The best laptops with backlit keyboards are most of the time going to be ultrabooks or premium laptops such as the ASUS VivoBook or the MacBook Pro.
They have a few extra features such as:
- Being able to adjust how much light (thus battery) is used to backlit the keys.
- A sensor that can turn on the backlit as soon as you touch one key after being afk for a few minutes.
I think the first feature is the one you should be after especially if you also want a portable laptop that you can take everywhere as this will save you A LOT of battery. Some extra features include:
- RGB keyboards (the backlit looks cool and has each section of the keys with a different color).
- A silent keyboard: that is a keyboard you can pound hard on yet staying silent.
- Bonus: have a the page down button away from the numpad. If you’re a writer or a programmer it’s really annoying having to hit the page down accidentally only to end up at the last line of document.
Tactile Feedback: Super important
If you’re after a backlit keyboard, I’m assuming , whether you’re a programmer or a writer, you’re a hardcore typer . Thus it is important you make sure you get a keyboard with superb tactile feed back as this not only will speed up your typing speed but also make it more enjoyable to type.
Tactile feedback is a fancy way to describe very responsive, bouncy keyboards (usually thin), which easily register characters as you type them with a minimal amount of pressure.
Top 10 Best Laptops with Backlit Keyboards
All laptops in this list have keyboards with great tactile feedback and obviously a backlit keyboard. However, not all of them will have the most important extra feature (adjusting brightness levels) or be 100% silent, this is usually reserved to ultrabooks.
Some of them may have high traveling distance which may mean you will have to apply a moderate amount of pressure for keys to register and some may have very low traveling distance where you only have to apply a minimal amount of pressure.
You may ask? Why include laptops with high traveling distance?
Well I’m trying to include a backlit keyboard with a keyboard that every type of user (gamers, writers, programmers,etc) finds more convenient.
If you’re writer you’re probably asking yourself: What is this guy talking about? Well believe it or not, some writers and gamers actually enjoy a keyboard that resembles a typewriter. Something they can pound hard on. But Like I said only a few laptops on this list will have those characteristics.
Budget Laptop with Backlit Keyboard
Core i5 1240P
8GB RAM DDR4
Intel Xe Graphics
15” FHD Nanoedge bezels IPS
Just so we are clear, this laptop is not the cheapest on the list. It sells for ~650 dollars. The cheapest laptop with a backlit keyboard would be the Acer Aspire 5 with the Ryzen 3 3200U CPU.
But that processor is 3 years old and I can’t just feature it here in the 2023 update of this post.
However, old or not, it’s not slow by any means so if you only have a budget around 350, you are welcomed to grab it is still fast!
ASUS VivoBook 15 Slim:
The ASUS VivoBook featured here has the latest of the latest CPU: 12th generation Core i5 which is the fastest ‘budget’ CPU as of 2023. It’s not just that it has a bunch of other features:
- Bigger display
- Thin & Lightweight design
- Free Adobe Creative Cloud subscription
- x2 Storage
- Windows 11 Pro out of the Box
- Fingerprint reader
- Latest WiFi Protocol: WiFi 6
You can get more details by clicking on the links above which will take you to reviews and descriptions, what we are conrned about here are the keyboards:
Travel distance: 1.4 mm – medium travel distance. Check the laptop review here (same model , different hardware)
Type: Full sized island type keyboard; Includes NumPad.
Backlit: Can be turned on and off with F7 as shown below:
It does not have a sensor that can adjust brightness according to how much illumination there is in the room but it will turn off the backlit keyboard if you stop typing and activate it back on as soon as you hit any of the keys.
The Best Laptop with a Backlit Keyboard
Apple M2 Chip 8-Core CPU
Apple M2 8 Core GPU
13.3” IPS 2560-by-1664
Virtually every macbook air ever released (maybe with the exception of the 2018-2020 models) will have much much better keyboards than 99% of all windows laptops. It is hard to believe I know but like I explain in the last section , how good a keyboard is depends on the overall design of the laptop and this is what macbooks excel at (hence why they are expensive).
Even the 2009-2017 models have still better keyboards than most windows laptops and that’s the original keyboard design himself Steeve Jobs introduced. So if the latest models are out of your budget, there’s no reason to discard the older models. Even the 200 dollar MacBook Airs will have awesome backlit keyboards and they will not be slow by any means (OSX runs fast on any hardware):
Travel distance: 0.7 mm.
Type: chiclet type keyboard, no numpad. Has FN keys (only touchbar models lack FN keys).
Backlit: brightness levels can be adjusted either manually as shown here or through the light sensor.
Light sensors will basically adjust brightness levels automatically based on how much light there is in the environment.
It will turn off after a period of inactivity automatically as well.
Best Chromebook With Backlit Keyboard
Intel Core i3 8100Y
4GB RAM DDR3
14″ Full HD Touchscreen
ChromeBooks can cost on average anywhere from 150 to 250 bucks and despite that a lot of them have a backlit keyboard. Outside of older MacBook Air models, they are the cheapest laptops you can get with a backlit keyboard.
Why? Same thing with older MacBook Airs. They do not need fancy hardware to run fast thus the manufacturer has enough budget to fit in an awesome keyboard. The lack of need for high-end hardware is because they do not run Windows Home, they run Chrome OS which can run on 2GB RAM and much weaker mobile CPUs this also accounts for their extremely good batteries (most have 10 hours on average!).
Because ChromeBooks do not need to fit in a lot of hardware, there’s plenty of space to easily design a responsive keyboard. This is why most chromebooks also have high travel distances.
The only problem with the keyboards is the paint used for the characters, it doesn’t contrast well with key’s colors. It can look almost invisible if you don’t activate the backlit feature. Again I’m posting it here because it is the cheapest chromebook that has both a backlit keyboard and great tactile feedback.
Travel distance: 1.5mm
Type: Chiclet keyboard; FN keys available but no numpad.
Backlit: No sensor. No brightness levels.
BackLit KeyBoard Laptop ASUS
Intel Evo i5-1240P
8GB RAM DDR4
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
14” 2.8k resolution 90Hz
The ASUS ZenBooks are also ultrabooks but they’re much much cheaper than the latest MacBooks. In fact, they are the cheapest windows ultrabooks.
Despite that the 13” ASUS ZenBook is both thinner and lighter than the latest MacBook Air.
However, although the keyboard looks the same as the MacBook Air on the outside and it’s actually quite good for a Windows laptop, it isn’t really as good as the MacBook’s keyboard. Nonetheless, it’s the best you could get it for 700 bucks.
Travel distance: 1.6mm
Type: clichet type keyboard. Virtual numpad located on top of the trackpad.
Backlit: Brightness levels available. Backlit sensor.
Backlit Keyboard Laptop Lenovo
Core i3 1215U
8GB DDR4 RAM
Intel UHD Graphics
15” full HD IPS
This is the best bang for your buck budget laptop with a backlit keyboard. It has a FHD, the latest 12th gen CPU, 512GB of storage and 8GB RAM out of the box AND a backlit keyboard all under 450 dollars!
Travel distance: 2mm
Type: Island type keyoard, physical numpad
Backlit: Backlit Keyboard can be activated by pressing FN+Spacebar, two levels of brightness.
Responsive keyboard mostly due to the high travel distance.
Backlit Keyboard Laptop HP
16GB RAM DDR5
Intel Xe Graphics
17” full HD 1080p IPS
Another budget laptop with modern hardware just like the ASUS VivoBook and the Lenovo Idepad 3. However, it lacks the upgrades of the Lenovo and the resolution of the ASUS. Regardless it’s still faster than the ASUS VivoBook 14 and it’s got a much bigger display (17”).
What’s really cool is that unlike other 17” laptops it’s got a FHD (1080p) resolution screen which on top of the 17” display will add a huge amount of extra space.
Travel distance: 1.7 mm
Type: Cliche Type KeyBoard.
Backlit: No sensor. Numerical keypad available. Three steps for brightness levels: OFF, ON, DIM.
Backlit keyboard 2 in 1 Laptop
Intel Evo i7 12th gen
8GB-32GB DDR5 RAM
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
512GB-2TB PCIe NVMe SSD
13” IPS 2880 x 1920
Convertible laptops that are premium ultrabooks will all have a backlit keyboard. Some examples besides the Surface Pro are the Lenovo Yoga, HP Envy & Dell Inspiron.
The Surface Pro however is the one with all the extra features you could ask for a backlit keyboard. If you find it the newest model too expensive, you can go for older models which will also have the same backlit keyboard (perhaps without the sensor if you go back 4 generations).
The keyboard is not built-in you have to buy it separately and it has to magnetically attach to the bottom hinge. Once you do, if you use the Surface Pro 9 on a hard surface, it will feel like a laptop. If you however use it on your lap, it will feel somewhat flimsy although the newer models have improved the sturdyness to offset this issue.
Travel distance: 1.05-1.8mm
Type: clichet type keyboard, no numpad. Dedicated FN keys available.
Backlit: backlit sensor.
Best Lenovo Laptop with Backlit Keyboard
Intel Hexa Core i5-1235U
16GB RAM DDR4
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
15” IPS full HD 1080p
The thinkpads are known for three things: their sturdy rock solid design which makes them last for years and years. Their awesome trackpads and their top of the line keyboards which may be the best keyboards on windows laptops.
Note that not all the thinkpads have a backlit feature so you have to double check.
An unique feature of the ThinkPads is how much space there is around each key, they are about as far apart as the keys on the 16” MacBook Pro. Although they have somewhat high travel distances, they are responsive and very very easy to type too.
Travel distance: 2.3mm
Type: Island KeyBoard. Full Sized Numpad.
Backlit: Two brightness levels. No Sensor.
Best Dell Laptop with BackLit KeyBoard
32GB RAM DDR5
3050Ti RTX NVIDIA 4GB vRAM
1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
15” full HD IPS 1080p
The Dell XPS series are also premium ultrabooks thus a lot of effort is placed on the overall design and this is why the keyboard is one of the bests too: thin, responsive with great tactile feedback.
I’ve tried a couple in the past and I’d say they resemble the same thrill of the 16” MacBook Pros (we can’t compare it to the 13” or 11” MacBook Air as the keys are a little too cramped). Now the model I’m showing you here is the most expensive one because it’s the 17” version. If it’s out of your budget, you can go for the older models, you’d still get the same high quality keyboard.
What’s important is that you get a 15” o 17” laptop as this frees up tons of space for the numerical keypad and gives you enough space to rest your palms.
Travel distance: 1.2 mm
Type: island type keyboard includes full sized numerical keypad and all fn keys.
Backlit: Sensor (latest models). Brightness levels (Latest models).
10. MSI Pulse GL66
Best Gaming Laptop With Backlit Keyboard
Intel Core i7-12700H
16GB DDR4 RAM
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB vRAM
512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
15” IPS full HD 144Hz
This is not the most budget friend gaming laptop but it is the one with the best bang for your buck: 3070RTX GPUs on laptops sell for 500 dollars more and this one even has a 12th generation Core i7 CPU which was just released a few months ago. It also includes an RBG keyboard .
It is not as thin as some gaming laptops but that means there is a high travel distance due to the laptop thickness. As a gamer, you know how useful it is to have a keyboard that you can pound hard on with no damage right?
If you want to check other laptops with RGB keyboards, click on this link but you’ll find yourself coming back to this model.
Travel distance: 2 mm
Type: Full sized Island Type KeyBoard. Numerical pad. FN keys.
Backlit: RGB backlit keyboard. You can program several patterns for the illumination and toggle which keys to illuminate with a certain color (useful for differentiating quick actions and macros). Also has the W A S D keyboards (for movements) highlighted. No sensor, no fingerprint reader.
Backlit KeyBoard Buying Guide
If you have a low budget or you are investing quite a lot of money on a laptop, then you better learn the basics of keyboard features on laptops if you want to get the best bang for your buck and if you want to maximize productivity.
Adjustable brightness levels can be save up tons of battery and if you’re a student, you probably want this as midterms and finals can get the library pretty crowded with little to no outlets for charging.
The easiest way to tell whether a laptop has this feature is to check the top row of the keyboard at or near where the FN keys are located as shown in the picture above. Be sure not to confuse screen brightness (left side) with these buttons (high-lighted in read).
Unfortunately, this is usually found on laptops above 700 dollars and only a few laptops under 1000 dollars have it. You’ll find them mostly on premium devices like UltraBooks, convertible laptops, gaming laptops, etc.
Ex: MacBooks, Dell XPS, Surface Book, ASUS ZenBook & ASUS Rog.
The first three laptops I just mentioned can be called ‘ultrabooks’, they’re basically super thin and pack as much fancy features as possible, this includes a sensor which will automatically adjust the backlit brightness level based on the surrounding’s light conditions. If it’s somewhat dark, then the levels will be high. If it’s very bright, there will no backlit.
You can disable this feature if you want.
Gaming laptops have this feature where you can program which light color you want a key to be backlit with as shown below:
How is this even useful? Well it’s usually for aesthetic purposes. But if you can also use it to highlight the keys you use for certain abilities and actions. For example, you want to separate the W S A D keys which are used for moving around a character from the keys around them which can be used to toggle quick actions and macros.
Not all gaming laptops have this feature though. Only the most expensive ones, on average you’ll find them on 1300 dollar gaming laptops and above. They’re also ONLY found on the big gaming laptop brands: MSI, ASUS, Alienware, etc. Very rarely , if ever, on Acer and Lenovos.
Not all backlit keyboards are perfectly designed, there are usually a few problems with some models. It’s not a manufacturing process error, it’s actualy done on purpose as to save money on the cost of the overall design. The most common one is backlit bleeding:
A well designed backlit keyboard should reduce as much as possible the amount of backlit going around each key. In other words, the light should be limited to the characters only.
Unfortunately, the more you minimize the light around it, the more difficult it is to design the keyboard. It’s usually caused by the keys being placed a bit too high with respective to the base holding the keyboard.
Because there’s always going to be a space between the surface below the key and the key, virtually every laptop will have some degree of backlit bleeding. Only the most expensive ones (laptops with thin backlit keyboards) will minimize the problem as much as possible.
This refers to how much distance a key needs to travel down for the computer to register. Whether a keyboard has a high or low travel doesn’t have much to do with how well you can type on it, it’s really down to preference and down to design.
In fact, low travel distance keyboards, unless they’re found on premium ultrabooks, are usually not as responsive as high travel keyboards. Thus , whether you get a responsive keyboard is mostly down to design.
On the other hand..
If you’ve got a low budget, you should opt for the keyboards that have high travel distance over the keyboards with low travel distance as the former is much easier to design and thus are more likely to be responsive and have great tactile feedback, they’re basically going to resemble the keyboards found on desktops.
The problem is that these are usually thicker and heavier laptops nonetheless the fact they have 1.5-2mm keyboards will pretty much stop you from getting a bad keyboard.
As for thinner budget laptops…
You have to do quite a bit of research otherwise chances are that the low travel keys will not be as responsive since space is limited and thus more difficult to take all components that go in a keyboard into account and make a perfect design.
Ex: MacBooks, ASUS ZenBooks, Surface Devices will all have low travel distance yet are very responsive. Lenovo ThinkPads E-series are budget laptops that are thick and have awesome & responsive keyboards with high-travel distance.
A conventional keyboard will have square keys with all buttons mashed together (less space between keys) as shown below:
What Laptops Have BackLit Keyboards?
As of 2023, you can find backlit keyboards on laptops as low as 350 bucks but the lower you go, the harder it’s going to be to find one. For example, if you’ve got a budget around 350 dollars maybe 5 out of 100 models will have a backlit keyboard.
Whereas 60 out of 100 laptops around 600 dollars will have the backlit feature.
The most expensive laptops which are usually super thing and lightweight. They’ll use LED illumination for the backlit feature. You can find them around 700 dollars (ASUS ZenBook) and as high as 1000 dollars (Dell XPS) with the most expensive and best backlit keyboard being the MacBook Pro (1000-1500 dollars).
Only those high-tier gaming laptops (basically with high-end GPUs) from well known brands like ASUS & MSI will have the RBG backlit keyboards. Virtually all of them will come with a software that will make it super easy to program which color to use for the backlit of each section of the keyboard.
Every Ultrabook (by this I mean a super lightweight & thin device) will have the backlit feature. When you buy an ultrabook, you should not be thinking about whether it has a backlit feature or not but what other good keyboard features it has: sensor, brightness levels, responsiveness, etc.
Like I said, backlit keyboars are becoming more and more common every year. As of 2023, lots of laptops under 500 dollars have a backlit feature the only problem starts when your budget is around 350 dollars. If you want to find the backlit feature at the lowest prices, you have to look for budget laptops that do not have the latest CPU & tons of RAM out of the box, as this is a way the manufacturer has cut down prices and saved up enough to implement the backlit feature on a budget laptop.
- I am physicist and electrical engineer. My knowledge in computer software and hardware stems for my years spent doing research in optics and photonics devices and running simulations through various programming languages. My goal was to work for the quantum computing research team at IBM but Im now working with Astrophysical Simulations through Python. Most of the science related posts are written by me, the rest have different authors but I edited the final versions to fit the site's format.