If you’re used to the crisp, precise typing feel of a mechanical keyboard, switching to an ergonomic keyboard can prove challenging. Standard ergo keyboards often suffer from a mushy typing feel, potentially ruining whatever ergonomic benefits they may offer. Thankfully, the best ergonomic mechanical keyboards prove that you no longer need to choose between ergonomics and typing pleasure.
We’ve opted to define “ergonomic keyboards” as those with a split layout, so our list focuses exclusively on these. From conservative split 75% keyboards all the way to premium ortholinear offerings, we’re confident that our list has something for everyone. Let’s get going.
- Best Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard: Mistel Barocco MD770 has great build quality and a simple split 75% layout that’s easy to get used to.
- Best Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard Alternative: Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB adds useful macro keys for a gaming-friendly split layout, but needs an optional $30 purchase to really excel ergonomically.
- Best Full-Size Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard: Cloud Nine ErgoFS has a 115-key layout with the Numpad, macro keys, and a nifty control wheel.
- Best Premium Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard: Ergodox EZ’s split layout, thumb clusters, and ortholinear key arrangement make it one of the best ergonomic keyboards ever
- Best Premium Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard Alternative: Kinesis Advantage2 is a high-end fixed-split keyboard with ortholinear keys and useful thumb clusters.
- Best Alice Layout Mechanical Keyboard: Feker Alice 80 combines excellent mechanical keyboard fundamentals with a relatively ergonomic layout.
Our Favorite Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards
Before starting, we need to explain one ergonomic keyboard feature we’ll mention throughout this list: tenting. Tenting refers to adding a lateral (or horizontal) tilt to each half of your keyboard, raising the inner edge upward. Advocates claim that this helps your wrists rest in a more relaxed position when typing, reducing wrist strain.
|Switch Type(s)||Cherry MX Black/Brown/Blue/Red/Silent Red|
|Keycap Material||Double-Shot PBT|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||13.2 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches|
The Mistel Barocco MD770 is a split ergonomic keyboard with a conventional 75% layout, offering an easy and familiar entry point for ergonomic keyboard newbies. Combine that with its high build quality and durable Cherry MX switches, and you have the makings of a perfect starter ergonomic mechanical keyboard.
Mistel played it safe with the MD770, simply splitting a 75% keyboard in two. While that makes the MD770 look a bit uneven, the familiar layout lowers the barrier to entry for a first-time ergonomic keyboard user. If you’ve used a 75% mechanical keyboard before, you’ll quickly get used to the MD770.
While the MD770 may appear simple on the surface, there’s a surprising amount of depth to the keyboard once you dig into its features. For one, it ships with Colemak and DVORAK support from the factory, and you can cycle through all three default mappings using Pn + “.
The MD770 is also fully programmable, and you can remap the keys and record macros without running proprietary software on your computer. You get three editable layers for key mappings and macros, with a fixed default layer that you can’t change. The process is somewhat complex so we won’t go into it here, but the MD770’s manual explains the process well.
Overall quality is what you’d expect from a keyboard at this price, too. The double-shot PBT keycaps are nice and thick with crisp legends, and the switch options are all original Cherry MX switches for maximum durability.
The main issue with the Mistel MD770 is that it may be too conservative. While the standard staggered key arrangement and 75% layout are great for newbies, the lack of any built-in tenting support will limit the MD770’s appeal to hardcore ergonomic keyboard fans.
Is the Mistel MD770 the final word in ergonomic keyboards? No, not quite. But its combination of a familiar layout, great build quality, solid programming, and reasonable price make it one of the best ergonomic keyboards for newbies and the ergonomically curious.
Want a wireless ergonomic keyboard? Check out the pricier Mistel Barocco MD770 RGB, which adds RGB lighting and Bluetooth connectivity.
|Switch Type(s)||Cherry MX Brown/Blue/Red/Speed Silver|
|Keycap Material||Laser-engraved ABS|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||15.5 x 10.25 x 1.25 inches|
Kinesis is a brand often associated with sober, productivity-minded ergonomic products. The Freestyle Edge RGB retains the ergonomic chops, but its gaming-friendly features—such as Cherry MX switches and a full-featured macro system—make it an excellent gaming-friendly ergonomic keyboard.
The Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB is much like our top pick in that it takes a conventional 75% keyboard layout and splits it in two. However, Kinesis added 12 extra keys to the left section, giving you even more options for key binds and macros.
These extra keys make the Freestyle Edge RGB a perfect choice if you want to run with only the left side for a more compact gaming setup. Sure, 12 extra keys aren’t quite enough to make up for losing all the keys on the right half, but it should be more than enough for even MMO or RTS gamers. Grab a Freestyle Edge RGB with short-travel MX Speed Silver switches, and you’re set.
Kinesis went all-out with the Freestyle Edge RGB’s programming. While it’s not the only keyboard to have on-board programming, Kinesis’ decision to include dedicated “Macro” and “Remap” keys makes the process a lot easier. No more memorizing arcane series of commands just to swap a couple of keys around! The Freestyle Edge RGB stores your settings into one of nine onboard profiles, which you can cycle through with a dedicated button on the keyboard.
You can get the basics done on the keyboard, but the Kinesis Smartset software opens up even more options to get your Freestyle Edge RGB setup how you want it. The Mac and Windows-compatible program lets you set up RGB, adjust macro delays, define tap-and-hold actions, and map mouse clicks, amongst other features.
However, while the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB excels as a gaming keyboard, it falters slightly as a pure ergonomic keyboard. While the wrist rests are detachable, the Freestyle Edge RGB doesn’t ship with tenting support out of the box. If you want to tent your keyboard, you’ll have to pay an extra $30 or so for Kinesis’ V3 Pro Lifters.
If you just want to game with the Freestyle Edge RGB, then you may be willing to forego the lift kit to keep prices down. However, if you’re planning to use the Kinesis as an ergonomic keyboard for daily typing, you’ll want to get the Pro Lifters.
Overall, the Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB is a solid choice if you seek a bonafide ergonomic gaming keyboard. It’s a bit pricey, especially with the tent kit, but we think the total package is worth the asking price.
|Switch Type(s)||Kailh Box Brown/Red/White|
|Keycap Material||Double-shot ABS|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||22.16 in x 10.07 x 2.08 inches|
Most ergonomic keyboards opt for compact, space-saving 65%- or 75%-style layouts. But not everyone can live without the numpad and nav cluster. If that sounds like you, say hello to the Cloud Nine ErgoFS.
The ErgoFS is a “full-sized-plus” gaming keyboard, with the standard 104-key layout bolstered by 10 extra keys in the style of many Logitech and Razer gaming keyboards. These extra keys are perfect for macros or bonus key binds, which you can program using Cloud Nine’s proprietary software.
But the extra keys aren’t the only notable part of the ErgoFS’ key layout. The ErgoFS comes with a multi-function “smart wheel” in the middle, which you can use to control several keyboard functions and features. You can use it to control the backlight brightness, adjust Windows volume, switch between applications, and even scroll through webpages.
The wheel’s LED switches colors depending on the mode, so you’ll always know which mode you’re in at a glance.
Unlike other mainstream ergo mechanical keyboards, the ErgoFS has built-in tenting support. Granted, you’re limited to a seven-degree angle, but it’s better than nothing. While that’s a win in our books, it’s the minimum we’d expect for an ergonomic keyboard that costs nearly $250.
Yes, you read right—$250. Make no mistake: the ErgoFS is an expensive keyboard. It’s not quite as pricey as the Kinesis Advantage2 and Ergodox EZ, but it’s still a big chunk of change to drop on a keyboard with a conventional layout, thin ABS keycaps, and limited switch options.
That said, there isn’t any real competition for the ErgoFS, at least as far as mechanical ergonomic keyboards go. So if you need a 104-key layout but can’t live with the wrist and arm strain anymore, the Cloud Nine ErgoFS is the best ergonomic keyboard for you..
4. Ergodox EZ
• Cherry MX Black/Brown/Blue/Clear/Red/Silent Red/Speed Silver
• Kailh Box Black/Box Brown/Box Red/Box White
• Kailh Brown/Copper/Gold/Silver/Thick Gold
|Keycap Material||• Double-shot PBT
• Double-shot ABS
|Lighting||Optional per-key RGB and/or RGB underglow|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||7.87 x 6.10 x 1.37 inches (per side)|
The Ergodox EZ is likely the defining ergonomic mechanical keyboard of our times. Its split halves, ortholinear layout, and useful thumb clusters offer excellent functionality and ergonomics, albeit at a premium price.
The Ergodox EZ’s signature feature is the keyboard layout. While split ergonomic keyboards aren’t all that uncommon, the EZ arranges its keys in an ortholinear arrangement designed to reduce finger movement. Reducing finger movement, in turn, allegedly has the positive knock-on effect of reducing finger fatigue and strain over long work days.
Thumb clusters are another highlight of the Ergodox EZ layout. The standard split layout simply splits up the bottom row and gives you two spacebars. That’s nice, but not nearly as convenient as the six keys you get within thumb’s reach on the Ergodox EZ.
Having that many extra keys so easily accessible lets you easily access several commonly-used commands. Want to copy and paste with a single keypress? You can do that with the EZ. Want to hit backspace and delete with your thumbs instead of your pinkies? Sure, you can do that too.
That sense of user choice extends to the buying experience, which lets you choose from several options when configuring your Ergodox EZ. You can opt for RGB or underglow lighting (or both) or whether you want to buy it with a tilt kit for tenting (recommended) and wrist rests. You get to choose switches, too, with a healthy selection of Cherry and Kailh mechanical switches on offer. The Ergodox EZ is also hot-swappable, so you can change switches if you get bored with them.
However, all this ergonomic goodness comes at a price. The Ergodox EZ starts at just under $250 and can go as far as $350 if you spec it out completely. That’s a massive chunk of money for a keyboard, even by enthusiast standards.
That said, it’s hard to deny that you get your money’s worth and then some with the Ergodox EZ. Its feature set makes it one of the best ergonomic keyboards out there, but you’ll have to pay for the privilege of experiencing it yourself.
|Switch Type(s)||Cherry MX Brown + Cherry ML (function keys)|
|Keycap Material||Double-shot ABS|
|Connectivity||Fixed USB cable|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||16.50 in x 8 x 2.87 inches|
The Kinesis Advantage2 is one of the stranger-looking ergonomic mechanical keyboards out there, but its ergonomic credentials are beyond question. If you want improved typing ergonomics without the headache of setting up a split ergonomic keyboard, check out the Advantage2.
The Advantage2’s main highlight is its key arrangement. Instead of the typical slanted layout of fixed-split ergonomic keyboards, the Advantage2 opts for two concave “key wells” with keys in a roughly ortholinear arrangement. The keys sit at a 20-degree angle, and the combination of the built-in tilt, concave key well, and ortholinear keys gives the Advantage2 its stellar ergonomics.
You’ll also notice a notable layout difference with the Advantage2’s six-key thumb clusters. These sit outside the key wells and sit under where your thumb will naturally rest when typing. While the six-key setup may feel a bit alien compared to the split spacebars on some other ergo keyboards, it’s worth getting used to for its versatility.
By default, the Kinesis Advantage2 has commonly-used commands like Enter, Delete, and Backspace mapped to the thumb cluster. This setup saves you from using your pinky finger to hit these keys, which can help reduce strain even more.
If the default mapping doesn’t work for you, then you can remap the Advantage2 using the onboard SmartSet Programming Engine or the Windows-compatible SmartSet Programming App. The former is a bit finicky, and we recommend reading the manual before diving in. The graphical app is a lot easier to use but only compatible with US layouts at the time of writing.
The Kinesis Advantage2’s layout and design make it a niche keyboard, even more niche than the average ergonomic mechanical keyboard. And that’s before you consider the nearly-$350 price, which makes the Advantage2 a poor choice for most ergonomic keyboard novices. However, if you know you want what the Advantage2 offers, then there’s no doubt that this is one of the best ergonomic keyboards out there.
|Keys||68 + 1 knob|
|Switch Type(s)||Hot-swappable Gateron G Pro 2.0 Yellow|
|Keycap Material||Dye-sublimated PBT|
|Connectivity||USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0, 2.4 GHz wireless|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||14.48 x 5.03 x 1.57 inches|
The “Alice” layout is one of the most notable mechanical keyboard trends of the past few years. With its nods to classic “fixed split” keyboards like Microsoft’s Ergonomic Keyboard, the Feker Alice 80 offers an alternative ergonomic option for those who want angled keys without the potential hassle of a fully split keyboard.
Unlike most ergonomic mechanical keyboards, the Feker Alice 80 keeps up with modern keyboard trends with its gasket-mount construction and volume knob. The switch choice is also on-trend, with Gateron’s G Pro 2.0 Yellow switches as standard. These are an enjoyable factory-lubed linear switch that we think many will enjoy.
The thick dye-sub PBT keycaps are a highlight too, especially compared to the more budget-feeling ABS keycaps on some other ergo mechanical keyboards. The general impression is of a mechanical keyboard that focuses on offering a great typing experience before adding an ergonomic flavor with the slanted-key Alice layout.
The Alice 80 is fully programmable, although, as with most Epomaker-associated keyboards, you’re stuck with the company’s proprietary software. It’s usable but not very good, and we’d much prefer QMK or VIA support. But it’s just one of those quirks you’ll have to live with when using affordable keyboards.
However, the main question about the Feker Alice 80—and other similar keyboards—is whether they’re actually all that ergonomic. That’s not a question we can answer here, as it’d take a lot of research and testing to find out. But based on my time with an Alice-layout keyboard, I can say it’s a step in the right direction.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have ergonomic weaknesses. You don’t get any tenting support, nor can you position the two key clusters at shoulder width for increased comfort. But while the Feker Alice 80 may not be the most ergonomic keyboard here, it’s almost certainly the best mechanical keyboard on our list. And that counts for something in our book.
Before You Buy
Buying an ergonomic keyboard is a big departure, so you should get acquainted with the pros and cons of ergonomic keyboards before committing. Let’s quickly run through some of these to give you an idea of what to expect.
Pros of Ergonomic Keyboards
Ergonomic keyboards can greatly help reduce wrist, arm, and shoulder strain associated with typing on a conventional keyboard. How so? First, let’s consider how most of us type on a standard keyboard.
With a standard keyboard, most (if not all) of us type with our forearms tilted inward and our wrists straightened at an angle towards the pinky finger. This can (and does) put a lot of stress on our wrists and forearms, as it’s fundamentally not a natural or comfortable way to hold our arms.
In contrast, ergonomic keyboards relieve some or all of these stresses with their slanted keys or split bodies. “Fixed-split” keyboards, like the Feker Alice 80, angle and split the keys slightly, allowing for a more relaxed wrist position that allegedly helps reduce stress and strain.
Research seems to back this up, too. A 2000 study found that a fixed-split ergonomic keyboard reduced forearm stress and kept participants’ wrists “closer to neutral.” The researchers concluded that this would “reduc[e] the potential” for typing-related wrist injury and trauma.
Now, whether the Alice layout is ergonomically sound enough to fit the criteria for a true ergonomic keyboard is up in the air. But it’s at least pointing in the right direction here.
However, adjustable split keyboards, like the Ergodox EZ or Mistel MD770, go one step further by physically splitting the two halves apart. This allows you to move, angle, and tent the halves however you wish for improved ergonomics. For instance, you could place the halves at shoulder width to reduce shoulder and arm strain while typing.
Tenting, where you angle the halves upward, can also help significantly. Tenting allows forearms to rest in a more neutral position while typing, reducing stress on your arms and hands. A 2007 study found that participants “most preferred” typing on a keyboard with a 12-degree angle and 14-degree tenting. This setup provided “the most neutral posture” of all the keyboard setups tested.
Split keyboards also have an unintended benefit for gamers. As the keyboards function as two independent halves, it’s possible to only use the left half (i.e., the one with WASD) when gaming. This lets you move the other half out of the way, giving you more room for all those low-DPI 360-degree mouse flicks.
Of course, this will depend on the genre of videogames you play, with FPS and MOBA gamers likely benefiting the most from this setup. MMO or strategy players may find using only half of the keyboard somewhat restrictive, but we think it’ll still be workable with the right binds.
Cons of Ergonomic Keyboards
The biggest issue with ergonomic keyboards, regardless of layout, is getting used to them. There’s a learning curve to deal with, and the adjustment period can differ wildly; some users take to ergonomic keyboards like a duck to water, while others never really get used to them.
For example, the 1998 study we linked earlier found that participants got used to a split keyboard “after just two hours of orientation and practice.” But I’ve spent enough time on forums to know that not everyone likes them, whether due to the split layout, the ortholinear key arrangement of some ergo boards, or other issues that impede productivity.
Sometimes users just don’t like the idea of an ergonomic keyboard, and are inherently predisposed to dislike them. Maybe it’s muscle memory, and they don’t want to retrain themselves to use a different layout. There are a ton of reasons not to enjoy ergonomic keyboards, just as there are strong reasons to love them.
Another issue is price. Ergonomic mechanical keyboards are pricier than traditional layouts. Prices for a decent ergonomic mechanical keyboard start at around $150, which stings when you can get a perfectly good conventional mechanical board for less than $100.
However, if you’re suffering from wrist and arm issues, then the potential relief an ergonomic keyboard can offer may be worth the asking price. We’re not going to tell you that you have to buy an ergonomic keyboard if you’re dealing with wrist strain or carpal tunnel syndrome, but we feel it’s definitely worth considering.
Staggered vs. Ortholinear Keys
One of the big decisions you’ll have to make when shopping for an ergonomic mechanical keyboard is whether you stick to staggered keys or move over to ortholinear keys.
Staggered keys (in other words, the key arrangement you’re likely using right now) have the advantage of familiarity. You won’t have to worry about adapting to subtly different key positions while getting used to a split ergonomic keyboard. That can make getting to grips with a new ergonomic mechanical keyboard much easier.
Ortholinear keys are a bit different. Technically, ortholinear refers primarily to perfectly square keys in a grid, but it’s generally used to refer to the columnar layout used in keyboards like the Kinesis Advantage2. Either way, “ortholinear” ergonomic keyboards have their keys arranged in linear columns, which may seem simple on paper but will take time to get adjusted to.
The oft-cited benefit of ortholinear keys is that they reduce the distance your fingers travel. Your fingers will generally stay within two keys of the home row (ASDF), so they won’t have to stretch or move too far to hit keys.
Unfortunately, there’s precious little research to back these claims up. The claimed benefits are primarily anecdotal, with no rigorous testing supporting them. Of course, we can’t deny that some users benefit from switching to an ortholinear keyboard. However, there are likely just as many who don’t see any improvements from the change.
As with so many peripheral-related quandaries, the only way to find out whether an ortholinear ergonomic keyboard will help you is to try the layout yourself. The best ergonomic keyboard is the one you feel most comfortable with, regardless of how the keys are arranged.
Ergonomic mechanical keyboards can be pricey affairs, but their combination of great typing feel and improved ergonomics makes them a good investment if you’re a regular typist. Not everyone gets along with them, but their proven benefits for arm and wrist positioning make them a must-try for anyone wishing to avoid typing-related aches and pains in the long run.
If you’re coming from a traditional mechanical keyboard, the Mistel Barocco MD770 or Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge are likely the best ergonomic keyboards for you. But if you’re not quite ready to leap over to a split keyboard, the Feker Alice 80 may be the perfect mid-way point.