The 10 Best Hot-Swappable Keyboards of 2021

Get your hands on some of the most customizable keyboards on the market

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best hot swappable keyboards of 2021
best hot swappable keyboards of 2021

Mechanical keyboards unanimously provide superior typing feedback to their membrane counterparts, but finding the right set of switches can be hard. Hot-swappable keyboards are fitted with specialized sockets that allow you to swap switches on the fly, eliminating the need for intimidating procedures like soldering and desoldering. 

Hot-swappable keyboards are particularly handy if you’re unsure what type of feedback you want, giving you the luxury to try out different switches to test your preferences. They also allow easy access to your switches for periodic replacement, modification, or maintenance. 

While the value of hot-swappable keyboards is unquestionable, the abundance of options on the market can be overwhelming for average consumers. Well fret not because we’ve done the heavy lifting for you.

This article goes over some of the best hot-swappable keyboards you can get today. We evaluated these keyboards based on crucial factors like design, build quality, and ergonomics. So whether you’re looking for a robust, full-size keyboard or a portable, compact alternative, this list has you covered. We also included a comprehensive buyer’s guide to give you an idea of what you should consider before entering the market. 

Don’t have the time to read the entire post? Check out the quick comparison table below:

Best Full-Size Hot-Swappable Keyboards

Drop SHIFT

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Specifications

Default Switch Options
  • Barebones
  • Cherry MX Brown (Tactile) 
  • Halo Clear (Tactile) 
  • Halo True (Tactile)
  • Kailh Box White (Clicky)
  • Kailh Speed Silver (Linear)
Number of Keys 104
Connection Type Wired
Keycap Material PBT
Weight 970 g
Software Support No

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 10
Build Quality 10
Performance 9
Pros
  • Efficient key layout
  • Superior build quality
  • Ergonomic design
Cons
  • Intimidating browser-based customization application
  • Expensive

The Drop SHIFT is an inventive keyboard that delivers a stellar typing experience. It is an excellent option for enthusiasts who have the cash to spare and want to invest in a premium hot-swappable keyboard.

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The SHIFT condenses the traditional full-size keyboard layout into a more compact arrangement without affecting functionality. It has the number pad closer to the alphanumeric keys, minimizing the gap between the two sections and efficiently using space. This narrow layout allows you to incorporate the arrow keys and number pad into your workflow. 

The SHIFT lets you choose among various default switch options, including the company’s proprietary Halo Clear and Halo True. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can have the keyboard shipped to you barebones or without any preloaded switches.

The typing feel is nothing short of sublime. The keys are smooth and firm to the touch, regardless of your preferred switch type. In addition, the double-shot plastic keycaps are matte and have the right amount of heft to generate satisfying feedback. 

The SHIFT has removable magnetic feet that give you the option to tilt the keyboard forward or backward. Tilting the keyboard backward feels surprisingly ergonomic and intuitive, especially when paired with a comfortable wrist rest. 

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This keyboard comes with a detachable cable that can be plugged in from either side for efficient cable management. Moreover, it makes this keyboard more portable than the other full-size alternatives on this list. 

The SHIFT gives you good lighting customization options to suit your preferences. It even has a sleek light strip wrapped around the edges of the base. The illuminated keys and strip elegantly contrast the gray keys and silver metal plate for stunning overall aesthetics. Of course, you can also disable the lighting altogether if you prefer a more subdued setup.

Unfortunately, this keyboard doesn’t have dedicated customization software. Instead, it lets you configure key mapping and lighting settings via a browser-based application. The interface is user-friendly, but it isn’t the most comprehensive solution. Moreover, it requires you to download and install the custom profile to the keyboard’s onboard memory manually, making customization seem like a chore. 

On the bright side, the keyboard has hotkeys that let you cycle through lighting presets without opening the web-based application. There are also hotkeys for adjusting backlight brightness and other light-related functions.

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The SHIFT is pretty much a luxury keyboard. It has a steep price that may turn off budget consumers, but the typing experience it provides is unparalleled. 

EVGA Z15

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Specifications

Default Switch Options
  • Kailh Speed Bronze (Clicky) 
  • Kailh Speed Silver (Linear)
Number of Keys 104
Connection Type Wired
Keycap Material ABS
Weight 1010 g
Software Support Yes

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 9
Build Quality 8
Performance 9
Pros
  • Good mechanical switches
  • Extensive software support
  • Customizable lighting
  • Dedicated volume and media controls
  • Sturdy aluminum frame
Cons
  • Lackluster keycap quality

The EVGA Z15 is an affordable hot-swappable keyboard that uses unfamiliar but stellar mechanical switches. It features dedicated media controls, subdued aesthetics, and excellent software support. 

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The Z15 is quite a departure from its predecessor, getting rid of the quirky integrated screen in favor of a more traditional look. The case is made of solid plastic with a brushed aluminum mounting plate for added stability. It has a monochromatic finish that elegantly contrasts the thick bezels and flashy logo on top of the board. In addition, it comes with a detachable magnetic wrist rest to ensure a comfortable typing experience.

The underside has five rubber pads that create friction against the resting surface to keep the keyboard in place. It also has two sets of rubber-padded kickstands for optional elevation. The thick cable is non-detachable, but it is braided for added durability. This cable terminates in a gold-plated USB Type-A connector that is resistant to oxidation. 

The Z15 gives you two unusual options as default mechanical switches: the Kailh Speed Silver and the Kailh Speed Bronze. The former performs similarly to the Cherry MX Speed Silver, boasting linear switching characteristics and low spring resistance. On the other hand, the latter is unlike any offering from Cherry MX, but it has tactile and audible switching characteristics and the same low spring resistance. 

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These switches feel incredibly responsive and have translucent housings that let backlighting shine through the keycaps. It is also worth noting that the Z15 is compatible with third-party three-pin or five-pin mechanical switches. 

The Z15 comes with a handy keycap puller, but its rudimentary ring design can scratch the sides of keycaps. The keycaps themselves are ergonomically sculpted and angled, but they are made of an inferior plastic that gets shiny over time. They are fitted with decent stabilizers, but they feel pretty rattly and mushy because of inadequate dielectric grease and lubrication. Moreover, the legends are only laser-etched and wear out faster than dye-sublimated and double-shot alternatives. 

The Z15 doesn’t have extra keycaps out of the box, but it has extra switches. So if one of the switches becomes faulty in the long run, you can use one of the extras as a quick replacement.

This Z15 features dedicated media controls and a volume wheel at the top-right corner of the board. These controls are especially convenient when watching movies with friends and family. 

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Extensive software support is one of the main selling points of the Z15. This keyboard is fully compatible with the EVGA Unleash RGB desktop software, allowing you to tweak settings like polling rate, backlighting effects, and presets effortlessly. It also has onboard memory that lets you save up to nine custom profiles so that you can switch between devices seamlessly.

Hexgears Impulse

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Specifications

Default Switches Kailh Box Brown (Tactile)
Number of Keys 104
Connection Type Wired
Keycap Material PBT
Weight 918 g
Software Support No

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 8
Build Quality 9
Performance 9
Pros
  • Tremendous typing experience
  • Affordable
Cons
  • No software
  • Lackluster backlighting

The Hexgears Impulse is a budget-friendly hot-swappable keyboard that outperforms some higher-end alternatives. It features high-quality keycaps and excellent default tactile switches to deliver a typing experience unparalleled at this price range.  

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The Impulse is fitted with Kailh Box Brown switches that boast tactile and quiet switching characteristics. These switches strike a balance between feedback and resistance to deliver a remarkable typing experience. Moreover, the high-quality plastic keycaps do an excellent job retaining their matte texture to prevent them from getting shiny and greasy over time. 

The package includes a switch puller that comes in handy when you need to replace a single faulty switch or install different switches altogether. It is important to note that this keyboard is compatible with any three-pin or five-pin switches, giving you a wide array of third-party options for hot-swapping. 

The Impulse has a fairly standard keyboard design with a couple of standout elements. It has a curved aluminum top and gorgeous pudding keycaps to complement the metal mounting plate and solid plastic frame. The pudding keycaps are made of durable plastic and have translucent sides and partly opaque top surfaces for added flair. 

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Overall, this keyboard feels incredibly premium and robust for its price. It even has an IP56 dust and water-resistance rating so that you don’t have to worry about accidental spills. The pudding keycaps are undoubtedly its most eye-catching elements, but it also makes the legends appear cloudy. Fortunately, you can lower the brightness to improve the legends’ visibility. 

The main drawback of this keyboard is its lack of dedicated customization software. Instead, it employs keyboard shortcuts for lighting and macro settings. That means you have to memorize key combinations or read from the included shortcuts list to change these settings. You can also install third-party software like Clavier+ or AutoIt for setting up macros.

The Impulse supports per-key lighting customization, but each is limited to nine colors options. Nevertheless, the provided preset lighting effects like breathing and wave motions are welcome additions. 

The cable is non-detachable, but it is braided to enhance durability. On the underside, this keyboard has two sets of kickstands for optional elevation. The provided incline helps improve ergonomics to ensure a comfortable typing experience.  

The Impulse is relatively compact for a full-size keyboard because it foregoes dedicated media controls. It is slightly lighter than the EVGA Z15, but it has enough heft and stability to stay in place when you’re typing.   

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The Impulse isn’t a perfect hot-swappable keyboard by any means, but it offers exceptional value for its price. It delivers a tremendous typing experience, surpassing even some higher-end alternatives.

Best Tenkeyless Hot-Swappable Keyboards

Tecware Phantom

tecware phantom

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Specifications

Default Switch Options
  • Outemu Blue (Clicky)
  • Outemu Brown (Tactile)
Number of Keys 87
Connection Type Wired
Keycap Material ABS
Weight 950 g
Software Support Yes

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 9
Build Quality 9
Performance 9
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Convenient onboard secondary functions
  • Excellent software support
Cons
  • Limited default switch options

The Tecware Phantom is easily among the best budget hot-swappable keyboards on the market. It ticks all the right boxes to deliver performance you would never expect at its price point. 

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The Phantom is pretty durable, featuring a hefty metal plate, rugged rubber pads, and double-shot keycaps to endure even the most intense gaming sessions. The cable is non-detachable, but it is adequately braided. Moreover, this keyboard is compact enough to take on the road for gaming tournaments or parties.

This keyboard flaunts thin bezels that give it sleek and compact aesthetics, but it manages to cram in premium features. It has convenient secondary functions integrated into the function row, home cluster, and arrow keys, giving you quick access to media controls, brightness adjustment, and preset lighting effects. You can also turn the lighting off altogether if that suits your preference.

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The secondary functions are incredibly intuitive, but you can also use the optional desktop software for more in-depth customization. This keyboard supports per-key lighting, allowing you to create lighting profiles for individual games. The software also lets you tweak other aspects like macros and custom profiles for individual games and programs.   

This keyboard gives you the option between clicky and tactile as default switches. These switches feel remarkably fast and responsive for either gaming or productivity. Meanwhile, the underside has a dedicated mounting slot for the keycap puller, preventing it from being misplaced. 

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The Phantom is undoubtedly one of the most compelling options on this list, especially when you consider its price tag. This keyboard has plenty of competition at its price point, but it stands out effortlessly. If you would prefer a version with a number pad, have a look at the full-size variant.

Logitech G Pro X

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Specifications

Default Switches Logitech GX Blue (Clicky)
Number of Keys 87
Connection Type Wired
Keycap Material ABS
Weight 979 g
Software Support Yes

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 9
Build Quality 8
Performance 9
Pros
  • Responsive switches
  • Good software support
Cons
  • Expensive

The Logitech G Pro X is an appealing hot-swappable keyboard for gaming, but it is significantly more expensive than the other tenkeyless options on this list. 

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The G Pro X bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor in terms of design. It retains the form factor and layout, including the game mode and brightness adjustment buttons at the top-right corner of the board. However, the most significant difference lies underneath the keycaps, as the G Pro X houses hot-swappable switches.  

Logitech describes the G Pro X as a tournament-grade gaming keyboard, boasting a dedicated game mode and a dozen programmable keys. The said game mode essentially disables specific keys when in-game to prevent accidental presses. This keyboard also has a detachable cable that contributes to its portability. 

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The G Pro X features proprietary switches that have tactile and audible characteristics. If you prefer more linear or silent alternatives, you can swap them out with any compatible mechanical switch using the included plastic puller. You can even mix and match different switch types to complement your playstyle.

This keyboard supports the Logitech G Hub desktop software, giving you plenty of customization options. You can use it to program the function keys, modify lighting effects, or set up custom profiles for individual games or programs. 

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The main drawback of the G Pro X is its steep price. You can easily get a similarly feature-packed tenkeyless keyboard for significantly less money. However, if you’re willing to shell out the cash for marginally better performance, this keyboard is an excellent pick.  

Glorious GMMK

glorious gmmk tenkeyless

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Specifications

Default Switch Options Gateron Brown (Tactile)
Number of Keys 87
Connection Type Wired
Keycap Material ABS
Weight 695 g
Software Support Yes

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 9
Build Quality 9
Performance 8
Pros
  • Sleek design
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Excellent software support
Cons
  • Rattly stabilizers 

The Glorious GMMK is one of the most dated entries on this list, but it continues to outperform some of the latest hot-swappable keyboards. It is fitted with tactile default switches but is compatible with any three-pin or five-pin switch to give you unmatched versatility. 

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This lightweight keyboard supports per-key lighting, but the overall design is pretty subdued. The thin bezels and elegant silver lining provide accent colors that complement the case. It also has multiple lighting presets that you can cycle through using the secondary key functions.  

The GMMK is compatible with comprehensive desktop software that you can download from the company’s official website. This user-friendly and intuitive software lets you assign macros to any key and set up lighting profiles for individual games and programs. It also enables you to change the speed of lighting effects to suit your preferences. 

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This keyboard has a sandblasted metal plate that reinforces the solid plastic case for added stability and durability. Moreover, the cable is braided and removable, making this option ideal for users who are always on the road. 

The sleek, low-profile design exposes the switches, but it also makes the keyboard easy to clean. The package also includes a high-quality metal switch puller for when you want to swap switches or perform periodic maintenance.

The underside has a dedicated mounting slot for the metal puller and two kickstands for optional ergonomic elevation. These kickstands have rubber padding to prevent scratching your desk. There are also foam grips that do well to prevent the keyboard from moving during intense gaming sessions. 

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The stabilizers exhibit some rattle, but some dielectric grease and lubrication can quickly address this issue. Meanwhile, the double-shot keycaps have shine-through features to highlight the elaborate backlighting. 

Womier K87

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Specifications

Default Switch Options
  • Gateron Yellow (Linear)
  • Gateron Brown (Tactile)
  • Gateron Red (Linear)
  • Gateron Blue (Clicky)
Number of Keys 87
Connection Type Wired
Keycap Material ABS
Weight 810 g
Software Support Yes

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 8
Build Quality 9
Performance 8
Pros
  • Flashy lighting system
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Rattly stabilizers
  • No elevation kickstands

The Womier K87 is arguably the flashiest hot-swappable keyboard on this list. This affordable option features an elaborate lighting system to produce some mesmerizing effects and start conversations. 

womier k87

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The K87 features a case constructed out of frosted acrylic instead of the usual solid plastic to enhance the keyboard’s lighting capabilities. The bottom of the board is also embedded with light sources to create a stunning underglow and side ring. This keyboard also has double-shot keycaps that prevent the legends from fading quickly and provide a solid typing feel. 

This keyboard looks and feels premium, but it also boasts decent performance. It lets you choose among various switch options to cater to your preference; this keyboard has you covered whether you want tactile, linear, or clicky feedback. Unfortunately, the stabilizers need some dielectric grease and lubrication out of the box because they’re rattly enough to spoil your typing experience. Moreover, this keyboard lacks ergonomic kickstands for optional inclination. 

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Nevertheless, the K87 offers plenty of value for its price. It is suited for users who want their keyboard to be the centerpiece of their setup. If you appreciate its overall design but prefer a more compact layout, you can check out the Womier K66.

The K87 has dedicated customization software, but it is rather hard to find since it’s not mentioned on the product page. This software allows you to customize the lighting, record macros, remap keys, and assign media controls. The download link can be found posted on a discussion thread about the keyboard. 

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Flashiness aside, the K87 performs better than you would expect for its price tag. Its programmability even makes it suitable for gaming. If you can look past the disappointing stabilizers and lack of elevation kickstands, this keyboard is worth your attention.  

Best 65% Hot-Swappable Keyboards

Drop ALT

drop alt

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Specifications

Default Switch Options
  • Barebones
  • Cherry MX Blue (Clicky)
  • Cherry MX Brown (Tactile)
  • Halo Clear (Tactile) 
  • Halo True (Tactile)
  • Kailh Box White (Clicky)
  • Kailh Speed Silver (Linear)
Number of Keys 67
Connection Type Wired
Keycap Material PBT
Weight 696 g
Software Support No

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 9
Build Quality 10
Performance 10
Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • USB pass-through support
  • Ergonomic magnetic feet
Cons
  • Lackluster software support

The Drop ALT is the second entry from the same brand on this list. It is essentially the Drop SHIFT in a much more compact form factor. It boasts a similar minimalist layout in a robust case merged with exquisite lighting and extensive connectivity.  

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This keyboard is among the most expensive options on this list, and for good reasons. Its components are of the highest quality, and it features a versatile design that justifies its steep price. It is the ideal option for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts who have the cash to spare.

The ALT has some of the flashiest lighting on a compact keyboard. It can turn remarkably bright without making the legends on the keycaps appear indistinct. It even has a light strip that runs around the edges of the case.

The ALT supports various lighting modes, but it lacks a desktop customization software. Instead, it allows you to cycle through these modes and adjust the brightness via secondary key functions. If you’re not a fan of elaborate lighting effects, you can also turn them off altogether. 

This keyboard has a full aluminum case to provide premium durability and feel. It has a USB port on either side, allowing you to use one to power the peripheral and the other as a pass-through for data transfer or charging. 

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The underside has rubber padding that prevents the keyboard from sliding on the surface. It also has magnetic feet that provide optional ergonomic elevations to ensure a comfortable typing experience. 

The ALT comes with two handy tools out of the box: a keycap puller and a switch puller. These tools let you swap out keycaps and switches with ease, as this keyboard is compatible with any third-party three-pin or five-pin alternatives. You can also mix and match switches until you find a configuration that perfectly fits your preferences.

You can choose among various options as your default switches, including the company’s proprietary Halo Clear and Halo True. These switches have tactile characteristics, but if none of the available options interest you, you can have the keyboard shipped barebones or without preloaded switches. 

The ALT is fitted with ultra-durable plastic keycaps that allow the backlighting to shine through. In addition, these keycaps provide a sharpness that cheaper alternatives just can’t replicate. 

Although the ALT doesn’t have a dedicated desktop customization software, it has a browser-based application that lets you modify the lighting modes elaborately. You can also use advanced open-source firmware to tweak the macros, but they aren’t necessarily the most user-friendly. This keyboard is geared towards enthusiasts, after all. 

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Overall, the ALT is a stellar compact keyboard that is built to last. If you fancy elaborate lighting systems and have a sizable budget, this option should be on your priority list. 

Royal Kludge RK68

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Specifications

Default Switch Options
  • TTC Red (Linear)
  • TTC Brown (Tactile)
  • TTC Blue (Clicky)
Number of Keys 68
Connection Type Wireless
Keycap Material ABS
Weight 600 g
Software Support Yes

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 10
Build Quality 8
Performance 9
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Compact and efficient layout
  • Wireless connectivity
Cons
  • No kickstand adjustments
  • Lackluster keycap quality

The Royal Kludge RK68 is the best budget compact keyboard you can find today. It boasts features that are common among more expensive alternatives, including wireless connectivity, hot-swappable switches, and smooth stabilizers. 

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The RK68 is constructed primarily out of solid plastic. It lacks a metal plate, but it feels durable and lightweight for a small-form-factor mechanical keyboard. It also lacks kickstands for optional elevation, but it has a sloped design that promotes an ergonomic typing angle. Although there are similarly-priced alternatives, they struggle to match the functionality and versatility of this keyboard. 

This keyboard features translucent keycaps, allowing the backlighting to shine through and make the legends more prominent in dark environments. Unfortunately, the default switch options are polarizing because they are made by a relatively unknown manufacturer. Most people are in the dark about the durability of these switches, but they feel responsive and consistent. 

The RK68 comes with a wire keycap puller, allowing you to swap out the keycaps anytime you want. The tool’s wire design also prevents it from damaging your components. 

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The double-shot keycaps are durable, but they get greasy and wear out quicker than more expensive alternatives. Fortunately, the included keycap puller lets you swap them out with a third-party keycap set easily.

Cheap mechanical keyboards often suffer from rattly stabilizers, but that’s not the case for the RK68. It is fitted with smooth stabilizers that make large keys like the spacebar incredibly satisfying to press. If you opt for the linear or tactile switches, you can also add some dielectric grease to make them perform even smoother.

This keyboard’s standout feature is its wireless connectivity. It lets you pair with up to five devices simultaneously, which is unheard of for peripherals at this range. We recommend keeping the user manual since it contains valuable information about the secondary functions. 

The battery life is equally impressive, capable of lasting well over ten hours on a single charge. If you keep the backlighting to a minimum, it can get you through a full working day without a hitch. If it does run out of juice, you can use the included charging cable to connect it to your device via wired mode. 

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Overall, the RK68 performs on par with some alternatives that cost twice as much money. It is compact but packs lean and mean features. Kickstands would have been a welcome addition, but their absence doesn’t take away from the stellar value of this product. 

Best 60% Hot-Swappable Keyboard

Redragon K530 Draconic

redragon k530 draconic

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Specifications

Default Switch Options
  • Outemu Red (Linear)
  • Outemu Brown (Tactile)
  • Outemu Blue (Clicky)
Number of Keys 61
Connection Type Wireless
Keycap Material PBT
Weight 1260 g
Software Support Yes

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Design 9
Build Quality 9
Performance 9
Pros
  • Incredibly compact
  • Efficient key layout
  • Excellent battery life
Cons
  • Takes some getting used to

The Redragon K530 Draconic is another budget compact keyboard that offers insane value for its price. It supports wireless connectivity, an intuitive key configuration, and excellent battery life, making it an ideal option for users who are constantly on the road.

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The K530 Draconic features the most confined keyboard layout on this list. It is geared towards a gaming audience that rarely uses the function row, home cluster, and arrow keys. As a result, it is about the same size as a standard laptop keyboard, allowing you to throw it in your bag when you go on your daily commute. However, the onboard battery gives it added heft, making it significantly heavier than the Royal Kludge RK68.

Wireless connectivity is one of the main selling points of the K530 Draconic. It provides a stable connection to your devices to help you stay productive wherever you go. You can also use the included charging cable to plug it into your device and use it in wired mode.

The K530 Draconic has an intuitive secondary key layout to promote a natural workflow. We recommend keeping the user manual as a guide for the various secondary key functions. This manual is also convenient if you want to set macros for gaming.  

The K530 Draconic flaunts a low-profile design that exposes the switches, giving you easy access to the components for periodic maintenance. It also has a sloped design to provide an ergonomic typing angle. Moreover, the underside has kickstands that let you elevate the keyboard for an even more aggressive angle.

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This keyboard has a pretty elaborate lighting system. It lets you cycle through the various preset modes and adjust the brightness using the secondary key functions. In addition, you can use these keys to change settings like lighting direction and speed.

The K530 Draconic performs well out of the box, but tweaking it with the desktop customization software can make it suit your playstyle and preferences. The software lets you create macros without relying on the manual and modify the lighting more elaborately. It has an intuitive interface, but it looks a bit dated. 

The K530 Draconic gives you three default switch options from Outemu. Whether you want linear, tactile, or clicky feedback, this keyboard has you covered. Moreover, it barely exhibits any noticeable latency in wired or wireless mode, making it suitable for gaming. This keyboard comes with separate keycap and switch pullers, so you can swap them out for ones you prefer anytime you want.

This keyboard boasts a feature that automatically puts it to sleep after a few seconds of inactivity. This feature effectively conserves battery life to help you get through several intensive workdays without charging the peripheral. Moreover, tapping any of the keys lets it out of sleep instantly without registering the keypress. 

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Overall, the K530 Draconic is an absolute steal at its price point. It offers excellent wireless connectivity, reliable performance, and an efficient key layout to maximize productivity and desk space. However, the lack of arrow keys can be especially jarring for some, so you might want to avoid this option if you use those keys frequently. 

Notable Mentions

  1. Epomaker Skyloong SK61 – This compact keyboard is a slightly more expensive alternative to the Redragon K530 Draconic. It features a sleek design and comprehensive lighting support that makes it a worthy addition to any desk. 
  2. Keychron K2 – This wireless keyboard packs a substantial onboard battery that can keep you productive for days on end. It has all the bells and whistles you could ask for, including support for macOS.
  3. Royal Kludge RK87 – If you want a tenkeyless version of the Royal Kludge RK68, this option is for you. It takes all the excellent features of the said keyboard and applies it to a larger form factor. 

Buyer’s Guide: Finding a Hot-Swappable Keyboard That Suits Your Typing Needs

Hot-swappable keyboards are not created equal; they vary significantly in layout, build quality, and connectivity. These factors dictate your experience with a keyboard and should be taken into serious consideration.

Layout


Mechanical keyboards come in various layouts. Your choice between these layouts should depend primarily on your available desk space. In addition, the keyboard layout is a crucial factor if you want to take your peripherals on the road. 

Full-Size

Full-size keyboards are ideal for users who use the number pad regularly. They are common in office settings because of their suitability for data entry. These keyboards come standard with a number pad, home cluster, function keys, and arrow keys, providing a comprehensive layout for virtually any use case. We recommend either the EVGA Z15, Drop SHIFT, or Hexgears Impulse if you want a hot-swappable, full-size keyboard.

Tenkeyless

Tenkeyless is arguably the most convenient layout for most people. It gets rid of the bulky number pad but retains the arrow keys,  function row, and home cluster, creating the perfect balance of portability and functionality for most use-cases. The average user barely utilizes the number pad, so disposing of it in favor of a more compact form factor is an excellent compromise. The Logitech G Pro X, Womier K87, Tecware Phantom, and Glorious GMMK are all hot-swappable keyboards that fit this description.

65%

This keyboard layout takes compactness to a whole new level by removing the number pad, function row, and home cluster. It is the smallest form factor that retains the arrow keys, making it an excellent option for gaming. In addition, keyboards with this layout are highly portable and lightweight. If you are unfazed by the lack of a function row and home cluster, check out the Drop ALT and Royal Kludge RK68.

60%

This keyboard layout is arguably the most ideal for hot-swapping because of its low key count. That means you wouldn’t have to spend as much to replace all of its switches as you would for a full-size or tenkeyless keyboard. However, its lack of a number pad, arrow keys, function row, and home cluster takes some getting used to and may irk some people. Nevertheless, if you want to go all-out compact, the Redragon K530 Draconic may pique your interest.

Build Quality

Hot-swappable mechanical keyboards are pretty expensive, so make sure you invest in one that can endure your typing demands. You should particularly be wary of the material used for the case and the keycaps. The most robust keyboards have hefty metal plates that keep them in place when you’re typing. 

ABS Keycaps

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is a copolymer plastic commonly used in keycap manufacturing. This material is durable and resistant, and cheap to produce. It can withstand millions of keystrokes, but it wears down relatively quicker than the other popular alternative. It also has a smooth texture that tends to develop a greasy shine after extended usage. 

PBT Keycaps

Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) is the more durable but less common alternative to ABS.  This material is generally more expensive to source and produce, but they are widely available and often sold in sets. In addition, it deteriorates a lot slower than ABS, extending your keycaps’ service life. PBT keycaps are also often textured, offering a distinct sandy and matte feel that makes typing a satisfying experience.

Connection Type

The options for wireless hot-swappable keyboards are scarce. If you want to cut the cord, you can choose between the Redragon K530 Draconic, Royal Kludge RK68, and Keychron K2.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a hot-swappable keyboard?

Hot-swappable keyboards allow you to change mechanical switches on the fly, eliminating the need for specialized skills or equipment. In a nutshell, they make it easier to install and remove mechanical switches than ever before. 

  • Are hot-swappable keyboards good?

Hot-swappable keyboards allow you to install different switches in your keyboard simultaneously to create a unique configuration. For instance, you can use a clicky switch for the spacebar, linear switches for the home cluster, and tactile switches for the rest of the keys. In addition, these keyboards let you replace faulty switches easily. 

A Quick Rundown of the Best Hot-Swappable Keyboards Today

Best Full-Size Hot-Swappable Keyboards

  1. Drop SHIFT
  2. EVGA Z15
  3. Hexgears Impulse

Best Tenkeyless Hot-Swappable Keyboards

  1. Tecware Phantom
  2. Logitech G Pro X
  3. Glorious GMMK
  4. Womier K87

Best 65% Hot-Swappable Keyboards

  1. Drop ALT
  2. Royal Kludge RK68

Best 60% Hot-Swappable Keyboard

  1. Redragon K530 Draconic

Runners-Up

  1. Epomaker Skyloong SK61
  2. Keychron K2
  3. Royal Kludge RK87

Final Words

That concludes our list of the best hot-swappable keyboards available right now. Which keyboards are on your radar? Do you have additional questions about these products? Let us know in the comments section below!

I am a gaming enthusiast with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge in the world of technology. In addition to being a resident contributor to this website, I am currently pursuing a degree in political science while flipping gaming systems on the side.

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