Mechanical keyboards are great, but once you’re 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. 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 keyboards 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, make hot-swappable keyboards perfect for users who want a fully customizable mechanical keyboard. Today, we’re showing 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. If you’re just looking for a quality gaming keyboard, check our list of the best white gaming keyboards. If you’re interested in slim mechanical keyboards, we have a guide for the best low-profile mechanical keyboards. Finally, if you want to try a mechanical keyboard with a highly original design, read our Shurikey Gear Hanzo EC V2 review.
1. Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard: Best full-sized hot-swappable keyboard
There aren’t many full-sized hot-swappable keyboards on the market. 60%, 65%, 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 are a slight quirk, 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.
Overall, this is the best hot-swappable keyboard for newbies. 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.
2. Royal Kludge RK84: Best hot-swappable 75% keyboard
If you want the best 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 a 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 to 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, which looks sick in the 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.
3. Drop CTRL: Best barebones hot-swappable keyboard
If you want the best barebones modular keyboard, we have the Drop CTRL. This is a TKL hot-swappable keyboard that comes with a number of switch options.
The Drop CTRL features top-notch built quality with an aluminum frame and zero flex. Next, the keyboard has a slick design that combines a black and grey frame and keycaps with RGB backlighting, creating a board 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 CTRL is compatible with all Cherry MX, Kailh, and Gateron switches, which also means that you can use aftermarket keycaps.
The thing is, the keycaps found on this board are so good we reckon you won’t swap them. Unless you don’t like the design or the font. Overall, this is a robust and high-quality modular keyboard. It comes with amazing RGB backlighting along with premium keycaps and tank-like build quality. The only major downside is the price.
4. Keychron K6: Best wireless hot-swappable keyboard
Keychron makes pretty solid wireless mechanical keyboards, and the K6 is their hot-swappable 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). 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 with PBT or ABS transparent keycaps since the default ones are dimming the backlighting.
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. Finally, the K6 looks amazing.
5. HK Gaming GK61: Best 60% budget hot-swappable keyboard
For those looking for a budget hot-swappable keyboard, we have 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 they 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 downside 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.
6. Keychron C1: Best TKL budget hot-swappable keyboard
The C1 hot-swappable from Keychron is the best budget hot-swap TKL 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. With that said, most Cherry profile sets could show some issues.
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.
7. Velocifire M2 TKL61WS: Best wireless budget hot-swappable keyboard
The Velocifire M2 TKL61WS is an excellent budget wireless modular keyboard. It features the 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. However, you cannot use Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh switches. If you don’t mind that the Velocifire M2 TKL61WS is a very good keyboard for the price.
8. Epomaker SK64: Best budget 65% hot-swappable keyboard
When it comes to the best 65% hot-swappable keyboard, take a look at the Epomaker SK64. This is a very affordable 65% model that features a hot-swap PCB.
As for the features, the SK64 comes with Gateron Optical switches. This means no cross-compatibility with Cherry MX, Kailh, and regular Gateron switches.
The SK64 also features excellent RGB lighting that shines like a rainbow between the keycaps, along with a detachable USB-C cable. Also, the PBT keycaps found on this keyboard feel amazing. Another good news is that this keyboard sells for a very competitive price.
9. Wooting One: Best 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. To control the acceleration in a racing game, or sprint pace in FIFA, for instance.
You can find pressure-sensitive optical switches in some Razer keyboards, but the best – and 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. 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.
Still, these switches do feel great while 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.