I have a strict only-mechanical policy when it comes to keyboards. I love the feel of mechanical switches under my fingers when I’m typing and gaming, and I rely on the precise travel and solid contact the keys make as they actuate. If you’ve never used anything but a mushy membrane-style keyboard before, you owe it to yourself to try a mechanical. Keyboards with Cherry MX switches are the gold standard, but there are much more affordable options out there. The Aukey Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is now on sale for a mere $21 when you apply promo code 3TNONZGJ at checkout. That’s down from the regular $30.
This keyboard is equipped with Aukey Blue switches, which are comparable to Cherry MX Blues: They’re clicky, with a tactile bump and audible click as the key actuates about halfway through its travel. Despite the name of the keyboard, Blue switches tend to be preferred by touch typists rather than gamers, but I’ve used a keyboard like this for both typing and gaming and I personally have no complaints with clicky keys in games.
In addition to the mechanical switches, this keyboard has LED lighting with 14 different modes, including options like breathing, wave and ripple. You don’t need to install any software to control the lighting; you can do it with Function keys. It also includes a small set of programmable macro keys and full N-key rollover, great for making sure no commands are lost when gaming.
Just don’t expect miracles for $21. The mechanical keys are solid, but you won’t get 50 million keypresses out of them (like you will with Cherry). And weirdly, the lighting doesn’t have a solid mode, so if you get tired of fluttering lights, you’ll need to disable them entirely. But if this is your intro to mechanical switches, it’s hard to go wrong for $21.
CNET’s deal team scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.