The Best Steampunk Keyboards (2018 Review)
By Steampunk Origins | Updated Oct 31, 2018
Even those living under the darkest of rocks should be well affiliated with steampunk by now. A global movement that’s taking the world by storm in fashion, art, cinema, literature and games. Steampunk sprung from speculative fiction that envisions a future where steam power is preferred over modern technologies. Now combine this futurist fantasy with a Victorian style and you’ve got steampunk. What was once a genre or aesthetic has since become so much more than that, steampunk is a lifestyle, and a dapper one at that. We’ve looked at some steampunk gear before, but now we’re going to focus on some modern day technology that’s not out of place in some spiffing steampunk literature. We’ll be taking a look at the top 5 steampunk keyboards currently on the market.
Steampunk Keyboards Quick Review
|Product||Best For||Our Rating|
|1. Diviner by Datamancer||Steampunk Style|
|2. Azio Retro Classic Bluetooth Artisan||Overall|
|3. Qwerkywriter S Typewriter||Versatility|
|4. Ajazz Retro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard||Value For Money|
|5. The Machinist by Datamancer||Industrial Look|
Top Choice: Diviner by Datamancer
Drawing inspiration from Victorian era design, The Diviner Keyboard is a modern USB keyboard with a natural wooden frame and vintage typewriter key caps.
Value For Money
Stylizing Your Work Space With Steampunk Gear
The steampunk aesthetic has renovated the world of modern day kings. Taking us back to a simpler time when men were gentlemen, and the future looked bright and enterprising.
Restyling your office or study in a steampunk style is one of the most up-to-date trends with a great deal of sticking power. The intricacies of stylized copper, brass, gears and cogs can reinforce a theme of (not so quiet) sophistication that can transport one to an alternate reality of elegance and innovation.
Things to Consider Before You Purchase Your Steampunk Keyboard
Is the Keyboard Compatible With Your Computer?
There’s no point in forking out on a fancy steampunk keyboard if it doesn’t connect to your computer or tablet. Make sure that you check the keyboard works with your operating system, and can connect, whether it’s by USB, Bluetooth or similar. Nowadays, modern keyboards come with drivers built in, but some keyboards may require you to download drivers online or come with a CD to install.
For those of you who run an Android smart phone or tablet, you can use some steampunk. If you’re running a pretty old PC, then your brand spanking new steampunk keyboard might not run. Although, if your PC is that old then you might want to spend your cash updating your computer before the keyboard which brings us onto our next point...
Steampunk Keyboards Aren't Cheap
A lot of steampunk keyboards have come under fire for burning big holes in your pockets. But it’s important to remember that these keyboards aren’t just for typing. A decent steampunk keyboard is an art piece in itself, and should be treated as such. Whilst you can pick up a perfectly usable keyboard designed with traditional typewriters in mind, an intricate, custom-made keyboard is going to set you back a few hundred dollars.
You might want to save a few bucks on the keyboard to spend more on a beautiful wooden Victorian desk. Think about your budget and about your office as a whole. One cheap piece of furniture can ruin a room, so balance it out.
It’s important to know your budget and to work within it. Some of the top steampunk keyboards can reach in excess of around $1000, and at the end of the day, they are just keyboards. So shop around and see what you like and what you’re happy to pay for. Some keyboards provide much greater functionality and at a lower cost, but do sacrifice some aesthetic.
Different Keyboards Will Lead to Different Typing Speeds
A streamlined keyboard can help you reach a higher WPM (that’s words per minute), which is essential for any steampunk enthusiast that’s hammering out their next airship flying, space-pirate fighting steampunk novel.
You want to be able to type at the speed the words come to you, and so a keyboard with heavy-duty, clunky, difficult to reach keys is going to slow you down until you’re tripping up over your own ideas. If you can’t test the keyboard you want, then check reviews to make sure it won’t slow you down.
Top Features of Steampunk Keyboards
Style of Keys
This is pretty crucial. You want keys that are strong enough not to break under your fingers, especially if you’re you’ll be using this keyboard for work. The keys need to be durable. I mean, imagine how many times you hit the space bar per day.
Writing this blog I’ve already hit it an exorbitant amount of times. Personally, I prefer the round, typewriter style keys to the deep set, modern style. They feel durable and distinct beneath your fingers. Mechanical keys have a mechanical spring built in instead of a rubberized dome that you’ll find in most laptops.
Mechanical keys need a little more pressure to push down, but also spring up faster. Ultimately this makes the keys feel more responsive and you’re far less likely to push a key in and have it stick. Mechanical keys can be a bit more noisy than the traditional rubber backed keys.
One thing that we barely notice with keyboards, is how god damn loud they can be. If you turned the music off at Starbucks, then you’d quickly go insane from the incessant clicking and clacking of fingers smacking laptops. That being said, for a beautiful steampunk keyboard, we’d want that satisfying sound of an old-school typewriter.
The typical material for all steampunk gear is brass, but this increases the price and weight of a keyboard quite dramatically, and so might not necessarily be the material of your choice.
Whilst we know that you have to spend money to get the best, the price difference between brass and plastic feels almost scandalous. Some keyboards find a nice middle ground, being made from cheaper metals like aluminum that minimize weight and cost, but still feel solid to the touch.
It’s worth thinking about what you’ll be using your keyboard for, for example if you’re planning on playing video-games, you’ll want a keyboard with programmable keys, back-lighting, and changeable number pads, and you won’t be too fussed with the keyboards weight.
On the other hand, for those of you who might be taking your workstation to the office, or plan to travel with it, then it might be worth finding a keyboard that doesn’t pack on the pounds.
Most people will probably be leaving their steampunk keyboard at home, where it works best, in your home studio alongside your other steampunk equipment. Make sure your keyboard isn’t going to cause you any unnecessary strain. Consider getting a wrist rest as some of these stylish keyboards don’t have them already built in, and they’ll save your hands.
Steampunk Keyboard Review
Inspired by vintage typewriters and crafted with ultramodern features, the Azio Retro Classic is the perfect amalgam of past, present, and future. A backlit mechanical keyboard with round keycaps that evoke nostalgia of yesteryear complemented with durable Zinc alloy frame and a sumptuous genuine leather surface.
The Azio Artisan brings a relatively cheap, yet extremely elegant Bluetooth keyboard to the steampunk market. A leather top-plate creates an authentic atmosphere around this keyboard and screams steampunk craftsmanship.
The keyboard can be tilted to your desired angle by rotating pillars at the back, although we did find the front of this keyboard is already relatively high (1.25”), so you’ll definitely need a wrist support if you plan on using this keyboard a lot, but of course that would detract from the steampunk aesthetic.
On the back of the keyboard you’ll find quick switches to change your keyboard from it’s power off mode to either USB or Bluetooth, as well as a switch to change from Mac to PC. Combined with a relatively light weight to some of the other metal based computer keyboards on the market, this keyboard becomes far more utility.
You can use it on your Mac at home, then take to the office and easily connect to your PC, even use with your smart phone or tablet on the go. The keys are made of plastic and so don’t feel as sturdy, secure or responsive as some of the more premium products on this list, but do feature Kaihl Blue Switches, which we assume are based on the popular Cherry MX Blue switches, as we can’t find a noticeable difference.
The sound is near enough the same - that classic typewriter click, and even comes with back-lighting, making this ideal for gaming or darker work spaces.
Much friendlier to your budget than the keyboards from Datamancer, but understandably this keyboard is mass-produced. If you can get past the limited adjustability and want something distinguished, adaptable and portable, then the Azio Artisan is a great choice.
- Leather top-plate
- Zinc-aluminum frame
- Back-lit and loud, Kaihl Blue switches
- USB and Bluetooth connectivity
- Comes in 3 elegant styles
- Compatible with Mac and PC
- Plastic keys more likely to stick
- Height adjustment limited
The Machinist is an aluminum framed keyboard, designed to capture the ruggedness of the industrial era. The allure of the keyboard is in the details. A marred, beat-up metal frame is propped up by two spider gear assembly risers. The gritty black faceplate emphasizes an era more focused on production than aesthetics.
The older and more industrious brother of he Diviner, the Machinist features a distressed and weathered aluminum frame around a gritted black face plate.The Machinist wouldn’t look out of place in an underground Berlin nightclub, as well as the grittier steam or cyberpunk styled studio. The solid metal build gives this keyboard an extra pound of weight, compared to its younger brother - The Diviner.
The keyboard is supported by 3 gears, which brings the mechanical aspect of steampunk to your office’s aesthetic. The three supporting gears can be altered to raise and lower the back of the keyboard, altering the total angle to your preference. The keyboard lock LEDs are essentially the same as those of the diviner, except white jewels instead of red.
The keys, much like the Diviner are typewriter inspired and feature the Cherry MX Blue switches, creating a loud click for a traditional sound. As with the Diviner, the Machinist has smaller keys than most standard keyboards, and will take some time getting used to.
The Machinist is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux, and comes in Datamancer’s variety of 9 languages. A 6ft USB cable makes this keyboard compatible with most devices, and can be combined with a tablet or android smart phone.
The keyboard is customizable with a variety of options. As it stands, I don’t see much difference in functionality between the Diviner and the Machinist. An aluminum frame doesn’t warrant a $250 increase in price, in my opinion.
- Rugged aluminum build
- Responsive Cherry MX Switches
- Industrial Aesthetic
- Very expensive
- Heavy at 5lbs
Unmatched in its aesthetic design and is easily one of the most stunning devices you will ever own. But don't let that distract you! The new Qwerkywriter S is jam-packed with industry leading features and patented design you won't find anywhere else.
The Qwerkywriter S is a fantastic piece of kit, modeled on a traditional typewriter, it certainly looks like something you’d find in the 1950’s, and has been designed with a plethora of features in mind to improve its functionality. Alongside the aluminum frame, traditional circle keys with loud Cherry MX switches, and adaptable connectivity, you’ll find some pretty nifty design features.
The return bar on the left of the keyboard is defaulted to ‘enter’ but can be programmed with up to 15 characters, allowing you to program a shortcut for a variety of commands, including copy, paste, cut, close, save and more.
Rotary dials at the side control both your volume and page scroll functions, reinforcing that typewriter aesthetic that the Qwerkywriter S is aiming for.
Finally, a tablet/smart phone stand makes this keyboard ideal for portable use, though we do find it a little heavy and loud for cafes and bars, airports on the other hand are no problem.
The only real downsides we found with this keyboard is the lack of a num-pad, which makes this keyboard a bit of a weak contender if you’re planning to do a lot of gaming or computer programming in your new steampunk battle station, but for traditional writing and typing, it’s perfectly fine.
And finally, the keyboard just doesn’t look that steampunk. Sure it’s vintage, but it’s not got the copper, brass, leather edge that some of the other keyboards on the market have. Ultimately, I think it wouldn’t look out of place in a steampunk themed office, but its not creating the atmosphere alone.
- Wired USB & Bluetooth Connectivity (pairable to 3 devices)
- Cherry MX Blue Switches for a sound to match the sight
- Programmable “Macro Return Bar”
- Dual Scroll knob encoders
- Tablet Stand
- Not as sophisticated as other keyboards
- No numpad
Best Ergonomic Steampunk Keyboard
Born for the gaming: Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is constructed of metal alloy and ABS, double-shot injection moulded keycaps, high-end switches, Non-Slip Ergonomic and Spill-Resistant Design.
The budget friendly AJazz USB typewriter might be less steampunk than the other keyboards that we’ve looked at, but it does make up for it’s aesthetic as a cheap, highly functional gaming keyboard.
The keys are modeled after traditional typewriter keys and feature mechanical black switches to reduce noise, but still give you the touch responsive feel of premium keys. The keys are all Back-lit for gaming in an atmospheric environment.
Being USB, this keyboard is quick and easy to set up and is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux. Many of the keys are programmable to allow for an enhanced gaming experience, and the yellow back-lighting is sure to compliment your steampunk studio.
As with the Qwerkywriter S, this keyboard won’t look out of place alongside other steampunk accessories, but it isn’t going to create an atmosphere of it’s own. It’s ideal for steampunk gamers, but not much else.
- Customizable - easily removable key caps
- More than 50 million time perfect keystroke design
- Not extremely steampunk
- Less durable
Drawing inspiration from Victorian era design, The Diviner Keyboard is a modern USB keyboard with a natural wooden frame and vintage typewriter key caps.
Beautifully crafted and each one made to order, the Diviner keyboard by Datamancer offers a cheaper alternative to their top-end steampunk keyboards. Whilst being one of the cheaper products that Datamancer produce, the Diviner by no means feels cheap. It’s solid wooden construction and Cherry MX switches make this keyboard feel sturdy and responsive. You’ll find Victorian style brass Acanthus leaves stamped in each of the keyboards corners that elegantly frame the keys.
This keyboard will sit perfectly within any retro-futuristic themed home office, studio or work space. Adjustable risers constructed from polished brass make this keyboard fully adjustable to your preference and perfect for uneven desktops. The indicator LEDs for num-lock, caps-lock and scroll-lock are covered with refractive red jewel lenses, which are then wrapped in a brass and silver housing.
The keys are stylish and round, designed in the aesthetic of an old typewriter and make a gentle clicking sound when pressed. The keys come in two typefaces, both of which are traditional Victorian-inspired fonts. Beneath the keycap, Cherry MX Blue switches create a loud click giving you more typing feedback and a traditional sound, as well as a heavier feel.
It’s worth noting that these keys aren’t ideal for gaming, because the release point of the key is higher than the actuation point, making double-taps more difficult. The size of the backspace, enter and right shift key are different to most standard keyboards, in that they are slightly smaller, and so it may take some getting used to. Your words-per-minute might take a slight drop, but after some acclimatization, your typing speed should return to normal.
Because each Diviner is hand-made to order, you can expect a large yet fair price tag of around $500, and a wait time of 2 to 8 weeks. Fortunately, each keyboard can be customized with a variety of special requests, including various Cherry MX switches, languages (including English, Danish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Swiss), various colored LEDs and more, you just have to ask. The included 6ft USB cable ensures that the keyboard is easy to connect to just about any device.
- Ornate wooden construction
- Comfortable wrist rests
- Smooth Cherry MX keys
- Long shipping time
So What's it Going to Be?
Our personal Favorite has to be the Azio Artisan. It features essentially the same switches as some of the more expensive steampunk keyboards, but at half the price. It’s lightweight, portable and compatible with just about any OS you can think of, and features Bluetooth connectivity.
On top of it’s enhanced functionality and bang for your buck, it looks absolutely amazing. The leather top-plate and aluminum frame make this keyboard look as steampunk as you could ever want, without costing more than your computer.
Whilst some of the other keyboards have loaded themselves up with quirky features or high-end artistry, this keyboard doesn’t need any unnecessary gimmicks to stand out.