Keychron Latest Keyboard: More compact to get Numpad to fix

Keychron’s most delinquent wired mechanical keyboard is the Q5. It utilizes similar construction to the excellent Q1 and Q2 keyboards that have proceeded it, but with a larger layout that includes a Numpad. 

It’s not a traditional full-size keyboard, but the idea with its 1800 layout (aka a 96-percent design) is that it delivers almost all of the keys a user might require while still being relatively compact.

“There’s presently no stock full-metal custom 1800 layout mechanical keyboard on the market,” said Keychron COO Paul Tan. “1800 layout devotes about an inch of space from a full-size keyboard without having to remove many keys.

In addition, it’s the smallest you can go without getting rid of the number pad.” The Keychron Q5 is available as a fully-assembled keyboard for $185, or you can get a “barebones” version without switches or keycaps for $165. Models with programmable volume regulators cost $10 extra.

The specs of the Q5 will be familiar to anyone who’s followed Keychron’s recent forays into premium mechanical keyboards. It’s hot-swappable, meaning you can install or replace its switches without the need for soldering, and its keys are remappable thanks to its QMK firmware.

It includes both Mac and Windows keycaps in the box, and there’s a bodily slider to switch between the two operating systems. The Q5 connects to your machine thru a detachable USB-C cable.

Most importantly, the Keychron Q5 operates similar construction to what made the Q1 and Q2 such delights to type on. Its case is aluminum, and its circuit board uses a so-called gasket-mounted design to give it a small amount of flexibility while typing.

Unfortunately, this design significantly impacts the feel of Keychron’s Q-series boards. In addition, it uses screw-in stabilizers to minimize the rattle from larger keys like the space bar, and included silicon pads are designed to reduce pinging noises while typing.

If you’ve held off on Keychron’s excellent premium mechanical keyboards until now because you can’t give up that traditional Numpad, then the Q5 could be a great entry point.

Keychron’s keyboards work well with macOS systems, featuring Command (?) and Option (?) keys as standard keycaps. However, the keyboards are also compatible with iOS, PC, and Android and are shipped with some PC-style alternate keycaps if needed. 

They have a function key row (or layer, in the case of the smaller K6) that matches the current standard for MacOS media keys and dedicated keys for taking screenshots and summoning Siri or another search engine.

The keyboards can be used either as wired USB Type-C peripherals or Bluetooth to connect to up to three devices. They also feature backlit keys, with either white or RGB LEDs available.

Keychron K1 Keychron’s first product, a low-profile mechanical keyboard initially known as the Keytron, is available in 87-key tenkeyless and 104-key full-size variants. Three versions have been released as of May 2020, with a fourth planned for June 2020. The version 1 and version 2 keyboards were only available with low-profile switches with blue sliders from the brand WM. Still, these were not well-received, as they had a meager activation force and were generally seen as too sensitive. 

The keyboard was available for a while with a redesigned yellow switch. Still, it was eventually changed to use low-profile buttons from Gateron after standard-height Gateron switches were used in the K2.

In addition, the fourth version will change away from the black, flat keycaps of versions 1 through 3 and will use cylindrical keycaps instead, with the light-gray, dark-gray, and red color scheme used on the brand’s other keyboards.

  • Keychron K2 A full-height 75% / tenkeyless keyboard with 84 keys introduced as a Kickstarter project in April 2019. This keyboard has Gateron switches available.
  • Keychron K4 A full-height 96% keyboard with 100 keys. The keyboard can be obtained with Gateron switches or LK optical switches.
  • Keychron K6 A full-height 65% keyboard with 68 keys introduced as a Kickstarter in January 2020. This keyboard has Gateron switches and LK optical switches available as options, and there’s a hot-swappable switch option for boards using Gaterons.
  • Keychron T10 A multifunction USB hub with a USB Type-C host connector and charge port, four USB 3.0 Type-A ports, VGA and HDMI video output, 100 Mbit/s Ethernet, and slots for SD and MicroSD cards.
  • Keycaps and palm rest Alternate keycap sets are available for the K2, K4, and K6 keyboards, along with wooden walnut palm rests for those same models.

Keychron was created in 2017 by a group of keyboard fanatics with extensive keyboard manufacturing experience. The group consists of creators, marketers, and production experts.

The core team member, Will Ye, has nine years of experience in keyboard production and related businesses, and Sven Zhu has ten years of experience in industrial design. They have dedicated themselves to creating the most sophisticated mechanical keyboards with minimalist designs.

They have partnered with a factory with 20 years of experience, producing top-notch keyboards for many well-known keyboard brands. As a result, they can assure you that the Keychron keyboard will never fail you.