Keychron Q1 evaluation: A customized keyboard that can final for years

Keychron Q1 review: A personalized keyboard that will last for

Keychron Q1 evaluation: A customized keyboard that can final for years

MSRP $169.00

“The Keychron Q1 mechanical keyboard is as customizable as you need it to be, with loads of choices to personalize your typing expertise and make it last more, and for a worth that is much like non-customizable fashions.”

Execs

Vary of customizable components

Aluminum case is sturdy

Works with Mac and Home windows

Key mapping software program compatibility

Cons

No Bluetooth

No peak or angle adjustment

The Keychron Q1 is a customizable mechanical keyboard that’s a step up from the model’s common mechanical keyboards. It gives a tailor-made typing expertise for the connoisseur, full with hot-swappable sockets for various switches and assist for open-source key-mapping software program. At first look, it appears very difficult and that you must be a keyboard skilled to get the very best from it.

My day by day use keyboard is often a Keychron K2V2, and I’ve lengthy thought-about it to be the very best keyboard to go well with my wants. Would stepping as much as the Q1 change that, and is having the choice of customization actually definitely worth the effort? One other key query: Is it accessible to every kind of customers? I’ve been typing on it for greater than per week, and I’ve been delighted by the expertise thus far.

Design

Keychron Q1 mechanical keyboard.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

The Keychron Q1’s prime and backside case is made out of CNC-machined aluminum, and the 327mm-long physique homes a 75% keyboard. It’s designed to be custom-made and to have new switches put in — both Three-pin or 5-pin — on the PCB, which doesn’t require any soldering. It’s may be ordered both pre-built, or as a “bare-bones” package prepared so that you can make your self. together with your selection of keycaps, switches, gaskets, and sound deadening.

My evaluation model got here preassembled with Gateron Brown switches and Keychron’s personal ABS plastic keycaps. The ultimate component of customization comes with the choice of including a emblem of your selection within the prime right-hand nook of the keyboard. Keychron positioned the Digital Tendencies emblem on this one, and it appears to be like nice (see under). The modification prices $30 and can clearly prolong the supply time ought to you choose it.

The Q1 is a severely weighty piece of package, which together with very grippy rubber ft, stops it from shifting round on the desk. Regardless of not having any technique to change the peak or angle, I discovered it was good for snug and fast typing with out fatigue, however that received’t be the case for everybody, and I’m shocked Keychron hasn’t offered any adjustment in such a customizable package deal. You possibly can order the keyboard in black, blue, or a smart-looking grey.

Close-up of the Keychron Q1 keys.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

I just like the delicate design that doesn’t scream “gaming keyboard” like many mechanical choices, and as an alternative will have a look at dwelling on any desk, no matter whether or not you’re gaming or engaged on it. The south-facing RGB lights are extra noticeable than on my K2V2, and it’s straightforward to alter the fashion by urgent the perform and Q keys on the similar time. If you change the switches, the bottom RGB colour additionally alters, and you’ll see the improved pink impact through the Gateron Pink switches in our photographs.

If a keyboard is made for use for typing all day and never gaming, design isn’t centered on by the producer, and a keyboard turns into only a keyboard, and the design is what it’s. Not so with the Keychron Q1, as a result of in the event you don’t just like the keycap colour mixture in our photographs, you’ll be able to customise it and make it fully your personal. The identical goes for the case colour, the little emblem, and the general typing expertise.

Connection and software program

The keyboard is hooked up to your laptop utilizing a thick, braided, very high-quality USB Kind-C to Kind-C cable, full with an aviator-style socket within the center to allow totally different connections. There’s a curly part within the center for aesthetic functions solely. A USB Kind-C to Kind-A adapter is included within the field, together with a collection of instruments to alter the switches, stabilizers, and keycaps on the keyboard.

Windows and Mac switch on the Keychron Q1.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Keychron Q1 aviator-style connector.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Special order logo option on the Keychron Q1.

Non-compulsory emblem on the Keychron Q1 Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

RGB lighting effect on the Keychron Q1.

RGB lighting impact with the Gateron Pink switches

When connected, there’s a change on the again of the keyboard to specify use with both Mac or Home windows. The Keychron Q1 doesn’t have Bluetooth, so it will probably’t be used wirelessly together with your laptop, or linked to an Apple iPad or different pill. That’s Okay because it’s not appropriate to be used whenever you’re out and about anyway, because it’s too heavy to hold round.

Keychron advertises the Q1 as being suitable with QMK key remapping software program for Home windows and Through software program for Mac. Nonetheless, Through wouldn’t set up on my Apple Mac Mini M1 with Huge Sur, and the Through web site isn’t the friendliest in the event you’re not conversant in putting in software program outdoors of the Mac App Retailer. Once I requested about this, Keychron indicated the software program ought to work with out a downside on my machine, so it could be an remoted situation.

I just like the delicate design that doesn’t scream “gaming keyboard” like many mechanical choices.

Earlier than the primary use on my Mac, the system required a number of particular keypresses for it to acknowledge the Q1, however outdoors of that, there was no setup wanted. I’ve no actual want for the remapping or macro instruments offered by Through, so the actual fact it didn’t work wasn’t a problem, and the keyboard has operated with out fault. Nonetheless, in the event you do want customized settings and use a Mac, it’s possible you’ll want some persistence or a deeper understanding of the way to set up non-App Retailer software program to get them.

Typing

Typing on the Keychron Q1 mechanical keyboard.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Coming from the Keychron K2V2, the Keychron Q1 was noticeably quieter when typing, regardless of me utilizing Gateron Brown switches on each. The sound deadening contained in the case does an important job, but it surely does sound somewhat hole, one thing Keychron is conscious of and addressing with the choice for extra sound deadening foam so that you can add if wanted. The gasket mounts present loads of spring and provides when urgent the keys, and Keychron says the gaskets allow 2.5mm of journey. If you would like extra sound from the Q1, you’ll be able to change the switches to the extra clicky Gateron Blue variations.

The mannequin I’m reviewing comes with an ANSI format and never my most popular ISO fashion, the place the Enter secret is a lot bigger. This meant the keyboard took a short time to get used to, as my little finger would faucet each the Enter and the Shift key when typing shortly. Now that I’m extra used to it, my typing velocity and accuracy is similar because it was on the Keychron K2V2, suggesting that in the event you’re used to a mechanical keyboard already, you received’t have any hassle adjusting to the Q1.

The usual ABS key caps really feel to be of upper high quality than those on the Keychron K2V2, with a much less plasticky under-your-finger texture and a snug indentation. Nonetheless, I swapped the keycaps to a special set made out of Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) which have an excellent higher really feel, and may resist fading and shine for longer, too. Keychron sells PBT keycap packages for $40, making them fairly costly, but it surely’s a worthwhile improve for the higher really feel and elevated sturdiness.

Switches on the Keyboard Q1.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

It takes lower than 30 minutes to swap all of the keycaps over utilizing the equipped instrument, however longer to do the switches. It’s not a troublesome job, as a “puller” instrument is included within the field. Nonetheless, you do want persistence because it’s a time-consuming and typically painful course of as a result of it takes loads of effort to interrupt the switches freed from the PCB. I swapped the Gateron Brown switches to a set of Gateron Pink switches, which took about 45 minutes. As a result of the switches require some power to take away, it’s all too straightforward to scratch the aluminum of the chassis when doing so, however this may’t be seen as soon as it’s all again collectively. I might not wish to change the switches frequently, however having the choice to take action is a substantial profit.

Why? Experimentation, as a result of pleasurable typing is a surprisingly particular person factor. The texture of the Pink switches surpasses the Brown switches for me, permitting me to sort even quicker and extra exactly, one thing I wasn’t conscious of till taking part in round with the customizable Q1. Usually, there’s a beautiful solidity to the typing expertise on the Q1, particularly when in comparison with the plastic-bodied K2V2. Every keypress has a lovely quantity of damping, is nowhere close to as loud, and but nonetheless feels very satisfying. The Brown switches right here require extra power to satisfyingly activate in comparison with the Brown ones fitted to the K2V2, apparently.

Keychron Q1 and alternative keycaps and switches.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Regardless of attempting a number of totally different mechanical keyboards lately — the Keychron K3, and the Azio Izo, for instance — I’ve at all times returned to the Keychron K2V2. I don’t count on to do that with the Q1. The solidity offered by the metallic physique, the superb Gateron Pink switches that I’ve frolicked putting in, the quieter sound (I report interviews, and listening to the clatter of the K2V2 keyboard throughout them after I take fast notes may be very annoying), and that I appear to be a greater and quicker typist utilizing it’ll preserve it on my desk.

All this discovery was actually enabled by the Q1’s flexibility, which extends far additional than my data and desires go, making this a superb selection for the novice and skilled fanatic alike.

Value and availability

The Keychron Q1 is out there to pre-order now, with transport anticipated to begin round September 15. Totally assembled in any of the three colours, the Q1 prices $169, though it is a particular supply worth in line with the net retailer, and the associated fee might rise to $179 at any time. The bare-bones variations usually are not accessible to order on the time of writing, and shall be accessible shortly after the absolutely assembled model’s launch.

Our take

The advantages of customization have been somewhat misplaced on me earlier than I frolicked (various time, really) swapping between switches and keycaps on the Keychron Q1, then evaluating the typing expertise to my Keychron K2V2. Having settled on the keycaps and switches that felt greatest for me, it’s clear that there’s a great keyboard setup for everybody, and the advantages are apparent whenever you get it proper. Understanding and discovering your ultimate setup will come by trial and error, however having a keyboard just like the Q1 minimizes the ache and expense, and it’ll subsequently final for years in the event you’re keen to put money into it.

Understanding I can change all of the elements once more at any time, and likewise go deeper into the customization by including foam sound deadening (or eradicating it) and altering the stabilizers and gaskets as nicely, means the keyboard is genuinely future-proofed. It’s a keyboard that may develop with you, or just keep as it’s, for not much more cash than a non-customizable mechanical mannequin.

I’m a relative newcomer to mechanical keyboards, however have been bought on the idea since swapping to 1. The Q1 isn’t just for lovers eager to create their very own “final” keyboard, however for these like me who need a high-quality, extraordinarily strong mechanical keyboard for work that basically fits my fashion and preferences, with out the necessity to purchase a completely new keyboard if something alters or breaks.

Is there a greater different?

The Superb GMMK Professional is the Q1’s direct competitor, and it’s one other aluminum, extremely customizable mechanical keyboard with a 75% dimension. It prices the identical and has a rotary knob for media management, however doesn’t assist Through remapping software program, solely QMK for Home windows.

For those who aren’t frightened concerning the customization, we suggest the Corsair Straife RGB Mk.2 mechanical keyboard, which can also be round $160 and gives an important expertise when each working and gaming. You may as well take a look at our intensive roundup of the very best mechanical keyboards or the very best keyboards normally in the event you’re in search of different decisions.

How lengthy will it final?

The aluminum case and modularity of the parts means there’s an entire lot of life within the Keychron Q1, until you spill one thing throughout it, because it’s not water resistant. Keychron gives a 12-month guarantee, however within the case of the Q1 will change the faulty elements slightly than the complete package deal.

Do you have to purchase one?

Sure. It’s an absolute pleasure to sort on, and the intensive customization choices imply it’ll final for years.

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