Drop Alt Review: A Full Aluminum 65% Keyboard


Drop’s Alt is a high-quality board with plenty of features that can be appreciated by both keyboard enthusiasts and those who are just starting to invest in mechanical keyboards.

We will discuss the most important aspects of the Drop Alt so you can decide if this is the right choice for you.

The Verdict

  • Hot-swappable PCB
  • QMK support
  • Great build quality
  • Beautiful RGB
  • Doubleshot PBT keycaps
  • Expensive pricing
  • Poor stabilizers
  • No south-facing socket
  • Not 5-pin sockets

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Drop Alt is a 65% keyboard packed with a ton of features, looks sleek, and is perfect for enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

The Alt provides plenty of flexibility with multiple switch and case options.

Drop’s Alt delivers a compact keyboard for those who want an efficiently sized board that is still packed with many features and will look very nice on their desk.

The only downside is the steep price and wobbly stabilizers.

It may be expensive, but it could be a great choice for many. With great looks, features, and solid build – what’s not to like?

You can find the Drop Alt on Amazon here, or on the official Drop website.


In The Box

The Drop Alt comes in a nice looking box made of cardboard with foam inside to make sure nothing gets damaged during shipping. This foam also holds some of the accessories.

Paperwork: When you first open the box, resting on the keyboard, there is the warranty and user manual on a card. The manual tells you the lighting information, how to control, the software, and more. The warranty, unless you purchase the accidental and extended warranty, lasts for 1 year.

Keyboard: The keyboard is under the card with foam holding it in place so it doesn’t move around.

USB Cable: Inside the foam, there is the cable. The cable is 56-inches long and is made of rubber but it still feels like it is high quality. It is USB A to USB C. Note that if you wish to replace this with a custom cable, you must use one that will supply enough power to the board.

Switch Puller: The switch puller also comes in the foam. It is not the best switch puller out there but it does do the job. If you find that you need to change switches a lot then investing in a better switch puller may be worth it.

Keycap puller: The included keycap puller is really good. It is made of metal and is a high-quality one so it won’t scratch your keycaps when taking them off.

And those are all the things included.

It is nice to see all this stuff in the box.

You get the essentials but also the things that you may need to use in the future. This makes your overall experience with the board better.


Build Quality

Drop’s Alt build quality is one of the best things about the board.

The case is consistent with their other offerings. It has the same design and the entire case is made from anodized aluminum, no plastic.

The aluminum is thick and provides some heft to the board. There is no flex at all.

One thing you have to decide if purchasing the Drop Alt is the profile of the case. You can choose between either the high profile or the regular version.

On the high-profile version, the case is at a slight angle of 6 degrees. The bottom part of the case is therefore a bit bigger compared to the regular version which is flat.

The biggest difference between both case types is that the high profile case is raised up on the sides so you can’t see the switches which may look better to many as opposed to the regular version where you can see the switches and the case looks a lot thinner.

Comparing weight between both, a regular Drop Alt is almost half the weight of the high profile version.

On the bottom of the Alt are four and five large rubber pads on the regular and high profile versions respectively. These rubber pads are fantastic and ensure that the board will only move if you want it to.

The regular Alt also has two feet that attach magnetically to the bottom. In total there are three different levels of height adjustment possible with the feet and then you can take the feet off if you wish to have no angle on the board. Both feet have big rubber pads on the bottom as well and them falling off is not a concern as the magnetics are quite strong.

On the other hand, the high profile version does not have feet but instead, as mentioned previously, has a 6-degree angle.

Although this may not support as much flexibility as the feet on the regular drop from personal use I had no issue and never wished to change the height.

Another choice you have with the case is the color. You can choose between black or space gray. Also, you don’t have to pay extra to have a specific color so the only factor at hand is your preference.

The whole case has painted the color of choice including the top plate. Also, with the lighter space gray color, since it is all metal you don’t have to worry about things like dirt accumulation changing the color.

Overall the board feels nice to touch and gives you confidence in it. There are no quality concerns with the board and the materials used.

The Keycaps

With the Alt, Drop gives you their Skyline Series keycaps. They are made from thick PBT plastic with doubleshot shine through legends. They are OEM profile which is the standard height for pre-built keyboards.

Since the legends are doubleshot this means that they will never wear down. Also fact that the legends are shine through will make the lighting more visible. If you work or play in the dark you may enjoy having backlit keycaps as the legends are very easy to see.

The Skyline keycaps are also available for purchase independently and are very popular.

If buying the Alt from the Drop website then they give you an option to buy some of their other keycap sets instead of the Skyline Series set. You can get the MT3 /dev/tty set or their GMK Red Samurai sets.

Both of these offerings are not backlit but still very high quality. The MT3 set has a higher height than the regular offering and is made with PBT. The GMK set instead is a lower profile than the Skyline set and is made out of high-quality ABS plastic.

All keycaps that Drop offers are very high quality and they are better than the majority of keycaps on other pre-built keyboards.

The Switches

Drop gives you a wide selection of options for switches with 6 in total. You can choose between Drops in house switches, a couple of options from Kaihua or Kailh, and a few Cherry options.

Drop Halo Trues: A heavy and very tactile switch, good for typing as well as gaming.

Drop Halo Clears: A slightly more heavy switch that is very tactile, good for typing as well as gaming.

Kaihua Box White: Loud and clicky with the use of a click bar, arguably the best method for clickiness. Perfect for typing alone.

Kaihua Speed Silver: A linear switch with a short actuation. Made for gamers but also great if you don’t like tactility.

Cherry MX Brown: A medium weight tactile switch, good for typing and gaming. The bump is very small and at some times may not be that noticeable.

Cherry MX Blue: Loud and clicky with the use of a click jacket. Good for typing alone.

Barbones: If you don’t want any switches or keycaps included, you can buy the barebones version for a reduced price. This is good for those who want to use their own switches or keycaps.

Although Cherry is known for the reliability for $20 more they don’t seem like they are worth it. Drop and Kaihua’s options provide an arguably better feel and sound and are preferred by enthusiasts.

All these switches have very durability of 50 to 100 million keystrokes depending on your choice. These options are some of the best offerings that you will find in a pre-built keyboard.

The Stabilizers

How good the stabilizers of a keyboard are, can define how it will sound. One of the biggest downsides of this board is the stabilizers.

The stabilizers are Cherry style and plate mount meaning they attach to the top plate.

The Alt’s stabs are really disappointing, especially for the price. They have a lot of rattles and the bottom out results in a loud metallic ping sound.

For this price, they should have included at least genuine Cherry stabilizers that would have sounded better and would align with the competition. At this price point, you start to get boards that have PCB mounted stabilizers which are best.

Luckily this keyboard is hot-swappable meaning you can take out switches and easily mod the stabs.

You can band-aid, clip, and lube the stabilizers to make them sound better but it is also recommended that you buy genuine Cherry stabs if bad ones really bother you.

The Features

RGB

The Drop Alt has stunning RGB with individually addressable LEDs for each switch and lighting on the side of the case.

It has quite a good amount of brightness and on some motherboards, you can give more power to specific ports which will result in an even brighter keyboard.

There are some hotspots on the LED strip around the board but it’s nothing crazy.

You can easily change the color of the LEDs with onboard profiles and the usage of the QMK firmware.

Firmware

The Drop Alt has onboard presets for RGB but if you want more in-depth customization or want to remap keys you can use the QMK firmware.

QMK is a lot less clunky than most software and does not have bugs that software may provide.

You can choose between either Drop’s online QMK configurator or the regular QMK configurator for more in-depth control.

It is not as easy to use as VIA but it does provide a lot of control once you learn how to use it if you ever need to change anything.

You may be satisfied with the stock layout and the onboard profiles so you will never need to change anything.

Hotswap

The Alt allows you to remove the switches in it due to its hot-swappable sockets.

This feature allows you to easily change switches by pulling them out with a switch puller. You can easily swap out switches to try something new or you can take them out if you want to mod your keyboard.

Lubing stabilizers and switches is a lot easier with a hotswap keyboard.

A keyboard with soldered switches means you must desolder and then solder again if you want to change out switches or mod the keyboard. It is very time-consuming compared to the couple of seconds it takes to pull out a switch on the Alt.

It supports 3-pin or plate mount switches. This means some switches that have 5 pins on the bottom may need to be clipped to work on the Alt. This won’t damage the switch as they are just two plastic legs.

Ports

The Alt has two USB C ports on either side of the board. It is nice to see USB C on a board compared to the mini and micro USB that many keyboards still use.

While the keyboard is plugged in you can use the second port with speeds of a USB 2.0 port. There aren’t many things you may want to use the port for but it is nice that you have the flexibility to plug your cable into either port to match your setup.


Conclusion

  • Hotswappable PCB
  • QMK support
  • Great build quality
  • Beautiful RGB
  • Doubleshot PBT keycaps
  • Expensive pricing
  • Poor stabilizers for the price
  • No south-facing sockets
  • Not 5-pin sockets

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Alt is a great board for those who are both entering and are enthusiasts in the mechanical keyboard world.

The Drop Alt is not just a great 65% but also a board in general that looks and feels great. Not many boards provide so many features with stunning RGB, hot-swappable sockets, removable USB C cables, QMK support, and more.

Drop gives the buyer a lot of flexibility but gives them the ability to easily modify the board in the future as well.

Users have a compact board so they can put it on any desk and move around with it but it still gives a lot of functionality.

If you are interested in checking out this board, you can find the Drop Alt on Amazon here, or on the official Drop website.

Good luck and happy typing!

Giacomo Coltorti

Giacomo has been a tech enthusiast throughout his life. He has built over 10 computers and has grown his interest in the different peripherals needed to use a computer. He wants to share his knowledge and experiences with all these subjects to help others enter these hobbies.

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