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Say goodbye to your Mac’s Magic Keyboard

Mechanical keyboard mania shouldn’t be going away. Keychron is leaning into everybody’s newest obsessive interest with the wi-fi K8 Pro, an upgraded model of the K8 launched in 2020.

Starting at $79 (barebones) or $99 (absolutely assembled), the K8 Pro is a wireless 80 percent Tenkeyless (TKL) mechanical keyboard with hot-swappable switches that works with Mac, Windows, and every other Bluetooth-compatible cell gadgets working Android.

The important upgrades within the K8 Pro over the K8 embrace sound-absorbing foam, a silicone pad within the base, and screw-in stabilizers for a greater typing really feel and sound. The keycaps on the absolutely assembled K8 Pro are additionally double shot PBT as an alternative of the ABS on the K8; they’re extra tactile and the legends will not fade as shortly. And lastly, the K8 Pro additionally helps customization utilizing open-source keyboard configuration software program QMK and VIA. Keychron COO Paul Tan says the K8 Pro is likely one of the first inventory keyboards to help VIA.

Keychron despatched me a K8 Pro to check for the previous few weeks and for the worth, it is a stable sub-$100 wi-fi TKL keyboard. It’s obtained just a few quirks that made me miss the Q2, however that is additionally a dearer wired mechanical keyboard (beginning at $149 barebones, $159 barebones with knob, and $169 absolutely assembled) and it is solely a 65 p.c structure. The wired Q1 is a 75 p.c structure and begins at $159 (beginning at $139 barebones and $159 absolutely assembled).

If you are a Mac consumer simply getting began with mechanical keyboards or need one which’s reasonably priced to switch Apple’s flat Magic Keyboard, the K8 Pro is an effective one to start your journey with.

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80% TKL structure

The Keychron K8 Pro has an 80 p.c Tenkeyless (TKL) structure.Raymond Wong / Input

As I stated in my Keychron Q2 assessment, I want full-size keyboards just like the ROG Strix Flare II Animate or MSI GK71 Sonic primarily due to my workflow. I’ve adjusted to the Q2’s 65 p.c structure simply because it is so good to sort on and it sounds terrific straight out of the field with none modifications.

The K8 Pro’s 80 p.c TKL structure is an effective center floor between the Q2/Q1 and a full-size keyboard. It’s obtained a row of operate keys with Mac-specific hotkeys/media controls. I particularly discovered the screenshot/print display button helpful for capturing screens throughout Apple’s Peek Performance occasion the place it introduced the iPhone SE 3, inexperienced iPhone 13s, iPad Air 5, Mac Studio, and Studio Display.

My assessment unit is the aluminum model which has extra heft and sits extra firmly on desk surfaces, however it prices further ($109 absolutely assembled). Keychron sells plastic variations with white backlighting ($89) or RGB backlighting ($99). The weight distinction between the plastic and aluminum panel enclosure is 4.8 ounces (136 grams). Get a plastic one if you wish to save a couple of dollars; it isn’t such as you’re touching the edges typically.

Typing

Fully assembled, Keychron provides the K8 Pro with three swap decisions: pre-lubed Gateron G Pro mechanical pink, blue, and brown. These are the identical switches obtainable for the Q2, for which I examined the pink and blues. This time, I’ve been making an attempt the Gateron G Pro browns on the K8 Pro. They’re not as quiet because the reds or clicky because the blues, however they’re very tactile. Very thock-y if you press every key. Even pre-lubed the switches appear to require extra stress than brown switches on different mechanical keyboards. Not my private choice for switches, however that is the great thing about a hot-swappable keyboard — you’ll be able to change them out and tune them nonetheless you need. Keychron has a pleasant typing test sound video displaying the distinction between the three swap varieties.

The double shot PBT keycaps included on my K8 Pro assessment unit are OBS (rounded corners) and are available in an analogous (although not equivalent) colour scheme to the Q2. The barely decrease operate row is considerably annoying (look, I haven’t got freakishly lengthy fingers or something) and I had various mis-presses reaching over the quantity row.

The solely keycap that appears to be fading quick is the house bar. The different keycaps look new as day one.Raymond Wong / Input

I used to be in a position to keep a Bluetooth 5.1 connection throughout the room, 20-feet away from my pc. The solely draw back to the K8 Pro’s wi-fi connection is the response time/polling charge. There’s an enormous distinction (1,000Hz wired vs. 90Hz wi-fi) and you’ll actually really feel and see the latency when typing. In wi-fi mode, the K8 Pro is unsuitable for any actual gaming.

My absolutely assembled assessment unit got here with Gateron G Pro mechanical brown switches, however pop in no matter switches you want for the reason that K8 Pro is hot-swappable.Raymond Wong / Input

Opening the K8 Pro is fairly simple. All of the instruments you want are included, together with an Allen/hex key and a small screwdriver. Four screws on the edges and the aluminum panels slide proper off. Then you simply gotta take away the keys with the keycap puller and take away 10 screws to get to the switches and board.

RGB and trims

Supporting QMK and VIA open-source software program is one among Keychron’s strengths. There’s little right here for me to say besides that it really works and it is very welcome should you like messing with a keyboard not simply in {hardware}. It’s additionally good for troubleshooting the K8 Pro itself. My assessment unit shipped with a busted E key. Cracking open VIA confirmed the problem and some seconds later, swap eliminated, I found the pin was bent. Plus, creating customized keys on a mechanical keyboard is half the enjoyable of proudly owning one.

Open-source software program like VIA can generally be janky. But it’s free you simply cope with it.Raymond Wong / Input

The customizable RGB with 19 kinds of backlight choices is a bit overkill. I’m an RGB on/off man so the choices and south-facing RGBs are misplaced on me. But should you’re an RGB particular person, the K8 Pro’s obtained loads of them.

I just like the dual-level adjustable toes; they’re a great way to angle the tall keyboard. I do want the the left side-mounted USB-C port wasn’t so recessed. Keychron features a thick, braided L-shaped USB-C-to-USB-A plug however I used to be shocked to study the USB-C cable that comes with the Q2 does not match into the K8 Pro. Many of my USB-C cables I exploit for charging telephones and tablets did not match, both.

This recessed USB-C port may be problematic should you misplace the K8 Pro’s cable and you’ll’t discover it when that you must cost up the keyboard. Which by the way in which comes with a 4,000 mAh battery. It’s obtained the identical capability because the K8, however lasts longer: as much as 300 hours (backlight off) or 100 hours (RGB on) in response to Keychron’s lab testing. The K8 solely lasts as much as 240 hours and as much as 68 hours in the identical two respective assessments.

When I examined the Q2, Keychron despatched its resin wrist relaxation, and this time they paired the K8 Pro with its picket model. The size is identical because the K8 Pro, however the peak is a couple of quarter of an inch shorter. I do know the palm wrest must accommodate quite a lot of Keychron keyboards, however the shortness appears to be a recurrent compromise many reviewers need addressed. I can verify the picket wrist relaxation is certainly the nicer possibility with no fingerprint pickup and it does not persist with your pores and skin in case your palms get sweaty.

Solid sub-$100 TKL

Keychron’s K8 Pro is an effective entry-level wi-fi TKL keyboard.Raymond Wong / Input

As a successor to the K8, Keychron has added fairly a bit beneath the hood to the K8 Pro. Does it deserve the “Pro” title? Not actually, however so many merchandise now overuse “Pro” that it’s best to mainly ignore it. The upgrades within the K8 Pro — the extra sturdy construct, typing really feel, sound absorption, and customization utilizing QMK and VIA — do really feel sufficient for a sub-$100 wi-fi TKL board.

Keychron ships many fashions of mechanical keyboards and infrequently. There are loads of higher wi-fi (and wired TKL choices just like the Razer Huntsman V2 TKL) that price extra, however if you’d like a easy hot-swappable one which you could additionally tinker with in {hardware} and software program, the K8 Pro is respectable and actually reasonably priced. The minor quirks bugged me personally, however you may be extra forgiving should you’re simply dipping your toes into the mechanical keyboard world.