LOW PROFILE KEYBOARDS FROM CORSAIR, COOLER MASTER, ALIENWARE AND CHERRY WITH MX LOW PROFILE SWITCHES [OVERVIEW]
05/2020 by XANDER HOOSE/HOLGER DASSLER - Back to overview
It’s no secret that mechanical keyboards with CHERRY MX switches have been extremely popular in the last decade – for gamers, a keyboard with mechanical key switches can make the difference between life and death in hectic gaming battles. But for a small part of PC users, especially those used to cheaper rubber dome keyboards or laptop keyboards, mechanical keyboards have a steep learning curve because of their key height. That’s where the CHERRY MX LOW PROFILE switches come in: with a 35% reduction in height yet no compromise on switching characteristics and typing feel, these switches offer the best of both worlds to these users.
What if you could offer the best-in-class switch characteristics of the renowned CHERRY MX switches, but make the switches much more accessible to a mainstream audience that didn’t grow up with mechanical keyboards? That was the goal of the MX LOW PROFILE, a brand-new design by market leader CHERRY, allowing the implementation of mechanical keys in a much more compact format. This makes the MX LOW PROFILE switches suitable for a wide range of new applications, from low-profile desktop keyboards for typists and gamers to even high-end notebooks.
The R&D department at the German manufacturer has invested a lot of time and effort in achieving a true mechanical switch with a total height of only 11.9 millimeters – about 35 percent shallower than standard MX switches – without compromising on characteristics and quality. That makes the MX LOW PROFILE the first truly new development in mechanical switches in more than 30 years and allows mechanical switches to be used for the first time in notebooks. It also allows for much thinner, sleeker high-end gaming keyboards than before, bringing these products to a whole new group of users. As with all other CHERRY switches, the MX LOW PROFILE switches are fully developed and built in Germany, with its “Made in Germany” seal guaranteeing the best product quality.
Despite its low height, CHERRY MX LOW PROFILE offers the same switch characteristics as their standard MX counterparts, except for a reduced travel. Currently, CHERRY offers two different LOW PROFILE variants: MX LOW PROFILE RED and MX LOW PROFILE SPEED SILVER. As with the standard MX RED, the MX LOW PROFILE RED is extremely popular with gamers. Especially gamers benefit from the linear characteristics of these switches, with an activation force of 45 centinewtons and a travel of 3.2 millimeters.
The second variant introduced by CHERRY is the MX LOW PROFILE SPEED SILVER. Just like the MX RED, the original MX SPEED SILVER is a linear switch with a 45 cN actuation force, but with a shorter pre-travel (1.2 mm) and total travel (3.4 mm), making them faster than MX RED. The MX LOW PROFILE SPEED SILVER retains the actuation force and linear characteristics, but further reduces the actuation point to a mere 1.0 mm (with a total travel of 3.2 mm), making these switches insanely fast. Especially gamers who are specialized in hectic, frantic gameplay, like first-person shooters, will fully benefit from these characteristics and can leverage the MX LOW PROFILE SPEED SILVER switches to beat the competition in matches!
LOW PROFILE KEYBOARDS WITH CHERRY MX LOW PROFILE SWITCHES
So now that we’ve discussed the characteristics and benefits of CHERRY MX LOW PROFILE switches, let’s take a look at a selection of keyboards utilizing these switches that are already widely available on the market.
CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 LOW PROFILE
The first keyboard on the market to leverage the MX LOW PROFILE switches was the CORSAIR K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile. This high-end gaming keyboard is available in both switch variants, MX LOW PROFILE RED and MX LOW PROFILE SPEED SILVER, so gamers can choose their preferred characteristics. CORSAIR has fully optimized its keyboard for comfortable gaming: a durable palm rest should optimize the palm position, bringing the hands closer to a parallel position compared to regular keyboards. The keyboard measures only 29 millimeter in height, yet it’s packed with unique features designed to offer the best possible features: macro keys, on-board memory for profile storage, media controls, a volume roller, additional textured keycaps for extra grip, and even dedicated software to control the keyboards RGB lighting options.
COOLER MASTER SK650/651
If you’re someone who cares about visual design, there’s no denying that the COOLER MASTER SK-series is made for you. A sleek, minimalistic and extremely angled design and stunning RGB lighting options make this series a true eye-catcher on the desk. COOLER MASTER is offering its low-profile SK keyboards in six different flavors; let’s start with the SK650 and SK651.
Both these keyboards offer a full-sized key layout, that is to say, the layout includes the numeric block on the right-hand side and the keycaps are regularly sized. Most users will prefer this style as it’s the easiest to work with and offers all available keys. Cooler Master has opted not to add additional macro keys, but by using predefined key combinations (hotkeys) the SK650 and SK651 fully support macros and lighting controls. The difference between the two keyboards are simple: the SK650 is wired, with a USB-C cable connecting the keyboard to the computer, while the SK651 can also be used wireless, thanks to Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and a rechargeable battery rated for 14 hours of work. The SK650 and SK651 are available in CHERRY MX LOW PROFILE RED and CHERRY MX LOW PROFILE SPEED SILVER variants.
COOLER MASTER SK630/631
Tenkeyless or TKL keyboards are becoming rapidly more popular. These keyboards have the same full-size keys as their ‘regular’ counterparts, but omit the numeric block on the right-hand side of the keyboard – hence the term ‘tenkeyless’. The arrow keys and the function block are unchanged. Tenkeyless keyboards take up less space on the desk, and generally provide a more natural access to the mouse as it can be placed closer to the hands. The SK630 and SK631 share the same sleek design as the SK650 and SK651, and as with these models, the SK631 adds Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity to the keyboard when compared to the wired SK630. Again, both MX LOW PROFILE switch variants are being offered for these models.
COOLER MASTER SK620/SK621
These two models are the smallest in the Cooler Master SK-series and actually look a bit different from their bigger brothers: some keys are smaller and closer together and the function block and function keys have been omitted – the Fn-keys are now accessible as key combinations. The arrow block has been moved towards the left, under the Enter key. This design is called a '60% layout' because it has only 60% of the keys of a full-size keyboard. The smaller keys and different layout might take some getting used to, but 60% keyboards are particularly popular with gamers and enthusiasts who travel a lot and have to constantly bring their keyboards with them. Instead of using a cheap travel keyboard, the SK620 and SK621 allow them to bring a proper mechanical keyboard, wherever they go. RGB lighting is fully supported and once again, the SK621 model can be connected wirelessly over Bluetooth 4.0 with a 14-hour battery life.
Alienware, part of Dell, has always been focused on delivering the best gaming hardware. The Alienware AW510K is no exception: its unique chassis design and floating keys are a strong eye-catcher, making this keyboard as much bold statement as an exceptional tool to take down your virtual opponents. Dedicated audio controls, a volume roller, full RGB illumination, macro functionality, USB passthrough. This keyboard offers it all, is available in two colors and with the MX LOW PROFILE RED switches.
CHERRY MX 10.0
A brand-new model comes from CHERRY itself: the MX 10.0 is a fashionable, full-size gaming keyboard with an extremely thin chassis that’s made from one piece of aluminum. With a total height of just 22 millimeters and full RGB lighting features, the MX 10.0 will easily find its way onto the desks of gamers and typists alike. Individual preferences can be set with the included software tool and stored in 8 MB on-board memory. CHERRY offers the keyboard in two versions, black and silver/white, and with both switch variants: MX LOW PROFILE RED and MX LOW PROFILE SPEED SILVER.