How To Choose The Best Hot Swappable Keyboards (Top 5 Reviewed)

Best Hot Swappable Keyboards

Anyone who is interested in investing in a mechanical keyboard should consider checking out the best hot swappable keyboards, their novel variants. They allow swapping switches beneath the keys so that you can gain diverse experiences by using different switches.  

Being hot-swappable means that you can interchange switches without any technical knowledge of the fusing technique or tools. Rather, you simply have to pull the existing switches and put the new ones with a single press. Thus, you can easily change a faulty key on the fly while the board is still plugged in. 

I spend 16 hours checking different models and I think that Keychron K6 is the best choice as it’s versatile and is very good value for money

#1: Keychron K6 68-Key Wireless/Wired Hot Swappable Gaming Mechanical Keyboard

Are you looking for a keyboard that is easily compatible with your Mac system and functions wirelessly without a hefty price tag? If yes, Keychron K6 can be your best hot swappable keyboard with ABS caps and an aluminum frame. Very few such keyboards are compatible with both Mac and Windows. 

This 65% keyboard supports a myriad of switches including Gateron, Cherry, LK optical, and Kailh although it ships with the Gateron Brown switches known for a matchless tactile response.  The sockets are 5-pin but accept even 3-pin switches. The factory-lubed stabilizers contribute to a smooth typing experience. 

With Bluetooth 5.1, the keyboard can connect with up to three devices. You also get a USB Type-C wired connection with an N-key rollover (NKRO). The 4000mAh rechargeable battery works smoothly for up to 72 hours with static RGB or 9 days of standard use. The 15+ RGB modes is a thoughtful addition for making playing and typing more legible at night. 

Pros

  • Super compact
  • Both wired and wireless
  • Mac and Windows support
  • Ergonomic design with the inclined bottom frame
  • Bluetooth 5.1 connection
  • Strong build
  • RGB lighting
  • Good battery life for up to eight days of regular use

Cons

  • Loose sockets over time

#2: Womier K66 Keyboard

This 60% keyboard from Womier is ideal for those who are big fans of RGB lights. These lights come out from the top, sides, beneath, and via each key with double-shot ABS caps and readable legends. You can easily adjust these lights using the keys. The different backlight effects and waves never fail to ensure a level of higher efficacy than your imagination. 

Apart from the RGB light effects, what makes this keyboard unique is its acrylic frame instead of a plastic or aluminum one. The keyboard features Gateron switches with 5-pin sockets but is compatible with over 95% of the standard mechanical switches including Cherry, Oetemu, Zeal, and Kailh. You also get the N key rollover functionality for improved gaming performance. 

Pros

  • Strong plastic build
  • Portable  
  • Fascinating RGB lights
  • Good sounding stabilizers
  • Detachable USB-C port

Cons

  • Not much to customize due to no software

#3: Drop ALT Mechanical Keyboard

This 65% keyboard model is one of the best compact hot-swappable keyboards with maximum features of an upscale mechanical keyboard. Regarded as a small version of Drop CTRL, the ALT keyboard comes with 67 keys.

The case or frame itself is made using aluminum and rests on sturdy mechanical legs. Along with the integrated switch plate, floating key design, and double-shot keycaps, you are ensured of long-lasting functionality. 

The keyboard features Halo clear switches known for their little tactile bump and no clicky noise. Being hot-swappable, the keyboard allows quickly switching to Kaihua, Halo, and Cherry MX switches. 

You will also like the per-key lighting ability, a fully customizable feature to enjoy custom rainbow effects. Using the QMK firmware, you gain full control over the keys. In addition, with the configurator, you can set macros and tailored keymapping for fine-tuning the board. 

The keyboard is also equipped with two USB C connectors, of which one can be used to transfer data or charge gadgets at USB 2.0 speeds.

Pros

  • Strong build
  • Ergonomic feel with adjustable magnetic feet, switch remover, and keycap puller
  • Customizable RGB lights  
  • No noise
  • Extremely durable
  • Two USB-C slots

Cons

  • Key chattering 
  • A bit costly

#4: Glorious Modular TKL Gaming Keyboard

This could be the best hot-swappable keyboard if you are looking for a full-size model for gaming and typing. Considering this versatility, this modular keyboard with hot-swap switches can be an affordable bet. 

You can easily remove its existing Gateron brown switches and add other Gateron, Cherry, Outemu, Zeal, or Kailh switches to customize your experience through 3-pin sockets. Apart from this compatibility, the keyboard is also compatible with customized RGB lighting.

Change any key to any color of your choice. There are also a couple of amazing light effects to set up an engrossing play environment. You can tweak these settings either using the software or the keyboard.

Another notable feature is a floating keycap design without branding. This gives you an ideal minimalistic keyboard that is easy to maintain. The layout of double-shot ABS keycaps is standard due to which you can use aftermarket keycaps.

The keyboard’s construction is solid due to a mix of plastic and aluminum, giving a comfortable typing experience. Even the removable USB cable is braided to last long. 

Pros

  • Very light
  • Strong build
  • Customizable RGB lights
  • Easy to clean 
  • Least noisy
  • No key chatter
  • Durable and removable USB cord
  • Keycap and switch removers included
  • Durable

Cons

  • Plastic bottom
  • Echo sound

#5: Tecware Phantom 87 Key

Are you a beginner on a budget and wish to try different Oetemu switches? If yes, this 87-key model could be your best hot swappable keyboard. The hot-swap feature is rare on models whose price is around that of this Tecware Phantom keyboard. Thus, this feature itself is the best seller although restricted to only Oetemu switches. Luckily, you also get spare switches and remover tools for quick replacement.

This economical model features a hard fiberglass PCB that can endure intensive usage. The double shot, floating keycaps are highly resistant to wear; the markings remain as a physical part of these caps. 

The keyboard allows boosting your gaming experience with 18 preset RGB modes. You can even have your own light effect by customizing per-key lighting and setting macros via its software. Another commendable feature at the given price point is its full N-key rollover and a pooling rate of 1000Hz, which deliver a quicker and smoother gaming experience. 

Pros

  • Cool RGB light effects
  • Super-strong build
  • Faster and smoother experience
  • Software for macros
  • Highly affordable 

Cons

  • Nondetachable braided cord
  • Only for Oetemu switches

What to Consider While Choosing the Best Hot Swappable Keyboard

Hot Swappable Keyboard

You need to consider the buying factors for choosing the best hot swappable model, which is as follows: 

Space

You should identify the space where you will be using your keyboard. If it is in an office, the aural feedback can grab the attention of the surrounding colleagues. If it is your room, this feedback may not be of any significance for you or your family members. However, if you are sharing your room with someone, then you may prefer the least aural disturbance. 

Hand Size

Hot Swappable Keyboard Hand Size

Interestingly, this factor can significantly change your keyboard choice. Bigger hands than the smaller ones usually result in mistyping. In this case, you need switches with at least a medium working force of 55cN and high activation points of a minimum 2mm. For smaller hands with gentle presses, speed switches are ideal for gaining an edge in terms of playing as well as typing speed. 

Keyboard Layout 

The keyboard layout suitable for you depends on your preferences for playing and typing experience. Hot swappable keyboards are available in different layouts such as TenKeyLess (TKL) with 87 keys and without a number pad, full with 104 keys, 60%, and 75%. The 75% layout has 80 to 87 keys but without the num pad. A 60% layout only has the alphanumeric zone, which means no F key row and no navigational bunch. You can choose what you prefer.

Keycaps

Hot Swappable Keyboard Keycap

The keycaps are available in a myriad of shapes and materials. The most famous material is ABS, a light plastic but vulnerable to wear and losing its strength after heavy or incessant use. If you are looking for something more durable and stronger option, go with PBT. Initially, you can choose ABS and then swap them for PBT caps. 

Switches

Switches underneath the keycaps function by sensing the keystroke. Different types of switches are available such as click, tactile, and linear, each having a distinct keystroke behavior. Your choice of switches depends on what you expect from your keyboard. 

Hot Swappable Keyboard Switches

Keyboards with tactile and clicky switches have a small bumping sound while pressing their keys. On the other hand, linear ones render a smoother typing experience. However, the former ones provide a more precise tangible feedback, which is preferable. This is because you can know if you pressed the key fully down without pressing it too much.  

Wired or Wireless

For many gamers, a wired hot swappable keyboard is preferable. They prefer especially the one with a removable USB cable so that changing the cable is easy instead of changing the whole keyboard. However, wireless models are also gaining popularity for their matchless portability and a good range of distance supported for operation. On the flip side, it is essential to charge their batteries. 

Switch Compatibility 

The compatibility of switches is perhaps the most important feature to look for. The best hot swappable keyboard is the one that does not confine itself to one, two, or three types of switches. Compatibility with a variety of switches is essential if you wish to have a highly customized model. 

If not more, your chosen keyboard should be compatible with major, popular switches such as Cherry MX, Outemu, Zealios, Kailh, Pandas, and Gateron.

However, some hot swap keyboards are not fully compatible. If you find keyboards whose description specifies optical hot swap or Outemu hot swap, they are only compatible with optical and Outemu switches, respectively.

Build Quality 

Hot Swappable Keyboard Build Quality

A keyboard’s build quality contributes to its durability. It encompasses a metallic body and double shot keycaps, which ensure longevity. Although these features will cost you significantly, the price should not hinder you to look for build quality.

Programmability

This feature allows changing the default settings to modify the way your keyboard functions. For example, it allows some keys to activate the backlight. If you wish to enjoy more flexibility, choose a keyboard that comes with programmable features. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions in mind? Read below…

Hot Swappable Keyboard FAQ
Why Should I Get a Hot Swappable Keyboard?

A hot swappable keyboard allows you to change the existing switches without desoldering and soldering so that you can try different switches easily. This is super suitable if you are using a mechanical keyboard for the first time. You can even change any problematic switch and have a customized arrangement of switches. Thus, if you are a DIY type who loves to repair easily, a hot swappable keyboard is what you need. 

Can I add a 3-pin switch into a 5-pin keyboard?

Yes! Hot swappable keyboards are available in two variations, 5-pin PCB switches and 3-pin plate switches. Either of these keyboards will function with any switch type. In case of a 3-pin model and 5-pin switches, you need to clip the plastic legs for smooth insertion. 

Why only a few hot swappable keyboards are available?

This is because much effort is required in producing these engineering masterpieces. Currently, manufacturers are testing the concept of hot swap, as it is a novel one. Engineering expertise is required in making them, which explains why they are usually expensive. hot swappable keyboards expensive FAQ

Why only a few hot swappable keyboards are available?

This is because much effort is required in producing these engineering masterpieces. Currently, manufacturers are testing the concept of hot swap, as it is a novel one. Engineering expertise is required in making them, which explains why they are usually expensive. 

Do sockets of a hot swap keyboard wear out?

Yes! The sockets eventually wear out after using it for a long time. Economical sockets last up to 100 cycles, while the upscale ones work for up to 1000 cycles.

Conclusion 

In a nutshell, the best hot swappable keyboard is highly compatible with switches, is built to last, and is efficient enough to ensure better speed and accuracy whether you are playing or typing. There are a couple of good options but you should not go with the most popular one but with the most suitable one. For me, it’s Keychron K6. What is it for you?

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