If you work at a computer all-day, RSI (repetitive strain injury) and other related injuries are a major concern. Taking breaks helps, but if you want to take further steps to avoid these issues, then an ergonomic keyboard can save your wrists from more permanent damage.
Of course, the keyboard is only half the battle when it comes to these issues. While weâ€™re solely focusing on ergonomic keyboards in this article, ergonomic mice areÂ also extremely important when it comes to avoiding injury.
What to Look for in an Ergonomic Keyboard
There are a few things to keep in mind when comparing various ergonomic keyboards.
- Design:Â Thereâ€™s more than one way to make a keyboard ergonomic. Some angle the keyboard away from you, putting the wrist in a more natural position, others curve the entire keyboard to prevent a lot of finger travel (how much your fingers have to move around to hit certain keys), and some are split right down the middle to enable more freedom in where you place your hands. All of these designs have their benefits, with various learning curves attached to them. The curved design of something like our first pick, the Logitech K860Â is the easiest to learn and most natural if youâ€™re new to ergonomic keyboards.
- Wired or Wireless:Â Having one fewer wire on your desk is great, especially if youâ€™re into cable management. But that doesnâ€™t mean wireless is always betterâ€”when youâ€™re working with a wireless keyboard, latency can be an issue (but thatâ€™s mostly just for gaming) along with the need to recharge the battery. Most of the keyboards on this list are wired, so weâ€™ll be sure to make special note of the wireless options and their battery lives when they come up.
- Switch Type:Â Whether itâ€™s mechanical, membrane, rubber domes, or scissor switches, they all offer different typing experiences. Mechanical switches are loved for the variation between different switch types, but theyâ€™re also the most expensive option out of the bunch. Membrane, rubber domes, and scissor switches are all fairly inexpensive and, when done right, can still deliver quality typing experiences.
- Customizability:Â Ergonomic keyboards tend to have some pretty strange layouts. You may be forced into changing up your muscle memory because a certain key has been moved drastically compared to normal keyboards. Fortunately, a good chunk of the ergonomic options out there have great reprogramming tools, so you can make the layout whatever you want. Itâ€™s especially great if you want to make more drastic changes, such as switching to something like the DVORAK layout.
Best for Most People: Logitech Ergo K860
When it comes to ergonomic keyboards, the K860 is one of our favorites for its curved shape and comfortable wrist rest. Itâ€™s the standard QWERTY layout spread out across a curvy board that raises certain keys, so you can avoid stretching your fingers too far. Thanks to the adjustable feet below the wrist rest, you can angle the keyboard in one of three angles: 0 degrees, -4 degrees, and -7 degrees. These feet angle the board away from you, so your wrists arenâ€™t pointed upwards while typing.
The K860 provides great ergonomic benefits without requiring you to spend weeks learning a new layoutâ€”which is good because itâ€™s lacking any reprogramming features. And the two-year-long battery life (with a pair of AAA batteries), wireless connection, and quality scissor switchesÂ only make the K860 an even better board.
Another Great Choice: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard
Microsoft has been making ergonomic keyboards for a while now, and the latest iteration keeps the great ergonomics of past boards while adding a detached Numpad. Having the Numpad separate not only saves space for those who donâ€™t need it but also means you can place it wherever you wish (for example, putting it on the left side of the board, so the right side is freed up for more mouse movement).
The cushioned, non-detachable wrist-rest is comfortable and helps make sure your wrists are positioned properly along with the feet that angle the board away from you. The layout remains faithful to the QWERTY boards youâ€™re used to while still making slight adjustments to improve ergonomics, and the scissor switches under each keycap feel great to type on. This is a wireless board and you can expect the two AAA batteries to last about a year.
A Good Budget Option: Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
If youâ€™re on a tight budget but still want those ergonomic gains, the mundanely named Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard should deliver on what youâ€™re looking for despite the low price tag. Thereâ€™s not much to say about this board; itâ€™s curved, wired, uses rubber dome switches, and the included wrist rest is merely made out of plastic instead of a softer material.
But for the money, itâ€™s still a good deal if youâ€™re looking for a keyboard like thisâ€”itâ€™s a simple board but still a great one.
Simply Split: Kinesis Freestyle Pro
Moving away from the curved boards, the Kinesis Freestyle Pro offers something a bit different. This is a wired, mechanical board split in two with nothing but a cable connecting the halves. This fluid ergonomic design enables you to place your hands wherever you wish while typing, giving you a greater level of freedom when it comes to how your arms and wrists are positioned. You can even reprogram all the keys on the board using the SmartSet app.
You can pick up an accessory kit from Kinesis as well, which includes adjustable feet for each half of the board along with nice cushioned palm pads for added comfort. You also have your choice when it comes to what mechanical switches are on your Freestyle Pro: Cherry MX Browns (which have a satisfying tactile bump) or Cherry MX Quiet Reds (smooth, linear switches with an emphasis on cutting down the noise).
However, this isnâ€™t the only version of the Freestyle Kinesis offers. If youâ€™re looking for something similar at a lower price, the KinesisÂ Freestyle2 is your board. It offers the same type of design as the Freestyle Pro but opts for membrane switches instead of mechanical and loses key reprogramming. Thereâ€™s also the Freestyle Edge,Â which offers the same split design with more mechanical key switch options, some dedicated shortcut keys for reprogramming, and full RGB backlighting all for a higher price than the Freestyle Pro.
The Premium Choice: ErgoDox EZ
If you want to go all out, the ErgoDox is a fully split mechanical keyboard that, while costing a pretty penny, delivers on many useful features. The custom adjustable feet mean you can angle each half of the keyboard in any way you want, and the open-source nature of the keyboardâ€™s software means you can reprogram keys that several perform different actions. (There is also a more traditional reprogramming tool if youâ€™re not interested in the open-source options.)
When you arrive at the purchase page, youâ€™re presented with plenty of choices. You can choose to have blank or printed keycaps, a total of 13 different mechanical switch types, you can add RGB lighting (for an added charge), and get the keyboard in either black or white. The ErgoDox is certainly aimed at those already into mechanical ergonomic keyboards, and it beats a lot of other options in that category price-wise. But if you want to get into this world of high-end ergonomic keyboards, thereâ€™s hardly a better starting point than the ErgoDox.
Slim and Fancy: Moonlander Mark 1
From the same company behind the ErgoDox, the Moonlander Mark 1 comes in at a higher price than the ErgoDox but with a few notable improvements. While the design of the keyboard has been changed, the same principle appliesâ€”the split nature provides more freedom in where you place your hands with the highly adjustable feet granting plenty of options for how you want the halves to be angled. You also still have access to some great reprogramming options.
As far as whatâ€™s new, thereâ€™s now RGB backlighting included, a total of 10 mechanical switches available, and the keyboard is hotswappable, which means you can swap out what switches youâ€™re currently using without having to touch a soldering gun. The build of the Moonlander is also more minimal than the ErgoDox, with a thinner frame around the keys and the height being knocked down a few inchesâ€”great for portability. While the Moonlander Mark 1 costs more than the ErgoDox, it does a lot to justify the price and is certainly worth it if you want a hotswappable keyboard.
For the Dedicated: Kinesis Advantage2
The Kinesis Advantage2 is a strange keyboardâ€”itâ€™s unlike anything else on this list. Itâ€™s a massive hunk of metal and plastic with an unusual, but extremely ergonomic, concave key setup. All of the keys youâ€™d expect are split between two of these concave clusters with navigation keys placed where your thumbs will lie.
Because this keyboard keeps your wrists completely flat while typing, itâ€™s sure to do wonders for avoiding injury, but only if you can get used to it. Out of the keyboards here, this one probably has the steepest learning curve and one of the highest price tags. If youâ€™re new to ergonomic keyboards, itâ€™ll probably be best to start somewhere else, but if youâ€™re in a bad spot health-wise and need a solution now, the Advantage2 may be it.
You can reprogram all the keys on the Advantage2, so if thereâ€™s something about the layout thatâ€™s particularly annoying to you, you can change itâ€”you can find instructions on how to do that on Kinesisâ€™ site. The Advantage2 is also available in two colors: Black and Gray.
Compact and Customizable: Dygma Raise
To end this list, the Dygma Raise is a wonderfully customizable split, mechanical keyboard that keeps a compact profile. When conjoined, the Raise looks like a standard 60% keyboard, but when detached, you get to see the true split nature of the keyboard. Each half of the board is outfitted with magnets to make connecting and splitting the board as easy as possible, which also means this can be used as a traditional keyboard.
Besides the splitting mechanism, the Raise also offers multiple customizableÂ thumb buttons (reprogrammable through the Bazecor software), a total of six different mechanical switch types available, and comes in three colors: Black, Silver, and black keycaps with a silver body. Itâ€™s also fully hotswappable and includes RGB backlighting. The Dygma Raise is a great option for those not ready to fully commit to an ergonomic board or gamers who want to be able to switch to a standard layout gaming keyboard.
But if thereâ€™s one issue with the Dygma Raise, itâ€™s the buying processâ€”you canâ€™t just add this to your cart and be on your merry way. The Raise is sold in limited batches, which are on a â€œfirst-come, first-servedâ€� basis. At the time of writing, a new batch has just started, but if you miss out on it, youâ€™ll need to join the companyâ€™s email notifications and just wait for the next one.
The Raise is a great option if youâ€™re willing to jump through the hoops (and pay the high price) to get it. Otherwise, you should probably go with one of the other high-end split keyboards previously mentioned such as the Moonlander Mark 1.