Top Tenkeyless (TKL) Mechanical Keyboards of 2020

DROP CTRL
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What Are Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboards?

Tenkeyless mechanical keyboards are 87-key mechanical keyboards that do not have the number pad. They have the top function row, the arrow keys, and the browse keys such as PgUp, Home, End, and PgDn.

These mechanical keyboards are often called tournament keyboards because they are much more portable than full-sized mechanical keyboards, that have 104-keys. This design also lets you use your mouse closer to your keyboard, which enables a more comfortable position and less strain over long periods of time.

Many people can live without a number pad, but they won’t sacrifice the other keys such as the arrow keys and function row. Many TKL keyboards do not have dedicated media keys due to their compact design. However, this can be done through the FN key or the function row.

Here are Switch and Click, our top keyboard size is the tenkeyless layout. This is something we have used for many years, and there is no downside to using a keyboard of this size. Unless you’re doing number-input at work, then this will lead to many inaccuracies over many inputs.

We have tried and tested many TKL keyboards with more coming on the way, that we’re super excited to review and discuss.

How We Tested

We have ordered and used these keyboards for an extended period. Some for many years, some for a few months, and some are on the way with features and benefits that we are looking forward to. We’ll test those accordingly, and then see if they can make the list of not.

We looked at price points and features to see if the keyboard was deserving of the price. Alongside that, we looked at many testimonials, videos, articles, and whatever else was available on the keyboard in question.

What We Looked For

Size: We primarily only looked at tenkeyless mechanical keyboards in this article. The reason is that TKL keyboards are the perfect size. They’re compact, minimalist, yet they still have all the features needed on a keyboard to fully function without any sacrifices. It might not have a number pad, but you can always get a separate number pad (put it on the left side because this is more efficient). We looked at the best mechanical number pads in another article. We have other “Best Of” articles covering the other keyboards of different sizes as well as in-depth reviews in our Archives.

Switches: Tactile switches will always be our favorite because they give you a tactile bump mid-way. It lets you know that the key press registered, or actuated, and that you can now lift your finger off the key to type another letter now. Linear switches are known to be good for gaming because of the quick response. Clicky switches are tactile, but they make so much noise. Due to our line of work, we prefer keyboards that are quiet. There are many great brands of switches. Many companies make their own such as Logitech’s Pro X switches or Romer-G switches, Razer’s Mechanical or Optical switches, Cherry MX, and so many more. We go over the most quiet mechanical switches, clicky mechanical switches, Cherry MX switches, as well provide a comprehensive guide on all switches.

Case Material: We prefer a full aluminum build. That may cause additional weight, but it offers noise dampening as well as being sturdy and unbreakable. Plastic cases allow more noise to echo inside them and are easily bendable given enough force.

Keycap Material: There are two common keycap materials: ABS and PBT. ABS plastic is more common and are not as preferred. Over time, they tend to develop a grime on top of them or an oil shine after heavy use. PBT keycaps can come textured or not, but they are more durable and do not develop that shine.

PBT vs ABS Keycaps
PBT vs ABS Keycaps

Cable: Ideally, a USB-C cable would be preferred instead of a Micro USB one. Also, a removable one is better since the keyboard is meant to be portable. When your cable is attached to the keyboard, it takes up more space and the likelihood of that cable breaking is higher.

Hot-Swappability: Being hot-swappable means that the PCB (printed circuit board) allows you to pop in and out switches, switching them out easily without desoldering and soldering. It adds price, but it adds a lot of convenience. Unfortunately, pre-assembled hot-swap sockets come with a limited number of hot-swaps, although this is a relatively high number still.

Wireless: There are many wireless mechanical keyboards out there. We talked about our top picks in another article. Being wireless is not something that we look for since we just connect our keyboards to our personal computers at home. For people on the go or using their mechanical keyboard with their laptop, this would be a great option. There are definitely benefits to being able to go wireless.

Backlight: Many people prefer RGB lighting to customize the colors to their set-up. Backlight is almost a requirement because many times, we type in the dark or dim lighting. White backlight is probably the most versatile because it can go with any set-up. The other colors are okay, depending on your set-up.

Our Top Picks

Our First Pick for Gaming Under $100: HyperX Alloy Origins Core

Our top pick for TKL mechanical keyboard of 2020 would be the HyperX Alloy Origins Core. It is the best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard due to its high build quality and minimalist design and appearance. It’s available with HyperX Red switches and comes in at $89.99. For people new to mechanical keyboards and hoping for that competitive edge when it comes to gaming/typing, this keyboard is a really good choice.

HyperX also offers another TKL keyboard, the Alloy FPS Pro. This keyboard is available with Cherry MX Blue or Red switches (you can pick between tactile clicky or linear), but a downside is that it only has red LED backlights and a Micro USB instead of USB-C. This keyboard costs $69.99. They’re both high-quality and affordable mechanical keyboards. Both of them excel at gaming due with their linear switches and compact, minimalist design.

We wrote an in-depth review of the HyperX Alloy Origins Core here and loved it so much.

Hyper X Alloy Origins Core
Hyper X Alloy Origins Core

HyperX Alloy Origins Core

  • Aircraft-grade full aluminum top plate and case – matte black
  • Four rubber feet at the bottom with 3 different angles for personalization (3 degrees, 7 degrees, and 11 degrees)
  • USB-C connector (removable and braided) on the right-hand side
  • Clean legends, lights shine through brightly
  • ABS plastic keycaps with double-shot molding with laser-etched legends
  • Fully customizable RGB lighting using their Ngenuity firmware
  • Floating keycap style design
  • Subtle branding on top of arrow keys and on the spacebar
  • Onboard memory for 3 profiles
  • 100% anti-ghosting and N-key rollover
  • Standard bottom row
  • Cherry style stabilizers
  • HyperX Red linear mechanical switches
    • Total distance is 3.8mm
    • Actuation distance is 1.8mm
    • Actuation force is 45g
    • Up to 80 million keystrokes
  • Two downsides:
    • USB-C port only fits the original cable due to the intrusion of the case
    • Keycaps are sprayed matte black and made of cheap ABS plastic, easily replaceable with HyperX PBT Pudding Keycaps for about $20

How is the Alloy FPS Pro different?

The Alloy FPS Pro has Cherry MX switches instead of HyperX switches. These are pretty much the golden standard of mechanical keyboard switches, but many companies nowadays have made Cherry MX clones with comparable quality.

The Alloy FPS Pro offers only red backlit keys. It costs cheaper at $69.99. It has 6 preset lighting profiles that all involve the red backlight. It also has a detachable Micro-USB cable instead of a USB-C cable.

Which one should I get?

We highly recommend the Alloy Origins Core due to its build quality, RGB lighting, detachable USB-C cable, and fully customizability. It costs about $20 more but has a lot to offer. The keycaps might be the only downside, but they are easily replaceable due to its standard layout.

The Next Best Thing with Tactile Switches: Razer Blackwidow Lite

If you’re looking for a TKL mechanical keyboard with a tactile switch or the option to be tactile, then the Razer Blackwidow Lite is a good and affordable option. It uses the Razer Orange Mechanical Switches, which are tactile but quiet. They also come with O-rings for more silence. This keyboard currently costs $89.99. It has white backlighting, so you can work or gaming in the dark and has a floating keycap style design.

It has excellent build quality and is available in 2 colors: black or white. They’re both good colors to use at the office, but the mechanical switches also offer quick responsiveness for whenever you’re gaming.

Blackwidow Lite Features

  • Available colors: black or white
  • White backlighting for work in dim lighting
  • Clean, minimalist, compact design for work at the office or at home
  • Razer Orange Mechanical Switches, rated up to 80 million keystrokes, quiet tactile switches
  • Comes with O-rings to make it even more quiet ($10 value separately) that are easy to install and remove
  • Floating keycap style design
  • Adjustable kickstand
  • Detachable braided Micro-USB cable
  • 10-key rollover with anti-ghosting
  • Fully programmable keys

I’ve never used this keyboard, but I have been using my Blackwidow Tournament Edition for over 6 years. It’s high-quality and lasts forever pretty much. Razer offers high-quality gaming peripherals for a decent price. They have their own switches that are all rated up to 80 million keystrokes. They offer quiet to loud switches. We picked this specific model because it has the Orange switches, which are tactile and quiet. Many of Razer’s lineup has their loud, clicky switches or the linear switches.

This would be the best pick for typing in the office or at the library. Even at home for video game streaming or typing up articles with your significant other in the room too. It has a nice and clean design. It has very minimal Razer branding right above the arrow keys, you can almost not even be able to tell that it’s a Razer keyboard.

Budget Pick: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition

Razer Green Mechanical Switches
Razer Green Mechanical Switches

Our budget pick comes in currently at $55.99. It is the least expensive TKL mechanical keyboard on this list. It is the Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition. It is a TKL keyboard that comes in all black, with Razer Green Mechanical Switches (super clicky and rated up to 80 million key strokes),  military grade metal top plate and plastic frame, 10-key roll-over anti-ghosting, fully programmable keys, a braided cable,  and gaming mode.

This keyboard is very similar to the Blackwidow Lite except that it is clicky, only comes in black, and has no backlight. For some people, backlight isn’t necessary. The legends are white and offer nice contrast, so it’s possible to type even with dim lighting.

From personal experience, this is an amazing first mechanical keyboard. It lets you experience high-quality mechanical switches that offer nice clicks. It’s also at a reasonable price and doesn’t come with all the extra bells and whistles (which may not even be necessary).

It’s great for gaming, super portable, and easy to throw in your backpack without feeling guilty for it.

Additional Great TKL Mechanical Keyboards

Drop CTRL: Customizable Options, yet Pricey

This keyboard costs $200 on Drop and is currently available for pre-order. It initially came out in late 2018 and has been in several group buys since then. It has a 4.25-start rating with over 450 ratings on Drop.

The original has a floating keycap style design, but they also have a high-profile version as well for $250, if you do not like floating keycaps.

Special features:

  • Floating keycap style design, or high profile ($250)
  • Hot-swappable
  • Fully programmable via QMK
  • Dual USB-C ports on either top side of the keyboard
  • Magnetic feet for angle adjustment
  • Shine-through PBT textured keycaps
  • Variety of different switches to pick from (price varies)
  • Variety of custom keycap sets to pick from (price varies)
  • Solid aluminum frame
  • RGB lighting, also fully customizable
  • Variety of pre-programmed lighting settings
  • Cherry style stabilizers

For a more thorough review of this keyboard, we did one awhile back.

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Some Complaints

Some important things to note are the downsides to this keyboard. One primary problem was key chattering, when you press one key, but it registers twice, such as double spacing. Another complaint is that the colors reset after every restart.

It’s been six months since I’ve started using this keyboard daily. It still does the key chattering despite the attempted fix that Drop put out in its discussion boards. The chattering does not occur regularly, and from what I’ve read, it’s not a universal problem among all users of this keyboard. Many people do complain about this problem though.

For a $200 mechanical keyboard, one might expect a high-quality braided USB-C cable, but it’s not. It’s a simple 6ft rubber-coated USB-C cable. There are no problems with it, but it’s just not special for that price point.

Logitech G Pro (X)

There is the Logitech G Pro and the Logitech G Pro X.

The Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard is currently priced on sale at $79.99 on Amazon. It has a 4.5-star rating with 580 reviews. The original price for the Pro Keyboard is $129.99, and they also have a Pro X keyboard at $149.99. We’ll talk about both in detail and the differences.

A special product of theirs is their switches. They sell their Pro X switches separately at $49.99 for a pack.

The Logitech G Pro

Out of the box, this keyboard comes with GX Blue switches, which are as clicky as it gets.

It has RGB lighting that is programmable to your setup’s specifications, but it also has preset lighting effects for quick use.

It has a detachable braided Micro USB cable for quick and easy connection or disconnection for travel. As special feature is that it has prongs on each side to secure the connection, so it doesn’t accidentally fall off.

Unlike other keyboards, the rubber feet offer three different angles (flat, four degrees, and eight degrees) of customization to enhance your comfort while gaming. It also features a fully programmable row of F keys to put in your custom macros via their firmware, the Logitech G HUB.

It is a sturdy keyboard with no flex. The top right hand has an LED light button to easily turn on and off your lights.

The actuation distance for these switches is 2.0mm with 50g of force to activate. The LED lights are directly in the middle of the switches, enhancing the light through the keycaps.

The only downside is that the bottom row is a non-standard bottom row. It will not fit some custom keycap sets, so make sure you check for compatibility prior to buying.

Differences Between Pro and Pro X Keyboard

The Logitech G Pro X Keyboard is slightly more expensive and for good reason. Pretty much everything is the same.

One of the differences is that you can pick the type of switches you can get out of three different sets: GX Blue (clicky), GX Brown (tactile), or GX Reds (linear).

The GX Browns have an actuation distance of 2.0mm with an actuation force of 50g. It is not as loud as the GX Blues.

The GX Reds have an actuation distance of 1.9mm (slightly less) with an actuation force of 50g.

Another big benefit is that the PCB is hot-swappable! That means you can mix and match these GX switches however you want. Inside the box is a keycap puller and a switch puller as well.

The switches are mechanical switches with a clear top housing. The stabilizers have a decent amount of rattle, which isn’t a good thing.

A super cool thing is that you can use any switches you want to with this keyboard, considering they’re MX-style.

A downside is the price. It sells at $150. The keyboard still has a Micro-USB, which is a little outdated for 2019. For this price, there are many other keyboards out there that have a USB-C cable, hot-swappable switches, and with a more aesthetic look as well.

Logitech Pro X Switches

These switches are only available on the Logitech website. They come in boxes of 92 switches, so you get a few extra in case you need some replacements.

They are currently selling for $50 for a box of 92 switches.

Ducky One 2 TKL: Something You Might Not Have Heard of So Far, but High Quality

Ducky is not a commonly recognized brand outside of the mechanical keyboard community. They offer the Ducky One 2 in all sorts of sizes: 60%, 65%, TKL, and full-sized.

This keyboard can be found at MechanicalKeyboards.com for $125. The switch options are all Cherry MX: Red, blue, brown, black, natural white, and silver.

Ducky always sends you a nice special spacebar with some extra colored keycaps. They let you do something special and customize your keyboards a little bit more. The keyboard is black with a white bottom bezel, which makes it unique from other mechanical keyboards.

It’s a fully plastic build. There is a 3-level kickstand design with 4 rubber feet. It also has 3 DIP switches on the back, letting you change the layout a little bit.

One thing that the other keyboards did not have that the Ducky has is PBT Double-shot keycaps.  

Ducky One 2 TKL Features:

  • PBT doubleshot keycaps
  • Cherry MX switches
  • Detachable USB-C cable
  • 3 level angle adjustment
  • RGB lighting with fully customizability
  • Anti-ghosting with N-key rollover
  • Comes with special keycaps for modifiers and spacebar as well as a keycap puller
  • Ducky firmware to customize new layers
  • Has pre-set lighting modes that’s accessibility onboard

Related posts that you might be interested in reading:

The Best Budget 60% Keyboards Under $75

Best 65% Keyboards as of 2020

Best 40% Keyboards as of 2020

Best wireless mechanical keyboards of 2020

Best Low-Profile Keyboards of 2020

Best Hot-Swappable Keyboards of 2020

Best Mechanical Numpads of 2020

Best Mechanical Keyboards for the Office

Top 5 Most Quiet Mechanical Keyboard Switches

The Five Best Mechanical Keyboards For Typing of 2020

Happy typing!

Top 5 Most Quiet Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Top 5 Most Quiet Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Upon entering the world of mechanical keyboard switches, most people are first attracted to mechanical keyboards due to the loud, satisfying clicking noises that some switches make. These sounds open their eyes and ears to the possibilities that mechanical keyboards offer.

However, after the honeymoon phase ends, the keyboard owner is left with a loud keyboard that they can’t use at work or around other people. The loud clicking noise that used to bring such joy to their life, now echoes in the background when attempting to play video games and chatting with friends. The clicks have become a curse that follow you everywhere.

A change is needed, it’s time to change your switches to a quieter option. But with so many silent switch options available, which one is the best?

The top five most silent mechanical keyboard switches are:

  1. Zilents
  2. Healios
  3. Zealios
  4. Cherry MX Silent Red/Black
  5. Matias Quiet Linear

Upon creating this list, we did not rate the switches solely on what was the most silent. We also looked at overall quality and feel, along with the switch type. Whether you are looking for a silent switch for gaming, typing, or streaming, the other factors will help guide you in making a more informed decision and can impact which switch is ideal for you.

Why does Sound Matter?

The sound of a keyboard switch is one of the biggest factors when picking out a switch for your new mechanical keyboard. The other factor is typically the feel of the switch.

Photo by Troy Chen on Unsplash
Photo by Troy Chen on Unsplash

If you plan on recording videos, streaming, talking over a microphone, or working in a public space, it’s a good idea to stay away from the loudest and clicky switch types.

The loud switches will create more background noise and microphones will pick up the sound of each keystroke. It’s also good to keep in mind, most people don’t enjoy the sound of your loud keyboard, especially in an enclosed area packed with people.

Avoid these loud switches:

  • Cherry MX Blue, Green, and White
  • Kailh BOX White, BOX Navy, and Kailh BOX Jade

Not All Sounds Are Created Equal

The pure decibel output of a keyboard switch is not the only factor when it comes to deciding which switch is the best pick for you. While certain switches may be quieter than others, a switch that emits a higher-pitched sound tends to be get picked up more on microphones and is more disturbing to those around you.

A deep, low-pitched sounding switch on the other hand, will be less intrusive and tends to not get picked up by microphones as much, even if it’s louder. The lower-pitched sound is generally much more pleasing on the ears and is a sound most keyboard switch manufacturers and enthusiasts attempt to go for when buying a keyboard.

Other sound factors include the amount the switch rattles and shakes. Rattling is when the switch is not fully secured or machined to a tight tolerance, this makes the moving components inside the switch bang against each other instead of smoothly sliding up and down.

The rattling increases the noise output of the keyboard and makes the sound output much more unpleasant. Because of this, we considered this factor when making our top five list.

Your Keyboard Case & Stabilizers Matter

It’s important to note that the switch is not the only factor that determines the sound of the keystroke. The overall build material of the case can change the overall feel and sound of each key.

Photo by wang kenan on Unsplash
Photo by wang kenan on Unsplash

For example, the lighter and more flexible materials such as plastic, tend to create more noise and dampen the sound less. The flexible material allows the vibrations and sound to travel through the keyboard, instead of reducing the overall decibel output.

Case materials such as aluminum, steel, and acrylic are heavier and sturdier. Because of their denser build material, they can dampen the sound of the keystrokes more effectively, creating a quieter and deeper sounding switch.  

The stabilizers are also a big factor in determining the overall sound output of your keyboard. Stabilizers are placed under your larger keys, such as your spacebar, and reduce the amount the key shakes when pressed. Therefore, stabilizing it.

By reducing the amount the keys shake, stabilizers can lower the overall sound output of your keyboard. There are several ways to make your stabilizers more effective at reducing shakiness and ratting of your keys, but we’ll get into that later.

Switch type matters: Tactile vs Linear

#1 Pick: ZealPC Healios

Our first pick is the Healios, a silent linear switch made by ZealPC. This is the quietest linear switch available on the market, and an excellent option for those who want to keep their typing sounds low.

Healios Switch

The Healios have a silencing bumper to dampen not only the bottom out sounds, but also the up-stroke sounds. This means that the switch is silenced when pressed and released.

The switch also has a 67g bottom out force, which is slightly on the heavier side. Most mechanical keyboard switches have a bottom out force of around 50-60g.

Keep in mind these switches are on the pricier side, coming out to $1.20 each. It’s hard to beat the quality and sound of these switches though, so the price may be worth it for you.

#2 Pick: ZealPC Zilents V2

Second up on our list is the ZealPC Zilent V2.

Zilent Switch

The Zilents are very similar to the Healios, but they are tactile instead of linear. The Zilents have a big smooth bump to provide tactile feedback to the user, and unlike other switches the bump starts at the very start of the key press with no pre-travel.

This means the keystroke does not happen unless you press hard enough to clear the bump, which removes user error from “half-pressing” a key. Coming in four different bottom-out forces, each Zilent variation offers its own feel and resistance. The different weights include 62g, 65g, 67g, and 78g.

At a price of $1.20 each, these are not cheap switches but similar to the Healios, the quality is great.

#3 Pick: ZealPC Zealios

Third on our list is the ZealPC Zealios. Notice a trend here?

Zealios switch

While very similar to the Zilents, the Zealios are also a tactile switch that are slightly louder. The main difference is the overall tactility is more prominent. They have a slightly larger bump and because of that make more noise. I have personally used the Zealios and prefer the feel to them over the Zilents, although they are slightly louder.

The different weights include 62g, 65g, 67g, and 78g for the bottom-out force.

Coming in at $1.00 each, the price is more affordable than the first two options on the list. Making it a better pick for those trying to keep their costs low.

#4 Pick: Cherry MX Silent Red/Black

cherry MX linear silent switches

The Cherry MX Silent switches are linear with a 3.7mm total travel distance. They are slightly quieter than the other Cherry MX linear switches with a similar feel.

Cherry attributes the dampening to “patented technology”, and I believe they achieved this by making a heavier duty switch housing that vibrates less and produces less noise.

The Silent Reds have a 45 g bottom-out force and the Silent Blacks have a 60g bottom-out force.

The Cherry MX Silent switches are ranked number four because they produce a slightly louder and higher pitched noise than all of the ZealPC switches listed above.

#5 Pick: Matias Quiet Linear

The Matias Quiet Linear is a truly quiet switch made for court stenographers and anyone else working in a environment where they need to keep the typing sounds low.

The spring has a unique design where there is more resistance at the start of the keypress that gradually decreases as the internal spring is compressed.

The Matias Quiet switches are slightly louder than the other options on the list, but are still a great pick for anyone looking for a quiet switch.

These are the cheapest on the list by far, coming in at $50 for a box of 200 switches. Or about $0.25 each.

How to Make Your Keyboard Even Quieter

There are a lot of silent switch options out there, and we hope we’ve helped you narrow down your search. For some people, however, even with the silent switches, your keyboard may still feel too loud.

mechanical keyboard from unsplash
Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash

Do not fear! There are several other options you can do to lower the sound of your keyboard. Such as adding a dampener inside your keyboard case, lubricating your switches, adding O-rings, and other great options. Check out this post for a more in-depth write up on how to lower the sound output of your keyboard.

Conclusion

In general, there are a lot of factors that effect the overall sound output of your keyboard including the case, stabilizers, and switches. In this article, we went over our top five picks for the best mechanical keyboard switch to make your keyboard more quiet.

Our top pick was the ZealPC Healios with the Zilents in close second. Both of these switches are incredibly silent and have excellent build quality. While a bit on the pricier side, they are worth it if your budget allows it. If not, there are other great options on this list that are more affordable as well.

We also recommend ordering a sample pack to test out several different switch types to figure out the best switch for you.

We hope you found some helpful information in this post and are one step closer to getting your next keyboard.

And, as always, happy typing!

Best Mechanical Keyboards for the Office

Best Mechanical keyboard for the office. switch and click

Welcome, everybody!

Today we are going to talk about picking out the perfect mechanical keyboard for the office. Before we jump into the list of keyboards, we’ve created a quick guide to help you choose the best mechanical keyboard.

If you feel like you already have a good understanding of mechanical keyboards, feel free to skip this section and jump straight into the list. Otherwise, keep on reading.

Guide to picking out a mechanical keyboard for the office:

Let’s say you have a mechanical keyboard and you enjoy using your keyboard at home, then an amazing idea strikes you, what if I bring my keyboard to work? I mean, you spend eight hours typing at work, why shouldn’t you have the luxury to type on your very own mechanical keyboard in the office?

Photo by wang kenan

As you’re typing away on your loud Cherry MX Blue switches, you remember how much they drive your family crazy. The nonstop click-clacks being created from your fingers striking the keyboard are like Beethoven’s 5th to your ears and senses, but to your family, they would rather be subjected to medieval torture. There’s no way you can get away with your loud keyboard at work.

The bright, colorful lighting on your keyboard is without a doubt one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen, but to your family and coworkers it’s just distracting. You decide you don’t want to be the person at the office who looks like they are going to fly away on a UFO. You decide you need a change.

Since you’re a considerate person, you decide to get a second mechanical keyboard for the office. Perhaps a keyboard with minimal lighting and one that doesn’t create 100 decibels of sound every time a key is pressed. Something that is more workplace-appropriate, but still eye-catching enough to get a few compliments. Lucky for you, there are mechanical keyboards made just for the workplace.

Why use a Mechanical Keyboard at work?

Well, besides the fact that mechanical keyboards are objectively more aesthetic, mechanical keyboards offer customization unlike any other keyboard type. If you’re going to be spending 8+ hours everyday typing on a keyboard, shouldn’t it be designed by you, for you? Everything from the way it looks, to the how the keys feel, can be changed to get an ideal feel and look.

Photo by Niclas lllg

Customizing keyboard switches can allow for more tactile feedback, allowing for more accurate typing and satisfaction when working. There’s just something about pressing a button that gives a small bump as feedback that is intensely satisfying. The standard keyboard you use at work is most likely membrane or chiclet style, which tend to feel mushy and unstable to type on.

Many people tend to see an increase in typing speed or a boost in productivity when moving to a mechanical keyboard. Some just enjoy the experience of typing on a mechanical more, whether there is a performance increase or not. Using a mechanical keyboard is basically superior in every way.

To top it off, the durability and quality of mechanical keyboards is unmatched. Mechanical keyboards are rated to last anywhere between 50-100 million keystrokes. It’s not uncommon for your mechanical keyboard to outlive you. They can easily withstand a decade of abuse or more. Many of the original mechanical keyboards, such as the IBM Model M are still around to this day, even though they were made in the mid 80’s.

Downsides to a mechanical keyboard?

The main downside to mechanical keyboards is that they tend to cost more. The better build quality and lifespan typically make up for the extra cost, but for some, that can be a difficult hump to climb. Luckily, there are a lot of great mechanical keyboards priced in an affordable range, but they will never get quite get as cheap as a non-mechanical keyboard.

The reason mechanical keyboards are more expensive, is because every key gets its own switch underneath, instead of a membrane pad. Mechanical keyboards require a lot more components and tend to take more time and resources to build the parts and assemble them.

Mechanical keyboards also tend to be louder, but it’s possible to get a keyboard that is as-silent or more-silent than whatever keyboard you are currently using. We’ll go deeper into these types of keyboards later, but for now just keep your mind open to the possibility that mechanical keyboards can be very silent and stealthy.

Won’t the colored lights distract everyone?

While you may imagine most mechanical keyboards having colored lighting, its totally possible to get a keyboard with only white backlighting, or even without any lighting at all! It’s a common misconception to assume mechanical keyboards come with lots of different bright lights. If you do enjoy the lights, there are plenty of options available with RGB (red-green-blue) LEDs. But for an office space, were looking for a keyboard with some lights that are more tame, to avoid distracting your coworkers and yourself.

Photo by Nhu Nguyen

The list will include only include keyboards with white lighting. If you do want a keyboard with RGB lighting, keep in mind its possible to change the settings to turn off the lights, or change them to a less distracting color, such as white.

Aren’t mechanical keyboards loud?

When you think of a mechanical keyboard, I imagine you’re thinking of a loud, clicky keyboard that someone is typing on in the corner of the office, driving everybody else insane. This is a misrepresentation of what exactly a mechanical keyboard is.

While there are several loud mechanical keyboards, there are several types that are incredibly silent and stealthy. Generally, the sound produced by a mechanical keyboard is due to the keyboard switch type. Luckily for us, there are hundreds and hundreds of switch types, all with different sound output and tactile feedback. To simply things a bit, there are three main types of switches:


1) Tactile & Clicky

Gif from kinesis-ergo.com

Tactile and clicky switches are probably what you imagine when you think of mechanical keyboards. These can be incredibly fun and satisfying to type on, you just need to make sure there is nobody else in a 100-mile radius of yourself, because these suckers are LOUD.

Because of the noise, we would not recommend using these in the office, or any other public place for that matter. Restrict these to home-use only. Some examples of these louder type switches include the Cherry MX Blues and Razer Greens.

Generally, if any other companies offer a blue switch, they tend to be loud and clicky, so avoid these unless you want the noise. These switches come standard in a lot of keyboards, but you’re often given the option to swap these out for more quiet switches.

2) Tactile & Silent

If you enjoy the small bump as feedback whenever a key is pressed but cannot stand the loud noise, these are the perfect option for you. These offer excellent feedback when typing and they make virtually no noise at all. These are silent and a great choice for a switch that you would want to use in the workplace. Some common switches that have the tactile and silent qualities include the Cherry MX Browns and Gateron Browns. Typically, if the switches are brown that means they are silent and tactile. These are an excellent option for someone who wants to type in a public space and not make too much noise.

3) Linear

Linears are an interesting switch type as well. Linear switches offer no tactile feedback and in general make very little noise. These types of switches can be difficult to get used to typing on because the lack of feedback can make it tough to know when to stop pressing the key. People tend to bottom-out on these types of switches until they learn the proper actuation point.

Linear switches are also commonly used by gamers, because they have some of the fastest actuation of any switch type, since they do not rely on the friction created during tactile bump that is experienced with other switch types.

If you are not a gamer, these switches can still be a great option, just keep in mind they may take a small adjustment period to get used to typing on. Since these are generally silent switches, they can be a great option for an office keyboard and won’t distract the people around you.

If you’ve ordered a mechanical keyboard, but you’re still concerned the keyboard might be too loud, there are several modifications you can make to lower the noise and dampen the sound output.

What sized keyboard should I use for work?


There are a wide variety of different sized keyboards available. Some of the different sizes include full-sized, tenkeyless, 65%, 60%, and 40% keyboards. To decide what size keyboard is best for you, you need to look at how much space you have available to work with and which keys you actually use on your keyboard.

A full-sized keyboard, for example, has all the keys you could ever need, including the arrow keys, number pad, and the F1-12 keys. This style of keyboard is great if you have a data entry job, because the number pad makes entering numbers into your computer fast, easy, and ergonomic. Most people, however, rarely use the number pad, so this may be a waste of precious desk space.

Another great option is tenkeyless, this keyboard layout has everything but the number pad. If you don’t use the number pad often, this would be great fit for you. It allows you to have more desk space, and if you’re right handed, it means that you don’t need to reach as far for the mouse.

It’s possible to go even smaller with your keyboard, down to sizes such as 65%, 60%, and 40%. The smaller you get, the less keys there are on the keyboard. At 60%, you no longer have arrow keys, and at 40% you basically only have alphabet left. To type in numbers, usually you need to press two keys as once. These smaller keyboard sizes are not for everybody, but many people do enjoy this simple layout for typing.

A quick word on split keyboards.

If you tend to get wrist or finger pain when typing, I would highly recommend looking into a split keyboard as an option. They are more ergonomic, and it puts your body in a more friendly position for typing over long periods of time.

We have a short guide about ergonomic keyboards and typing here. Although ergonomic keyboards tend to be more expensive, the amount of strain and pain they can relieve is definitely worth the price. Our main keyboard list won’t include any of these types of keyboards, but we have another post that will help you pick one out, if you are interested.

Our Favorite Pick: WASD CODE V3 Mechanical Keyboard

Photo from wasdkeyboards.com

The CODE V3 by WASD is an excellent keyboard that comes in a tenkeyless or full-sized layout. Coming in at $155-160, the CODE V3 is very clean and is “void of any gamer over-the-top fonts and colors” and is made specifically for those who need a professional, serious looking keyboard.

We recommend ordering the keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches, because they will be the quietest switch option, but will still give you tactile feedback when typing. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you can order the keyboard with additional O-rings which will help dampen the sound even more.

The CODE V3 has a clean white LED backlighting, so you will be able to clearly see your keys in an office with dim lighting, without worrying about starting a light show. The keyboard also allows for easy cable routing and management, which should help you avoid having a cluttered workstation full of tangled wires.

If you do a lot of repetitive tasks, the CODE V3 allows several of the keys to be reprogrammed with macros to help you boost your efficiency and cut out non value-added activities. There are four reprogrammable layers in total.

It’s hard to find a mechanical keyboard that is better suited for an office environment than the CODE V3, it’s professional, sleek, and has all the benefits of a mechanical keyboard.

Second favorite: Ducky One Grey

Photo from mechanicalkeyboards.com

The Ducky One Grey is a professional-looking mechanical keyboard geared towards those with who work in an office environment. With a case colored in different complimenting shades of the grey and white keycaps, the keyboard looks attractive and sleek.

Made for comfort and efficiency, the One Golden-grey comes with several three different keyboard stand adjustments to allow you to pick the ideal height. For a price of $109, the Ducky One Grey is relatively affordable option.

The keycaps are made from double-shot PBT, which is an extremely durable type of plastic that does not wear down overtime. Most keycaps are typically made of ABS plastic, which over time tends to wear down and develop a greasy shine. The PBT keycaps also have a more textured feel and aren’t quite as slippery as ABS.

We recommend ordering this keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches for the ultimate quiet and tactile experience.

Runner Up: Kinesis Freestyle Pro

Photo from kinesis-ergo.com

The Kinesis Freestyle Pro may seem like a strange pick, it’s a split keyboard design for maximum ergonomics and comfort. It may take a small adjustment period to get used to this style of keyboard, but it can be a great fit for those who experience wrist or finger pain when typing. This keyboard keeps your body in a more favorable position when typing.

The split keyboard is, well, split into two halves. It allows you to angle your arms outwards in a V shape, instead of inwards. It also lets you keep your wrists straight, with your arms angled upward slightly.

Coming in at $179, the Freestyle Pro comes with several adjustable settings, including retractable legs and optional wrist support. It’s also very easy to switch between several keyboard layouts such as Colemak and Dvorak.

Made for those who care about their bodies and the longevity of their typing career, the Freestyle Pro is an excellent option.

Wrapping up

We went over a short guide of what makes a good office mechanical keyboard, including picking out the proper size, switch type, and what qualities to look for in the keyboard itself. Our top three include the WASD CODE V3, Ducky One Grey, and the Kinesis Freestyle Pro.

I hope you enjoyed our list of favorite keyboards for the office! If you have any questions or anything you would like to add, please comment below.

And, as always, happy typing!

Best Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards of 2020

best low profile mechanical keyboards of 2020

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

Keychron K1 from Keychron.com

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

Corsair K70 Low Profile from Corsair.com

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

Cooler Master SK621 from Amazon.com

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

Logitech G915 Lightspeed from Logitechg.com

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.

Summary

Skidata 60% keyboard by u/LeandreN

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 theswitchandclick@gmail.com

Happy typing!

Don’t feel like reading? Check out the video below.

Sources

Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards Are Getting Really Good. Kotaku.com

The Best Low Profile Gaming Keyboard DOESN’T Exist! YouTube.com

Was the Hype Worth It? Cooler Master SK650 & SK630 Low Profile Keyboards YouTube.com

Checking out the LOW PROFILE Corsair K70 RGB Mk. 2 Gaming Keyboard YouTube.com

Logitech G915 Lightspeed Keyboard Review – Who Would Buy This? YouTube.com

Keychron K1 Slim Wirelesss Mechanical Keyboard – Unboxing & Review YouTube.com

The Best Hot-Swappable Mechanical Keyboards of 2020

Best hot-swappable keyboards 2020

If you love mechanical keyboards, but struggle to find the right style switch, do not worry. With a hot swappable keyboard, you don’t have to pick!

Switching between switches has never been easier with hotswappable keyboards, because the switches are not soldered to PCB at all. Instead they are pressed in to holes in the PCB and held in place by a plate.

This makes it easy to install several different styles of switches into your keyboard or swap them out whenever you get bored of a certain style. Whether they are clicky, tactile, silent, or linear, you can try them all, and install with ease.

Soldering requires having the right tools on hand, along with a dedicated workstation with good air ventilation. A lot of people don’t have the time or dedication to the learn how to solder in their free. In addition, if you live in an apartment and don’t have a good area to work, soldering may not be feasible or be too much of a hassle for you.

Hotswappable keyboards make it easier than ever to install and remove switches from your keyboard and don’t require the skills, equipment, or work area that soldering switches normally requires. We recommend hotswappable switches to anyone who is not interested in learning how to solder, or to someone who likes to try lots of different switch types.

So how do I find a hotswappable keyboard?

Well there are only few hotswappable keyboards available for purchase right now, but due to the popularity there will be more keyboards coming out in the near future. We’ll go over all these different keyboards and determine what features we like and don’t like about them.

Let’s jump into our list of our favorite hotswappable keyboards!

Top Keyboards

Favorite: Massdrop CTRL

The Massdrop CTRL is a tenkeyless keyboard, meaning no number pad, that was released in 2018 on Drop.com. There is also a 65% percent version of this keyboard called the Massdrop ALT. The 65% version has 67 keys instead of the 87 keys like the CTRL.

Both versions of this keyboard are hotswappable and come with a switch puller, making swapping out the switches easier than ever. In addition, the keyboards are fully programmable with QMK.

Coming with a detachable USB-C cable, which makes it easy to plug and unplug.

The keycaps come in PBT plastic and have a nice textured feel to them, and don’t develop a shiny or greasy look over time.

You can your pick of which switches it comes with. The options are the following: Halo True, Kaihua Box White, Kaihua Speed Silver, Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Brown, and the Halo Clears (which are currently sold out as of January 6, 2020).

You can also pick custom keycap kits for additional costs. The following are available for selection: GMK Red Samurai, MT3 /dev/tty, XDA Canvas, and SA Pulse Noire.

To be entirely honest, we’re a little biased about this keyboard, because we actually own and use the Massdrop CTRL keyboard on a daily basis. This keyboard is durable, made from a metal case and metal plate. The CTRL is solid, rigid, and does not mess around. We would recommend this keyboard to anyone who can stomach the price tag of $200.

We have very few complaints about this keyboard, and you can check out our more in-depth review here.

Input Club K-type

The Input Club K-type mechanical keyboard has a tenkeyless layout and was only made during a group buy in 2018. The K-type is available for sale by looking in the after market for used keyboards.

The K-type is loaded with features that would make any keyboard enthusiast excited, such as PBT keycaps, intense RGB lighting, detachable magnetic feet, anodized aluminum case, and of course hot-swappable switches.

The main drawbacks to this keyboard, is they attempted to do too much with the features and ended up with a lot of stuff that doesn’t work so well, except for the lighting. For example, the PBT keycaps are a thin material so the light can shine through. The texture of the keycaps is pretty rough as well.

 For what I’ve researched, the stabilizers are also pretty low quality as they tend to rattle and sometimes the keycaps can get displaced while typing. Of course, you can mod the stabilizers to improve the overall fell, but for a keyboard of this price ($200) you would expect better stablizers.

Overall, this keyboard is pretty good, and is absolutely loaded with features, just not worth the price tag. Although, now that the keyboard has been on the market for a couple years now, you may be able to find a used version with a better price.

GMMK TKL

Another tenkeyless keyboard, the GMMK TKL is the most affordable keyboard on the list, coming in at $109.95.  It’s the only keyboard that is not made entirely of aluminum, and the price reflects that.

The TKL is an easily hot-swappable keyboard with RGB backlights and a plastic case. The keyboard also comes with a built-in keycap puller and a braided micro-usb power cable.

The plastic case is not quite as sturdy as the all metal cases/plates, and the keys tend to rattle a bit to reflect that. In addition, the case is a little flexible, but overall that does not impact the overall functionality of the keyboard.

A couple unique features include a keycap puller built into the back of the keyboard for easy access, in case you ever need to swap out a switch quickly. The TKL also comes with a braided power cable with micro-usb head. Although we would have liked to see USB-C, the micro-usb is not that big of a deal.

Overall the RGB for this case is a little lackluster, the lighting is not too bright and is dull and dim. There are a lot of different lighting options, it’s just the LED’s are not quite strong enough. But if RGB lighting is not very exciting to you anyways, this feature won’t impact you at all.

Future releases:

Input Club RE:Type

With similar features to the K-type, the RE:Type is Input Club’s shot at redemption. We’re hoping they will be able to fix a lot of the lackluster features found in the K-type, such as better stabilizers and make the programmability a little easier.

This product was originally slated to release in 2018 but was delayed to “give the engineering team additional work time”. Maybe this means they will release a great product once the keyboard is complete.

There has been no news about when this product will launch, or what status it’s at in the design process. Hopefully we can get some news soon about this product.

Keychron K6

With a group buy slated for release in March 2020, it’s not too late to jump on and order one of these for a discount while still going through the Kickstarter process. With several different purchase options including your choice of plastic or aluminum case, switch type, and if you want everything to be hotswappable.

The most affordable mechanical keyboard available with hot-swappable switches, at a cost of $69 at the time I’m writing this. Although the price will likely increase after the kickstarter campaign is complete currently it’s hard to beat this deal.

The K6 is a 65% keyboard and will have options for wireless/wired connection and RGB backlight. The wireless option is quite impressive as the battery will last up to 4 weeks without the usage of the RGB, that’s crazy good.

The charging port will be USB-C with a detachable power cable.

Overall, I’m very excited for this upcoming group buy and want to get my hands on the K6 for a formal review in March.

Best Mechanical Numpads of 2020

Photo by /u/nelsondelmonte

Whether you need a number pad for some intense data entry or maybe you want to up your gaming set-up, a numpad can help make using a keyboard a more enjoyable and efficient experience. Before we jump into our review, let’s lay the groundwork and talk about what exactly a numpad is and how it is commonly used.

What is a numpad?

A numpad is a completely separate piece of equipment that you would use next to your keyboard, or independently, as a way to enter data into your computer more efficiently. Typically numpads have 22-keys that have some programmable features. The most popular uses for a numpad are:

Image result for reddit numpad
Photo by u/LeandreN

Data Entry/Excel

If you have a tenkeyless or smaller keyboard, that means you don’t have a number pad. By buying a separate number pad, that gives you the freedom to use it however, and wherever you want. While traditionally the number pad has been on the right side of the keyboard, people have begun to realize that using a number on the left side of their keyboard is more efficient.

Unfortunately, only a small number of keyboards even offer the number pad on the left side and they are quite uncommon to find.

Why put the number pad on the left side of keyboard?

Well for the purposes of data entry in Excel, for example, by locating the numpad on the left side of the keyboard, the typist can enter numbers easily with their left hand, while moving efficiently around the cells with the arrow cluster. By entering data this way, the typist will very rarely need to lift their hands off the keyboard.

Gaming

Instead of having a large keyboard in front of you while playing PC games, it’s possible to only use a number pad. You can use the numpad arrow keys and remap the rest of the keys to an efficient layout so you can dominate the competition. By using a number pad, you’re eliminating all the distracting extra keys so you can focus on the only controls that matter to win.

Macro Usage

If you’re an efficiency-master and you’re tired of performing repetitive tasks over and over again, it’s possible to write macros for your computer to run and then map those to keys on your numpad. The numpad basically gives you 10+ extra keys to play with so you can come up with several useful shortcuts to improve your efficiency and cut out non value added activities.

Now that we’ve explored all of the different ways a numpad can be used, let’s jump into our list of the best number pads of 2020.

Cherry G84-4700

Cherry G84-4700

Specifications

  • $71
  • Programmable 21-key layout
  • Cherry ML switches (similar to Cherry MX Browns)
  • 4 additional programmable keys

The Cherry G84-4700 numpad is an upper-end numpad that has several useful features including a programmable 21-key layout, with 4 additional programmable keys that you can detail yourself. Although this num pad is a bit on the pricey side, the quality won’t disappoint.

An interesting note about this num pad, it has the lesser-know Cherry ML switches, which are similar to Cherry MX Brown switches, but with a shallower actuation point. They have a tactile and quiet actuation similar to the Brown’s as well.

Jelly Comb

Jelly comb num pad

Specifications

  • $16
  • Outemu Blues
  • Blue LED backlight
  • Rollover issues
  • No programmability

The Jelly Comb number pad is quite unique because for a mechanical number pad, it has a very low price of $16. There is not a cheaper numpad available and based on the reviews I have read, the overall quality of the numpad is quite good. It has a very solid feel to it and satisfying switches, the Outemu Blue’s. These switches are loud and tactile, similar to Cherry MX Blue switches.

The reason for the cheap cost is the lack of programmable keys and some small rollover issues, where if you try to press more than 4 keys at once they won’t register. If neither of those issues are a problem for you, I would highly recommend this numpad as it’s hard to beat the price.

Ducky Pocket

Photo by NjallL

Specifications

  • $69
  • Cherry MX Brown, blue, red, silver
  • RGB
  • Built in calculator
  • Battery/not wireless
  • 22 programmable keys

Unlike all other numpads on this list, the Ducky Pocket numpad also doubles as a calculator! How strange is that. While you can use it in the traditional way as a numpad, it’s also possible to disconnect and use it driven off batteries. It’s the only numpad that you can take on the go and use as a calculator.

Coming with your choice of Cherry MX switches and super customizable RGB backlight, it’s hard to beat the Ducky Pocket. In addition, there are up to 22 programmable keys that are customizable by the user as well.

Leopold 210TP

leopold 210TP
Leopold 210TP Numpad

Specifications

  • $59
  • Cherry switches: Black, Brown, blue, red, silent red
  • PBT keycaps

The Leopold 210TP is more of a mid-range numpad that has some nice features such as PBT keycaps and Cherry MX switches. Unfortunately, I could not find any information about whether this numpad has programmable keys, so I am going to assume it does not. Functionality wise, it’s similar to the Jelly Comb keypad with slightly better build quality, but at 4x the cost.

Wrapping Up

That’s it for our favorite mechanical numpads of 2020. We went over our top four including the Cherry G84-4700, Jelly Comb, Ducky Pocket, and Leopold 210P. Numpads are an exciting part to include in your PC setup, and can really improve your skills at gaming or help increase your efficiency on a PC.

Let us know if you have any questions or have any information you would like to add to the list.

And as always, happy typing!

The Best Five Mechanical Keyboards for Typing

5 best mechanical keyboards for typing at the switch and click blog

Introduction

Typing, something we all do every single day. Whether we’re gaming, in the office, working from home, or even instant messaging some old friends on Facebook or other social media websites. Typing is an important everyday task. Mechanical keyboards, however, have always been linked to gaming. But that’s not the only thing they’re good at. Mechanical keyboards can also improve your typing experience and possibly even make you type faster.

Many of today’s mechanical keyboards are made with gaming in mind. In this article, we’ll look at the top keyboards that were designed specifically for typing or programming. When you’re typing, you’ll use more than just the WASD keys, spacebar, and maybe sometimes Q and E, possibly even the number keys for macros and skills.

When you’re typing, switch type matters. Which switch type would be the best for typing? That’s up to you. There are three types of switches: linear, tactile, and clicky. Many of you are probably familiar with the Cherry MX switches, primarily the reds, browns, and blues.

Out of those three, many prefer using the tactile brown switches due to their tactile feedback as you’re typing, telling you exactly when the keypress registered. Some others prefer the linear reds, however many prefer linear switches for gaming. It is a preference. It’s up to you to decide which switches are best for you.

My husband and I prefer the tactile brown switches to type in because we do like the tactile feel. Too often, when we’re typing on linear switches, we happen to skip a letter and must go back to add it in.

Let’s move on to the keyboards themselves.

Five of the Best Mechanical Keyboards for Typing

Okay, now that you’ve figured out your preferred style of switches, let’s move on to looking at the keyboards themselves. We’ve done thorough research and ended up compiling a list of five of the best mechanical keyboards for typing. Each one will have their own strengths and weaknesses. In the end, we’ll round up our first choice, a runner-up, and some honorable mentions.

Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards

Before jumping into a list of keyboards, I would like to emphasize the importance of ergonomics while typing. While the following keyboards are super cool looking and awesome, I’d like to mention that ergonomic keyboards are always an option to consider because you are doing primarily typing. Make sure you find a keyboard that is comfortable for you to type in the long-term. We’ve compiled a list of ergonomic mechanical keyboards with special features that make them better than regular mechanical keyboards and did the research on that already.

Daskeyboard Model S Professional

Daskeyboard is a maker that specializes in professional keyboards for working professionals to improve typing efficiency.

The Daskeyboard Model S Professional comes with Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX Blue (both switches with tactile switches, but blue is clicky and loud), and it comes at $119.99. It is a full-sized keyboard with 104 keys. Currently on Amazon, it has a 4-star rating with over 1500 reviews.

Some of the features of this keyboard is that the Model S Professional can be bought for either Mac or Windows. The only major difference between the two keyboards is they have the operating system-specific keycaps.

The keycaps have laser-etched legends to prevent fading over time. As mechanical switches are meant to last over 100 million keypresses, the other parts of the keyboard are expected to last that long as well. Printed legends on keycaps will fade over time, but not these ones.

It has media controls, for convenient play/pause and volume controls for music and videos. It has full NKRO (N-key rollover), so you can type as fast as you want to with each keypress registering accurately every time.

It requires 2 USB ports or 1 USB port and 1 PS/2 port. The keyboard also has a USB port at the top of the keyboard for convenient connections with USB drives, headsets, or mice.

Compared to other Daskeyboards, this one does not have a volume knob. Their other keyboard, the Daskeyboard 4 Professional and Ultimate both have a volume knob on the top right.

One downside to using this keyboard is that without proper lighting, it will be difficult to see the legends as they do not have any backlight of their own. The board has 4 rubber feet at the bottom. They have two kickstand feet with one option to increase the typing angle.

Another downside is that if you would like to take the board apart, the screws are below the rubber feet. Once you take the rubber feet off, you might be not able to put it back.

There are other downsides such as ABS plastic keycaps and plastic case compared to PBT plastic.

Das Keyboards also makes other models such as the Das Keyboards 4 Professional and Ultimate (which has blank keycaps).  

Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate
Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate

Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHKB)

HHKB makes several different keyboards, all of which are relatively similar. The Happy Hacking keyboard’s design first emerged in 1992 by Professor Eiiti Wada. The HHKB is light and compact with a 60% layout with 60 keys. It easily fits in your bag for easy transportation and saves space on your desk.

Unlike the switches that we’ve been looking at, the HHKB uses special switches that use electrostatic capacitive keys called Topre switches. These switches are extremely smooth to press with no chattering. They also offer a quiet sound. It offers a different feel than MX-style switches.

Topre is a Japanese manufacturer of keyboard mechanical switches. These electrostatic capacitive switches in the way that they are non-contact type switches. They have an average of 45g actuation force and can last over 50 million clicks.

It uses rubber domes or cups, which it is not like a regular membrane keyboard. This is what happens when you press a key. The plunger will move down when you press it, causing the rubber dome to collapse, which has a spring inside. The spring interacts with a capacitive sensor on the PCB which creates the actuation. The tactile bump isn’t distinct or clicky like it is on Cherry MX switches. The force can range instead of being exact.

Happy Hacking Professional 2
Happy Hacking Professional 2

Each rubber dome and conical spring is easily replaceable if one happens to break as they are all their separate parts.

The HHKB is primarily all plastic. It is a light and compact 60% keyboard. It has two open spaces on the bottom left and bottom right spaces with the brand being on the bottom right side. It has a clean design in stealth black or grey.

The bottom of the keyboard has two rubber feet and 2 flip-out feet with 2 different angles. The back of the keyboard offers 2 low-powered USB drives, which you can connect mice or USB ports. However, being low-powered, it won’t be able to power headsets.

There are six DIP switches on the back as well. The bottom of the keyboard explains exactly what each DIP switch does.

The layout of this keyboard is non-standard with the FN key being on the same row as the Shift key. It may be difficult to get used to this layout. The backspace is also lower than it normally is by one row, so it sits right above the Enter key.

A downside is that there are empty spaces on the bottom of the keyboard that are unused. Why not add 2 keys there instead of empty space? The CapsLock is also not a dedicated key. Instead, it exists on another layer. Where the CapsLock currently is, there is a Control button instead.

Overall, it takes time to get used to this layout. However, once people have gotten used to this keyboard, others were not able to switch back to the regular layout without feeling disadvantaged.

The Pro Hybrid Type-S model and the Pro Hybrid can connect to PCs wirelessly via Bluetooth or via a USB-C cable. The Pro Classic is only able to connect via USB-C.

The Pro Hybrid Type-S and the Pro Hybrid both are fully programmable. You can make your own custom keymaps using their keymapping software. The curvature and layout of the keyboards reduce hand and finger fatigue because you leave the home row keys much less often due to the closer Backspace.

The keycaps are PBT plastic with dye-sublimated key legends that never fade. You can also choose to have blank keycaps rather than printed.

Now for the price: The HHKB ranges from $190 to $280, depending on which model you pick.

WASD V3 87-key Mechanical Keyboard: First-Place Winner, Customizable with a lot of options

WASD Keyboards is almost a decade old and have been specializing in custom mechanical keyboards for quite some time now. They focus on exceptional customer service and finding new ways to improve the users’ keyboarding experiences. They are a small team of mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.

WASD Keyboards was founded in 2011 by people within the mechanical keyboard enthusiast community. They have many different keyboard layouts such as the WASD V3 104-key, 105-key, 87-key, 88-key, VP3 61-key and 62-key layouts. Each of these models can be customized to however you like. However, they also have pre-picked keyboards such as a CODE V3 87-key Cherry MX Browns Mechanical Keyboard.

We’ll be focusing on the TKL 87-key custom mechanical keyboard. I would really like to point out that they are all customizable to your own preferences and designs. However, the pre-made ones are awesome too. They even have special keycaps such as the GMK Tokyo Nights or the GMK Skidolcha, and much more. I invite you to check out their selection.

The prices range from $100 for a barebones 61-key keyboard (without keycaps, but does come with case, PCB, stabilizers, and switches) to $290 for a full-sized, 104-key keyboard with GMK keycaps and switches.

WASD TKL Code
WASD TKL Code

Let’s look at the switch options: Cherry MX browns, blues, reds, black, clear, green, silent red, silver, and Zealio 67g. We list the actuation force and distances of these switches within our comprehensive guide to every mechanical keyboard switch.

If we build a custom one, it lets us change the colors of the keycaps of the alphanumeric keycaps separately than the modifiers to a variety of different colors.

We can also change the Legends to whatever we choose: US International, Mac Dvorak, Mac Colemak, Mac, Colemak, Workman, Turkish, Russian, Modern, Lowercase, Large Font, Korean, Hebrew, Programmers Dvorak, Dvorak, Classic, Centered, Arabic, and other Photoshop specific ones. I choose the Vintage Cherry legends.

Also, you can add O-rings for $25 more.

I love the customizability from this company. They care about your typing experience. They also offer a ton more switch options, and we all know how important switches are to our typing experiences.

Matias Quiet Pro Mechanical Keyboard: For Those That Prefer Quiet

This is advertised as the world’s quietest mechanical keyboard. The Matias Quiet Pro comes out at $149.95 USD and it uses Quiet Click mechanical switches. They give you a tactile feedback without the unnecessary noise.

We’ve talked about all the different ways you can make your mechanical keyboard more quiet, but this keyboard already comes pretty quiet straight out of the box.

The website does a good job at showing you the differences between Cherry MX switches vs. Matias Quiet Pro switches. The Quiet Pro switches are a modified Alps switch, a very popular switch within the mechanical keyboard enthusiast community.

At the back of the keyboard are 3 extra USB 2.0 ports to plug in anything from card readers, charging phones or headphones, mice, USB drives, or headsets.

The keycaps are ABS plastic with laser-etched legends that will never fade off. They keycaps are also sculpted so that your fingers fit on them nicely. You’ll be able to feel each key instead of them being flat.

Matias Quiet Pro

Other features that show you that these people care about productivity is dedicated volume controls. When you’re at the office typing away, listening to your jams, when suddenly someone comes up to your desk. You can easily press mute or volume down, have a conversation, and then go straight back to work without having to switch screens.

It also has a dedicated tab button on the number pad for those who do a lot of work within spreadsheets. It also has full NKRO.

It has two legs underneath it to provide a slightly scooped silhouette when typing. It also has a 6-ft long USB cable. Unfortunately, this keyboard has no wireless capabilities.

Filco Majestouch-2 TKL Mechanical Keyboard

Last is the Filco Majestouch-2. This is a tenkeyless keyboard, which means that there is no number pad. If you do a lot of number entry, they also sell a full-sized version.

The TKL version currently costs $139.54 on Amazon. It currently has a 4.5 star reviewing with 241 ratings.

It has NKRO just like the other keyboards. This is a common feature on almost all mechanical keyboards.

This keyboard comes in all black with keycaps that have legends on the front rather than on top. There are different switch options: Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Black, or Red.

It connects via a USB port, but it also can connect to PS/2 with an adapter. The keycaps are all black as well.

Filco Majestouch Ninja 2
Filco Majestouch Ninja 2

On a desk, this can look like any typical keyboard. However, on a closer look, they are beautiful. It’s super slim and sleek.

This keyboard is not as special as the other keyboards on this list, despite its high price point. A long time ago, this may have been a good keyboard.

There are 4 rubber feet at the bottom and then 2 kickstands that have rubber pads on them as well for maintained stability with the feet up.

An advantage of this keyboard is that you never have to worry about the legends fading. Your fingers probably will never lay a hand on the legends because they are on the front. The keyboard is solid and sturdy.

Summary

We’ve covered 5 different keyboards that are meant for typing rather than gaming. With that being said, if you like to use gaming keyboards to type, more power to you.

I am not a believer that keyboards are made for specific things. However, one thing that I think these “typing” keyboards are good for is looking good in the office without standing out too much. None of your coworkers will come up to you when you bring your keyboard to the office saying, “Oh not another mechanical keyboard with the loud clicks. I hate those.”

No, you’ll take out a simple, yet sleek keyboard with mechanical switches that will be relatively quiet.

We’ve looked at the Das Keyboard Model S Professional Mechanical Keyboard, WASD 87-key custom mechanical keyboard, the Filco Majestouch, Matias Quiet Pro, and the Happy Hacking Keyboard. All of which are very good keyboards with ranging price tags.

Now, typists, get out there and find your keeb.

If you have any questions that you would like us to answer, leave us a comment down below. Or questions or concerns. Or anything, really.

Before you go, I’d like to ask you what are you using for your daily driver at the office or at home? I’d love to know!

Happy typing!

Sources

Das Keyboard Model S Review (Cherry MX Blue) YouTube.com

What is Topre Switch Hobgear.com

Mechanical Keyboard Guide WASDKeyboards.com

Filco Majestouch Ninja Tenkeyless Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard Unboxing Linus Tech Tips YouTube.com

Best wireless mechanical keyboards of 2020

Best wireless mechanical keyboards of 2020
Photo by u/goldfish_memories

So, it’s 2020 and you’re having some trouble picking out a wireless mechanical keyboard. We understand the struggle, there are so many wireless keyboards out there, how on earth do you choose just one?

Well, today we are going to take our best shot at picking out a short, exclusive list of the best mechanical keyboards available. We will also go over some of the pros and cons of each keyboard to help you pick out the right keyboard for you.

Before we jump into the keyboard list, we feel it’s important to go over the most important factor we use to rank the keyboards. With a wireless keyboard you’re looking for several things when it comes to reliability and quality of the product, but there is one thing that will really determine the long-term quality of the product.

Reliable software

When searching for a wireless mechanical keyboard there are several important qualities to consider. The main thing to look at is reliability, especially when it comes to the keyboard software. The physical components of mechanical keyboards are often rated to 50+ million keystrokes and it’s not uncommon for a mechanical keyboard to withstand a decade or more of use.

The keyboard software does not have these same standards, there are in fact, no industry standards or any sort of regulation when it comes to the keyboard software.

In order to connect and send the keystrokes to your PC, wireless mechanical keyboards rely on software to send the data with a very fast response time and zero lag. Which is something wired keyboards don’t need to worry about.

 So, you’ll need a keyboard with really solid Bluetooth or quick connect functionality that will last just as long as the switches on the keyboard itself.

Based on research, looking at dozens of wireless keyboards and hundreds of reviews, it looks like the software tends to stop working properly after about a year of usage, which conveniently happens to be right as the warranty runs out.

Planned obsolescence much?

Reliable software is the single greatest factor when it comes to the keyboard ranking, as it is often what kills a wireless keyboard faster than anything else.

With that out of the way, let’s jump into our favorite keyboards of 2020!

Our top favorite

Anne Pro 2

Anne Pro 2
Photo by u/MegaZucc

By sheer popularity amongst mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, how could this keyboard not make the list? The Anne Pro 2 is a 60% keyboard with both wired & wireless connection with a rechargeable battery that can last up to eight hours. Coming in white or black with RGB backlighting, the Anne Pro 2 has a nice overall, compact look to it. This would be a great option if you need to take your keyboard on the go as the 60% size is portable, light, and smaller-sized.

PBT keycaps is also a nice plus, they have a better texture than standard keycaps and tend to look less greasy.

If you’re really picky about switches, you’ll be happy to see that the amount of switch options on this keyboard is quite impressive. You can choose between a variety of Cherry Mx, Gateron, and Kailh switches to get the exact keystroke feel you’re looking for.

The only downside to this keyboard is the relatively short battery life. The battery is a 1900mAh which will only last for eight hours. Considering how this is a smaller sized keyboard, it does make sense that they would not want to install a larger battery to avoid weighing the keyboard down. But eight hours is a little on the short side.

Specifications:

  • $89
  • 60% keyboard
  • 1900mAh battery (8hrs)
  • Wireless or wired
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Switches: Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Silver, Gateron Blue, Gateron Brown, Gateron Red, Kailh Box Brown Kailh Box Red, Kailh Box White
  • RGB backlight
  • Programmable keys

Second favorite

Keychron K2

Keychron k2
Photo by u/WitoldLutoslawski

Our second favorite keyboard is the Keychron K2. A 75% keyboard that is slightly larger than the Anne Pro 2 but would still be a good keyboard to take on the go. It has both wired and wireless options and an amazing battery life of 72 hours. If you are a busy person and have difficulty finding time to charge your keyboard, it will be difficult to find another mechanical keyboard with a battery that will last as long.

The Bluetooth functionality on this keyboard is ahead of its time, it can connect to three separate devices and switch between them with ease. This feature makes it easy to switch between connecting to your laptop, home computer, and work station without having to fiddle with the settings.

The only downside to this keyboard is it’s only available with Gateron switches. Gaterons are essentially Cherry MX clones that are produced in China to save on cost, so sometimes the quality isn’t always the best.

The Keychron K2 is an excellent choice for someone looking for a reliable, relatively cheap, wireless mechanical keyboard. This keyboard is loaded with features that make it exciting and interesting to use.

Specifications

  • $74
  • 75% keyboard
  • 4000mAh battery (72 hrs)
  • Wireless or wired
  • White backlight with option to upgrade to RGB
  • Bluetooth to up to 3 devices
  • Switches: Gateron Blue, Gateron Brown, Gateron Red

Honorable mention

Logitech G613

Logitech G613
Photo by u/XaVierDK

Although it did not make our favorite list, the Logitech G613 is still a decent full-sized keyboard with some interesting features. Equipped with Logitech’s Lightspeed technology (basically faster Bluetooth), this keyboard will give you slightly better response time when gaming. Making it one of the better wireless keyboards if you plan on playing competitive video games or can’t stand the feel of any input lag.

The keyboard comes with six programmable keys and switches that are rated up to 70M keystrokes.

The main downside to this keyboard are the lack of rechargeable batteries, this keyboard is powered by AA batteries. In addition, there is no wired option so if the batteries die, you’re out of luck. If you run out of batteries, you either need to run to the store and buy some more or steal them from the TV remote.

Although I’ve never personally used the Romer G switch, I do not like that the keyboard only comes with one switch option. I think Logitech could benefit from accommodating different switch preferences. However, if you are a fan of silent and tactile switches, the Romer G’s might work for you.

Specifications

  • $70
  • Full-size keyboard
  • Switches: Romer G
  • Wrist pad
  • AA batteries
  • Lightspeed wireless connection
  • Six programmable keys

Conclusion

That does it for the reviews! I scoured the internet to find the absolute best wireless keyboards on the market that did not have the software problems that tend to plague wireless keyboards. Please let us know if you don’t agree and leave your thoughts about wireless mechanical keyboards in general. Today we looked at the Anne Pro 2, Keychron K2, and Logitech G613. Which one is your favorite?

In case you were wondering…

Can I convert my mechanical keyboard to wireless?

Converting your keyboard to wireless can be a time-heavy investment and should be reserved for those who are more DIY inclined. In order to do the wired-to-wireless conversion, you will need to be equipped with some basic soldering skills and a few extra components and tools.

After your soldering kit is ready, you will need to install a rechargeable battery and bluetooth to usb converter. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here.

Don’t feel like reading? Check out the video below.

Best 40% Mechanical Keyboards you can buy in 2020

Best 40% Mechanical keyboards you can buy in 2020
Photo from /u/Koobaczech

You may be wondering, what the heck is a 40% keyboard?

 A 40% keyboard is a very small compact keyboard with no number pad, arrow keys, or the entire top row of keys where the numbers are usually located.

While this may sound strange, a lot of people enjoy using this keyboard layout. The closer more compact keys can help lower the amount of distance your fingers need to travel and boost your typing speed. 40% keyboards are also cheaper too since less supplies are required to build and assemble them.

For example, a standard keyboard layout that includes a number pad and arrow keys has a total key count of 104, while a 40% keyboard only has 47. This makes the keyboard light and easier to take on the go.

Of all the different sizes and shapes of mechanical keyboards, 40% keyboards are one of the smallest and less common variations available.

However, they are not recommended if you need to a number pad for lot of data entry or if you enjoy using arrow keys as both features are not included with this style of keyboard.

For 40% keyboards, its standard to have 3 of the rows of keys to be layers. What this means is it’s possible to switch between two sets of keys. For example, the top row is QWERY but you can swap that out with 12345 by using the programmable settings build into the keyboard. This feature is very useful for programmers and typists who like the customization of their keyset.

Now that we’ve explained what exactly a 40% keyboard is, let’s dive into some of the best available products on the market.

We’re going to divide this up into two different sections. Prebuilt keyboards that are already assembled and keyboard kits that come shipped together but are assembled after purchase.

Pre-built Keyboards:

Our Pick

Vortexgear 40% Keyboard

Vortexgear 40%
Vortexgear 40% Keyboard

Specifications:

  • PBT plastic keys
  • Detachable micro-usb cable
  • Weight = 2.2lbs
  • 4 switchable layers, 3 are programmable
  • LED that shows which layer is being used
  • Aluminum CNC anodized case
  • Cherry switches

The Vortexgear 40% keyboard is high-quality, compact aesthetic keyboard with a sturdy aluminum frame. Allowing you to pick which type of Cherry MX switches you need. A keyboard that’s more on the upper-end in term of price, at $95.

Coming with PBT plastic keycaps, this kind of plastic has more of a textured feel to it and doesn’t get a greasy shiny look after heavy use like most keycaps do. PBT plastic is the material that all keyboards should strive to use and Vortexgear choosing this plastic for their keyboards is a big plus.

Detachable micro-USB cables are all the rage these days and Vortexgear nailed this part of the design. By designing for the usage of detachable cables, it is easier than ever to pack up your keyboard and take it with you. Just be careful because depending on where you purchase the keyboard you may need to buy the cable separately.

One of the upsides to a 40% keyboard is amount of key customization available and Vortexgear does not shy away from that, with 4 programmable layers and designing for each key to be individually programmed. In order keep track of what layer you’re currently typing with the keyboard includes an LED that changes color to determine which layer your using.

With a nice aluminum frame this keyboard is built to last and will hold all the components without worry of breaking or flexing the frame. The only downside to the aluminum frame is the weight, coming in at 2.2 pounds, this keyboard is a bit on the heavier side.

The weight can be a bit of downside. 40% keyboards are used for their ease of portability and nobody wants to carry around a keyboard that feels like brick. This can be overlooked however when you consider the quality of the frame.

Cheaper alternative:

Qisan Magicforce 40%

Qisan Magicforce 40%

Specifications

  • Price: $54
  • ABS keycaps
  • Gateron Brown switches
  • Blue backlight
  • Plastic case

Coming in at $54 it’s hard to beat the price of this keyboard. The Qisan Magicforce is a made for those who aren’t looking to spend too much and want the experience of a programmable 40% keyboard. A decent keyboard for those who want a light keyboard with a portable set-up that is usable without a desk.

Made with ABS keycaps, these keycaps will develop a greasy shine and will feel a little slippery over time. We would have liked to see PBC plastic but considering this keyboard is relatively cheap, it’s hard to complain about what type of plastic the keycaps are made of.

Coming equipped with Gateron Brown switches which are the Chinese equivalent of Cherry MX Browns, this keyboard has a quiet tactile feel to the keys and won’t make to much noise when typing. Great for working in an office or at home when the rest of the family is sleeping.

With a cool ice blue backlight, this keyboard has a nice look to it and can be useful for those who work late into the night and rely on the backlight to see their keys.

The keyboard is quite light, weighing less than a pound which make it nice and portable. The USB is also detachable, making this a great keyboard to take on the go or carry around in a backpack without worrying about the weight.

Kit Keyboards:

Kits will require to you purchase and order some additional parts yourself and assembly is required.  The perfect type of keyboard for those who want to put a little extra love and customization into their keyboard build.

The kits will usually come standard with a PCB, case, and frame making the assembly of the base relatively easy and pain free. The switches, keycaps, and stabilizers will need to be purchased separately and installed yourself. Keep in mind that unless you order hot swappable switches, soldering will be required to install the switches to the keyboard.

Our Pick

Planck

Planck keyboard from Patrick Welker on Pinterest
Planck keyboard from Patrick Welker on Pinterest

The Planck is a highly customizable kit that allows you to mix and match the PCB with different cases. You have the choice between several different colored aluminum cases. An upper and lower case will need to be purchased as well.

Planck keyboard kits are quite expensive and the total price of all the parts required to build this keyboard will be $200+, especially once you consider the switches and keycaps that need to be ordered separately. But it you’re a keyboard enthusiast, you can’t put a price on true quality and personalization.

If a DIY kit is not for you, it is possible to purchase the Planck EZ a preassembled keyboard that you can order online. The Planck EZ comes standard with RGB backlight and ortholinear keys that can minimize finger movement.

The Planck EZ comes with hotswappable switches with 8 Cherry MX options and 5 Kailh options. If your picky about the way your switches feel, no need to fret, because this keyboard comes with all the options to help personalize the keyboard to what you like.

Read more about the Planck here.

Cheaper alternative:

YMDK

Image result for YMDK 40% mechanical keyboard
YMDK Tiramisu from Aliexpress.com

The YMDK is a keyboard kit that offers a ton of customization and is perfect for keyboard enthusiasts who think aesthetic is king.

With the option to choose from four different keyboard layouts, you can customize the keyset to feel and look the exact way you like to improve your typing and comfort. With four programmable layers and many color options, this product will allow you to pick out exactly what need and want.

Coming in at $80.00 for the case, frame, and PCB, the YMDK is a much cheaper alternative to the Planck. This would be a great kit to start with for your first custom build. The kit of course does not include the stabilizers, switches, and keycaps.

The CNC aluminum case includes several color options including coffee, black, and navy with a black plate. Other options include silver, rose, and gold case with a silver plate to match the aesthetic.

Conclusion:

Hope you enjoyed this comprehensive list of 40% keyboards. There are a lot of other 40% keyboard kits that have unfortunately been discontinued but may be available to buy used online. Some of these include the Minivan and BM43A models, so if that interests you, I would recommend looking online for these builds.

Whether you’re looking for a pre-built keyboard or keyboard kit, a 40% keyboard can be fun unique keyboard and we recommend everyone give them a try. With options available for those on a budget or those who are willing to splurge, there’s a keyboard out there for everyone.

Don’t feel like reading? Check out the video below.

Best 65% Mechanical Keyboards as of 2020

65% keyboard in background, title: best 65% mechanical keyboards on the Switch and Click blog

Overview of 65% keyboards

65% keyboards are like 60% keyboards that have arrow keys. For people who are used to using tenkeyless keyboards, then maybe making the switch to a 65% might be for you. These keyboards typically have between 66-68 keys in general.

Some reasons to switch to a smaller keyboard includes mobility, space, and aesthetics.

The form factor of a 65% is compact and aesthetic. If you need to use your keyboard between work and home, then this might be the keyboard for you. It fits easily in a small bag and weighs very little.

If your desk is small like mine, then using a smaller keyboard will create space for all the other clutter. Or if you’re super neat, then it’ll look clean.

It has all the important keys. It has an extra row on the right side with the Del, PgUp, PgDn keys as well as the arrow keys in the correct position.

One downside of using a 65% keyboard is that they might have non-standard keys, so swapping keycaps might be difficult. Definitely do some research beforehand if you plan on buying a 65% keyboard and switching out the keycaps.

Now let’s jump into some of the best 65% keyboards of 2020.

We’re going to be looking at 5 different 65% ready-made or build your own 65% mechanical keyboards.

  • Ducky One 2 SF
  • MagicForce 68
  • Akko 3068
  • Tada 68
  • Massdrop ALT

Ducky One 2 SF

The SF part here stands for sixty-five percent. The Ducky One 2 SF is currently selling for $109 on Mechanicalkeyboards.com.

It comes in two colorways with RGB LED lighting: black and or white.

Both colorways come with double shot PBT plastic keycaps, which are sturdy and longer lasting.

The switch options are: Cherry MX black, brown, red, blue, silver, silent red.

It has an ABS plastic case. The black version looks black from a top view but has a white bezel and white bottom. It features USB-C connectivity on the left side with rubber feet on the bottom with two kickstands with 2 different angle adjustments.

Like many other 65% keyboards, this keyboard has a non-standard bottom row, so switching out keycaps will take more effort.

Ducky also sends you some extra colorful keycap sets to add some style. Both colors are pretty.

Overall, this keyboard performs very well. Ducky is a well-recognized brand within the keyboard community, and there are no complaints.

https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/
comments/dhszr6/its_finally_here_ducky_one_2_sf/ by Omii

MagicForce 68

The MagicForce(Qisan) 68 keyboard is a wired 65%. This is an all-white keyboard with black legends.

It is currently $40 on Amazon with Oetemu brown switches (MX-style equivalent switches). This keyboard has 68 keys. It has a 4-star rating with 277 total ratings.

It has a floating style design which lets you see the switches as you type. Very aesthetic from the side. It also has 2 kickstands, one on each side, and rubber feet on the bottom.

It has a plastic case with an aluminum plate and finish. The connection is Mini USB (which is uncommon with mechanical keyboards nowadays). This cable is removable, so you can also use a custom USB cable.

This keyboard has standard keycaps, including a standard bottom row. You can replace all the keycaps with your own set without trouble like the other keyboards we’ve looked at. They have Cherry style stabilizers as well.

It has LED lights underneath that are exposed by its floating design. It has a blue and orange lighting effect. On the aluminum plate, the brand, Magicforce, is engraved into it on the right side above the arrow keys. Unlike other 65% mechanical keyboards, this one has a bit emptier space in its layout.

I am personally not a fan of the legend’s font. The keycaps are ABS plastic with double-shot injection. Over time, they’ll probably get grimy due to the white keycaps and plastic type. The legends of the 2nd layer is printed in dark grey, which will fade and wear over time. These keycaps are smooth and may not be for people are like textured keycaps such as myself.

For the $40 price tag, this is not a bad keyboard at all. It’s got a lot of features.

It has 3 DIP switches on the back. They’ll let you switch specific layouts on your keyboard and you need to reset your keyboard to get it to switch after you toggle them.

  • 1: swaps CapsLk with Left Ctrl key
  • 2: swap Windows key with FN key
  • 3: lock Windows  key
A black computer mouse and keyboard

Description automatically generated
https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/
comments/be2fg7/my_little_budget_setup_keeb_is_the_qisan/ by ItsWaaa

Akko 3068

The Akko 3068 is also another popular 65% keyboard. This is a 65% keyboard that comes with blue switches on Amazon. It has different colors and keycap designs and range in price depending on what you get from $99 to $110. On other websites, it’s possible to find different versions of this keyboard.

This one on Amazon has Cherry MX blue switches, which are clicky. It has 68 keys and a USB-C connection. From other stores, it is possible to get other Cherry MX switches, such as reds or browns.

It has a plastic case with some natural angle. It has rubber feet on the bottom with no flip-up feet.

This keyboard can be used wirelessly or wired with Bluetooth technology that can connect with up to 3 devices. It has PBT plastic keycaps in a Cherry profile with dye-sublimated legends.

It has the exact layout as Tada68 and the legends are durable and classically simple.

In wireless mode, it is advertised as lasting 120 hours. They keyboard has no backlighting or RGB, so this might be why it lasts so long. Overall, beautiful and affordable keyboard. Very similar to the Tada68, except it has wireless capabilities. The Tada68 keycaps has deeper legends.

If you’re interested in doing a custom kit, the next keyboard might be better for you.

A keyboard and mouse on a wooden surface

Description automatically generated
Photo at: https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/
comments/e35fkg/akko_3068/ by idwpan

Tada 68

The Tada68 mechanical keyboard is a 65% layout keyboard that comes to you fully assembled or you can pick different parts to build it yourself. It is completely programmable using TMK firmware.

The fully assembled keyboard has keycaps are made of high-quality PBT plastic with dye-sublimated keycaps with black legends. It has a plastic case and an aluminum plate under that may be prone to scratching.

You can buy this keyboard from KBDfans for $99 to $119, depending on which switches you pick.

The switch options are: Gateron blacks, reds, browns and blues. Picking any of these switches will be $99. The Gateron switches are high-quality and are imitation MX-style switches. They perform well but are not as revered as the genuine Cherry MX switches.

The other switch options are Cherry MX blacks, blues, browns, reds or Gateron silent reds, Gateron silent blacks, and Gateron silent browns. Picking any of these $119.

These keyboards do not have RGB lighting or see-through keycaps, but they are clean and simple. Many users on Reddit show off their Tada68 keyboards with special keycaps.

A close up of a keyboard

Description automatically generated
Picture by https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/
comments/az7rpu/photostada68/

If you choose to go to the keyboard kit route, you can pick between plastic case in black ($89) or aluminum cases of different colors (that would make the price up to $149.

To fully complete, the keyboard you’ll need to buy your own switches and LEDS if you want RGB lighting. Make sure to read our guide with essential equipment to build your own custom mechanical keyboard for a comprehensive checklist of you what you need before you start.

One downside to this keyboard among different users is that the firmware can be a hassle to configure. It also has a non-standardized bottom row, meaning it’ll be difficult to change all the keycaps if that’s what you want, but we figured that was the case already since it’s a 65% keyboard.

Drop (formerly Massdrop) ALT Mechanical Keyboard

Last but not lease, we have the Drop ALT keyboard. I’m going to drop my link here in case anyone is interested in helping us out. No pressure at all though.

This keyboard has 358 ratings on Drop and has 4.5 stars. Overall, it’s well known ad people love it.

It has 67 keys and is compact.

Out of all the keyboards here, it sits at the highest price point at $180. The switch options are: Halo Clears, Halo Trues, Kaihua box whites, Kaihua speed silvers, and Cherry MX Blues ($20 extra).

It also has optional custom keycap kits for additional cost as well:

  • GMK Red Samurai $80 extra
  • MT3/dev/tty $70 extra
  • XDA Canvas $65 extra

I have a Drop CTRL, so I might be a little biased on this one. This keyboard is beautiful. It has an aluminum plate and body. It’s sturdy and has a hefty feel.

It has hot-swappable sockets. You can pull switches out and plop new ones in easily with just a switch puller. No soldering required.

With QMK firmware, it is fully programmable. It has a USB-C connector on either side at the top, letting you pick the direction for your desktop setup. At the bottom are two magnetized rubber feet that you can move or turn around however you like.

There are pre-programmed lighting effects that can be customized using the firmware. To switch between effects, just press Fn + D. It also has an RGB strip surrounding the bezel of the keyboard that you can optionally turn off/on.

The keycaps are PBT double-shot plastic. The keycaps have a textured feel to them.

You can pick from different versions: the floating key design or the high-profile design, which costs $230.

Although it is the most expensive, it does have nice features that you can benefit from.

Summary

We talked about 5 different 65% keyboards today: Akko 3068, Tada68, MagicForce 68, Ducky One 2 SF, and the Drop ALT. That’s a LOT of information.

If it were up to me, and I might have different preferences than you, I would go with the Tada68 keyboard kit with brown switches with an aluminum plate. I love the font of the legends. I don’t mind that there isn’t LED. It’s simple and classic. The aluminum plate costs a bit more but would increase its lifespan and for transportability as well.

My runner-up option would be the Drop ALT. It’s probably super biased because I have a Drop CTRL and always find myself wishing it wouldn’t have the entire right side. But I can’t use a 60% because I find myself always reaching over to use the arrow keys. The Drop ALT would be absolutely perfect. I currently have Halo Clears and would probably go for them again. Possibly add in some custom keycaps… it’s a trap! The wallet is already crying because I’m looking and thinking about 65% keyboards.

Anyways, hope this helps you in your decision-making in trying to find an awesome 65% keyboard if that’s what you’re looking for. There are a ton of benefits to having one!

Happy typing!

Sources

Tada68 Mechanical Keyboard KBDFans

TADA68 Mechanical Keyboard Review Build & Review Youtube.com

Akko3068 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard – Unboxing & Review Youtube.com

Top Seller? Magicforce 68-key Mechanical Keyboard Review Youtube.com

Magicforce 68 Review: Compact Backlit Mech on a Budget MechTYPE.com