A low profile mechanical keyboard is a slim keyboard with low profile mechanical switches and keys. These low profile switches have shorter key travel distance and lower actuation point compared to the traditional mechanical switches, whether they are original Cherry MX switches or Cherry MX Clones Chinese switches.
Typing and gaming on a low profile mechanical keyboard can be less tiring and some users are more comfortable with low profile keys, especially the ones who are more used to working on laptops. Also, Low profile mechanical keyboards are favorites among gamers and fast typists. If you are fast typist then a low profile keyboard is most preferable as it allows faster key press, movement and it also puts less strain on your fingers.
A low profile keyboard is also known as Sleek or SFF keyboard because it is comparatively thinner and compact than a standard keyboard with traditional keys or raised keys. It must be noted that Low profile keycaps and switches and are not cross compatible with other keyboards unless the keyboard has the mechanical switch from the same series. Let us now look at the low profile key switches used in these low profile mechanical keyboards.
Low Profile Mechanical Switches
Here are the various low profile switches that you can find in low profile mechanical keyboards, both in desktop and laptop keyboards.
Kailh Blue Low Profile Switches
Kaihua Electronics, branded as Kailh is a Chinese electronics company and one of the largest manufacturers of mechanical switches for keyboards and other devices. I think the only mechanical switches that comes close to the quality of Cherry MX switches are from Kailh. It manufactures both standard (Box) and low profile mechanical switches for desktops, laptops and notebooks. Kailh mechanical switches are generally found in budget mechanical keyboards. Currently most of the low profile mechanical keyboards in the market use Kailh switches. Let us now look at the various types of low profile mechanical switches manufactured by Kailh.
Kailh Low Profile Switches Series for Keyboards
PG1350 – These low profile switches are known as Kailh Chocolate Switch or Kailh Choc Switch. They come in different colors and each one has their own special properties. The most common Kailh Choc low profile switches are red, brown and white that require actuation force of 50gf. Red is a Linear switch, Brown is Tactile and White is the Clicky one. There is also a clicky blue variant of PG1350 switch too that has a bit different stem design, and its keycap is not compatible with other PG1350 low profile key switches. You can find this switch in Havit low profile mechanical keyboards.
|Stem Color||Switch Type||Product Code||Actuation Force|
Choc Dark Yellow, Burnt Orange and Pale Blue are PG1350 Heavy switches with higher actuation force of 70gf. Dark Yellow is Linear, Burnt Orange is Tactile and Pale Blue is Clicky switch.
Choc Navy and Jade are Thick Click switches with a thicker clickbar which increases the tactile feedback and creates a deeper and louder click. Choc Navy has the same spring as the Choc Pale Blue, but with a thicker clickbar and Choc Jade has the same spring as the Choc White with a thicker clickbar.
PG1232 – These are thinner variants of the PG1350 switches and are known as Mini Choc switches. There is only a white Mini Choc switch available at the moment that is clicky and has actuation force of 50gf. These ultra low profile switches are designed for use in laptops, computer keyboards and notebooks.
PG1442 – Scissor styled mechanical switches for use in notebooks and laptops. They require actuation force of 50gf and are clicky in nature.
PG1425 – These are scissor X shape switches that are clicky and tactile and are re-designed for use in ultra-thin netbooks.
Cherry MX Low Profile Switches
Cherry is a pioneer when it comes to mechanical switches. Their blue, brown and red mechanical switches are very popular and are used in high-quality and branded mechanical keyboards. Recently they have come with their new low profile mechanical witch which is Cherry MX Low Profile RGB Red Switch. This is the first low profile mechanical switch from Cherry. The switch is linear with transparent housing and designed for use with SMD LEDs. This low profile switch requires actuation force of 45 cN, has 1.2mm pre travel and 3.2mm total travel distance. It is 35 percent shorter in height compared to a standard Cherry MX switch.
Due to its shorter travel distance and actuation point, this switch is perfect for gaming and fast typing. This Cherry MX low profile switch can be used in desktop keyboards and gaming laptops. You can expect to see these switches in Ducky Blade Air mechanical keyboard and Cooler Master CK620, CK640 and CK630 mechanical keyboards.
Update: Cherry has introduced another low profile switch which Cherry MX Low Profile RGB Speed. It is also a linear switch but actuates at 1.0mm distance only and requires 45 cN operating force for actuation. However, the total travel distance remains same at 3.2mm. This switch is faster in response compared to the Cherry MX Low Profile Red switch and is suited for ultra fast paced gaming.
Unknown or Proprietary Low Profile Switches
There are also some unknown or proprietary low profile switches that are not much popular. One example of such switch is QS1 Gaming Switch from SteelSeries which is manufactured by Kailh for SteelSeries.
Top Low Profile Mechanical Keyboards
Here are the best low profile mechanical keyboards for gaming and fast typing professionals. Most of the below mentioned keyboards are compact Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards with low profile mechanical switches and keycaps.
Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile is the first keyboard to use Cherry MX Low Profile mechanical switches. The keyboard comes with Cherry MX Low Profile Red or Cherry MX Low Profile Speed switches. Both these Cherry MX low profile switches requires 45 cN operating force but they actuate at different points. The Red one actuates at 1.2mm travel distance while the Speed one at 1.0mm, which makes it even faster and quicker than red low profile switch. These Cherry MX Low profile switches have 35% lower key height compared to a standard Cherry MX switch and also have much faster response than standard mechanical switches.
The keyboard is strongly built using Aluminum frame construction and includes a soft wrist rest for comfort. The keyboard comes with low profile ABS keycaps and RGB backlighting. The RGB lighting and effects can be controlled, synchronized or customized by using Corsair iCUE software. This is a full-sized keyboard but is slim (29mm tall) compared to a standard mechanical keyboard (40mm tall). The keyboard is mainly designed for gaming purpose but can also serve for typing as well.
For gaming, it supports N-Key Rollover with 100% Anti-Ghosting, Macros, Profiles and comes with FPS and MOBA Keycap Sets. There are dedicated multimedia keys and volume roller present on the top of keyboard frame which are very convenient to use. A USB pass through port is also present that lets you to connect your mouse, headset or other low power USB device. The USB cable is braided but is not detachable. So, if you are looking for a branded low profile mechanical keyboard with genuine Cherry MX Low Profile switches then you should definitely go for it.
Note: The model with Cherry MX Low Profile Speed switches is Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile RAPIDFIRE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. You can check out both these models from the links given below.
|Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||Full Size|
|Switch Type||Cherry MX Low Profile Red / Speed|
|Features||N-Key Rollover with 100% Anti-Ghosting, 8MB Profile Storage with Hardware Playback, FPS and MOBA Keycap Sets, USB Pass-Through Port, Volume and Multimedia Controls, Detachable Soft-Touch Palm Rest, Dynamic Multicolor Per-Key RGB Backlighting, Aluminum Frame Construction, Corsair iCUE software support, Slim Design|
HAVIT is a very popular brand when it comes to low profile mechanical keyboards. Here we have HAVIT HV-KB390L which is a tenkeyless sleek & compact low profile mechanical keyboard. The keyboard comes with Kailh PG1350 Low Profile Blue Switch which is a clicky switch and requires activation force of 45g. This low profile keyboard is only 0.89 inches thick which is around 25% thinner than a traditional mechanical keyboard. The keyboard is great for typing because of blue switches you will get tactile and clicky feedback. It also qualifies as a good gaming keyboard too because it comes with gaming features such as N-key Rollover and Anti-ghosting technology.
The low profile keycaps on this floating keys design keyboard is backlit with Ice Blue LED backlight that looks pretty cool in dark. You can change the LED backlighting by pressing FN+F6-F11, or customize it by pressing FN+F1-F5 (FN+F12 to save). By installing the Havit driver software, you can program the keys and configure various settings that include Backlit modes, Macros, Game mode, Enable/disable Win key, Response time of key pressing, USB report rate, Media keys, Profiles. The USB cable is detachable where one end is micro-USB and other one is a male USB Type-A connector. The keyboard officially supports Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista, Mac and Linux.
P.S. – There is also an RGB variant of this low profile keyboard, which is HV-KB395L. It is a full sized keyboard with 104-keys and you can check out both these variants from the link given below.
|HAVIT HV-KB390L Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||Tenkeyless (TKL), 87 keys|
|Switch Type||Kailh Blue Switch (PG1350)|
|Backlight||Ice Blue LED backlight|
|Features||N-Key Rollover and Anti-Ghosting, Programmable Keys, Detachable Micro-USB Cable, Macros & Profiles, Multiple Backlight Modes, 6mm ultra-thin suspended keycap, supports Windows 10/8/7/Vista/Mac/Linux/IBM PC|
Rapoo MT500 is a beautiful slim and lightweight mechanical keyboard having tenkeyless form factor. The keyboard comes with Rapoo office mechanical switches which are low profile Red linear switches. The keyboard comes in white color and the white LED backlighting looks very classy and elegant. The keyboard features spill resistant design so that you do not have to worry about accidental spilling of liquid anymore.
This is a quite a portable keyboard and is best suited for use in office or at work. However, it comes with features like NKRO and can be used for gaming as well. The build quality of the keyboard is quite good and it has a steel top plate that gives is rigidity. The LED backlighting can be controlled using the function key (FN) + Arrow keys. It supports both Windows and Mac OS and you can switch between PC and Mac modes using FN + Insert key. Also, you can access the media shortcuts using the FN key with the corresponding media key that is shared with function keys. The USB cable is detachable for easy access, convenience and for portability. This is unarguably one of the best looking low profile mechanical keyboards and is quite affordable too.
|Rapoo MT500 Backlit Mechanical Keyboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||Tenkeyless, 87 Keys|
|Switch Type||Rapoo Red switch|
|Backlight||White LED backlighting|
|Features||Spill-resistant design, Supports NKRO (N keys Roll Over), Detachable USB cable, Compatible with Windows and Mac|
This is the World’s First 87 keys RGB Low-Profile Keyboard with low profile mechanical switches. GAMDIAS HERMES M3 RGB Low-profile Keyboard comes with Blue/Brown/Red/Black switches that are manufactured either by Kailh or Outemu. This is a very sleek, compact and stylish keyboard and features floating keys design. The keys are mounted on a solid metal plate that gives the keyboard rigidity and makes it sturdy. Keycaps are low profile in design and are RGB backlit. You can individually change and customize the RGB lighting for each key and RGB lighting effects using the HERA software, which you can download for free from the GAMIDAS website. It also supports Macros and custom Profiles. Media controls are embedded on the function keys that can be accessed along with the Fn key. This Fn key is also used with other keys to perform various other functions and changing RGB lighting and effects on-the fly.
For gaming, the keyboard comes with features such as 100% anti-ghosting and N-Key rollover (NKRO). The USB cable is detachable that comes in very handle while travelling or moving the keyboard from one place to another. If you are into LAN parties then this keyboard will be a perfect choice for you as it is slim, compact, mechanical and has got all the fancy RGB lighting to it. Highly Recommended for Gamers.
|GAMDIAS HERMES M3 RGB Low Profile Keyboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||Tenkeyless, 87 keys|
|Switch Type||GAMDIAS Low Profile Mechanical Switches|
|Backlight||RGB LED Backlighting|
|Features||N-Key rollover, 100% anti-ghosting, HERA Software support, Macros and Profiles, 32bit Arm Cortex Processor, 16.8 million RGB backlighting, Metal Backplate, Detachable USB Cable (1.5m), Windows Lock Key|
DAREU EK820 is a very special low profile keyboard because of its dual mode functionality. This means this keyboard features both Bluetooth and USB 2.0 connectivity. The keyboard supports up to 5 devices and you can easily switch between them using FN + (1 to 5) digits keys. The keyboard comes in both Blue and Red switch variants, where blues are clicky and red are linear switch types. These low profile switches are made by Kailh and they belong to the Kailh Choc series switches (PG1350). It has low profile ABS keycaps that are backlit by Ice Blue LED backlighting. The keyboard is great for speedy typist and gamers who wants fast action.
For gaming, it includes NKRO and Anti-ghosting capability so that you never miss out on any action when combination of keys are pressed. As usual, media controls are shared with the function keys and can be activated with the help of Fn key. This ultra-thin keyboard is stable and sturdy due to the metal plate on the top. It is a floating keys design keyboard which makes it easier to clean and manage.
For Bluetooth functionality, the keyboard uses a 300mAh rechargeable lithium battery, which can work continuously for more than 35 hours (40 hours theoretically) and intelligent automatic sleep ensures battery life is more durable. The charging time for battery is around 3 hours and Bluetooth range is around 8m, which I think is pretty decent. It can be used with tablets and mobile phones too using Bluetooth. The USB cable is detachable and is 1.5m in length. Overall, it is a good low profile mechanical keyboard that is portable and packed with features. It is officially compatible with wide range of platforms that include Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.
|DAREU EK820 87-key Mechanical Keyboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||Tenkeyless, 87 keys|
|Switch Type||Kailh Blue / Red LP Switch (PG1350 Choc)|
|Backlight||Ice Blue LED Backlighting|
|Interface||USB 2.0 / Bluetooth|
|Features||Metal Suspension Body, Fn key Media Shortcuts, N-key rollover, Low Profile ABS Keycaps, Multiple backlighting effects, supports Windows / Mac / Android / IOS|
Tesoro Gram Spectrum (G11SFL) is a full-sized low profile mechanical gaming keyboard. The keyboard comes with Blue / Red AGILE Slim switch that are manufactured by Kailh. As always, blue is a clicky switch and red is a linear switch type. The keyboard features floating keys design and double-injection keycaps are lit by RGB LED lighting. The build quality of the keyboard is great as it comes with a metal backplate for rigidity and strength. The keyboard is great for gaming as well as for typing. It comes with 6-Key / N-Key rollover Anti-Ghosting, so that you can have total control in a game that requires multiple key-presses at once.
The RGB lighting and effects can be controlled on the fly using function (Fn) key or if you want advanced RGB lighting customization then you do it by using the Tesoro Gram software, which you can download it from its website. The keyboard also supports Macros and you can program the keys using the supported software. The USB cable that comes with it is braided and detachable. One thing that I don’t like much about this keyboard is that that the font used on this keyboard is a bit weird and hard to look at, and they should have gone with a clean and crisper font. The keyboard is officially compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10. It is available in two colors; black or white, but to me the white one looks classier and more appealing.
|Tesoro Gram Spectrum Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||Full Size, 104 keys|
|Switch Type||AGILE Slim switch|
|Backlight||RGB LED Backlighting|
|Features||6-Key / N-Key rollover Anti-Ghosting, 8 preset lighting modes, Macro, Detachable Braided USB Cable, Double-injection keycaps, Fully Programmable Keys, Compatible with Win XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, 32bit ARM Cortex Processor|
Some other options
- SteelSeries Apex M800 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
- Anidees Prismatic Low Prfile RGB Gaming Mechanical Keyboard
- Best Low Profile Graphics Cards for Slim PC Cases
- Best Low Profile CPU Coolers for Mini-ITX & SFF Cases
Well, to be honest there are not a lot of low profile mechanical keyboards out there, but then also I have listed the best ones that you can buy for your gaming and typing needs. Almost all the keyboards use Kailh switches as the keyboards with Cherry MX low profile switches are yet to come in the market. I will update the post whenever a new and good low profile keyboard is launched and for latest updates please keep in touch with this post. If you have any queries or doubts about these low profile mechanical keyboards then ask me by leaving a comment below.