What Is A Low Profile Keyboard

The Low Profile Switch – What Is It?

Low Profile keyboards have Low Profile switches that are shorter. The boards have an ergonomically and space saving design. These switches have a smaller actuation distance and shorter total travel lengths. Low Profile keyboards are as what their name intended, too. They are smaller in frame, whether height or length (or even both) and their keys are not as pronounced as those on a usual keyboard.  

Essentially, the Low Profile switch was created to offer a different variety of a mechanical keyboard for a certain taste. Just like every switch out there that has it's own identity for the person that needs that kind of switch. The Speed Silver for those who want fast game play, the Brown Switch for those who want a good go between of writing and gaming, to the writer who wants the Black Switches to prevent mistakes.

What is a Low Profile keyboard

What Makes It What It Is?

One of the reasons that causes the Low Profile keyboard to be different than a typical mechanical keyboard is the switches. The switches themselves were designed to, as mentioned before, have shorter actuation and total travel distances. Because of this change, the switches are different in design.

To have an example, let's take a look at the Cherry MX Red switch and the Cherry MX Low Profile Red:

Cherry MX Red Switch: 

  • Actuation Force of 45cN
  • Actuation Point of 2mm
  • Total Travel Distance of 4mm

Cherry MX Low Profile Switch:

  • Actuation Force of 45cN
  • Actuation Point of 1.2mm
  • Total Travel Distance of 3.2mm

As you can see, their actuation force is the same, but it varies in the actuation point (also known as pre travel) and total distance travel. Because of the Cherry MX Low Profile Red's shorter distances in both, it makes for a more rapid response than it's counter part, the Cherry MX Red.

The design takes a turn, too, compared to what you would see in a normal switch. Take the body of the switch and squish it in half. Now, imagine a box switch on top of that. Make sense? They change in style even further when it comes to different brands. As an added bonus, that box type switch helps to prevent dust and dirt from interacting with your switch mechanics.


Who Makes Them?

Expanding on above, there are different brands so far that do make Low Profile switches. Cherry MX, Gateron, Logitech, and Kailh all provide different Low Profile switches. Other top brands may follow and perhaps some new companies may also appear in the switch industry. For now, let's look at what these four brands can offer you.


Cherry MX Low Profile Switches

Okay, so if you're a gamer, or you like mechanical keyboards, there's no way that you don't know who Cherry MX are. That was the first thing that I learned about when I entered the mechanical keyboard world, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. My brother gave me a Redragon with 'red switches'. I was confused - “Red Switches?”. He explained and then went further to say that his keyboard had 'Cherry MX switches'. And that began my curiosity, but... I digress.

Cherry MX creates two different kinds of Low Profile switches: the MX Low Profile Red and the MX Low Profile Speed (or known as the Speed Silver).


Cherry MX Low Profile Red

Operating Force

45cN

Pre Travel (Actuation Point)

1.2mm

Total Travel

3.2mm

Switch Type

Linear


Cherry MX Low Profile Speed

Operating Force

45cN

Pre Travel (Actuation Point)

1.0mm

Total Travel

3.2mm

Switch Type

Linear



Gateron

The Gateron company also offers some Low Profile switches in Red, Blue and Brown.


Gateron Low Profile Red

Operating Force

45cN

Pre Travel (Actuation Point)

2.5mm

Total Travel

3.2mm

Switch Type

Linear


Gateron Low Profile Blue

Operating Force

50cN

Pre Travel (Actuation Point)

2.5mm

Total Travel

3.2mm

Switch Type

Clicky


Gateron Low Profile Brown

Operating Force

55cN

Pre Travel (Actuation Point)

2.5mm

Total Travel

3.2mm

Switch Type

Tactile


Logitech 

Logitech offers their variety of the GL Low Profile Switches. They offer the classic blue, brown and reds. The switches all have the same specs, except for the three varieties of linear, tactile and clicky.



Logitech GL Low Profile Switches

Operating Force

50cN

Pre Travel (Actuation Point)

1.5mm

Total Travel

2.7mm

Switch Type:

Red

Brown

Blue


Linear

Tactile

Clicky


Kailh  

Kailh offers many different kinds of Low Profile switches. In fact, so many, that it may be better to check out the website. They include Low Profile switches for laptops (yeah I said laptops) and mechanical keyboards. They also give a variety of different types, like clicky, linear and tactile.


Style Preference

If you're coming from a laptop to a desktop PC, using an external mechanical keyboard is already a change in itself. You want a mechanical keyboard, but miss the chiclet style that laptops carry.

If you're an Apple user and you've converted to the PC, you probably are used to that style of keyboard, too, with the shallow feeling you get from pushing on your keycap. You'd rather have that sleek and flat style of a keyboard with RGB lighting and mechanical switches.

Some may not like the heaviness and even chunkiness that the majority of mechanical keyboards combined. Yet, they want the mechanical switches for their performance.

Low Profile mechanical keyboards are smaller in height. As a Low Profile keyboard, they are typically smaller in both height and length. However, the option of a full sized is available as well. Not everyone wants a TKL or 60% keyboard and instead would prefer the number pad attached.

It's not uncommon either for Low Profile keyboards to look the same as a 'typical' mechanical keyboard, but have the Low Profile switches. 

 

Gaming Advantages

One benefit of having a Low Profile keyboard. The travel distance is shorter and so is the actuation point. So if you are a gamer, you know what this means! Your response time will be quicker, as well, and then, on top of that, imagine some Speed Silvers.


What to Look For

Every one has their different preference in mechanical keyboards – in all keyboards. Though, there are always things that you need to look out for when it comes to buying one. You want a quality keyboard. Here are a couple things to look out for:

  1. Quality of course! You want a keyboard that is made out of good products. You don't want cheap plastic. If you're making an investment into a keyboard, it should uphold it's duty as being a proper mechanical keyboard and last as long as it can.

    • If you can, you want a blackplate or a hard steel plate where your switches are secured. You do not want a keyboard where your switches are directly connected to the PCB without any protection.

    • Well crafted switches are important as well. Be careful of those knock off keyboards with switches that don't perform or last.

  2. A program that comes with the keyboard that helps you personalize it with macros and lighting – if you want the lighting of course.

  3. Find the type of switches you want first. If you want Low Profile switch, find the type of switch you want: linear, tactile or clicky. Then go from there.

You can check out more information about what to look for in this article: click me


Low Profile Mechanical Keyboards

Logitech G915 TKL, G915 and G815

Logitech is a solid brand. It's well known for not only it's keyboard, but all sorts of different computer and gaming gear. The G915 is considered Low Profile. It has high performing GL Low Profile mechanical switches. These switches should be noted because they are tested for accuracy, speed, and performance for the Low Profile name.

The G915 TKL and the G915 (full sized) are wireless; where as the G815 is wired. These mechanical keyboards offer RGB LED lighting and have dedicated media controls. They use Logitech light speed wireless or bluetooth. These keyboards also have the smooth chiclet type keycaps.


SK650 Low Profile and SK630 TKL

These two keyboards both feature the Cherry MX Low Profile style of switches. These come in the Cherry MX Red Low Profile linear switch. It doesn't use the cute little chiclet keys like the Logitechs, but it has a smaller, contoured keycap like the chiclet. They do have two different options for board color, white and black. RGB LED is included and most importantly (going back to looking for quality) they have aluminum backplating.

On top of that, they have full NKRO, or N-Key Rollover. This is extremely important for those who are looking for a several key usage all at once. If you want to know more about NKRO, check out this article here. The SK650 Low Profile and TKL also offer a 32 bit ARM processor that can be used with or without software. They use a type USB C, which makes a big difference in connectivity between your tower and your keyboard. And to top it off, it has multimedia keys.


Keychron K1 Wireless

The Keychron K1 comes in both TKL and full size. It offers a white backlit keyboard and a RGB LED keyboard (two separate boards). Instead of using the Cherry MX brand, the Keychron K1 uses Gateron switches. And depending on your keyboard choice, you have the option of the classic blue, brown or red switch.

This keyboard choice comes with a retro themed keycap and the smooth chiclet low profile keycaps. Ding ding ding! It has an aircraft grade aluminum body. That is quality my friend. It also has the capability of Bluetooth if you would like, or you can plug it up via the USB C cable.


The Rundown

Low Profile mechanical keyboards are not as popular as our 'normal' mechanical keyboards. At this time, anyways. Over time, I am sure that these will become much more popular. Now that different sizes of keyboards are prominent and gamers are enthusiastic about them, ergonomic and Low Profile keyboards should take off. 

 

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