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Low-profile mechanical keyboards are a truly fascinating breed.
They’re sort of a niche product — nowhere near as popular as their bigger brethren and yet still interesting enough to warrant a deeper dive.
Within their enclosures you’ll find low profile switches; they’re a lot slimmer than “conventional” ones — hence the nomenclature.
The travel distance of each key is a lot shorter which is actually what some folks prefer.
They also come with shallower keycaps and a shorter overall z-height — two changes that result in a design similar to that of a membrane keyboard.
Low profile mechanical keyboards offer the best of both worlds: incredible portability and a very enjoyable typing experience.
They can often be customized, too: you can, depending on the model, swap out their switches, make certain modifications to alter their sound profile, (potentially) lube certain elements, replace their keycaps, and so on.
They’re a niche option, no doubt, but they do have a place in this world and have risen in popularity quite a bit over the last few years.
They’re still not particularly ubiquitous but are nonetheless an incredibly interesting option, one that is no doubt worth your time and attention.
Perhaps best of all, low profile mechanical keyboards are often chock full of features and connectivity options. They don’t come cheap, unfortunately, but at least you’re getting a fair bit for your money’s worth.
Read the Fine Print
Not all low profile mechanical keyboards are created equal. The video above showcases this conundrum incredibly well.
Just because it has the right keywords on the box doesn’t mean it’s actually low profile.
Some manufacturers have opted to simply slim down the frame of their keyboards but still use regular mechanical switches — these are not true low profile offerings.
Others just slap on a slim keycap set and call it a day.
Don’t fall for the marketing ploy. To avoid these “landmines,” make sure to read the fine print before whipping out your wallet and making any kind of investment.
Don’t Expect an Identical Typing Experience
Low profile mechanical keyboards share much of the same DNA with their bigger brethren but typing (or gaming) on them is a fairly different experience.
This is something you definitely need to keep in mind.
These keyboards adhere to a different set of “rules” primarily because of their shallower nature.
They’re not necessarily any better or worse, but they do provide a different kind of experience — one which you’ll either adore or, conversely, abhor. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.
Typing on them feels great but it’s not as “luxurious” a feeling as one would expect.
It all boils down to personal preference. Regular mechanical keyboards are often chunky and large, too archaic (or, at the very least, specific) in their design. They can, for some, offer too much customizability.
There’s a large number of people out there who just want the top-notch typing experience (and a specific kind of sound profile) but aren’t willing to tinker with their keyboards for hours on end to really tweak and tune everything to their liking — they’re okay with a pre-built option, one that is good enough.
A low profile mechanical keyboard is sort of a middle ground. It has some relatively unique bells and whistles (multi-device/OS support), numerous connectivity options, along with a very slim profile that’s both great to look at and type on.
For some, that might just be the perfect combination.
Go For a Hot-Swappable Model, If Possible
As always, buying a mechanical keyboard that has a hot-swappable PCB would be for the best.
There are not a whole lot of options when it comes to low profile mechanical switches, but having the ability to swap them out and try something new is tremendously important as your needs and wants might change over time.
And, well, there’s no need to “pigeonhole” yourself right from the very get-go.
Which Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard Should You Buy?
Here are some concrete recommendations, models that should, by all means, be appropriate enough to fit both your needs and, hopefully, budget:
An interesting 65% option that is “built for esports.”
At around $130 it’s a bit on the pricier side, but if you’re a fervent gamer and happen to be a Fnatic fan, there’s probably no better option out there. It has stellar build quality, double-shot PBT keycaps, a coiled USB-C cable, and some extremely fast low profile switches.
One could argue that Keychron has the broadest and most impressive line-up of low profile mechanical keyboards out there.
They’re appropriately priced, well-built, have a host of connectivity options, and offer a typing experience that is often slightly superior to Logitech and Razer’s best low profile offerings.
They also listen to customer feedback and are constantly iterating and improving on their products which are both highly respected and a rarity in today’s world.
Their models are used by some of the biggest YouTubers and tech reviewers out there and so if they’re good enough for them, odds are, they’ll be good enough for everyone else as well.
Yet another relatively unknown company that has numerous exceptional keyboards to offer, two of which have sort of carved out a niche for themselves.
They’re not any better or worse than those from Keychron, but they do offer a few unique bells and whistles and have a very peculiar color palette as well.
If you’re after a low profile mechanical keyboard that’ll allow you to stand out from the crowd, look no further.
An “oldie but a goodie.” The G915 might not be the best low profile option out there, but if you’re already a part of Logitech’s “ecosystem,” it might be worth the look.
It’s a “safe” pick, all things considered, but it’s also astonishingly expensive — and, one could argue, is not worth the asking price.
A more “souped up” version of the G915. It has better build quality, a more appropriate USB-C connection, optical low profile switches, ever so slightly better keycaps (still ABS, unfortunately), but also worse battery life. And it, too, is as obscenely expensive as it gets.
A low profile mechanical keyboard geared towards productivity. Nothing more, nothing less.
It comes in two different form factors (and colors), has multiple connectivity options, and is a very well-rounded option for those looking to work on multiple systems and/or devices.
It’s not as well-built as you’d expect given its price tag, but it’s not particularly egregious in that regard either.
Creator Board from Work Louder
If you’re after a truly unique piece of tech (one that is independently made, no less), the Creator Board from Work Louder stands out in all the right ways.
At its heart, it is a 40% low profile ortholinear keyboard with a truly unique layout and more rotary knobs and programmable keys than you can shake a stick at.
Typing on it will surely feel weird for a while, but if you can master its quirky design and layout, your creative workflow will no doubt reap the rewards (and then some).
It’s mighty expensive, though, so it’s more of a showpiece and a conversation starter than anything else. Still, for those who spare no expense on their tools and peripherals, it might be worth a look.
Low Profile vs. Regular Mechanical Keyboards — Which Ones Are Right For You?
Let’s distill it all down to just a few straightforward bullet points — a TL;DR, if you will:
Buy a Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard If:
- You want something that’s light, portable, and compact
- You want a keyboard that can easily connect to your phone and/or tablet and are on the lookout for an enjoyable typing experience while you’re out and about
- You don’t have the need to fine-tune your peripherals all that much
- You want a keyboard that has multi-device support
- You want as many connectivity options as possible: wired, wireless, and Bluetooth
- You want an ergonomic keyboard that won’t put too much strain on your wrists
- You want the looks of a membrane keyboard but not the shallow typing experience that it offers
Buy a “Regular” Mechanical Keyboard If:
- You want a keyboard that’ll grow alongside you and your workflow
- You want the ultimate typing experience
- You want an eclectic palette of options to choose from
- You want a keyboard that you’ll be able to tweak and tune in a myriad of different ways. Regular mechanical keyboards are in a league of their own when it comes to the sheer number of options and ways in which you can customize their look and feel
- You don’t want to spend a small fortune on your peripherals. You can spend a ton of money on a custom mechanical keyboard but you don’t have to in order to get the essential experience
Let’s go over a few potential questions you might have regarding this particular topic:
Are Low Profile Switches Better Than Regular Ones?
It’s all subjective. The vast majority of people would probably respond to this question with a resounding “no,” and, well, it’s easy to understand why.
Still, low profile mechanical keyboards exist for a reason, and there sure is a small (but relatively vocal) minority that’s totally enamored with them. Something for everyone, as they say!
Are Low Profile Mechanical Keyboards Worth It?
Not really. They’re a niche product that doesn’t sell in high volumes which, in part, is why they’re priced so highly.
Some companies like Keychron and NuPhy aren’t too egregious in that regard but the same cannot be said for the likes of Logitech and Razer.
If you have the money to spare and really want a low profile keyboard — one that is imbued with mechanical switches — then there’s really no reason for you not to make the investment.
They’re great products overall and are much more versatile than people give them credit for, with their multi-device support and numerous connectivity options.
Are Low Profile Mechanical Keyboards Good for Gaming?
Some of them are, but not all. Certain models (like the Streak65 LP from Fnatic, for instance), feature extremely fast low profile (linear) switches that could, by all means, serve as a boon to your gaming endeavors.
That being said, regular mechanical keyboards are still the better option, especially from a value perspective.
There are simply more options to choose from as opposed to the fairly meager offerings that exist in the low profile segment of the market.
Are Low Profile Mechanical Keyboards Good for Typing?
That really depends on what kind of typist you are and what kind of typing experience you enjoy the most.
Some folks actually prefer membrane keyboards — despite their shallow, often spongy nature. Others, however, cannot even fathom typing on such peripherals.
One thing’s for certain: low profile mechanical keyboards offer a more ergonomic user experience because of their slimness.
There’s no need for a wrist rest whatsoever. And the switches themselves are great as well. Maybe not as great as regular ones, but they’re not that far off either.
It all depends on personal preference.
Some folks don’t have any issue typing out entire novels on a laptop keyboard. Others can’t even begin typing without first creating the right kind of set-up. It’s all a matter of taste so there’s really no use in talking about it.
Over to You
Have you tried typing on a low profile mechanical keyboard and, if so, what was that experience like? Let us know in the comment section down below and, in case you need any help, head over to our forum and ask away!