It used to be that gamers paid attention to their keyboards only when they accumulated so much of that yucky mixture of sweat, dust, and small bits of potato chips that keys would get stuck. This is, fortunately, no longer the case, and the modern gamer has learned to cherish the superior tactile feedback of mechanical keyboards.
However, what the modern gamer has yet to learn is that gaming on a regular mechanical keyboard is very hard on hands, often leading to wrist aches and tingling fingertips, both common symptoms of a repetitive stress injury (RSI).
Luckily, there is a solution in the form of ergonomic mechanical keyboards. Such keyboards combine the enjoyable typing experience of regular mechanical keyboards with a special ergonomic construction designed to prevent typing-related injuries caused by unnatural hand positions.
Must-Have Features for Ergonomic Mechanical Gaming Keyboards
If you try to search for pictures of ergonomic keyboards, chances are that you'll see many unwieldy monstrosities that look like they need a specially reinforced table underneath them. Actually, it doesn’t matter that much how heavy or tall the keyboard is, as long as it’s compact. Too wide and it will cause too much upper arm and shoulder abduction, ultimately leading to shoulder pain.
Resistance to Water
We don’t have to tell you how intense gaming matches can be. Who has the time to mind the open bottle of water when victory is just a frag away? Nobody. That’s why it’s a good idea to choose an ergonomic mechanical gaming keyboard that can withstand the occasional splash of water.
Gaming at night is great fun, but hunting for less frequently used keys during a heated battle isn’t. LED backlighting is more than just a way to add style points to your rig; it’s a practical feature that will undoubtedly prove useful before you fully familiarize yourself with your new keyboard. The bad news is that there’s currently no ergonomic mechanical keyboard with backlighting available.
Winner: Matias Ergo Pro Keyboard
All mechanical keyboards try to solve health issues that arise from repeated extension and flexion, supination and pronation, and ulnar deviation and radial deviation of hands. The Matias Ergo Pro does this by sporting a split design that separates the keyboard into two parts along the touch-typing divide.
Don’t waste your time trying to find out what type of Cherry MX switches the company has decided to use. They went with their own Quiet Click mechanical switches, which are designed with office spaces in mind but are perfectly suitable for gaming as well. The switches are quiet, responsive, and felt precise in every situation.
When gaming, you can put the right part of the keyboard aside to make more room on the desk for your mouse. Unfortunately, you cannot disconnect it completely, as it contains the USB cable through which the keyboard connects to your PC. The cable also feeds power to the built-in USB hub.
Each keyboard half has three kickstands, allowing you to elevate it in different increments to adjust the ulnar and radial deviation. Your wrists rest on comfortable soft padding made from cleanable material.
If you also consider that you get a full refund in case you decide that you don’t like the keyboard for whatever reason, it really is clear why the Matias Ergo Pro Keyboard is our first choice for an ergonomic mechanical keyboard for gamers.
Second Place: Truly Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard
Why this ergonomic mechanical keyboard is a great choice for gamers should be apparent from the moment you see how compact it is. Numpad aside, the manufacturer has managed to squeeze in all the functionality of a regular keyboard into just 11.5 inches of length. As such, you get plenty of space for your mouse, and you right shoulder will thank you a few years down the road.
But the small size isn’t the only thing that’s special about the Truly Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard. A closer inspection reveals that the keys are in straight rows with a small curvature to accommodate the difference in the length of your fingers. Expect, at least, a few hours of frustration before you get used to the new layout.
When you do, however, you get to fully appreciate the wonderful typing experience, courtesy of Cherry MX mechanical key switches. They are exactly as everyone says they are: responsive, accurate, reliable, and a pleasure to listen to.
So, why isn’t the Truly Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard our number one pick? The manufacturer strangely decided to disregard the characteristic tent shape that can be found on most ergonomic keyboards. Truly Ergonomic defend their decision by saying that the absence of the tilt doesn’t cause any health issues, but the experience of countless users tells a different story.
Third Place: Kinesis Advantage Keyboard
Let’s make things clear right from the start: this isn’t a good ergonomic keyboard for hardcore gamers. Instead, it’s a solid keyboard for casual gamers who spend the rest of their days writing thousands and thousands of words and only occasionally fire up their favorite game to unwind.
One issue is the sheer size of the thing. Just look at it; there’s enough space in the middle for a wireless charging pad for an oversized smartphone. Of course, this makes perfect sense from an ergonomic point-of-view, as it puts your shoulders in optimal typing position.
Another issue is the alien keyboard layout. For example, you use your thumbs to press the Ctrl and Space buttons, and you wouldn’t even guess where they put the cursor keys. Luckily, the keyboard is fully programmable and even features a macro functionality, allowing you to enter up to 24 macros.
The good news is that the Kinesis Advantage Keyboard uses Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches for all keys with the exception of the function row. There’s also an option to get the keyboard with Reds, which means that everyone can get exactly what they want. Overall, the actual feel of typing is excellent.
Given the current shape of the ergonomic mechanical keyboard landscape and the love that gamers have for mechanical keyboards in general, we expect to see many new models being released by large companies and individual inventors in the very near future. As of now, the Matias Ergo Pro Keyboard is the best ergonomic mechanical keyboard for gamers.