Let’s face it: mechanical keyboards are a dime a dozen. A quick glance on YouTube or any major PC OEM’s web store will net you dozens of different options. For the PC gaming enthusiast looking to dip his or her toes into the world of click-clack, this can be an incredibly daunting and confusing task. Questions often arise: Which switch is right for me? What’s the difference between ABS and PBT? What is the difference between illuminated and full key RGB lighting? And why are there no good wireless options? The truth is compromises need to be made and those just come with the territory.
What if I were to tell you, you didn’t have to make those compromises. What if I told you that you could change switches on the fly. What if I told you that a wireless keyboard existed with the awesome Bluetooth 5.1. And what if I told you it was affordable.
RemotePlay would like to say a huge thank you to Keychron- and to open this review with genuine enthusiasm on what we believe is the best all-around mechanical keyboard for both the enthusiast and the gamer. This is the Keychron K8.
Keychron is the brainchild of Mechanical Keyboard enthusiast, Will Ye, and industrial designer Sven Zhu. Founded in 2017, the company quickly hit the scene with hit products such as the remarkable 84-Key Keychron K2. Since then, the company has expanded the roster, trying their hand at multiple different layouts, entry points, and options, but I think what we have today, the Keychron K8 is the ultimate utility of the modern day mechanical keyboard.
Before I continue any further, I need to hammer home how incredibly novel that feature set is. In today’s mechanical keyboard world, you’d be lucky to get RGB or Hotswap or Wireless. But the combination of all three, is just something I haven’t seen on any mainstream board.
As I started unboxing the Keychron K8, the first thing that stuck out was the surprisingly premium packaging. The cardboard didn’t feel cheap or flimsy. Opening the box, you get a layer of foam which you can also use to modify your keyboard. Underneath that you’ll get an instruction sheet with an easy installation guide. By default, the keyboard has a MacOS layout. Next, you also get a keycap and switch removal tool for whenever you want to change things up. Finally, additional goodies are included in the box including Windows keycaps and a braided USB type A to type-C cable.
The Keychron K8 model is an 87 key TKL keyboard with a litany of options. The Keyboard I have configured today is a Wireless, RGB, hot-swap Gateron Red keyboard. The entire package is $89 plus shipping, and depending on where you live, this could impact the overall cost.
Upon first glance, the first thing you’ll notice is the keyboard has an incredibly classy design language. There is no exaggerated gamer font, or hard showy signs or logos. This is a keyboard that was thoughtfully designed to find a home in the office or in the battle station. The additional aluminum upgrade also adds a trim which ups the panache just a bit more.
As for the feel of the keyboard, the Keychron differs from most mainstream offerings by emphasizing the enthusiast grade quality you’d find on custom aftermarket offerings. Key presses have a nice audible deadening thock, keycaps (whilst ABS) are genuinely a pleasure to touch, and the entire piece feels like it was designed to be timeless.
The K8 also has a dedicated RGB key to set the mood. It has around 18 profiles that’ll provide you with multiple different effects. At the back, you’ll also get two different kickstands with rubber feet. The kickstand allows you to adjust the height of the keyboard. I mainly use the small kickstand, but you can adjust it to whatever height you prefer. At the side, you also get a USB type-c port, a Windows/MacOS switch, and a Bluetooth/wired toggle switch.
When it comes to gaming, the K8 performs especially well on RTS and first person shooters. I booted the RTX 3080 and tried Doom Eternal and Gears Tactics. The keyboard felt fast and responsive on both wired and wireless modes. I honestly had a hard time distinguishing the two. While gaming for 2-5 hours a day during this review period, the 4000mAh battery gave me up to 2 weeks of usage while on wireless mode. That’s pretty darn impressive.
Moreover, I should mention, this particular board I configured was designed around gaming AND work space endeavors. Gateron Red was the perfect choice. With just the right amount of travel and the smoothness of the switch, I was absolutely happy to type on this anywhere I went.
When it comes to switches, Keychron offers two options. The first is a custom Keychron branded optical switch. There are numerous benefits of going this route, for example, an even longer lifespan of the switch, the speed and reliability of actuation, and just plain being on the bleeding edge of keyboard technology. However, if you are to choose this option, you will only be able to hot swap with additional Keychron optical switches.
The second option is the tried and true mechanical switch. From the factory, Keychron offers Gateron switches. They range from Red (linear), Brown (tactile), and Blue (clicky) – among others. The key benefit of going this route is the after market is flooded with designer switches or different mods that can easily transform the keyboard experience. This is the one I went with.
Finally, the true test: a long form typing experience. It’s no secret that as an editor I spend multiple hours every day writing emails, creating articles, and scouring the internet for the best possible content for you- the reader. The Keychron K8 accompanied me over the last few weeks, and it has been an absolute winner. From the satisfying down stroke, the incredibly well built materials, and the rock solid bluetooth connection – I managed to find it a reliable partner for any task I had. The most important thing to an editor is his keyboard, and the Keychron K8 is about as trustworthy as they come.
My review period with the Keychron K8 has been an absolute pleasure. The K8 is the most feature packed and versatile keyboard I’ve ever used. Every mechanical keyboard I’ve researched or played with up until this point has had one feature missing that gave me the coveted “FOMO” (fear of missing out). When you jam a product with every modern day feature, convenience, and option under the sun, you stand out from the pack. All this was done with aggressive pricing designed to upend where price to performance actually stands. With all that said, the Keychron K8 is my official daily driver. I can think of no higher praise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★