Keychron Q5 Full-size Custom Mechanical Keyboard Review

Keychron has been on fireplace this yr, opening up the customized mechanical keyboard market to the mainstream in a approach no different model has completed earlier than with its Q collection of keyboards. Keychron has been steadily filling out this line-up with totally different kind components, and at present it’s lastly realsing its full-size mannequin, the Keychron Q5. It options the identical double-gasket mounted design, CNC milled aluminum case, and twin OS compatibility, and hits the marketplace for an early-bird worth of $185. If you want a numpad, the Q5 is absolutely the unit of a keyboard and the mannequin you’ve been ready for.


Keychron Q5 – What Is It? 

The Keychron Q5 follows the identical design rules as the sooner keyboards within the Q line-up. In that approach, it’s a lot the identical because the earlier Q keyboards we’ve reviewed, however the Q5 does stand aside in a number of attention-grabbing methods. But first, let’s get the fundamentals out of the way in which. 

The Q5 is a tank of a keyboard. It incorporates a two-part aluminum case accessible in black, blue, or grey, and is way heavier any gaming keyboard I’ve ever used. That weight lends it a extra premium really feel and helps to make sure it received’t slide round in your desk. Inside that shell, it helps hot-swappable switches and is packed to the brim with enthusiast-favorite options. 

The largest of those is the gasket mount implementation. While most pre-built keyboards use a tray or prime mount, the place the plate and PCB screw into the underside or prime case respectively, the Q5 holds sandwiches this meeting between each halves of the case. Where they meet, strips of poron foam cushion the plate, resulting in a tender, remoted typing expertise. 

The case additionally makes use of extra foam layers and a second set of gaskets. To additional isolate typing sounds, there’s a foam layer between the plate and PCB. To take away a few of the hollowness and ping that comes with aluminum instances, a second layer of porous foam sits under the plate and PCB. To additional scale back ping and hollowness, a set of rubber pads are positioned across the holes for every fastener. These act as a second gasket, interrupting the journey of typing sounds from the highest to the underside case.

The fanatic options don’t finish there, both. The PCB helps screw-in stabilizers, the preferred selection within the fanatic world because of their added stability and improved really feel underneath the finger. This additionally means you should utilize higher-end stabilizers like Durock V2s. The switches are additionally south-facing, which suggests the LED is on the underside of the swap as a substitute of the highest. Not nice for backlit keycaps nevertheless it ensures the keyboard is appropriate with aftermarket keycap units. 

Finally, and importantly, the keyboard is programmable with QMK/VIA. This open-source firmware permits you to rewrite how the keyboard capabilities utilizing an easy-to-grasp GUI. You merely faucet a key after which select what you wish to change it from an inventory. You also can program superior instructions, like dual-function keys, throughout a number of layers of keymaps. These modifications then dwell on the keyboard itself, which suggests you received’t want any software program to make use of these settings, even if you happen to take it to a unique PC. It explodes the performance of the keyboard and is a significant asset to its total attraction. 

Unlike the opposite keyboards within the Q line-up, the Q5 makes use of a compact full-size format generally known as “1800.” This format removes a number of keys from the navigation and enhancing cluster and strikes them above the Numpad, which is then shifted to the left. It’s solely barely bigger than a TKL however has all the most used keys, excepting Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause, all of which could be added again in. It’s an exceptionally practical format that’s nice for work and gaming. 

The format additionally takes some liberties with the place sure keys are positioned. The operate row is spaceless, making room for 2 extra keys. Keychron makes use of these for Delete and Home, then there’s a spot, adopted by End, Page Up, Page Down, and a lighting management. There’s a second model of the keyboard that swaps the lighting button for a quantity knob, if you happen to’d reasonably have that. It’s a reasonably odd association up prime, nevertheless it works effectively. Media controls are embedded as secondary capabilities into the quantity row. There are not any secondary capabilities constructed into the quantity pad itself (not like a standard fullsize keyboard).

The Q5 is out there in barebones and pre-built configurations for barely solely $20 extra ($165/$185). The absolutely assembled model consists of doubleshot PBT keycaps and Gateron G Pro switches, that are pre-lubed on the manufacturing unit. I might encourage anybody on this keyboard to go for the absolutely assembled model as it is a higher element on a set of switches than you’re more likely to discover buying individually. 

The keyboard additionally consists of native assist for Windows and Mac working methods. You can swap between these layouts on the fly utilizing a swap on the again of the keyboard, and Keychron features a set of alternate caps within the field. In reality, this swap manually swaps between programmed layers on the keyboard, so if you happen to solely use one OS and don’t wish to fuss with hotkeys, you’ll be able to remap the alternative OS layer to one thing extra helpful, like a keymap for a particular sport. 

Keychron Q5 – Typing and Performance

The typing expertise on the Q5 is excellent, however there are some necessary qualities you’ll wish to learn about earlier than you start. First off, the G Pro Red switches are glorious. They’re clean and light-weight, simply trumping Cherry MX Reds in each approach. They have a light-weight sound that received’t compete with greater finish switches, however they continue to be glorious inventory switches. 

Unlike the Q1 and Q2, the Q5 actually isn’t very flexy. You could make the keys depress if you happen to press down laborious, nevertheless it’s nothing you’ll see with out actively searching for it whereas typing usually. This is a typical attribute of full-size gasket mounted keyboards because the plate is way bigger to accommodate the format. Instead, that is very a lot a gasket mount keyboard based mostly on isolating typing sounds. 

And it does an excellent job at that. Typing sounds are actually fairly muted, which you’ll or might not like. I swapped in a set of Gateron Black Ink switches Gateron included, and although they felt very good, they misplaced a few of their distinctive sound profile on the Q5. That mentioned, that is fairly subjective. I don’t thoughts a extra muted sound profile and that’s truly a profit if you happen to plan on utilizing this keyboard in an workplace the place clacky keys aren’t appreciated. 

Like the Q3, the second set of gaskets (the rubber tabs between each halves of the case), aren’t thick sufficient to utterly break the contact between each halves of the case. The Q5 sounds higher than the Q3 did inventory (much less ping and hole typing sounds by default) however can simply be improved simply by placing bits of tape between each halves of the case. 

I really like the 1800 format and located the Q5 to completely steadiness work and gaming. It’s compact sufficient that it doesn’t take up a lot area on the desk however nonetheless has sufficient buttons to play keyboard-centric video games like Microsoft Flight Simulator.  The numpad additionally doubles as a macro pad in MMORPGs, which may be very good. When I do must work, I don’t should hunt for key combos for primary capabilities like navigating pages and features. All of a very powerful keys are there, aside from Print Screen which I had so as to add manually. 

To benefit from the keyboard, I do advocate making use of a handful of easy mods. To deepen the typing sounds, I utilized two layers of painters tape to the again of the PCB. I then put squares of black electrical tape on prime of the silicone gaskets to extend their effectiveness. It wasn’t explicitly vital since they arrive pre-lubed from the manufacturing unit, however I additionally added a bit extra lube to my stabilized keys to extend their softness and produce them according to the remainder of the keys. Finally, I swapped keycaps to the DCX White on Black set I reviewed final month.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve seen different Keychron Q-series keyboards, you’ll have a good suggestion of what to anticipate right here. The Q5 continues its legacy of delivering glorious enthusiast-level options at entry-level pleasant costs. I’ve beneficial prior Q keyboards to buddies within the pastime and I’m completely happy to take action once more right here. If you want a numpad, the Q5 is a superb possibility and a very good platform to delve additional into the customized mechanical keyboard pastime. 

The product described on this article was supplied by the producer for analysis functions. 

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