Best split keyboard

Computer Accessories & Peripherals

Split keyboards might be much older than you realize. The first such keyboard was used by Louis Crandall in a typewriter in 1886. Swiss ergonomist Etienne Grandjean developed the modern version in 1976.

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Which split keyboard is best?

Keyboards come in many shapes and sizes, but many people have never thought of a split keyboard as an option. They work just like a traditional keyboard, except they are split into two separate portions.

The portions often are independent of each other, while some models use a solid body but split and angle the keys. So if a split keyboard is on your buying list, have a look at the KINESIS Split Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. It’s comfortable to work with and features RGB lighting.

What to know before you buy a split keyboard

Different key layouts

Most people will look for a split keyboard (also called an ergonomic keyboard) that feels comfortable to use. That is hugely important, test different key layouts. The most common kind of split keyboard is where the two halves are separated from each other. You can move or adjust each portion or for maximum usability. Also consider where the keys are located on each half, as you might expect a particular key to be on one side, but it’s actually on the other.

Tilt and wrist rest

Along with working out which key layout is the most comfortable, the tilt of the device also has an effect. Since it is split, each section can tilt on its own. It is a good idea to consider a split keyboard that comes with a wrist rest. Since your hands are at an angle, more of your forearm will rest on the desk. To prevent any injuries or discomfort, a wrist rest can ease some of the strain.

Keyboard switches and different types

Like traditional keyboards, split boards are available in membrane keys and mechanical keys. The latter uses a system of switches that influence the sound of the keys, the travel distance and the force required to register a keystroke. A membrane keyboard is the type most people are familiar with.

What to look for in a quality split keyboard

Portability and ease of use

A quality keyboard, whether it is split or not, will be easy to use. Through their design, split keyboards are smaller than traditional keyboards and can be packed into a laptop pack for portability. This is great if you need a keyboard that you are familiar with while on the road.

Functions and additional keys

A split keyboard can have limited functionality and amount of keys, but a good-quality board has all the keys you need. These include Function keys, multimedia buttons, USB passthrough or even programmable macro keys. Consider what you will be using the keyboard for and look for something that matches your needs.

Build quality and connection method

Similar to one-piece or solid keyboards, the build quality can affect your comfort, functions and even the price. A good-quality split keyboard is made from robust materials and solid connections between the two parts that won’t detach. Also consider your preferred connection method, whether that is through USB, USB-C or wireless (Bluetooth or 2.4Ghz).

How much you can expect to spend on a split keyboard

A split keyboard comes in different configurations and styles, and the average price depends on that. An entry-level split keyboard can retail for around $20-$30. A top-tier split keyboard with additional features can retail for $150-$250.

Split keyboard FAQ

Is a split keyboard good for gaming?

A. Like many computer peripherals, it depends on what you are comfortable with. A split keyboard has most of the functions a regular gaming keyboard has, so you shouldn’t lose out on that. If you are comfortable with a split keyboard, it will definitely work for gaming.

Do split keyboards have all the regular keys?

A. For the most part, split keyboards do. While it depends on the model and manufacturer, most of them have the Function keys, a dedicated row of macro keys and multimedia controls.

What’s the best split keyboard to buy?

Top split keyboard

KINESIS Split Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

KINESIS Split Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

What you need to know: This is as close as a split keyboard can come to a gaming keyboard.

What you’ll love: It is perfect for those who stream video games or do podcasts. You can move the keyboard portions up to 20 inches apart. This creates the perfect space for a microphone, the mouse or a flight stick. It features mechanical key switches, a full range of RGB lighting and has a complete set of 95 keys. It comes with a removable wrist rest with thick padding.

What you should consider: It doesn’t have a USB passthrough for other peripherals.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top split keyboard for the money

Microsoft Ergonomic Split Keyboard

Microsoft Ergonomic Split Keyboard

What you need to know: This is an affordable keyboard that isn’t split, but rather angled.

What you’ll love: This keyboard from Microsoft is unlike other split boards in the sense that the two portions are built into a solid frame. The difference is that the keys are angled, making it more comfortable to type. The non-detachable wrist rest is made from thick padding. This is a full keyboard, and features additional buttons for multimedia controls, macro keys and a full numeric pad.

What you should consider: It has traditional membrane switches, which some users might find difficult to type on.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Cloud Nine C989M Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard

Cloud Nine C989M Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard

What you need to know: This split mechanical keyboard is good for typing and gaming.

What you’ll love: Instead of equally dividing the keys per portion, it is split with only a third on the left side. On the right, it has the other keys but also a full numeric pad. The tented palm supports are at a 7-degree angle, adding to the comfort. The wired mechanical keyboard uses Cherry MX Brown switches and is backlit in the full RGB range.

What you should consider: It has a “smart wheel” in the middle of the two portions, which can be awkward to operate.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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