The Ultimate Guide for Buying a Mechanical Keyboard
by Freya Tong on Jun 16, 2022
Computer upgrades don’t always mean getting the latest GPU or higher RAM. Other parts should also be your priority when it comes to improving your overall computing experience. For example, a keyboard may seem unimportant, but getting a better one, like a mechanical keyboard, can significantly change the way you use your computer. So are you ready to make the switch?
But with all the available options, finding the right mechanical keyboard for you can be challenging. Fortunately, we’re here to guide you in finding the perfect one for your needs. In this article, we will discuss the things you need to look for in a mechanical keyboard, along with recommendations for every use.
How to Choose the Right Mechanical Keyboard
Mechanical keyboards are not built equally. Each type works best for specific tasks and users. While it’s easier to choose just by how each keyboard looks (we know you’re guilty!), that shouldn’t be the way. Every keyboard is designed with a purpose in mind, so if you buy something that isn’t suited for your needs, you might end up regretting your purchase.
To help you out, here are some of the factors that you need to consider when buying a mechanical keyboard:
Pick the Right Layout
There are different types of layouts to choose from in mechanical keyboards. If you don’t know what layout means in keyboards, this refers to how the keys are placed on the board. The most common layout you can find is the Full layout (104-key), but other forms are available that cater to every need.
A Full layout includes several sections. The main section has all the letters, escape, backspace, and punctuation keys. The area above it consists of the numbers (1 - 0), dash (-), and equal (=) keys, and the section above these keys is the Function rows (F1 - F12 keys). The home and navigation clusters (PageUp, Home, Delete, etc.) are found on the right side of the main section, along with the arrow keys below them. And, of course, the number pad, which is a separate section found on the right-most part of the keyboard.
Other keyboard layouts focus on making the keyboard more compact; that’s why many keys are removed. For example, a 98% and 96% layout can look similar to Full keyboards at first glance, but these are more compact with several keys like the Shift key shortened and some spaces between the keys removed. This layout is perfect for those who find the Full keyboard too big but can’t sacrifice any keys for compactness.
TKL or Tenkeyless is another keyboard layout that removes the number pad or the ten keys on the right, as the name implies, to make room for more space. This layout is perfect for those who don’t use the Numpad too often. Another type is a 75% layout, which is essentially a TKL but removes all the spaces between the keys, making it more compact.
There’s also a 65% layout that doesn’t have the Function section, most navigation keys, and gaps between the keys, which is much more compact. Lastly, the 60% layout removes even more keys and looks like the 65% layout, minus all the arrow keys.
Remember, the layout for you will always depend on how you use your keyboard. If you always use the Numpad, it’s best to go with a format that has one to make typing easier for you. If it’s not something you need, a more compact option can be a better choice to make it easier for you to type.
Choose a Switch that Fits Your Needs
Mechanical switches are the reason why mechanical keyboards are special. They are placed under the keys, which can determine how your keyboard will feel when you type on it. Switches come in different depths, smoothness, resistance, noise levels, and smoothness. Choosing the right one is an important yet difficult decision to make.
There are three types of mechanical switches: linear, tactile, and clicky. Linear switches don’t make as much noise as tactile and clicky switches and are generally smoother to type on. This is perfect if you want something quiet and softer. Tactile switches shave more resistance and feedback to each keypress. They also produce some noise, but not as loud as clicky switches. Lastly, clicky switches make an audible click when pushed down, giving you clear feedback that a key is pressed. They can be great for typing but not when you’re around a lot of people because it can be too noisy.
So, when buying a mechanical keyboard, you need to ask yourself: are you after the noise the keyboard makes? Or do you just want more feedback on your every press? Are you a gamer, or do you type on your computer all day? These questions can help you choose the right switch for you.
Don’t Forget the Keycaps
In addition to layout and switches, another crucial factor that could make or break your typing experience is the keycaps. Keycaps are the covering places on top of the mechanical switches and the ones in contact with your finger when you type. The wrong key cap can ruin the entire feel of your mechanical keyboard.
There are different types of keycap profiles or shapes of the keycaps. For example, flat keycaps have the same height, allowing you to have a consistent experience. Sculptured keycaps come in different sizes, enabling you to distinguish each key easily. There are also other types of keycaps, each with a different profile.
Again, there’s no best keycap profile or type. It will always boil down to your personal preference. So, the best one will depend on which keycaps you feel more comfortable typing on.
The Best Mechanical Keyboard for June 2022
Now that you know how to choose the right keyboard, we’ve listed some of the best Epomaker mechanical keyboards for various uses. A mechanical keyboard is an investment, so it’s best to get the right one that suits you and your needs.
Best Full Size: Ajazz AK35i
If you often use your number pad when typing, the Ajazz AK35i Full mechanical keyboard is for you. It may look like your regular keyboard, but don’t be fooled! This wired keyboard comes with 3-pin mechanical switches that are hot-swappable. If you’re new to mechanical keyboards and just heard the word hot-swappable, this term means that you can change the switch of your keyboard without soldering.
Since the Ajazz AK35i is hot-swappable, you can easily swap out the Red switch, which is linear, if you want something that produces more feedback noise. In addition, it comes with double-shot ABS keycaps that allow light to shine through the legend so you can efficiently type even in the dark.
The Ajazz AK35i also has a scroll knob for volume control, letting you adjust the volume easily while adding a more modern look to the keyboard. It also supports NKRO or N-key rollover, which means that the hardware correctly detects each keypress regardless of how many keys are being pressed or held down simultaneously.
Furthermore, it comes with three layers of programmable mode, A1/A2/A3, and even with these programs, you can still assign different key functions through the driver and macro record. So, if you want a reliable and customizable Full keyboard, the Ajazz AK35i is perfect for you.
Best TKL over $200: Qeekestudio KR-081
If you’re ready to splurge on your new mechanical keyboard, you’ll never have regrets with Qeekestudio KR-081. This mechanical keyboard may come with a hefty price tag, but it’s packed with powerful features that will take your gaming and typing to the next level.
First, you can connect this keyboard to your computer in three ways: Bluetooth 5.0, 2.4 GHz, and a USB-C wired output. This means that you can use it with your PC, laptop, or even console. Apart from a variety of connections, it also boasts its performance featuring Gateron switches, which allows a more precise typing. It’s also equipped with hot-swappable terminals, so you can easily replace your switches when you need to. Sounds promising, right?
But that doesn’t stop there. The Qeekestudio KR-081 keyboard uses a gasket mount instead of screwing holes into the switch plate. So, the switch plate is wedged between the case layers and PCB with gaskets or rubber strips as support. It also offers enhanced typing, thanks to the foam found under the PCB, which absorbs hollow sounds, and the silicon layer on top of the PCB, which can buy keystrokes. This provides a phenomenal typing sound and premium feel.
With each keypress on the Qeekestudio KR-081 mechanical keyboard, you know every penny you spend is worth it.
If small and mighty is what you need, the Epomaker TH66 is the one for you. Created with gamers in mind, this mechanical keyboard offers the flexibility and customization you need to enhance your overall gaming experience. First, the TH66 has three modes of connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, 2.4 GHz, and a USB-C wired output. This means you can use it for all gaming devices with Bluetooth connections and wired input!
On top of that, you get hot-swappable sockets that accommodate both 3-pin and 5-pin switches, allowing you to upgrade and change your switch depending on your mood. This will enable you to create different keyboards customized to whatever gaming title you’re currently playing. It also has a unique structure, utilizing both gasket and sandwich structure to provide a more stable typing experience and softer tactile feel.
In addition, the TH66 comes with the Epomaker Theory keycaps that feature a unique MDA profile. This keycap profile is a lower version of SA, making it suitable for people who like typing on sculpture keycaps that are not too high. It also uses PBT keycaps, which are considered the better keycap materials since they’re much more durable and oil-resistant compared to PBT.
Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t get a decent mechanical keyboard. Now, with Epomkaer TH80, you can get a reliable and customizable gaming keyboard without breaking your bank. Like other Epomaker keyboards, it comes with three types of connectivity for the optimum experience. It is also available in five kinds of Gateron Pro switches: yellow, red, black, brown, and blue. And if for some reason, you want to use a different switch than what you initially have, you can easily swap it without any soldering issues.
The TH80 also comes with the famous Epomaker Theory keycaps. This means that you can expect durable keycaps that do not get shiny after a while. It also has an MDA keycap profile for maximum comfortability. When it comes to installing new switches, it has a PCB-mount design making every switch change a walk in the park. Plus, it has a 50-million-keystroke lifespan, so you know you’re getting your money’s worth.
But what makes this mechanical keyboard unique among the rest? Well, the Epomaker TH80 has different default RGB effects, which you can use with various shortcuts. It also features south-facing LEDs, resulting in brighter lights. If you’re into customization, its compatible software allows you to create your own settings and light effects. So if you want more control over your mechanical keyboard, this is definitely for you.
Productive Booster for Working on Tablets: Ajazz K620T V2.0
Even if you only own a tablet or prefer to use a tablet for work, there’s a mechanical keyboard for you. The Ajazz K62T V2.0 is a 60% mechanical keyboard that comes with a 4400mAh battery for more extended use. Like other Epomaker keyboards, it’s also hot-swappable, so you can change it whenever you like.
It’s also compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows devices, allowing you to switch devices seamlessly. Plus, it can connect to up to 3 gadgets, so you can use this keyboard on various devices without connecting it whenever you need to use a new device. Lastly, it comes with PBT keycaps that are waterproof, abrasion-resistant, and dust-resistant. This means you can bring your keyboard even if you’re traveling outdoors.
Runner Up: Epomaker TH96
If you want a compact keyboard that still includes the Numpad, the Epomaker TH96 is an excellent choice. Not only that it comes with hot-swappable sockets, but it also has QMK/VIA version software that lets you remap each key to support your need--customizability, check! In addition, it uses a stainless steel plate that provides better stability and durability. However, it may be heavy for some users, especially those needing a traveling keyboard.
Additionally, this mechanical keyboard comes with PBT keycaps and avail in either MDA or MDA v2 profile for more ergonomic and comfortable usage. So, if you want a premium typing experience for less, the Epomaker TH96 is for you.
Honorable Mention: Epomaker TH21 Numpad
Last but definitely not least on our list is the Epomaker TH21 Numpad. While it’s only a numeric keyboard, it has many of our Epomaker mechanical keyboards, making it ideal for people who need extra help with commands and functions. Plus, it’s programmable, meaning you can switch up the keys’ function and make it work for whatever purpose you need it for.
The TH21 Numpad comes in blue, red, brown, yellow, and black Gateron Pro switches. But since it’s hot-swappable, you can change the switch if you feel the original one you got is not working for you. It also has backlight effects which are great if you need a Numpad that complements the overall design of your computer.
Don’t Miss Out on These Epomaker Mid-Year Deals!
While choosing the right mechanical keyboard can be challenging, the customizable feature of the Epomake brand allows you to try different switches to find the perfect one for you. This can also be fun, especially if you enjoy DIY projects. You’ll be surprised how enjoyable and fulfilling it is to make your own keyboard. So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on these deals, and get your Epomaker mechanical keyboard today!