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What are low-profile mechanical keyboards?
The difference between regular mechanical keyboards and low-profile mechanical keyboards is the actuation point and the key travel distance. Low profile mechanical keyboards use low profile switches with short key travel distance and actuation point, making typing fast and providing excellent response while gaming. Low profile switches allow the keyboard to have a slimmer and attractive design than regular keyboards.
If you don’t know much about keyboards and the technical terms you often see, such as actuation force, actuation point, key travel, macro keys, key stems, etc. We have explained all of them under the buying guide, so make sure you read and understand these terms’ meanings before making a purchase.
We have reviewed the five best models: Inexpensive, Mid-tier, High-end, Tenkeyless, and 60% low profile mechanical keyboards.
Havit HV-KB395L – Inexpensive Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
Havit HV-KB395L is an ultra-thin mechanical keyboard that uses Kailh’s PG1350 low-profile switches. It features excellent RGB lighting, and performance is better than any other mechanical keyboard in this price range. The HV-KB395L is the 104-key version, and you can also get the 87-key variant (without the number pad), which is slightly cheaper.
Design and Features
The Havit HV-KB395L measures 16.77 x 4.96 x 0.9 inches (LxWxH). The keyboard is thin; its keys have no surroundings, making the keyboard easier to clean, and RGB lights also look excellent. The top plate has a chrome edge around it, and Havits’ logo can be seen above the arrow keys. As mentioned earlier, it has a default 104 keyboard layout with the FN key and its keycaps have 7mm less thickness than traditional mechanical keyboards.
Like most keycaps, they are also made of ABS plastic, and they use clip-on stems instead of Cherry MX stems. Its low profile blue Kailh switches have a height of 11.5 mm, keystroke distance is 3.0mm, and the required actuation force is 45GF, which is excellent. It also features anti-ghosting keys technology that we have explained below the buying guide.
On the bottom, HV-KB395L has two feet and a sticker with model information. It features a detachable cable that connects to a micro-USB connector, which is located at the rear center of the board.
|Switch type||Kailh Blue PG1350|
|Dimensions||16.77 x 4.96 x 0.9 inches (LxWxH)|
- Plug and play
- Ultra-thin profile
- Detachable cable
- Excellent typing experience
- No media keys
Cooler Master SK650 – Cherry MX Low Profile Switches
The Cooler Master SK650 is a chiclet-style keyboard; it features Cherry MX Red switches with short key travel distance, which provides a smooth experience. The keyboard is good for gaming and regular stuff, but its keys are a bit cramped, so you might experience frequent accidental clicks if you are not used to the design.
If you like chiclet-style keyboards with less space between the keys, the SK650 is an excellent choice, but if you like regular mechanical keyboards with good key spacing, the Corsair K70 MK.2 can be a good pick.
Design and Features
The keyboard has a brushed aluminum base and plastic bottom, its dimensions are 17.05 x 4.94 x 1.17 inches (LxWxH) and weighs 629g. The keys are 16.5 mm wide, and the space between keys is 2 mm, which is way less than standard mechanical keyboards. The keycaps have easy to read font, and above the number pad, you’ll see three indicators for num lock, caps lock, and scroll lock.
It comes with a 1.8-meter Type-C to Type-A detachable braided cable. On the bottom, the SK650 has four small, not adjustable feet, Cooler Maters’ logo in the center, and some certification markings below the logo.
|Keyboard Polling Rate||1000Hz|
|Switch type||Cherry MX Low Profile|
|Dimensions||17.05 x 4.94 x 1.17 inches (LxWxH)|
- Smooth keys
- Sleek design
- Detachable cable
- No software required
- Attractive lighting effects
- No adjustable feet
Logitech G815 RGB – Advanced Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
The Logitech G815 is a high-end low-profile mechanical keyboard that features Logitech’s GL switches with linear, tactile, and clicky options. It has attractive RGB lighting and offers a ton of customizations using Logitech’s software. The keyboard is specially designed for gaming, but it is perfect for typing and day-to-day use too.
Design and Features
The G815 is the wired version of the G915; both models have similar designs and build quality. The G815 measures 20.1 x 9.4 x 2.2 inches (LxWxH), its frame is made of high-quality grey metal, and the keycaps are made of ABS plastic. The material is fingerprint resistant and non-reflective; thus, the RGB underglow looks fantastic.
It features media keys and a volume wheel on the top right and also has dedicated macro keys. As mentioned before, the G815 uses Logitech’s GL switches with short key travel, which feel excellent. The keyboard has average ergonomics, and you will not need a wrist rest because of its profile.
|Switch type||Logitech’s GL switches with linear, tactile, clicky options|
|Dimensions||20.1 x 9.4 x 2.2 inches (LxWxH)|
- Premium sleek design
- Excellent key response
- Software for customizing lighting and for macros
- Quite expensive
Keychron K1 – Tenkeyless (TKL) Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
The keychron K1 is a wireless tenkeyless mechanical keyboard that can connect with three devices at the same time. It provides the best of both laptop and mechanical keyboards. The keyboard is often compared to Apple’s MacBook and Magic Keyboards because it’s primarily designed for Apple users, but it also supports other operating systems.
Design and Features
The Keychron K1 has an aluminum frame and measures 16.85 x 5.83 x 1.18 inches (LxWxH). It features Fraly low-profile Gateron Blue switches with short key travel, its keycaps are flat, and it also includes keycaps for Mac and Windows which you can swap easily. There are also mac function keys and a dedicated Siri key for Apple users.
On the back, the keyboard has Bluetooth to Wired, Mac/iOS, and Windows/Android switches. It has a Lithium-Polymer rechargeable battery that can last 37-38 hours with RGB lights on, which is pretty good. It comes with a USB Type-C for charging the built-in battery and for wired use.
|Switch type||Fraly low-profile Gateron Blue switches|
|Dimensions||16.85 x 5.83 x 1.18 inches (LxWxH)|
- Fantastic build quality
- Impressive compact design
- Automatically shuts off after 10 minutes on idle (This feature can be disabled)
- Switches are loud
Cooler Master SK621 (wireless) – 60% Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
The Cooler Master SK621 has a compact 60-per cent key layout, and it features Bluetooth that allows you to use it with or without the cable. The SK621 uses low profile Cherry MX switches and has software support for customizing RGB and setting Macros.
Design and Features
The Cooler Master SK621 measures 12.48 x 4.72 x 2.36 inches (LxWxH) and weighs 424g. The keyboard does not take too much desk space, and its compact design allows you to carry it wherever you go. It features floating keycaps, impressive RGB lighting, and a brushed aluminum top plate with a golden trim around the chassis, which gives it a premium look.
It also comes with a braided USB Type-C cable for wired use and charging. The typing and gaming experience is fantastic; the low profile Cherry MX switches feel satisfying. If you are into chiclet-style keycaps, the SK621 will not disappoint you.
|Keyboard Polling Rate||1000Hz|
|Switch type||Cherry MX Red Low Profile switches|
|Dimensions||12.48 x 4.72 x 2.36 inches (LxWxH)|
- Excellent performance
- Wired or wireless (Bluetooth)
- High build quality and attractive design
- No adjustable feet
Buying Guide For Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
Everything you need to know before purchasing a low profile mechanical keyboard has been mentioned in this buying guide, so make sure you read the complete guide.
Things to Consider When Buying a Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
Build quality: You should look for a keyboard with a metal or sturdy plastic frame with high-quality switches and keycaps; cheap plastic keyboards might feel hollow while typing, which can ruin your experience.
Keycaps: Most keycaps are made of ABS plastic, which is strong plastic, but it can become shiny over time. PBT keycaps are stronger and more durable, and they do not develop a smooth effect like ABS keycaps. PBT keycaps are less common, so you can also choose ABS keycaps, but if you have the option to choose, PBT keycaps should be your choice.
White backlight or RGB: It’s essential to have at least white backlight because it helps you type in the dark. You can also choose an RGB keyboard with customizability through software so you can set lighting effects or program the RGB lighting to display white color when colorful RGB is not required.
Removable cable: Removable USB cable is easy to replace when it stops working, and you can detach it and carry it in a pouch while traveling.
Customization options: Advanced mechanical keyboards allow you to switch between Windows and Mac key layouts, disable Windows key, reassign keys to change their default action, program macros, customize RGB lights, and more. You should consider these features so you can customize the keyboard for creating the best user experience.
Onboard memory: If you like customizing your keyboard, the keyboard onboard memory will help you save time by remembering your profile every time you connect your keyboard to a new device.
Key response time: Key response is one of the most important factors; it does impact your gaming and typing experience, but if you are spending more than $100, the keyboard is most likely to have a fast key response time.
Keyboards come in multiple sizes with different key layouts. All of them have pros and cons; it’s up to you which size suits you the most.
Full-size (100%): There are three main full-size keyboard layouts: ANSI (USA), ISO (EU), and JIS (Japan). They come in 104, 105, and 108 keys. They have a horizontal number pad on the right side, F keys on top, and alphanumerics. They have all the keys you’d need, but they are bigger, so if you don’t need a dedicated number pad, you can buy a small keyboard that takes less desk space.
Tenkeyless (TKL): Tenkeyless keyboards are pretty popular for their compact design; they have everything you see on a full-size keyboard except the dedicated number pad. That’s why they are called tenkeyless. They have 87 or 88 keys, and the layout can be seen on almost every laptop. They’re pretty popular among gamers too and are being manufactured by top brands such as Razer and Logitech.
60%: keyboards don’t have a dedicated number pad and function keys row, which allow them to have a more compact design than TKL keyboards. The function keys can be used by pressing the (Fn) key with number keys, for example (Fn + 5 = F5).
Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard Switch Types
There are three main switch types with different characteristics and are manufactured by dozens of companies. The same keyboard model can have two or more switch options, so make sure you check the switch type before ordering.
Which mechanical switch should I choose?
Linear switches: are silent switches with smooth feeling and do not provide feedback on actuation.
Tactile switches: provide tactile feedback as soon as the keyboard registers the click, so you don’t need to press the keys to their full depth.
Clicky switches: provide a clicky sound with a gentle bump when pressed.
Terms Related to Keyboard keys & Switches
Reading an in-depth keyboard review without knowing what those technical terms mean is pointless. If you are looking for the perfect keyboard, you need to know the meanings of each term you read, so you can find the model which meets your requirements.
Here are some important keyboard terms:
What is the key travel distance?
The total distance a key moves from top to bottom on every keystroke is called the key travel distance.
What is Actuation Point?
Key travel distance and actuation point are two different things, so don’t get confused. As mentioned, key travel is the distance keys move from top to bottom, and the actuation point is the point where the keyboard recognizes keypress and registers it; mechanical switches usually have a short actuation point, so your clicks get registered before the key hits the surface.
What is Actuation Force?
The required force to register the keystroke is the actuation force. Some switches have high, and some have a low actuation force. The force is usually measured in gram-force (gf) or Centinewton (cN).
What does “Bottom Out” mean?
Most mechanical switch types have a short actuation point, which allows you to stop pressing the key before it hits the bottom. But it’s hard to take advantage of this if your keyboard uses switches with no sound; thus, you have to press the keys to their full depth. The process of pressing the key until it touches the bottom is called bottom out.
What are keyboard macros?
Macros are like shortcuts; they are used to perform multiple instructions with one keystroke; some keyboards feature dedicated macro keys that can be programmed using the keyboard software.
What are switch stems?
The colored plastic part that connects the switch to the keycap is called a switch or key stem.
What are switch stabilizers?
Bigger keys such as the spacebar, backspace, enter and shift keys have stabilizers (stabs) for reducing key wobbling when pressed.
What are the media keys?
Media keys are dedicated keys for controlling volume, play or pause, mute audio, and so on. Most full-size keyboards feature media keys, and some models allow customizability using the software.
What are floating keycaps?
The keys with visible switches under the keycaps are called floating keycaps.
What does anti-ghosting keys mean?
Keyboards without anti-ghosting technology don’t register the clicks when multiple keys are pressed together. The anti-ghosting technology lets the keyboard register simultaneous clicks. This feature is usually for gamers and is not required for casual use.
Frequently asked question
Q. Are low profile keyboards better?
A. It’s an aesthetic choice for some people, and for some people, a low-profile keyboard means comfort. Which is true; low-profile keyboards have a slimmer base, which minimizes strain so it can be more comfortable to type on a low profile mechanical keyboard than a regular mechanical keyboard.
Q. Do I need to buy a wrist rest along with a keyboard?
A. If you are buying a low-profile keyboard, you will not need a wrist rest because the base and keys are already too close to the surface. Some low-profile keyboards come with built-in wrist rests so you can purchase them if wrist rest is important for you, but for most people, it’s not required.
Q. Do these keyboards work on macOS?
A. Most of the models are compatible with multiple operating systems, and some models are primarily designed for MAC users. But still, you should check OS compatibility before purchasing the keyboard.
- Avram Piltch, Cooler Master SK630 / SK650 Keyboards Review, Tom’s Hardware.