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Keychron Q5 review: It will ruin other mechanical keyboards for…

At a look

Expert’s Rating

Execs

  • Super-weighty system
  • Fantastic keycaps
  • Excellent customization
  • Surprisingly aggressive value

Drawbacks

  • Unwanted Mac/Home windows swap
  • Programming layer limits
  • No adjustable toes

Our Verdict

The Keychron Q5 is a good benefit, which is a strange detail to say about a $200 keyboard. But its packs fantastic typing experience, pieces, and customization at a price which is about half as a great deal as the tailored patterns it is based mostly on.

Value When Reviewed

$205

Ideal Rates These days: Keychron Q5 keyboard

Retailer
Value
Shipping
Keychron
$205

Shell out some time on a mechanical keyboard forum or subreddit, and you are going to see custom designs that men and women spent hundreds of hrs on, and which charge a lot more than the normal vehicle payment. And they’re totally astounding, nearly operates of artwork that just happen to have a bunch of switches and USB port. They are the variety of covetous objects that nerds aspiration of for decades. 

Keychron’s Q series of keyboards cannot access the lofty heights of these custom made patterns. But they can get damn shut, and do so at a fraction of the charge. And here’s the kicker: You can buy them at any time without the need of waiting a year or much more for an artisan compact batch to arrive. 

This sort of is the circumstance with the Keychron Q5, which characteristics a sensible format, just about each individual high quality aspect you can envision, and a price tag that is a bit of a splurge as a substitute of a thing you have to idiot oneself into calling an “investment.” It’s a massive slab of lovingly-carved aluminum, and although it is not excellent, it’s acceptably imperfect for anyone hunting for a quality keyboard practical experience.

All the features 

If I wrote out the options of the Q5 in normal prose I’d be below all day. Suffice it to say it has practically each single purpose of a $500 personalized mechanical keyboard make, at fewer than fifty percent the selling price. But there are a couple pieces that need to be highlighted if you’re considering a invest in. 

1st and most notably, the case. Choosing up this behemoth almost needs a spotter. It’s eighty two ounces on my kitchen scale, which include switches and keycaps—heavier than most laptops on the sector. That’s mainly because the case is two slabs of thick milled aluminum, plus a heavy steel plate sitting on the PCB. It is, in a phrase, a beast. 

Keychron Q5 keyboard mac windows switch

Michael Crider/IDG

And but strangely, the layout is made to make it little, or at the very least a bit more compact than the even a lot more monumental Q6 and its typical 108-vital format. The Keychron Q5 scrunches the arrow cluster in concerning the primary typing area and the 10-crucial in a structure acknowledged as “1800,” inherited from some Cherry designs in the ’90s. This implies that you help you save about 2.five inches of width compared to a total layout, getting rid of only the web site up, web page down, and insert keys, with a couple of non-normal keycap measurements like the proper change and num pad zero. Also be aware the inclusion of a rotary dial in the higher-remaining corner, a quality increase-on that can be programmed like the rest of the case. 

The imposing dimension and pounds of the Q5 is only half of the charm. Truly sit down to kind, and you are going to be surprised at the experience of excellent that simply oozes off of the board. How does it come to feel so fantastic? There are a ton of unique factors contributing to that incredibly “thocky” typing, so like Mrs. Browning, let me depend the techniques: 

  • Gasket mount — initially and foremost is the gasket process, which in essence suspends the steel plate and the circuit board involving two layers of foam. This lets the keys have a slight give and “bounce” to them, as opposed to a a lot more definitive “thunk” that you will come across on other mechanical keyboards, the place your finger strokes can travel right down to the scenario itself. 
  • Case foam — in addition to the gasket items, the Q5 contains two stages of foam insulation, one particular involving the plate and the PCB, and one more beneath the PCB and the scenario. This helps stay away from the “ping” that you get in some other keyboards as the springs in the switches reverberate on other metal components, and reduces sounds in normal. 
  • Switches — speaking of switches, these come from Gateron. But they’re not your standard MX clones: Keychron sprang for G Professional switches, which occur pre-lubed with gold alloy contacts pins for a sleek sense and a long lifespan. In layman’s terms, they are the good things. Keychron gives you a selection of linear Reds (provided in our overview unit), clicky Blues, or tactile Browns. 
  • Keycaps — the previous piece of the puzzle, and the a single your fingers interact with specifically. Keychron did not skimp here, both: The Q5 will come with a established of doubleshot PBT caps in the basic (and extremely tall) OSA profile. These are very substantial-quality, even though they’ll take some receiving made use of to if you’re coming from a extra traditional keyboard or laptop. 

Whew, that’s a good deal of stuff! On best of all that, the Q5 utilizes a USB-C cable at the best-appropriate, comes with a devoted swap for Home windows and Mac layouts, and features the optional rotary dial. The dial defaults to volume controls, and you can press down for a person a lot more button (mute). While the keyboard isn’t marketed at gamers, its considerable programming resources and 1000Hz polling level suggests it’ll operate high-quality in just about any Personal computer activity, particularly with red switches. 

Keychron Q5 switches and keycaps

Michael Crider/IDG

Inside the box you’ll obtain a keycap puller, crucial swap puller, a braided USB-C-to-C cable with an A adapter, additionally a screwdriver and hex important if you experience like taking this monster apart. 

Talking of which…

Limitless customization with a programming quirk

Virtually every single part of the Keychron Q5 is made to be custom-made. It has the now semi-regular incredibly hot-swappable PCB, so if you’re not a admirer of the Gateron G Execs, you can fit in any MX-design and style change you want. That’s also accurate of the stabilizers, the excess parts that enable continue to keep prolonged keycaps from wobbling—the types on the board are excellent and generously lubed, but they’re screw-in and can be eliminated and replaced. 

Other areas of the board can be customized as perfectly. If for some reason you want it to be louder, you can open up it up and take out the circumstance foam, or incorporate in a little added (it will come in the box together with spare screws and plastic feet). And of system, the PCB has unique RGB LEDs that can be reprogrammed for many layouts and styles. 

Keychron Q5 keyboard, disassembled

Michael Crider/IDG

Keychron has bundled programming for this board through well-liked open up-source tool QMK and the a great deal extra consumer-welcoming Via. At first programming the Q5 was driving me outrageous, as By way of acknowledged it but none of the adjustments I manufactured seemed to be applied. Then I pored around the documentation and noticed what I’d skipped the first (various) situations I go through it: The levels are split amongst that Mac/Windows change that is been a staple of Keychron keyboard designs for a long time. 

So when programming the Q5, layer 00 (generally the key typing layer) and 01 are the Mac levels, when layers 02 and 03 are the Windows levels. Switch more than to Windows manner and Layer 2 will become your new layer . This is confusing—why have committed Mac and Home windows modes in a reprogrammable keyboard at all?—and a bit limiting, considering the fact that you’re now stuck with just two levels of programming for every method. 

Keychron Q5 keyboard programming

Michael Crider/IDG

But frankly, that’s a modest nitpick. The moment I bought over the original Mac/Home windows swap confusion, I was capable to use Via to do almost everything I necessary to for programming…which was not substantially on a board this dimension. 

Two other notes for customization: The rather exceptional 1800 vital layout suggests you are going to will need to hunt for a one.seventy five-width Change important and a 1x numpad to match any topic. That’s not so hard for a lot of custom sets, and simple enough to phony with others. The only other difficulty I had is that the keyboard has no possibility for ft. It’s a thick case with a shallow angle, and if you want it to be better you’ll want to prop it up on something—I used a pair of Coke bottle caps, but I’d in all probability incorporate these thick suckers if I was likely to use the Q5 comprehensive-time. 

Surprising value 

The Q5 charges $205 in the configuration Keychron sent us, with the upgraded radial dial. It’s also readily available in anodized black and navy blue, with stunning OSA keycaps to match, and your alternative of Gateron Professional switches. “Barebone” variations with out switches or keycaps are as minimal as $175, but frankly, that is not a superior deal thinking about how great both equally of individuals pieces are. 

Keychron Q5 LEDs

Michael Crider/IDG

$205 is a hell of a lot to invest on a keyboard. (Sure, Razer, Logitech, Corsair, it is, and you won’t get me to say in any other case.) But as opposed to the modest batch, super-custom models that Keychron swiped most of these features from, it’s actually about 50 % of what you’d expect to spend. (And you really do not have to hold out a yr and a 50 % to get it delivered.) It is even fewer than the Fall Change, a very similar mass-generated high quality board—but which lacks the rotary dial and gasket mount, and has a significantly less substantial case. 

The Q5 and its sister designs are, in quick, a rather excellent price if you are seeking for a substantial-quality board in the style of substantial-excellent customs. And with almost everything involved that you need to start customizing on your personal, they’re also incredibly superior for newcomers who want to soar into the deep stop of the mechanical keyboard pool. Just be cautious: The Keychron’s custom made collection may well spoil you for far more economical boards. 

Keychron Q5 dial

Michael Crider/IDG

The same set of functions are obtainable in full dimensions (Q6), tenkeyless (Q3), 60% (This autumn), sixty five% (Q2), 75% (Q1), and the new Alice format (Q8), at charges that are in the same way realistic. 

Conclusion 

While there are some questionable programming constraints, and I wish the system structure had optional ft for a a lot more extraordinary typing angle, the Keychron Q5 is normally practically flawless as a substantial-high-quality board with wonderful choices for customization. With a incredibly very good value issue, it dominates this hugely specialized marketplace in just about each way. 

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