The 7 Best Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards in 2021

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated Dec 14, 2021

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best low-profile mechanical keyboards

Low-profile mechanical keyboards have steadily gained popularity over the past few years. They occupy a middle ground, offering a design and user experience similar to chiclet and laptop keyboards while boasting the crisper, cleaner typing feel of mechanical keyboards. If you’re interested in one and need help picking out the best low-profile mechanical keyboard, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you want a slim mechanical keyboard for portability or are after a reduced-travel switch for responsive gaming, our list has options in all the major form factors. But let’s not waste any more time and get on to the list.

Our Favorite Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboards

1. Logitech G915

Best Full-Sized Low-Profile Keyboard

Keys117 (including macro and media keys)
Switch Type(s)GL Clicky/Tactile/Linear
Keycap MaterialDouble-shot ABS
LightingPer-key RGB
ProgrammingMacros only
ConnectivityMicro USB, Bluetooth, Logitech Lightspeed
Dimensions (W x D x H)18.7 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
Weight2.26 pounds

If you want a premium low-profile wireless mechanical keyboard with all the bells and whistles, look no further than the Logitech G915. It’s an ultra-thin keyboard sporting a host of features, including Logitech’s low-latency (1 ms) Lightspeed wireless connection, a brushed aluminum top plate, RGB lighting, and a handful of customizable macro keys.

The G915 comes in three flavors: clicky, tactile, and linear, courtesy of Logitech’s in-house GL switches. All three switch types have 1.5 mm (0.06 inches) of pre-travel and 2.7 mm (0.1 inches) of total travel.

The five macro keys on the keyboard’s left do make the G915 wider than other full-sized boards, but that’s arguably a small price to pay if you can make use of the keys. You can store three different macro profiles in Logitech’s G Hub software, giving you access to 15 separate macros in total.

The G915 also has a handful of media keys, including a dedicated volume wheel. However, these dedicated media controls aren’t mechanical and feel a bit mushy compared to the primary keys. Not ideal, perhaps, but we imagine most users won’t be pressing them as often as the alphanumeric keys.

Logitech claims a 30-hour battery life at 100% RGB brightness, which is reasonably impressive for the size. Turn the RGB lighting down (or off), and we wouldn’t be surprised if you get two full days’ worth of use out of a single charge.

Overall, the Logitech G915 is arguably the best low-profile keyboard for those who want it all and don’t mind paying a premium. There are better value boards, but G915’s combination of build quality and features will be worth it to some of you out there. Don’t need the wireless? The G815 is identical beyond the connectivity and will save you a bit of money.

2. Cooler Master SK650

Best Value Full-Sized Low-Profile Keyboard

Keys104
Switch Type(s)Cherry MX Low Profile RGB Red
Keycap MaterialDouble-shot ABS
LightingPer-key RGB
ProgrammingYes
ConnectivityUSB Type-C
Dimensions (W x D x H)17 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches
Weight1.38 pounds

Cooler Master’s SK650 is a relatively no-frills option if you’re in the market for a low-profile full-sized keyboard. It eschews extra features like macro and media keys to focus on the essentials. Namely, solid materials and a decent typing feel.

The SK650 uses Cherry’s low-profile MX RGB Red switches. These are linear switches with a 1.2-mm (0.04-inch) actuation distance and 3.2 mm (0.12 inches) of total travel. The larger travel distance makes these something of a halfway switch between full-travel switches and other low-profile switches. If you’re used to full-sized keyboards, these switches might be a great middle ground.

One advantage the SK650 has over the Logitech G915 is its more flexible programming options. While it’s not technically a fully-programmable board, the Cooler Master software allows you to move keys around on the keyboard to suit your preferences. It’s great for accessibility and alternative layouts such as COLEMAK or Dvorak.

Unless you need to shift keys around, though, you might not even need the software. The Cooler Master SK650 has the company’s “On-the-fly System,” letting you set per-key RGB, switch lighting modes, and record macros, all on the keyboard itself. If you’re particularly averse to bloat on your rig, this might make the SK650 a much more appealing choice.

Overall, the Cooler Master SK650 is another solid product from the brand. It won’t necessarily wow you (especially not compared to the Logitech above), but it covers the essentials well for most users. It’s priced quite keenly for a full-sized keyboard, too, making it worth a look.

3. Keychron K1 V4

Best TKL Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard

Keys87
Switch Type(s)Gateron low profile Blue/Brown/Red
Keycap MaterialDouble-shot ABS
LightingSingle-color or Per-key RGB
ProgrammingNo
ConnectivityUSB Type-C and Bluetooth
Dimensions (W x D x H)14 x 4.7 x 1.0 inches
Weight1.43 pounds

Keychron’s K1 has been around for a while, and with each revision the company keeps making it better and better. There’s a V5 coming with hot-swap low-profile switches, but the V4 stands as the best low-profile TKL mechanical keyboard in our books for now.

Like most of Keychron’s keyboards, the K1 doesn’t set out to wow you with a boatload of features or fancy gimmicks. But what the Keychron K1 does have is a high-quality all-aluminum body, decent low-profile Gateron switches, and Bluetooth connectivity.

The K1 comes with either Gateron Blue, Red or Brown switches. These clicky, linear, and tactile switches (respectively) all have 1.5 mm of pre-travel and 2.5 mm of total travel. This makes them some of the shortest-travel mechanical switches you’ll get in a slim mechanical keyboard. Of course, whether that’s a selling point will depend on your preferences.

Keychron K1 V4

Source: minimalistik

According to the company’s lab testing, the Keychron K1 comes with a 2000 mAh battery that’s good for around 36 to 38 hours over Bluetooth. That’s decent enough for a backlit keyboard, and you should be able to squeeze some more life if you turn the lighting totally off.

The K1 lacks any customization, which is a slight negative. However, it comes pre-programmed with both Windows and Mac layouts, with a dedicated button for switching between the two. There are also 18 lighting modes on the version with RGB lighting, so you likely won’t get bored of the lights, even if you can’t change any of the modes to suit your preferences exactly.

The biggest issue with the Keychron K1 V4 is the upcoming V5 model that we alluded to. We’d suggest waiting for the updated model for the hot-swap optical switch option if you can wait. But if hot-swap isn’t a priority, the K1 V4 will offer the same exact experience right now.

4. Tecware Phantom L

Best Budget TKL Low-Profile Keyboard

Keys87
Switch Type(s)Hot-swappable Outemu low profile Blue/Brown/Red
Keycap MaterialDouble-shot ABS
LightingPer-key RGB
ProgrammingMacros
ConnectivityUSB Type-C
Dimensions (W x D x H)13.8 x 5.2 x 1.2 inches
Weight1.3 pounds

Budget mechanical keyboards are often riddled with compromises. However, that’s not really the case with the Tecware Phantom L, which would be a solid keyboard even at a much higher price.

Unlike many other $50-and-below low-profile mechanical keyboards, the Phantom L retains most of the keyboard features you’d expect in the mid-rang. You get per-key RGB, a durable Type-C USB pass-through port, and hot-swap switches, all without breaking the bank.

Tecware uses Outemu’s low-profile switches in the Phantom L. You can choose from Blue, Brown, and Red switches, which correspond to the Cherry MX color scheme. All three variants have 1.2 mm (0.04 inches) of pre-travel and 3.0 mm (0.11 inches) of total travel.

Tecware Phantom L

Source: TaeKeyboards

The per-key RGB lighting comes with 18 different modes, and you can further customize the lighting in Tecware’s software. Beyond the lighting, the software lets you record macros, enable a “Game Mode” that disables keys such as the Win key, and manage your custom user profiles.

It’s worth noting that the Phantom L isn’t as low profile as the other keyboards on our list. There’s anywhere between 0.2 to a whole 0.6 inches in height between this and its competitors. We don’t think it’s a big issue, but this isn’t the board if you want to go as low profile as you possibly can.

There’s a lot to like about the Tecware Phantom L, especially at its current price. At the time of writing, the Phantom L is available for less than $40. That’s remarkable and almost makes it something of a no-brainer for the budget-conscious.

5. Vissles LP85

Best 75% Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard

Keys84
Switch Type(s)Vissles X-Optical
Keycap MaterialDouble-shot ABS
LightingPer-key RGB
ProgrammingNo
ConnectivityUSB Type-C, Bluetooth
Dimensions (W x D x H)12.1 x 4.6 x 0.6 inches
Weight1.2 pounds

If you’re primarily looking for a slim mechanical keyboard for working on the go, Vissles’ new LP85 keyboard is easily the best choice you have right now. It’s obviously patterned after Apple’s Magic Keyboard, but it’s much more than just a simple clone. It has a standard 75% layout and high-end touches such as an all-aluminum body that feels great to hold and type on.

The LP85 also stands out for its bespoke optical-mechanical switches. These Vissles X-Optical switches have a nice clicky “pop” to them, which makes them quite enjoyable to use. They have a competitive 1.2 mm (0.04 inches) of pre-travel and 2.5 mm (0.9 inches) of total travel, making them feel responsive and crisp.

Vissles LP85

Source: Voltcave

The LP85 does, however, lose out in the customization department. Beyond the built-in Windows and Mac OS layouts and 19 factory lighting modes, there’s really nothing that you can do to tweak your experience. There’s no software here; this means no macros, user-defined lighting schemes, or user profiles.

If portability is the main reason you’re after a low-profile keyboard, the Vissles LP85 is arguably the best low-profile mechanical keyboard you can buy. Sure, there’s little in the way of customization, but we think the overall typing experience makes up for it. Curious? Check out our Vissles LP85 review for a full run-down.

6. Fnatic Streak65

Best 65% Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard

Keys68
Switch Type(s)Fnatic Speed
Keycap MaterialDouble-shot ABS
LightingPer-key RGB
ProgrammingYes
ConnectivityUSB Type-C
Dimensions (W x D x H)12.5 x 4.3 x 0.9 inches
Weight0.9 pounds

Fnatic’s Streak65 is a no-frills 65% keyboard targeted almost exclusively at gamers. It arguably lacks prominent headline keyboard features, but it’s the details that count here. The Streak65 has a handful of little features that arguably make it one of the best low-profile keyboards outright, regardless of size.

But let’s get the Streak65’s gaming credentials out of the way first. The Streak65 uses Fnatic’s in-house Speed Switches. Unlike most non-Cherry low-profile switches, these have a Cherry MX-style mount and boast a short 1.0-mm (0.039-inch) pre-travel. On the other hand, total travel is relatively standard at 3.2 mm (0.12 inches).

That short pre-travel means that this isn’t a keyboard we’d recommend for typing and office work. But anyone looking for super-responsive switches for fast-paced gaming will likely enjoy these Fnatic low-profile switches. You’ll probably be able to get used to these for typing if you really try, too.

Fnatic Streak65

Source: randomfrankp

The Streak65 also comes with pre-lubricated stabilizers, giving the larger keys (such as the spacebar, Backspace, and left Shift) a much smoother and more consistent feel. This is quite common on full-sized pre-built keyboards these days but still quite rare on low-profile variants. So Fnatic gets extra kudos here.

The Fnatic Streak65 is also fully programmable through Fnatic’s OP software. You can change the keymap, set up your own color schemes, and assign macros to the four macro keys on the right (where the nav cluster keys usually go on 65% layouts). It’s nothing exceptional, but it’s definitely adequate.

Top all of this off with a clean, rounded aluminum body, and you have an excellent keyboard. It’s not too expensive, either, making the Fnatic Streak65 possibly the best low-profile gaming keyboard you can buy right now.

7. Cooler Master SK621

Best 60% Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard

Keys64
Switch Type(s)Cherry MX Low Profile RGB Red
Keycap MaterialDouble-shot ABS
LightingPer-key RGB
ProgrammingMacros
ConnectivityUSB Type-C, Bluetooth
Dimensions (W x D x H)11.5 x 4.0 x 1.15 inches
Weight0.9 pounds

The low-profile 60% keyboard space seems to be dominated entirely by Cooler Master with its three SK62x offerings. We think the SK621 is likely the overall best option for most users between the three.

It boils down to the Cherry MX Low Profile RGB Red switches that the SK621 uses. These have standard Cherry-compatible mounts, and the more robust mounting mechanism means less wobble than other competing low-profile switches. These linear switches have a 1.2-mm (0.04-inch) actuation distance and 3.2 mm (0.12 inches) of total travel.

The SK621 also has Bluetooth support, although battery life is a bit of a mixed bag. Cooler Master claims four to five months of battery life with the backlight off. However, this shrinks down to 15 hours with RGB lighting. Not great, but you could probably eke out a bit more by turning down the RGB brightness.

Like its bigger brother, the SK621 has Cooler Master’s “On-the-fly System.” This system lets you record macros, adjust per-key lighting, and switch lighting modes via specific key combos without installing the software.

There’s a lot to like here, although it’s far from perfect. We’d much rather have a more conventional 60% layout without the arrow keys, if only to have a longer right Shift key. The multiple legends on the keycaps—a result of the keyboard supporting Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android—also make the keyboard look a lot busier than it is.

Overall, the Cooler Master SK621 is a solid keyboard. However, we think it’s worth considering a 65% or 75% board for a less cramped layout and design. But if those don’t appeal to you, this is the compact keyboard to go for.

Before You Buy

While we’d readily recommend a mechanical keyboard over a cheap membrane keyboard, these low-profile keyboards aren’t as easy to recommend. They aren’t for everyone, so let’s go through a couple of factors to think about before pulling the trigger.

The Typing Experience

If you’re used to regular mechanical keyboards, you might find low-profile keyboards a bit awkward to type on. That’s often a combination of the reduced angle, flat keycaps, and (on occasion) slightly different key spacing that are common to these slim mechanical keyboards.

It’s probably true that the flatter keyboards are more ergonomic to type on due to the shallower angle putting less strain on your wrist. However, these slim mechanical keyboards are a huge departure from the sculpted keycaps and relatively steep angles of full-sized boards.

Vissles LP85 profile

Source: Voltcave

It’ll take some getting used to, but we think most people should be able to adapt fine after an adjustment period.

Better for Gaming?

The big marketing push for low-profile switches is that the increased responsiveness (due to the short pre-travel) makes for a better gaming experience. There’s certainly logic behind the claim, but there are so many variables at play that it’s hard to make a blanket statement either way.

For example, RTS gamers might not welcome sensitive switches as much as competitive FPS players. Individual preferences and sensitivity also come into play here; after all, what feels natural to one gamer may feel entirely uncomfortable for another.

Cherry MX Low Profile Red vs. Cherry MX Red

Cherry MX Low Profile switch (right) vs. a standard Cherry MX switch. Source: Cherry

So, the only way to find out is to try a slim mechanical keyboard out and see for yourself. I personally didn’t feel like the low-profile keyboards I’ve used improved my performance in any way. But that doesn’t mean they definitely can’t help, and you may feel more of a difference than I did.

Closing Thoughts

Low-profile mechanical keyboards are still comparatively rare, but there’s still a healthy number to choose from in 2021. Given the variety of layouts, there’s no one-size-fits-all best low-profile keyboard. Instead, the best keyboard for you will depend on various factors, not least the form factor you prefer and what you’ll be using the keyboard for.

That said, we think that the Fnatic Streak65 and Vissles LP85 deserve your particular attention for gaming and portable typing, respectively. If you’re just exploring the low-profile space and aren’t committed to a specific form factor, we think either one of those would be an excellent place to start.

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