Keychron Q1 evaluate: A personalised keyboard that can final for years

MSRP $169.00

“The Keychron Q1 mechanical keyboard is as customizable as you need it to be, with loads of choices to personalize your typing expertise and make it last more, and for a worth that is just like non-customizable fashions.”

Professionals

Vary of customizable parts

Aluminum case is sturdy

Works with Mac and Home windows

Key mapping software program compatibility

Cons

No Bluetooth

No peak or angle adjustment

The Keychron Q1 is a customizable mechanical keyboard that’s a step up from the model’s common mechanical keyboards. It offers a tailor-made typing expertise for the connoisseur, full with hot-swappable sockets for various switches and help for open-source key-mapping software program. At first look, it appears very difficult and that it is advisable to be a keyboard knowledgeable to get the most effective from it.

My each day use keyboard is normally a Keychron K2V2, and I’ve lengthy thought of it to be the most effective keyboard to go well with my wants. Would stepping as much as the Q1 change that, and is having the choice of customization actually definitely worth the effort? One other key query: Is it accessible to all types of customers? I’ve been typing on it for greater than every week, and I’ve been delighted by the expertise thus far.

Design

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

The Keychron Q1’s prime and backside case is comprised of CNC-machined aluminum, and the 327mm-long physique homes a 75% keyboard. It’s designed to be personalized and to have new switches put in — both Three-pin or 5-pin — on the PCB, which doesn’t require any soldering. It’s might be ordered both pre-built, or as a “bare-bones” equipment prepared so that you can make your self. together with your selection of keycaps, switches, gaskets, and sound deadening.

My evaluate model got here preassembled with Gateron Brown switches and Keychron’s personal ABS plastic keycaps. The ultimate component of customization comes with the choice of including a emblem of your selection within the prime right-hand nook of the keyboard. Keychron positioned the Digital Traits emblem on this one, and it appears nice (see under). The modification prices $30 and can clearly lengthen the supply time ought to you choose it.

The Q1 is a severely weighty piece of equipment, which together with very grippy rubber toes, stops it from shifting round on the desk. Regardless of not having any approach to change the peak or angle, I discovered it was excellent for snug and fast typing with out fatigue, however that received’t be the case for everybody, and I’m shocked Keychron hasn’t supplied any adjustment in such a customizable package deal. You’ll be able to order the keyboard in black, blue, or a smart-looking grey.

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

I just like the refined design that doesn’t scream “gaming keyboard” like many mechanical choices, and as an alternative will take a look at house on any desk, no matter whether or not you’re gaming or engaged on it. The south-facing RGB lights are extra noticeable than on my K2V2, and it’s straightforward to vary the fashion by urgent the operate and Q keys on the similar time. If you change the switches, the bottom RGB coloration additionally alters, and you may see the improved pink impact through the Gateron Pink switches in our photographs.

If a keyboard is made for use for typing all day and never gaming, design is never targeted on by the producer, and a keyboard turns into only a keyboard, and the design is what it’s. Not so with the Keychron Q1, as a result of for those who don’t just like the keycap coloration mixture in our photographs, you’ll be able to customise it and make it solely your personal. The identical goes for the case coloration, the little emblem, and the general typing expertise.

Connection and software program

The keyboard is hooked up to your laptop utilizing a thick, braided, very high-quality USB Sort-C to Sort-C cable, full with an aviator-style socket within the center to allow completely different connections. There’s a curly part within the center for aesthetic functions solely. A USB Sort-C to Sort-A adapter is included within the field, together with a sequence of instruments to vary the switches, stabilizers, and keycaps on the keyboard.

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

Elective emblem on the Keychron Q1 Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

RGB lighting impact with the Gateron Pink switches

When connected, there’s a swap on the again of the keyboard to specify use with both Mac or Home windows. The Keychron Q1 doesn’t have Bluetooth, so it may’t be used wirelessly together with your laptop, or linked to an Apple iPad or different pill. That’s Okay because it’s not appropriate to be used if you’re out and about anyway, because it’s too heavy to hold round.

Keychron advertises the Q1 as being appropriate with QMK key remapping software program for Home windows and By way of software program for Mac. Nonetheless, By way of wouldn’t set up on my Apple Mac Mini M1 with Massive Sur, and the By way of web site isn’t the friendliest for those who’re not accustomed to putting in software program exterior of the Mac App Retailer. After I requested about this, Keychron indicated the software program ought to work with no downside on my machine, so it could be an remoted concern.

I just like the refined design that doesn’t scream “gaming keyboard” like many mechanical choices.

Earlier than the primary use on my Mac, the system required a couple of particular keypresses for it to acknowledge the Q1, however exterior of that, there was no setup wanted. I’ve no actual want for the remapping or macro instruments supplied by By way of, so the actual fact it didn’t work wasn’t a problem, and the keyboard has operated with out fault. Nonetheless, for those who do want customized settings and use a Mac, chances are you’ll want some persistence or a deeper understanding of set up non-App Retailer software program to get them.

Typing

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

Coming from the Keychron K2V2, the Keychron Q1 was noticeably quieter when typing, regardless of me utilizing Gateron Brown switches on each. The sound deadening contained in the case does a fantastic job, however it does sound a bit hole, one thing Keychron is conscious of and addressing with the choice for extra sound deadening foam so that you can add if wanted. The gasket mounts present loads of spring and provides when urgent the keys, and Keychron says the gaskets allow 2.5mm of journey. If you need extra sound from the Q1, you’ll be able to change the switches to the extra clicky Gateron Blue variations.

The mannequin I’m reviewing comes with an ANSI format and never my most popular ISO fashion, the place the Enter key’s a lot bigger. This meant the keyboard took a short while to get used to, as my little finger would faucet each the Enter and the Shift key when typing rapidly. Now that I’m extra used to it, my typing pace and accuracy is similar because it was on the Keychron K2V2, suggesting that for those who’re used to a mechanical keyboard already, you received’t have any hassle adjusting to the Q1.

The usual ABS key caps really feel to be of upper high quality than those on the Keychron K2V2, with a much less plasticky under-your-finger texture and a snug indentation. Nonetheless, I swapped the keycaps to a distinct set comprised of Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) which have a good higher really feel, and may resist fading and shine for longer, too. Keychron sells PBT keycap packages for $40, making them fairly costly, however it’s a worthwhile improve for the higher really feel and elevated sturdiness.

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

It takes lower than 30 minutes to swap all of the keycaps over utilizing the provided instrument, however longer to do the switches. It’s not a troublesome job, as a “puller” instrument is included within the field. Nonetheless, you do want persistence because it’s a time-consuming and generally painful course of as a result of it takes loads of effort to interrupt the switches freed from the PCB. I swapped the Gateron Brown switches to a set of Gateron Pink switches, which took about 45 minutes. As a result of the switches require some power to take away, it’s all too straightforward to scratch the aluminum of the chassis when doing so, however this will’t be seen as soon as it’s all again collectively. I’d not wish to change the switches regularly, however having the choice to take action is a substantial profit.

Why? Experimentation, as a result of gratifying typing is a surprisingly particular person factor. The texture of the Pink switches surpasses the Brown switches for me, permitting me to kind even quicker and extra exactly, one thing I wasn’t conscious of till taking part in round with the customizable Q1. Typically, there’s an exquisite solidity to the typing expertise on the Q1, particularly when in comparison with the plastic-bodied K2V2. Every keypress has a delightful quantity of damping, is nowhere close to as loud, and but nonetheless feels very satisfying. The Brown switches right here require extra power to satisfyingly activate in comparison with the Brown ones fitted to the K2V2, curiously.

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

Regardless of making an attempt a number of completely different mechanical keyboards not too long ago — the Keychron K3, and the Azio Izo, for instance — I’ve at all times returned to the Keychron K2V2. I don’t anticipate to do that with the Q1. The solidity supplied by the steel physique, the wonderful Gateron Pink switches that I’ve hung out putting in, the quieter sound (I file interviews, and listening to the clatter of the K2V2 keyboard throughout them after I take fast notes may be very annoying), and that I appear to be a greater and quicker typist utilizing it’s going to preserve it on my desk.

All this discovery was actually enabled by the Q1’s flexibility, which extends far additional than my data and wishes go, making this a wonderful selection for the novice and skilled fanatic alike.

Worth and availability

The Keychron Q1 is obtainable to pre-order now, with delivery anticipated to start out round September 15. Absolutely assembled in any of the three colours, the Q1 prices $169, though this can be a particular supply worth based on the web retailer, and the associated fee might rise to $179 at any time. The bare-bones variations will not be accessible to order on the time of writing, and will likely be accessible shortly after the totally assembled model’s launch.

Our take

The advantages of customization have been a bit misplaced on me earlier than I hung out (various time, really) swapping between switches and keycaps on the Keychron Q1, then evaluating the typing expertise to my Keychron K2V2. Having settled on the keycaps and switches that felt greatest for me, it’s clear that there’s an excellent keyboard setup for everybody, and the advantages are apparent if you get it proper. Understanding and discovering your superb setup will come by way of trial and error, however having a keyboard just like the Q1 minimizes the ache and expense, and it’ll subsequently final for years for those who’re keen to spend money on it.

Figuring out I can change all of the components once more at any time, and in addition go deeper into the customization by including foam sound deadening (or eradicating it) and altering the stabilizers and gaskets as nicely, means the keyboard is genuinely future-proofed. It’s a keyboard that may develop with you, or just keep as it’s, for not much more cash than a non-customizable mechanical mannequin.

I’m a relative newcomer to mechanical keyboards, however have been bought on the idea since swapping to 1. The Q1 isn’t just for lovers desirous to create their very own “final” keyboard, however for these like me who need a high-quality, extraordinarily stable mechanical keyboard for work that actually fits my fashion and preferences, with out the necessity to purchase a wholly new keyboard if something alters or breaks.

Is there a greater different?

The Wonderful GMMK Professional is the Q1’s direct competitor, and it’s one other aluminum, extremely customizable mechanical keyboard with a 75% dimension. It prices the identical and has a rotary knob for media management, however doesn’t help By way of remapping software program, solely QMK for Home windows.

In the event you aren’t nervous in regards to the customization, we advocate the Corsair Straife RGB Mk.2 mechanical keyboard, which can be round $160 and offers a fantastic expertise when each working and gaming. You can even take a look at our intensive roundup of the most effective mechanical keyboards or the most effective keyboards on the whole for those who’re in search of different selections.

How lengthy will it final?

The aluminum case and modularity of the elements means there’s an entire lot of life within the Keychron Q1, except you spill one thing throughout it, because it’s not water resistant. Keychron offers a 12-month guarantee, however within the case of the Q1 will change the faulty components fairly than your complete package deal.

Must you purchase one?

Sure. It’s an absolute pleasure to kind on, and the intensive customization choices imply it’s going to final for years.

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