Featured Product: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard | $60 | Amazon
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 Sculpt
Microsoft’s Sculpt ergonomic keyboard has a unique build to it, with a sloping design from a peaked center gap, plus a separate number pad that can be hidden out of sight if you don’t typically need it. That might help you better center the keyboard in front of the computer and make use of smaller spaces.
Amazon reviewers praise the impact on their wrists. One customer called it “the greatest joy that the technological world has brought us,” with perhaps some hyperbole, while another described it as such:
“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 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 for more than a year, 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 list price, 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)
If you’re looking for an ergonomic mechanical keyboard that doesn’t have a big footprint to it, plus one that’s great for Mac as well as Windows, then consider the Keychron K2. The updated version of this keyboard has an angled design that is easier on your wrists, and you can angle it further with the adjustable feet.
The Keychron K2 features a 75% layout without the number pad and extra cruft alongside, so it’s pretty small and you can easily cart it around. It’s also wireless and has a robust 4,000mAh battery that’s rated for up to 72 hours of typing. A switch lets you swap between Windows and Mac layouts, plus you can swap some keycaps to better suit either of those operating systems. You can also choose between Red, Brown, and Blue key switches, each of which has its own distinctive feel and sound when typing.
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.
Millions of people struggle with standard keyboards, but ergonomic keyboards like these provide needed relief without slowing you down. Granted, it takes a while to get used to a new keyboard shape or layout, particularly with some of these that really go outside the box. Still, it could be well worth a little short-term frustration to secure some long-term relief. Why wait?
This story was originally published by Jordan McMahon on 10/06/2020 and updated by Andrew Hayward with new information on 07/06/2021.