We’ve covered a few different types of switches within our different articles, from specialized gaming speed switches to more traditional red/black linear switches. And if you’ve read any of them, you’ll remember that there are three main types of switches (linear, tactile, and clicky) that have different types of feedback sensations: linear are smooth with no feedback, tactile give a bump upon actuation, and clicky have a bump as well as an audible ‘click’ upon actuation (actuation is when the key is registered as pressed). But while these are the types of switches, recent innovation has led to a change in the form factor of some switches to introduce a more compact version: the low profile mechanical switch.
Low profile switches were born out of the idea that many people enjoy the very short travel of ‘scissor’ or ‘chiclet’ laptop style switches, but still prefer the sensation of typing on a mechanical keyboard. With that in mind, Cherry, the largest manufacturer of mechanical switches, and Kailh, another one of the big players in mechanical switches, introduced low profile switches that used the same three types of feedback, but in a compact design that mimicked the short travel of laptop keyboards, reduced the size of mechanical keyboards, but maintained the same sensation. Cherry calls these switches MX Low Profile while Kailh simply refers to them as Kailh Low Profile switches.
So for the gamer that wants a short travel or more compact (in terms of height) keyboard, these low profile switches are an interesting option. And as the invention has caught on, other manufacturers like Logitech and Outemu have also introduced low profile options, meaning there are plenty of options to choose from. Custom keycaps are still harder to find, but we expect those to come in time. Like regular mechanical keyboards, we are looking for high quality switches and builds with nice features and good prices for our recommendations.
With those criteria in mind, these are our recommendations for best low profile mechanical keyboards:
Best Low Profile Mechanical Keyboards – Our Recommendations
|Best Budget Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard||Redragon K589 Shrapnel RGB|
|Best Mid-tier Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard||CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE|
|Best High-end Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard||Logitech G815 RGB|
|Best TKL Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard||HAVIT 87-key|
|Best 60% (& Wireless) Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard||CoolerMaster SK621|
Best Budget Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
As we’ve shown in previous articles about mechanical keyboards, prices range from very expensive to very cheap. And while many of the cheapest options are low quality, there exist budget options that combine quality parts and design with less fancy features to create great keyboards. These options don’t always include all the bells and whistles of fancier designs, but they do offer strong reliability if you choose the right one. So for our best budget low profile mechanical keyboard, we recommend going with a known manufacturer and selecting the Redragon K589 Shrapnel RGB.
Redragon is a budget peripheral manufacturer that has made a name for good products at reasonable prices. This particularly keyboard includes some nice features like RGB backlighting, but most importantly offers good build quality and Outemu red low profile switches. Outemu might not make as great a switches as Cherry or Kailh in terms of quality control (wobble/scratchiness), but they still make good switches and red switches are perfect for gaming due to their linear (lack of) feedback and medium weighting. And because Redragon went with Outemu and a no-frills approach, they are able to offer the K589 Shrapnel at a very attractive $53 price point. At less than half of our mid-tier keyboard cost and 1/3rd of the high-end, that’s a lot of low-profile keyboard for the price.
Best Mid-tier Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
Beyond the budget-level, we start entering into the territory of very nice keyboards. Low profile periods still have a premium on their pricing as the switches are less popular and therefore more expensive to make, but a mid-tier keyboard still represents a step up in terms of features and reliability over the budget tier, even if the budget tier offerings are already quite good. One of the biggest advantages we see is the inclusion of Cherry MX Low Profile switches, which are more reliable in terms of quality control than their Outemu counterparts. Cherry MX switches also have other advantages, which we will get to in a second. But for all of these reasons, we recommend the well-known CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 RAPIDFIRE in its new low profile format.
Corsair needs no introduction, suffice to say that it is perhaps the biggest peripherals manufacturer (with Logitech) and produces high quality goods at reasonable (if slightly more expensive than budget producer) prices. The K70 Mk.2 is one of the keystone keyboards that Corsair makes, combining the classic full-size format with plenty of features and great high quality parts. And this particular low profile version is even better, using the unique Cherry MX low profile Speed switch. The travel on this switch is extremely short, making reaction times very quick and perfect for fast-twitch gamers that want immediate feedback. In addition, the Cherry MX low profile switch is compatible with regular MX keycaps, although be aware of Corsair’s non-standard bottom row when trying to customize your keys. In all, you are getting a specialized MX switch in keyboard packed with features (RGB, media keys, scroll wheel, iCue control, etc.) in a compact, slim low profile design. Not a bad deal for $130.
Best High-end Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
As always, after the mid-tier and budget tier, there exists the high-end of the spectrum. The keyboards in the high-end may not offer as compelling a price-performance value as interesting as the other budget levels, but they will be sure to include all the features you could want with a build quality and reliability to match. But what we really want at the high-end is something unique, something that sets apart the keyboard in this case and justifies its price. Luckily, we have a great keyboard to recommend that does just that: the Logitech G815 RGB low profile mechanical keyboard.
The G815 is an absolutely fascinating keyboard. It combines the low profile switch with an ultra-thin aluminum frame, but still manages to pack the keyboard full of features. From a media scroll wheel to programmable macro keys to profile programming to RGB Lightspeed syncing with your PC, the keyboard combines more features than you could ever need into a very slim and attractive package. And to top it all off, the keyboard features a unique Logitech low profile keyboard switch called a GL Linear (or GL Clicky/Tactile if you prefer a different switch type). These switches are unique to Logitech keyboards and promise half the height of normal switches, meaning that they will be hyper quick to respond and maximize the benefits of the low profile form factor. All of these aspects are what make this keyboard high end, and the price is correspondingly high at $200. But for someone that has the budget and wants the top low profile mechanical keyboard available, the G815 RGB is a very strong choice.
Best TKL Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
Outside of the traditional full-size keyboards with the numpad and F-row, typists are gravitating towards smaller form factors that remove the keys they don’t need. The most popular of these smaller form factors is the TKL (or tenkeyless) keyboard that removes the numpad in favor of a compact design. And as this form factor has become more and more popular, low profile mechanical TKL keyboards now exist. They aren’t as popular as the full-size so there isn’t quite the same diversity of options, but of the ones that are out there, we recommend the HAVIT 87-key low profile mechanical keyboard.
HAVIT is not a household name for producers, but they are not complete unknowns either. They are a budget space producer that focuses on peripherals and builds perfectly respectable keyboards, even if they might not have the tightest quality control or support like a Logitech or Corsair would. On the other hand, they are innovators and use quality parts with nice features. This particular keyboard combines a backlit 87-key (TKL) design based on the Kailh low profile switch, a very high quality switch that is every bit as well-regarded as the MX low profile design (aside from the different keycap compatibility, which is a shame). HAVIT includes some other nice features including a detachable USB and some built-in backlighting modes. It might not have the bells and whistles of a higher end model, but for someone looking for a TKL low profile mechanical keyboard, the HAVIT offers plenty to be excited about. And the cherry on top: the keyboard goes for a very compelling $60, making it a strong price-performance option for anyone that doesn’t need a numpad.
Best 60% (& Wireless) Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
And if the TKL isn’t small enough for you, we are beginning to see the next most popular and even smaller form factor show up in the low-profile style. 60% keyboards remove the F-row and arrow keys/home cluster as well as the numpad, creating an even more compact keyboard that takes up very little desk space. For a gamer or pure typist that doesn’t need the number keys, the arrow cluster, or the F-row, these keyboards are very interesting options. While there aren’t a ton of choices with low profile switches, there is at least one that is a great keyboard from a known producer: the CoolerMaster SK621.
CoolerMaster, like Corsair and Logitech, is one of the major players in the peripheral/computing space. They produce keyboard and mice, but also PC cases, PSU’s, CPU coolers, and case fans that are well loved and well respected. This keyboard takes that experience and builds one of the most (subjectively) attractive keyboards, balancing features like backlighting and colored font on the keycaps with a subtle (non-gamery) font and low-profile case. And in that attractive design lies a whole host of interesting features: wireless via Bluetooth connectivity, USB-C detachable connectivity, macro programming and key customization support, and true Cherry MX low profile switches. For anyone that likes the 60% form factor and wants to try low profile switches, this keyboard is really well constructed, really well designed, and contains really great features. With black or white options and at $120, we really recommend it for 60% keyboard lovers in the market for a low profile mechanical keyboard.
While low profile switches offer the same types as regular switches (linear, clicky, or tactile), they combine an innovative design with thin chassis to create very compact keyboards with the short travel of a ‘laptop keyboard’ and the reliability/sensation of a mechanical keyboard. Whether you have a low budget or a high budget, there is enough interest in low profile switches that a variety of manufacturers and switch producers to create a relatively diverse selection to satisfy any individuals needs. Even for those looking to save some desk space with the TKL or 60% form factors should be more than satisfied with the recommendations above.
As always, be sure to think about what type of switch you are looking for, what type of form factor, and whether the short travel of the low profile switch is right for you. Then, use this guide to help pick the keyboard best for you and enjoy the innovation of low profile mechanical switches in your next keyboard.