Gaming

Best Hot-swappable Keyboard for 2023

A quality mechanical keyboard is one of the key components of any setup. Depending on the workflow, some people may prefer a louder click with more travel, while others may be more inclined towards more silent keys. Furthermore, some gamers find the perfect form factor for their setup, but the available switch options are not ideal. This is where hot-swappable keyboards come in. They offer the best of both worlds with the ability to switch out the switches and keycaps without too much of a hassle.



Mechanical keyboards come in a variety of sizes, switch options, keycap options, build materials, and more. Those who are more enthusiastic about their keyboards prefer the ability to at least customize the switches if not other aspects of it. While technically the switches can be changed on most keyboards, only hot-swappable keyboards allow users to do so without having to take everything apart and desolder the current set of switches. The switches on hot-swappable keyboards can be taken out with just a switch puller and new ones can be fitted in place.

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Things To Consider When Buying A Hot-swappable Keyboard

Form factor: Mechanical keyboards are available in different sizes – full size, compact, TKL or tenkeyless, compact TKL, and other smaller sizes. While this variety is true in the gaming mechanical keyboard market, hot-swappable options are not as varied. Most hot-swappable keyboards are TKL or smaller.

Those looking for full-size hot-swappable options have very limited options. The form factor depends on the use case, for example, someone working with a lot of numbers would prefer to have a full-size keyboard with a numpad rather than a TKL without a numpad. On the other hand, gamers prefer smaller keyboards as it offer more desk space for mouse movements.

Switch compatibility: Switch compatibility can be categorized under PCB pin design and the type of switch. There are multiple contact points that the switches have on the PCB for connectivity and stability. Some keyboards come with three-pin connections, while others come with five-pin connections. These determine the type of switches that can be used on that particular hot-swappable keyboard.

The hot-swappable switches come with a three-pin or a five-pin design with the five-pin option offering more stability. Notably, the two extra pins on the five-pin design are just plastic pins for stability and have nothing to do with connectivity. This means three-pin switches can be used on PCBs that have five connecting points, but not the other way around.

Not all hot-swappable keyboards work with all switches. Some keyboards only accommodate certain brands, such as Cherry MX, Topre, or Alps which should be confirmed before purchasing. However, there are several clones out there that offer different type of feedback on the same switch design, which can work as well. For example, Kailh and Gateron switches are typically clones of Cherry MX and will work with hot-swappable keyboards that use Cherry MX switches.

Price: A good aspect of the hot-swappable keyboard market is that there are cheap as well as premium options. Those looking to get into the world of hot-swappable keyboards can find entry-level budget-friendly options, while enthusiasts have the option to spend hundreds of dollars for the optimum experience. With hot-swappable keyboards, buying different key switches is an added expense which should also be kept in mind when purchasing the keyboard.

Connectivity options: A keyboard can be wired or wireless and, with the advancement in wireless technology, the ones without a wire can perform at par with the wired options. Wireless keyboards allow for a cleaner desk setup but come with their own drawbacks like battery life and being more expensive. Some wireless keyboards also allow for Bluetooth connectivity, which means they can be used with a phone or a tablet as well, making them even more versatile.

It should be noted that even though switches can be changed on hot-swappable keyboards, they need to be compatible with the keyboard. The PCBs in hot-swappable keyboards are different and a bit more complex than non-hot-swappable ones, which is why the hot-swappable ones are more expensive.

Game Rant’s Picks for the Best Hot-Swappable Keyboards in 2024

Epomaker TH80 Keyboard

Epomaker Theory TH80

Best Overall Hot-swappable Keyboard

With built-in modularity for everything from connectivity to switches, the TH80 from EPOMAKER is a keyboard for those who like to change things. The 75% layout provides both typing comfort and space consciousness, and the programmable metal rotary knob that allows extra control of any setup.

Brand
Epomaker

Wireless
Yes

Backlight
RGB

Num Pad
No

Switch Type
Gateron Pro Mechanical Switches

Replaceable Keys
Yes

Number of Keys
80 Keys

Compatible Devices
Windows & MacOS

Wired operation
USB-C

Dimensions
328 x 142 x 40mm

Bluetooth
Yes

Keycaps
PBT

Media Controls
Rotary Knob

Battery
3800mAh

Multi-device pairing
Yes

Pros

  • Impressive build quality
  • Good latency for casual gaming
  • Software works with both Windows and macOS
  • Supports multi-device pairing
Cons

  • No dedicated macro keys.
  • Key legend is hard to read in darker rooms

The Epomaker TH80 Pro is a perfect mix of affordability, easy customization options, and excellent performance. This 75% keyboard doesn’t turn the keyboard world on its head, but for gamers who want a reliable keyboard that is a joy to customize, whether it’s new switches or a whole new set of keycaps, the Epomaker TH80 Pro is a fantastic choice.

By default, this keyboard comes with a choice of two in-house Epomaker switches or Gateron Pro Yellow switches. Of course, with it being a hot-swappable keyboard, users can change these out for whatever they want, but out of the box, the TH80 Pro also feels incredible to use with these three switches. For people who plan to mostly game, the Epomaker Flamingo switches are probably going to be the best option, with their short travel and very responsive feeling.

The hot-swappable PCB works with both 3-pin and 5-pin south-facing switches, giving gamers a ton of choices of what switches they want to use. Most keyboards only support one or the other, so having both gives just that extra bit of customization, which pushes the TH80 Pro over other options.

Mountain Everest Max keyboard

Mountain Everest Max Mechanical Keyboard

Best Premium Hot-swappable Keyboard

$185 $290 Save $105

The Mountain Everest Max mechanical keyboard is a unique offering thanks to its modularity and customizability. It comes with a detachable numpad that can be used on either side of the keyboard. There is a detachable media dock with extra controls and a display, as well as a detachable wrist rest. This wired keyboard as beautiful RGB lighting and solid metal construction. 

Brand
Mountain

Wireless
No

Backlight
RGB

Num Pad
Detachable

Switch Type
Cherry MX

Replaceable Keys
Yes, hot-swappable

Wired operation
USB Type-C

Bluetooth
No

Keycaps
ABS, PBT

Internal Sound Dampening
Yes

Wrist rest
Yes, magnetic with PU leather

Media Controls
Yes

Pros

  • Modular design
  • Additional media dock with display

If budget is of no concern, the Mountain Everest Max is a premium offering that offers impressive customizability and modularity. It stands out from the competition because of its focus on allowing the user to create the perfect combination for themselves. The Everest Numpad, which can be purchased separately, can be attached to either side of the keyboard. This makes it easier for left-handed users and allows for a larger area for the mouse.

The Everest Media Dock includes a few buttons and a display that allows users to easily access media controls, monitor the system, and display or switch profiles. This dock can be attached to the top right or top left of the keyboard. Another unique aspect of the Mountain Everest Max is the riser feet design, which is a set of spacers that can be added or removed to adjust the angle of the keyboard.

The premium hot-swappable keyboard comes with per-key RGB lighting as well as an RGB strip that runs around the entire body. It can be controlled with the Razer Chroma software as well. Coming to the switches, the Mountain Everest Max comes with 3-pin Cherry MX switches with ABS or PBT keycaps. It is a wired keyboard that comes with a magnetic palm rest that is covered in PU leather. The keyboard comes in Gunmetal Gray and Midnight Black color options.

RK Royal Kludge RK61 keyboard wireless

RK ROYAL KLUDGE RK61

Best Budget Hot-swappable Keyboard

The RK ROYAL KLUDGE RK61 is a small, 60% compact gaming keyboard that includes everything from RGB to mechanical switches. It’s one of the very few options out there for mechanical keyboards on a budget, but their house brand “RK” blue, brown, and red switches stand out when playing games. This is a hot-swappable keyboard, meaning users can swap out the key switches with ease.

Brand
RK ROYAL KLUDGE

Wireless
No

Backlight
Multi-zone RGB

Num Pad
No

Switch Type
RK Blue, Brown, or Red

Number of Keys
61

Wrist rest
No

Media Controls
No

Compatible Devices
PC, Xbox

Dimensions
11.5W x 4.02L x 1.57H inches

Keycaps
ABS

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Hot-swappable PCB
  • Tri-mode connection options
  • Incredibly affordable
Cons

  • The thicker build can cause wrist strain
  • Can’t set macros for gaming

Gamers wanting the versatility of a hot-swappable keyboard while not shelling out the cash that many options ask for should look no further than the The Royal Kludge RK61. This 60% wireless mechanical keyboard is one of the best gaming keyboards out there, especially at this very affordable price point.

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The RK61 comes with Royal Kludge brand red, blue, or brown mechanical switches by default. But the PCB is fully hot-swappable for users who don’t want any of those options. As long as the new switches use the 5-pin Cherry mount, they will fit into the RK61. Gamers who want to take it a step further, even the stabilizers, can be swapped out for custom ones.

The 60% form factor is not for everyone. The more petite frame can be challenging for gamers with larger hands to feel comfortable, and there are no media keys to speak of. For gamers looking for more media buttons and space to spread out but don’t want to increase the budget too much, the Royal Kludge RK96 might be a better option.

Keychron Q2 Pro keyboard

Keychron Q2 Pro

Best Bluetooth Hot-swappable Keyboard

The Keychron Q2 Pro is the best wireless mechanical hot-swappable keyboard from Keychron, and that’s saying a lot. It comes with a CNC aluminum body, KSA PBT keycaps, wireless or wired connectivity, and the ability to connect up to 3 devices. It comes in 3 color options – Carbon Black, Silver Gray, and Shell White. The Q2 Pro features a double-gasket design for better noise reduction and stability.

Brand
Keychron

Wireless
Bluetooth 5.1

Backlight
RGB

Battery
4000 mAh

Num Pad
No, TKL

Switch Type
K Pro Red, K Pro Brown, K Pro Banana

Replaceable Keys
Yes, hot-swappable

Compatible Devices
Windows, Mac

Wired operation
Yes

Bluetooth
5.1

Multi-device pairing
Yes, 3 devices

Keycaps
PBT

Internal Sound Dampening
Yes

Wrist rest
No

Polling rate
1000 Hz wired

Pros

  • Dedicated control knob
  • Comes with Mac and Windows keycaps

Keychron has been in the keyboard game for a long time, showing its experience and expertise with the Q2 Pro. It has great build quality with its full metal design and KSA PBT keycaps. There are three color options – Carbon Black, Silver Gray, and Shell White. Keychron offers the Q2 Pro with its own K Pro switches in Red, Brown, and Banana (yellow) color options. But, since it is a hot-swappable keyboard, most Cherry, Gateron, Kailh, Panda, and other branded switches will work as well, be it 3-pin or 5-pin switches.

The Keychron Q2 Pro can be used wireless via Bluetooth 5.1 and wired via a USB Type-C cable. It has a 4000 mAh battery that the company claims can last up to 100 hours with RGB on (lowest brightness) and up to 300 hours with the backlight off. It also has a 1000 Hz polling rate in wired mode and 90 Hz in wireless mode. The hot-swappable keyboard uses a screw-in PCB stabilizer for better durability and, of course, stability.

For lighting, the keyboard offers 22 types of RGB backlight settings which can be further tweaked using the VIA software, where keys can be remapped as well. Note that the default keycaps do not allow light to shine through, which is why Keychron calls it south-facing RGB. The Q2 Pro gives users an extra level of control thanks to the programmable knob which can be used for macro commands to assist with the workflow.

Glorious GMMK2 keyboard

Glorious GMMK2 Full-size

Best Wired Hot-swappable Keyboard

$85 $120 Save $35

The Glorious GMMK2 Full-size mechanical gaming keyboard is a great value option for casual gamers and enthusiasts. It has a 99-key layout but is more compact than typical full-size keyboards. The GMMK2 uses GLorious’ Fox Linear switches that can be swapped out for most other switch types. It has a CNC machined body, ABD doubleshot keycaps, and per-key RGB lighting. The GMMK2 is a wired keyboard which means it will never run out of battery.

Brand
Glorious

Wireless
No

Backlight
RGB

Num Pad
Yes

Switch Type
Glorious Fox Linear

Replaceable Keys
Yes, hot-swappable

Number of Keys
99

Wired operation
Yes

Bluetooth
No

Multi-device pairing
No

Keycaps
ABS Doubleshot

Internal Sound Dampening
Yes

Wrist rest
No

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Full-size yet compact design

Glorious made a big splash in the gaming peripheral space with its Model D and Model O gaming mice. They were one of the first to introduce a perforated shell design to cut weight. Over the years, the company developed keyboards as well. Though its portfolio is not as expansive as some of the other brands in this list, the limited options offer a combo of great value and performance. The GMMK2 is exactly that; gamers can choose between a compact (65%) or full-size (96%) form factor.

The GMMK 2, which stands for Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard, comes with an aluminum top frame for rigidity and double shot PBT keycaps for durable text on the keys. Even though it is a full-size keyboard, it has a smaller footprint thanks to a custom layout. Out of the box, the GMMK 2 comes with the company’s Fox linear switches that can be swapped out for nearly any other 5-pin or 3-pin switch.

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Since it is a wired keyboard, gamers will not have to worry about running out of battery or turning down the RGB lighting to save battery. Speaking of lighting, the GMMK 2 supports fully customizable RGB lighting that shines through the keycaps and reflects off the metal plate underneath. It also offers two levels of angle adjustment for a more ergonomic wrist position.

Lofree Flow Keyboard

Lofree Flow Mechanical Keyboard

Best Low Profile Hot-Swapapble Keyboard

The Lofree Flow is one of the thinnest mechanical keyboards on the market, and the only one that uses full POM Kailh switches. These switches self-lubricate, making them smooth and a joy to type on. The gasket design provides enhanced cushioning, even pressure distribution, and some noise dampening for a thocky typing experience. The 10mm aluminum frame houses a 2,000mAh battery that lasts 40 hours of nonstop use and can charge up to full capacity in just 3 hours.

Form factor
60%

Switch options
Ghost (Linear), Phantom (Tactile), Wizard (Clicky)

Colorways
White and Black

Backlight
Per Key White LEDs

Construction
Aluminum Frame

Dampening
Yes

Keycaps
PBT

Supported operating systems
Windows and macOS

Hot-swappable
Yes

Battery capacity
2,000 mAH

Connectivity
Bluetooth and Wired

Typing angle
3.9 degrees

Dimensions
316mm x 126 mm x 24.5 mm

Weight
568 grams

Number of Keys
84 keys

Pros

  • Excellent typing experience
  • Fairly long battery life
  • Solid construction with a premium feel
  • Low-profile makes it easy to travel with
Cons

  • Bluetooth connection is not great for gaming
  • Gasket design can cause some keys to be unresponsive, but it can be easily fixed

Unlike all the other keyboards in this guide that are primarily focused on gamers and gaming, the Lofree Flow is an excellent low-profile option for anyone wanting a fully hot-swappable keyboard that doesn’t look out of place in an office setting. Despite being just 10 mm thick, the Flow houses fantastic mechanical switches that can easily be swapped out for other low-profile switches.

However, in Game Rant’s full review of the Lofree Flow, we found that most people will thoroughly enjoy the included switches too much to swap them out for at least a while. This is the first low-profile keyboard to use full POM switches and a gasket design. The POM switches are incredibly smooth and responsive, and the gasket design makes this keyboard sound full and satisfying all while still just being 10 mm thick.

The Nuphy Air75 is the only real competition for the Lofree Flow at this point, and while both have their pros and cons, the Lofree Flow delivers more consistent performance and an excellent typing feel. Plus, with a battery life of 40 hours, even the hardest working people can get through a whole workweek with this keyboard without needing a recharge.

Logitech G Pro X mechanical keyboard

Logitech G PRO X

Best Logitech Hot-swappable Keyboard

The Logitech G Pro X was designed with the best Esports competitors on the planet in mind. Pro-grade GX mechanical switches are swappable between 3 variations that each excel in speed and durability. The tenkeyless configuration of the Logitech G Pro X makes it ideal for Esports players to bring it with them as they travel the world, dominating tournaments. The keyboard is also easily customized, with 12 programmable F-Key Macros remappable in the powerful Logitech G Hub. 

Brand
Logitech

Wireless
No

Backlight
Yes, RGB

Num Pad
No

Switch Type
Mechanical, Swappable

Replaceable Keys
Yes

Number of Keys
87

Media Controls
No

Compatible Devices
PC, Mac

Dimensions
7.87 x 14.21 x 6.02 in

Polling rate
1000 Hz

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Onboard lighting profiles

Those already in the Logitech ecosystem looking for a hot-swappable keyboard can go for the G Pro X wireless TKL. Logitech offers a choice of GX Blue Clicky, GX Red Linear, and GX Brown Tactile key switches, and users can buy either of the three separately as well. While the company supports these three switches officially, they have the same 3-pin Kailh switch design, which means they can be swapped out for any other switch with the same design.

The G Pro X is a well-built TKL keyboard with LIGHTSYNC RGB lighting and onboard lighting profiles. It is a compact wired keyboard, and the cable is detachable, making it easier to travel with. There are rubber feet at the bottom and a stand with a three-step adjustment. It comes with 12 programmable F-keys that can be customized using the G Hub software.

The Logitech G Pro X has been designed in collaboration with the top esports athletes and comes in two color options: all black and a Shroud theme. Shroud is a pro player and streamer whose blue color theme and logo are present on the Logitech G Pro X Shroud edition.

Bottom Line

Epomaker TH80 Pro on orange background

A hot-swappable keyboard is the way to go for those who wish to have a different typing experience after they spend time with one type of key switch. These keyboards allow for easy swapping of the switches and are generally compatible with most third-party switch options.

Instead of buying an entirely new keyboard or desoldering the non-hot swap socket, get a hot-swappable keyboard and then keep buying sets of key switches and keycaps for a fresh typing experience. Even though the enthusiast DIY keyboard market can be quite expensive, there are cheaper options that are more inviting for beginners.

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Best Wireless Gaming Keyboards in 2024

Wireless gaming keyboards are an excellent way to keep gaming setups looking clean, plus there are tons that offer best-in-class gaming performance.

FAQ

Q: What are the downsides of hot-swappable keyboards?

While hot-swappable keyboards come with some obvious advantages, there are some disadvantages as well. The PCB for a hot-swappable keyboard has a slightly different design than the standard ones which is why they are relatively expensive. Soldered keyboards or non-hot-swap keyboards are generally more durable and stable.

Q: Is it worth getting a hot-swappable keyboard?

Hot-swappable keyboards allow users to switch up the typing experience relatively easily so those who like to experiment should go with a hot-swappable option. Those satisfied with one particular key switch can either get a non-hot-swappable keyboard or even a hot-swappable one. In the current market, there are several budget options, so it makes sense to go the hot-swappable route for some added flexibility.

Q: Do you need to solder hot swappable keyboards?

No, hot-swappable keyboards do not require any soldering to replace key switches. The switches can be pulled using a switch puller just like keycaps.

Antonio Josse

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