A design engineer spends countless hours working on CAD software. How great would it be if those countless hours were spent on tools that can help you become more productive.
The right set of peripherals is deemed is essential for any power user or an engineering seeking to improve their efficiency.
In this article, we will look at the best keyboards for engineers and CAD software. While there aren’t any dedicated set of keyboards specifically designed for engineers, unlike for gamers, there are certain special features that can enhance your productivity.
Chances are your old aged keyboard is badly affecting your typing efficiency and in turn your workflow. To help tackle this issue, below we have reviews some of the popular options. We also talk about about some essential FAQ below.
Comparison of Top Keyboard for Engineers
| Logitech |
List of Best Keyboards for Engineers and CAD in 2021
Here is a quick list of our recommended keyboard for engineers and CAD designers.
- Logitech G910 Orion Spark – Recommend Keyboard for Engineers
- Logitech G613 Lightspeed – Recommended Wireless Keyboard
- Koolertron SMKD72-A – 48 Programmable Keys Keypad
- Microsoft Surface Keyboard –Minimal Wireless Keyboard for Engineers
- Logitech Ergo K860 – Premium Ergonomic Keyboard
1. Logitech G910 Orion Spark – Recommend Keyboard for Engineers
First up we have the most recommended keyboard for engineers, and professionals. In essence, this is a gaming grade keyboard. Since peripherals made for gaming are all high grade, it servers as the highest denominator for other tasks as well such as CAD usage.
The reason why we have selected this particular keyboard is because it combines functionality as well as a great price point.
For starters this is a mechanical keyboard with looks that do cater to a PC enthusiast or a gamer.
However, as a design engineer, it is a given your work would be performed on CAD software like AutoCAD, Revit etc and if there is one that the power users of these software find most important is customizability.
What this keyboard thus provides is a huge array of programmable keys. This keyboard offers 9 programmable keys with 3 profile. So essentially you get 27 programmable keys in total.
These keys can be used to set up macros or you could assign the most commonly used functions and commands. This alone makes this a great time saver for engineers.
Another important feature is that this is a mechanical keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are all about durability and precision. Their key caps are designed in a way that promote better accuracy.
The only drawback we find with this keyboard is that its looks aren’t too suited for an office environment. Nevertheless, unlike most mechanical keyboards out there, this is a quite keyboard. Hence, you could use it in an office without disturbing others with the clicky noise.
In short, if you are looking for a highly functional option with a great price point, then this is the best keyboard for engineers in our opinion.
2. Logitech G613 Lightspeed – Recommended Wireless Keyboard
A popular mechanical keyboard with Wireless connectivity. Offers 6 programmable keys.
Here we have another keyboard from Logitech. However, this time we have a wireless mechanical keyboard.
Wireless technology on mechanical keyboard is a rare find. Most of the mechanical keyboards out there cater to gamers and gamers prefer having a wired keyboard for reducing the input lag.
This keyboard challenges that notion bu going all wireless and tackles the issue of input lag with its very fast 1 ms response time. As an engineer, however, you don’t really need to worry about that much.
What you do get here is a highly durable and well constructed wireless mehcanical keyboard with the proprietary Romer G quite and linear keys highly suitable for an office environment.
We have chose this as one of the best wireless keyboard for CAD is users is because it features 6 programmable keys.
You can assign functions and commands to these keys for ease of use on your dedicated design software.
One of the best aspects about these programmable keys is that you can set up their programmed profile for each app differently. Hence you can have a different customized macros for AutoCad, and another one for SOlidWorks, Revit etc.
The keyboard requires 2 x AA batteries which can last for 18 months at a time given that the batteries are heavy duty alkaline batteries.
All in all, if wireless is your requirement, then this is the best keyboard for engineers.
3. Koolertron SMKD72-A – 48 Programmable Keys Keypad
A programmable keypad with 48 keys that can be used as a secondary keyboard.
Koolertron SMKD72-A is a unique keypad highly suited for CAD users and engineers who want to minimize their time and frustration looking for a function/command every single time.
As you can see, this is obviously not a full fledged keyboard. What it actually is is a keypad with 48 programmable keys which you can use to set different macros, commands and functions to individually for improving your efficiency.
If you find yourself clicking multiple times just to get a certain function you need, with this you can literally program that function to a key. Any subsequent presses on that key will take you to your desired command.
The idea behind this keypad is not to act as your primary keyboard for designing. Instead, this can act as a secondary keyboard for boosting your productivity.
You will notice that this does not have any labels on the keys. This allows you make labels of your own. Just make sure you use a sticker to put labels instead of using a permanent marker.
So if you are a power user who just cant have enough of programmable keys, then this is the best keyboard for engineers in our opinion.
4. Microsoft Surface Keyboard –Wireless Keyboard for Engineers
If you do not care much for mechanical keys, programmable keys and all the fancy backlighting on a keyboard and you just want a minimal yet high quality option, then we recommend the Microsoft Surface Keyboard.
This is basically the Windows equivalent of the Apple Magic keyboard – which is the de facto best keyboard as far as typing experience goes.
One of the best things about this keyboard is the keys itself. Not all keys are made equally and this keyboard is the testament to that fact. From the smooth and light key presses to shallow actuation points, this keyboard reeks of speed and quality.
This is essentially a membrane keyboard with low profile scissor switches instead of the larger rubber-dome keys.
Another great aspect about this keyboard is that it is highly compact and can thus save up on your precious desk space.
Again, while this is truly a minimal keyboard, it sets itself apart with its extraordinary key and keycaps and if that matters to you while designing, then this is the best keyboard for engineers.
5. Logitech Ergo K860 – Premium Ergonomic Keyboard
A premium ergonomic keyboard with split design, thick cushioned palm rest and low profile keys.
Logitech Ergo is not a cheap keyboard, however, if comfort is your number 1 priority, then this premium keyboard should be high on your list.
This is essentially an ergonomic keyboard. Hence it has a split design with an arc in the middle to mimic the natural position of the wrist.
While there certainly are many other ergonomic keyboards out there, what sets this apart from the rest its high construction quality.
For starters, this has one of the thickest cushioned palm rest you can find on keyboards. This can provide you with extraordinary comfort for long hours of work.
Furthermore, while most of the ergonomic keyboard have large rubber domed switches which are slow to actuate, this is a rare ergonomic keyboard that features low profile scissor switches.
Scissor switches are fast due to their shallower actuation points, but they are less precise. To tackle the issue of precision, Logitech Ergo K860 offers scooped keys which act as a grip for your fingertips as you press.
So in short, if comfort and your wrist health matters the most to you, then this is the best keyboard for engineers.
Is Logitech Craft Good for Engineers?
Many articles out there make mention of Logitech Craft as being the best keyboard for engineers.
However, while this is an excellent keyboard for designers, it DOES NOT YET have any support for the common CAD software including AutoCad, Microstation, SolidWords, Revit etc.
Currently it offers support for Microsoft Office Suite, and Adobe Suit.
Logitech HAS provided an SDK for developers to add functionality for different software to the dial, however, currently there are non available for the common CAD software.
In the future, if functionality for engineering software is added, this may well become the number 1 option, however, at the moment, we advise caution when buying this.
Also Read: Best Mechanical Keyboards for Office
What to Look For in Engineering Keyboard?
There are a few key aspects you should be looking at when buying a keyboard suited for engineers.
These are as follows:
Macros / Programmable Keys
One of the most important feature that we find on any engineering or professional keyboard is the provision of programmable keys.
Programmable keys are indispensable for the power users. If you spend countless hours working on CAD software, then the macros or the commands that you assign to the programmable keys can prove to be huge time saver.
Not all keyboards have this function and those that do are generally expensive. So there is a trade-off and you have to choose carefully.
Keyboards come in different variants concerning their form factor. The one that we recommend for you as an engineer is the full-sized keyboard with 104 keys.
This form factor includes function row, arrow keys and number pad.
It allows you to do different tasks whether you are inputting alphanumeric data or using various keys and shortcuts in different software.
Most full-sized keyboards have an integrated number pad. In some models the number pad is separate. It gives you more mobility when using the accessory.
Ten Key Less (TKL)
Ten key less are popular among engineers and cad workers who want to buy a separate numpad for themselves to that they can manually position it as per their preference.
You will also find some users who prefer the small 60% keyboards. These are basically mini keyboard that have 60% of the keys a normal keyboard does.
These keyboard ditch the functions keys and even arrow keys.
If you want to use the arrow keys or the other missing keys, you have to hold down a dedicated “function” key which allows you to access the second layer of the keys.
For example “WASD” usually second as the arrow keys that you can access by pressing and holding a dedication function key.
If you want the arrow keys, you can go for 65% keyboard that are also compact but have the intuitive arrow keys on them.
The reason these keyboards are popular is because their small form factor allows you to access many keys and combination of keys quickly.
Wired vs. Wireless
You will come across two options in terms of connectivity: wired or wireless. Wired ones usually connect through USB cable while the wireless ones connect through either Radio Frequency or Bluetooth.
Each comes with its pros and cons. Wired keyboards have a stable connection, don’t need batteries and are cheaper than wireless ones.
In contrast, wireless keyboards are more convenient and allow you to make your workplace tidy by using it at a longer distance. Without batteries, they can’t work. They are also known to lag sometimes.
We strongly recommend you opt for a good quality keyboard, whether it’s wired or wireless.
If your office is in a stationary place and you can manage the cable clutter, then its best to work with a wired keyboard. Wireless one should be your choice if you travel a lot.
We would cover here three popular keyboard types that would be suitable for you as an engineer. You can go for anyone the most you are comfortable with.
These keyboards are based on mechanical switches which are known for their durability and tactile feedback which is a satisfying feature for typing. They also offer convenient and easy typing for hands.
However, they are pricey, tend to make noise and are unsuitable for travel as they need connecting wires.
2. Scissor Switches
These keyboards have rectangular or square keys that are flat. They also have membranes inside them to complete their circuit.
Some of their advantages are that they are inexpensive, have quiet keys and allows easy portability and travel as they are often wireless.
However, they are not long-lasting as mechanical ones and are difficult to repair once a key is broken.
There’s another type of keyboard that is designed in a split or V-shape. If you are typing for long periods, this would keep your hands, wrists and forearms in a natural position. These are often wireless and allow more mobility.
Also Read: Best Ergonomic Keyboards for Programmers
Engineering can involve challenging tasks. It’s equally important that you invest in a top-tier keyboard for your computer or other devices for effective work.
We hope that this article on the best keyboards for engineers would help in getting the right peripheral as per your professional needs.
After all, choosing which keyboard to purchase shouldn’t be a light decision. It’s a long-term investment.