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.

You see, standard keyboards come with Cherry MX switches, Gateron switches, or Kailh mechanical switches that are soldered to the PCB, therefore, are semi-permanent (can be desoldered).

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?

drop ctrl mechanical keyboard
  • Custom PCB
  • QMK Firmware support
  • Dual USB-C connectors
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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.

Pros:
  • Aluminum case
  • Uses a plate
  • Extra RGB strip
Cons:
  • Quite costly
  • 3-pin PCB will require you to clip 5-pin switches

Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard

glorious modular mechanical keyboard full
  • Removable Switches
  • ABS Double Injection Keycaps
  • 1000 Hz Polling Rate
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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.

Pros:
  • Well priced
  • Compatible with all types of switches
  • Create macros with the Glorious software
Cons:
  • Comes with Gateron Browns
  • The 100% size has a non-removable cable

Keychron K6 Wireless

keychron k6 wireless
  • Compatible for both macOS and Windows
  • Wireless and wired mode
  • Connects up to 3 devices
CHECK PRICES

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.

Pros:
  • Has wireless capabilities
  • Compatible with almost all the MX style switches
  • 4000 mAh battery
  • The layout includes arrow keys
Cons:
  • Latency in wireless mode

Epomaker SK71 & The HK-Gaming GK61

epomaker sk71 and 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.

This makes the variety of switches you can try on the SK71 and the GK61 limited, but these are still valid budget options for you to consider.

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!

Pros:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Hot-swap PCB
  • Optical switches with 0 latency
Cons:
  • Only compatible with Gateron optical switches
  • The wireless mode on the SK71 has input delay

About The Author

Chris Bulgac

Chris is a passionate gamer, streamer and PC tech enthusiast. The PC peripheral market has a special place in his heart, as there are few enthusiast-grade products that he has not tried, and even fewer products he has not researched already. Overall, Chris is a BIG nerd and he is absolutely proud of it!

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