Look away if you don’t want to see another keyboard review because here comes another. Today we’re going to take a look at the Keychron K12 hot-swap mechanical keyboard.
I have been a fan of Keychron ever since their original K1 launched on Kickstarter and have since bought several of their keyboards since. The K12 is one of my latest but no the last one I have purchased from them.
First lets touch on what makes a typical Keychron keyboard. They launched on the premise of offering a quality hardware and Bluetooth connected keyboard for a reasonable price. And to this day they live up to this with pretty much every keyboard they sell. They even recently launched a mouse that lives up to their quality and value standards that I reviewed here previously.
The Keychron K12 is a standard layout 60% keyboard meaning it has 61 keys in a layout that is compatible with most keycaps made for that layout on the market. This is especially nice if you are a tinkerer and would like to make they keyboard really your own. Of course with a 60% layout you do lose some immediate functionality. There are no arrow buttons for instance but another layer gives access with the “Fn” key. This is true for many other functions that you would find on a larger keyboard but may not use on a regular basis.
The K12 comes with OEM profile keycaps that are shine through and while they are pretty good quality I am not a fan of the OEM profile. While very similar to the shallower Cherry profile they’re just deep enough to through off my typing. I do like the Keychron colourway. And if you don’t Keychron does sell other keycaps compatible with the K12 on their website or you can go pretty well anywhere on the internet and find a set that you like. Which I did. I bought several keycap sets to see what I liked and I landed on this fantastic set on Amazon by AHHC in a MDA profile. They are really good quality and if you are Japanese they have a legend for you there as well. I just think it looks cool.
Under the keycaps I removed the Gateron brown switches that came with ZealPC Turquoise Tealio linear switches that bottom out a 63.5g. They are expensive but they are so smooth and the sound they make is worth the price of entry. I have always preferred tactile but non clicky switches like Gateron and Cherry browns but I am now exploring more linear switches as I am enjoying them a lot.
And that’s the beauty of a keyboard that has hot-swappable switches. You can use a great platform like Keychron K12 and really make it your own while retaining the USB and Bluetooth connectivity and compatibility with Mac and PC.
We should talk about that platform quick. Keychron has established their setup now giving a USB connection that can be switched between that and Bluetooth with a decent sized battery (4000mAh) on board. They also ship with keycaps that can switch between Mac and PC which is nice. Now they call this case aluminum but it’s really their regular case encased along the top in aluminum. I really don’t mind this though as it adds even more rigidity and weight to an already great quality case. On the bottom it also offers rubber feet near your wrists and towards the back two levels of risers. Much appreciated as custom keyboard platforms don’t offer those risers.
Now I did type with the K12 with the original keycaps and switches installed and it typed as I would expect. It had a great tactile response that I’ve come to love from Gateron brown switches and while I am not a big fan of OEM profile keycaps it was still great to type on. I switched the keycaps and switches out for fun and I think the K12 is even better now.
The backlighting on the keyboard is controlled by key combos on the keyboard. There are several RGB colours and effects you can choose from to make your experience your own. I would say after playing with the HyperX Alloy Origins 60 I would love to have some software to individually address those LEDs to exactly what I would like but for the price I can let that go since they also sell very custom keyboards that can do just that. I will say the LEDs could be a little brighter but again not a big deal for the price.
I would love to see Keychron take their K7 low profile keyboard and put regular profile keycaps in it. That is a dream of mine at least since I would like to have a low profile case with regular profile keys.
Anyway, I can recommend this keyboard. It’s a great platform and can get you to where you want to go even if it doesn’t come stock with what you’d like. That said I think many would be happy with the standard keyboard. I’ve just been having fun tinkering.