Keychron Q1 evaluation: A customized keyboard that may 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 value that is much like non-customizable fashions.”


  • Vary of customizable components
  • Aluminum case is sturdy
  • Works with Mac and Home windows
  • Key mapping software program compatibility


  • 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 supplies a tailor-made typing expertise for the connoisseur, full with hot-swappable sockets for various switches and assist for open-source key-mapping software program. At first look, it appears very difficult and that you could be a keyboard skilled to get one of the best from it.

My day by day use keyboard is normally a Keychron K2V2, and I’ve lengthy thought of it to be one of the best keyboard to swimsuit 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 to date.


Keychron Q1 mechanical keyboard.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

The Keychron Q1’s prime and backside case is produced from 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 3-pin or 5-pin — on the PCB, which doesn’t require any soldering. It’s may be ordered both pre-built, or as a “bare-bones” equipment prepared so that you can make your self. along with your selection of keycaps, switches, gaskets, and sound deadening.

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

The Q1 is a critically weighty piece of equipment, which together with very grippy rubber toes, stops it from shifting round on the desk. Regardless of not having any method to change the peak or angle, I discovered it was good for comfy 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 bundle. You may order the keyboard in black, blue, or a smart-looking grey.

Close-up of the Keychron Q1 keys.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

I just like the delicate design that doesn’t scream “gaming keyboard” like many mechanical choices, and as a substitute will have a look at residence 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 simple to vary the fashion by urgent the perform and Q keys on the identical time. Whenever you change the switches, the bottom RGB colour additionally alters, and you may see the improved pink impact by way of the Gateron Crimson switches in our photographs.

If a keyboard is made for use for typing all day and never gaming, design isn’t 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 colour mixture in our photographs, you’ll be able to customise it and make it totally your individual. The identical goes for the case colour, the little brand, and the general typing expertise.

Connection and software program

The keyboard is connected to your laptop utilizing a thick, braided, very high-quality USB Kind-C to Kind-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 Kind-C to Kind-A adapter is included within the field, together with a sequence of instruments to vary the switches, stabilizers, and keycaps on the keyboard.

Windows and Mac switch on the Keychron Q1.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Keychron Q1 aviator-style connector.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Special order logo option on the Keychron Q1.

Non-compulsory brand on the Keychron Q1 Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

RGB lighting effect on the Keychron Q1.

RGB lighting impact with the Gateron Crimson switches

When connected, there’s a change on the again of the keyboard to specify use with both Mac or Home windows. The Keychron Q1 doesn’t have Bluetooth, so it could actually’t be used wirelessly along with your laptop, or linked to an Apple iPad or different pill. That’s Okay because it’s not appropriate to be used while 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 Through software program for Mac. Nonetheless, Through wouldn’t set up on my Apple Mac Mini M1 with Massive Sur, and the Through web site isn’t the friendliest for those who’re not acquainted with putting in software program outdoors of the Mac App Retailer. Once I requested about this, Keychron indicated the software program ought to work with no drawback on my machine, so it could be an remoted challenge.

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

Earlier than the primary use on my Mac, the system required just a few particular keypresses for it to acknowledge the Q1, however outdoors of that, there was no setup wanted. I’ve no actual want for the remapping or macro instruments supplied by Through, so the very fact it didn’t work wasn’t a difficulty, and the keyboard has operated with out fault. Nonetheless, for those who do want customized settings and use a Mac, you could want some endurance or a deeper understanding of how you can set up non-App Retailer software program to get them.


Typing on the Keychron Q1 mechanical keyboard.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

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 an awesome job, however it does sound a little 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 structure 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 shortly. Now that I’m extra used to it, my typing pace and accuracy is identical 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 cushty indentation. Nonetheless, I swapped the keycaps to a unique set produced from Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) which have a fair 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.

Switches on the Keyboard Q1.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

It takes lower than half-hour to swap all of the keycaps over utilizing the equipped software, however longer to do the switches. It’s not a troublesome job, as a “puller” software is included within the field. Nonetheless, you do want endurance because it’s a time-consuming and typically painful course of as a result of it takes a variety of effort to interrupt the switches freed from the PCB. I swapped the Gateron Brown switches to a set of Gateron Crimson switches, which took about 45 minutes. As a result of the switches require some pressure to take away, it’s all too simple 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 might not wish to change the switches frequently, however having the choice to take action is a substantial profit.

Why? Experimentation, as a result of pleasurable typing is a surprisingly particular person factor. The texture of the Crimson switches surpasses the Brown switches for me, permitting me to kind even quicker and extra exactly, one thing I wasn’t conscious of till enjoying round with the customizable Q1. Typically, there’s a beautiful 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 pressure to satisfyingly activate in comparison with the Brown ones fitted to the K2V2, apparently.

Keychron Q1 and alternative keycaps and switches.Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Regardless of attempting a number of completely different mechanical keyboards lately — 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 superb Gateron Crimson switches that I’ve frolicked putting in, the quieter sound (I document interviews, and listening to the clatter of the K2V2 keyboard throughout them once I take fast notes could be very annoying), and that I appear to be a greater and quicker typist utilizing it should hold it on my desk.

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

Worth and availability

The Keychron Q1 is out there 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 it is a particular supply value in response to the net retailer, and the associated fee might rise to $179 at any time. The bare-bones variations should not obtainable to order on the time of writing, and can be obtainable shortly after the totally assembled model’s launch.

Our take

The advantages of customization had been a little bit misplaced on me earlier than I frolicked (various time, truly) 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 a really perfect keyboard setup for everybody, and the advantages are apparent while you get it proper. Understanding and discovering your best setup will come via 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 prepared to put money into it.

Figuring out I can change all of the parts once more at any time, and likewise 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 offered on the idea since swapping to 1. The Q1 isn’t just for fanatics eager to create their very own “final” keyboard, however for these like me who desire a high-quality, extraordinarily stable mechanical keyboard for work that basically fits my fashion and preferences, with out the necessity to purchase a completely new keyboard if something alters or breaks.

Is there a greater various?

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

In case you aren’t anxious in regards to the customization, we suggest the Corsair Straife RGB Mk.2 mechanical keyboard, which can be round $160 and supplies an awesome expertise when each working and gaming. You too can try our in depth roundup of one of the best mechanical keyboards or one of the best keyboards usually for those who’re searching for different selections.

How lengthy will it final?

The aluminum case and modularity of the parts 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 supplies a 12-month guarantee, however within the case of the Q1 will exchange the faulty parts reasonably than the complete bundle.

Do you have to purchase one?

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

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