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To choose the best hot-swappable keyboards you’ll want to find the model that fits your typing needs and aesthetic preferences. For those who prefer clicky switches with noticeable effort and great tactile feedback, a mechanical keyboard is definitely the way to go, and a hot-swappable mechanical keyboard gives you the extra freedom to hot-swap switches without having to solder anything. We recommend looking for a mechanical keyboard with great build quality and a solid, sturdy frame. Other than these basic qualities, the key features will depend on individual users’ needs. Some may look for lighting effects like RGB backlighting, while some enthusiasts demand a keyboard with fully programmable keys. You might also want a comfortable layout and ergonomic design.
After analyzing hundreds of reviews amongst a large array of products with different price tags and key features, we’ve found that the Drop CTRL is our top pick. Keep reading about this and our other top picks to learn more about some of the best keyboards on the market today.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This hot-swappable keyboard has great aesthetics and solid build quality, while its stock halo true switches offer a smooth, engaging typing experience and help boost typing speed thanks to their light preload and precise tactile feel.
This mechanical hot-swappable gaming keyboard uses a compact yet convenient 87-key layout to save space while still offering arrow keys and a full set of F keys. It uses a solid built-in switch plate to minimize unwanted wobble, giving you a solid, precise typing experience. This version comes standard with halo true switches. For those who like to customize their keyboards, it’s compatible with Cherry MX and Kalih switches as well. But are these cherry switches the quietest?
One of the best-looking keyboards out there, it has a minimalist, classic design without cheesy graphics or extraneous styling touches. It uses shine-through double shot PBT keycaps with easy-to-read legends and users can adjust the lighting for each key. Magnetic adjustable feet help add comfort for a more ergonomic typing experience. The best chiclet keyboard also features adjustable feet for typing comfort. Also, if you’re looking for a keyboard that will keep you in a comfortable natural position, then check out the best ergonomic keyboards.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This combination wired/ wireless hot-swappable mechanical keyboard stands out with its compact 65 percent form factor and a clean look, plus a high-quality metal frame, excellent battery life, and full Mac OS compatibility make this a great on-the-go keyboard for nearly any task imaginable.
If you’re looking for the best wireless hot-swappable keyboard, this model is definitely worth considering. It offers a clean and classic design, ergonomic concave keys, and full Mac OS compatibility. It also feels great to type on, and its compact, 68-key layout saves desk space while preserving the arrow keys. The standard switches are Gateron browns, and swapping them out takes just 5 seconds or so, making it easy to go to linear switches or more clicky Blue switches depending on your preference. Additionally, if you have other preferences for specific smart features on a keyboard, then have a look at some of the best Android keyboards.
The Keychron K6 hot-swappable keyboard connects via Bluetooth 5.1 or can be set up as a wired keyboard using the included USB-C cable. It also comes with gamer-friendly features like an N-key rollover in wired mode (or 6-key in Bluetooth) and programmable function keys. This is comparable to the best gaming keyboard that also offers full N-key rollover, 100% anti-ghosting, and true individual key RGB backlighting.
Award: BEST SPLASH-RESISTANCE
WHY WE LIKE IT: This highly programmable compact 60 percent keyboard features a dust and water-resistant hot-swappable mainboard plus PBT keycaps for long-lasting durability.
This enthusiast keyboard comes with hot-swappable switches and high-quality PBT keycaps with thermal sublimation printed letters. It’s also aesthetically pleasing with its compact design, RGB backlighting, and contrasting color keycaps that effectively mix form with function.
The stock switches are of the Gateron optical variety, which offers very fast input response and light finger effort. A different typing feel is just a hot-swap away, however, and you can use linear black or clicky blue switches instead if you prefer. The keyboard has internal flash memory and supports up to three user-defined profiles. It’s also compatible with Mac OS. Another model that is compatible across all major operating systems is the best quiet keyboard.
Award: BEST DURABILITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This hot-swappable keyboard has a solid, high-quality feel thanks to its metal frame and secure built-in switch plate. A compact 67-key layout helps save desk space, while halo true switches offer a smooth, engaging typing experience and help boost typing speed with spring action and a light preload.
This USB-C mechanical gaming keyboard uses a convenient 67-key layout to save space while maintaining all the essential functions. It uses high-profile shine-through double shot PBT keycaps that have nice-looking, classic legends. It also features RGB lighting with underlighting effects, and users can adjust the lighting for each key.
A lightweight but strong aluminum frame and magnetic detachable feet help add comfort and a feeling of stability for confident fast typing, great for the typist and dedicated gamer alike. But, compare aluminum vs polycarbonate keyboard cases first before you get this one. Other notable features include full N-key rollover and anti-ghosting. Compare this with the best membrane keyboard that has robust anti-ghosting so you don’t miss any keystrokes.
Award: BEST LIGHTING EFFECTS
WHY WE LIKE IT: With its translucent shine-through glazed top panel, this hot-swappable tenkeyless keyboard is great for gamers and keyboard enthusiasts looking for a unique keyboard that stands out visually and also performs well.
This wired, hot-swappable mechanical gaming keyboard has a great tactile feel along with a unique visual presence thanks to its unique translucent glazed construction and programmable lighting effects. It uses a compact 87-key layout and connects via a detachable USB-C cable. You’ll have to look elsewhere, however, if you’re looking for a wireless keyboard or a number pad.
The hot-swappable switches are a great bonus for keyboard and typing cognoscenti, allowing you to swap in your choice of mechanical switch. Gateron quiet switches are standard. This high-end quiet keyboard is also relatively portable thanks to its detachable USB cable. Another portable option is the best wireless keyboard that has a minimalistic look and offers USB-C wired or Bluetooth wireless keyboard functionality.
Award: BEST CUSTOMIZABLE DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: This tenkeyless mechanical keyboard comes with a switch puller tool and keycap puller tool, plus the flexibility to accept Cherry, Gateron, or Kalih brand mechanical switches, making keyboard customization easier than ever.
If you enjoy customizing your keyboards and want to try out different switch types, or mix and match switch types on the same keyboard, this Gmmk TKL hot-swappable keyboard makes it easier than ever to do so. It even comes with a switch puller tool and a keycap puller tool. With the gamer and fast typist in mind, this modular high-end mechanical keyboard also features anti-ghosting technology and an N-key rollover so you don’t miss any clicks. Its convenient 87-key layout offers a full set of function keys and maintains a compact form. This is more convenient than a great 60 mechanical keyboard. It offers programmable RGB lighting with up to 16.8 million colors and connects via a USB-C cable. Compare this to the true individual key RGB backlighting on the best keyboard for programming.
Award: BEST QUIETNESS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This mechanical keyboard offers a fast key response along with low noise thanks to its optical switches. It also has programmable RGB lighting with the ability to save up to three user profiles.
Designed for both gaming and productivity, this versatile hot-swappable keyboard comes stock with very fast Gateron Optical Brown switches. Users can swap them out with different optical switches if desired, though the board isn’t compatible with traditional mechanical switches. Like many eSports and gaming keyboards, it also has programmable RGB backlighting with dynamic effects.
With built-in memory, this keyboard allows for up to three user profiles, making it easy to save settings and adjust the backlighting. It has anti-ghosting and supports extensive macro recording.100% anti-ghosting is also a feature in the best keyboard for editing, which ensures you don’t miss any inputs when hitting multiple keys at once.
Award: BEST NUMERIC KEYPAD
WHY WE LIKE IT: This keyboard has a rather unique layout that includes a full number pad and arrow keys. Hot-swappable optical switches provide fast input response and a splash-resistant design adds some durability.
This keyboard stands out for its unconventional 71-key layout. It retains a full numeric keypad and arrow keys, but dispenses with F keys, unlike many other tenkeyless keyboards. This is great for those who use the number pad often, but it does render some common commands and punctuation marks less convenient. Of interest to designers, and multimedia users, this keyboard has programmable backlighting with different modes.
This keyboard comes with Gateron Optical Brown switches and is hot-swappable for other optical switches. While some might prefer a more traditional Tenkeyless design, some find that having a number pad really boosts productivity. Solid battery life is also important in boosting productivity, especially while using the best keyboard for designers that can seamlessly cross over among multiple devices.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: This hot-swappable keyboard has the option of wireless 2.4 GHz or a wired USB connection and is a great value at its price point, providing features like programmable macros and N-key rollover.
This versatile mechanical keyboard provides the option of connecting wirelessly with a 2.4 GHz USB receiver dongle or via the included detachable USB cable. It has a convenient tenkeyless 87-key design that retains a full 12 F keys. It also supports gamer-friendly N-key rollover and lets users program macro commands. It has RGB lighting with 8 programmable modes.
It’s compatible with most operating systems and comes stock with tactile brown switches and ABS plastic double-shot keycaps, providing a responsive and pleasant typing feel. The battery isn’t as large as on some wireless mechanical keyboards, but it does have a power-saving mode. Water and dust resistance help make it durable. But, you’ll need to know how to replace keyboard keys in the event something breaks. The best mechanical keyboards for typing are also durable, with a well-built frame and high-quality switches.
Award: BEST VERSATILITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This hot-swappable keyboard comes with an ergonomic concave design and a compact 60% form factor, plus comfortable high profile keys that make it great for typing productivity as well as gaming. It also has the option of connecting via Bluetooth or USB-C.
This compact keyboard stands out for its broad OS compatibility, easy Bluetooth wireless setup, and comfortable, ergonomic design. A concave frame and dished high-profile keycaps make for a more comfortable typing experience than the typical low-profile Bluetooth keyboard provides. With its small size and detachable USB-C cable, this is one of the more portable mechanical keyboards.
The Gateron red switch is standard, offering plenty of feedback. It’s also compatible with popular Cherry MX and other brand mechanical switches. RGB backlighting adds to the already handsome keyboard’s visual appeal. Just like the visually pleasing lights on the best-backlit keyboard. But, if the backlight stops for any reason, you’ll want to know why your keyboard won’t light up and how to fix it.
To choose a keyboard, especially the best hot-swappable keyboards, we looked for models with great typing performance and outstanding build quality. We only considered keyboards that enabled users to quickly hot-swap switches without soldering. A good keycap design was also a must. We looked for keyboards with good durability and stability, preferring those with built-in switch plates and metal frames. Spill and dust resistance was considered a useful bonus.
Aesthetics can be a factor as well when choosing the right hot-swappable keyboard kit, and so we sought keyboards with classic designs and pleasing layouts. RGB backlighting, while not required, earned extra points, s did smudge-proof dye-sub printed keycaps. We included both full-size keyboards and compact keyboards, with extra points awarded to the best hot-swappable keyboard in 60 percent and 75 percent sizes in the interest of saving desk space.
We looked for a mix of wired and wireless keyboards, and we considered conveniences like a detachable USB-C cable a useful bonus as well. We took into account compatibility and ease of setup, preferring plug-and-play keyboards that functioned with Windows, Mac, Chrome, and Linux OS.