Dark or Light

Keychron Q1 HE Review

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

Keychron is one of the biggest names in enthusiast mechanical keyboards today and it’s not shy about releasing new products. The Keychron Q1 HE marks new territory for the brand, its first keyboard with fully magnetic switches. It’s also the company’s first keyboard to utilize a custom web configurator, so there’s no need to download software. Customizable actuation points, rapid trigger, multi-action keys and more are on offer.

At $199 for the barebones version and $219 for the fully built, the keyboard is on the expensive side. It mitigates with a fully aluminum case and impressive switches, but doesn’t quite earn the place as the top recommendation around this price. 


  • Current Price: 
    • Barebones $199.99 (Keychron)
    • Fully Built: $219.99 (Keychron)

Keychron Q1 HE - Design and Highlights

The Keychron Q1 HE is very much a Keychron Q1. That keyboard is one of the most popular at its price point and earned a lot of kudos when it launched, so it’s not surprising to see the company use it as the platform for its first foray into magnetic switches. That also makes it feel quite familiar, which can be a plus or minus depending on how you feel about its design.

The Q1 HE features all of the hallmarks of the Q series. It features a fully aluminum case in your choice of anodized black or coated white. The keycaps are made of doubleshot PBT plastic for improved durability and a better feeling under the fingers. The switches and stabilizers come pre-lubed, and the internals are mounted with a double-gasket-mount structure and layered with sound-dampening, sound-enhancing foams.

It also features native support for Windows and Mac, as well as Bluetooth connectivity with up to three devices. There are alternate keycaps for both operating systems, so your keyset will match, and Bluetooth is pretty seamless and reliable.

The biggest difference really is that the keyboard now uses hot-swappable magnetic switches with a full incorporation of all of the major features that typically includes. You can customize your actuation point in 0.1mm increments, set a rapid trigger setting, and map up to four actions to a single key press. 

Along with this, there’s now an online configurator called the Keychron Launcher. Keychron says the keyboard supports QMK, though it’s not compatible with VIA like other Q series keyboards. Instead, the launcher provides nearly all of the functionality that VIA provides. It’s even styled to look like VIA with the layout of its UI. Similar to the VIA web app, any changes you make take effect immediately and don’t need to be saved or flashed to the keyboard. 

The move to its own tool was necessary because of the Hall Effect switches. There currently isn’t any option to adjust magnetic switch settings in VIA, which you’ll definitely want to do with this keyboard. Keychron’s tool has a separate tab for this, allowing you to set custom actuation points and rapid trigger settings on individual keys, groups, or the whole keyboard. 

You can also program macros, assign shortcut keys, media controls, and other keymaps across several different layers. It’s easy to do and pretty intuitive across the board, just like VIA.

One thing you won’t find, which is a missed opportunity, is per-key lighting controls. Like VIA, you can assign keys to control which animation mode you’re in, brightness, hue, saturation, and animation speed. Given that Keychron created a whole separate tab for the magnetic functionality, it would have been great to see some expanded options here, but maybe that will come in time. 

Keychron Q1 HE - Performance

The Keychron Q1 HE is a very nice magnetic keyboard. The Gateron Magnetic Nebula switches are super smooth. That kind of goes with the territory with magnetic switches since there’s no mechanical contact, but you can feel the impact of the factory lubing very obviously here. They’re some of the best magnetic switches I’ve used in a keyboard yet. 

The keyboard is also surprisingly quiet. It’s genuinely quieter than most membrane keyboards, so you could easily use this in an office without fear of disturbing anyone around you. I’m a heavy typer and even I wouldn’t give a second thought to typing on these late at night. 

I was surprised to find that there is Keychron was able to preserve some flex in this keyboard. Unlike many custom mechanical keyboards these days, it’s not under every key, but the gaskets around the plate still allow for a soft, dampened typing experience. It wasn’t long ago that going Hall Effect meant a rigid typing experience; this was necessary to protect the calibration of the sensors. Here, Keychron side-steps that shortcoming by using a rigid plate and very soft gaskets. 

For gaming, rapid trigger acts as a kind of toggle to instantly increase the responsiveness of your keyboard. Using it, you can set the actuation and reset points to occur at the same time, allowing you to send commands faster than a traditional mechanical keyboard. I’m not a skilled enough player to leverage this to its fullest, but it feels good to have a keyboard feel so lively and responsive when gaming. 

Being able to have multiple layers of keys is also useful, so you can swap between layouts for individual games and applications. My own use case involves putting all of my skills and macros directly around Home Row and using the Caps Lock as a toggle. This generally isn’t possible, or at least isn’t easy, to accomplish with normal gaming keyboards. Here, that kind of customization is par for the course.

The Q1 HE also supports multi-action keys, allowing you to map up to four commands to a single keystroke. This can be useful for swapping between walking and running with a single key, for example, but almost everything else requires a creative mind and a light touch. The games I play don’t lend themselves to that, really, but I could see other people thinking outside the box and really leveraging it to their advantage for gaming as well as work.

The keycaps are fine, but I’m not a huge fan of the font or the color scheme on the black version. It’s one of Keychron's earlier designs, and while it's fine, it has done so well with releasing new styles with every release, this one feels pretty basic. 

I also wish the keyboard came with support for 2.4 GHz wireless. At this point, Keychron has differentiated its products so that base models like this are known to only support Bluetooth and wired connections. Still, given that Hall Effect switches offer the biggest benefits to gamers, it would have made sense to break the mold a bit here. 

The other thing that bothered me a bit here is that the stabilizer lubing was very inconsistent. My Enter and Left Shift keys were fine, but Backspace and the Spacebar bar were both still rattly. It’s an easy fix if you happen to have dielectric grease or Krytox laying around, but this model needed tuning more than any other Q-series keyboard I’ve tested. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Keychron Q1 HE is a good mechanical keyboard. It offers a custom keyboard experience, including the full aluminum case and lubed switches. It feels good to use and has a good sound profile. The stabilizers left something to be desired at this price, and the “back to basics” style of the keycaps just isn’t very exciting. I do like that it’s all programmable through a web app, though, and it nails the Hall Effect programming. 

The problem really is that it’s just a basic Q1 with Hall Effect switches for $219. For only $10 more, you can pick up the Meletrix BOOG75 which is better in just about every way. This is a keyboard to buy on sale, and only if you demand that full metal case, because if you’re willing to go plastic, there are lots of different options for much less. 

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

7.0 Good
  • Exceptionally smooth switches
  • Web-based configurator replaces downloadable software
  • Highly configurable and customizable
  • High-fidelity actuation and rapid trigger programming
  • Still offers a soft typing experience
  • Middling factory lube on the stabilizers
  • Limited color and keycap options
  • Limited RGB programming
  • No 2.4GHz wireless


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