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 Gaming Keyboard|
|Best Barebones Hot-Swappable Keyboard||Drop CTRL|
|Best Wireless Hot-Swappable Keyboard||Keychron K6|
|Best 60% Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard||HK Gaming GK61|
|Best TKL Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard||Hexgears GK12|
|Best Wireless Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard||Velocifire M2 TKL61WS|
|Hot-Swappable Keyboards With Best Design||Epomaker SK61|
|Hot-Swappable Keyboard With Pressure Sensitive Switches||Wooting One|
Best Full-Sized Hot-Swappable Keyboard
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 Barebones Hot-Swappable Keyboard
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.
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
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
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
If you’re looking for a budget TKL modular keyboard, check out the Hexgears GK12. This keyboard is pretty cheap and it comes with Kailh Red or White switches. That means it’s compatible with all Kailh, Gateron, and Cherry MX switches on the market, which is its main advantage. The build quality is nothing special, but good enough for most users.
You also get single-color backlighting, which is bright enough to use the keyboard in complete darkness. Another cool feature is the removable panel cover. You can use the keyboard in a slim form factor by removing it or use it as a high-profile keyboard with the cover on. If there are low-profile aftermarket keycaps out there, this could be a great modular low-profile mechanical keyboard.
The G12 features double-shot ABS switches. These aren’t the best but at least they should last for a long time, notwithstanding them becoming “shiny” and smooth to touch in a couple of years. Overall, this is a pretty good TKL mechanical keyboard. It features a minimalistic design that doesn’t make it a looker, but at least it can fit most mechanical switches as well as most aftermarket keycaps. If only it came in the barebones version, it would be a perfect budget modular keyboard.
As for the alternatives, you have the Tecware Phantom. This one features better build quality along with RGB backlighting and double shot ABS keycaps. It also sports a more attractive design and sells for less. But it uses Outemu switches. These aren’t compatible with Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh switches so you’re limited only to other Outemu switches. That’s a huge downside but if you don’t mind this, the Tecware Phantom is a great budget choice.
Best Wireless Budget Hot-Swappable Keyboard
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.
Hot-Swappable Keyboards With Best Design
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.
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.
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.
Hot-Swappable Keyboard With Pressure Sensitive Switches
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.