When most people shop for a computer, they look for specs to match their use case. Processor speed, number of cores, amount of RAM, video card and storage space are the big items. However, input devices are very frequently an afterthought. But this shouldn’t be the case. Although the other items are important, they’re very spec oriented. They meet the requirements of your expected tasks. You don’t see them or directly interact with them.

Input devices, on the other hand, are very personal decisions. Rarely are they a “right” or “wrong” decision. They’re simply what you prefer. It surprises me, then, that most people tend to just use whatever comes with their computer purchase. The parts of your computer with which you will actually interact are the keyboard and mouse. You will have a much better computing experience if your input devices suit your preferences.

Today, I’m going to discuss keyboards. If you’ve ever shopped for one, you know that there is a vast difference in price between the various models available. There are varieties of mechanisms, including rubber dome, mechanical switches and low profile, scissor switches. There is a variety of features like media keys, USB ports or backlighting. There is also a variety of materials. How on earth is one to determine which things matter in order to make an informed keyboard choice? Here is a basic guide on finding a keyboard for common user types.

Heavy Typists

Do you mostly deal with the written (typed) word? Is most of your time spent typing articles, Facebook posts, or blog posts? Maybe even books? Then your primary concern ought to be the feel and arrangement of the keys. What feels best to you when typing? You may want to experiment with some mechanical models. They can reduce the jolting that comes from having to bottom out on each keystroke. You may also benefit from an ergonomic model if the amount of typing you do has resulted in any physical symptoms.

What features to spend your money on

Mechanical keyboards will likely feel more comfortable to you. Other users may not even notice the difference, but you will. But mechanical switches are more expensive than rubber domes or scissor switches. They also last a lot longer. Expect to spend $100 – $150 for a mechanical keyboard you won’t regret. Models that may appeal to you:

  • Corsair K70
  • CM Storm QuickFire
  • Razer BlackWidow
  • Das Keyboard
  • Matias Quiet Pro

A split design will also cost you a little more money than the standard keyboard. It requires a different design and appeals to a smaller user base. Expect to add $30 – $100 to your keyboard cost for ergonomics. You can find examples of these in the “Sufferers” section below.

On the other hand, you may be someone who prefers the low profile switches in laptops. There are keyboards like the Apple Aluminum Keyboard or the Logitech K360.

Browsers, watchers and listeners

Are you an internet browsing, YouTube watching, music listening type? Are you more interested in backlighting, volume control and extra function keys? You may be less interested in the feel of the keys, then. An upgrade for you will be represented in the additional features on the keyboard.

What features to spend your money on

The addition of media keys, volume control and programmable buttons is not too expensive. Expect to spend $20 – $100 more depending on how many features you want. These models may suit your needs:

  • Logitech K360
  • Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000
  • Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000
  • Das Keyboard 4


Are you all about style? Is beauty a prerequisite for your keyboard? If you bought a keyboard with excellent features and feel, would you be unable to keep it if it didn’t look nice enough?

What features to spend your money on

You’re going to need something pretty, but beware of over-priced models that have style, but terrible functionality. It’s one thing to make art, and another to make it work right. One example of a functional, yet stylish keyboard is the apple aluminum keyboard. If you don’t hate low profile keyboards, then this is a good example of a stylish keyboard that’s still usable. You may be interested in some of these:

  • Microsoft Arc
  • Apple Aluminum Keyboard (or the wireless one)
  • Logitech diNovo Edge
  • Impecca Custom Carved Bamboo Keyboard


Are you having physical problems from the amount of time you spend using a keyboard and mouse? Perhaps carpal tunnel syndrome? Perhaps you just get tired from the long time you spend using your computer.

What features to spend your money on

You are an excellent candidate for ergonomic models. Split designs that angle appropriately so that your hands don’t have to move into unnatural positions are probably the way to go. You’ll spend over $50 for a decent one. Mechanical switches can add even more benefit, but be aware that you’ll probably spend over $150 for that combination of features. If you can afford it, you won’t regret it. Couple it with a trackball mouse and you may wonder how you ever got along any other way. One of these may ease your strain:

  • Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000
  • Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
  • Matias Ergo Pro
  • Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave
  • Several ergonomic models by Kinesis


You’re all about cool. Backlighting, extra functions, USB ports and macro keys may be near the top of your list. But your baseline feature that you can’t live without is N-key rollover. You can’t afford to have any of your keystrokes not register just because you’re holding too many keys down.

What features to spend your money on

You’ll most likely want a mechanical model. Probably something with Cherry MX switches in it. Expect to spend at least $80 on a decent model. You’ll probably spend over $100 to get the rest of the features on your list. But it will last a long time and you won’t regret the purchase.

  • Razer BlackWidow
  • Corsair K70
  • CM Storm Quickfire
  • SteelSeries Apex
  • Logitech G910 Orion Spark



The purpose of this article was simply to introduce you to some of the many options out there. If you don’t fit one of the above categories, don’t fret. Even if you do fit one of the categories, the most important thing to do is get yourself to a store and play with a few. Find what suits your needs best. My current favorites are an old, restored Apple Extended Keyboard II that I use at home and a new Matias Tactile Pro that was provided to me at work.