It takes a lot of professionalism and detachment to review gadgets professionally. Keychron is starting to get on my nerves. It initially dismissed the company as just another bandwagon in the mechanical keyboard market. However, it has now tried three Keychron keyboards. They’re so far ahead of the competition it’s almost unfair.
Take the K3 Pro, as an example. Keychron took K3 Pro’s low-profile budget design as its inspiration and created the Keychron K3 Pro. zhuzhed It features a few of the same premium features as its Q series. This makes it a great board by itself, and it’s also one of the most affordable low-profile, easy to transport mechanical boards on market.
Do you understand what I’m referring to? Unfair to competitors, unfair to reviewers. Just unfair. That is what I mean.
Note: This review forms part of our ongoing Report on The best wireless keyboards. You can learn more about the products and what to look out for in a wireless keyboard.
- Design and size are great
- Advanced features
- Unbeatable price
- Programming VIA can be a bit tricky
Keychron’s K3 Pro mini keyboard is the best. It features features that were only available on boards twice the price and is flexible enough for power users with high demands.
Keychron Pro K3 Pro: Today’s best deal
Keychron Pro 3: Specifications
K3 Pro is an upgraded version Keychron K3 Low Profile. Although it is obvious, there are many upgrades. The most obvious is the transition from ABS plastic keycaps into more premium PBT plastic and the shift to a traditional OEM-style profile for the key profile.
If you find all this sounding like alphabet soup, then keycaps are better and last longer. Gateron’s low profile mechanical switches are hidden beneath them. They come in three colors: red (linear), clicky (clicky), and brown (clicky but not too loud). These are excellent replicas of full-size counterparts, but with a noticeable reduction in key travel due to downsizing.
The Gateron switches feel better than the Cherry Ultra-Low Profile switches for the Xbox One Corsair K100 Air, but that’s not really a fair comparison—these switches are designed for high-end gaming laptops, and putting them into a separate keyboard is something of a novelty. The best comparison is with the low level switches turned on The new Deathstalker Razer. Gateron switches have a slightly shorter travel but are solider, which results in a similar feel. It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other—but if I had to choose, I’d pick Keychron for its superior keycaps.
The keyboard is only 22mm high thanks to these low-profile components. It measures 35mm when fully extended. This is still a bit more than a standard MX keycap and switch. It is easy to throw in the bag with the kill switch. Just don’t confuse it with the position switch closest to the edge of the case—an old design choice that Keychron seems reluctant to let go of.
The K3 Pro is ideal for travel. The 75 percent compact design means that it can be taken almost anywhere with a full-size tablet. With RGB backlighting, it should last over a week. If you don’t use the light show, it should last for months. I don’t like some of the default layouts of some of the function keys (especially Delete and Print screen), but it’s simple enough to change.
The addition of programming options is another significant improvement over the K3 standard. That’s a big deal for power users — and it only becomes an even bigger deal when you shrink the keyboard and force the user to choose the functions they need to work in a hidden layer. Like the Q series the K3 Pro can easily be programmed using QMK, VIA, and other standards.
VIA, while the most user-friendly option is available, isn’t as intuitive as the programming tools included with gaming consoles. It involves putting the keyboard in wired mode, using a web tool, activating permissions, and then uploading a JSON from Keychron’s site. Even then, the tool didn’t recognize the board without me having to adjust many settings.
Once you get to know each other, it’s as simple as any other tool. It has a simple user interface and clear flow. I was able quickly to fix the minor issues and get the media controls for the first layer. Because all the keycaps are the same profile, it is possible to move each keycap one at a time without worrying about rows mismatching.
Should you buy the Keychron Pro 3
The K3 Pro offers additional options beyond the color switch. You have the option of either standard white backlighting or RGB backlighting. Both options can be customized. You can also choose from soldered or hot-swappable switch options. There aren’t many options for low-profile switches, so I don’t see much value in the upgrade. I have never seen an RGB lighting point and the Prime is the cheapest model at $94 I would choose the Prime. But dumping the keyboard isn’t too pricey either—both add-on options are just $10, with a max price of $114.
The price is also great. Starting at $100, low-end keyboards with the same size range of Apple and Logitech are available. Logitech wants $150 for the MX Mechanical MiniWith the same layout, there are fewer programming options and no hot keys.
What about gaming options. Razer and Logitech all have low-end keyboard boards that sell for more than $200. Cooler Master SK621It looks like it’s gone out of production, but the cramped design is not a good start. The Bluetooth on the K3 Pro is not great for gaming but it does have 1,000Hz polling when wired.
The only competition I could find that had a similar feature set is, for now, Novi Air 75It has the same layout and switch options as the K3 Pro, but also offers a 2.4GHz WiFi option. It’s $130 which seems fair considering its extra connectivity, more robust case…but the K3 Pro lacks the programming options.
Keychron simply outperforms mainstream brands in terms value, while moving into more traditional territory with simple, user-friendly designs. It’s a low-key, mechanically-sound product that offers solid wireless and excellent hardware.
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