Rubber dome keyboard buyer's guide

by John Ankarström

This is a collection of rubber dome keyboards that feel nearly as good, as good or even better than "mechanical" keyboards. It also includes a list of rubber dome keyboards to be avoided at all cost. It is intended to be a resource for people looking to buy a high-quality rubber dome keyboard. The list is divided into three sections:

  1. Recommended
  2. Partially recommended
  3. Not recommended

Within each section, keyboards are listed in the order that I recommend them. The best come first, the worst last. The most important factors are the feel and consistency of the keys. I have personally tried all of the keyboards listed, and a few have full reviews, accessible via hyperlinks.

Finally, be sure to check out the FAQ page, if you're wondering why anyone who knows about "mechanical" keyboards would want to buy a rubber dome keyboard, or if you'd like tips on how to find good rubber dome keyboards.


The keyboards in this section are characterized by a nice, consistent, high-quality key feel, sometimes on par with or even superior to some of the best mechanical keyboards. I recommend them wholeheartedly.

Dell QuietKey RT7D5JTWDell QuietKey RT7D5JTW

This keyboard with NMB domes with sliders is anything but quiet. The keys are extremely tactile and rather heavy, and produce a deep, satisfying thonk. Not mushy in the slightest. A fantastic keyboard overall.

Review pending.

Fujitsu FKB8530Fujitsu FKB8530

This (optionally) split keyboard uses Fujitsu domes with sliders, which are quite light and very smooth and soft. I personally love the feel of them. The keys have a low, slightly tingy sound that I find quite pleasant. The anti-ghosting isn't ideal for gaming, but otherwise, if you're looking for an small, ergonomic rubber dome keyboard, this is a great choice.

Read full review.

Partially recommended

The keyboards in this section are characterized by a key feel superior to most rubber dome boards, but lacking in either consistency, smoothness or overall quality.

Compaq 166516Compaq RT235BTW

This keyboard uses NMB domes with sliders. The keys generally feel good and smooth and are quite tactile. They have a sort of friction or slight scratchiness, though. Also, some of the rubber domes on mine appear to have lost some of their tactility. I don't love the key feel, but the RT235BTW is relatively easy to find, and it is a lot better than most rubber dome boards, so it is a pretty good choice for a cheap or even free introduction into higher-quality rubber domes.

Not recommended

The keyboards in this section are either very average rubber dome designs or, in some cases, more interesting designs that ultimately, however, fall flat. They range from okay to mediocre to horrible.

Apple USB KeyboardApple USB Keyboard (included with the iMac G3)

This rubber dome keyboard is pretty okay. The keys are not of the highest quality, but they feel pretty good and decidedly less mushy than many other rubber domes, which I really like about them. The shape of the keys is also nice. The only problem is that the keys, especially the bigger ones, tend to bind when hit on the edges. If it didn't have this problem, it would be a fairly good keyboard.

IBM KB-9910IBM KB-9910

This 90s-era IBM keyboard uses standard rubber domes – no frills, no fancy sliders. While the design is great and the construction is okay (although very light), the keys are mushy and mediocre. Additionally, the key caps have some strange coating that almost makes them feel dirty, even when pristine. All in all, not the worst keyboard in the world, but certainly not the best either. Comparing it to IBM's earlier keyboards is a nothing short of a crime.

Ortek MCK-701WOrtek MCK-701W

This keyboard, which I bought as old new stock, uses an unknown slider-over-dome design with relatively high tactility. Unfortunately, it's a bit inconsistent. Specifically, the space bar is much heavier than other keys, almost to the point of being hard to press. The keys also feel a bit smaller than normal. In general, there is something about the key feel that I personally heavily dislike, so I can't really recommend it.

SGI granite PS/2 keyboardSilicon Graphics granite PS/2 keyboard (NMB RT6856TSF)

This keyboard (whose accompanying mouse I've reviewed here) is beautiful, even though the ABS plastic tends to yellow quite a bit. It is a normal rubber dome keyboard, with plungers integrated into the key caps, set apart by three things: high-quality PBT key caps, a rather low key travel and a high consistency among keys, thanks in part to good stabilization on the big keys. The unstabilized modifier keys bind a little if pressed in the corner, though.

It is really peculiar to type on. It's not nice. It's almost like a mushy linear switch with very low travel – quite strange. Without the great key caps, it would feel absolutely terrible; with them, it feels only pretty terrible.

ACK-210Solid Year ACK-210 (FCC: L2BACK210)

This keyboard, manufactured by Solid Year, is a mixed bag. It uses Solid Year's own sliders over rubber domes. The keys are somewhat mushy and inconsistent in terms of force. The bigger keys don't bind, but feel terrible. It might be that the rubber domes have degraded on mine, because some keys feel much better than others. If I ever find one in better condition, I might change my opinion, but right now, I cannot recommend it.

That said, the ACK-210 has a nice design, clearly inspired by the Apple Extended Keyboard II. It even includes a sleep key. Additionally, the keyboard has impressively good anti-ghosting, so if you find it in better condition, it might be a good option for gaming.

Microsoft Sidewinder X4Microsoft Sidewinder X4

Some people think this is one of the better rubber dome keyboards. These people are wrong. The keys are not mushy, but instead, they have an extremely stiff, plastic feel, which is at best annoying, at worst unbearable. The keyboard does have some nice features, including n-key rollover, but due to the horrible key feel, I personally find it worse than really any run-of-the-mill rubber dome board.

Read full review.

Last updated on 5 Jan 2021.

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