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mechanical keyboard kit

15 Best Mechanical Keyboard Kits for DIY Builds – 2021

If you’re in search of the best mechanical keyboard kit then you’ve come to the right place.

With so many different board-sizes and variables to choose from, determining which kit is the right one for you can quite a a time-consuming process, especially when you’re first starting out.

That’s why we’ve created this useful list to help narrow things down..

Below, we have split the most popular form factors into their descending sizes.

Contents:

4 Best TKL keyboard kits
3 Best 75% keyboard kits
3 Best 65% keyboard kits
4 Best 60% keyboard kits
1 Best 40% keyboard kit


What is the best DIY mechanical keyboard kit?

What is the best TKL keyboard kit?

4. Womier K87

USB: Right
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Womier 87 mechanical keyboard kit 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 custom board is all about its majestic backlighting that takes under-glow illumination to another level.

Noticeably, the acrylic case has a frosted coat finish that is entirely transparent. This allows the PCB LEDs to diffuse evenly around the whole of the base and not just from above like with other compact models. Due to this reason, the low-profile design appears very minimalistic.

In contrast to the pre-built K87 edition (that’s constructed in three layers of acrylic), the barebones kit has one extra layer to increase stability. Of course, another difference is that you will have to buy the switches and keycaps separately. For switches, the hot-swap sockets accept both 3 and 5-pins.

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.


3. MKB87 87

USB: Middle
Backlighting
: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: X

The MKB87 TKL is an easy to assemble mechanical keyboard kit. It has a standard 87 key layout with sockets for both three and five-pin hot-swappable switches. Furthermore, due to featuring Bluetooth 5.0 and a USB Type-C port, it works both wirelessly and wired.

Constructed from a dense plastic housing, the case feels nice and sturdy while still being lightweight. Underneath are two adjustable, three-stage feet at the rear. Centered between both feet is a recessed cable connector port along with the Bluetooth on/ off switch.

On top of the unit is a thick metal plate that does not rattle or ping. Although it does add stability to the board, unfortunately, this is non-removable from the PCB. As a result, it can create some minor problems if you ever need to re-lube or replace the existing stabilizers.

On the plus side, the 1900mah battery life is excellent and can last beyond one week of heavy use. To indicate a low battery level, a green light will activate under the spacebar and the RGB backlighting will fail to turn on. All in all, it’s a great DIY keyboard kit for beginners.  


2. Glorious GMMK – TKL

USB: Left-center
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The GMMK TKL was released a few years ago, however, it’s still today one of the best barebones, hot-swappable keyboard kits around. Built with a strong, sandblasted aluminum faceplate that has a clean and minimalist design, it’s not lacking any quality either.

The GMMK acts as a perfectly good modding platform. All 87 sockets are fully modular, which makes it easy to remove and install a selection of switches. Including; Kailhs, Gaterons, Cherry’s, and clones. Keep in mind that this board only supports plate-mounted, 3-pin mechanical switches.

As this is a custom keyboard kit, you will have to buy the switches and key-caps separately in order to build-It-yourself. Furthermore, although the snap-in stabilizers come pre-lubed, they can be quite noisy. For this reason, you’ll probably want to replace them with a quality set of GMK plates.

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 TKL barebones kit that accomplishes the job it was built to do.


1. Drop CTRL

USB: Left
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Drop CTRL barebones is a premium mechanical keyboard that simply has it all. As a scaled-down version of a full-size keyboard, it packs 87 keys into a compact TKL design. Even so, it still has room for a full set of function keys, arrow keys, and navigation keys.

Constructed with a sleek, aluminum frame, the build quality is solid and has some noticeable heft. In addition to providing strength, the frame also acts as a built-in switch plate. This makes it compatible with a large selection of plate-mounted (3-pin) switches.

RGB backlighting is another prominent feature of the CTRL. A diffused light bar wraps around the entire casing of the keyboard, and each switch has an individual LED on the PCB. The per-key lighting can be set to a single color or lit up simultaneously for a huge selection of custom patterns.

Besides the lighting, all of the keys and macros are fully programmable via the QMK firmware. With so many customizable features, it puts you in full control of your gaming.


What is the best 75% mechanical keyboard kit?

3. Idobo 75

USB: Left
Backlighting
: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The Idobo 75 DIY kit provides everything you need to build a functioning mechanical keyboard (minus the switches and keycaps). As you can see, this board has an ortholinear layout that aims to reduce finger travel time when typing. This is preferential to those looking to increase efficiency.

Constructed almost entirely out of aluminum with an acrylic sheet sandwiched in the middle, the build qualiy is very high. The acrylic diffuser sheet insert emphasizes the lighting through the edges of the board. However, if you prefer a slab aluminum look, it is possible to unscrew and remove this.

The PCB uses Kailh hot-swap sockets with holes for 5-pin mount switches so you can use whatever switch type you want. Additionally, it supports both RGB and LED backlighting. If you wish to set the under lighting or modify layers, all programming can be done via the QMK toolkit.

The case comes in five attractive colors including; Blue, Silver, and Purple.


2. YMDK 84 Kit

USB: Left
Backlighting
: RGB
Hot-swappable: X
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The YMDK 84 is a stylish 75% keyboard kit that’s perfect for lovers of RGB. CNC crafted from acrylic with a frosted coat finish, the casing is entirely transparent. This allows the under glow LEDs to illuminate beautifully through the casing without being hindered by the material.

In terms of the build, it’s not exactly the easiest kit to assemble. Although the RGB LEDs are pre-soldered to the PCB, you will have to solder in the switches (not hot-swappable). Furthermore, since it’s a tray-mount, it’s common to find a few rogue screw holes when mounting the PCB to the case.

Still, don’t let that put you off, as it looks excellent when everything comes together. Once built, the PCB is fully programmable via the Bootmapper software. Here you can set the brightness, seven color zones, and the various effects that you want. As well as access to macros.

The aluminum top plate is available in three anodized colors including; Black, Grey, and Silver.


1. GMMK Pro

USB: Center
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The GMMK Pro is a premium, 75% barebones kit that’s ideal for custom keyboard builds. It features a fully modular, 83 Key layout (including a clickable rotary encoder), 16.8 million per-key RGB, and two acrylic diffusers on the sides of the case for some signature accent lighting.

CNC crafted from aluminum, the quality of the case is extremely high. With rounded bezels and an engraved Glorious logo on the back, you can tell that no production costs were cut. This attention to detail follows through into the interior of the board where you will find two foam dampeners inside.

To further reduce vibration and naturally dampen keystrokes, the GMMK Pro opts for a gasket-mounted plate design. Essentially, this is where two bits of rubber either side of the plate prevent it from coming into contact with the case. This results in a more cushioned and quieter clamp.

The south-facing PCB is hot-swappable and supports both plate and PCB mounted switches. In addition to this, it supports both clip-In or screw-In stabilizers. You’ll be glad to know that the board comes with its own “GOAT” screw-in stabs that are factory pre-lubed and pre-clipped.

For software, the GMMK Pro gives you a few different choices. It’s compatible with the native Glorious Core software, along with QMK and VIA open-source firmware. Upon purchase, you will also have a few different choices for plate materials, including; aluminum, polycarbonate, and brass.

GMMK pro mechanical keyboard kit
(Image credit: pcgamingrace)

What is the best 65% mechanical keyboard kit?

3. DNA65

USB: Left
Backlighting
: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

This DNA65 provides speed and style while featuring a layout that remains relatively compact. With hot-swappable sockets, a full RGB spectrum of LED lights, and anti-ghosting, this 65% keyboard kit is ideal for beginners looking to build something responsive.

The four-layer, acrylic case is a sandwich mount with a dense metal plate in the middle. Durable and drop-dead gorgeous, the split design allows the RGB to illuminate individually through both halves. Supporting the case is a large acrylic foot, but you may have to replace this for greater stability.

Surprisingly, this barebones keyboard kit does include its own Gateron switches. The hot-swappable Kailh sockets (3-pin compatible) make tinkering with your Gaterons really easy, too. You’ll be able to get the custom mechanical feedback you’re after without any headache or hassle.

Combine all of this with easy-to-use DNA65 software to control key values, lighting effects, and macros, and there’s not that much to complain about.. It’s a top custom keyboard kit on a budget.


2. Epomaker GK68XS

USB: Left
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: ✓

The GK68XS is one of the most advanced 65% mechanical keyboard kits on the market today. Equipped with dual connectivity (wired and Bluetooth 5.1 wireless), RGB backlighting, and user hot-swappable switches, it has all the features you could possibly ask for at a very affordable price.

In terms of components, the kit includes the case, an aluminum plate, as well as the PCB itself. Although the case is plastic, it feels nice and rigid with little to no flex whatsoever. Moreover, the plate-mounted stabs on the PCB come factory pre-lubed and are relatively quiet.

A unique highlight of this chassis plate is its interchangeable spacebar. By unscrewing the four corner screws, it’s possible to switch from a single spacebar to a split or dual-split bar – without having to disassemble the whole board. For this reason, you can quickly adapt your typing preference.

Both the RGB backlighting and 3-layer macro customization is software-driven and fully programmable. Unfortunately, the Epomaker software is a bit difficult to use but apart from that, you won’t be disappointed with this product. It’s a great dive into the world of DIY keyboards.


1. Drop ALT

USB: Left
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

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

Due to being constructed with an aluminum frame, the build quality is solid and there’s virtually no bend. In addition to providing strength, the frame also acts as a built-in switch plate. As a result, you can use any 3-pin switch that you like with no soldering required.

RGB backlighting is another prominent feature of the ALT. A diffused light bar wraps around the entire casing of the keyboard, and optimized per-key LEDs are built into the PCB. In turn, this helps to deliver a beautiful lightbox effect that glows evenly from all angles of the board.

Using the QMK software, the RGB backlighting/ under-lighting, and macros are fully customizable. With so many stand-out features, it might be the last keyboard you ever need to buy!


What is the best 60% mechanical keyboard kit?

4. Drop Carina

USB: Left
Backlighting
: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

Designed to brighten up any space, the Carina is a gorgeous small form factor kit. Much like the YMDK 84, it has an acrylic case that’s lit up by a ring of LEDs. All LEDs are fully programmable, allowing you to select per-key colors or even clusters from the entire spectrum.

If switch flexibility is a priority for your new barebones keyboard kit, then you will appreciate this option. Due to supporting both 3-pin and 5-pin switches, it’ll run Gaterons and practically all Cherry MX clones with little to no trouble at all. Of course, these are sold separately along with the keycaps.

Upon purchase, we also like that there are three different plate styles to choose from (aluminum, copper, and brass) so you can choose what material works best for you. Besides affecting the boards’ aesthetics qualities, the plate material will subtlety accentuate the tactility of the switches.

The QMK firmware lets you customize every single key on this keyboard, including the lighting effects and the macros settings. If you are after total control over every aspect of your new mechanical keyboard, this 60% DIY kit is a great way to go.


3. Skyloong GK61Xs

USB: Left
Backlighting
: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: ✓
Software: ✓

The GK61XS is a popular Bluetooth mechanical keyboard kit that ticks a lot of boxes. Besides being wireless, It features 61 sockets for keys – each of which are individually lit with multiple RGB LED lighting options. Furthermore, it’s fully compatible with both Windows and Mac devices. 

Capable of accepting all kinds of switches, the hot-swappable ability of these sockets is another big selling point. It accepts Cherry’s, Gateron’s, and Kailh’s, etc. without having to do any soldering. To save you even more time, the plate mount stabs come pre-lubed straight out of the box.

Even though the case is made from plastic, the quality is somewhat high. There’s little flex to the board which is a big plus. Moreover, on top is a sturdy, white metal plate that looks fantastic as it reflects the bright RGB light. The lighting effects are also pretty good with plenty of pre-set modes.

The built-in GK61 software gives you total control over the performance of this keyboard, too. Although it might be a bit difficult to understand at first, you can map each key individually when setting macros or layers, and a host of other advanced options are available.


2. DROP Tokyo

USB: Left
Backlighting
: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

Featuring legendary Japanese engineering, The Tokyo60 is an elegant 60% barebones keyboard kit with a compact HHKB layout. It includes the top/ bottom case, PCB, stabilizers, and feet. The case is available in four anodized color finishes; including Black, Silver, and Coyote.

Constructed from two pieces of aluminum, the case feels solid and has the kind of stability and rigidity you won’t find with cheaper, plastic alternatives. Unfortunately, although it does support an RGB under glow, you will have to purchase the acrylic diffuser separately that slots into the middle.

We particularly like that this kit doesn’t require any soldering and can be put together with just a screwdriver. This is in part thanks to the hot-swappable sockets and PCB screw-in stabs. The sockets allow you to run every type of Cherry MX switches with no difficulty at all, another huge benefit.

It also supports QMK. As a result, you can change the layering to accommodate arrow keys and a Numpad so pretty much no functionality is lost.


1. GMMK – 60%

USB: Left
Backlighting: RGB
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

The GMMK Compact is a versatile and satisfying 60% mechanical keyboard kit. By having a sturdy aluminum faceplate, raised keys, and no visual branding; it follows the same minimalist design as the larger TKL model. Similarly, it works with any three-pin switches under the sun.

The fact that you can run Cherry’s, Gateron’s, or Kailh switches on this board is a huge benefit. Being able to hot-swap between these switches without having to do any soldering is a game-changer. All you have to do is pluck them out (with the included keycap puller) and replace them for another.

Thanks to the PCBs built-in RGB lighting, 16.8 million color combinations are possible too. Using the included firmware and software, all brightness options, lighting effects, and colorways are all fully controllable. Moreover, per-key lighting is a feature with each key having its own LED.

Lastly, the warranty on this unit is another big pro. You get 12 months of protection with a no-hassle refund or replacement program in place. That’s a huge bonus or any 60% bare-bones keyboard kit. Overall, it’s a superb entry-level DIY chassis that’s easy to customize and tailor.


What is the best 40% keyboard kit?

1. Drop Planck

USB: Left
Backlighting: X
Hot-swappable: ✓
Wireless: X
Software: ✓

Super compact, this 40% custom kit puts every single key on the keyboard within two units of your fingers from the home row. That ortholinear layout significantly reduces travel time and helps improve writing speeds in a major way. You may even see your typing speeds double overnight.

Kailh hot-swappable sockets are the star of the show here. Moving from Cherry MX to Gateron switches (or any other three-pin switches) is as simple as pulling them out and dropping another one in. Conveniently, you won’t ever have to pick up a soldering iron.

Unusually, a small speaker is soldiered on the PCB too. You’ll be able to customize the sound effects this board makes when it turns on, does updates, or plugs in. If that’s not impressive enough, there’s even a music mode in the firmware that allows it to turn into a musical instrument!

To achieve this, the PCB is fully programmable. It comes pre-programmed with a standard keyboard layout, though all of that can be changed with QMK software. Using the software, it’s possible to set the sounds, create new key binds, and add layers with relatively minimal effort.

The aluminum casing comes in two heights “mid-pro” and “high-pro”, and is available in three different colors. In short, it’s a great little kit that provides lots of flexibility.



We hope you found a DIY Mechanical Keyboard Kit on this list.

Click here for the 21 best Hot-Swappable Keyboards!

Click here for the 17 best 65% Mechanical Keyboards!








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