Mechanical keyboards are great but once you become hooked there’s the issue of trying as many switches as possible in order to find your favorite. That could grow into an expensive hobby, but here’s where hot-swappable keyboards come to the rescue. Instead of shelling out cash for a new keyboard, just get switches you want to try out and plug them into your current slate.
Hot-swappable keyboards are also great for experienced mechanical keyboard addicts who like to switch between different well, switches, but don’t want to swap the whole keyboard in the process. It’s great having a modular keyboard and be able to swap switches whenever you want. You can even use different switches for different keys, which can be helpful for users who spend most of their work writing.
Luckily, hot-swappable keyboards are available in most form factors so you should be able to find a nice modular keyboard no matter which size you prefer. Also, since most modular keyboard use switches based on the Cherry MX design, they are compatible not only with a large number of different switches but also with most custom keycaps, since those mostly use Cherry MX switch stems.
The modularity, combined with compatibility with a wide range of switches and most aftermarket keycaps makes hot-swappable keyboards perfect for users who want a fully customizable mechanical keyboard. Today, we show you the best hot-swappable keyboards you can buy right now. The list doesn’t include keyboards that are a pain to find and buy, just models that can be easily found online. We have premium and budget models, wireless keyboards, as well as a couple of unique and quite interesting picks. Let’s begin.
Best Hot-Swappable Keyboards – Our Picks
|Best Full-Sized Hot-Swappable Keyboard||Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard|
|Best Hot-Swappable 75% Keyboard||Royal Kludge RK84|
|Best Barebones Hot-Swappable Keyboards||Drop CTRL|
|Best Wireless Hot-Swappable Keyboard||Keychron K6|
|Best 60% Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard||HK Gaming GK61|
|Best TKL Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard||Keychron C1|
|Best Wireless Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard||Velocifire M2 TKL61WS|
|Best Designed Hot-Swappable Keyboards||Epomaker SK61|
|Best Hot-Swappable Keyboard w/ Pressure Sensitive Switches||Wooting One|
Best Full-Sized Hot-Swappable Keyboard
Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||439 × 130 × 36 mm
17.30 x 5.10 x 1.40 inches
|Switch type||Gateron Brown|
There aren’t many full-sized hot-swappable keyboards on the market. 60% and TKL keyboards dominate this niche. But Glorious offers its modular mechanical keyboard in three sizes and one of those is full size. The keyboard features excellent build quality and solid RGB backlighting. ABS keycaps is a negative but at least you can swap them.
This keyboard ships with brown mechanical switches but is compatible with any Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh switches. If you don’t want any preinstalled switches, check out the barebones edition of this keyboard. Just watch the price because the barebones version can be more expensive than the regular one.
Aside from the full-sized version Glorious also offers this keyboard in TKL and 60% for factors so you should be covered no matter your size preference. Another advantage of this keyboard is that Glorious sells a wrist pad for this keyboard, also available in many sizes. If you cannot imagine typing without a wrist pad, this keyboard has got you covered.
Overall, this is an excellent hot-swappable keyboard. It’s not too expensive, offers superb build quality, and is compatible with a huge number of different switches. The RGB backlighting could’ve been brighter and it features ABS keycaps, but you can swap those for some nice PBT ones.
Best Hot-Swappable 75% Keyboard
Royal Kludge RK84
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||315 × 125 × 39 mm
12.4 × 4.9 × 1.5 inches
|Switch type||Tactile Blue|
If you want to get a hot swappable 75% keyboard our vote goes to the RK84 from Royal Kludge. This is a very affordable hot swap keyboard that boasts solid build quality and a choice between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless connection. The 2.4GHz connection is faster and more stable than Bluetooth, which should benefit gamers. Just note that older versions of the keyboard suffer from connection issues so try avoid looking for this keyboard on the used market.
As for the Bluetooth options, you can pair the RK84 with up to three devices at the same time. A pretty handy feature to have. The plastic body is made of two parts, with the frame being removable. This allows users to switch between the regular, and floating keycaps design, which looks sick in dark with RGB on. The RGB backlighting is decent, but nothing more.
The keyboard comes with a 3750mAh battery that should last for about ten days before needing a recharge. The hot swap PCB supports both 3-pin and 5-pin switches. The provided switches are made by Royal Kludge and aren’t on pair with switches from Cherry, Gateron, Kailh, or boutique switches from smaller manufacturers. Stabilizers, on the other hand, are great. Pre-lubed, relatively quiet and better than on the RK84’s main competitor, the Keychron K2 Hot Swappable.
The default keycaps are made of ABS and aren’t of the highest quality. But, for the price, they’re more than decent. Other features include a USB passthrough, with two USB A ports. They only work in wired mode. And when wired, the keyboard uses a detachable USB-C cable. The negatives include the bendy plastic frame, unimpressive default switches, and the aforementioned keycaps.
As for the alternatives, the Keychron K2 Hot Swappable, reviewed by us some time ago, is an excellent choice but it too has disappointing keycaps and it also lacks the 2.4GHz connection. There’s also the Yunzii KC84 that features excellent build quality and high-grade PBT keycaps. That said, the KC84 is pricier than both the RK84 and the K2 Hot Swappable and wired-only (it uses a detachable USB-C cable). And, of course, you can get the talk of the keyboard town other known as the GMMK Pro. The GMMK Pro is a great keyboard, but it’s on the expensive side (compared to other keyboards on this list) and is only available as a barebones kit (no keycaps and switches in the package).
Best Barebones Hot-Swappable Keyboard
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||368 × 140× 44 mm|
|Switch type||Cherry MX, Kailh, or Gateron|
If you want the best barebones modular keyboard, we have the CTRL and ALT from Drop. The first is a TKL hot-swappable keyboard and the other one is a 65% keyboard available in slim and high-profile designs. While not sharing the name and form factor, these two keyboards do share excellent overall quality.
They both feature top-notch built quality with aluminum frame and zero flex. Next, they both feature a slick design that combines black and grey frame and keycaps with RGB backlighting, creating keyboards with a modern industrial design that can fit into almost any setup. The per key RGB backlighting looks superb. It’s bright and features saturated colors that look amazing at night. Drop didn’t save on keycaps, offering double shot PBT keycaps that look and feel exquisite.
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||322 × 112 × 32 mm|
|Switch type||Cherry MX, Kailh, or Gateron|
The two keyboards are compatible with all Cherry MX, Kailh, and Gateron switches which also means that you can use aftermarket keycaps. But keycaps on these are so good that we reckon you won’t swap them. Unless you don’t like the design or the font. Overall, these two are robust and high-quality modular keyboards. They offer amazing RGB backlighting along with premium keycaps and tank-like build quality. The only downside is the price, that reflects the superb quality of the Drop CTRL and ALT keyboards.
Best Wireless Hot-Swappable Keyboard
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||317 × 107 × 37 mm
12.48 × 4.21 × 1.46 inches
|Switch type||Gateron Blue, Brown or Red|
Keychron makes pretty solid wireless mechanical keyboards and the K6 is their modular offering. As with other models from the K lineup, the K6 comes with both Mac and Windows-specific keycaps and it works flawlessly on both operating systems. The aluminum frame feels excellent and the keyboard lets users pick between the RGB and single-color backlighting. The 4000 mAh battery offers up to nine days of usage (without backlighting) and the Bluetooth connectivity is solid but not perfect.
The thing is, you can experience a few moments of lag from time to time. Nothing serious but if you’re a hardcore gamer, it’s better to pick a wired model or use the K6 in wired mode while gaming. The keyboard offers the choice between Gateron blue, red, and brown switches and is compatible with all Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh switches. We would like a barebones version of the keyboard, but you can only get it with preinstalled switches.
We also don’t like the ABS keycaps that come with the keyboard but at least they are shaped in a way that enables seamless typing. Also, you can replace them for PBT keycaps or with transparent keycaps since default ones are dimming the backlighting. Also, the K6 is only available in 65% form factor, you cannot get this one in other sizes.
Overall, the K6 is the best wireless modular keyboard you can get right now. Its wireless performance isn’t perfect, it comes with opaque ABS keycaps that are a poor choice to pair with backlighting. Also, the K6 doesn’t come in the barebones version. But it features superb build quality, its wireless performance is suitable for work (gamers should use it in wired mode), and you can fit it with a wide range of different switches. Also, the K6 looks amazing.
Best 60% Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard
HK Gaming GK61
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||292 × 103 × 40 mm
11.5 × 4.05 × 1.57 inches
|Switch type||Gateron Optical Switches|
For those looking for budget modular keyboards, we have four different picks that cover two popular form factors along with a wireless model. As for a full-sized budget modular keyboard, we’ve found one called Abkoncore 100%, which is a really cheap modular keyboard. But it looks like it uses switches that aren’t compatible with any other popular switches (Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh, Outemu) so we decided to not include the full-sized pick. We start with the GK61, the best 60 percent budget modular keyboard. This keyboard sells for a very competitive price and is available in black and white colors.
As you can expect from a budget keyboard, the build quality isn’t the best on the market. But it’s far from bad. For the price, you will be satisfied with the ruggedness of this keyboard. On the flip side, you get a detachable USB-C cable, IP64 resistance, full RGB backlighting, and pretty good double shot ABS keycaps. Sure, these aren’t PBT but they feel pretty good and should last for years before start to wear down.
The keyboard comes with Gateron optical switches in all colors. These aren’t Cherry MX but they are silky smooth when typing and are even better than regular Chery MX mechanical switches. The con is that you can hot-swap only other Gateron optical switches. No Cherry MX for you. But at least these optical switches feel great. We don’t know if they are as enduring as Cherry MX switches, but they sure feel better. Luckily, the Gateron optical switches use regular stems so you will be able to use aftermarket keycaps.
No barebones version here, which means you have to order a keyboard with preinstalled switches. The GK61 has downsides but for the price, this is an amazing deal. You get RGB backlighting, pretty solid build quality, excellent optical switches, detachable cable, double-shot keycaps, and more for a price of a regular budget mechanical keyboard. A great deal.
Now, the budget market does offer some alternatives. The Asceny One is another 60% keyboard that features a modular design. It also comes with Gateron optical switches and RGB backlighting. But it doesn’t come with a wide range of preinstalled switches as the GK61 and it’s a bit more expensive. But we do like its keycaps better, as well as the overall design. Then there’s the Dierya DK61E that’s cheaper than the regular DK61 and that comes with PBT keycaps. But this one also doesn’t offer as wide a selection of switches as the GK61.
Best TKL Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||357 × 130 × 38 mm
14 × 5.1 × 1.5 inches
|Switch type||Gateron Blue|
The C1 hot-swappable from Keychron is the best budget hot-swap keyboard you can get at the moment. It comes with a five-pin PCB meaning you can use any switches you like. Considering its price, the preinstalled stabilizers are excellent. Pre-lubed, and pretty quiet. The plastic body is completely hollow inside. We recommend removing the plate and the PCB and filling the body with foam or some other noise-soaking material. Despite being made completely out of plastic, the C1 has a pretty decent build quality. There’s some flex, and the keyboard isn’t the heaviest on the market, but the plastic used feels nice to the touch and is also quite durable.
The Keychron C1 is a wired keyboard but the supplied USB-C cable is detachable, which is always a plus. Also, the keyboard supports both Windows and Mac machines, and even comes with a couple of extra Mac-specific keycaps. You’ll find two-level adjustable feet on the bottom, along with nice and non-slippery rubber feet. As for the PCB, it supports both three-pin and five-pin switches, with north-face LEDs (the board is available with white and RGB backlighting). Not great but most keycap sets shouldn’t have issues with north-faced backlighting.
As for the biggest downside of this keyboard, it’s the keycaps. While they feel great when typing and while they look pretty solid, the black ones are very dim with the backlighting turned on. We cannot consider ABS plastic used for keycaps as a downside since the keyboard is very cheap. If you want to save even more money, check out the C1 version without any backlighting.
Best Wireless Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard
Velocifire M2 TKL61WS
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||293 × 103 × 42 mm
11.54 × 4.06 × 1.65 inches
|Switch type||Outemu Brown|
The Velocifire M2 TKL61WS is an excellent budget wireless modular keyboard. It features 60% design along with an RGB backlight and double shot ABS keycaps. The keyboard uses a Bluetooth connection so expect occasional moments of lag. In other words, wireless performance is great for work but when gaming, use the cable.
The 1800 mAh battery is pretty humble so expect about two or three days of usage on one charge. The build quality is great for the price with a thick base plate and almost zero flex. The major downside of this keyboard is that it uses Outemu switches. This means you can swap preinstalled switches (browns) for other Outemu switches but not for Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh switches. If you don’t mind that the Velocifire M2 TKL61WS is a very good keyboard for the price.
Best Designed Hot-Swappable Keyboards
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||295 × 105 × 45 mm|
|Switch type||Gateron Optical Black, Blue, Brown or Red|
Now, if we disregard the fact that there are aftermarket keycaps, the best looking modular keyboards we’ve seen are ones from the SK lineup from Epomaker. No matter if you pick the 60%, 65%, or the compact 75% version, you’re in for a treat. All of these feature various keycap designs that look great. Also, these three keyboards are available both in black and white colors so you can match the color of keycaps and the frame. The build quality is great. These are sturdy keyboards that show very little flex.
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||295 × 105 × 45 mm
11.61 × 4.13 × 1.77 inches
|Switch type||Gateron Optical Black, Blue, Brown or Red|
As for the features, they come with Gateron Optical switches which means no cross-compatibility with Cherry MX, Kailh, and regular Gateron switches. But if you want the best design, these are the keyboards to get. They also feature excellent RGB lighting that shines like a rainbow between the keycaps along as detachable USB-C cable. Also, PBT keycaps feel amazing. Another good news is that these keyboards sell for very competitive prices.
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||316 × 104 × 45 mm
12.44 × 4.09 × 1.77 inches
|Switch type||Gateron Black, Blue, Brown or Red|
Now, if you want something even more original and unique, check out the Womier K87. This is a hot-swappable mechanical keyboard with a translucent base that looks quite interesting. The RGB lighting just shines through it, creating impressive effects. But we reckon the see-through design can be pretty distracting while gaming. On the flip side, it seems that this keyboard’s using regular Gateron switches, not optical. That means it should be compatible with Cherry MX and Kailh switches.
Best Hot-Swappable Keyboard With Pressure Sensitive Switches
|Dimensions (L×W×H)||369 × 161 × 41 mm
14.53 × 6.34 × 1.61 inches
|Switch type||Flaretech Blue or Red|
If you haven’t heard about pressure-sensitive switches they’re like mechanical switches but have pressure sensitivity. This means you can use them as triggers on a gamepad. For instance, to control the acceleration in a racing game, or sprint pace in FIFA. You can find pressure sensitive optical switches in some Razer keyboards but the only modular keyboard with pressure-sensitive switches is the Wooting One.
This keyboard uses Flaretech pressure-sensitive optical switches so you can only swap different colors of the same switches. But at least it’s something. There are two choices here: blue and red switches. The first ones are clicky and great for typing while the second ones are linear and great for gaming. They both have an adjustable actuation point so you can increase it on keys used for analog control and decrease it on other keys for the fastest response.
The Wooting One is a well-built keyboard with per-key RGB lighting that looks impressive. ABS keycaps are a downside, especially considering the price. But these switches come with regular Cherry MX style stems, allowing you to swap them for almost any set of aftermarket keycaps. Also, the Flaretech optical switches are only available in Blue, Red, and Black versions, which isn’t a great array of choices for swapping the preinstalled switches for.
But, these switches feel great for typing and gaming thanks to their optical design. Also, the keyboard has impressive backlighting and build quality. It’s a bit on the expensive side and it doesn’t come in the barebones version but it’s virtually the only choice for those who want a hot-swappable keyboard that features pressure-sensitive optical switches.