When hunting for a mechanical keyboard, you will face 2 options that you may struggle to choose from: A normal keyboard and a low-profile keyboard.
You may already know that the obvious factor that distinguishes these two profiles is the height.
Though normal keyboards seem to be easier to buy, low-profile keyboards also have plenty of supporters out there. But are low-profile keyboards really better?
Several innovations developed from normal switches create new low-profile switches that provide a different typing experience as well as change in some interesting ways.
This article will help you understand low-profile keyboards benefit typing and gaming. We will also show a list of top low-profile mechanical keyboards in case you got no clues about which low-profile keyboard is the most top-notch!
What are Low-profile keyboards?
Low-profile mechanical keyboards have just recently become popular.
Generally, low-profile keyboards are two-thirds or even half the height of standard keyboards. How can it be that short? Well, The answer lies in its body build, keycaps, and key switches.
Compared to normal mechanical keyboards, this type of keyboard has a shorter keyboard body shorter keycaps, and shorter switches. Although low-profile switches and the standard mechanical switches have the same structure, they are considerably smaller and more lightweight.
These shorter switches have a shorter travel distance than their regular switch counterparts. Kailh, Cherry, and Logitech are the major manufacturers of the most popular low-profile switch families.
The low switches from these brands will be compatible with which keyboard sizes? Find the answer in this post: Intro to Keyboard Sizes and Layouts.
Keycaps for low-profile switches
Low-profile keycaps are designed to work with low-profile switches in low-profile keyboards.
So, can you put normal keycaps on low-profile keyboards?
The answer is NO.
Low-profile switches have their stems differing from the standard switches. Since most normal switches adopt the standard Cherry stem design, they are applicable to all kinds of switch types. On the contrary, this common stem form is not used for the low-profile switch stems.
Furthermore, because low-profile switches aren’t manufactured the same way as normal switches, normal keycaps basically can’t work with them.
Should you get a low-profile keyboard for typing?
You’re undoubtedly accustomed to low-profile keyboards if you use a laptop for work every day.
As a result, you’ll also become used to operating on another low-profile keyboard much faster. They’re easy to type on and might help you increase your typing speed. In addition to the increased typing speed, you are also likely to make fewer errors once you get used to your low-profile keyboard.
Should you get a low-profile keyboard for gaming?
Low-profile mechanical keyboards are specifically designed with players in mind. Of course, these keyboards may use low-profile switches, such as those from Cherry which were created just for gaming.
Thanks to the lower height, the entire travel time is shortened. Specifically, actuation points are reduced by half, giving gamers a competitive advantage by allowing them to react to situations rapidly.
As a result, the game response times are also getting speedier.
Recommended low-profile mechanical keyboards
Here are our top picks of well-known low-profile keyboards that you should consider. If you want to know more about other low-profile keyboards, here’s what you need: The Best Low-Profile Keyboards (2022 Reviews)
The K1 is built for efficiency as a typist’s desire with an ultra-thin base of 18mm and switches for a fantastic clicky experience.
It takes less force and utilizes less finger movement than other mechanical keyboards, not only reducing finger tiredness but also providing superior typing comfortability.
This keyboard comes with Gateron mechanical and Keychron optical low-profile switches to improve the user experience while maintaining a thinner and more elegant appearance.
Keychron optical low-profile switch includes the MX-styled stems casing with ultra-low latency of 0.2 ms. These light-activated switches are designed for typists or gamers who wish to type at breakneck speed and have a lifetime of 70 million hours, far surpassing industry standards.
Overall, K1 with two options of low-profile switch options will increase your efficiency while also complementing your desktop aesthetics
The next option in this low-profile keyboards list is the Keychron K3. Like the K1 model, this K3 model also offers Gateron mechanical and Keychron optical low-profile switches.
The next option is the Keychron K3, which, like the K1 model, includes Gateron mechanical and Keychron optical low-profile switches.
Yet, it has the world’s first hot-swappable low-profile Optical switches, which makes it so special.
This allows users to easily modify their per-key typing experience, as well as all other Keychron features.
Overall, since it provides both a pleasant and sturdy experience, this keyboard is a good pick for those who look for an innovative feel with their purchase.
The K7’s low-profile Keychron Optical switches are 40% smaller than standard switches while yet providing excellent mechanical keyboard tactile responsiveness.
The low-profile Gateron Mechanical keyboard, as well as the low-profile Keychron Optical counterpart, have the first-ever hot-swappable option. Therefore, with the K7 hot-swappable version, you will modify your typing experience with no soldering by hot-swapping each switch.
Moreover, whether you like clicky (Blue), linear (Red), or something in between, the K7’s low-profile switches cut out the non-essentials of standard switches without losing typing pleasure (Brown, Banana, Mint).
Regarding early tactile bump feel and operational force, the Mint and Banana switches will be identical to the Panda switches.
With more innovative features than the K1 and K3 models, the K7 is the only 65 % low-profile mechanical keyboard; however, it is still equipped with all of the tech benefits.
What are the best switches for low-profile keyboards?
As you know, low-profile keyboards require special switches. Unluckily, there is currently a limited selection of switches devoted to low-profile keyboards on the market.
The following are the most common choices:
Cherry MX low-profile Switches
When buying a mechanical keyboard, keyboards with Cherry switches are regarded as a pioneer. Cherry was the one who first divided the switches into red, blue, and brown.
They’ve also introduced switches for low-profile keyboards recently.
However, only two Cherry colors red and silver (as image above) are now available for linear switches. The main difference between them is the greater actuation point of the button in the silver switch (1mm instead of 1.2mm), making it quicker.
|1.2 mm||1 mm|
|Total Travel||3.2 mm|
Gateron Low-Profile Switches
Gateron is another excellent option. Gateron is frequently used as a replacement for Cherry since it provides a comparable pleasure at a lower cost.
Gateron’s low-profile switches are the most recent of the three alternatives described, activating at 1.5mm.
With a total travel distance of 2.5mm, they are the tiniest switch on the list. They’re ideal for individuals looking for a mechanical feel in a smaller package. However, if you want switches that will offer you an advantage in gaming circumstances, they are not the greatest.
The reason is that there aren’t many boards or keycaps that support these low-profile switches. As a matter of fact, the stem doesn’t have the usual Cherry design and the pins don’t match up with the Kailh type.
These switches may not be as reliable as Cherry choices, but they are still reliable enough that other components on the keyboard should fail before the switches themselves.
|1.5 mm||1.5 mm|
|Total Travel||2.5 mm||2.5 mm|
|Force||45 gf||55 gf|
Kailh Low-Profile Switches
Kailh is a Chinese company that is one of the major suppliers of mechanical keyboard switches as well as other parts.
On the internet, several folks think that Kalih switches are worse than Cherry MX switches due to they are just less expensive and almost found on cheap keyboards.
Despite those opinions, the truth is that Kalih provides excellent quality and value switches. It also includes a large variety of switches designed specifically for low-profile keyboards.
|Durability||70,000,000 cycles||70,000,000 cycles|
Logitech GL Low-Profile Switches
Like any keyboard brand, Logitech also early recognized the promise of the low-profile keyboard business and developed its own line of switches just for it.
Logitech GL Low-Profile Switches
You can see the specifications of Logitech GL Low-Profile Switches as follow:
|Pre Travel||1.5 mm||1.5 mm|
|Total Travel||2.7 mm||2.7 mm|
|Force||50 gf||50 gf|
Check out this post: The Secret Of Mechanical Keyboard Switches to get a full guide on choosing mechanical keyboard switches.
Low-Profile Keyboards vs Normal Keyboards
Low-profile switches differ from normal switches in a number of ways. Between the two, they have various designs and varied choices.
In reality, low-profile switches are improved versions of normal switches that are designed to be thinner. They have a substantially shorter overall travel than standard switches and activate in half the time.
Now we go into each aspect to distinguish these two keyboards.
The price gap between low-profile and standard switches is fairly considerable.
When considering low-profile switches from brands like Kailh to standard switch counterparts, the price gap is even more than two times greater.
Besides, low-profile switches can set you back from $5 to $7 for every pack of 10 (some cost even more) although its standard switch series counterparts may cost as little as $2 to $3 per box of 10.
The reason is obvious! Low-profile switches are as expensive as some of the higher-end key switch choices, but they have a considerably better feel and sound.
When it comes to low-profile switches, there are considerably fewer choices than standard switches. Regular switches are more common, and as a result, there are a lot more options.
Whereas, low-profile switches aren’t even available on many of the most popular keyboard parts websites such as Mechanical Keyboards and Keyboardio.
Similar to low-profile switches, there are a relatively limited amount of customized keycaps due to the modified stems as well as lower height.
However, there are certain custom keycaps supported by low-profile switches with the Cherry stem style, but they should be low-profile as well to avoid colliding with the case plate.
For example, low-profile switches from Kailh and Gateron offer few choices for custom keycaps since they adopt a unique stem style from the rest of the industry.
On the other hand, standard switches provide you with countless keycap selections. They also provide a lot of flexibility and are perfect for anyone who is still thinking of the keycap profile they want.
Low-profile keyboards, regrettably, fall short when it comes to modding, which is a dealbreaker for modding fans.
For starters, the incompatibility of standard keycaps with low-profile switches is a real obstacle between low-profile keyboards and users who often replace their keycaps.
Because low-profile keycaps have fewer options than standard ones, low-profile keyboards are nearly impossible to customize, with the exception of a few brands like Kailh and Gateron.
Whereas, standard switches allow you to design a large number of keycaps. They are truly ideal for anybody who loves to inspire their hobby into keycaps.
You don’t have to raise your hands as high and stretch your fingertips as long with shorter switches. This may help with ergonomics.
The angle at which your wrists are positioned is not as intense as it would be if you were using standard switches, resulting in less wrist strain.
After all, it is obvious that lower-profile switches will surpass their normal counterparts in terms of ergonomics.
When compared to regular profile switches, low-profile switches are more portable. Smaller switches allow the board to be more compact and portable. It’s also a lot easier to stuff them into a bag.
As most of these boards have a travel-friendly design with a width almost similar to a laptop, they are extremely easy to fit into laptop bag pockets. This is really perfect for those who regularly fly but still need to use a dedicated keyboard.
It’s much better if the keyboard is wireless, as this increases the ease with which the board may be moved.
Moreover, low-profile boards are not only compact but are also lightweight, which is beneficial since most standard boards are hefty and difficult to transport to a LAN party or other places where you might need your keyboard.
It’s time to answer the question we posed at the outset. Is it true that low-profile keyboards are better?
Yes, in many ways, yet preferences still play a big role. Even in the realm of mechanical keyboards, low-profile keyboards are becoming increasingly popular (before, high-profile keyboards ruled the roost).
They unquestionably offer several advantages. In fact, its greatest flaw is its lack of availability and customization, which makes it more difficult to find components if you want to build your unique changes.
However, if the recent trend of increased demand for low-profile keyboards continues, we might be able to solve this problem at no time!
We wish you happy clicking, regardless of the keyboard you use!