The Best Custom Mechanical Keyboards [2023]

Custom mechanical keyboards can be easy to buy and fun to build, but as we all know: “There are so many options!” 

Well after lots of effort and testing, we’ve narrowed down the best of the best.

And to make it easier on you, we’re looking at keyboards you can order NOW and get right away. I hate waiting, don’t you?

So let’s get started.

For a full custom keyboard build guide, you can check out this in-depth guide.

The Best Custom Keyboards – Our Top Picks

The AwardThe KeyboardSpecial Features
Our Top PickKeychron Q1 ProExtremely high-quality build
Best on a BudgetKeychron V1Value-packed for the price
Best for GamingGMMK ProFaster response speed (1ms)
Runner UpKBDFansMore customization options

1. Keychron Q1 and its newest upgrade, the Q1 Pro

This is no doubt the number one recommendation for custom keyboard enthusiasts and beginners right now. 

You’ve probably heard of crazy things you have to do to make your keyboard better like lube your switches (which takes hours by the way) and tune your stabilizers.

With the Keychron Q1 and Q1 Pro, you don’t need to get your fingers dirty at all. 

The only hard work you’ll be doing is:

  • Lifting the package from your door to your room
  • Tearing open the box
  • Taking the keyboard out
  • Connecting the keyboard to your computer
  • Pressing the on switch

Yep, that’s it. 

There’s no lube involved. No screwdrivers or grease stains. 

You get a nice-sounding and feeling keyboard right out of the box. 

There are very few keyboards that require no modifications. And the ones that do exist out there cost more than double what the Q1 and Q1 Pro costs. 

Between the two keyboards, you have 4 primary differences. 

And being the Pro, that one will cost more. 

If you want a Bluetooth-ready keyboard, go for the Pro. The Q1 can only connect via a wired cable to your PC. 

The other differences are primarily preferential. Let me explain. 

Both keyboards have keycaps that won’t get all nasty and oily, since they’re both made of PBT plastic, a thicker and more durable material. 

Both keyboards come with pre-lubed switches, so you don’t ever have to take your keyboard apart, pry open each switch, and brush lube inside it yourselves. Ick, that is such a dirty process. But the Q1 Pro has Keychron switches, and the Q1 uses Gateron switches. Minor differences, and you won’t notice it if you’re not looking. 

This next difference makes the keyboards feel different as you’re typing. 

The Q1 Pro has a PC (polycarbonate) plate. It’s thinner and more flexible, so when you do type on it, it’s not as harsh of a feeling as typing on a steel place, which the original Q1 has. 

However, both keyboards are gasket-mounted and do bounce quite a bit as you’re typing. This is a good thing.

In fact, most mechanical keyboard enthusiasts want this flexible and bouncy typing experience. It’s so much easier on the hands and finger joints. And it sounds spectacular. Your keyboard isn’t going to be producing that nasty ringing ping when you type fast, like I know you do. 

These keyboards are 75% in size, so they have all of the function row, arrows, nav keys (sort of), and if you’re feeling spunky, you can get a knob. 

Yeah, you heard me.

A knob. On a keyboard. It makes controlling volume up/down and mute so much faster. 

And in case you’re wondering… yes, there is a Delete key. Thank the heavens. 

If you were to only buy one keyboard and turn away from the hobby forever, then seriously consider the Q1 Pro. You can read a more in-depth review here

You can check out both keyboards using the links for the Q1 and the Q1 Pro.

They both come in different colorways for the case, keycaps, and different switch types too. 

Our Top Pick
Keychron Q1 Pro

The best of the best, especially for the price.

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I may earn an affiliate comission for this purchase (at no extra cost to you)

2. Keychron V1/V2: The Budget Option

If you’re looking for a more affordable custom keyboard, these barebones kits from Keychron will be perfect.

Keychron has an entire V-series lineup for different sizes. They have entirely plastic cases compared to the premium Q-series, but they are cheaper than half the cost.

The barebones kits, which include stabilizers, comes at $64 for the original version and $74 for the knob version.

Compared to other keyboards at this price, Keychron hasn’t skimped out on any details.

In addition, Keychron gives you a silicone dampening pad inside the case to improve its acoustics. It’s not hollow like other plastic keyboards out there.

There’s RGB options, which you can modify with in-keyboard combinations. Or turn it off, if RGB isn’t your thing. The option is there.

They’re also super responsive keyboards for gaming with 1000Hz polling rate. You won’t feel any input lag when playing your most competitive games.

If you opt for the knob version, keep in mind that it’s programmable. The keyboard comes with it programmed to volume up/down and mute for the press.

But the entire keyboard is QMK and VIA compatible, which means you can reprogram all the keys, layers, and customize it to the way you want.

For an entry into the world of custom mechanical keyboards, the Keychron V1 or V2 are excellent choices.

If you pay a bit more, these kits can come pre-assembled with pre-lubed switches and durable PBT keycaps. So if you aren’t interested in shopping around, this is a really convenient option.

Keychron’s website also sells keycaps and switches from various companies too, so you can get all of your parts from a single website. And only pay shipping once.

The only downside to this keyboard is the relatively cheap build and less custom-feel to it. If you’re looking for something a bit more exciting we recommend checking out the latest DIY builds on KBDfans or mechgroupbuys.

If you’re interested, definitely check the Keychron V1 or any of their V-series keyboard kits.

Budget Pick
Keychron V1 Custom Keyboard
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As an Amazon affiliate, I earn a commission at no additional price to you.

3. GMMK Pro: The Best Custom For Gaming

The GMMK Pro is a beautiful 75% keyboard with a unique case design and aesthetic build.

It’s the only custom keyboard that I’ve seen in actual stores like Micro Center of this caliber. Other kits I’ve seen are more budget-friendly and not made of high-quality aluminum.

The GMMK Pro comes in 2 colors: black and silver (although they say white, it’s not white). On their website, you can enter a cool configurator that lets you choose all of your parts from different plates that give you different feels to different top frames to customize it to your liking.

My favorite version of this keyboard for those of you that love linear switches would be:

Render from the GMMK Pro Configurator

Glorious also offers a matching numpad with a cool slider that pairs nicely with your GMMK Pro if you find yourself typing numbers a lot.

The best part about Glorious is that they sell all of their accessories with this keyboard, so you can customize it however you see fit. It’s a one-stop shop for the kit, switches, keycaps, accessories, everything.

The only downside to this keyboard is that the typing feel may not be as soft as other custom keyboards. It is gasket-mounted, which is known for being softer and bouncier, but the case design doesn’t allow for much flex.

But if you’re looking for a keyboard that’ll get everyone to turn their heads and ask you “hey where’d you get that?” this is the one.

With the hot-swappable PCB, this keyboard should be a relatively easy build as long as you install the switches correctly. You can always reference our custom keyboard build guide.

You can find the GMMK Pro in stores like Micro Center or on their website. They also sell a pre-built version with switches and keycaps as a complete bundle.

4. KBDFans- Highly Customizable Options

 KBD75 custom mechanical keyboard.

KBDFans has a ton of different options that rotate in and out of stock, so you’ll have to scroll through their wide array of products.

We really enjoy the KBD75. Coming in a variety of different colors, plate materials, and more, this keyboard is highly customizable and is a very fun build.

You will need soldering equipment to build this keyboard, so you can check out our recommended soldering equipment, if you’re interested. This fact alone makes the build a bit trickier as you need to solder the switches on.

The keyboard has a full aluminum frame with RGB underglow and QMK software for full control. Not to mention the 75% is compact but also very comfortable to use.

But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, this build is worth the time investment.

You can find the KBD75 on

Drop CTRL Barebones: Tenkeyless Custom Keyboard

Drop CTRL Barebones mechanical keyboard

As a bigger sister to the Drop ALT, we have the Drop CTRL.

Coming in at a more standard tenkeyless size, the Drop CTRL barebones boasts many of the same features as the ALT: full aluminum frame, multiple power ports, full RGB lighting, and more.

If you’re looking for a relatively easy hot-swappable build with no soldering required, the Drop CTRL barebones will make assembly a breeze.

You can find the CTRL with many cases and different colorways depending on what style you prefer. The TKL size makes it very comfortable for whatever purpose you plan on using the keyboard for.

Not to mention, almost any keycap set should fit this keyboard due to the standard layout size.

You can find the Drop CTRL Barebones in a many styles and colors.

TOFU96: A 96% Custom Keyboard

Coming up last is a really interesting layout, the Tofu96.

The 96% layout is really interesting because you get the number pad, similar to a full-sized keyboard, but it’s packed into a more efficient size. This layout is ideal for those who do lots of data entry, but want to experiment with something a little different.

However, soldering will be required for this build, so be prepared to bust out the soldering equipment.

The keyboard comes with an aluminum case and a brass plate, making it a super sturdy build.

Due to the nature of a larger sized layout, you will be stuck paying more for switches, so keep that in mind when picking this layout.

You can find the TOFU96 on kbdfans.


Looking for a custom mechanical keyboard to purchase can be a difficult process, there are so many options out there to choose from.

Hopefully, this guide gave you a good starting place so you can really start to figure which board fits your preferences perfectly.

Between group buys, in-stock items, and all of the customizable features under the sun, the sky is the limit when to comes to building a unique custom keyboard.

For your first build, we recommend with going something relatively easy (such as hot-swappable), as you’re guaranteed to make a few mistakes.

Good luck!

Jake Harrington

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

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