5 Best Hot-swappable Mechanical Keyboards That You Can Buy
Buying or building a keyboard is all about choices and certain keyboards are just better at giving you more choices than others.
Meanwhile, there are hot-swap mechanical keyboards that have a special type of PCB that allows the mechanical keyboard switches installed to be replaced easily. This allows you to build your board the way you want, and also allows for quick repairs and cleaning.
The next keyboard you buy should be a hot-swap mechanical keyboard because once you have procured one board, all you have to do now is buy switches, keycaps, or other mods without spending the bulk of the money on the case, PCB, plate, cable, etc.
A hot-swap keyboard will also allow you to lube your mechanical switches easier since you do not have to solder/desolder them from their sockets!
Overall hot-swap keyboards are net superior to standard boards but which ones should you buy?
- Custom PCB
- QMK Firmware support
- Dual USB-C connectors
The first hot-swap keyboards we will mention are Drop keyboards which represent the premium hot-swap pre-made boards that come packed with a lot of features and have superior quality.
You can choose from the Drop CTRL, the TKL option, or the ALT the 65% keyboard option. Both keyboards sport an aluminum case, a lot of RGB, plate-mounted switches and have hot-swap PCBs that allow you to choose whatever switch you want to use.
As with most custom mechanical keyboards you can use the QMK firmware to customize your layout so you have flexibility if you come from a different keyboard size.
- Aluminum case
- Uses a plate
- Extra RGB strip
- Quite costly
- 3-pin PCB will require you to clip 5-pin switches
Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard
- Removable Switches
- ABS Double Injection Keycaps
- 1000 Hz Polling Rate
The second big contender when it comes to pre-built hot-swap keyboards that dominate the market is the Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboards (GMMK for short). As with everything else Glorious pulls no punches and offers you the choice between 100%, TKL, and 60% fully modular keyboards.
You can use any MX type switch you want and can customize the board with extra keycap sets per your heart’s desire. This is good news because the keyboards come with unlubed Gateron Brown switches which you should just throw out as soon as you get the board and purchase proper mechanical switches.
The neat part about the GMMK lineup is the fact that all 3 boards cost the same amount therefore you can choose whatever board suits your tastes better without being pressured by prices.
- Well priced
- Compatible with all types of switches
- Create macros with the Glorious software
- Comes with Gateron Browns
- The 100% size has a non-removable cable
Keychron K6 Wireless
- Compatible for both macOS and Windows
- Wireless and wired mode
- Connects up to 3 devices
If you do not want to spend over 100$ for your first hot-swap keyboard and would like a sort of trial run to see if you truly enjoy this hobby you can buy the Keychron K6 Wireless.
This is a budget-friendly 65% mechanical keyboard that can operate both in wired and wireless mode. The PCB is hot-swap compatible therefore you can quickly dispose of the Gateron switches that come pre-installed and put your own lubed switches in.
Although the keyboard has a 4000mAh battery and can be used in wireless mode, for gaming we would recommend you keep it wired for less input lag. Regular tasks like browsing YouTube on the other hand can be completed with the keyboard in wireless mode with no problems.
- Has wireless capabilities
- Compatible with almost all the MX style switches
- 4000 mAh battery
- The layout includes arrow keys
- Latency in wireless mode
Epomaker SK71 & The HK-Gaming GK61
- Gateron Optical Switches
- Macro recording
- Compatibility with Mac and Windows
Although we are talking about 2 different keyboards, the reason why they are in the same category is the fact that they have limited hot-swap capabilities. This is mainly because these keyboards have support for only Gateron optical switches, therefore can only swap between these types of mechanical switches.
The Epomaker SK71 is a 70% keyboard that also has the option of running wireless or in wired mode while the GK61 is a 60% keyboard that runs only in wired mode. Both these keyboards are compatible with the entire lineup of Gateron optical switches giving you some options to choose from.
When it comes to optical switches we usually advise caution during lubing and other modding processes because there is a chance of blocking the laser that tells the keyboard that an action has happened, effectively bricking your board.
Budget wise these 2 options are simply unbeatable so if you are on a tight budget then you know which keyboards to look at!
- Hot-swap PCB
- Optical switches with 0 latency
- Only compatible with Gateron optical switches
- The wireless mode on the SK71 has input delay
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