Keychron K1: Mechanical Keyboard Review


Keychron K1 keyboard review

Today we will be reviewing the Keychron K1, we will discuss the features and specifications along with what we like and dislike about this keyboard. We’ll also go over our experience typing and using this keyboard as well.

Whenever we review a keyboard, we force ourselves to write the review with the very same keyboard. Sometimes the keyboard is smoother or better than others, but writing this post with the K1 was a pain the butt.

We’ll go more into why it’s so difficult to type with, this was just a little preview into what we think of the K1. Anyways, we hope you enjoy the review and learn some valuable information about this product.

What is the Keychron K1?

Forward facing photo of the keychron k1

The K1 is a low-profile mechanical keyboard designed and produced by Keychron, a company based out of China. The K1 is a slim keyboard that has wireless & wired capabilities and is easy to use to both Mac and Windows computers.

The K1 comes in either tenkeyless or full-sized layout, with the full-sized layout costing an additional $20. We went for the full-sized layout for the purpose of our review. You also get to pick between Gateron Low Profile Red/Blue switches, depending on if you want clicky feedback or a linear switch.

In addition, you can also pick between white back lighting or full RGB lighting. The RGB lighting comes with 18 different settings, so there are a lot of options to get the perfect light set-up for you.

The price comes out between $74 – $94, depending on if you want TKL or full-sized, and if you want RGB or white backlighting.

What is a Low-Profile Keyboard?

A low-profile keyboard is usually slimmer and is easier to pack and take on the go. Low-profile keyboards are usually designed with a different type of switch that is thinner and has a smaller travel and actuation distance. The thinner design makes the keyboard lighter, and easy to travel with.

Picture of Gateron low profile switch on Keychron K1
Low Profile Gateron Blue Switches

The switch design are low-profile as well. The keyboard we ordered today came with Gateron Blue low-profile switches, which are basically a cheaper version of the MX low-profile Blues. Overall, the switches are very similar to MX switches.

First Impressions

Upon opening the box, we saw that the keyboard case was slightly open and had been damaged. We were surprised to see the keyboard was shipped in such a sloppy way, but after doing some research apparently a lot of people have experienced shipping problems from Keychron.

Sloppy shipping by keychron

Although the box was damaged and the shipping looked unprofessional, the keyboard was in good condition.

Included with the keyboard was a keycap puller, instruction manual, and a few additional keycaps.

The keycaps are for switching between Mac/Windows, so your keyboard layout can match the proper operating system you are working with.

Overall, the keyboard is very thin but feels quite sturdy. It’s also surprisingly heavy for how light the keyboard looks. There is a light in the top left-hand corner that shows how much battery is remaining, it’s green when the battery is charged and red if battery is low.

In the top right-hand corner, there are three blue lights that show whether num lock or caps lock is engaged, along if it’s in Windows or Mac mode.

On the back of the keyboard there are 4 rubber circular studs to keep the keyboard from slipping when used. There are no adjustable legs, so you can only use this keyboard flat.

4 rubber studs on back of keychron k1
Small non-adjustable rubber feet

On the side of the keyboard there are two sliding switches, one is to alternate between Mac/Windows mode, the other is to activate Bluetooth or wired mode.

Wired/Wireless & Windows/Mac sliding button.

The USB-C port is located in the center of the keyboard. I like placement of the port, most keyboards usually place this port on the left or right side. The nicer keyboards will usually have a port on both sides to accommodate different setups, but placing the port in the middle is a nice compromise.

I’m impressed by the overall look of the keyboard. It looks very professional, it feels sturdy, and has the nice thin profile that you would expect from a low-profile mechanical keyboard.

However, all my opinions changed once I started to use it.

The Typing Experience

A quick disclaimer before we go into the next section, this is the first low profile mechanical keyboard we have ever used or reviewed, so we’re not sure what to expect in regard to performance, feel, etc. That being said, we did NOT enjoy the typing experience of the K1.

First Complaint: The sound of the switches

From the first keystroke, we knew this keyboard was NOT for us. The Gateron low-profile Blue switches emit a high pitched, horrible clicking sound. Perhaps lubing the switches would improve the sound, but these are almost too bad to be salvaged.

The switches are not satisfying to type on, the actuation pressure feels quite low and the click sound is unbearable. The normal Gateron blue switches sound much better than the low-profile ones.

If we had ordered the red switches, it’s possible we would have enjoyed using this keyboard more. We would not recommend the blues to anybody. I need to wear headphones while typing with this keyboard because I cannot stand the noise.

Check out the Youtube video if you would like to hear how the switches sound.

Second Complaint: The flat keycaps

The keycaps are extremely flat. They make it incredibly difficult to figure out where your fingers are when typing. You really need to focus to type accurately on this keyboard, I find myself consciously slowing down my typing speed so I can type without mistakes.

Keychron K1 angled view

Having a slightly rounded keycap would make the typing experience easier. A rounded keycap helps guide your hands to let you know if you’re properly over the correct key or not. The flat keycaps are very difficult to use, especially for prolonged periods of time.

Third Complaint: Grease central

Since the keycaps are so flat, black colored, and made of ABS plastic, these keycaps develop a greasy shine as soon as they are touched. After typing with this keyboard for five minutes with clean hands, it looks like I was eating a bag of potato chips and wiped my hands off on the keyboard.

Greasy keycaps
The shiny grease marks after five minutes of use

Many other keyboards have this same issue, but generally it’s not this bad. These keycaps instantly develop a shine and look very greasy.

Summary

We really like the features of the Keychron K1. Wireless/wired capabilities, Mac/Windows compatible, 18 RGB light settings, and the fact that it’s one of the few low-profile mechanical keyboards on the market. The amount of features is pretty impressive for a keyboard that only costs $74.

In addition, the keyboard has a nice aesthetic. The K1 is thin, feels solid, and looks professional.

We have a lot of complaints, and although this keyboard is packed with features, we did not enjoy our typing experience with the K1. Some of our main complaints were the noise and feel of Gateron low-profile blue switches, the flat keycaps, and the greasy shine the keycaps develop almost instantly.

Keep in mind, the shipping of this keyboard is generally very sloppy. Our box was already partially opened when it arrived in the mail and the box had been damaged. Keychron needs to work on their shipping or else that will continue to be an issue.

Overall, it’s really hard for us to recommend the K1. Mainly because it’s just not enjoyable to type on. If you are in desperate need of a low-profile mechanical keyboard, maybe try it out and see if you like it. But we do not like it.

Jake Harrington

Jake has been an avid mechanical keyboard user for the past six years. He has a background in Mechanical Engineering and wants to apply his expertise to break down how mechanical keyboards work and show the world all of the cool aspects of the mechanical keyboard hobby.

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