Third-party Mac Keyboard Reviews:

You Wanted the Best, Well…

Few people who have used the various keyboards that ship with Apple computers will disagree that they’re pretty awesome. There are a few exceptions (such as the recent round of awful MacBook keyboards)but on the whole these boards are compact and wonderful to type on.

They are also pretty expensive, limited in style option, and not always to the tactile liking of everyone. The good news is that there are plenty of affordable and diverse third-party options out there. If you need to replace or augment your Apple keyboard collection, one of these five clicky-clackers are quite probably a good choice for you.

Macally Ultra-Slim USB Wired Keyboard for Apple Mac

I’ve actually used quite a few Macally products over the years. Specifically, their iPad covers have taken me through five generations of tablet – covers that were way cheaper than the Apple originals but lasted longer than I needed them to.

Of course, keyboards are more complex than cases, so the order is somewhat taller than that. Still, even at first glance this keyboard impresses me. There’s no original Apple keyboard that looks like this as far as I know, yet it looks like something Apple could have made.

The white coloring is exceptional, although I’m sure it will attract dirt like the dickens! One of the main reasons you’d want this keyboard instead of the one that shipped with your Mac is its full-key design. You get 104 keys, which includes the numeric keyboard. While people who are primarily writers can do just fine with the typical laptop-style Mac keyboard, anyone who works with plenty of numbers needs a numpad.

This board uses scissor-switch keys instead of dome switches, which I personally much prefer even to mechanical switches. Scissor switches provide a short travel with a defined keystroke. Personally, that lets me type very quickly with little noise and lots of accuracy. We’re deep into the personal preference zone here though, so your mileage may vary.

While this is a wired keyboard (at this price it has to be) they have included a 1.5-meter cable! That’s good from one point of view, but most people are going to have to manage that excess cable somehow.

Macally Backlit Mechanical Keyboard for Mac

Oh, those PC people – they’re always going on about one thing or the other; one of those things being mechanical keyboards. A mechanical keyboard uses a clicky mechanical switch mechanism to complete the keystroke. Most standard keyboards use a dome membrane switch, but millions of gamers and typists swear by their noisy clackers.

Apple doesn’t make any sort of mechanical keyboard, but thanks to third-party manufacturers like Macally you don’t have to feel left out. Mechanical keyboards have been going down in price recently, probably thanks to increased demand for them. So I’m not surprised by the pretty reasonable price of this unit. In fact, it’s not far off from what a normal original Apple slim keyboard would cost.

It’s not just mechanical either; it has white LED backlights. Yes, none of that multi-color RGB gamer nonsense here, just the purest of white for our Macs, thanks. It’s quite slim, yet provides a very solid and precise typing experience. Apparently, these are MX Brown switches, which is perfect for productivity. User feedback is excellent, so if most of your creative Mac work is writing and you find yourself less than enthused with the membrane switch default, this is a very affordable way to give the mechanical life a whirl. Best of all, Macally offers a 24-month warranty. That’s the entire relevant lifespan of an iPhone!

Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac Cherry MX Brown Mechanical Keyboard

Here we have another mechanical keyboard offering, but one with very different design choices. The Macally would not look out of place next to any of the OEM Mac peripherals, but this keyboard from Das goes its own way. It’s a sleek, professional-looking device that would be at home in any design studio, but it’s more PC-like than something that goes with a Mac.

You can choose between various models, the one linked here being the 2-port USB-3 hub professional model with MX Brown mechanical switches. They also offer a version with MX Blue switches, so I encourage you to Google the characteristics of these two switch types in order to figure out which is more likely to be for you.

The switches have gold connectors, to extend the life of the contact I suppose. The keycaps have been coated with a material to prevent them from fading.

It has some pretty interesting media control buttons, with a large volume control knob next to the playback controls. Overall, I quite like the look of the DasKeyboard Professional, but not everyone will want to pair it with their Mac simply because of the way it looks. If you can get over that, this is a very reasonable price to pay for a durable, tactile, and very high-quality keyboard.

Satechi Aluminum USB Wired Keyboard

This board from Satechi is a little borderline for me in terms of looks. I like an aluminum finish and Satechi has provided this product in matched colors with the various Apple standards. This is pretty awesome, but the looks of the keyboard with those weird, flat rounded keys reminds me of the early days of computing, with tacky computers like the ZX Spectrum. You might enjoy this particular brand of retro flair, but it’s not my cup of tea.

Getting past the issue of looks, this wired keyboard comes in at a price comparable to the wireless magic keyboard, but of course offers a full experience with a nice spacious numeric keypad. So if you do a lot of data entry in spreadsheets, that’s a big plus point.

Another advantage, at least in my book, is the use of scissor-switch keys. Unlike the common cheap dome switches, these have a little plastic switch that provides short travel and a nice definitive keypress. Personally I prefer these flat, short-travel keys to mechanical switches and domes both, but it’s up to you.

This full keyboard works with just about any Mac, but obviously you’ll need a USB-C adapter if you want to use it with one of the new MacBook Pros.

Overall, people really love this keyboard when it comes to getting work done. It might not be the prettiest, but comfortable typing and spreadsheet-friendly layouts go a long way.

Anker Ultra Compact Profile Wireless Bluetooth

Anker is one of my favorite companies, thanks to the unique mix of low prices and non-crap products they make. It’s not an elite brand or anything, but when I do buy something like a power bank from them, I have no doubt it’s going to work well.

I bring this up because this is clearly an almost-exact clone of the OEM Mac wireless Magic Keyboard, a keyboard, I must say, that counts as one of my favorite of all time. I’m actually not a big fan of mechanical keyboards at all and prefer typing on these shallow chiclet-style keys. I can type like a rocket on the Apple original, but it ain’t cheap. So here’s Anker with a keyboard that looks exactly the same, has the same layout, but costs a quarter of what I paid for mine. There’s got to be a catch somewhere, right?

Well, this has some advantages over the standard keyboard that it apes. While you can use the Apple original with any Mac or iOS device via Bluetooth, Anker has opened this up to Android and Windows machines as well.

Looking like the Magic Keyboard is where it stops, however, because I see more than a few reports of rattling keys, perceptions of poor build quality, and, worst of all, lag and connection issues. If price is your key consideration and you care more about looks than pure quality, it is a viable replacement for the Apple original in a pinch. In the end, it’s good to have a choice!