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I review laptops for a living — and these have the best keyboards

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I’ve tested and reviewed many laptops for Tom’s Guide. From sleek business notebooks like the Dell XPS 13 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360, all the way to hefty gaming machines like the Acer Nitro 5 and Maingear Vector Pro, I’ve gone hands-on with every conceivable type of laptop. Many of my favorites have landed on our best laptops, best gaming laptops and best MacBook lists. There are many great notebooks out there.

But while I find laptops incredibly useful for both work and for gaming, there’s one aspect I’m not a fan of: their keyboards. If you’ve read any of my laptop reviews, I always tend to say something to the effect of “I’m not generally a fan of laptop keyboards.” There’s a reason I feel this way.

Modern laptops have membrane keyboards, which have thinner keys than the best mechanical keyboards. While membrane keyboards help keep laptops relatively thin, they don’t provide the same satisfying tactile response as a mechanical keyboard. As someone who enjoys keyboards from vendors like Logitech, Razer and Corsair, standard laptop keyboards typically leave me disappointed.

But that doesn’t mean laptops with great keyboards don’t exist. Quite the contrary. There are some laptops with keyboards that make the typing experience exponentially better. While most of these are gaming laptops, some non-gaming-specific notebooks feature keyboards that I’ve come to adore.

These have my favorite laptop keyboards.

Acer Nitro 5 

Acer Nitro 5 is a large and bulky gaming laptop.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Acer Nitro 5 is a solid budget laptop. It doesn’t rank among the best laptops I’ve reviewed and tested, but its keyboard is definitely a highlight. This laptop’s roomy keyboard gives your hands plenty of space to move. If you have large hands as I do, you’ll appreciate this aspect. The keys are thick compared to a regular laptop and provide a satisfying amount of resistance when pressed. They also feel sturdy and don’t have the mushiness I typically find in laptop keyboards.

The 4-zone RGB backlighting is a nice touch that gives the Nitro 5 some added flair. You can change the backlight colors via the “NitroSense” UI, which you access by pressing the dedicated NitroSense key on the keypad. Through this menu, you’re able to set the color for each keyboard zone, adjust the backlight’s brightness and set the lights to either be static or dynamic. I’m not the biggest fan of RGB lighting, but it suits the Nitro 5 well. If you’re into RGB lighting, then I’m sure you’ll appreciate the customization options.

Maingear Vector Pro 

Maingear Vector Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Another laptop with big clicky keys is the Maingear Vector Pro. The Vector Pro's huge keyboard gives your fingers ample space to move around. Keystrokes feel precise and pressing them creates a satisfying clicking sound. The palm rests beneath the keyboard look oversized but you’ll appreciate the large surface area after a few minutes of typing.

Instead of per-key RBG lighting, the Vector Pro features 4-zone lighting like the Acer Nitro 5. This could be a negative for folks who want full customization over every single key on the keyboard. But, even as someone who isn’t a huge fan of RGB lighting (on pretty much anything), I think 4-zone backlighting still gives you plenty of customization possibilities.

Dell XPS 15 OLED (2022) 

Dell XPS 15 OLED

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If you thought this list would only have gaming laptops, you’d be wrong. While the Dell XPS 15 OLED makes for a surprisingly competent gaming laptop, it’s marketed as a notebook for office and everyday work. These laptops tend to have less-than-fantastic keyboards but I absolutely adored the XPS 15’s roomy and responsive backlit keyboard.

Aside from the low-key travel that allowed me to type effortlessly, my favorite feature was the soft textured carbon fiber covering the palm rests. It was a delight working on the laptop for hours at a time. You wouldn’t think something as simple as the texture of the palm rests would matter, but this feature made for a brilliant typing experience.

Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360

The Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 delivers speedy performance.

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One of my personal favorite laptops overall is the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360. Like the MacBook Air M2, this is an ultra-thin laptop that’s perfect for those who are constantly on the go. It also has an incredibly satisfying keyboard to type on.

The full keyboard has plenty of room for you to comfortably type on for many hours. In fact, I wrote the majority of the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 review on the laptop without a hitch. The relatively thin keys provide a good amount of resistance, even if you’re accustomed to mechanical keyboards. I also like how I can adjust the backlight to adapt to ambient lighting conditions. This laptop doesn't have a flashy keyboard but it made my fingers happy.

MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch) 

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 sitting on a patio table

(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s laptops are great to type on thanks to the built-in (and redesigned) Magic Keyboard. I could easily add any of the MacBooks I’ve reviewed and tested to this list, but I’m going with the MacBook Pro 16-inch.

Though I feel the laptops listed above, particularly the gaming notebooks, have keys that feel better to type on, the 16-inch MacBook Pro gives my hands the most space. In fact, the ginormous keyboard was almost too large to work on initially. But it didn’t take me long to acclimate and begin typing at my usual speed. Now, it’s a little hard going back to smaller laptop keyboards.

If you absolutely must have a laptop with a large keyboard, you can’t go wrong with the MacBook Pro 16-inch.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.