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Keychron K3 Pro Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard Review

Excellent for Travel and Productivity

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

If you’re looking for a low-profile mechanical keyboard, your options can feel pretty limited. There are a handful of dedicated low-profile gaming keyboards (but they’re usually very expensive) and the remaining choices are scarce, especially if you’re looking for something that offers the best quality and typing experience. 

Enter the Keychron K3 Pro. It’s an evolution of the original Keychron K3, one of the go-to low-profile keyboards for gaming and travel, but has been upgraded across the board. The new model features improved Gateron low-profile switches, doubleshot PBT keycaps, and support for VIA programming. Starting at only $94 or decked out for $114, it’s a great value and delivers a satisfyingly high-quality typing experience.  

Specifications

  • Current Price: (Keychron)
    • $94 - White Backlight (Non-hotswap)
    • $104 - RGB Backlight (Non-hotswap)
    • $114 - RGB Backlight (Hot-swappable)
  • Number of Keys: 84 (75%)
  • Switches: Gateron low-profile mechanical (Red, Blue, Brown)
  • Switch Face: North-facing
  • Number of Multimedia Keys: 12 
  • Frame Material: ABS+Aluminum frame
  • Keycap Material: Low-profile double-shot PBT
  • Layout: ANSI
  • Polling Rate (Wired Mode): 1000Hz
  • Polling Rate (Wireless Mode): 90Hz
  • N-Key Rollover (NKRO): Yes for both wireless and wired modes

Connectivity and Power

  • Backlit: 22 types of RGB backlight options plus endless possibilities
  • Battery: 1550 mAh rechargeable li-polymer battery
  • BT Working Time (Backlit off): Up to 100 hours (Lab test result may vary by actual use)
  • BT Working Time (RGB): Up to 33 hours (Lowest brightness)
  • Connection: Bluetooth and Type-C cable
  • Bluetooth version: 5.1
  • Bluetooth Device Name: Keychron K3 Pro
  • Compatible System: macOS/Windows/Linux

Physical Specifications

  • Dimension: 306 x 116 mm (12.04 x 4.56")
  • Weight: 525 g / 1.16 lbs
  • Height without keycap (front): 11 mm (0.43")
  • Height without keycap (rear): 15 mm (0.59")
  • Height incl. keycap (front): 17 mm (0.66")
  • Height incl. keycap (rear): 22 mm (0.86")
  • Typing Angle: 0º, 6º and 9º
  • MCU: Ultra-low-power ARM Cortex-M4 32-bit STM32L432 (128KB Flash)

Keychron K3 Pro - What Is It?

The Keychron K3 Pro is a low-profile keyboard that’s perfect for travel and for users that crave an Apple or laptop typing experience. It follows in the footsteps of Keychron’s other “Pro” keyboards by adding features and customization options straight from the keyboard enthusiast world. That’s remarkable in more ways than one, but mostly because it’s one of the first low-profile keyboards to actually embrace a design that puts typing quality equal to portability.

If you’ve seen the original Keychron K3, you’ll already understand the broad strokes of the K3 Pro’s design. It features a slim case and low-height switches and keycaps. This lends it a very flat profile that will feel right at home for laptop and Mac users. The layout is also similar to most laptops and features a 75% design, complete with a function row, arrow keys, and a selection of navigation and editing buttons — a great middle-ground between productivity and gaming functionality.

The keys lay completely flat with the only angle coming from the case itself (and tilt feet on the bottom, if you choose to use them). These design choices allow the keyboard to rise only 17mm in the front and 22mm in the back, shorter than a quarter. You don’t need a wrist rest to use it, and I actually found it less comfortable when I tried. 

There are three big innovations that come with the K3 Pro: the keycaps, the switches, and the programmability. Starting with the first of the bunch, the keycaps are the best you’ll find in this style of keyboard, hands down. They’re made of thick, doubleshot PBT plastic, and are very similar to those you’ll find on Keychron’s full-size custom Q-series keyboards. They’ll never shine or fade over time and offer a deeper sound and higher quality feel under the fingertips.

The switches, on the other hand, are Gateron’s latest Low Profile mechanical switches. You can choose from the usual red (linear), brown (tactile), or blue (clicky) options and each has a very similar feel to its full-size counterpart. They have a shorter travel distance than normal Gateron switches (2.5mm vs 4mm) but have enough depth to feel closer to a traditional mechanical keyboard than low profile mechs used to These switches are also hot-swappable so you can simply pull one out and replace it with a new one should it ever get damaged or you want to try something new. 

The final big addition is VIA programmability. For years, VIA and QMK programming was the domain of custom keyboards only, but thanks to companies like Keychron and Epomaker, this open-source programming tool is officially making its way into more and more accessible keyboards. It’s easy to use, allows for instant key remapping and macro programming, and allows you to rewrite any key at a firmware level so it will work on any computer even without software running. 

VIA also allows you to map controls for the keyboard’s per-key RGB backlighting. VIA doesn’t allow you the same granular control of each individual LED like many gaming softwares do, but it does allow you map dedicated buttons to individual lighting presets, mode switching, brightness, hue selection, and even color saturation. These changes apply to the whole board.

The K3 Pro also has a few other tricks up its sleeve, carried over from the original K3. It’s a wireless keyboard and can connect to up to three devices over Bluetooth 5.1. It can also connect with a normal USB cable and charge while it is being used. For gaming, you’ll want to stay wired for its 1000Hz (1ms) connection speed. Wireless connectivity limits you to 90Hz and is best left for typing and productivity.

Finally, it offers native support for both Windows and MacOS. Using a switch on the back, you can instantly swap keys to match up with either operating system.  

Keychron K3 Pro - Performance and Quality Impressions

The Keychron K3 Pro is an excellent wireless, low-profile mechanical keyboard. Its slim form factor makes it easy to slide into a bag and forget it’s there until you need it. The typing experience is great thanks to its excellent switches and thick PBT keycaps. Keychron has also gone the extra mile and lubed the stabilizers so there’s not an undue amount of rattle coming from the larger keys.

I also have to applaud the fact that this keyboard features VIA support. It’s the only board of its type and at this price that does, as far as I know, and is wonderful for really making it your own. 

With all of those things in mind, there are a few areas where I think Keychron could still improve, especially against its biggest competitor, the Nuphy Air75. The biggest of these is 2.4GHz connectivity. If you’re gaming, you’re still going to be tethered to a USB cable with this keyboard. Because of that, it really strikes me as more of a productivity option than something you’ll want to lean too heavily on for gaming. The Air75, and really, an increasing number of affordable wireless keyboards, supports fast, 1ms wireless through its 2.4GHz dongle, so it would have been nice to see that here.

 

The other missed opportunity comes with the keyboard feet. The Nuphy has very slim silicone feet that are designed to sit between the keys on a laptop deck, essentially allowing it to replace your computer’s built-in keyboard. That’s not possible here, which means using it on the go is going to require more space and setup. 

I also wish that Keychron included a travel bag with the purchase. Storing the bare keyboard in a bag can cause keycaps to pop off if other items press on them at just the right angle. You can buy one separately, but since this keyboard is clearly designed for travel, it would have been nice to see it as a basic part of the purchase.

But even with those potential drawbacks in mind, the fact that this keyboard offers the best keycaps and enthusiast-level programmability makes it one of the best keyboards in its space.

Final Thoughts

The Keychron K3 Pro is a great keyboard. It has a couple of drawbacks compared to the Nuphy Air75 but it makes up for those with features the competition just doesn’t have. The doubleshot PBT keycaps are very good and the ability to program the keyboard the VIA for true, firmware customization is next-level for a low-profile keyboard at this price. If you’re in the market and don’t need things like 2.4GHz wireless or the ability to physically sit atop your laptop’s keyboard, it’s an excellent option that’s also likely to save you a bit of money compared to the competition. 

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. 

8.5Great
Pros
  • Low profile and lightweight
  • QMK and VIA programmability
  • PBT keycaps
  • Hot-swappable switches
  • Well-priced
Cons
  • Cannot be used on a laptop deck
  • No 2.4GHz wireless option


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight