Awesome keyboard experience for macOS users.
For many years now, I’ve been searching for a mechanical keyboard that was designed to work with macOS. There are many different styles of keyboards that will work with macOS, but they aren’t designed for it. That means there are Windows keys on the keyboard instead of Command keys and in order to use the keyboard, you have to think about the CTL key being the alternative keystroke for commands. Is it possible for an Apple user to make use of a Windows mechanical keyboard? Sure, but it’s not preferable. That’s why I’m really glad I found Keychron keyboards and their K3 Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard. I’ve used a different model in the past, but I really liked the idea of being able to customize my experience by swapping switches out. So, I gave it a try.
The Keychron K3 Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard is an ultra-slim wireless keyboard with the world’s first hot-swappable low-profile Optical switches. The keyboard connects via Bluetooth or through USB-C. The keyboard features Bluetooth 5.1 and can work with computers, smartphones, tablets, or any Bluetooth-enabled device. The K3’s switches are 40% slimmer than conventional switches and it sits on a streamlined aluminum body. Since it’s designed for productivity and compact spaces, the keyboard features a 75% layout and does not include the 10-key number pad. It does still include multimedia and function keys. The RGB version of the keyboard has 18 different colored lighting effects that can be controlled by the light effect key on the keyboard. After 10 minutes of inactivity, the keyboard will go to sleep. You can disable the auto-sleep mode with a key combination on the keyboard.
- Number of Keys: 84 keys
- Layout: ANSI
- Version: Gateron / Optical / Hot-swappable
- Switches: Low profile Gateron mechanical / Low profile Keychron Optical
- Number of Multimedia Keys: 12
- Frame Material: ABS+Aluminum frame
- Keycap Material: ABS
- Backlit Types: 18
- Backlit: Adjustable 4-level RGB backlit
- System: Windows/Android/Mac/iOS
- Battery: 1550mAh Rechargeable li-polymer battery
- BT Working Time (Single LED): Up to 34 hours (Lab test result may vary by actual use)
- BT Working Time (RGB): Up to 34 hours (Lab test result may vary by actual use)
- Connection: Bluetooth and Type-C cable
- Bluetooth version: 5.1
- Bluetooth Device Name: Keychron K3
- Compatible System: macOS/Windows
- Dimension: 306 x 116mm
- Height incl. keycap (rear) 22mm
- Height incl. keycap (front) 17mm
- Weight: About 483g / 1.06lbs
- Operating Environment: -10 to 50℃
The keyboard shipped in a stylish black box with the words “Keychron K3” stamped across the top in iridescent silver. There is a subtle black outline of the keyboard on the cover of the box, which is a really cool way to display the product. The side of the box has a label on it that describes the contents of the box – in this case, the Keychron K3 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard with RGB backlight and blue switches. The back of the box highlights the main features of the keyboard including the compact design, dual compatibility, wireless & wired options, the option to pair up to 3 devices, battery life, and light effects. There is an image of the keyboard on the back as well.
When you open the box, you will find the keyboard, which is protected by a plastic overlay, a USB-C cable for charging or connectivity, a quick start guide card that is the size of the keyboard, a manual, alternate keycaps for Windows users, and key puller tools. One of the unique features of this keyboard is that it is the world’s first hot-swappable low-profile Optical switch keyboard. You have the ability to swap out every single switch within just a few seconds. I ordered the K3 with blue switches, which are ‘clicky-clicky’ style.
I used the keyboard for a while out of the box and while I enjoyed the sound of the blue switches, I felt as though I wasn’t getting the best travel around the keyboard that I could. Fortunately, I was provided with Keychron’s red and black switches as well. The blue switches have an actuation force of 48 +/- 10gf while the black has 50 +/- 10gf and the red switches have 40 +/- 10gf. According to Keychron’s website, the red switches are quiet and a little less clicky. So after testing the black and red together, I decided to swap out the entire board and replace the blue switches with the red ones.
Now, I have to admit here that this was my first foray into swapping switches on a keyboard. I had popped keycaps off of switches before, but I haven’t swapped out an entire board of them. Using the keycap puller and switch puller that was provided, I pulled all the keycaps off the switches and then started pulling all the switches out. At first, the switches were a little difficult to pull. I had to shimmy them back and forth before they would slip out of their slots. You can’t just pull them straight out. I tried that a couple of times and the switch actually came apart because of where I was pinching the switch. That’s when I discovered that if you gently move the switch back and forth it will wiggle out of the switch spot. Once I got all the blue switches pulled, I started installing the red ones. The installation of the red switches took a lot less time than pulling the blue ones. They pressed into place quite easily.
One of the reasons I was so excited to use this keyboard was because it is a wireless mechanical keyboard that is designed to work with Apple computers. This is a rare find in the keyboard world since most of the mechanical keyboard consumers are gamers using Windows-based computers. That said, it was quite easy to connect the keyboard via Bluetooth to my MacBook Pro. I was even delighted to use the RGB functions which were centralized to the keyboard itself and not dependent on a piece of software like many RGB gaming keyboards do. The only part of the keyboard’s design I’m not a fan of is its height. It is supposed to be a low-profile keyboard, but it has a limited option for a tilt towards the user. There are no fold-out feet that raise the level, but I added a stand that can be added to the bottom of any keyboard and it makes using the K3 much easier for me.
I typically finalize my keyboard tests with a timed typing test. On average, my standard typing rate is around 69 WPM. The typing test I completed with the K3 had a score of 70 WPM net speed (73 WPM with 3 typos). I’m usually a little slower on mechanical keyboards so I’m happy that ended up being the outcome. I think it would have been much slower if I had been using the blue switches.
I’m really glad the K3 Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard exists. I’ve had a lot of fun using it and customizing it for my personal tastes. It ended up not being a bit hassle and honestly, the price is very competitive for this keyboard versus other mechanical options out there. The keyboard is around $100 (at the time of publishing) and you can purchase the specific switches you want separately for around $19 a set. I think the K3 is a great investment and a wonderful addition to any workspace.