10 Best Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards for 2020
Mechanical keyboards are chunky, heavy, and tall. But in recent years a new trend of low-profile mechanical keyboards appeared. These 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 to cherry-pick the best ones. We found the best budget low-profile mechanical keyboards as well as the best wireless keyboards. We also have keyboards with the best design and the best tenkeyless and 60 percent keyboards. Before we dive into our list, let’s explain what exactly low-profile mechanical keyboards are and why would you want one.
Best Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards – Our Picks
|Cheapest Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard||EagleTec KG061-BR|
|Best Budget Low-Profile Keyboard||Redragon K589 Shrapnel|
|Best Alternative to the Redragon K589 Shrapnel||HAVIT HV-KB395L RGB|
|Best Tenkeyless Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard||Hexgears X-1|
|Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards with the Best Design||Cooler Master SK621|
|Cooler Master SK650|
|Cooler Master SK630|
|Best Overall Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards||CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE|
|Best Wireless Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards||Logitech G915|
What are low-profile mechanical keyboards
In short, they feature keys with shorter actuation travel distance. In other words, their switches have 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 slimmer keyboard design. 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.
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. 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.
Before we start, a word of warning. You should always test a mechanical keyboard before buying it. It’s because different switches have different feeling 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 and some 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.
Now that we explained what low-profile mechanical keyboards are and their advantages over regular mechanical keyboards, let’s show you our picks for best low-profile mechanical keyboards on the market right now.
Cheapest Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard
When you see the price of the EagleTec KG061-BR and KG050-BR you’d think something’s wrong. But yeah, they’re that cheap. The two models include a full-size (104 keys) version and a tenkeyless version.
The design is solid. Soft edges and slimmer but still relatively thick keycaps along with the silver line around the keyboard edge look nice. Blue backlight can be too annoying when using the keyboard in complete darkness. But, 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.
Both models come with Cherry MX Brown equivalent switches. But the manufacturer did not share exact specs of the switches used. Anyway, this 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 both models are very pleasant to type on. This is the biggest strength of these two low-profile mechanical keyboard models. Remember that these use lower quality switches. Also, letters on those keycaps will fade over time since they most likely use lower quality keycap printing technique.
Best Budget Low-Profile Keyboard
The Redragon K589 is another budget pick but this time from a known budget brand. This keyboard uses Redragon’s own mechanical red switches that have a 1.4mm actuation point. Not low-profile but a shorter actuation distance compared to regular switches. Red switches are linear and don’t feature tactile feedback when actuated and they aren’t clicky.
The keyboard has a classic layout. It has sculpted but low-profile keycaps and comes without media control keys. It supports RGB backlighting. It also comes with thinner than regular but still a bit thick keycaps. You can install an app and use various RGB effects, which is always better than only offering RGB controls via keyboard shortcuts. The app also supports recording macros, which can be helpful in MMORPG games for instance.
Design is solid, without unnecessary details, and with the base made of metal. This adds extra stability to the whole keyboard. You also can adjust the height of the keyboard, which can be helpful since there’s no wrist wrest in the selling package. Overall, the Redragon K589 Shrapnel is a nice budget low-profile mechanical keyboard. It offers great typing experience for an affordable price.
Best Alternative to the Redragon K589 Shrapnel
If you want clicky and tactile low-profile switches for an affordable price, check out the HAVIT HV-KB395L low-profile keyboard. It uses Kailh blue low-profile switches that have that familiar clicky behavior. They’re clicky, loud, and have shorter actuation distance compared to regular blue switches. Keycaps are of the same thickness as on the Redragon model. The keyboard features a low-profile base with a silver line around the edge and round edges.
We like the design of this keyboard much more than the Redragon K589 Shrapnel. Keys are a bit elongated and look flatter. You get the full, 104 keys layout without any additional keys. The keyboard doesn’t come with an app and it features a detachable cable, which is always a plus. Especially for those of us who often move our PCs around.
The typing experience is pleasant, just remember that blue switches aren’t for anyone. Some people love their clicky feedback. Others see it as the ultimate source of frustration, especially if they have a co-worker using a keyboard with blue switches.
Best Tenkeyless Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard
The Hexgears X-1 is keyboard is a stunner. Flat and perfectly square keys. Very low profile of the base and keycaps. Slick design without unnecessary details and keys. RGB lighting and wireless capability. The aluminum case that’s slim in profile but heavy and stable. The Hexgears X-1 is the best low-profile mechanical keyboard with tenkeyless design.
The keyboard uses Kaihua Choc switches, which are equivalent to the Cherry MX low-profile switches. You have a choice between brown (tactile), red (linear), and white (clicky and tactile) switches. The Bluetooth 4.0 module supports up to four different devices, but not at the same time. The keyboard comes with a detachable USB-C cable if you prefer the wired mode.
The detachable cable can also be useful when the 2400mAh battery runs out of juice. The battery provides about 8 hours of typing with RGB lighting turned on. Without backlighting, the keyboard can last up to 2 weeks on a single charge. The keyboard offers a very pleasant typing experience. Just remember that some people prefer sculpted keys over flat ones used on this model. The main downside is that, according to a bunch of user reviews, the Bluetooth connectivity is unstable and can be extremely messy.
Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards with the Best Design
Cooler Master launched a new series of low-profile keyboards and they look stunning: the Cooler Master SK621, SK630, and SK650. They have a similar design to the Hexgears X-1 keyboard but look even better. Minimalistic design is present in all three models. The main point of difference between the three is the key layout. The SK650 features the classic layout with a full numerical keypad. The SK630 is the tenkeyless model. Finally, the SK621 is a 60 percent keyboard with wireless capability.
All three models feature excellent RGB lighting that supports the Cooler Master app. The app includes a plethora of options for both RGB effects and other settings. Keyboards sport extra slim profiles thanks to the slender aluminum base and very thin keycaps. Every model features removable USB-C cable but none comes with height adjustment feet, which is a shame.
These keyboards feature Cherry MX Red (linear) switches that come with short actuation point. They are very pleasant to type on. But the slick design has some shortcomings. Typing can be frustrating because the keycap design makes mistypes pretty frequent. The keys are cramped and typing might feel like trying to avoid mistakes. On the other side, the gaming experience is great thanks to the low-profile switches that allow faster key presses.
While the SK650 and SK630 keyboards aren’t great the SK621 is the best 60 percent low-profile keyboard on the market right now. The keyboard earned the title thanks mostly to the lack of competition. But this keyboard is also a great looking product. And while it has less-than-perfect typing experience it features wireless capability, stunning design, superb RGB backlighting, great gaming experience, solid price, and extremely compact dimensions.
Best Overall Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard
The CORSAIR K70 MK.2 RAPIDFIRE is, as its name suggests, built for speed. It uses the MX low profile Speed switches. These feature the shortest actuation point out of all mechanical switches around. That means superb gaming experience. It also means very pleasant typing, once you get used to the extremely short travel distance. Those who prefer laptop keyboards will probably like the flat keycaps of the Cooler Master and Hexgears keyboards more.
Design is similar to the regular K70 keyboard only here, everything is slimmer. The aluminum frame is much thinner as are the keycaps. They are sculpted but very thin. The keyboard also has a handy volume wheel along with mute button and playback controls. On the left, you have three extra buttons. Controlling the backlight brightness, turning off the Windows key, and switching profiles. The keyboard also comes with a detachable wrist rest, USB 2.0 passthrough, and height adjust feet.
RGB backlight is great and supports a plethora of effects that you can tweak in the iCue app. The app has lots of different options to play with such as custom RGB effects and recording macros. We don’t like the fact that the braided and pretty thick cable isn’t detachable. Other than that, this is an amazing low-profile mechanical keyboard. It has a competitive price and lots of positives.
Best Wireless Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard
The Logitech G915 is a slick low-profile mechanical keyboard that features full key layout and wireless capability. The design is excellent. The frame is extremely thin as are the sculpted keycaps. The aluminum base plate features a thick coat of hard plastic on the bottom side. The keyboard features lots of extra controls. You get a volume wheel, media controls, five macro keys along with three macro profile keys, RGB controls, two buttons for switching between connected devices, and a key for turning the Windows key on and off.
The keyboard uses Logitech-made low-profile GL switches. They have an actuation distance of 1.5mm and are available in three flavors – GL Tactile (Brown), GL Linear (Red), and GL Clicky (Blue). Typing on the G915 is pretty good. It’s enjoyable and precise, without many mistypes.
Since the G915 supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection (thanks to the USB wireless receiver that comes with the keyboard) you can pair it with two devices at once. The promised battery life is about 30 hours with full RGB backlight. You get a detachable micro USB cable (we would like to see a USB-C cable at this price) for charging and using the keyboard in wired mode. The keyboard also has adjustable feet, and an excellent G Hub software that includes a ton of different settings.
Overall, the G915 is an excellent wireless low-profile mechanical keyboard with one major drawback. It’s too expensive for what it offers. If you like the G915 but don’t need a wireless feature you can get the Logitech G815. It’s virtually the same as the G915, only it costs a bit less.