Top Product: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard | $65 | Amazon
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are no laughing matter, whether you’re working from home or out of an office. Without concerted care and prevention, they can lead to long-term wrist, neck, back, and shoulder pain, as well as possible nerve damage.
Thankfully, RSI is preventable, but only with good posture and the right gear. There’s a lot out there to consider, though: ergonomic mice and trackpads, monitor arms, seat cushions, and more. Why not start with the keyboard? Assuming you spend most of the day hunched over yours, then there are plenty of specialized keyboards that can help you avoid future injuries.
Still, it can be tough to know where to start with so many options out there. A good ergonomic keyboard usually has a split design to avoid cramping wrists and shoulders, along with easily-depressed keys. Here are some of the best options out there right now, according to Amazon customers and also some seriously keyboard-obsessed Redditors.
The Best for Your Desk: Microsoft Sculpt
The Microsoft Sculpt ergonomic keyboard has a very distinctive design due to the sloping build, with a central peaked gap that each side rolls off of. There’s also a completely separate number pad that you can just hide from view if it’s not needed very often. That’ll help you center the keyboard on the desk too, so help make the best use of a small or cramped space.
Amazon users say that the Sculpt has had a real impact on their wrists. One customer, employing perhaps the slightest bit of hyperbole, called it “the greatest joy that the technological world has brought us.” Here’s some insight from another Amazon customer:
“This is the best one out of the bunch. The individual keys are slightly indented enhancing finger placement and key finding. The wrist area is padded. The ergonomic angle is just right and feels very natural. The board feels heavy and well-made. The keys are solid, quiet, and tight. The separate 10-key pad: genius. I struggle to have enough room on my keyboard tray for a full board and mouse with its pad, so this fits great. In addition, having a 10-key on your board always pushes your mouse hand too far to the right for proper ergonomics. Just think, hundreds of times per day, your right hand is traveling too far to find that mouse!”
Best Wireless Keyboard: Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard
The downside of many ergonomics products is that they sacrifice form for function, leading to oft-dull, uninspired, and clunky designs. Not so with Microsoft’s Surface Ergonomic Keyboard. The split design with curved sides lets you position your wrists more comfortably as you type, while the wrist wrest is covered in Alcantara, a fancy fabric that feels great against your skin. Amongst the pack of ergonomic keyboards, it’s one of the best-looking options.
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
As stellar as Microsoft’s Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is, it’s a pain to pair with a Mac. Luckily, for Mac users who want a beneficial keyboard and still care about design, there’s a good-looking option that reviewers seem to love. The Logitech Ergo K860 kind of looks like a darker version of the Surface and is priced similarly, although it has slightly rounder keys.
It’s easily paired with a Mac, thankfully, and Logitech’s keyboard has another cool trick that the Surface Ergonomic can’t match: the palm rest tilts to 0, -4, and -7 degrees so you can find the right position for your wrists. The wrist rest also has dual-layer protection to keep ‘em comfortable and minimize strain, plus the fabric is stain resistant.
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 $115 right now from Newegg, 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 $339 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 01/14/2021.