I recently got my family excited to make their PCs and was assigned to collect the parts!
I realized gaming keyboards quickly might seem overly bright and loud on the senses.
I decided to give low-profile keyboards a look and was pleasantly surprised at the number of keyboards out there and how their quality holds up.
So I dove deep, did a ton of research, and compiled a list of the low-profile keyboards that I believe to be the best on the market!
Let's dive in!
The Keychron K1 is a specific typing experience regarding the overall package from the frame, keycap quality, connectivity, and usage.
The board offers wired and wireless connectivity.
When wired, it's a better typing experience than others on the list, but unfortunately, you can't say the same for its wireless experience.
If Bluetooth were better, it would be the perfect keyboard!
The board has a community-driven design, so it is great for gaming if you don’t play MMORPGs.
You should use the Keychron for typing. It takes this to heart with key switches that are hot-swappable.
The K1 comes in a 75% layout.
It has no customizable lighting, but at least it's a backlight.
While it is not as expensive, a lack of PBT keycaps and terrible Bluetooth is desired.
The MK.2 has a new design suited for a modern desktop setup compared to the original.
It balances between being just enough "gamery" and overly industrial.
The keys are encased in a stiff aluminum chassis for rigidity with customizable per-key RGB lighting.
The MK.2 has a detachable rubberized wrist rest and a set of gray textured keycaps best suited for gaming.
Unlike the original, the control keys are elevated for an easier reach with an X-shaped channel that runs under the keyboard’s body for cable routing.
The layout is 104-key with media keys.
The RGB lighting displays prominently like the original due to the small distance between the keycaps you can map with iCUE software.
However, the white color is more visible on the MK.2.
Dedicated buttons for adjustable backlight and a thick braided cable that terminates 2 USB-A inputs to the desktop.
The keycaps switch stem tolerance could be better; the MK.2 feels like a downgrade from the original K70’s faultless typing experience.
Like the K70 MK.2, Logitech’s G915 is similar in its feature package from the frame, keycap quality, connectivity, and media controls.
However, unlike the MK.2 and every board here, the g915’s Bluetooth connection is a superb typing experience.
It looks fantastic and will easily fit in any gaming or professional environment.
The keyboard comes in TKL and full-size layouts.
Its lighting software does not offer as much freedom as Corsair’s, but it fulfills the backlight requirements that we all love.
It is significantly expensive, with softer keycaps, improper legend illumination, and a lack of USB-C.
Its biggest blemish is the non-replaceable battery.
Compared to the MK.2 and G915, the SK series has a simple uniform box design that is all about being low profile first!
It has a similar feature package, keycap quality, connectivity, and media controls.
However, unlike those, SK offers it in three different layouts.
The SK series is a strong contender for low latency Bluetooth comparable only to the 915’s superb wireless typing experience.
Unlike the K2’s aggressive looks and G915’s professional design.
The SK is easy on the eyes; the design has no visual fatigue. It will easily fit in any setup environment due to its simplicity. It comes in TKL, compact, and full-size layouts.
The backlight is the brightest list; it is blinding at full power.
The price could be lower for the features due to the softer keycaps, striking keycap design, and less stiff key switches.
Unlike the entire list, this is the most affordable quality and feature balance you can find on the market.
Great for gaming and work! The board offers wired and wireless connectivity.
The HV-KB390L saves you money by not having Bluetooth.
The board has stellar looks making it great for gaming and office environments.
The keyboard has a bright blacklight with vibrant RGB tones six anti-ghosting key switches that suit all tapping styles.
The KB390L is a full-size layout.
While it is an inexpensive board, the customer support for repairs, warranty claims, and maintenance is underwhelming.
Different strokes for different folks.
You can choose low profile keyboards from regular and irregular shapes- wide or compact, tall or short or with splits in-between, in frames both stiff or flexible with keys in multiple design classifications and specific features.
Let's get to know our bumpy computer interface, fine-tune our preferences, and make an informed decision when buying a low-profile mechanical keyboard or any keyboard for that matter.
The primary attribute to choosing a low-profile keyboard is its size and clusters/groups of keys arranged to form a template- a layout.
Keyboards come in the following sizes:
Perfect For: Gaming, Working, and Everyday stuff.
Commonly, a keyboard offers a 101-104 key layout.
A full-sized keyboard can accommodate a 105 key layout, and the smallest one has only two buttons! (Pretty Osu-me, huh!)
Full-size low profile mechanical keyboards:
Compact keyboards have a certain level of industry-standard compactness.
They come in 96%, 75%, 65%, and 60% of compactness.
Perfect For: Gaming, Working, Programming, and Everyday stuff.
96% has all keys from full size with some spacing between keys, but navigation keys/media keys are sacrificed (PrtScn, Scroll Lock, and Pause):
Perfect For: Gaming, Writing, and Portability.
The 75% has an 84 key layout.
It has all keys from full size with minimal key spacing, and Numpad, navigation keys/media keys are sacrificed (PrtScn, Scroll Lock, and Pause):
Perfect For: Gaming, Editless writing, and Portability.
65% layout is a 68 keys layout.
It has all keys from full size with zero key spacing, Numpad, function keys, and navigation keys/media keys are sacrificed (PrtScn, Scroll Lock, and Pause):
Perfect For: Writing and Portability.
60% is a 61 key layout.
It has all keys from full size with zero key spacing, Numpad, function keys, arrow keys, and navigation keys/media keys are sacrificed (Prt Scn, Scroll Lock, and Pause):
Perfect For: Gaming, Working, and Programming.
A TKL keyboard is a full-size keyboard without the Numpad:
Ergonomic keyboards focus on preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries associated with typing for long periods.
This is also why they are the largest of all the sizes and layouts.
Switches will affect the sound and feel when you're typing.
It's the mechanism that actuates the key so that it registers to your computer.
These switches come in the following styles:
A membrane keyboard has pressure points outlined with symbols printed on a flat, flexible surface.
The switch is silent, without moving parts, and has little to no tactile feedback.
Most keyboards have individual mechanical switches with moving parts designed to give feedback to the user upon a keypress.
Mechanical switches come in the following types:
These keys are quiet and easily press down all the way, made for gaming.
Tactile keys have a noticeable 'speed bump' when you press them, best of linear and clicky.
Clicky switches also have a speed bump, making a click sound after a successful input register.
Often loud and reserved for programmers, typists, and transcribing writers.
After we have picked our stylized size, layout, and desired switches.
Choosing the build material is a relatively straightforward undertaking, as most keyboards will feature either a flexible, stiff, or composite metal + plastic frame.
While it is mainly dependent on personal preference, keyboards come in two profiles:
A low-profile keyboard has keys on top of the board.
It allows for rapid maintenance and aesthetic customizations.
A high-profile keyboard has keys encased in a metal or plastic case.
Maintenance is slow may require breaking the warranty seal; while dust does not get in as fast, it is more cumbersome to clean.
Keycaps are something to consider if you will use the keyboard as a writer.
This is not a huge deal for most people and would typically be a cosmetic or end-of-life change.
It is still an essential element in personalizing the personal computer.
Keycaps come in the following styles:
The easiest to manufacture but get slippery, less responsive, and are more prone to breaking.
PBTs are tougher to manufacture but retain grip for longer, are responsive, and structurally rigid.
POMs are harder, better, faster, and more colorful than ABS and PBT.
Being thinner, they give a subtle afterglow with a backlight.
Double shots are specially molded keycaps that are a composite of two keycaps designed to be resilient to wear on the key legends.
Generally, there would be no need for a backlight on a desktop as you're expected to be in a well light environment to protect your eyes from strain, headaches, and light sensitivity.
However, this is a personal computer! While keyboard backlight is great for laptop users in rural areas and has obvious aesthetic purposes.
Backlight features are popular in the RGB mechanical gaming keyboard series in many PCMR subcultures to match a theme and create a personalized gaming experience!
A unique color combination for the keys you want that is pretty sweet!
Finally, if your PC lives in a shared bedroom and you would like the noise to be on the down-low.
Having a stiff build with linear or tactile switches and strong keycaps is the way to go!
You don't get a new keyboard every month.
So, investing in the calming tones of suitable switches instead of dueling the deadline in cheap plastic at midnight are things the loved ones and pets will appreciate!
Below are some frequently asked questions...
Overall the best low-profile mechanical keyboard is the Keychron K1.
It is well received in the mechanical keyboard community for superior customer support and customizability.
Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 keyboard is the best low-profile gaming keyboard.
It has a superior response time to other gaming keyboards with fast switches.
No disassembly is required to customize keycaps, clean, modify, or replace the key switches!
Yes, you can game on a low-profile keyboard.
The choice is stylistic.
They are as good as standard mechanical switches, fit like a glove, and are more portable.
A low-profile keyboard or any keyboard defines the interactive experience.
It's personalized to its user.
Low-profile mechanical keyboards make self-expression easy with a comfortable and user-friendly interface for maintaining and customizing without voiding the warranty.
As it was then, of horses and saddles, to the cowboys of the wild west.
PCs are consumable goods in the same vein, but keyboards remain essential interfaces.