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Keychron Q1 Pro Review: Wireless Has Arrived

Christopher Coke Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

The Keychron Q1 kicked off a new age of affordable custom keyboards, and with the Q1 Pro, the line officially goes wireless — but that’s not all. Coming in at $199, this new model features a brand new polycarbonate plate and improved KSA keycaps to create the best Q1 yet. The market is more crowded than ever, so does the Q1 Pro have what it takes to be the keyboard to buy? Find out in this review!


Keychron Q1 Pro - What Is It?

The Keychron Q1 Pro is the latest custom keyboard from the team at Keychron and is the 16th (!!) keyboard in its Q-series line-up. It’s the successor to the original Q1 and carries through the same 75% design while adding Bluetooth connectivity, new switches, new keycaps, and a softer polycarbonate plate for about $20 more than the original, costing $199 fully assembled. These upgrades — Bluetooth in particular — make the Q1 Pro the Q-series keyboard to buy, and it’s slightly higher price all the more reasonable. 

Like the original Q1, the Q1 Pro is a 75% keyboard and aims to create a middle-ground between productivity and play. It keeps a dedicated function row and arrow cluster, as well as a series of navigation and editing buttons in a compressed column along the right side. It also features a programmable volume knob. If you can live without the numpad, it’s a great layout with a lot of versatility.

It also brings back a lot of the key features of the Q1 and the wider Q-series line-up. It uses a fully aluminum case that weighs just under four pounds fully built. It’s available in Black, Grey, or White with brand new color schemes on the keyboard that look better than any of its prior options, in my opinion (and we’re bad, either). 

It uses a double gasket mounting structure where the plate rests on soft strips of PORON foam rather than be screwed into the top or bottom case. Typing on the keyboard feels softer than bottom- or top-mounted keyboards, and if you press down, there’s a noticeable flex. 

The second set of “gaskets” are silicone tabs that sit between both halves of the case, theoretically stopping vibrations and pinging noises from reverberating through its body. I say theoretically because, though it’s better than the original Q1 that lacked these, a traditional force break mod is still more effective and a recommended easy mod to apply here (more on that in the next section). 

It takes its cues from the enthusiast custom mechanical keyboard community, clearly, and that applies in other areas as well. There’s a layer of sound-dampening foam between the switch plate and PCB, isolating keystrokes and bringing out the sound of the switches. There’s also a layer of foam in the bottom of the case to reduce hollowness.

The keyboard also uses screw-in stabilizers for extra stability on the larger keys. You can swap these out for your own, if you’re a builder, or use what’s there as they’re actually quite good. Keychron has improved its lubing technique since the Q1 and there was very little rattle or ticking on my sample of the Q1 Pro. 

Like the rest of the line-up, it also supports programmability through VIA. This open-source firmware is phenomenal for remapping keys and assigning multiple layers of keymaps for individual apps and games. Or, as Keychron designs it by default, having two layers of commands for both Windows and Mac operating systems that can be adjusted using a toggle on the back of the keyboard (which can be unmapped and custom assigned, turning it into a hardware layer switch).

VIA is beloved in the custom keyboard community. It allows you to remap any key to carry multiple commands. For example, I remap my Caps Lock key to shift to a second layer when held but still control Caps Lock when tapped. This allows me to map everything from arrows to media keys directly under the fingers of my right hand, giving me rapid access to my most used commands all surrounding the home row. All of these changes are then stored at the firmware level without the need for cumbersome flashing, and will work on any machine regardless of operating system or any security software your employer might have installed. 

The changes this time around make a big difference in the overall experience. For example, the Q1 Pro now ships with tall KSA keycaps that are thick and made of doubleshot PBT plastic. They’re much better than the original keycaps that shipped with the Q1, though be prepared for a bit of a learning curve to adapt to their height. 

Underneath those keycaps, the board comes with your choice of Keychron Pro switches. Available in Red, Brown, or Banana (tactile switches similar to Holy Pandas), these switches are pre-lubed and surprisingly great. As I’ll talk about in the next section, I tried other switches on this keyboard and went back to the K Pros because of their great sound and feel. They’re also remarkably cheap, so I could see myself picking up some extras should they ever make their way to Amazon. 

If you want to change switches, it’s as easy as ever thanks to the return of hot-swappable switch sockets. There’s no need to desolder with this keyboard — or, let’s be real here, buy a different keyboard if you don’t like the switches. Instead, you can simply unplug them using an included tool and press a new one into place. This is also a wonderful feature to dig deeper into the hobby. New switches are releasing all the time and trying new ones is one of the most fun parts of mechanical keyboards.

The board also supports per-key RGB backlighting. There are lots of presets built into the keyboard, but using VIA, you can also dial in your preferred lighting scheme. VIA does limit you somewhat in being able to easily create intricate static layouts, but makes dialing in an exact hue for the whole keyboard very easy. Since the keycaps aren’t backlit, that tends to be the best backlighting option for visibility anyhow. 

The polycarbonate plate is a nice addition in both sound and feel. PC plates naturally have a deeper sound, which works to address some of the thinness of the prior version’s sound profile. It also balances out the flex of the keyboard across the entire key set while the last one was more flexible around the edges where the gaskets are placed.

Bluetooth functionality is easily the biggest addition. Wireless connectivity has probably been the most requested feature of all of the Q-series, and it’s great to see it finally make an appearance. You can connect to up to three different devices and swap between them with a quick key combination. It connects quickly and reliably, though you won’t want to walk too far away from the PC. The metal case still seems to impact the connection in that way, but for stationary use it works well. 

Though, Keychron waited just a bit too long to release this feature. At this point, even budget keyboards are offering 2.4GHz in addition to Bluetooth for enhanced gaming performance. So while it’s great to see, it would have been nice to see Keychron leap ahead with more competitive wireless options on this model.

Keychron Q1 Pro - Performance

The Q1 Pro is a noticeable upgrade from the original Q1. The new plate, switches, and keycaps enhance the typing experience. The Q1 already delivered a soft typing experience, but the extra flexibility is noticeably softer under each key. It’s not a revolutionary upgrade but is a nice enhancement nonetheless. 

Instead, I think the bigger upgrade comes with the sound of the board. The combination of PC plate, new Keychron Pro switches, and KSA keycaps all combine to give the Q1 Pro a deeper sound profile. With mods, it becomes the best-feeling and best-sounding Q-series keyboard yet.

The new Keychron switches are surprisingly great. I have to admit, when I saw how affordably priced they were ($16 for 110 switches), I assumed they wouldn’t be great. I’ve since tried to swap them out for several fancier, more expensive switches I had on hand (Novelkeys Silks, Wuque Clears, WS Onions, JWICK Yellows) and every switch I swapped to made the keyboard sound thinner. I wound up pulling those switches and going back to the K Pros. 

Not only do they have a deep sound on the Q1 Pro, they’re also very smooth. They come lightly pre-lubricated from the factory, and I didn’t feel a need to pull them out and re-lube them. If you like Cherry or Gateron Red switches, these are a cheaper, better alternative. 

The new keycaps are also excellent. KSA is very close to SA (Keychron says its ‘caps are more ergonomic but doesn’t explain how), which means they’re tall. The additional space under each keycap also enhances the keyboard’s deeper sound. I was also surprised by just how thick they are. At 1.6mm, they’re satisfyingly solid under the fingers.

Like all of the Q-series keyboards, the Q1 Pro only gets better with modding. The force break mod (or second gasket that goes between the two halves of the case) is surely better than nothing, but I found that adding some extra small pieces of tape around the screw holes improved the sound further. I also added a layer of 1mm Kilmat automotive sound dampener to the bottom of the case, and removed the lightweight foam that was installed originally. Finally, I added a layer of tape to the bottom of the PCB to add some extra pop to the sound profile.

The stabilizers were already pre-lubed and were done well enough that I didn’t need to go back for re-tuning, but I did swap out to a set of Keychron’s black transparent polycarbonate keycaps to let the RGB shine through a bit more. The result looks, sounds, and feels great and is a better competitor for more expensive custom keyboards than any Q-board that came before it.

Finally, Keychron seems to have cracked the nut with Bluetooth performance. It’s able to connect quickly and reliably, though I did find that the transmission distance isn’t quite as far as my K3 Pro. Still, for use at a desk or with a laptop it’s perfectly fine. The only thing I wish is that Keychron added 2.4GHz connectivity for low-latency gaming. If you’re playing first-person shooters, you’ll still want to plug in for the best gaming experience. 

Final Thoughts

The Q1 Pro isn’t a reinvention of the classic Keychron Q1 but it’s a big enough evolution that I would recommend any new buyer to choose it over the original. The improved sound, feel, and connectivity make it the best Q-series entry to date, especially if you’re willing to take the time to add a few custom mods.

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

8.5 Great
  • Keychron Pro switches are great!
  • Improved sound and feel
  • New keycap colors are excellent
  • Same great design, including stellar programmability
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Tall profile won’t be for everyone
  • Sound is better but still requires mods to sound its best
  • 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