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Mechanical keyboards are chunky, heavy, and tall. But in recent years, a new trend of low-profile mechanical keyboards started to emerge. These low-profile boards are slimmer, lighter versions of mechanical keyboards that are as pleasant to type on as their thick cousins.
Now, the low-profile mechanical keyboard market isn’t as flourishing as the regular mechanical keyboard market. There aren’t many models out there. But, there are enough models for us to cherry-pick the best low-profile mechanical keyboards in multiple categories.
When you see the price of the EagleTec KG061-BR, you’ll think something’s wrong. But yeah, this keyboard’s that cheap. The design is solid. Soft edges and slimmer but still relatively thick keycaps, along with the silver line around the keyboard edge, look quite nice.
On the flip side, the blue backlight can be annoying when using the keyboard in complete darkness. At least you can turn down the intensity of the backlight or turn it off completely. The aluminum-made base plate should offer excellent feeling under fingers and provide stability while typing.
This budget, low-profile keyboard comes with Cherry MX Brown-equivalent switches. The manufacturer did not share the exact specs of the switches used, which probably means they’re not that great. With that said, considering the low price, we didn’t expect any Cherry MX or Gateron switches here anyway.
Anyway, the Cherry MX Brown-like design means that switches have a subtle click when actuated and that they aren’t low-profile switches. Only the keys here are low profile, which should be enough to make a difference while typing.
There aren’t fancy media controls or volume wheels here. When it comes to typing experience, it’s enjoyable but noticeably below what you’d have with some of the pricier models. On the other hand, the letters on the low-profile keycaps will fade over time since they most likely use a lower-quality keycap printing technique.
Havit HV-KB395L RGB: Best budget low-profile keyboard
The best budget low-profile keyboard comes from Havit. Here we have a full-sized version, which comes equipped with low-profile Kailh blue switches. These aren’t the fastest switches around, with an actuation distance of 1.4mm. They’re also pretty loud and clicky.
On the other hand, these low-profile blue switches have a lower actuation force. This improves the typing experience over regular blue switches. And no, you cannot opt for different switches; you’re stuck with the clicky ones.
The build quality is surprisingly solid, with the plastic and metal housing that’s quite rigid. There is some flex if you put your whole strength into it, but overall, we like the build quality.
The keyboard also features per-key RGB backlighting, which is nice to see on a budget model. You also get a detachable micro-USB cable, which is a huge plus and great for people who move their PCs a lot. Another plus is the presence of customization software. It allows setting up different RGB effects but sadly, you cannot create custom ones.
Overall, this Havit low-profile model is an excellent budget low-profile mechanical keyboard deal. It’s far from perfect but, for the price, it offers a ton of value. The only major drawback is the fact that you only can get it with blue switches, which aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Roccat Vulcan 100 AIMO: Best full-size low-profile mechanical keyboard
Roccat is a German-based company known for its gaming mice. This time, they’ve made a marvelous low-profile mechanical keyboard equipped with low-profile brown switches. These tactile switches have an actuation distance of 1.8mm. This is on the higher side for low-profile switches but still more than enough for most users, even for gaming.
The keyboard is well-built. The plastic body is combined with an aluminum top plate. There is some flex but overall, build quality is quite high. What we like the most about the whole Vulcan lineup is the level of stability of the Roccat Titan mechanical switches. They are super-stable, with the next-to-zero wobble, which you won’t see on Cherry or Gateron switches. This makes typing on these keyboards a breeze.
The ABS keycaps found here are laser etched. The feeling under the fingers is pleasant enough while typing. If you want, you can replace them with PBT keycaps since Roccat switches have the usual Cherry stems.
The RGB backlighting is one of the best we’ve seen on a mechanical keyboard. It’s super bright and extra reflective, thanks to the combination of low-profile floating keycaps and switches that hover over the base plate. The thin body, in combination with slick RGB, makes the Vulcan one of the best-looking keyboards out there.
As for the extra buttons, you get a volume knob, mute and unmute buttons, as well as a dedicated button for changing RGB effects. Sadly, the keyboard doesn’t include dedicated media keys.
The keyboard supports Roccat Swarm software that comes with a plethora of options. You can control RGB, reassign keys, and create new macros with the software. It all works rather well. What we don’t like is the lack of a detachable cable. Also, the fact that, if you want linear (red) switches, you have to get the version with a palm rest, which is a bit pricier.
Roccat Vulcan TKL: Best tenkeyless low-profile mechanical keyboard
If you don’t need a number pad on your keyboard, get the Roccat Vulcan TKL. This is, at least for us, a much better option than the full-sized Vulcan since it offers both brown (tactile) and red (linear) switch selection without the need to spend more money on a palm rest version.
That said, the Vulcan TKL doesn’t come with a palm rest option. However, since this is a low-profile keyboard, you don’t need one anyway. The list of advantages over the full-sized version continues with the better build quality. A compact body means less flex. You you also get a detachable USB-C cable, which is a huge advantage over the full-sized Vulcan.
Next, while you only get a mute button and a volume knob, you don’t lose much since you can change RGB profiles via macros. You also have the Roccat Swarm software for creating new macros and reassigning keys.
Everything else is the same as on the Vulcan full-sized keyboard. That means exceptional switch stability, superb RGB backlighting, laser-etched ABS keycaps, Cherry switch stems, relatively long actuation distance compared to other low-profile switches, and slick design.
Fnatic Streak65: Best low-profile mechanical keyboard for gaming
If you’re a hardcore esports gamer, you probably want a compact, 60%, or a 65% keyboard that won’t limit your mouse movement. And the Streak65 from Fnatic is a low-profile 65% keyboard equipped with the fastest mechanical switches on the market.
In other words, a perfect choice for gamers looking for a low-profile mechanical keyboard. Not only that, but the Streak65 is the best low-profile 65% mechanical keyboard you can get at the moment, period.
The keyboard’s very compact and built like a tank. All-metal body equals zero flex, and while this isn’t the heaviest keyboard around, it won’t move around the desk thanks to high-quality rubber feet.
The list of positives continues with Fnatic Speed switches that have an actuation point of just 1mm, and a total travel distance of 3.2mm. This is the fastest mechanical keyboard on the market. The switches are linear, very silent, and have almost zero wobble.
Combined with excellent stabilizers (pre-lubber with zero rattle, which is rare to see on a mass-produced keyboard), the switches make the Streak65 one of the quietest keyboards out there.
The keycaps are made of ABS plastic, which is a small negative. But since they feature Cherry stems, you can swap them for any other keycaps set. A detachable USB-C cable augments the already excellent portability.
As for the RGB backlighting, it’s not the best, but it’s pretty good compared to most other options. The keyboard supports FnaticOP software. The OP supports RGB control, macro creation, and key reassignment. Overall, the Streak65 is a fantastic low-profile keyboard. It sells at a very competitive price, and it’s by far the best choice for gamers looking for a low-profile keyboard.
Keychron K1 V4: Best wireless low-profile mechanical keyboard
For those looking for the best wireless low-profile mechanical keyboard, we can recommend getting the Keychron K1. First of all, this keyboard is available in full-size and TKL form factors, which is a great option to have. Both the full-size and TKL versions feature aluminum bodies. This makes both versions very sturdy, with zero flex. Overall, superb build quality.
The detachable USB-C cable is another plus. As is the case with all other Keychron keyboards, the K1 fully supports Mac devices and comes with extra, Mac-specific, keycaps.
The keycaps are made of ABS plastic, are very pleasant to the touch and have excellent, easy-to-read legends. Unlike on some other Keychron keyboards, like the K2, for instance. They’re sculpted and curved, making the typing experience much better than you’d get on the V3 version of the keyboard, which came with flat keycaps.
On the back, you have four rubber bumps that keep the keyboard glued to the desk. The K1 is inclined a bit – about 3 degrees – but it doesn’t have kickstands for increasing the slope.
The switches found here are low-profile Gateron ones with an actuation distance of 1.4mm, which is perfect for both typing and gaming. You can pick between Red (linear), Brown (tactile), and Blue (clicky) switches. The only major drawback is a custom stem design that isn’t compatible with most keycaps sets.
Backlighting is either white or RGB and we have to say, the K1 has probably the best RGB implementation out of all Keychron models, thanks to its low-profile form factor and floating keycap design. As for the stabilizers, they’re a bit rattly but overall, passable for a low-profile mechanical keyboard.
The Bluetooth connection is stable, and the keyboard can pair with up to three devices at the same time. With that said, we don’t recommend this keyboard to esports gamers because of the high latency while in wireless mode. If you want the fastest possible performance out of a low-profile wireless keyboard, get the Logitech G915 that features Logitech’s amazing Lightspeed wireless technology.
As for the battery life, you get about 35 hours with the backlighting turned on. Overall, the K1 is an exceptional low-profile, wireless keyboard. It does many things right with a couple of downsides. The Bluetooth latency is too high for playing fast-paced multiplayer games, the switches have a custom stem design, and the keyboard has no kickstands.
Logitech G915: Best high-end low profile mechanical keyboard
GL Tactile (Brown) GL Linear (Red) GL Clicky (Blue)
Last but not least, we have the best high-end low-profile mechanical keyboard, the Logitech G915. The G915 is available in full-size and TKL form factors. First of all, let’s mention the biggest downside. The G915 is extremely expensive. If the high price isn’t an issue for you, read on.
The biggest strength of this keyboard is its ultra-fast wireless performance. Thanks to the Logitech Lightspeed technology, this keyboard is as fast as wired keyboards and will provide you with the best possible wireless performance on the market.
As for the design and build quality, both are great. The aluminum and plastic body doesn’t bend. The brushed aluminum finish on the top looks exceptional. The keyboard looks great; it’s very thin and features sculpted keycaps that aren’t of the highest quality.
The keycaps are made of ABS plastic and are quite susceptible to fingerprint marks. We would like to see PBT keycaps at this price point. Especially since switches don’t have Cherry stems, making the keyboard incompatible with most custom keycap sets. These low-profile GL switches are available in three flavors: clicky, linear, and tactile. Their actuation point is set at 1.5mm, which is pretty good but not the best for hardcore gamers.
What we like about the G915 is the huge number of extra keys, along with the wide volume knob. You get media keys as well as RGB controls, two buttons for switching between paired devices, a key for locking the Windows button, and five macro keys along with three macro profile keys. The TKL version of the keyboard comes with all those keys sans the macro keys.
As we already said, the keyboard features Lightspeed wireless connection that’s the fastest on the market. You get a USB dongle, but you can pair the keyboard with up to two devices at once because it also has Bluetooth connectivity. The Bluetooth connection performs decently enough; just don’t use it for gaming, and you’ll be fine.
The keyboard also has a detachable Micro USB cable, which is another downside. We would like to see a USB-C port at this price. As for the RGB backlighting, it’s great. Colors are well saturated and very bright, and the software supports creating all kinds of RGB profiles. Finally, the battery life is rated at about 30 hours with the backlighting turned on.
Overall, the G915, both in full-sized and TKL versions, is an excellent low-profile keyboard with a few quirks. ABS keycaps, micro-USB instead of USB-C cable, and a high price are its biggest drawbacks. But if you want the absolute best low-profile keyboard on the market and you don’t care about the price, this is the one to get.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are low-profile mechanical keyboards?
In short, they feature keys with shorter actuation travel distances. In other words, their switches have a shorter travel distance before activating. For instance, the regular Cherry MX Red switch has an actuation travel distance of 2.0mm, while the Cherry MX Low Profile Red has a 1.2mm pre-travel distance. That’s almost 50 percent shorter actuation distance. The Cherry MX Low Profile Speed switch has an even shorter pre-travel distance of 1.0mm.
This makes low-profile switches not only faster (and easier) to activate. Shorter actuation distance makes them also slimmer than regular switches. Slimmer switches allow for a slimmer keyboard design. The slimmer design includes not only leaner frames but also shorter keycaps. This results in a different feel when typing. A feeling similar to using chiclet or laptop keyboards, but with that satisfying and familiar feeling of mechanical switches under your fingers.
Why would you want a low-profile mechanical keyboard?
First of all, they look rather nice. A leaner base plate in combination with slim keys can make a noticeable visual difference. And then there’s the Cooler Master low-profile mechanical keyboard design. It features large and flat square keys instead of the classic, sculpted keycaps. And those keycaps look stunning. But the main reason for getting a slim mechanical keyboard is improved comfort while typing.
A slimmer base means less strain on your wrists while typing. You don’t need a wrist rest. Typing on one is more pleasant than typing on a regular mechanical keyboard equipped with a wrist rest. Shorter actuation distance leads to faster typing, in theory. A shorter actuation distance also means there’s less force needed to activate switches. This can make long typing sessions less tiring to your wrists and fingers.
Also, a word of warning. You should always test a mechanical keyboard before buying it. It’s because different switches have different feelings and behavior while typing. Some people may love the MX Red switches and hate every other switch type. Others adore the clicky feeling of MX Brown and Blue but can’t stand the linear feeling of Red and Black switches. Some people love Logitech’s Romer G switches. On the flip side, others despise their mushy feeling while typing. You can get various mechanical switch testers online. But there aren’t testers for Romer G or Razer mechanical switches. Make sure to test those keyboards before pulling the trigger.
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