Let’s face it: computers are a part of everyday life, whether it is at work, home, or both. Many of us have to sit at a desk for a good portion of our day. If your station does not have the correct positioning, it is not ideal for our arms, wrists, shoulders, and hands.
Consequently, not all keyboards are equal, making some models more challenging to navigate or louder to use. Thankfully, there are better options in the market to help give you the best ergonomic positioning and provide a quiet keyboard for even the busiest office space.
We dive into all the particulars of finding the best quiet mechanical keyboards, from features and elements to compatibility and affordability. This way, you can make the best choice for your needs and budget.
But before we talk about which keyboards are suitable, understanding ergonomics is important so you can make an informed decision.
What is Ergonomics? And Why Should I Care?
Ergonomics is simply a way to optimize work performance by creating a more comfortable experience for the body.
Not only this, but ergonomics protects from the long-term strain caused by repetitive poor work habits. Carpal tunnel, for example, is a condition that some typists report due to repetitive improper wrist positioning.
You can help avoid the harmful consequences of poor work habits by using an ergonomic keyboard. Of course, not all ergonomic keyboards are suitable for every situation.
Here are three common ergonomic keyboard features in the market today:
- Split Design
- Thumb Clusters
The split design takes the traditional keyboard and divides it into two halves. You can position the two halves in any way that is most comfortable to your wrists and forearms.
Ideally, split keyboards help the user move the home row to shoulder-width for a more natural arm and wrist positioning.
Our wrists bend in an unnatural position on a traditional keyboard, introducing unnecessary strain. Over time, this improper form can lead to issues.
The split design helps eliminate postural issues and prevents long-term damage to your wrists over time.
Keyboards with thumb clusters group highly used keys to the center of the keyboard where the thumbs can more easily access them. Some of these keys include:
The logic behind this design is that the thumbs are much stronger than the pinkies, which are usually the fingers reaching these keys on a traditional keyboard.
It takes the strain off the weaker fingers and centralizes the commonly used keys so that the wrists do not have to work as hard to reach these keys.
Not all thumb cluster keyboards will offer the same key options, as some users require more keys than others. However, if you work in an industry that requires alternative keys, this model may be your best choice.
Tenting keyboards are straightforward, using a split design keyboard that provides an adjustable angle for each side, mimicking a tent-like structure.
While most keyboards keep the hands flat compared to the forearm, this position is not natural for the body.
Tenting allows your hands to sit in a natural rotation, minimizing the chance of repetitive stress on the wrists and hands.
What is a Mechanical Keyboard?
Now we can dive into the schematics of keyboards and how they differ when it comes to operation and noise level.
Ergonomic keyboards are ideal for anyone who spends time at a computer, but you will want to also consider keys with a low actuation force.
Actuation force is the amount of force necessary for a computer to recognize that you have pressed a key. The lower the actuation force, the less work your fingers do when typing. As you may have guessed, this preserves your fingers over time.
Keyboards typically use one of two types of switches:
- Rubber membrane
Traditional keyboards use rubber membrane switches. This style is less expensive to manufacture, making them more common, but the actuation force is higher than mechanical keyboards.
Mechanical keyboards use spring-loaded switches that help provide superior actuation force so that the fingers do not need to do as much work when typing. This keyboard style also offers a key rollover feature that you will not get with the rubber membrane model. Key rollover is how effectively the keyboard detects multiple key presses at once.
Key rollover features are ideal for anyone who participates in gaming with a keyboard or typists who are extremely fast. This way, there is no buffer or missing keystrokes even if you press keys quickly in succession.
Consequently, because mechanical keyboards use individual switches, they can be louder than rubber membrane options. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there are no low-noise mechanical keyboards built for ergonomics out there, but you do have to be mindful of all the elements.
Below are the three best ergonomic keyboard options based on their quietness and actuation force.
Top 3 Quiet Ergonomic Keyboards
After extensive research, we found three great quiet mechanical keyboards for ergonomics.
Hopefully, this saves you time and hassle in determining the best choices out there for your needs.
Kinesis Advantage2 Quiet LF Ergonomic Keyboard (KB600LFQ)
Our top choice for the best mechanical silent keyboard is the Kinesis Advantage 2.
Ergonomic features of this keyboard include an orthogonal layout of keys. This layout means each key is in one linear column instead of staggered. This feature increases your typing speed and accuracy.
Its concave design decreases finger extension when reaching for keys and creates a more comfortable and innate typing experience.
The included thumb clusters decrease fingers and wrist movement, allowing the user to occupy a stable position more comfortably.
With its 20 degrees of tenting and cushioned palm pads to rest your hands while working, the Kinesis Advantage2 provides superb ergonomics.
It is customizable and offers the ability to use either QWERTY or DVORAK key positions while being compatible with all major operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chrome)
This keyboard uses MX cherry red switches to provide an almost entirely noiseless experience. However, you can also buy MX cherry brown switches for a more tactile experience.
Though this option is one of the pricier models, it does offer one of the quietest and most ergonomically compatible experiences for its users. So naturally, there is no doubt where your extra dollars are going.
Cloud Nine C989M
Our runner-up is the Cloud Nine C989M model.
This full-sized keyboard gives users a split keyboard option and 7 degrees of tenting for quality comfort and the option to move to desired wrist position.
Unique features include a multimedia scroll wheel that can control the volume, brightness, and other functions.
The built-in Cherry MX brown switches are relatively quiet yet provide tactile feedback.
You can also program this keyboard with backlight color options and macro keys for a customizable experience.
This keyboard is versatile enough for typists and gamers alike. In addition, it is perfect for individuals who use their computers for both work and recreational purposes.
This Cloud Nine model is compatible with PC devices only, making it less versatile than other options. If you use a Mac or Linux system, this is not the ergonomic keyboard for you.
Kinesis Freestyle Blue 2
This option is more budget-friendly than the previous two models and is suitable for individuals who spend a lot of time working on the computer.
The slim design ensures that it is suitable for any workspace and uses a split layout for optimal ergonomic placement and comfort. The pivot is detachable, allowing the user to separate the pads up to nine inches. In addition, its zero-degree sloping helps reduce wrist extension during use.
The Kinesis Freestyle Blue 2 model offers a Bluetooth feature to connect to three Bluetooth devices simultaneously. However, keep in mind that one model is strictly for Mac devices while the other is for PCs.
Low impact tactile rubber dome keys create a comfortable typing experience for less wear on fingers over time than traditional rubber domes. With an actuation force of 45g, these keys are on par with MX Cherry red keys.
Additional accessories are available from Kinesis, including cushioned palm supports and tenting kits. It is a great model for mobile users or a stationary device in the office or at home, making the Kinesis Freestyle Blue 2 the best budget silent mechanical keyboard option.
Many individuals complain of pain due to repetitive strain from improper hand and wrist placement at the computer. Finding the best quiet mechanical keyboards may help minimize the chances of dealing with this type of physical discomfort.
An ergonomic keyboard can provide various features to help, including tenting, split keyboard design, and thumb clustering, among others.
These features can make the typing experience more comfortable and less impactful on your wrists, forearms, and fingers. Additionally, having a lower impact switch may help you type for longer without issues.
Of course, if you’re experiencing any physical issues, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice.
The three keyboards we list above are some of the best options today’s market has to offer. Consider what will work best for your needs and set up, and you can say goodbye to your uncomfortable workstation.