Should I Buy a Used Mechanical Keyboard?


Seven.

That’s the number of used mechanical Keyboards I’ve bought over the past 5 years. 

From full RGB lighting keyboards to cherry MX black keyboards, I’ve tried them all and bought them all used. 

But is it a good idea to buy a used mechanical keyboard? After all, gamers have their sweaty fingers poking at the keys for hours at a time. God knows what crumbs have scurried away between the keys. And don’t even get me started on “liquids” that could have been spilled on the thing! Ewww! 

Yet, despite these admittedly horrible problems, I’ve bought loads of used keyboards. 

So let me jump in quickly and answer your question…

Should I buy a used mechanical keyboard? Yes, you should buy a used mechanical keyboard. So long as you are willing to give the mechanical keyboard a deep clean, and you follow my buying tips, you should absolutely buy a used keyboard. You can easily save as much as 74% buying a used high-end mechanical keyboard. 

In this article:

  • Your question: “Should I buy a used mechanical keyboard”, will be answered in more depth
  • You’ll discover where you can buy a used mechanical keyboard
  • You’ll learn the difference between a refurbished and used mechanical keyboard
  • I’ll show you a list of tips to help you confidently buy a used mechanical keyboard
  • Finally, you’ll get a conclusion and a look at what you can do next

Now you’re ready to dive into the first section. Let’s get started!

But first, a quick note… 

As I’m from Wales in the UK, I sometimes talk about prices in UK pounds. 

The reason for this is simple:

I wanted to be as authentic as possible by using my own experience of buying used PC parts here in the UK.

UK prices can be easily converted to US dollars. 

The price in US dollars and UK pounds are pretty much the same cost after taking into account UK VAT Tax. So £100 is roughly equal to $100.

Why you should consider buying a used mechanical keyboard 

The WASD keys wear quickly. But they can be replaced with new Keycaps.

Buying a used mechanical keyboard… Saves you money

You can save a huge amount of money by buying a used mechanical keyboard over a new one. 

In fact, while looking through eBay, I discovered 2 fantastic examples that illustrate how you can save nearly 75% compared to the price of a new keyboard by dipping into the used market. 

Let’s take a look at each example:

Example 1: Asus ROG Claymore

The Asus Rog Claymore is Asus’ highest end keyboard. It offers unparalleled RGB lighting, second-to-none mechanical switches, and is fully programmable. 

It’s the stuff of gaming gods.

This Keyboard retails for around £230 in the UK. That’s more than a good CPU! 

Yet, this Keyboard recently sold, seriously I’m jealous of the winner, on eBay for only £53 + £5.57 P&P. That’s only £58.57 in total! For a £230 keyboard! 

That’s a massive saving of 74% or £171.43! 

Seriously, I’ve written loads of articles on Used PC hardware, but you rarely get such a jaw slackening drop in price as this. 

And there are other saving to be made:

Example 2: CORSAIR K95 RGB PLATINUM

The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum (Hat’s off to Corsair’s copywriters, that’s one heck of a mouthful!) is one of Corsair’s highest-end Keyboards. 

Retailing for £210 in the UK, the K95 is dripping in high-end features similar to the ASUS Claymore: Fully programmable RGB lighting, Changeable mechanical switches, fully programmable keys. Programmable everything in other words. 

But at £210, the price is a bit steep. 

But what if you could buy it for £85 instead? Would you buy one then? 

Well, on eBay, on the 14 of September 2020, this keyboard sold for £84.98. That includes P&P.

That’s a saving, over the price of a new keyboard, of £125. That means you’re saving nearly 60% of your money when buying used instead of new. 

Buying a used mechanical keyboard… Helps save the environment 

This is where your old PC will end up if you don’t give it a second life.

If you’ve read some of my other used PC component articles (You can check them out here), you know I’m big on the idea that we as gamers need to do our bit to help save the environment. 

Our hobby, sadly, consumes a lot of the world’s natural resources. It’s very carbon-intensive, produces a lot of plastic, and hoovers up rare earth elements.

If you dump a gaming keyboard today, and it ends up in landfill, that keyboard will still be sitting there in a couple of thousand years, slowly leaching chemicals into the groundwater and polluting the earth. 

And that’s the best possible outcome…

The worst outcome is your local council or authority will simply burn the plastic, and knowingly pump tons of cancer-causing plastic particles into the atmosphere. 

Now, I’m not kidding myself. You’re probably mostly motivated to buy used because of the massive amount of cash you can save. And I really couldn’t blame you. That would be my primary motivator too. 

But know this:

By buying used, you’re directly contributing to a cleaner healthier world. A world that you and I and future generations can enjoy. 

Our current “buy it, dump it, buy again” culture is unsustainable. 

You can help bring about change by buying used. 

Buying a used mechanical keyboard… Lets you buy a better keyboard for the same money.

If you have a fixed budget for a keyboard, you can buy a better keyboard for your fixed budget. 

For example, let’s say you have £50 to spend on a keyboard. 

That might buy you a new Corsair K55 membrane keyboard for £48 pounds. Not amazing. Alternatively, you could buy a Chinese made mechanical keyboard for about the same money. Not bad…

But you could do better:

If you bought used, you could buy a Corsair K70 RGB LUX, a £150 mechanical keyboard, for only £45 pounds. Not bad! 

Buying a used mechanical keyboard… Lets you buy better computer components for a given budget. 

Say, for example, you wanted to spend £100 on a new gaming rig. But you needed to buy everything from scratch, from GPU to Keyboard. 

Components are not cheap: graphics cards can cost £500+ and, as you see with the ASUS Claymore above, the keyboard can be extremely expensive too. 

For a limited budget of £1000 (yeah, that’s limited these days when it comes to gaming PCs, sadly), compromises must be made. 

But you can make less of them by buying, used.

By saving £25-£50 on your keyboard, you can level up the graphics card you intend on buying.  

Where can I buy a Used mechanical keyboard?

Keycaps can be mixed and matched. Much like how the WASD keys on this keyboard are different from the other keys

This is my list of the best shops and websites to buy used and refurbished mechanical keyboards. If you can think of anywhere else that I could add to this list, let me know in the comments. 

Websites 

Shops 

  • UK 
    • CeX – Offers a good 2-year warranty, but you do pay a little extra fee for this. 
    • Game – Sometimes sells used computer components, but not often. Usually sells them cheaply.

Difference between a refurbished and a plain used mechanical Keyboard

Mechanical keyboards are easy to cleans as keycaps can be removed.

Plain Used Mechanical keyboards

Used mechanical keyboards are sold by individuals. Usually, because they’ve upgraded to a new PC that came with a decent keyboard, or they’ve just bought a new keyboard. 

There is usually nothing wrong with the mechanical keyboard they are selling. It’s just being sold because it’s surplus to requirements.

You’ll find lots of individual sellers, such as gamers, selling their old keyboards on websites like eBay. 

A used keyboard, being sold by an individual, can be an absolute bargain. 

However, when buying from an individual the keyboard will not come with a warranty and will be sold as seen. 

Refurbished Mechanical Keyboards 

Refurbished mechanical keyboards are usually sold by businesses not individuals. 

To be considered refurbished, the keyboard will undergo a thorough inspection by a trained technician. 

The keyboard will first be checked for physical defects. These can include dents, scratch marks, damage to ports, missing keys, and marking rubbed off. 

If the keyboard passes this first inspection, the technician will then plug the keyboard into a PC and test that the keys are all working as they should and that the RGB lighting, if any is included, is twinkling. 

If the keyboard works as it should, it’s passed as refurbished, and promptly put up for sale. 

Refurbished keyboards often come with a 1-2 year limited warranty. 

Tips for buying a used or refurbished mechanical keyboard

Dust can build up over time on key caps and acts as a fine abrasive that removes the symbols.

It’s worth noting that these tips are not in order of importance. I have put them all in random order in order (sorry) to emphasize the importance of working through each tip to ensure what you are buying is worth your money. 

Tip 1: See it working

Be sure to see the keyboard working before you buy. 

You should ask for a video showing the keyboard working.

If that’s not possible ask for pictures. 

If the seller is reluctant to take pictures or videos to show you the keyboard working, do not buy it. 

Tip 2: Is software still available

Most keyboards from major vendors such as Corsair, Asus, and Razer come with proprietary software that adds extra functionality to the keyboards. 

This extra functionality can be anything from programmable RGB lighting effects to Programmable Macro keys. 

Before buying a used keyboard, especially an older one, be sure the software still supports it.

Tip 3: Make sure you clean the keyboard after you buy it

A big important tip here, especially if you are reading this and Covid is still rampant. 

Be sure to give the keyboard a thorough and deep clean. 

I won’t explain how to do that here. As it really is beyond the scope of the article. 

However, I have embedded a fantastic video from Youtube showing how to properly clean your keyboard. 

And again, if you are serious about buying a used keyboard, please do watch this video, and please do clean your keyboard. 

Tip 4: Only buy mechanical: you can remove/replace worn keys

Other than having a great feel, mechanical keyboards let you do one neat little trick: 

You can take the keycaps off. 

This is great as it enables you to clean the keyboard and the keycaps deeply without damaging them. 

Additionally, you can replace any damaged or worn keycaps with new keycaps. 

Tip 5: Are the keyboard’s rubber feet still included

Many keyboards have little rubber feet attached to the underside to stop the keyboard sliding around when used. 

Check that they are included. 

If they are not, you can buy non-slip adhesive furniture pads, cut them up, and stick them to the underside of the keyboard. 

Tip 6: Is USB wire in good condition? 

Check that the USB lead coming out of the keyboard is in good condition. If it’s not, don’t buy the keyboard. 

Tip 7: Is the wireless dongle included? Does it have any issues? 

If the keyboard is wireless, check that it comes supplied with its wireless dongle. If it doesn’t, don’t buy the keyboard. 

If the wireless dongle is included, check that the keyboard connects quickly and actually types. If the keyboard doesn’t connect quickly, or not at all, it could indicate that the wireless dongle is damaged.   

Tip 8: Are there any scratches/dents on the keyboard? 

You will get the odd scratch or dent on a used keyboard. After all, they are the contact point between the gamer and the computer. So they are bound to be knocked around a little bit. 

But if there are large dents on the edges, or corners are crushed in, it could indicate the previous owner has abused the keyboard. 

Maybe they threw it in a fit of rage or something. 

If you notice problems like dented edges or corners, or obvious damage, don’t buy. 

Tip 9: Check if Keys are missing

Missing keys are not the end of the world. 

The last Keyboard I bought was Corsair K70 and it was missing its spacebar Keycap. 

However, this was actually a good thing! I bought the keyboard for a very very low price, and then just replaced the missing spacebar. 

For RGB keyboards I always buy (seriously, without fail), HyperX Pudding keycaps. They are compatible with all mechanical key switches, and they make all RGB keyboards look stunning. Honestly, nothing I say will convey just how great these caps look when lit up, just go take a look here

Just be sure that when you are buying a keyboard with missing keys, you do get a deep discount as you’ll likely pay $15 to $25 for replacement keys. 

Tip 10: Are keys in good condition?

Repeated use slowly wears away the symbols on the keycaps.

Keyboards get used a lot by gamers. Especially the WASD keys. It’s inevitable that, with extended use, the symbols on the keycaps wear away. 

This isn’t a problem, however. You can simply replace the keycaps on a mechanical keyboard. 

Again, I recommend the HyperX Pudding Keycaps. Check them out here. Just be sure to take the price of a new set of keycaps into account when buying the used keyboard. 

Tip 11: Are the lights working properly 

If the keyboard comes with RGB lighting, check that all the lights actually work. 

Tip 12: Are the keyboard switches right for you

Mechanical keyboards come with different switches that alter the experience for the user. 

The most famous of these switches are the Cherry MX switches. They are designed to offer different levels of tactile and auditory feedback.  

For example, Cherry Red switches have a medium click sound, and no tactile “click” feedback. Whereas, MX Blue Switches are clicky and noticeable. The Blues make loud click sounds when pressed, and offer a resistant “bump”, like pressing a button, when pressed. 

If you are unsure about what mechanical key suits you, a good place to start is to check out the cherry website here

I tend to use the MX Greys because they are tactile but silent. That way I get a nice tactile feel when pressing the keys, but I don’t get the noise. 

Tip 13: Audible clicks fade so check each key. 

Mechanical switches do effectively last forever. Under normal use, anyway. However, the audible sound they produce, such as on the MX Blues, does start to fade with age. 

However, I must stress that I’ve never bought a keyboard where this has been a problem. You’ll only really see “click-fade” in keyboards that have been used 8 hours a day for 10 years plus. 

Not really something you have to worry about with your average gamer. 

Tip 14: Are any keys sticking/Double-clicking

If key caps are sticking or double clicking, it could indicate that either:

  • They keyboard needs a good clean 
  • The key switch mechanism for that given key is broken/worn. 

If the keyboard just needs a clean, just follow the Youtube tutorial embedded above in tip 3.

If one of the keys needs replacing, that’s not a problem either. 

Cherry MX switches and other makes of switches are easy to replace and can be bought cheaply off Amazon. Head here to see Amazon’s selection of KeySwitches

Tip 14: Try the mechanical keyboard in person if possible. 

An obvious one here, but if you can try the keyboard in person, do so.

Nothing beats an in-person inspection. 

Tip 15: Does the keyboard come in the original box?

Buying used mechanical keyboards, or used anything, in their original box is always a good idea. 

Why? 

It usually indicates that the previous owner looked after their kit. They may have even kept the box with the intention of eventually selling. 

I do the same thing: I’ve kept the box of my Macbook so that, in a few year’s time, I can sell it in the original box. A clear sign to the buyer that I’ve thought ahead and looked after it. 

Also, the original box helps protect the item in postage. 

Tip 16: Check battery compartment for damage/evidence of leaking batteries

If the keyboard is wireless, it will need batteries to work. 

Check the battery compartment. Is everything ok? Is there any sign of corrosion? 

Tip 17: Check on/off switches work

A wireless keyboard will usually come with an on/off switch. Check that it’s working. 

Tip 18: Compare to new Keyboard prices

Before committing to buying a used or refurbished mechanical keyboard, check the price of a new version of the same keyboard. 

You may find that the new keyboard is selling for the same amount as the used version. 

This will not often be the case as used keyboards usually sell for far less cash than their new counterparts.

However, sometimes, especially on days such as Black Friday, new keyboards will sell for less than their used counterparts. 

So always compare the used price to the new price. You may not be getting as much of a bargain as you thought you were. 

Tip 19: Paypal offers buyer protection: use it

Do not pay in cash. You get buyer protection by using Paypal. If there is a problem with the keyboard, you can inform Paypal and you’ll get your money back. 

Tip 20: Check warranties before buying refurbished

Buying refurbished will mean you get a limited warranty. This is great, but be sure you are not paying too much. 

Some sellers add a massive price premium for the “security’ of a warranty. 

Be sure you’re not paying over the odds for a warranty by checking the price of the same keyboard when new. 

If possible, also check the price of the keyboard when it is just plain used, to get an idea of the difference in price. 

Tip 21: Watch the postage and packaging (P&P)

If you buy a new mechanical keyboard from a website like Amazon, chances are you’ll get free P&P. 

However, when buying used, you will have to pay for P&P. 

This usually costs around £5 or $5 if you are buying the keyboard from within your own country. 

So take the cost of P&P into account when buying used. 

Conclusion

You should always check that the lighting built into the keyboard is working correctly.

I honestly believe that buying a used or refurbished mechanical keyboard is a fantastic way to get some high-quality pro-level gamer gear for your gaming set-up, without paying out hundreds of dollars. 

And the money you can save, especially the huge sum you could save on high-end keyboards, can be spent on more important things, like a better graphics card, CPU, or RAM. 

The answer to the question, “Should you buy a used mechanical keyboard” is clear: 

You absolutely should buy a used mechanical keyboard. 

What’s next?

Can I buy other used refurbished parts? Yes. GPUs, CPUs, motherboards, Blue-ray drives, you name it, I’ve bought it used and built a system out of it. I’ve never had any failure or problems. 

What about used fans and cases? Yes, you can buy used fans and cases. You can also buy used CPU cooling solutions. 

What about the PSU? I have bought used PSUs in the past and they have worked absolutely fine. However, PSUs degrade over time. Their power output drops by about 5% every year. So, an old PSU will supply less power than a new PSU. That being said, if you buy a very powerful old PSU, it should easily have enough power to power even the most power-hungry modern components.  


I’d like to build my own gaming PC from used parts, how would I do that? Ah, you are in luck, I wrote a “how to create a gaming PC from used parts” a few months back. You can take a look at it here.

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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