Keychron’s latest wired mechanical keyboard is the Q5. It uses a similar construction to the excellent Q1 and Q2 keyboards that preceded it, but with a larger layout with a numpad. It’s not a traditional full-sized keyboard, but the idea with its 1800 layout (aka a 96 percent layout) is that it provides almost all the keys a user needs while still relatively compact.
“There is currently no full metal 1800 layout custom mechanical keyboard on the market,” said Keychron COO Paul Tan. “The 1800 layout saves about an inch of space on a full-sized keyboard without having to remove a lot of keys. It’s the smallest you can go without removing the number pad.” The Keychron Q5 is available as a fully assembled keyboard for $185, or you can get a “barebones” version without switches or keycaps for $165. Models with a programmable volume knob cost an additional $10.
The Q5’s specs will be familiar to anyone who’s followed Keychron’s recent forays into high-end mechanical keyboards. It’s hot-swappable, meaning you can install or replace the switches without soldering, and the keys can be remapped thanks to the QMK firmware. It includes keycaps for both Mac and Windows in the box, and there’s a physical slider to switch between the two operating systems. The Q5 connects to your machine via a detachable USB-C cable.
Most importantly, the Keychron Q5 uses a similar construction to what made the Q1 and Q2 so much fun to type on. The housing is aluminum and the circuit board uses what’s called a gasket-mounted design to give it a small amount of flexibility when typing. This design has a big influence on the feel of Keychron’s Q-series boards. It uses screw-in stabilizers to minimize the rattle of larger keys like the space bar, and the included silicone pads are designed to reduce ping noises while typing.
If you’ve been putting off Keychron’s excellent premium mechanical keyboards until now because you just can’t give up that traditional number pad, then the Q5 could be a great entry point.