Top Product: Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard | $130 | Best Buy
It’s not something many of us think about often, but RSI is no joke. Left unchecked, you can find yourself with lasting neck, shoulder, back, and wrist pain that could lead to permanent nerve damage. That sounds scary, and it can be! But the good news is it’s totally preventable with the right gear and good posture. Between monitor arms, ergonomic mice and trackballs, seat cushions, and various other accessories, it can be a lot to take in. Since you probably spend a lot of time typing on your keyboard, that’s a good place to start.
Easier said than done though, right? There’s lots of options to choose from, many are some variation of pricey and ugly, and you might not know it’ll really help your wrists—or keep them safe if you’re just being precautionary. A good ergonomic keyboard will feature a split key design to keep you from cramping up your wrists and shoulders, with keys that don’t require too much pressure for a successful keystroke. You may want a wireless keyboard, or maybe you’re prioritizing mechanical keys. Either way, you’ve got some good options to choose from, and we’ve rounded up the best options according to Amazon reviewers and mechanical keyboard-obsessed Redditors.
The Best for Your Desk: Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard
The bummer about many ergonomic products is they can look anywhere from dull and uninspired to clunky and ugly. Not so with Microsoft’s Surface Ergonomic Keyboard. It features a split design with curved sides that let you position your wrists more comfortably as you type, and its wrist wrest is covered in Alcantara, a fancy fabric that feels nice but can get dirty if you’re not too careful. As far as ergonomic keyboards go, it’d be hard to find one that’d look better on your desk.
You don’t buy ergonomic keyboards for their looks, though; you buy them to give your wrists some relief. I’ve been using the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard on and off since last December, and I miss it whenever I’m stuck with another, more cramped keyboard. The Surface’s chiclet keys are large enough to type accurately on and don’t feel too strenuous to type on for long periods of time. It’s wireless, so you can easily pair it with any computer or tablet you’ve got in your house, but there’s no way to easily switch between devices, and it isn’t rechargeable. But as long as you’re fine with that, and the keyboard’s $130 price tag, the Surface will keep your wrists as cozy as it keeps them healthy.
The Best for Mac Users: Logitech Ergo K860
Great as the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is, I wish I’d known that it’s tricky to pair with a Mac. Luckily, for Mac users who care about design, there’s still a good looking ergonomic keyboard reviewers seem to like. The Logitech Ergo K860 looks sort of like a darker version of the Surface Ergonomic, and at $126 on Amazon, it costs about the same, albeit with slightly rounder keys.
In addition to being easily pairable with a Mac, Logitech’s keyboard has another trick up its sleeve the Surface Ergonomic can’t match: its palm rest can tilt to 0, -4, and -7 degrees to get the right position for your wrists. The wrist rest has two layers of protection to keep them comfortable and reduce strain, and its fabric is stain resistant so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about mucking it up with coffee stains or anything like that. Still, be careful.
The Best Split-Key Alternative: Kinesis Freestyle 2
When my wrists were really giving me trouble, I was afraid my mechanical keyboard was part of the problem (maybe it was!) So when I decided to switch to an ergonomic keyboard, I completely avoided looking at mechanical options. There’s plenty to choose from, though, and I’ve found /r/mechanicalkeyboards to be a great resource over the years for recommendations.
Among their top endorsements for ergonomic options is the Kinesis Freestyle2, a split keyboard that’s actually split, so you have a bit more wiggle room with how you position both sides of keys. Its keys are low-impact, and it has a zero degree slope, which will give your wrists some much-needed relief. Oh, and even though you may not be traveling or going outside much right now, its slim profile makes it easy to pack in a bag for a week away. At $144 right now, it’s cheaper than many other keyboards in its class, so as long as you’re sure you’ll dig a mechanical keyboard, it’s a tough keyboard to beat if you’re not a fan of the Surface and Logi’s sloped designs.
The Best Mechanical Option: Kinesis Advantage2 Quiet LF
Don’t be fooled by its clunky looks—the Kinesis Advantage2 packs all the power of a mechanical keyboard in an ergonomic design that puts your wrist health first. Based on the IBM keyboard design of the 1960s, split keys and a scooped design keep your hands in a cozy position. It comes in a few configurations, with an option for either Cherry MX Brown switches if you prefer to torment your colleagues on every conference call, or silenced Cherry MX Red switches to keep things quiet. You won’t have to worry about compatibility, either, since it works with Windows, macOS, and Linux out of the box.
At $330 for the silenced model, it’s the most expensive model on the list. That said, reviewers on Amazon swear by it, with many calling it their favorite keyboard. Many also note the learning curve involved, saying that the first couple days of typing may bring some frustration, but you’ll come out the other side grateful for the journey.
Best Mechanical Keyboard for Mac: Keychron K2 (Version 2)
Looking for an ergonomic mechanical keyboard that is compact, wireless, and just as great for Mac as it is for Windows? Check out the Keychron K2. The revised, updated version of this keyboard has an angled design that’s easier on the wrists, plus you can angle it further with the feet if you please.
It’s a 75% layout without the number pad, so it’s small and easy to transport, plus it’s wireless and has a beefy 4,000mAh battery pack that lasts for up to 72 hours of typing. Meanwhile, a little switch on the side lets you swap between Mac and Windows layouts, and there are extra, swappable keycaps available for both. It comes with Red, Blue, or Brown key switches, so be sure to research the feel, flow, and clack of each style before ordering.
Our friends at Gizmodo praised the Keychron for its price and Mac-specific keycap layout, saying this:
For the price and feature set, the Keychron K2 offers up great value, particularly if you’re not too picky or new to the world of mechanical keyboards. Sure, it’s way more expensive than a wireless membrane keyboard, but as far as Mac-specific mechanical keyboards go, it’s pretty dang affordable. It’s also much, much, much more enjoyable to type on than the Magic Keyboard—throw that flat piece of overpriced trash in the fiery pits of hell. And while some keyboard snobs might turn their nose up because the K2 isn’t the fanciest keyboard around, I frankly do not give a damn. I’m not one of those mechanical keyboard enthusiasts who would willingly plop down over $300 for the perfect keyboard. I am unapologetically cheap and don’t like keyboards that much. I’m just someone who wants a reasonably priced, non-mushy wireless keyboard for my Mac—and the Keychron K2 is perfect for that.
There are many, many millions of other people out there who struggle with standard keyboards, but there are plenty of ergonomic designs out there that provide relief without hampering your productivity. Getting used to a new shape or layout will take time, so have a little patience if you switch to something fresh and unfamiliar, but it should be well worth the hassle in the end. Don’t let sweet relief wait any longer!
This story was originally published by Jordan McMahon on 10/06/2020 and updated by Andrew Hayward with new information on 10/21/2020.