A standard keyboard requires the user to type in an unnatural position, which can put unnecessary strain on your hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders. Working at a computer can cause chronic pain and Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) because of the repeated movements we engage in while typing.
Ergonomic keyboards, however, allow you to type in a more relaxed position. They’re recommended for anyone who spends a significant amount of time at a computer and experiences pain or discomfort associated with typing.
It’s important to note that the best ergonomic keyboard is just one part of the equation when it comes to creating the best workspace. An ideal setup would also include an ergonomic chair and a comfortable desk.
- BEST OVERALL: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Perixx Periduo-505 Ergonomic Split Keyboard
- BEST SPLIT: KINESIS Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB Split Keyboard
- BEST WITH MOUSE: Logitech Ergo K860 Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard
- BEST MECHANICAL: VELOCIFIRE Wireless Mechanical Keyboard Ergonomic
- BEST ANTIMICROBIAL: Fellowes Microban Split Design Wired Keyboard
- BEST FOR GAMING: CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile Keyboard
- BEST FOR PROGRAMMERS: Kinesis Advantage2 Ergonomic Keyboard
- BEST FOR SMALL HANDS: Kinesis Freestyle2 Ergonomic Keyboard
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Ergonomic Keyboard
Before you choose the best ergonomic keyboard for your needs, consider these key factors. Though you might assume that all ergonomic keyboards work the same way, several characteristics can affect their functionality. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important qualities to consider when shopping for the best ergonomic keyboard.
Anyone who spends more than 10 hours a week at a computer would likely benefit from an ergonomic keyboard. Those in careers that require lots of typing, like copywriters and software programmers, should also be aware of how their bodies are positioned as they’re typing for multiple hours a day. Many modern keyboards are customizable, allowing you to change the function of each key to best suit your work type.
Size and Shape
The size of your keyboard is determined to some degree by the size of your work area. Keyboards can be either unsplit (unibody), partially split, or fully split to best suit your needs.
- Traditional unibody keyboards, which are unsplit, encourage you to angle your hands and arms inward as you type.
- Partially-split keyboards have a unibody design, but have a gap in the middle with keys on either side of the gap. Splitting the keys in this way encourages the user to hold his or her arms in a more natural and relaxed position. Because of the gap in the middle, partially-split keyboards are often larger than traditional unsplit keyboards.
- Fully-split keyboards are made up of two completely separate pieces that can be placed in whatever position is most comfortable for the user. While this option may be ideal for some users in the long run, this setup can take some getting used to.
Wired vs. Wireless
Keyboards can be wired or wireless.
- Wireless keyboards use Bluetooth or similar technologies to connect to your computer. They allow you to move your keyboard around freely without worrying about a connecting wire.
- Wired keyboards connect to your computer via a cable. When shopping for a wired keyboard, make sure the connecting cable is long enough to reach your computer.
Many ergonomic keyboards feature unique key layouts that change the location of commonly used keys like Control, Alt, Page Up, and Page Down. Some of these keyboards forego the standard QWERTY layout altogether. While alternative key layouts take some time to get used to, they are intended to be more efficient and comfortable in the long run. Some keyboards come without a number pad because they force a user’s right hand to type at an unnatural angle.
Tilt and Adjustability
When typing, your hands should be in a neutral, level position to avoid causing undue strain. Most standard keyboards that tilt upwards from front to back encourage you to type with your hands at an angle. Ergonomics experts recommend keyboards with a zero-degree tilt, or even a negative tilt, which has the bottom of the keyboard being placed at a higher position than the top. While some keyboards have a fixed angle, others are adjustable to allow you to position it in the way that is most comfortable for you.
Some ergonomic keyboards are also tented, meaning they are raised in the middle. These keyboards are good choices for those who tend to rest their hands on their keyboards when they’re not typing, as this action causes the user to bend his or her wrists.
When shopping for an ergonomic keyboard, key feel is another important consideration. Actuation force measures how much pressure you have to put on a key before it registers the action. The best ergonomic keyboards have light-touch keys with an actuation force between 45 and 60 grams. One of the factors that affects key feel is the type of switch used.
- Mechanical-switch keyboards have individual switches under each key that are engaged when you press down on them. They are responsive and require a lighter touch than membrane keyboards. These keyboards are known for their distinctly loud clicking sound, though this can be minimized depending on the specific switch the manufacturer uses.
- Membrane keyboards have two membrane layers underneath the keys. When you type, the membranes come into contact with one another, which triggers a response. They are typically less expensive than mechanical-switch keyboards, but they provide minimal tactile feedback and require more actuation force. They are typically quieter and more lightweight than mechanical keyboards, and they’re easier to keep clean because dirt cannot make its way under each individual key.
- Dome-switch keyboards are a hybrid of the mechanical and membrane style. This style of keyboard features two circuit board traces under the keys that are formed as metal or polyurethane domes. Dome-switch keyboards provide a high tactile response.
Some ergonomic keyboards include padded wrist rests that support your wrists while you’re either typing or resting. If the ergonomic keyboard you have your eye on does not include a wrist rest, it can be purchased separately.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about keyboards, it’s time to start shopping. The following recommendations consider the features above, including switch type, key layout, tilt, and adjustability.
This keyboard from Microsoft is an excellent, versatile pick that will benefit most computer users. Because it’s partially split, it provides an ergonomic style that’s easy to get used to. Its reverse-tilt position and slightly-tented shape allow you to type in a more natural position, and its membrane-style key-switch is quiet and easy to clean.
The Microsoft Sculpt includes a cushioned palm rest for added comfort and a separate number pad, allowing for optimal flexibility in your workspace setup.
This fully-wireless ergonomic keyboard connects to your computer via USB dongle, so you won’t have to worry about having the right connecting cables. Its dimensions are 9 inches by 16 inches by 2.48 inches.
The Perixx is a good-value, partially-split keyboard that is tented for optimal wrist positioning. It has an adjustable angle, allowing you to use it flat or with a negative tilt. The middle of the keyboard features a four-way, scrolling wheel, and there’s a palm rest at the bottom of the keyboard for added comfort.
This ergonomic keyboard features short, tactical membrane keys for quiet typing. It comes equipped with an ergonomic vertical mouse, allowing you to upgrade both tools at once. Though this model is wired, Perixx also makes a wireless version of the same keyboard, which is more expensive but still comes in at a low price point. The cable length for the wired model is 5.9 feet for both the mouse and keyboard. Its dimensions are 18.23 inches by 8.4 inches by 1.53 inches.
Fully-split keyboards allow you to place the two halves of the keyboard in the position that’s most comfortable for you. This model is wired, and its two halves can be placed up to 20 inches apart. This is a mechanical-switch keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches. These switches require a low actuation force of 45 grams, which is within the ideal range for ergonomic keyboards.
The keyboard features a zero-tilt design, and each side is adjustable with the use of the lift kit, which enables users to tent each side of the keyboard to angles of 5, 10, or 15 degrees. It’s also customizable, allowing you to change the functions of individual keys. Palm support and RGB backlighting cap off an already supercool keyboard. Total dimensions are 15.5 inches by 10.3 inches by 1.3 inches.
This partially-split Logitech keyboard features a tented design and an adjustable-tilt option, allowing you to position it to zero degrees, -4 degrees, and -7 degrees. This lets you type in the position that is most comfortable for you. Its membrane-switch keys ensure quiet typing.
Equipped with a cushioned wrist rest that features a layer of memory foam for added comfort, this wireless ergonomic keyboard uses a USB receiver or Bluetooth wireless technology to connect to your computer from up to 10 meters away.
While this model comes with an ergonomic trackball mouse, there’s another option that includes a vertical mouse.
Many users prefer mechanical keyboards because they don’t require a lot of actuation force. This one-piece, wireless pick from Velocifire is a good choice for users who favor a traditional key arrangement design and don’t want to relearn key locations or how to position their hands.
While many mechanical keyboards produce loud clicking sounds as you type, this one uses brown switches, which are quieter than some other mechanical keys. The keys provide excellent tactile feedback, allowing you to press with less force.
This keyboard’s one downside is that its top is very slightly elevated, rather than having a zero-slope design. Dimensions are 14.4 inches by 5.1 inches by 1.1 inches.
Those who want to minimize germs in their workspace would be well served by this keyboard from Fellowes. It features Microban antimicrobial protection that keeps your keyboard clean and prevents mold, mildew, and fungi from growing. This partially-split keyboard is wired and allows you to hold your hands and arms in a natural position while typing.
One thing that’s cool about this Fellowes keyboard is its 16-character buffer, which allows you to save keystrokes before they’re processed. This is a great feature for fast typists. With dimensions of 20.5 inches by 10.6 inches by 2.6 inches and a weight of 2.28 pounds, some users might find it a little bulky.
Gamers tend to favor mechanical keyboards, and this one uses Cherry MX Red mechanical key switches. These good-quality switches require an actuation force of just 45 grams, meaning you only need a light tough to activate each key. It features an unsplit design, which many gamers prefer. This keyboard comes in a standard-profile version or a low-profile version, and is equipped with a soft-touch palm rest for added comfort. The dimensions are 17.24 inches by 6.61 inches by 1.14 inches.
Mechanical keyboards tend to be recommended for programmers and other people whose work involves heavy typing. Though the Kinesis Advantage2 is technically a partially-split keyboard, there’s a significant distance between its two sides and the middle is tented by 20 degrees. It has an orthogonal layout, meaning the keys are placed at right angles in concave keywells. The two clusters of thumb keys allow you to press frequently used keys with your thumbs instead of your pinky fingers. It also has cushioned, palm pads for extra comfort.
The keys are fully remappable, allowing you to create the ideal workflow for you. While this model uses Cherry MX Brown switches, which offer a low actuation force of 45 grams, an option with Cherry MX Red switches is also available. The dimensions are 18.4 inches by 10.7 inches by 4.1 inches. And, at 3.5 pounds, it’s pretty heavy.
This fully-split wired keyboard allows you to place the two halves of the keyboard a maximum of 20 inches apart. It has a zero-degree slope and a compact design, making it ideal for those with small hands. It uses a rubber-dome membrane switch and requires an actuation force of just 35 grams, meaning it takes a light touch to engage its keys.
Like the Freestyle Edge, this keyboard is compatible with Kinesis’s lift kit, which allows each side to be tented to angles of 5, 10, or 15 degrees. Dimensions are 9.57 inches by 1.3 inches by 16.22 inches.
Tips for Using an Ergonomic Keyboard
Once you’ve purchased an ergonomic keyboard, make sure you take advantage of all of its benefits. If you set up your workspace in an ideal configuration, you’ll be less likely to experience muscle strain. To avoid discomfort while typing, take frequent breaks from typing. A 5-minute break every 20 to 30 minutes is recommended.
- Ensure your keyboard is level with, or lower than, your elbows.
- Ensure your keyboard is flat and does not tilt upwards.
- Keep your forearms parallel to your desk.
- Relax your shoulders and upper arms.
- Adjust your chair so that it allows you to sit up straight when typing.
- Use a wrist rest.
- Take frequent breaks.
FAQs About Your New Ergonomic Keyboard
If you still have questions about how to choose the best ergonomic keyboard, the following frequently asked questions may help.
Q. What is the difference between a standard keyboard and an ergonomic keyboard?
In contrast to standard keyboards, ergonomic keyboards are designed to minimize muscle strain and help you type in a natural, relaxed position.
Q. How do I choose an ergonomic keyboard?
The best ergonomic keyboard for you will depend on the type of work you do, your budget, and how much of a learning curve you’re up for. While fully-split keyboards may be ideal in the long run, they can take a long time to get used to.
Q. Why do people use split keyboards?
Traditional keyboards encourage you to type with your arms angled inwards. Split keyboards allow you to type with your arms in a more natural and relaxed position.
Q. Are ergonomic keyboards good for gaming?
Because gamers often spend long periods of time at their desks, they would absolutely benefit from having an ergonomic keyboard.
Q. How do you get used to an ergonomic keyboard?
The short answer is that it just takes time. You can expect to become accustomed to an unsplit ergonomic keyboard in a week or two, but it may take up to a month to become used to a split model. One way to get used to using a split keyboard is to start by placing its two halves close together and gradually move them apart over time.