Test: 9 best low profile mechanical keyboards


We frequently look at mechanical keyboards: keyboards where computer enthusiasts, typists and gamers agree that they offer the best experience. However, traditional mechanical boards have fairly high keys, often a higher frame to start with and are quite loud without an experienced user. However, several manufacturers have also released low-profile mechanical keyboards. The benefits of the better experience, but lower and quieter. We looked up the nine best models.

First one step back: why spend tens or even hundreds of euros on a keyboard while you can also fish one from a budget bin for a few euros? If you just type an occasional email, everything will be fine. But if you’re working all day or gaming all night, then you definitely benefit from something better. Mechanical switches have a better touch, are more durable (the touch still feels the same years later) and they respond faster. As a gamer you get a competitive advantage and as a typist you quickly get a lot faster.

Mechanical switches themselves are decades old, iconic last century mechanical boards like the IBM Model M can even save hundreds of euros.

Advantages of low-profile

However, low-profile mechanical switches are a younger phenomenon, so manufacturers have had plenty of time to scrape the drawbacks of mechanical keyboards: primarily the height and the higher noise production. The lower keys lead to a slightly shorter travel, but the “real mechanical feel” remains intact, as do the quality and speed. However, the lower keys make these keyboards a little more accessible to new users, and the sound of the button pushing to the bottom is significantly quieter. Not inaudible, but even the louder “clicky” switches are quieter than traditional mechanical boards and therefore also very useful in an environment with others around you.

All nine low-profile mechanical keyboards we’ve picked out are objectively good, none of them are a bad buy. We compare the most important aspects, but as with most hardware nowadays it is especially important to list your own wishes and requirements. Pay special attention to the switches that the manufacturers use, the key layout (for example, a more compact TKL variant has no numeric field), any wireless functionality, additional functions and of course the price.

The difference in size between a normal Cherry switch and a low-profile switch.

The Switch is leading

Of all those points to pay attention to, the switch is leading: after all, it is the experience under your fingers for which you decide to spend more. You can choose from three different types of switches: linear, clicky and tactile. A linear switch has a smooth movement from top to bottom. This is especially for gamers, especially if you play a lot of first-person shooters; this type of switch can be used multiple times.

For typists, a clicky switch is preferred, it has a tactile and audible moment of actuation, the consensus is that this is the best touch. Although the click of the low-profile switch is less loud than with traditional mechanical clicky boards, it remains a consideration whether you want to use this in a (busy) working environment.

For that reason, boards with a tactile switch are the safest recommendation if you are not 100% sure what suits you. Tactile switches do have the tactile actuation moment, but without the click. They are the all-rounders and the logical first step for everyone who buys their first mechanical board. It is also a safe buy for anyone who types and plays a lot of games.

Low-profile mechanical switches (here from Kailh) are just like normal variants in linear, tactile and clicky.

Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile

Corsair remains loyal to Cherry with its K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile, a low-profile version of one of the most popular mechanical boards at the moment and the test winner of our latest test of mechanical keyboards. At around 159 euros, this is one of the three most expensive keyboards in the test, but you also get some things in return. The K70 is very sturdy and luxuriously finished, plus you get extra media buttons and a nice volume wheel on your plate. A wrist rest is also included, if you’re considering a low-profile keyboard because you fear pressure on your wrists, that’s a nice extra.

Corsair gives you the option of Cherry MX Red, and Cherry MX Speed, with the latter being exclusive to Corsair for the time being. The difference between the two is small, both are linear switches and therefore mainly aimed at gamers, only the actuation moment of an MX Speed ​​switch is somewhat higher. This means that a light touch of the keys is enough to actuate the switch, in theory an advantage if every millisecond counts, as in online gaming. The disadvantage, however, is that if you rest your fingers, you can already activate the button; typists therefore stay away from this.

The German Cherry has always been the manufacturer for mechanical switches and their prices are for that. The Cherry surcharge applies here without prejudice, so you pay a lot extra for better construction, or you have to see a lot of added value in the slightly faster MX Speed ​​switch.

Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile

price

€ 159, –
Website
www.corsair.com
9 Score 90 Score: 90

  • Pros
  • Sturdy and luxuriously finished
  • Media buttons
  • Wrist rest
  • Negatives
  • price

Cooler Master SK621, SK630, SK650

With the SK series, Cooler Master presents a slightly more elegant-looking alternative to the mostly coarse mechanical boards. The frame is relatively compact and does not take up unnecessary space on your desk, and the brushed aluminum top layer looks neat. This does not look out of place in an office, nor in a gaming setup. You can make the lighting as modest white or colorful RGB as you want. Furthermore, they are relatively no-nonsense products, there are no further features worth mentioning.

Although there are many switches on the market, Cooler Master gives you little choice in that area; for the time being, we only see Cherry linear switches as an option in the various SK models. Great if you want that or are primarily a gamer.

On the other hand, Cooler Master also gives fans of the linear switch many options. You can choose from black and silver color schemes, you have a model with numpad (SK650) for Excel workers, or without a numpad (SK630) if you prefer a more compact board. You don’t have to do it for the price difference, because they both cost around 110 to 120 euros.

Yet the price, also here determined by the Cherry switches, is a disadvantage. With low-profile switches, we find the additional cost above the Chinese Kailh low-profile switches difficult to understand. We see no benefits both objectively and subjectively, and the Kailh switch feels equally good, if not better. The Kailh-based alternatives are therefore a lot cheaper and further comparable.

The wireless, ultra-compact SK621 is an exception to this, because the only wireless alternative costs you twice as much. This SK621 is also the only very small keyboard in this test, with the same key size but a more efficient layout.

Cooler Master SK621

price

€ 135, –
Website
www.coolermaster.com
8 Score 80 Score: 80

  • Pros
  • Compact design
  • Neat housing
  • Relatively cheap for wireless
  • Negatives
  • Linear only

Cooler Master SK630

price

€ 119, –
Website
www.coolermaster.com
7 Score 70 Score: 70

  • Pros
  • Compact design
  • Neat housing
  • Negatives
  • price
  • Linear only

Cooler Master SK650

price

€ 115, –
Website
www.coolermaster.com
7 Score 70 Score: 70

  • Pros
  • Compact design
  • Neat housing
  • Negatives
  • price
  • Linear only

Sharkoon PureWriter RGB (TKL)

Sharkoon is known for “lots of product for a low price” and the PureWriter series is an excellent example of this. With a price tag around seven tens, these two from the PureWriter series are the cheapest low-profile boards, and you will not notice them at first. The build quality is nothing short of excellent, the design is chic, and the touch of the low-profile Kailh switches is excellent. He lacks some of the luxury and flair of, among others, Corsair and Logitech, but there is the price difference.

In small details you notice the difference with the more expensive options: they have a more even lighting of the switches, better polished software and the keycaps from Sharkoon have a lot of extra prints which looks a bit busier. However, you have to pull firmly on the scale to say that those minuses are in proportion to the price difference.

Sharkoon gives you the option of linear (red) and clicky (blue) switches, and you have both a full-size model and a TKL version (a version without a numeric part). The full version also has physical media keys, which is a nice extra. And bonus points for Sharkoon for a removable and thus replaceable cable. Regardless of your preference for the layout and the type of switch: for around 70 to 75 euros you can purchase a wonderful low-profile keyboard.

Sharkoon PureWriter RGB

price

€ 79, –
Website
www.sharkoon.com
8 Score 80 Score: 80

  • Pros
  • Good build quality
  • Low price
  • Media control
  • Loose cable
  • Negatives
  • Lighting evenness
  • Press keyboard

Sharkoon PureWriter RGB TKL

price

€ 70, –
Website
www.sharkoon.com
8 Score 80 Score: 80

  • Pros
  • Good build quality
  • Low price
  • Loose cable
  • Negatives
  • Press keyboard
  • Lighting evenness

Logitech G815 & G915

Logitech puts us in a splurge with the G815 and G915, because on the one hand they are the finest, best worked out options in this test and on the other hand extremely expensive options. Let’s start with the positive: the build quality is top, the boards are equipped with a volume wheel, media buttons, profiles, USB passthrough (G815) and extra macro buttons. They are also a lot lower than most alternatives, there are feet that can raise the rear in two steps, and the Logitech software is very well developed. The downside of the extra buttons is that the board is a bit wider and higher, keep that in mind on your desk, but that is again subjective. Objectively, however? Excellent.

Also positive is that Logitech is the only one to offer a tactile low-profile switch, in addition to the previously discussed clicky and linear Kailh switches. If you would like a tactile switch – which is understandable – then you have practically no choice but to pay the hefty additional cost for it. But the surcharge is substantial, 185 to 199 euros for the wired G815 is substantial, especially when the switches come from the same factory as those of the much cheaper Sharkoon and the MSI.

249 euros for the wireless G915 then seems even crazier, but the fact that there are practically no wireless alternatives and that the implementation is just about perfect compensates for a lot. Its battery life of 1000 hours without lights is nice, but 30 hours with lighting chops firmly in it, but you can connect multiple devices to your keyboard. The most impressive product in this test is anyway, but only for typists and gamers who are not awake from a hundred more or less.

Logitech G815

price

€ 185, –
Website
www.logitech.com
9 Score 90 Score: 90

  • Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • Usb passthrough
  • Media control
  • Tactile tests possible
  • Negatives
  • price

Logitech G915 (Best tested)

price

€ 249, –
Website
www.logitech.com
10 Score 100 Score: 100

  • Pros
  • Wireless
  • Excellent build quality
  • Media control
  • Tactile tests possible
  • Long battery life (without lighting)
  • Negatives
  • price

MSI Vigor GK50

With a price of 75 euros, MSI is at the bottom of the price range in this test. This Vigor GK50 makes us wonder why paying more is really necessary. The build quality is neat and the Kailh switches feel (just like Sharkoon and the much more expensive Logitechs) excellent. The lighting has MSI slightly better here than Sharkoon in its plates, but you do provide the physical volume buttons and a replaceable cable. The MSI is therefore a fairly no-nonsense keyboard: good typing and gaming, not much more.

Remarkably enough, MSI chooses to only sell the GK50 with clicky switches. Nice considering most manufacturers do not do that, too bad if you just want this look but linear switches. Assuming you like the clicky switch and don’t want to pay the top price for your mechanical keyboard, it’s a good choice.

MSI Vigor GK50 (Editorial tip)

price

€ 75, –
Website
https://nl.msi.com
8 Score 80 Score: 80

  • Pros
  • Good build quality
  • Good lighting
  • price
  • Negatives
  • No media buttons
  • Fixed cable

Conclusion

There are again no bad choices. But as often, some products stand out more than others and other products fall between two stools.

They are the cheapest options that initially stand out. The Sharkoon PureWriter RGB and MSI Vigor GK50 are somewhat basic in terms of technical characteristics, but they are hardly inferior to much more expensive options in the typing and gaming experience and offer a competitive price.

On the other end, the Logitech G915 with its wireless function and extensive capabilities is impressive, even if the price is very extreme. The Cooler Master SK621 is also a positive standout because it is the only affordable wireless model, and is also super compact.

It is mainly switch manufacturer Cherry that has to scratch the back of the head, because the traditional surcharge for “German quality” is not justified in these low-profile boards: it is the Kailh switches that take the lead. So Cherry must either innovate with new, more impressive low-profile switches, or lower the prices of the Cherry switches, which will also lower Cherry-based boards (Cooler Master, Corsair).

Click on the table for a larger version.
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1 Comment

  1. The best possible 60% keyboard in my personal option would have to be the GK61 Keyboard, it comes with RGB lighting and mechanical switches. Best Gaming Beasts cost 60$

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