise that Microsoft’s Surface Keyboard is a high-class effort. With a plastic base and aluminium top, it’s both lightweight and sturdy, while rubber strips on the base do a great job of holding it in place on your desk. The grey chiclet keys are clearly printed and the layout is free of any nasty surprises. The best thing about this keyboard, though, is the action, which is light enough for speedy typing but with more weight and travel than the average chiclet keyboard. The keys are engineered for a quiet but responsive feel, too.

Many Windows users have longed for a chiclet keyboard to equal Apple’s Magic Keyboard, and the Surface Keyboard arguably betters it. The only fly in the ointment is that the Bluetooth-only connectivity – while flawless – means many desktop PCs won’t be able to use it without a third-party adapter. That won’t be an issue for Surface device users, but a keyboard of this quality should be available to everyone.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: N/A; Connections: Bluetooth 4; Dimensions: 421 x 113 x19mm; Weight: 425g

3. Cherry KC6000 Slim: The best-value keyboard for getting work done

Price: £33 | Buy now from Ebuyer | Buy now from Amazon

If you lack the Bluetooth connectivity and budget for Microsoft’s top keyboard, Cherry has a cheaper, wired alternative. Buy the KC6000 and you’ll have to make do without the premium materials, but with its slimline housing and weighty metal plate on the top, it feels more expensive than it looks. There are precious few holes to pick in the layout, and there’s much to like about the elegant styling and discreet red lights on the caps, scroll and num lock keys.

More importantly, it’s a fine keyboard for typing. Cherry seems to have tuned its scissor-switch mechanism to near perfection, giving you a crisp action with just enough travel and a little weight. It’s surprisingly similar in feel to Apple’s Magic Keyboard, with the additional benefit of slightly raised labels and concave surface that seem to help your fingertips fall into place. With a two-year warranty and keys predicted to last ten million actuations, it feels like it’s built for long-term use, and the laser-etched keys shouldn’t let you down, either. If you’re buying for business or you do a lot of writing, there’s really little reason to spend more.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: none; Connections: USB; Dimensions: 440 x 120 x 15mm; Weight: 662g

Buy now from Ebuyer

4. Logitech Craft: The best keyboard for creatives

Price: £158 | Buy now from Amazon

Logitech’s Craft is an instant classic, giving you just about everything you could want from a desktop keyboard. The chiclet-style keys are a bit unusual, with the standard square keytops but a sizable round dimple in the centre of each one, but once you get used to this it’s an aid to typing, with your fingertips falling dead centre every time. The action is as good as Microsoft’s Surface, being springy and easy on the fingers, but with a solid and responsive weight. We love the modern style of the labels, with some clever workarounds that make this keyboard work as well for Macs as it does for PCs, while the backlighting is bright enough to be effective without being blinding.

It’s a pleasure to use, then, without any compromises on the layout or the feel, but this model has two brilliant extras. First, you can connect to up to three different devices using the bundled wireless USB dongle or Bluetooth, then switch between them with a press of a quick-switch button. Second, note the round knob at the top left of the keyboard, which Logitech calls the ‘crown’. You can use this to make fine, analogue adjustments while using features in a range of apps, including Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator and InDesign, plus a varied selection of photo-editing, drawing, painting and video apps. It even comes in useful for Office applications and browsers, giving you an instant zoom or paragraph style switch. It’s not cheap, but the Craft could be the ultimate keyboard for creative types.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: Input Dial, backlight; Connections: Bluetooth 4, USB, USB wireless dongle; Dimensions: 430 x 148 x 32mm; Weight: 962g

5. Cherry MX Board 1.0: The best mechanical keyboard for hard work and play

Price: From £81 | Buy now from Scan |

We tend to think of mechanical switch keyboards as gaming devices, but Cherry’s latest keyboard proves that its MX switches can work every bit as hard as they play. If you like a traditional keyboard with plenty of travel but a lighter action, then this is up there with the best – and, unlike most of its mechanical rivals, it doesn’t scream eSports or teenager’s bedroom. In fact, the simple design and plain white backlighting would work just as well in the office as the home. Don’t worry, though: those MX Gold Crosspoint switches will still help you triumph in PUBG and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 after hours. Just be warned that it’s a pretty noisy beast.

That backlighting is one of the strengths of this keyboard, with the illumination coming through the laser-etched labels on the keytops rather than streaming through the gaps between the keys. Extras are limited, with just a handful of media controls, but Cherry provides a handy wristrest that clips in neatly to the front of the unit. With its tank-like construction, this keyboard is likely to outlast your PC, and if you long ago abandoned traditional keyboards for modern chiclet efforts, this one’s more than good enough to tempt you back.

Key specs – Type: Traditional; Special features: backlight; Connections: USB; Dimensions: 470 x 165 x 25mm; Weight: 1.2kg

6. Fnatic miniStreak: A gaming keyboard that's great for typing, too

Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon

If you're after the ultimate in key feel you'd be a fool to discount a gaming keyboard like the Fnatic miniStreak. Yes, it comes fully equipped with garish RGB lighting but you can tone that down using the accompanying software and the build quality and typing experience is second to none.

In fact, you can choose how you want the Fnatic to feel under your fingers because it can be ordered with a choice of three Cherry MX key switches: the linear (and gamer's favourite) Red; the clickiest Blue switches and the middle-ground Brown switches. We chose the model with Cherry MX Brown switches and absolutely love the way the keyboard feels to type on.

With an adjustable PU Leather wristrest and a compact footprint that's ideal for cramped home working setups, the miniStreak is an absolute dream of a keyboard. A touch pricey, perhaps, but worth every penny.

Key specs - Type: Mechanical; Special features: RGB backlight; Connections: USB-C; Dimensions: 374 x 218 x 70mm; Weight: 703g

7. Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard: The best mid-range wireless keyboard

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon | Buy from Microsoft

The Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard is Microsoft’s mid-priced wireless keyboard, sitting halfway between the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 900 Keyboard and the premium Microsoft Surface Keyboard listed above. The keys have a decent amount of travel and respond to each press with deep and satisfying thuds; overall, the typing experience is pleasant.

The chiclet-style layout looks fairly conventional at first but it does have some interesting features. In place of a Print Screen button, there’s a Snipping key, and Microsoft has also thrown in dedicated emoji and Office 365 keys for quick access to those features. It feels sturdy too, although since it’s made entirely of plastic it isn’t quite as luxurious as the premium Microsoft Surface Keyboard.

The keyboard’s biggest downfall is its lack of kickstand legs, which would have made it more comfortable to use. The non-slip rubberised feet towards the rear of the keyboard are thicker than those at the front, giving the keyboard a subtle gradient but this might not be enough if you’re used to more steeply angled keyboards. The keyboard is powered by a pair of AAA batteries which, according to Microsoft’s website, can keep it powered for up to three years.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: Emoji and Office 365 keys, key reassignment; Connections: Bluetooth 4.0 and higher; Dimensions: 124 x 35 × 19mm (WDH); Weight: 462g

8. Apple Magic Keyboard: The best keyboard for Macs

Price: £85 | Buy now from John Lewis

There are two reasons why the Apple Magic Keyboard has been the go-to keyboard for Mac users. The obvious one is that it’s the official Apple keyboard, and many won’t use anything else. The second is that it’s an excellent keyboard and one of the finest chiclet keyboards ever made. It comes in two versions – with and without a numeric keypad – and the smaller of these is tiny, at less than 28cm wide and 12cm from front to back. Yet its wedge-shaped profile provides a comfortable typing angle, and the combination of aluminium casing and robust scissor mechanism makes it feel surprisingly solid, unlike many clones. While there’s precious little travel, the keys still feel responsive and it doesn’t take long to reach dizzying typing speeds.

The keyboard connects via Bluetooth and charges its built-in lithium-ion battery through a Lightning-to-USB connector. Hook it up to your Mac for its initial charge and they’ll pair automatically. The battery lasts for around a month’s use. It’s an expensive keyboard, particularly when there’s no multi-device support or backlight, but the official Apple keyboard is still one of the best around.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: none; Connections: Bluetooth; Dimensions: 279 x 115 x 28mm; Weight: 231g

Buy now from John Lewis

9. Perixx Periboard 323: The best budget option for Macs

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

If you haven’t got the budget for the official Apple keyboard, the Perixx Periboard is a great low-cost alternative. It isn’t wireless or as light and compact as the Magic Keyboard, but with its curvy profile and rock-solid build, it still looks brilliant. It has something the Apple keyboard doesn’t have, too: a white backlight behind the keys. You can even adjust the level if you find the default a little too bright and prefer a softer glow. The layout, meanwhile, is standard Apple, so you won’t find yourself struggling to find the right key.

Cheap chiclet keyboards often fail on the typing action, but here Perixx gets just about everything right. The scissor switches have around 1.5mm of travel and a great, very stable feel, and if you’re used to a chiclet keyboard it doesn’t take long to reach high typing speeds. What’s more, it’s incredibly quiet in use. While Windows users can’t get the exact same keyboard, Perixx makes a very similar PC model, the Periboard 324. Perixx calls the Periboard 323 its ‘lean, mean typing machine’ and for once the marketing is spot on.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: none; Connections: USB; Dimensions: 455 x 140 x 24mm; Weight: 580g

10. Logitech K780: The most versatile wireless keyboard

Price: £65 | Buy from Logitech | Buy now from Amazon

Looking for a keyboard that can handle all your devices? Look no further than the Logitech K780. Hook it up using the bundled wireless dongle and it will work with your PC or Mac, but you can also connect it via Bluetooth to an iPad or Android tablet, your big-screen smartphone or a convertible laptop, then work on that. What’s more, there’s a built-in cradle that holds tablets safely for comfortable typing, and you can switch between devices instantly using the three easy-switch buttons, top-left.

None of this would matter if the typing experience was lousy, but Logitech has got the basics right. The circular keytops might seem peculiar, but you get used to them surprisingly quickly, and while the travel isn’t long the actual feel is crisp, light and very fast. The only layout issues are the weird integration of the navigation keys with the numeric keypad, along with the decision to move the Delete button to the top row with the F keys. Neither is a deal-breaker, and the battery life is rated for two years from a pair of AAA, making this a smart and flexible option.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: Multi-device switch, integrated tablet cradle; Connections: Bluetooth, USB wireless dongle; Dimensions: 380 x 158 x 22mm; Weight: 830g

11. Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard: The best all-in-one keyboard

Price: £29 | Buy now from Amazon

All-in-one or media keyboards are a must if you have a PC plugged into your TV or you need something convenient you can use with a NAS device, Raspberry Pi or Android TV box. Not only do you get a wireless keyboard that sits on your lap – you also have a built-in touchpad for pointer control. Using these models too often means compromising on the keyboard size, touchpad or layout, but not so with Microsoft’s effort. It has a spacious layout and a good-sized touchpad, with the buttons integrated in its surface. You’ll have no problems with multi-touch gestures, and there’s a little more weight and substance here than with some rival keyboards. Spill-resistance is a real plus in the living room, too.

The action is good and the feel responsive, though it’s not in the same stellar league as the Logitech Craft or Microsoft’s own Surface keyboard. We’d also prefer slightly larger function keys. However, what you lose there you gain in the extremely accessible volume and mute controls and customisable buttons above the touchpad. It’s one very usable and versatile bit of kit.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: Integrated touchpad, media controls; Connections: USB wireless dongle; Dimensions: 378 x 144 x 19mm; Weight: 434g

12. Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard: The best ergonomic keyboard

Price: £81 | Buy now from Ebuyer | Buy from Amazon

Microsoft’s best ergonomic keyboard is a beautifully designed bit of kit. It’s a split design with a generously sized cushioned palm rest, placing each hand in just the right position to tap away at one half of the keys. The front is actually raised by a spacer that holds on with magnets, keeping the pressure off your hands and wrists and allowing your fingers to do their thing freely.

Not only does it look pretty stylish, but it’s relatively compact by the colossal standards of ergonomic keyboards, helped by the fact that the numeric keyboard comes as a separate module. This works through the same USB dongle as the keyboard but does require its own battery. Any split ergonomic keyboard will take some getting used to, but the sensible layout and big, accessible function and navigation keys make the process easier, while the shaped, chiclet-style keys have a firmer, crisper action than you’ll find on some sloppy-feeling rivals. If you find your hands or wrists aching after a hard day at work, this keyboard should go some way to help fix it.

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: Split key ergonomic design, separate numeric pad; Connections: USB wireless dongle; Dimensions: 392 x 228 x 59mm; Weight: 836g

13. Logitech Ergo K860 review: The most comfortable ergonomic keyboard

Price: £110 | Buy from Logitech

Where the Microsoft Sculpt offers ergonomic comfort in a compact form factor, the Logitech Ergo K860 goes all out for the bells and whistles. Like most ergonomic keyboards it’s split in the centre and humped to promote a more neutral typing position, the aim being to reduce wrist strain and RSI (repetitive strain injury) but it has its own unique appeal.

Its best feature is its deep memory foam wristrest, which is made up of multiple layers of foam – just like a premium mattress – and a knitted fabric cover to provide genuinely luxurious typing comfort.

It can be paired with up to three devices at once, and switching between them is as simple as tapping a button. Plus, it comes with both Windows 10 and macOS markings, making it easy to use no matter what platform you happen to be using. Powered by a pair of AAA batteries (included) and connected via Bluetooth LE or 2.4GHz, this is a superlatively comfortable and flexible ergonomic keyboard.

Read our full Logitech Ergo K860 review for more details

Key specs – Type: Chiclet; Special features: device switching;  Connections: Bluetooth LE, 2.4GHz RF; Dimensions: 456 x 233 x 48mm (WDH); Weight: 1.1kg

Buy now from Logitech

14. Microsoft Wired Keyboard 600: The best budget keyboard

Price: From £14 | Buy now from Ebuyer | Buy now from Amazon (keyboard and mouse set)

Microsoft’s entry-level keyboard is something of a bargain-basement classic. On the one hand, it doesn’t do anything special and there’s no mistaking the plasticky build for something more expensive. On the other, the sensible layout and slightly concave shape make it an easy keyboard to work with. The feel is pretty good, too. Sure, it’s a traditional effort with old-school membrane switches, but the combination of a shortish travel and a subtle thump on actuation makes for a decent – and quiet – typing experience. If you’ve got a cheap and nasty keyboard on your PC, this will feel like a tangible step up.

In this case, the fact that the design hasn’t changed in over a decade is probably a good thing, and spill resistance only enhances the impression of a simple, reliable product. Frills are limited to a calculator hot key, but for basic needs you won’t get much better for around a tenner.

Key specs – Type: Traditional; Special features: none; Connections: USB; Dimensions: 456 x 160 x 22mm; Weight: 898g