This Thing Rules

The Keychron K3 is the mechanical keyboard I've been waiting for

No, really, I waited months for it. Thankfully, it was worth it.

Mechanical keyboards (those that use actual switches beneath each key, rather than plastic membranes or other budget mechanisms) are having something of a moment. And no wonder: most of us are at home, where our clickety clacking may be less antisocial than it would be in an office.

Craig Wilson / Input

One of the companies enjoying the spoils of the hoards of newcomers is Keychron, which prides itself on making affordable ($70-$100) mechanical keyboards in various layouts that work not just for Windows users, but for Mac loyalists, too.

Craig Wilson / Input

I wanted a keyboard that wasn't too thick (looking at you, K2), or too loud, and which didn't have too large a footprint. So, last October, I jumped at the K3 which Keychron was crowdfunding on Kickstarter. It arrived in February, but it was worth the wait.

Craig Wilson / Input

75%

The K3's 75 percent, tenkeyless, 84-key layout is compact, but still includes a row of media keys.

Keychron

Ultra-slim

One of the K3's unique selling points is that it only supports low profile switches, and that makes for a far slimmer and shorter keyboard than many other mechanical keyboards. At 10.7mm, the slimmest switch option is a full 7.2mm shorter than a conventional mechanical switch.

Which switch?

One of the advantages of mechanical keyboards is the ability to use different switches. Each variant (named by color) has a different feel and sound. For the K3, buyers can choose between Gateron low profile mechanical switches, or Keychron low profile optical switches (which are hot-swappable), in red, blue, brown, white, black, or orange.

Keychron

The Keychron optical switches are hot-swappable. The Gateron's aren't.

I opted for the low profile, optical, hot-swappable brown switches for their combination of medium-level resistance and middle-of-the-range click sound. You c can hear them in actions (along with all the other switch options) on the next slide.

Keychron

(Input may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. We only include products that have been independently selected by Input's editorial team.)

Craig Wilson / Input

In addition to switch type, buyers can choose between plain white LEDs to backlight the keycaps, or RGB ones (for $10 more). I'm a sucker for colored lighting, so the decision was easy:

18

How many RGB illumination variations the K3 includes, along with four brightness levels for each.

Craig Wilson / Input

Options for days (and nights)

You can toggle the lighting on and off and change colors or patterns using combinations of the dedicated lighting, Fn, and arrow keys.

There's even an option to have the illumination ripple out from each keypress.

Craig Wilson / Input

Keycap options

Although the K3 keycaps have MX-compatible key stems, Keychron's added some unique stabilizers and key sizes, so you may have to wait a while for third-party, alternative keycaps to come to market. You can at least buy another set of K3 keycaps from Keychron directly if something goes wrong with the ones you have, though.

Bluetooth or wired

The K3 supports up to three Bluetooth devices, and can also be used wired with the supplied USB-C (to USB-A) cable. The 1,550 mAh li-polymer battery is good for a few days between charges...

...and you can buy an optional, wooden wrist rest for $25.

Craig Wilson / Input

Keychron includes keycap and switch pullers, spare rubber feet, alternative keycaps for Windows users, and grey keycaps for the Esc and lighting keys in the event you don't like the orange ones. You can also remap keys via software if you need to.

Craig Wilson / Input

I swapped the right 'Control' keycap for an included 'Alt' one from the Windows set, for example, and used software called Karabiner-Elements to remap it.

$74

The starting price for the Keychron K3.

Keychron

Shipping again soon...

Keychron's nearly done fulfilling Kickstarter orders for the K3, after which it'll be available on-demand from its website over here. So, unlike me, you probably won't have to wait four months to get one.

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