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best hot-swappable keyboard

25 Best Hot-Swappable Keyboards [Jan 2023]

If you’re in search of a hot-swappable mechanical keyboard then you’ve come to the right place.

Due to easily allowing you to swap out the switch type (with no soldering required), hot-swappable keyboards have become increasingly favored by gamers and hobbyists alike.

This versatility is particularly useful when you’re first starting out – and are not entirely sure what switch sound or feel you prefer – or if you just fancy a change down the line…

Below, we have split up the best hot-swappable models into their descending sizes.

Contents:

5 Best Full-size keyboards
5 Best Tenkeyless Keyboards
5 Best 75% Keyboards
5 Best 65% Keyboards
5 Best 60% Keyboards


What is the best Hot-Swappable Keyboard?

Best Full-size Hot-Swappable Keyboard

5. EVGA Z15 RGB

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The EVGA Z15 is a high-performance gaming keyboard with user-hot-swappable switches. It lets you choose between two out-of-the-box Kailh Speed switch types; Bronze/ Silver, and has a 32-bit Arm Cortex-M33 core microprocessor that supports a rapid 4,000Hz (0.25 ms) report rate.

In terms of the build, the Z15 goes for an all-plastic construction with a solid Aliminium faceplate. The board feels quite lightweight yet has zero flex or sharp edges making it suitable for lap users. Moreover, due to having a low-profile design, the switches are fully exposed from the sides.

For features, the EVGA Z15 has height adjustable flip-up feet, ABS keycaps with a distinctive gamer front, and per-key RGB backlighting. Unfortunately, the software and RGB effects that come with this board are not exactly the greatest, which is one area that lets this product down.

Pros
  • Solid construction
  • Multimedia keys with volume wheel
  • Beautiful RGB
Cons
  • Gamer-style legends
  • Unpolished software

4. Keychron K4 Hot Swappable

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: X

The Keychron K4 is a wireless 96% mechanical keyboard. Designed for high productivity in a compact size, it has 100-keys to offer full-size functionality. Besides this, it’s compatible with both Windows and Mac layouts, and can connect up to three Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

Built like an armored tank, the K4 has a plastic case with removable aluminum sides. As a result, it feels durable in your hand and quite heavy, weighing 2.44 pounds. The case itself can sit either flat on the desk or at a slight angle by flipping out the back two rubberized feet.

For stock switches, the K4 is available in Gaterons. However, the hot-swap PCB allows you to swap them out for most other 3/ 5-pin MX-style mechanical switch. On top of the switches are a cheap set of ABS caps. These do allow the light to shine through the legends but can grease up quite easy.

The backlighting has many static color schemes (including white) as well as fifteen onboard effects. Unfortunately, the LEDs aren’t super bright; however, this does help to preserve the 4000 mAh battery. With the RGB on, we found the battery could last up to 40 hours on a full charge.

Pros
  • Great build quality
  • Quiet typing experience
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Dual-mode connectivity
  • Excellent battery life
Cons
  • Board is quite high
  • No customization software
  • No wrist rest

3. Glorious GMMK – Full-Size

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The GMMK was released some time ago, however, it is still today one of the best pre-made, full-size hot-swappable keyboards around. It’s not lacking in any quality either, the top shell is built with a strong, sandblasted Aluminum faceplate that has a clean and minimalist design.

The GMMK acts as a perfectly good modding platform. All 104 switches are fully modular, which makes it easy to remove and install a selection of switches. For the stock switches, it comes with Gaterons, however, you can also choose between Kailh’s, Cherry MX’s, and clones.

While it is pre-made, there are a few mods you might want to perform straight out of the box. For a start, the stabilizers are quite noisy, so you’ll probably want to replace them with a set of quality GMK plates or Cherry stabs. Furthermore, the stock keycaps only use thin ABS plastic.

With a high polling rate, anti-ghosting, and a 16.8 million color RGB backlight, the GMMK features all the extras you would expect with a premium product. Overall, it’s an excellent keyboard that accomplishes the job it was built to do.

Pros
  • Aluminum frame
  • Great keys and switches
  • RGB lighting is bright
  • Software is easy to use
Cons
  • No way to quickly switch lighting profiles
  • LED indicators not labeled
  • PCB only allows 3-pin switches

2. Ducky One 3

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The One 3 is the latest release from Taiwanese manufacturer Ducky. It has a full-size layout with 108 keys plus four independent LED indicators above the Numpad. The board itself stands out for its fresh new style, improved acoustics, and long-awaited hot-swap functionality.

Constructed from a hard plastic, the build quality is solid and durable in your hand. The sides of the case sport sleek bevels and geometric angles to help remove some of the bulk. Underneath you will find a familiar dipswitch and pair of three-stage feet that are common on most Ducky boards.

The case encloses a dual-layer PCB with Kailh sockets and north-facing LEDs. In terms of stock switches, the One 3 comes in a choice of Cherry MX’s. Like most other boards on this list, it’s possible to swap them out for all 3/ 5-pin mechanicals switches without any soldiering required. 

As for the typing experience, the the One 3 sounds fantastic out of the box. This is thanks to having factory pre-lubed stabs and multi-layered padding inside. The padding consists of a supplementary layer of EVA foam pad (under the PCB), plus a dense piece of foam between the PCB and the plate.

RGB backlighting is another prominent feature of the Ducky One 3. This looks bright, saturated, and downright gorgeous as it diffuses of its white back plate. Overall, if you’re searching for a buy it and use it hot-swappable mechanical keyboard, then look no further than Ducky.

Ducky one 3 - hot-swappable keyboard
(Image credit: Ducky)
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • High build quality
  • Improved acoustics
  • Stunning RGB
  • Three-step feet
Cons
  • Plastic case

1. Drop Shift Hot-Swappable Keyboard

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Drop Shift is the latest addition to the popular CTRL and ALT lineup. As a shortened version of a traditional full-size board, it has a compact Cherry 1800 layout with 99 keys. This results in the home-key cluster moving above the Numpad for a similar form factor to that of a TKL.

Constructed with an aluminum frame, the build is solid and there’s virtually no flex or bend. Besides providing plenty of strength, the frame also acts as a built-in switch plate for the PCB. The PCB itself is fully hot-swappable and can house a selection of 3-pin switches.

Similar to the CTRL and ALT, RGB backlighting is another prominent feature of the Shift. A diffused light bar wraps around the entire case and LEDs are soldiered into the PCB. Together, they produce a beautiful light box effect that shines evenly out of the case and around the floating keycaps.

Using the QMK firmware, all of the backlighting and keys are fully programmable. The configurator allows you to program macros, customize key re-mappings, and set the RGB lighting just as you like.

Overall, if you’re searching for a high-quality, fully featured, hot swap board (with a numpad), this is one of the best options to go for.

Pros
  • Cherry 1800 layout
  • Solid construction
  • Easy disassembly
  • Bright LEDs
  • Two USB ports
Cons
  • Little software documentation
  • Pricey

Best Tenkeyless Hot-Swappable Keyboards

5. Keychron C1

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: White
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: X

The C1 is a culmination of Keychrons’ efforts to develop the ideal value keyboard. Engineered to maximize your productivity with the most popular tenkeyless layout, it features a sleeker and more comfortable slant design, LED backlighting, and user hot-swappable switches.

Unlike other Keychron keyboards, we particularly like that the C1 has a less boxy, more low-profile configuration. Due to having a slightly lower front edge, this allows you to place your hands in a more natural typing position. To fine-tune the incline, this can be done by adjusting the 3-stage feet.

Constructed from a hard ABS plastic, the build is noticeably solid. Unfortunately, as you might expect with cheaper boards, it does have a slightly hollow sound. Moreover, the keycaps also use ABS. On the plus side, these are DS and it comes with both Mac and Windows keys to suit your system.

For switches, the C1 can be bought with Gateron Reds, Browns, or Blues. You’ll be glad to know that the socket is compatible with almost all MX style 3pin and 5pin mechanical switches on the market. Including; Gateron, Cherry, Kailh, etc.

All in all, it’s a great entry point into the mechanical keyboard world.

Pros
  • Attractive white LEDs
  • Detachable USB-C
  • Cheap price
Cons
  • Plastic build
  • No RGB backlight

4. Womier K87 PRO

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Womier 87 Pro full RGB Custom Mechanical Keyboard has some serious vibes and is bound to catch your attention. If you are an RGB fanatic then you are going to love it. This keyboard is all about its majestic backlighting and takes under-glow lighting to another level.

As you can see, the acrylic case has a frosted coat finish that is entirely transparent. This allows the switch LEDs to glow evenly around the whole of the base and not just from above like with other compact form factor models. Due to this reason, the style appears very minimalistic.

Although it’s not widely known, there is now software available for this board. It allows you to create macros and customize any of the 16.8 million colors. Besides this, you can set any of the static colors or eighteen preset animations by holding the FN combination key.

RGB lovers will adore this stunning keyboard.

Pros
  • Translucent case
  • Stunning RGB backlight
  • Programmable with software
  • Built-in memory
Cons
  • Stabs need modding
  • Shallow typing angle

3. Keychron K8

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: X

The Keychron K8 is a cross-platform, wireless mechanical keyboard that comes at a reasonable price tag. It makes a name for itself as the first Keychron TKL board with a standard OEM key-cap profile. Other features include hot-swap sockets, RGB backlighting, and dual-mode connectivity.

Designed to be versatile, the K8 is one of the few keyboards out there with compatibility for both macOS and Windows layouts. Out of the box, the keyboard’s default keys are for MacOS. However, you’ll find a few extra modifier keys (and a switch on the side) for adjusting the layout to Windows.

Housed in a plastic shell with a thick metal plate over the PCB, the build quality is surprisingly good and actually feels quite weighty. The PCB is hot-swappable and allows for 5-pin mechanical switches. For switches, this version of the board is sold with Gaterons in either Blues, Browns, or Reds.

RGB backlighting is another feature built right where you can also choose from a white static backlight. Although the key-caps are ABS, the light does shine through nicely. In terms of effects, the K8 allows you to between eighteen different backlight modes so you can personalize your style.

Similar to other Keychron K2, the K8 has an excellent 4000 mAh battery that can last up to 240 hours of typing. Moreover, the tri-mode connectivity can connect up to three different devices via Bluetooth 5.1. Alternatively, use the USB Type-C plug for a standard wired connection.

Overall, it’s a great beginner-friendly modding platform.

Pros
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Dual-mode connectivity
  • Excellent battery life
Cons
  • USB-C input on left-side of case
  • Board quite high
  • No software

2. Logitech G Pro X

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Logitech G Pro X is one of the first mainstream keyboards with fully swappable mechanical switches. Besides this, it stands out for its petite “Tenkeyless” design and premium build quality. The reduction in size is built for a competitive level of speed, precision, and quiet performance.

The “pro-grade” GX switches feature a standard plate mount to make them user-swappable, and come in blue, red, and brown variants. These can be switched out for cheaper aftermarket switches using the same mount e.g. Halo clears, however they might not be quite as tight inside. 

Comfort is a top priority when it comes to keyboards, and the Logitech G Pro does not disappoint. The PBT “double-shot” keycaps feature an ergonomic bezel to reduce your chance of ever missing a key, and the stand has three levels of adjustment to find your perfect angle.

Like most modern keyboards, the Logitech G Pro offers dynamic RGB backlighting for customizing various lighting effects. It connects using a detachable “Type-C” USB that is capable of reaching a 1000Hz polling rate to transmit information at the highest frequency.

Pros
  • Great for gaming
  • Good stabilizers
  • Solid typing feel
  • Attractive design
  • Strong feet
Cons
  • Non-standard bottom row
  • ABS keycaps with matte coating
  • Winged detachable micro-USB connector

1. Drop CTRL

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Drop CTRL is a premium mechanical keyboard that simply has it all. As a slightly smaller version of a full-size keyboard, it packs 87 keys into a compact Tenkeyless design, but still has room for a full set of function keys, arrow keys, and navigation keys.

Due to being constructed with an aluminum frame, the build quality is solid and there’s very little flex or bend. In addition to providing strength, the frame also acts as a built-in switch plate. This means the keyboard is hot-swappable and you can choose between a large selection of switches.

RGB Backlighting is another prominent feature of the CTRL. A diffused light bar wraps around the entire casing of the keyboard, and optimized light pipes are built into the base of the switches. In turn, this helps to deliver a beautiful lightbox effect that glows evenly through the floating keycaps.

Using the QMK firmware, All of the keys are fully programmable, and so is the backlighting. With so many customizable features, it puts you in full control of your gaming.

This board also comes in a high-profile model.

Pros
  • Solid construction
  • Easy disassembly
  • Bright LEDs
  • Stylish design
  • Two USB ports
Cons
  • Software has little documentation
  • Pricey

Best 75% Hot-Swappable Keyboards

5. Keychron K2

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: X

The Keychron K2 is a versatile 75% mechanical keyboard that aims to maximize your workspace. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac. However, Mac users will find this device particularly appealing as it’s one of the few keyboards that comes with a multimedia Mac layout.

Connectivity is one area where the Keychron excels. Other than being able to work in both wireless and wired modes, what’s great about this product is that it allows you to switch between three different devices using Bluetooth 5.1. Whether this is your Smartphone, Laptop, or Gaming lighting.

Due to the aluminum panels that mount on the side of the plastic, the build quality is solid and durable. A few downsides though are that it does come with ABS keycaps, and although you can customize the keys via the functions, Keychron does not provide any software to change the layouts or program macros.

On the plus side, it features an excellent 4000 mAh battery, which is one of the largest in the mechanical keyboard world. This can last upto a respectable 240 hours with the backlit disabled. Overall, it’s a great value multitasking keyboard that does nearly everything right.

Pros
  • Compact size and layout
  • Highly compatible
  • Bluetooth is very reliable
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • Thin ABS key-caps
  • Case quite tall

4. Epomaker EP84

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting:
RGB
Hot-swappable:

Wireless:
X
Software:

The Epomaker EP84 is fully hot-swappable, which is a rarity for a 75% mechanical keyboard. There are no gaps around any of the 84 keys and the layout is incredibly compact. To make the most of its small form factor size, not a millimeter of space is wasted in-between each key

With this model, you choose between four types of Gateron optical switches. Due to the optical mechanism, the switches have an extremely fast response time of 0.2ms and are very smooth to type on. It’s worthing noting that you can only swap them out for other optical switches.

Compared to other all-plastic boards, the EP84 has outstanding build quality. The ABS casing is noticeably rigid and has no flex whatsoever. Moreover, the dye-subbed PBT Keycaps are solid, and the pre-lubed stabilizers produce a quiet sound straight out of the box.

You’ll be glad to know that the RGB backlighting is pretty good. The colors shift and fade smoothly without dithering as you would get with cheaper LEDs. We also like that there are nineteen built-in light effects to choose from without having to go into the software.

Pros
  • Multi-color PBT keycaps
  • Full RGB lighting
  • Customization with software
  • Optical switches
Cons
  • Plastic construction
  • No sub-legends on keycaps
  • Hard to access power port

3. Keychron K3 Ultra-Slim

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: White
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: X

The Keychron K3 is an ultra-slim, 75% mechanical keyboard with hot-swappable optical switches. This board stands out for its unique, low-profile design that measures 22mm at the highest key-cap point. It also features wireless and wired modes, plus cross-platform compatibility.

Constructed with an aluminum body (and a plastic bottom frame), the build quality is noticeably high. Although it weighs just 1.06 lbs, it has quite a bit of heft and feels sturdy in your hand. Due to this, it’s light and portable enough to carry but not too flimsy that you’re going to break it.

Underneath the board are four rubber bumpon feet that raise the K3 above the ground. Moreover on the back (center) is a USB-type C port, plus two switch-notches on the back (left). The switches allow you to toggle Bluetooth on/ off, and change the keyboard layout from Win to Mac.

To keep this keyboard as slim as possible, Keychron use their own low-profile optical switches. These are 40% slimmer than conventional switches and come in three different colors: Blues, Browns, and Reds. As a result, you can pick between a classic tactile switch or one with a quieter linear response.

Wireless connectivity is another area where the K3 excels. Fast and secure, it can connect up to three devices and allow you to switch between them simultaneously. Powering the device is a 1550 mAh battery. This has a three-hour charge and can last up to 34 hours of use.

Overall, it’s a very impressive little board.

Pros
  • Compact 75% form factor
  • Low profile, aluminum chassis
  • Hot-swap optical switches
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Dual-mode connectivity
Cons
  • No software
  • Smallish battery
  • Dim LED lighting

2. Yunzii KC84 Pro

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting:
RGB
Hot-swappable:

Wireless:
X
Software:

The YUNZII KC84 Pro is the upgraded version of the KC84. It has a compact 75% form factor with 84 keys and no visible branding. Due to sharing the same PCB (as the EP84), it has many identical features. These include RGB backlighting, a wired USB-C connection, and hot-swappable switches.

Compared to the original KC84, the Pro model does make some welcome changes. In particular, it has a translucent ABS case with a cool frosted finish. When the RGB backlighting is turned on, we especially like how the LEDs shine through from the bottom of the case for a unique aesthetic.

YUNZII have also upgraded this board to improve the whole typing experience. Besides factory pre-lubing the stabilizers, sound dampening foam now inserts between the PCB and mounting plate. As a result, it sounds less hollow and rattly than when compared to the previous model.

The PCB is still very much the same with north-facing LEDs and 3/ 5-pin hot-swappable sockets. The sockets are compatible with any MX profile mechanical switch. Another major difference is the sexy new set of PBT keycaps that come in an updated selection of stylish colors.

Lastly, the Keycool software allows you to customize the RGB effects and macro settings just how you like. The KC84 RGB software is a bit difficult to use but other than that you won’t be disappointed with this product. It’s an excellent pre-made keyboard for the price.

Pros
  • Transparent case
  • Sound dampening foam
  • Tri-tone PBT keycaps
  • Full RGB backlighting
  • Customization with software
Cons
  • Keycaps don’t shine-through
  • Difficult to use power port
  • Software lacking

1. IQUNIX A80

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: ✓
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The IQUNIX A80 Explorer is a 75% mechanical keyboard that combines a retro design with modern features. Some of these features include a hot-swappable PCB, RGB backlighting, and three modes of connectivity. Additionally, it supports both Windows and macOS layouts.

Straight away, you will notice that the design is quite different from many other keyboards out there. Inspired by the ergonomics of typewriters, the A80 has a high-profile case with a terraced F-row that leans towards you. This aims to make hitting those far-to-reach keys that much easier.

On the bottom of the case is a pair of two-stage flip-out feet, plus a switch for toggling between wired/ wireless modes. Additionally, on the back, there’s a USB Type-C port. Then, on top, you will find an LED between the ESC and F1 keys. This serves as a caps lock/ battery/ connectivity indicator.

For a pre-build, we have to say that the quality of the A80 Explorer is superb. Despite having a plastic construction, it feels solid and makes no pinging or hollow sounds. This is partly due to IQUNIX lining the plate with foam, and ensuring the lubed Costar stabilizers have a perfect fit.

Lastly, the battery life and connectivity is another big win for this keyboard. With the RGB backlight off, the 4000 mAh battery can last up to 200 days using Bluetooth, or 60 days with the 2.4 GHz dongle. Regardless of the connection mode, we experienced no lag, dropouts, or delay.

To sum up, the IQUNIX A80 is a stylish/ comfortable, hot-swappable keyboard that’s built with near custom quality.

Pros
  • Modern, retro-inspired design
  • Solid build quality
  • Tri-mode connectivity
  • Windows and MacOS support
  • Large battery
Cons
  • No software
  • No macros or key remapping
  • RGB lighting is a bit dim

Best 65% Hot-Swappable Keyboard

5. Womier K68

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Womier K68 is just like the larger Womier 87, but with 68 keys instead of 87. Absent of function keys, it wastes no space—but it still has a full set of arrows and numerals. If you are an RGB fanatic then you are going to love it. This keyboard is all about its stunning backlighting.

Much like the Womier 87, the acrylic case has a frosted coat finish and is entirely transparent. This allows the switch LEDs to glow evenly around the whole of the base and not just from above like with other compact form factor models. Due to this reason, the style appears very minimalistic.

Fortunately, there is now software available for this board. It allows you to create macros and customize any of the 16.8 million colors. Besides this, you can set any of the static colors or eighteen preset animations by pressing the FN modifier key.

The photos just don’t do this keyboard justice.

Pros
  • Stunning RGB
  • Transparent case
  • Easy to access the color modes
Cons
  • Not wireless
  • Case quite flat

4. Keychron K6

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: X

The Keychron K6 is a versatile 65% mechanical keyboard that aims to maximize your workspace. It’s compatible with both Mac and Windows, however, Mac users will find this device particularly appealing as it’s one of the few keyboards that comes with a Mac multimedia key layout.

Connectivity is one area where the Keychron excels. Other than being able to work in both wireless and wired modes, what’s great about this product is that it allows you to easily switch between three different devices using Bluetooth 5.1. Whether this is your Smartphone, Laptop, or Gaming lighting.

For those who are after a wireless keyboard, the K6’s large 4000 mAh battery capacity is a deal breaker. It can last up to 72 hours (with static RGB lighting), or up to nine, eight-hour days without. When compared to other similar priced 65% boards, this is a big plus.

Due to the aluminum panels that mount on the side of the plastic, the build quality is surprisingly decent. A few downsides though is that it comes with ABS keycaps rather than double shot PBT, and although it features 18 types of RGB backlighting, this is not exactly the brightest.

Overall, it’s a is a great value multitasking keyboard for the price.

Pros
  • Aluminum frame
  • Great connectivity
  • Large battery
  • Hot-swappable
Cons
  • ABS keycaps
  • Quite a high board
  • Short cable

3. Keydous NJ68

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: ✓

The Keydous NJ68 is a high-profile, 65% mechanical keyboard featuring dual connectivity and a hot-swappable PCB. It’s available in three different colors black, white, or pink. The white version includes several extra keycaps to support a Mac multimedia layout.

Constructed from a firm ABS plastic, the casing is solid and has some premium weight. The stock stabilizers come pre-lubed and do not rattle. Moreover, the PBT, double-shot keycaps are quite thick (1.4mm) and have sharp, attractive legends. Overall, the build quality is very high.

Featuring Kailh sockets, the board is compatible with both three and five-pin switches. The hot-swap sockets aren’t overly tight, making it easy to try out new switches with no soldering required. For stock switches, you can either choose from Kailh Box’s or Cherry MX’s.

A big pro of the NJ68 is its cool 16m color backlight. The RGB effects include favorites such as wave race, ripple, or breathing light. To program the backlight or set macros, Keydous provide their own native software. However, due to a Chinese translation, this can be a bit difficult to understand.

Pros
  • All-round excellent board
  • Packed with features
  • Premium build quality
  • Hot-swappable
Cons
  • Expensive

2. Ducky One 3 SF

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: X

The Ducky One 3 SF is the latest 65% installment from the Taiwanese manufacturer. Revamped and improved, it flaunts a fresh new geometric style, enhanced acoustics, and eagerly awaited hot-swap functionality. That’s perfect for those who regularly like to change their switch types.

The updated case design is one of the biggest differences from its predecessor. Aesthetically, it looks a lot more modern, with sleek side bevels that help to reduce some of the bulk. Despite having a metallic finish, the case still only uses a hard plastic to help keep costs low.

Inside the case, Ducky has gone for a dual-layer PCB with Kailh sockets and north-facing LEDs. Furthermore, Cherry MX mechanicals are still the switch of choice. Then, on top, you’ll find an even higher-quality set of PBT keycaps. These are now dye-sub with an extra grippy texture.

As for the typing experience, the One 3 SF sounds excellent even without any mods. This is thanks to Ducky pre-lubing the stabs and introducing a multi-layered padding design. The padding consists of a layer of EVA foam under the PCB, plus a slightly thicker piece between the PCB and the plate.

Lastly, RGB is another standout feature of the Ducky One 3. The backlighting is bright, saturated, and looks gorgeous as it reflects off the white steel plate. We also like that customizing the backlighting is as simple as flicking through the onboard controls, without the need for any software.

Pros
  • Stylish design
  • High build quality
  • Improved acoustics
  • Stunning RGB
  • Three-step feet
Cons
  • Legends aren’t shine-through
  • 2u right shift key
  • No software

1. Drop ALT

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Drop ALT is easily one of the best 65% mechanical keyboards on the market right now. As a compact version of the CTRL model, it packs 67 keys into a tight space, but still has room for a full set of arrows and numerals that so many gamers often prefer.

Due to being constructed with an aluminum frame, the build quality is solid and there’s very little flex or bend. In addition to providing strength, the frame also acts as a built-in switch plate. This makes it easy to swap out the native switches and replace them with Cherry-style MX’s or clones.

Just like the CTRL, RGB Backlighting is another prominent feature of the ALT. A diffused light bar wraps around the entire casing of the keyboard, and optimized light pipes are built into the base of the switches to deliver a beautiful glowing lightbox effect.

Using QMK firmware, All of the keys are fully programmable. The backlighting is also fully customizable. With so many features, this might be the last keyboard you ever need to buy!

This board also comes in a high-profile model.

Pros
  • Solid build quality
  • Hot-swappable
  • Programmable via QMK
  • Removable magnetic feet
  • Vibrant RGB
Cons
  • Expensive

Best 60% Hot-Swappable Keyboard

5. Royal Kludge RK61 Pro

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: ✓

The RK61 Pro is the upgraded version of the massively popular RK61. Improved and refined, it comes equipped with a slick new aluminum case, PBT key-caps, and an even larger battery. Impressively, it still retains old features such as hot-swap usability and dual-mode connectivity.

Equipped with a full CNC aluminum case, the build is solid and has quite a bit of heft. Under the case are four rubber bumper feet that provide balance to the board. Centered between the front two feet is a wireless on/ off switch. Moreover, on the back left of the case is a USB Type-C port.

Similar to the RK61, the RK61 Pro has a hot-swappable PCB that supports both three and five-pin mechanical switches. For switches, the board comes with Gaterons in a selection of different colors. However, due to using Kailh sockets, it’s also compatible with MX style switches or clones.

Finally, dual-mode connectivity (Bluetooth 5.0 and wired) is another big selling point of the G61 Pro. We found that the wireless functions just as it should, with good range, and no pairing issues. Providing the power is a decent 1850mAh battery that can last one week on a full charge.

Overall, the RK61 Pro is one of the most feature-rich, 60% keyboards in its class.

Pros
  • Aluminum case
  • Feature-rich
  • Hot-swappable
  • Dual-connectivity
  • Excellent value
Cons
  • Keys have some rattle
  • Bluetooth 3.0

4. Kemove Shadow

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting:
RGB
Hot-swappable:

Wireless:

Software:

The Kemove Shadow is one of the newer 60% models on the market. It’s built with a double-layer base, a sturdy aluminum frame, and features everything you could ask for. This includes the latest 5.1 Bluetooth technology, anti-ghosting, and a bright RGB backlight.

For the switches, it comes with Gaterons, but you can also choose between Kalih Box, and Cherry MX’s. Furthermore, the switches with this keyboard are all completely hot-swappable. To help you swap them out, the package contains a free keycap and switch puller.

Thanks to the narrow 0.8 mm gap that’s between each of the double-shot PBT keycaps the RGB backlighting pops. In terms of RGB, there are several backlighting modes to choose from. These include the ever-popular Wave, Ripple, and Breathing effects.

The software and macros are not exactly the best, but if you can live with that then you won’t be disappointed with this board.

Pros
  • Good build quality
  • Good Bluetooth connection
  • Large 3000 mAh battery
  • Windows/Mac Keyboard
  • 3/5 Pins PCB
Cons
  • Keycaps a bit wobbly
  • Poor stabilizers
  • Not the brightest LED

3. GMMK – 60%

Keycaps: ABS
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

This is the smaller 60% version of the full-size GMMK. As you can see, the GMMK-Compact follows the same minimalist design as the larger model by having a sturdy aluminum faceplate, raised keys, and no visual branding. The layout looks incredibly sleek and screams of premium quality.

Just as you would expect with the compact version, all of the 61 keys are fully modular. For the stock switches it comes with Gaterons Browns, however, you can also choose between Cherry MX’s, and Kailh switches to customize your gaming experience.

Much like the original, this keyboard is not wireless and instead comes with a detachable braided cable. To control the 16.8m color RGB backlight, It uses the same hugely customizable software. With this, you can perform almost any lighting pattern under the sun and you can even create animations!

Overall, it’s a versatile and satisfying hot-swappable keyboard.

Pros
  • Aluminum top plate
  • Nice weight to it
  • Friendly software
  • Reasonably priced
Cons
  • PCB only allows 3-pin switches
  • Poor stabilizers
  • ABS keycaps

2. KINESIS Gaming TKO

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Kinesis TKO is a premium, compact mechanical keyboard designed for tournament gaming. It has a standard 60% layout with a modular triple spacebar (61-63 keys). Other features include hot-swap Kailh box switches, PBT keycaps, and dual-zone RGB lighting.

Constructed from aluminum, the build quality of the TKO is very study and not going to let you down in this area. As you can see, the case has a low profile so that the key-caps float above the board. Underneath are four ergonomic “two-step” feet that allow for either front or back tilting.

To provide the Kinesis TKO with some flair, RGB is on full show. Running around the edge of the case is a diffused LED strip that sits just beneath the plate. Additionally, each switch has per-key lighting with twelve customizable modes. All lighting can be easily configured via the Kinesis software.

As this is a premium package, you do get some nice little extras with the deal. Included are eight spare Kailh switches, a full-size space bar, and a key switch removal tool. You also get a USB-C cable and an awesome hard-shell travel case which is ideal for taking to LAN events.

Pros
  • Quality construction
  • Comes with a nice travel case
  • Feels great to type on
  • Good RGB backlight
Cons
  • Triple space bar tough to get used to
  • Confusing on-board programming

1. Ducky One 3 Mini

Keycaps: PBT
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: x

Ducky produce some of the best mechanical keyboards in the world, with the One-2-mini being a long-time favorite in the community. The One 3 Mini (60%) shares all the greatness of its predecessor, in addition to featuring enhanced acoustics and hot-swap functionality.

The plastic, geometric case of the One 3 Mini is another updated feature. This has sleek bevels to help remove some of the bulk and differs visually with two-tone colorways on the sides. Supporting the case is a pair of flip-out feet that have three stages of adjustment.

Much like the larger One 3 releases, the Mini goes for a dual-layer PCB with Kailh sockets and north-facing LEDs. Due to this, it’s compatible with both 3 and 5-pin mechanical switches. For stock switches, Cherry MXs come with the deal. These are available in a selection of classic colors.

Just as you would expect from Ducky, the One 3 sounds excellent out of the box. This is the result of having pre-lubed stabs and multi-layered padding inside. The padding consists of a supplementary layer of foam (under the PCB), plus a thicker 0.3” piece between the PCB and the plate.

Finally, the keyboard is fully customizable in both lighting and style. Using the onboard controls, it’s easy to flick through the presets and select any RGB color you want. Fortunately, the macros and LED settings back right into the PCB board. Therefore, saving your settings when unplugged.

Overall, those seeking the best 60% hot-swappable mechanical keyboard that’s ready to use, have their answer with the One 3 Mini.

Pros
  • Stylish design
  • High build quality
  • Improved acoustics
  • Stunning RGB
  • Three-step feet
Cons
  • Legends aren’t shine-through
  • No software

What is a Hot-Swappable Keyboard?

A hot-swappable keyboard allows you to swap out the switches without de-soldering and soldering. Instead, you can simply switch out any compatible switches using only a switch puller, in the same way that you would remove and replace the keycaps.

This is not a major concern if you are content with the switches on your keyboard, but there are plenty of benefits to consider.


Advantages of Hot-swappable Keyboards

The most obvious advantage of a hot-swappable keyboard is that you do not need to pick up a soldering iron to change your switches. Even if you already know your way around the tool, this only increases the time and effort needed to change the switches.

Secondly, a hot-swappable keyboard makes it easier to experiment with different switches. A new switch will likely come out or perhaps a friend will recommend a different switch that you might want to try out or upgrade to down the line. Having a hot-swappable keyboard will help facilitate this and could lead to improving your whole typing experience.

Having a hot-swappable PCB also allows you to test out different arrangements of switches. For example, most gamers prefer tactile or light switches on the WASD keys.

Tactile switches on the WASD keys allow them to differentiate the directional keys from others that surround it quickly, without any confusion. Whereas light switches – that require less actuation force can help with speed. This is especially important for FPS shooters during competitive gaming.

Not just gamers can benefit from having different switches under certain keys but also Programmers and general typists, too.

Furthermore, hot-swappable keyboards make it easier to switch out “problem” switches. Instead of having to throw the whole keyboard away when one switch fails to register or starts to chatter, you can simply replace it with a new one. That’s sure to save you some money in the long run.


How to Choose a Hot-swappable Keyboard

Choosing the right hot-swappable keyboard involves understanding what you expect from a keyboard and how you intend to use this. When you have these details locked down, start looking at different details and ensuring the compatibility of your components.

With the right level of effort, you will end up with a customizable keyboard to keep you satisfied for years to come.

Size/ Layout

Hot-swappable keyboards come in all sizes. A full-sized keyboard offers all standard key options. If you can find a rare 96% 1800 compact keyboard, you benefit from the same key options at a more compact layout.

The tenkeyless (TKL) and 75% keyboards are next, discarding the number pad for smaller designs. After this point, layouts drop ‌to 65%, 60%, and 40%, sacrificing function and size.

You can even look for a hot-swappable number pad if that is all you need.

Build Quality

Look for a hot-swappable keyboard that uses high-quality components. While the materials used depend largely on your personal preference, you want the highest quality materials possible.

Higher build quality not only feels better under your fingers but these keyboards last longer. You may spend a bit more, but you have a more reliable hot-swappable keyboard you can depend on for years.

Switch Type/ Stabilizer/ Keycaps

The switch itself is not hot-swappable, but the socket is. You should choose switches that feel best under your fingers and offer the performance you expect from a keyboard.

Some switches are softer, while others offer feedback similar to a typewriter. This falls back on personal preference, and you can use different switches throughout your hot-swappable keyboard layout.

Pay attention to the thickness and material of the keycaps to find something you are comfortable with. Most come in ABS or PBT, and you should decide based on what feels and looks the best to you.

The profile of the keycaps has a larger effect on the feel of the keyboard, so find a shape and style that works well for you.

PCB Compatibility

Make sure you choose a hot-swappable keyboard compatible with your switches of choice, paying close attention to the number of pins on the switches.

A PCB that supports 5 pin switches will also work with 3 pin switches. Keep in mind that 5 pin switches offer greater stability, and a 3 pin compatible PCB will not work with these higher-quality switches.

You also need to decide whether you plan on using mechanical, optical, or low-profile switches, as the PCB is only compatible with one of these.

Connectivity Options

Your hot-swappable keyboard should connect to your computer in a way that works well for your aesthetic and performance needs.

Wireless options like Bluetooth, radiofrequency, and infrared technology are great for minimizing wires on your desk, and it is much easier to move the keyboard.

Wired hot-swappable keyboards have fewer lag issues and work better for response-intensive tasks such as gaming.

Features

On top of their customizable features, you have plenty of other options to make your hot-swappable keyboard meet your needs. For example, RGB lighting is a popular feature achievable with the right switches and keycap profiles.

Other major features to look for include programmable keys and media keys, a volume wheel, and wrist rests.



We hope you found a hot-swappable keyboard in this list.

Click here for the 19 Best 65% Mechanical Keyboards!

Click here for the best 75% Mechanical Keyboards!








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