The reasons for buying a quiet keyboard are manifold: Colleagues in the office who cannot stand the loud typing any longer. A partner who is unable to sleep in the same room while you are using the keyboard. Parents annoyed by nightly gaming sessions. Housemates going nuts because of your literary ambitions. An last but not least: you yourself going crazy because of the typing noises.
That’s an easy diagnosis: your keyboard is simply too loud. The solution to all of these scenarios: a new, quiet keyboard.
Whether it’s your roommates, your colleagues or you – many people are annoyed by loud keyboards and obtrusive typing noise.
A completely silent keyboard is almost impossible. What comes closest to this is a laser keyboard, which has the keys projected onto the desk. As you can imagine, writing quickly becomes quite uncomfortable as you tap your fingertips on the table.
The following charts show a selection of quiet keyboards for a wide range of demands:
Simple and affordable keyboards with quiet keys, for all those who only wish for a keyboard that is quiet and can be typed on.
For those who write a lot and value high typing comfort, high-quality rubber dome keyboards are particularly suitable.
Mechanical keyboards are usually rather the domain of aficionados, who prefer them not only for gaming.
If you are not familiar with terms such as mechanical keyboard, rubber dome, switch or key rollover and have the urge to understand what they mean, there’s a section below with explanations (see table of contents).
Quiet keyboard comparison chart
You can read up on quiet mechanical keyboards below.
This rubberdome keyboard is relatively quiet and comes with illumination. According to buyers’ opinions on the net, the old version of this keyboard seems to have been better. The newly delivered version is often seen as not equivalent any longer. It is best to look for new reviews at the time of ordering. Furthermore, the keyboard is not really good for gaming, according to the majority of users.
The Logitech K750 Wireless Solar is a pleasantly silent keyboard without illumination. There’s a PC and a Mac version available. As the name implies, the keyboard is wireless. As a special feature, this wireless keyboard is solar powered. Astoundingly, the indoor light in your room seems sufficient to power it. Even with the slightest bit of light this keyboard charges reliably. Thus, direct sunlight is not needed. Should you for one reason or another be looking for an alternative method for charging – there is none. Charging via cable is not possible. The keyboard has a classic layout and the key strokes when typing are quiet.
The Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminated is a really quiet keyboard. The keyboard is wireless with a good range. Alternatively you can even connect the keyboard to your computer by cord. This keyboard has a very high-quality feel to it. The battery lasts a long time and charges quickly. There is white illumination which is adjustable in 4 levels. Furher, the keyboard features multimedia keys.
The Cherry eVolution Stream XT is a quiet keyboard without illumination.
It sits safely on the desk and with its flat keys allows for comfortable and ergonomic typing. The keyboard has a classic layout, upgraded by some media keys. Due to its size it is easy to find room for it even on smaller desks.
The Cherry Strait Black Corded Keyboard is a rubber dome keyboard without illumination. The keyboard features ergonomic and quiet keys – only the space bar is a bit of an exception in terms of noise level. In general, the keys are very flat. The keyboard looks high-quality, solid and robust. It has a minimalist and compact layout with some unusual key layout. Some people will first have to get used to it. The keyboard is equipped with several multimedia keys.
The key strokes are really low-noise, with the space bar being a little louder than the other keys. The case is robust and stable – the same goes for the palm rest. Noteworthy is the rubberized base, which prevents sliding. In addition there are fold-out feet, also lined with rubber.
The keyboard offers a good typing feel and a good pressure point. The keys are tightly enclosed by the case, which prevents dust and crumbs from falling into the keyboard.
For gaming, this quiet keyboard is quite suitable, if you can do without macro keys and are satisfied with Fn-function keys only.
Low-noise keyboard for the office, library and practice
Man+Machine Really Cool
The Man+Machine Really Cool is a quiet keyboard that finds its home in the medical field or in libraries and other public places. It can be easily disinfected, which is not only important in the medical practice or hospital, but also in public libraries and other places with keyboards accessible by the general public. Nonetheless, this keyboard is no less suitable for office use or use at home. Illumination is not provided.
The Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 with MX Silent Switches makes for a low-noise keyboard. It is quiet and has RGB illumination of high intensity. The illumination of individual keys can be customized, even multicolored illumination is possible. Due to its aluminum housing, the keyboard makes a high-quality impression. It features multimedia keys and a scroll wheel for the volume. Further, it has N-key rollover. All in all, this is a high-quality mechanical keyboard which you can use for quiet typing and gaming.
This moderately quiet mechanical keyboard has high keys and a regular layout. In addition, there are a large round volume control switch and multimedia keys. The keyboard is high-quality and heavy-weight. There is no illumination.
The Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2 is a quiet keyboard with a minimalist layout – it has only 60 keys. This makes the HHKB2 a keyboard for professional use, for programming or writing texts. For gaming, this keyboard is not very suitable. There is no illumination. The keyboard is equipped with Topre switches, which have a distinct pressure point and a soft touch at the same time. Its striking quality dinstinguishes this keyboard from other keyboards.
For a mechanical keyboard, the Logitech G710 + is quiet. The low noise level is achieved with Cherry MX Brown switches combined with built-in rubber rings for additional noise reduction. Other features include a volume control wheel and multimedia buttons. The keyboard has white illumination, the brightness of which is adjustable. As a special feature, you can set the brightness in two areas independently of each other. The first area includes the directional pad and WASD. The second area spans the rest of the keys on the keyboard. Thereby, you can quickly tell the keys apart when it matters – like when you are gaming.
The Logitech G910 is quiet for a mechanical keyboard. It relies on Romer G-switches. The G910 seems to be a bit quieter than for example the Logitech G810. Both keyboards feature RGB illumination of high quality and intensity, as well as media keys. There is also a scroll wheel for volume adjustment.
The Matias Quiet Pro is a mechanical keyboard with a proprietary switch technology. The so-called Quiet Click switches were designed in such a way as to allow for a particularly quiet keyboard. The keys have tactile feedback. Further, the curved shape of the key caps is adapted to the fingertips. Illumination is not available on this keyboard. N-key rollover is possible.
Pros and cons of mechanical keyboards and rubberdomes
The most common types of keyboards are mechanical keyboards, rubber domes and scissors. In general, rubber domes and scissor keyboards are quieter than mechanical keyboards.
Despite the somewhat higher noise, mechanical keyboards are still preferred by demanding customers as they have various advantages. In mechanical keyboards, low noise levels and flat keys are in general difficult to realize, but some manufacturers make a good effort. To pin down the pros and cons of mechanical keyboards:
better writing / typing feel, probably especially interesting for people who type a lot
higher durability and longevity due to material and technology
the keystrokes and the feedback are consistent
illumination of individual keys is possible
in most cases higher key rollover, i.e. higher number of keys that can be operated simultaneously
possibility to repair the keyboard
louder typing noise
in most cases only high keys possible
Rubber dome keyboards, on the other hand, allow for soft keystrokes and flat keys. However, one must accept a few downsides. The pros and cons:
flat keys possible
available with many different layouts and modifier keys
wears faster due to the material
wear changes the feedback ➔ over time, an inconsistent feel while typing may occur, individual keys may respond differently or not at all
mostly, the key rollover is just 2, which can be a disadvantage – not only for gaming
Different types of keyboards
The most common types of keyboards, as mentioned, are rubber domes, scissor keyboards and mechanical keyboards. They differ in the technology used underneath the button.
Mechanical keyboard – often not quiet
Mechanical keyboards are usually not as quiet as other types of keyboards. However, there are big differences between one mechanical keyboard and the next. With the right technology, it is possible to build a relatively quiet mechanical keyboard.
Simplified, mechanical keyboards work like this:
In a mechanical keyboard signals are generated by squeezing two metal contacts together with the help of a carriage. A spring pushes the key back up. The resistance of the key depends on the spring that is used. The key of a mechanical keyboard does not have to be pressed down completely like the key in a rubber dome.
The key rollover of mechanical keyboards is generally at least 6. The KRO (key rollover) indicates the number of keys that can be used simultaneously.
Mechanical keyboards usually feature the possibility to illuminate individual keys sparately. For this purpose, each key has its own LED light. Therefore the illumination is largely independent of viewing angle.
Due to their design, mechanical keyboards do not wear as quickly as other types of keyboards and the feedback of the keys remains the same for a long time. Mechanical keyboards are usually pricier, but the longer life span allows for more keystrokes, i.e. longer use. The difference in cost between rubber domes and mechanical keyboards is put into perspective when you take the expected lifetime into account.
Mechanical keyboards are available with various different types of switches. Switches are part of the technology built into the keycap and determine the typing feel of a keyboard. The different types of switches are labelled with different colors for distinction purposes: Red, Black, Brown, Blue, …
If a keyboard’s model name includes a color, this virtually always means that the corresponding kind of switch is built into it.
The Cherry MX Switches
The switches by Cherry MX are considered the standard among keyboard switches. All the various types of switches have a different typing feel to them. Accordingly, switches are divided into different classes, among others linear and tactile switches:
▷ tactile: you feel a pressure point or click when the signal is triggered ▷ linear: you can not feel when the pressure point is reached and the signal is triggered
The different Cherry MX switches are:
Cherry MX Red
linear, smooth, lower resistance than Cherry MX Black
Cherry MX Black
linear, somewhat sluggish, more resistance than Cherry MX Red
Cherry MX Brown
tactile, noticeable pressure point, smooth
Cherry MX Blue
tactile and acoustic, strongly defined pressure point with clicking sound, somewhat sluggish
Cherry MX Silent Red
quiet, noise-dampened version of the Cherry MX Red, significantly reduced noise level, linear
Cherry MX Silent Black
quiet, noise-dampened version of the Cherry MX Black, significantly reduced noise level, linear
Cherry MX Speed Silver
linear, signal point at low indentation, smooth, modification of Cherry MX Red
Which switches for beginners?
Those who have never used a mechanical keyboard before may well chose brown switches for a start, when it comes to typing feel.
The reason is, that you cannot know beforehand which of the extremes, red or blue, will suit you. Brown switches make a nice middle ground. The one extreme are blue switches with a clicking sound and tactile feedback, and the other extreme are red switches without any tactile feedback.
However, anyone who puts emphasis on a very quiet keyboard will probably not be satisfied with blue switches, as they produce the largest noise. If you chose a keyboard with blue switches, chances are high that you will find the keyboard too loud.
Those who are determined to get minimun noise in their mechanical keyboard can try the Cherry MX Silent Red.
Rubber domes usually are quiet keyboards and are recommendable for anyone who just wants a good keyboard for typing and occasional gaming. Quiet keys are frequently found in this type of keyboard.
For the majority of rubber dome keyboards, signal transmission works like this:
The keys press a rubber bell. The rubber bell in turn joins two conductor foils. These will transmit the signal. The bell is usually made of rubber or silicone.
With rubber domes, typing feels easy. You get tactile feedback by a light click of the button, which means that it is palpable in your finger. Rubber dome keyboards thus have a tactile and light touch to them, with a noticeable pressure and click point.
Due to their inner workings, rubber dome keyboards can boast flat keys, only slightly higher than a laptop keyboard.
Some rubber dome keyboards rely on keys of higher quality, for example by Topre, which trigger the signal capacitively. You get the soft rubber dome typing feel and the precision of mechanical keys.
The material of the rubber bells and keys makes them, and thus the rubberdome keyboad in whole, wear faster. The signal is transmitted worse and worse over time. Especially individual, often-used keys suffer from wear. Their resistance to pressure gets lower. This will make the typing feel uneven, because individual keys are no longer reliable and thus the typing result will be undependable. Rubberdome keyboards usually need to be replaced after a shorter time frame.
Concerning the key rollover (KRO), there are disadvantages with rubber domes. The key rollover specifies the number of keys that can be pressed simultaneously. Mostly the key rollover for Rubberdomes with conductor foils is 2 keys. Often, however, 4 to 6 keys can be operated simultaneously, if the keys are close to each other and if the manufacturer has optimized the signal transmission.
Rubber domes rarely feature illumination for individual keys. Instead, a keypad is illuminated indirectly. The illumination is therefore uniform, but dependent on the viewing angle. In addition, the brightness is lower than it is possible to achieve in mechanical keyboards with illumination for individual buttons.
Scissors are a further type of keyboard with quiet key strokes.
Scissor keyboards are a variant of Rubberdomes. Accordingly, they operate in a similar way. Scissors have conductor foils and rubber bells. In addition, a scissor-type stabilizer connects the frame of the keyboard crosswise with the individual key in 4 places. Due to this build, the keys in scissor keyboards sit tighter and cannot wobble as much as in other types of keyboards. What is more, the key strokes are uniform regardless of where you position your finger on the key. Wear in these keyboards is also noticed evenly. Thus scissors have a longer life than regular rubber domes. Scissors also allow for very flat keys like in laptop keyboards.
How to chose a quiet keyboard
When chosing a type of switch, the Cherry MX Silent, which are available in red or black, are the first to consider when looking for a really quiet keyboard. However, you can also find satisfacory properties in terms of sound level in ordinary Cherry MX Red or Brown. Which switch you chose also depends on the individual typing preferences. In your decision you may have to weigh up noise level and typing feel.
Besides quiet Cherry MX switches, there are also quiet Topre switches. The Romer G by Logitech, the Quiet Click switch by Matias and the QS1 used in the Steel Series Apex M800 are also quiet switches. Apart from these, there’s a variety of lesser-known proprietary quiet switches..
The build of the keyboard also affects its noise level. More precisely, keyboards with an open build are louder because noises are not dampened.
To make things even more quiet, you can equip your keyboard with noise dampeners.
Of course, the noise level is also influenced by typing style. It goes without saying that one should not hammer on the keys. It is usually not necessary to press the keys down completely.
To find the best quiet keyboard for your own needs consider further the following criteria:
The quiet keyboards listed above can be divided into keyboards with high, medium and flat keys. As a rule, mechanical keyboards have quite high keys. Rubber dome keyboards usually have flat keys. However, there are also mechanical keyboards with special switch technologies that allow for flat to medium keys.
High keys tire your hands when typing. For a keyboard with high keys, a palm rest may therefore be appropriate. Some keyboards come with a palm rest included.
Flat keys let you type without exhausting your hands. Rubber domes usually feature flat keys. Further, a chiclet is a form of keyboard with very flat keys. The square keys with rounded corners and straight sides are lined all around by the keyboard case. The look is reminiscent of chewing gums.
The key rollover denotes the number of keys that can be pressed and registered simultaneously. In mechanical keyboards usually all keys can be triggered at the same time. This is called a n-key rollover or full rollover.
Rubber domes in most cases have a smaller key rollover, where a number of 3 to 4 keys is relatively common. However, there are also keyboards with as little as a 2-key rollover or much as a 10 or 16 key rollover. It is best to look into the manufacturer’s specification to be sure.
Especially when gaming it can be important to trigger several keys at the same time, i.e. key combinations, in order to execute certain commands. But even when you only need the keyboard for writing at home or in the office, pressing several keys may be necessary for some special functions. Therefore, a key rollover of more than 2 would be recommended, and a key rollover of 6 would be sufficient for most common use cases.
Even if a keyboard theoretically has n-key rollover, older USB keyboards can in fact only register 10 keys, i.e. 6 keys plus 4 modifier keys (Alt, Shift, Ctrl, Alt Gr, …) at the same time. This is due to the data packages in USB, which have a fixed length of 7 bytes. The first byte contains the modifier key, the remaining 6 bytes the up to 6 pressed keys. However, 10 keys including modifier keys should be sufficicient to accomodate even the fastest writers.
To achieve true n-key rollover, the keyboard should either have a PS/2 port or the keyboard should be a modern USB keyboard with a full-speed USB standard. In the latter case, you often have to turn on the n-key rollover mode manually.
In a keyboard, good ergonomics are almost self-evident as a buying criterion. This property becomes the more important the longer you use the keyboard at a time. Extensive gaming sessions and writing long texts on the computer may otherwise strain your hands. How comfortable a keyboard feels to you depends on the individual, not least on the size of your hands or your own writing system, i.e. 10-finger system or your own individual typing style. Therefore, it is recommended to test the keyboard thoroughly.
A hand rest can contribute to your typing comfort, especially when using high keys.
Whether the quiet keyboard should feature illumination depends on its purpose and your usage habits. If you spend a lot of time typing or gaming in the evening or at night in the dark, then the illumination can be a plus. When using the keyboard during the daytime or in the office, illumination may be less important. Illumination can also bring benefits for gaming. For example, illuminating important keys in specified colors may make it easier for you to hit the right button at the right time intuitively.
Multimedia or macro keys
Media keys are available in a variety of implementations. Usually they are quite useful for setting the volume by shortcut, for starting or stopping a song, or switching back and forth between songs. Macro keys can be assigned with user-defined commands, which are executed at a key press. Starting a program or using specific key combinations can thus be automated. This can also be advantageous for gaming.
Wireless keyboards can obviously be used much more flexibly, as far as their range allows.
Two different ports are common on keyboards – USB and PS/2. Since some computers no longer have a PS/2 port, you should check which kind of port your keyboard requires.