When you hear the words “gaming keyboard”, what usually comes to mind is a large, bulky full-sized mechanical keyboard with a all the bells and whistles that have been added by the manufacturer to make it more gamer-y.
But not all gamers are built the same. Some prefer a much more minimal approach to their keyboards, and that’s where low-profile mechanical keyboards come in.
What is a Low-Profile Keyboard?
In a nutshell, a low-profile keyboard is a keyboard that is shorter in height, with switches that have shorter travel for actuation.
Low-profile keyboards are derived from laptop and notebook keyboards, where they try to mimic the same type of portability and ergonomic feel.
The low profile switches are usually faster to actuate and generally feel faster to press than a traditional mechanical keyboard. Low profile switches can come in all the same flavours that regular switches come in, rubber come, mechanical, and optical options are available.
1. Keychron K1 and K3
- Great quality for price
- Hotswap sockets
- Multiple connectivity options
- Great wireless battery life
- No adjustable feet
- Lacking software customization
- ABS keycaps will develop shine
Keychron is a hugely popular brand of mechanical keyboards mostly for how good their price to quality ratio is. The Keychron K1 and K3 are at the top of our list for a reason. First off, the K1 is the TKL (tenkeyless) version while the K3 is smaller and is a 75% keyboard. While not 60%, both the models fit the bill for a low-profile keyboard.
Keychron has been in the mechanical keyboard game for years, and they have been steadily improving. The K1 and K3 are a true testament to their progress. Both the keyboards are hot-swappable, and Keychron offers Gateron low-profile switches on their website which can be linear, tactile, or clicky. It’s a nice touch that you can swap out the included switches for whatever low-profile key switches you like, and its not always a commonly seen feature among low-profile keebs.
Both the models support wireless connectivity, with the K3 having around 99 hours of battery use with the backlight off, and around 34 hours with the backlight on. You can pair both the K1 and K3 with multiple devices, with the K1 allowing 3 and the K3 allowing 5.
The wireless mode works seamlessly across any type of device, and you will have no hiccups when using it wirelessly. However, it has to be said that gaming on wireless mode is not the greatest idea as its measly Bluetooth connection is unable to provide the latency necessary for gaming.
Moreover, you should know that both the K1 and K3 use ABS keycaps instead of PBT, which means the quality of the legends are not the best.
The keyboards also lack adjustable feet, which means there’s very little in the way of adjustment. There’s also no software to customize the keyboards’ functions as everything is done on the keyboard.
Apart from these somewhat minor downsides, the Keychron K1 and K3 are remarkable low-profile mechanical keyboards and should be in consideration.
2. Fnatic Streak65 LP
- PBT keycaps
- Sturdy buidl quality with aluminum case
- Kailh LP switches feel great
- Good layout
- Foam insert for acoustics
- Higher end pricing
The Streak65 from Fnatic is an awesome little 65% keyboard that’s primarily aimed at esports players. It’s a superbly compact low-profile keeb that has a great design that doesn’t feel overly gamery while still managing to look unique.
Its build quality is top of the line, with an all-aluminum case that keeps it light and strong. It also has PBT keycaps that have a high quality and durable legend. The Streak65 uses Kailh low-profile switches that sound and feel great.
The keyboard is also packed with foam inside which greatly helps its acoustics. Overall, Fnatic’s great attention to detail makes the Streak65 stand out from the competition.
3. Corsair K70 Mk.2 Low Profile and Corsair K60
- Media keys with volume wheel
- Fast keys
- Great RGB options
- Full sized keyboards arent the best for gaming ergonomics
- Thick cable
- Keys are slightly wobbly
The K70 Mk.2 is actually a full-size keyboard with all the bells and whistles of a traditional gaming mechanical keyboard. The fully-featured K70 and is equipped with a volume wheel as well as a USB passthrough, things you usually won’t find in other low-profile keyboards.
The K70 has fast and reliable Cherry low-profile switches—so gamers will be hard-pressed to find any faults with this keyboard.
It comes with a thick and clunky cable that will tend to get in your way more than other keyboards. The keycaps don’t have the best fit on the low-profile switches and tend to wobble more than I would like.
But the K70 is an extremely popular keyboard among gamers, and we feel Corsair has made a respectable low-profile version of the same keeb. The K60 is similar to the K70 Mk.2, albeit with some of the media features omitted.
Both are really good low-profile offerings from Corsair, and the downloadable software, you can even customize your keyboard however you want.
4. Logitech G915 TKL
- Great keyfeel for low profile
- Adjustable feet
- Lots of RGB customization
- Fast wireless connection good for gaming
- The most expensive on this list
The G915 TKL is hailed as one of the best low-profile keyboards out there—and for good reason. Logitech’s wireless Lightspeed technology provides the G915 with ultra-low latency in gaming, which puts its wireless capabilities well above other keyboards.
Logitech uses their GL low-profile mechanical switches, which are much better designed compared to their regular Romer G switches. The keys press well and feel markedly better than those in the Corsair K70. The build quality of the G915 TKL is great, with brushed aluminum surfaces, and even a volume wheel that feels satisfying to use.
The G915 TKL has well-adjustable feet, which is always a plus. The G Hub software can be downloaded and be used to customize a whole host of features just to your liking.
All that said, there is a reason why the G915 TKL is so far down the list; and its price. At $240, it’s a steep price to pay for a low-profile keyboard with proprietary switches. But if you’re looking for a clean and well-built low-profile keyboard, the G915 TKL is an amazing choice.
5. Redragon K618
- Affordable price with lots of features
- USB 2.4 Ghz and Bluetooth connectivity
- Media key and wheels
- Not the best build quality
- Typing experience is subpar
Redragon has always been the budget gamer’s best friend, and now they have thrown their hat into the low-profile keyboard game. The K618 is a great budget wireless keyboard. It’s got both Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz connectivity options, so you can even game wirelessly with respectable latency.
While not as well built as the G915 TKL, the Redragon K618 actually has almost all the same features, at a fraction of the cost. If you’re looking to not spend too much on a low-profile keyboard, the Redragon K618 is worth checking out.
The cost cutting has to come from somewhere. The K618’s key feel and build quality leave a lot to be desired.
6. Vissles LP85
- Attractive mac-like aesthetic
- Good build quality
- Not gaming oriented, wireless has latency
The best way to explain the Vissles LP85 is to say that it’s the furthest thing from a gaming keyboard. But it’s a really great-looking low-profile keyboard.
It’s almost reminiscent of a MacBook pro’s keyboard, which is great to type on. In line with this design, the LP85 is mostly aimed at Mac users who are more work than play. Its got respectable build quality for the price, and sports optical low-profile switches. The keycaps are so very Mac-y and feel great to type on.
If you’re in the market for a clean-cut low-profile keyboard to add to your work setup, the Vissles LP85 might just be for you.
The Pros and Cons of a Low-Profile Keyboard
Pros of a low-profile keyboard
First and foremost, low-profile keyboards are less tall compared to your run-of-the-mill mechanical keyboard. This makes them much more ergonomic since your wrist doesn’t have to be too elevated. This is a huge deal if you tend to spend long hours typing away at your desk; the chances of you developing a strain injury are much lower with a low-profile keeb.
Short key travel
The other advantage of low-profile keyboards—particularly their switches, is their short key travel distance. Granted, this is a much more subjective opinion. Many mechanical keyboard enthusiasts prefer a generous amount of key travel as it tends to enhance the feel of the switches.
But if you’re used to laptop and notebook keyboards, or even if you’re a gamer who wants that extra low latency with a reduced key travel distance, low-profile keyboards are a really good choice.
If you’re coming off small laptop keyboards like those in MacBooks and Dell thin and lights. The switch to a low-profile mechanical keyboard won’t feel too overwhelming, and you will most likely be typing at your regular speeds in no time!
Low-profile keebs tend to be the traveler’s best friend because of their lighter weight. It also helps that the low-profile switches reduce the overall thickness of the keyboard, which allows you to easily chuck it in a bag pack and be ready to roll.
Cons of a low-profile keyboard
Lack of choice
If you’re someone who is just now getting into the world of mechanical keyboards, there’s one crucial fact you should be aware of: high-profile mechanical keyboards run the show. This means that when it comes to choice, the number of high-profile vs. low-profile keyboards you can pick from is essentially 10 to 1.
Lack of customizability
If the reason you fell in love with mechanical keyboards was how many different switch types there were, I have disappointing news for you. Low-profile keyboards have an embarrassingly little switch variety.
Granted, you are able to find a handful of reputable low-profile switches like the Cherry MX reds and blues. But you won’t have nearly the same level of near-overwhelming level of customizable switch options as you would with a high-profile keeb.
Less satisfying to type on
Okay, this is very subjective and the chances are that you might even prefer how low-profile switches feel. But it’s the general consensus among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts that high-profile switches feel better to type in every regard.
How We Tested
There’s really only one foolproof method to completely test how good (or bad) a low-profile keyboard is: by playing a crapload of games! 60% keyboards are especially handy for first-person shooters since they leave ample space for your mouse to flick around to get those perfect shots.
We played Valorant, Apex Legends, and Modern Warfare—some of the most popular FPS titles to gauge how good these keyboards performed. We also threw Dota 2 into the mix as it’s a very keyboard-intensive title.
Apart from just raw performance, we also tested ergonomics, key feel as well as durability. We wanted to make sure that your wrist doesn’t cramp up after long hours on any of these mechanical keyboards. Furthermore, we hammered away on the keys extra hard to see whether the keys maintained their smoothness and rigidity.
Apart from our own testing, we looked at the court of public opinion to see whether or not any of the keyboards didn’t belong on this list. We did a ton of research on all our selections, including scouring social media for actual user reviews as well as from other gaming outlets to better understand how people felt about the keyboards in day-to-day use. If any had reports of quality issues, we took them out of the running.
What We’re Looking for in Low-Profile Keyboards
It’s simple, we look for the same staples that make any keyboard a good keyboard.
If a keyboard checked all the above boxes and met our standards, and given that it was readily available and in the right price bracket, it was added to our list. We think most gamers will like any/all of the below choices since you really can’t go wrong with what we picked.
We selected keyboards that are always available to buy. We stayed away from low-profile that were limited runs or part of group buys.