Low Profile Keyboards
Low Profile keyboards have a shorter keyboard body and shorter switches. When a keyboard is called low profile, it may have either a short body with regular switches, regular body with low profile switches, or both.
Low profile keyboards most likely resemble the keyboards that are on most laptops, such as Macbooks or Chromebooks. They have a short travel distance, but many still want to enjoy the benefits of having mechanical switches. A combination of those two features created the low-profile mechanical switch. Two of the largest switch companies, Cherry and Kailh, have their own low-profile switches that are clicky, linear, or tactile.
Because low profile keyboards are low in supply as there are not that many models out there that offer this feature, the price points for most low-profile keyboards can be higher than entry-level mechanical keyboards.
Low profile switches have a differently shaped stem than the regular MX-style switches, so finding custom keycaps that fit these switches may be a problem currently. In the future, as we expect low profile keyboards to get more popular, more supply in keycaps may pop up.
If we compare the original Cherry MX Red to the MX Low Profile Red, the total distance and actuation distances are much different. The Cherry MX Red has a total distance of 4.0mm and an actuation distance of 2.0mm. On the MX Low Profile Red, the total distance is 3.0mm, and the actuation distance is 1.2mm. For gamers, this may advantageous since the distance traveled is decreased, allowing increased response time.
Another general feature of low-profile keyboards is the keycap style. Many manufacturers have opted for a short and flat keycap that resemble a Macbook or a Bluetooth keyboard. These low-profile keyboards may become more popular in the future as a travel keyboard that’s slim and fits into a small carrying case without the keycaps or switches protruding out.
For people switching from keyboard typing to typing on mechanical keyboards, a low-profile keyboard probably feels more at home compared to the regular mechanical keyboards that we talk about here.
Being low-profile is also beneficial for wrist position when it comes to ergonomics. Due to the shorter nature of the switches or the keyboard itself, your wrist doesn’t need a wrist pad or to extend/bend as much as before to be in a comfortable typing position.
Let’s dive into the top low-profile mechanical keyboards of 2020, ranging from the Keychron K1, Corsair K70 Low Profile, Cooler Master SK lineup, and the Logitech G915.
Keychron K1 Mechanical Keyboard
The Keychron K1 was produced by mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, and they’re a small company.
Currently, the keyboard is priced at $89.99 on Amazon. The K1 on Keychron.com gives you a lot of options. You can pick from either 87-key or 104-key, white blacklight or RGB backlight, and between Gateron Low Profile Blue or Red Switches. It only comes in a black colorway though.
Unfortunately, they don’t offer brown switches at this point, so it’s a no-go for me. However, I’ve been warming up to reds. The price ranges from $74 to $94, depending on size and backlighting. The keyboard currently has a 5-star review on their website with a total of 44 ratings.
This keyboard can be wireless or wired, and it is compatible with Windows or Mac, coming with specific keycaps for each operating system. Simply use the toggle switch on the side to switch between operating systems.
It has an ultra-thin body at 18mm, uses a USB-C plug, and has media keys that work on the Mac as well.
Th Gateron Low Profile Blue switches have a total distance of 2.5mm, an actuation distance of 1.5mm, and an actuation force of 50g. The Gateron Low Profile Red switches have the same total distance and actuation distance, but only requires 45g to actuate. The switches are exposed from the sides with the floating key design.
The key caps are very similar to Mac style keys, with the font and the flat keycap style design.
Wirelessly, it uses Bluetooth technology to connect to up to 3 devices. Switch between devices simply involves pressing two buttons. With white backlight, the battery lasts up to 15 hours. With RGB, it can last up to 10 hours. Without either on, the wireless features is said to last up to 72 hours (but results may vary, of course).
If you pick the RGB version, it comes with 18 different pre-programmed lighting effects. The keyboard is primarily made from aluminum, and it feels sturdy. Unfortunately, there is no programmability for RGB lighting, so you cannot make your own custom effects.
Overall, the Keychron K1 is an affordable keyboard that falls at a price point under $100, but still offers the slim low-profile look, wireless capabilities, and a clean look with backlighting. Between all of the keyboards on this list, this is the cheapest option.
Corsair K70 RGB Mk. 2 Low Profile Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Introducing the Corsair K70 RGB Mk. 2 Low-Profile version of the Corsair K70. It’s everything the K70 has, except with low profile switches. This keyboard costs $169.99 but is currently priced at $119.08 on Amazon.
It has dedicated media keys at the very top of the keyboard including a volume scroll for easy quick change. It has a mute button right next to that with dedicated play back controls.
There is a brushed aluminum frame with a USB passthrough on the back of the keyboard. There are additional textured keycaps for the MOBA/FPS keys such as WASD, Space, Q and E. It also includes a flat wrist pad but isn’t padded or textured.
The switches are Cherry MX Low Profile Speed switches. It looks just like a regular Cherry switch but around the cross stem is a ring of plastic. Comparing the MX Speed to the MX Speed Low Profiles, they are slightly different with almost the exact same typing experience.
The MX Speeds have a travel distance of 3.4mm with an actuation distance of 1.2mm. The Low-Profile MX Speeds have a total travel distance of 3.2mm and an actuation distance of 1.0mm, so slightly less by 0.2mm. They both require 45g of actuation force. Compared to the 4.0mm of other MX switches, these seem significantly shorter.
If you’ve used the Speed switches in the past, the 0.2mm probably doesn’t feel like a huge difference. When you switch from Reds to Low Profile Speeds, there is a 1.0mm difference in actuation distance.
Using iCUE software from Corsair, you can edit all the lighting effects and macros on the keyboard.
Many of the features remain the same as the K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard that we talked about before when discussing the mechanical keyboards that Fortnite pros play on.
If you are excited about gaming on low-profile keyboards, this may be the one for you. The MX Speeds improve response time via shorter travel distance already, but the MX Low Profile Speeds take that a step further. With the dedicated media keys and textured gaming keycaps, this keyboard will make your gaming setup look and perform its best.
Cooler Master SK630/650/SK621
Let’s look at the Cooler Master SK630/650. They are all low profile mechanical keyboards, except the SK650 is a full-sized keyboard with a number pad, while the SK630 is a TKL keyboard. And the SK621 is a 60% keyboard with Bluetooth.
The prices are listed below:
- SK 621 $119.99, but $113.99 currently on Amazon
- SK 630 $139.99, but at $100 currently on Amazon
- SK 650 $119.99, but $80.99 currently on Amazon
These feature extra-flat keycaps and Cherry MX Low Profile switches, resembling a chiclet style keyboard without the terrible feels.
While the overall appearance of these keyboards is not geared towards the gaming community, the keyboards offer easy on the fly backlighting adjustments, changing lighting modes, as well as recording macros. They have no Cooler Master branding on them other than the right Fn key is now a subtle logo, just the outline of the logo without the words “Cooler Master” in between.
They both have full RGB lighting with over 15 pre-programmed lighting effects including: Static, Rainbow Wave, Crosshair, Reactive Fade, Stars, Rain, Color Cycle, Breathing, and more. In addition, along the side of the frame is a thin lighting strip that can be customized as well. Very cool.
Using the software provided, you can go even further with customization of lighting modes and macros.
The keycaps and switches together have a floating key design, where the switches and RGB lights are exposed underneath, allowing a bright visual experience to anyone interested.
Like other mechanical keyboards, these ones feature N-key rollover, with accurate keypress detection despite button-mashing or during gaming.
From a design perspective, the keyboard features a brushed aluminum back plate. However, there is a plastic base that takes away from some of the rigidity. It has a wedged shape which raises the back of the keyboard slightly.
The TKL and 60% versions are extremely portable, fitting easily into backpacks and purses. Compared to other keyboards, the size is not super slim. However, due to the overall look with the flat keycaps, the short base, and the floating key style, the keyboard looks smaller than it is.
A downside is that the keyboard has 4 rubber feet, but it doesn’t have any adjustment in keyboard angle. It has a USB-C cable that is detachable from the keyboard. It connects through to the backside. The cable is braided, which is a bonus benefit. It is more durable.
There is no USB passthrough. None of the three versions have media-keys or volume controls dedicated onto the keyboard itself. Through Fn keys, it’s possible to do that.
Despite the keycaps looking appearing, it can be hard to type on flat keycaps because your fingers can have a hard time finding the keys that it needs to press. There is no tilt of any keycaps, and the edges of each key is squared off and level with its neighbors. They try to reduce the distance between keys, so it may take some time to get used to the keyboard. Many have reported making a lot of mistakes typing at first but have gotten used to it over time.
Gaming on it is a better experience than typing due to the linear keys. The combination of the flat keys, the shorter travel distance, and the shorter linear switches makes this keyboard difficult to type on with speed and accuracy.
The sounds, compared to other keyboards, is also quieter. This is a very quiet keyboard, which you can take to the office without any trouble.
The SK Lineup from Cooler Master has a lot to offer. The only complaints I have is that the keycaps are flat and not curved at all and it has no angle adjustment for typing. It’s tough typing on a flat keyboard such as this because you have to float your wrists up, which can cause shoulder and upper trapezius fatigue over time.
Logitech G915 Lightspeed
This keyboard is the most expensive board on the list, priced at $249.99, but currently at $229.99 on Amazon. The Logitech G915 Lightspeed Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a full-sized keyboard. It is currently rate 4 stars on Amazon with 215 total ratings.
One thing to note is that it comes in two versions, well, mostly. The Logitech G815 is basically the same keyboard, but it has no wireless capabilities. The $50 different between the two keyboards is primarily in the wireless.
Yes, it is expensive. It’s the only keyboard on this list that is over $200. That’s a LOT of money for a keyboard in general.
Let’s talk about some of this keyboard’s features. The frame is a brushed aluminum with an aluminum frame. It has full RGB lighting and a thin lighting strip on the sides of the keyboard.
The keyboard offers three variations of switches, clicky, linear, or tactile. These switches are called GL Linear, GL Tactile, and GL Clicky switches. For more information on the switches, Logitech has a great information page describing all of their switches with graphics and sound bites.
They all have a total travel distance of 2.7mm, an actuation distance of 1.5mm, and an actuation force of 50g.
So, despite being low profile, the footprint if this keyboard is big. It has a column of 5 macro keys on the left side for you to program any macros you may need. At the top right of the keyboard, there is a volume wheel and dedicated media controls. The keyboard itself is 22mm tall.
At the top of the keyboard are different profile adjustments, macro keys, and lighting keys. The keyboard is extremely thin compared to other keyboards. With the height adjustment kickstands, the back of the keyboard raises to the height of other keyboards.
The keycaps are curved which offer a nice typing experience. They are ABS plastic keycaps that are extremely sturdy. One issue that people have encountered is breaking the keycaps when they’re taken out. The keycaps are hard to find because they’re made specially for the GL switches, so be careful when taking the keycaps out and putting them back in. If, however, you break a keycap, you can contact Logitech support because they do sell replacements.
The keycaps are bright and shine through nicely. However, only the top legends have light shining through. The other legends are a matte grey, which may be difficult to see in dim lighting.
It has lightspeed wireless, which is graded for a super speedy 1 ms performance for gaming, even wirelessly. Many wireless keyboards require being connected to offer responsive registration of keypresses for gaming, but this one can be used wirelessly as well. To connect using Lightspeed wireless technology, you must use the USB receiver in your laptop or computer.
The keyboard also offers Bluetooth technology that can connect to multiple devices such as your phone, which does not have a USB port. At 100% RGB brightness, the keyboard offers a long 30 hours of gaming wirelessly. To recharge, simply connect the keyboard into your computer, which uses a Micro USB connector.
Despite being the most expensive keyboard on this list, it does offer the best features. It has Lightspeed wireless technology, so you can game wirelessly, unlike other keyboards that connect via Bluetooth only. $250 is a lot to pay for a keyboard. This keyboard offers 3 types of switches of all types, macro keys, dedicated media keys, and more. It’s a keyboard packed with features. If you have the money for it and want a high-end wireless gaming keyboard with mechanical switches yet have a low profile look, this is the one for you.
We’ve looked at four different low-profile keyboards: the Keychron K1, Cooler Master SK lineup (full-size, TKL, and 60%), Logitech G915 Lightspeed, and the Corsair K70 RGB Mk.2 Low Profile Gaming Keyboard.
They all have their own features, different sizes, lighting effects, different switches such as Gateron low profile switches, Cherry MX Low profile switches, Logitech GL switches, and the Cherry MX speed low profile switches.
For people looking for the style of chiclet keys but the feel of mechanical keys, low profile mechanical keyboards are what you are looking for. The total distances and actuation distances of all of these keyboards are less than the MX-style switches.
If this article helped you, please leave a comment down below regarding why you like low profile mechanical keyboards. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about what we should do research on next, please email us at email@example.com
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