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This year we have seen a really good variety of keyboards in terms of gaming, mainstream, and even custom models, so we decided to do a compilation of our best keyboards of 2020, just like we did with gaming mice which you can check out here. Now I have teamed up with our good friends Randomfrankp, and BadSeed Tech to discuss our favorite keyboards of the year.
Now I have teamed up with fellow Tech-Tubers and our good friends Randomfrankp and BadSeed Tech to discuss our favorite keyboards of the year.
Razer Huntsman Mini
First let’s start with a small one: The Razer Huntsman Mini. I feel like this is an important 60% keyboard in the mainstream space, just because this form factor is generally reserved for the custom community. The most important upgrade here are the new Gen2 optical linear switches. They fixed the pinging from the first-gen switches on the Huntsman TE by both lubing and adding silicon dampeners to the keyboard, so it’s smoother and sounds so much better.
I still love the double-shot PBT keycaps with a nice texture and clean font, the removable USB-C cable, and the double angle feet. Now what I don’t like is the price, which is above its main competition the Ducky ONE 2 Mini. After having used something more solid like the Mecha Mini with a cast aluminium frame the light nature of the Huntsman Mini just doesn’t really live up to the price.
Stepping things up to a 65% layout, we have the brand new Streak65 from Fnatic. I did not expect to like this keyboard as much as I do, but it clearly shows they have thought about this one from every angle. It’s a really compact frame, similar to a 60% keyboard and footprint on your desk, but we get the additional functionality of the arrow keys and the row of side buttons. It is 48% smaller in volume versus their own TKL keyboard thanks to the low-profile keycaps and their new Fnatic Speed low-profile switches. These switches have become my go-to for gaming because the initial force to press the switch seems to be just right to never accidentally press the key with the weight of your fingers. That is a major win in my book, because coming from speed and light/fast actuation switches I’m always accidentally pressing them just with the weight of my fingers and that never happens with the Fnatic Streak65. Also the lubed stabilizers here are phenomenal. Ergonomically it’s extremely comfortable as well, plus despite the light body it actually has a better quality feel versus the Huntsman Mini. Last, but not least, the USB-C port is always welcome.
Dmitry: Now I’m going to throw a little curve ball your way, so say Hi! to Eber and let’s hear about his favorite notebook keyboard.
Eber: Hey everyone, so to answer your question, my pick for the best notebook keyboard for 2020 is the Dell XPS 15 and XPS 17. I have been using XPS 17 as my daily driver for the past few months to edit photos, videos, and most importantly write scripts for videos as well. Having switched from a Razer Blade 15 the difference has been night and day. I love the simple layout of the keyboard, the font choice is nice and minimal, the keys are appropriately spaced out, and the best part is the typing experience. There is a good amount of travel distance, and I like the feedback that it provides, it doesn’t feel clicky but when you bottom out it’s a smooth transition and I really, really enjoy typing on this laptop. So that is my pick for the best notebook keyboard of 2020.
Mountain Everest Max
Dmitry: Now let’s move on to the full-size category, which is not something that I particularly enjoy since I prefer smaller compact TKL as my maximum size. However, I 100% enjoyed my time with the Mountain Everest Max. First of all, it is a TKL body at its core with hot swappable switches, a USB-C connection, an aluminium top plate, and an actual USB 3.0 hub that is amazing for transferring media with a separate numpad that you can install on either side of the keyboard to fit your play style. You can even use a cable to attach the numpad further away from the body for even more flexibility. I absolutely love this customization, plus the screen buttons are a nice touch for macro customization. Furthermore, we get a media dial that can be attached on either left or the right with some cool options to display on the screen and you use it to change your lighting, your volume controls, to show system usage numbers, and even set a timer. Mountain is definitely in my good books because as a young brand they seem to be listening to reviewers and their customers on what to change in the software and what to bring in for the next revision of the products. I feel like their initial releases were well thought out and I hope they continue in this direction.
Corsair K100 RGB
Dmitry: Moving on to another full-size keyboard, here we have the Corsair K100 RGB. This is a true full-size flagship from Corsair. It is a beautiful keyboard all around, actually the most RGB they have ever put in a keyboard. It has double-shot PBT key caps, a standard bottom row, comfy wrist rest, Elgato Stream Deck compatible side macro keys, and an iCUE dial that is good for switching profiles and some other specific functionality like scrolling, switching apps, and brightness control. Really the most interesting thing about this keyboard are the new OpX switches. They are optical and the keyboard has a 4000Hz polling rate, which is the fastest on any mainstream keyboard to date. This is important because this is where we are heading in the gaming industry for lower latency, faster refresh, and Corsair is already future-proofing their keyboard in a way that no one else can match up to. Razor is going to be launching their mouse with 8000Hz pulling rates and Corsair is already future-proofing their K100 for many, many years to come.
Now before we get into my honorable mentions for 2020, let’s hear from our awesome guests BadSeed Tech and Randomfrankp.
Bad Seed Tech’s Picks
Bad Seed Tech: I’m Brian P from Bad Seed Tech, and Dmitry asked me to come by and talk about my favorite keyboard of 2020. This was a big year, a lot of stuff came out, but nothing impressed me quite as much as the NK65 Entry from NovelKeys. The simple geometry, the polycarbonate case, the heavy duty amount of sound dampening, all add up to where you are getting a ton of value for $95 USD. These aren’t in stock very often or for very long and for good reason, there is a lot to like here. I own three of these, all different colours, and at least one of them always stays in my permanent rotation. Because these boards are hot swappable you can put in whatever switches you like from the most basic to something a little higher-end like these lubed Polar Pandas. The 65% layout is easily my favorite of the small form factors though it does mean that you are going to have to spend a little more or search a little harder to find a proper keycap set that is going to fit completely. However, this board does have south facing sockets so no matter what combo of switch and cap you go with you are never going to have to worry about interference. Also, because there is no aluminium in there, and there is plenty of sound dampening, you are going to wind up with a great sounding keyboard.
Bad Seed Tech: The only downside from a custom standpoint is that it only supports plate mount stabilizers, but the ones included still sound and feel really good. This keyboard has USB-C connection, and it is VIA compatible for programming. They are also one of the few customs to support per-key RGB lighting. They do make it in an upgraded aluminium version at a higher price point, but regardless of price in my opinion the Entry is the one to go for. Now if you can’t get your hands on one of these, my favorite runner-up for a starter chassis has got to be the GMMK TKL from Glorious PC Gaming Race. Make sure you grab the white ice colourway because it has some enhancements you won’t find in the standard version like upgraded stabilizers and USB-C. Thanks so much to Dmitry and the Hardware Canucks team for having me on today. Hope everybody has a safe and happy holiday, and until next time stay up.
randomfrankp: What’s up everyone, I’m Randomfrankp, big shout out to my man Dmitry for having me on today. My favorite keyboard from 2020 is the HyperX Alloy Origins Core. This model specifically with their new Aqua switches, which are really smooth and unique. First up I love this model’s TKL form factor, it is my personal favorite, and I’ve just never been one to use a numpad so I get to save some extra desktop space here with the compact form factor. The board is made really well and it looks nice with the matte powder coating to it, but like I said what really sealed the deal for me and made this my favorite keyboard of the year are the Aqua switches. HyperX recently started making their own switches, and these Aqua tactiles are by far the smoothest I have ever tried. I know you think of linears as being smooth, but as a tactile switch they are pretty much on par with that, but you still get that tactile bump. It almost feels like a lubed palm stem, but you still do get that tactile response when you actuate the key. I was just really happy to see them put out this new style of keyboard with their own switches, and with the standard bottom row and USB-C cable that lets you then switch it out to your own custom keycap set and use your own custom cable if you want to possibly start to go down that rabbit hole of the custom keyboard market. I’m just really impressed with it for just $90 USD. Great keyboard overall.
Randomfrankp: Speaking of customs, one keyboard I keep coming back to is my NovelKeys N65 Entry, which is an entry-level custom keyboard. At just $95 for the actual case, plate, and PCB. this is a great starter to getting into customs. I have it here in the atomic purple colour, which I think is a great throwback to the old like game boy days. They have made multiple different colourways as well, which is just really cool to see. It is a great starter at a great price, all you need to do is buy your own keycaps and own switches. I went the budget route, I got some Gateron Milky Yellow switches, lubed them, filmed them, and they sound incredible. And then to match the purple I picked up a Gengar artisan keycap just to kind of fit the theme even more. Overall, this keyboard sounds great, it looks really cool, and it has RGB if you want it. That will wrap it up for me, thanks again to Dmitry, have a good day.
The Honourable Mentions
Dmitry: This variety opinions is definitely necessary, especially when it comes to keyboards and the fact that the NK65 was like a common denominator between the two means that it’s probably a really good product. Now let’s move on to my honorable mentions. The first one goes to the XTRFY K4 RGB. It is the keyboard that has been all my editing desk since launch with this cool retro colourway, but on paper it is really nothing fancy and not really the most amazing value either at $99 USD. Nor is it the most custom TKL keyboard available, the cable is non-removable, the switches are not hot swappable, the keycaps are not PBT, but I love this keyboard for one reason: All the large keys have sound dampening installed underneath, so that makes a huge difference on how the keyboard feels and how it sounds
Dmitry: I also want to give a shout out to the new Roccat Vulkan TKL Pro. I think it is one of the coolest looking gaming keyboards on the market with those narrow floating keycaps, even though they are ABS the matte surface gives them a really nice feeling texture. The USB-C port is centered and you can use whatever cable you want with it, the volume wheel is incredibly tactile, and the body is clean too. The optical Titan switches are rated at 100 million clicks with supreme stabilizers. Seriously, the stabilizers on this keyboard are incredible. The switch travel is pretty smooth with that fast actuation, but there is some pinging happening with the larger keys so it’s not the quietest keyboard, but still the overall feeling is pretty nice.
The last honourable mention I have is the Logitech G915 TKL simply because it is the only low-profile wireless TKL keyboard I would recommend, even though it is very expensive at $230 USD. I love that they have added a USB compartment at the bottom, refined the aluminum edges a bit from the original, improved battery life with over 40 hours at full brightness, plus we now have Bluetooth support for multi-device connectivity. However, they still kept the outdated micro-USB port and the volume wheel is quite loose. I love the font on the keycaps, but I will tell it because of the proprietary stem design with the Kaihl switches finding replacements is not as easy as on your standard MX stems. It is a really unique product because it is almost in its own category 1) wireless 2) TKL 3) low-profile/ 4) super low latency.
All right, so those are our keyword picks for 2020. Let us know what you are using right now, and if you are planning to upgrade I feel like keyboards is one of those things that you either collect or use for years. You don’t necessarily upgrade very often. Like I switch mice so often, but the keyboard is one of those stationary items for me. Heck, I switch audio more often than I switch keyboards, so if you are like me you probably pick one and you stick with it for loooong time.
Buy the best keyboards from Amazon:
Razer Huntsman Mini – https://geni.us/HUNTMINI
Ducky One 2 Mini – https://geni.us/D12MINI
Corsair K100 RGB – https://geni.us/CK100
XTRFY K4 RGB – https://geni.us/K4RGB
XTRFY K4 RGB Retro – https://geni.us/K4RETRO
Roccat Vulkan TKL Pro – https://geni.us/VULKTKL
Logitech G915 TKL – https://geni.us/G915TKLLIN
HyperX Alloy Origins Core TKL – https://geni.us/ALLOYAQUA
Buy the Top 10 keyboards our other partners:
Razer Huntsman Mini – razer.a9yw.net/huntmini
Fnatic Streak65 – fnatic.sjv.io/2bVQM
Mountain Everest MAX – https://us-mountainggshop.com/?ref=N0…
Corsair K100 RGB – go.corsair.com/K100OPTX
Glorious GMMK TKL – https://shrsl.com/2nnqz
Novelkeys NK65 Entry – https://bit.ly/3qmF5IN