The Keychron Q1 was one of the biggest surprises of the year, becoming one of the best entry-level custom keyboards on the market with just a few simple mods. Today, Keychron is releasing its successor, the Q2. With a smaller 65% layout, volume knob by default, redesigned internals, and upgraded case and keycap options, it retails for $169 fully assembled. and $149 in a ceiling kit. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s consult and find out!
- Price: $169 – Fully assembled, $149 – Clavicle (Keychron)
- Layout: 65 percent
- Keycaps (fully assembled version): Double-shot PBT Keycaps, non-transparent, OSA Profile (OEM height, SA shape)
- MCU: Cortex-M4 32-bit ultra-low power arm STM32L432 (128KB Flash)
- Switches: Gateron G Pro (Completely assembled version)
- Backlight: South-facing RGB LED
- Switch support: Hot swappable (5 pin & 3 pin)
- Stabs: Bolted PCB Stabs
- Connection: Type-C Cable
- Dedicated media key: Volume knob
- Cable: Type-C Cable + Type-A to Type-C . Adapter
- Body material Aluminum is fully CNC machined
- Sheet material Steel
- Width: 121 mm
- Length: 327.5 mm
- Front height: 20mm (without keycaps)
- Back height: 33.8 mm (without keycaps)
- Feet height: 2.7 mm
- Angle: 6.5°
- Weight: 1645 g ± 10g (Completely assembled version)
Keychron Q2 – Overview, Key Features and First Impressions
The Keychron Q2 is the second in Keychron’s Q-series of low-end custom keyboards. It’s a clear upgrade over the majority of ready-made keyboards, and comes in an all-aluminum housing that’s anodized in blue, gray, or black. It’s packed with enthusiast features but competitively priced at just $169 for the kit, complete with doubleshot PBT keycaps. Bring your own switches and keycaps and that’s down to $149. It’s a great deal, and even more so if you’re comfortable applying some basic mods.
While Q2 has much in common with Q1, has been released and we have reviewed last September, it came complete with a new, more compact layout and a bunch of meaningful upgrades: small keyboard, thicker keyboard, much less ping, new switches that don’t mess with RGB like Q1 and , of course, have volume knobs. Everyone loves a good volume knob, and the Q2 has one.
Starting with the layout, the Q2 is a 65% keyboard. That means it removes the Function row, Numeric Keypad, and dedicated Navigation and Editing cluster. It keeps dedicated arrow keys, as well as two customizable buttons in a single column of navigation and edit keys along the right-hand side (mapped to Delete and Home by default). A dedicated volume knob sits right above it. It’s aluminum and colored to match the rest of the keyboard, albeit with a square border as a relic of the original design intent for it to be modular (I’m not sure if it’s really is any more or not and is not marked as such). Around the back are a USB Type-C port and a switch to swap between Windows and Mac layouts, but can also be used as a hardware switch to swap out programmable layers on the fly. .
The design has undergone many improvements since Q1. The case is thicker, feels heavy and solid to hold. It weighs 200 grams less than the Q1 despite being a smaller keyboard. It joins together into two halves, which are secured with eight socket-cap hex screws around the rear. It has a nice side panel that makes it easy to hold and move, although I wish Keychron would switch to a hidden screw design for a neater bottom half.
The inside of the case has multiple layers of foam to reduce knocking sound and reduce ping. That’s a huge improvement over Q1, although there’s still a bit of ping left to get rid of. There’s a nice layer of PCB foam, as well as a thin layer of foam in the case and a plastic sheet on the bottom, something I’ve never seen on a keyboard before. Keychron has also added silicone bits around the screws to further reduce unwanted ping sounds. The plate is also held in place by thin soft foam strips to create a pad attachment structure for a soft, flexible typing experience.
Another improvement comes with keycaps. They come with twice the PBT this time by default, which is a big upgrade from the dye-enhanced ABS or PBT options on the Q1. The color lines look nice, so I commend Keychron for making them quite stylish. However, they still have many ways to feel premium. Legends have uneven legends that don’t look very good. I’m not sure if it’s just a bad font or something in production, but if you like a clean typeface, you’ll want to consider replacing them. On the inside, the plastic that forms the legends looks messy as well. You’ll never see it, but it still stands out from every other doubleshot keycap kit I’ve used – including Keychron’s ABS doubleshot kit that came with the Q1. However, there is still an improvement.
Keychron has also changed the conversion options this time. Instead of Gateron Phantoms, we have Gateron Pro switches in the same red, blue or brown color. These switches are lightweight at the factory and feature a translucent top case for better visibility of the per-key RGB backlighting. The Phantoms are colored to match the type of switch, and if you choose red, that’s the only colored backlight you can see. These solve that and also respond very well to attraction!
Of course, you don’t have to stick with those switches. The Q2 is hot-swappable, so pulling the switches out is as simple as grabbing their edges with the included tool and pulling. The new switch can be pressed into place, no soldering required. This is a great feature that any new player should be aware of. With new switches being released all the time, you are free to try as many as you want and make it much easier to discover preferences.
The Q2 is also available with an internal screw stabilizer. They were factory-lubricated, but were a bit inconsistent on my sample, so I recommend reapplying them. The keyboard also supports third-party stabilizers, just like the popular Durock V2, so swapping them out is easy and hassle-free.
It’s also important to note that Keychron only sells everything you need to further customize your keyboard at online shop. All available for purchase with switches, keycaps, cables, palm rests and more. Keychron included a selection for me to test and they match the quality described so far. I especially like that the wrist rest looks great and is quite comfortable to use.
Keyboard programming is done via QMK or VIA. This is a powerful function that records the keyboard at the firmware level, so your changes will follow you to any PC without software. You can remap keys, program macros, map lighting and media controls, and even assign keyboard shortcuts. Using software, the knob can also be remapped from its default volume control to trigger other settings with each track along the rotation, such as to zoom in on documents, scan timeline or page scroll.
Keychron really worked hard to respond to feedback and it shows. The company was very responsive and Q2 was better. Other companies can learn to be as nimble as Keychron: in three months it counts in the majority of user feedback and offers a new product that complements it all. They deserve kudos for that.
Keychron Q2 – Performance and Design
If you buy the pre-assembled version, you can simply get it out of the box and ready to go. The typing experience out of the box is pretty good, but as always, you’ll get more out of this keyboard by applying a few simple mods. Not everyone wants to do that, which is fine, but consider it. It’s worth the time.
The keyboard feels good to type on when using the Gateron Pro’s red or brown switches. I like the keys, so that’s what I chose and the keys are as smooth and light as I expected. The new keycaps are spherical and remind me of the low profile SA form factor and keep my fingers comfortable when touching and gaming. Keychron did a great job with the feel in Q2.
It is also extremely flexible. The PCB and plate shift down visibly even with normal typing – none of these keyboard reviews are “unrealistically pressed down”. Here’s a pad mounting implementation that you can really feel in normal use, which is great. Typing is very soft under the fingers.
However, the sound outside the box leaves something to be desired. It’s very light. It’s not exactly messy; it’s too light for that. My first impression was that the container was too foamy, but when I opened it, I found that was not the case either. Maybe it’s the plastic sheet. I’m not really sure, but I would say it looks “fine”. It’s akin to the stock Q1 typing experience, which should work for most, although I would still give the Q1 an edge in that department.
But that’s where modding comes in.
Keychron Q2 – Checking for revisions and typing
My goal with this keyboard was to reduce the pitch of the typing sound and bring out a bit of its character that seemed flawed. To do that, I glued two layers of Frog Tape tape to the back of the PCB to act as an audio filter. I also put a layer of PE foam between the PCB and the switches, punching holes for the stabilizers. I removed the stabilizers, cleaned and re-lubricated each with a Krytox 205g0. I put KBDFans foam stabilizing pads underneath each pad. In the end, I removed the stock case’s foam and plastic sheeting and replaced it with a layer of 50 million Kilmat sound-cancelling mats to kill all case pings. I also attached all the switches before re-inserting them into the board and replaced the stock keycaps with a set of dye-sublimated PBT caps that I bought on AliExpress.
In the video above, hear what it sounds like and what it sounds like after modding. It’s a big difference and proves what’s possible with the table. Note that there is a slight reduction in flexibility when swapping to Kilmat, but it’s worth it in my opinion for the sonic improvements it brings.
The Keychron Q2 is a great keyboard that could easily get even better. If you have switches and keycaps, the first version is a no-brainer given its $149 price tag. If you want that ready out of the box, $169 is still a great value for what’s on offer here. I strongly encourage anyone considering this keyboard to take the time to apply a few simple mods. The Q2 is full of potential and reality that invites you to take it apart and tinker with what’s inside. Let’s absorb that. You will be happy you did.
The product described in this article is provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
https://www.mmorpg.com/hardware-reviews/keychron-q2-mechanical-keyboard-review-2000124075 Review of mechanical keyboard Keychron Q2