Keychron K8 Pro Mechanical Keyboard Review

Discussion in 'Geek Cave: Computers, Tablets, HT, Phones, Games' started by purr1n, Jul 3, 2024.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    I've been gradually transitioning to a second residence in San Antonio to make it more convenient for my elderly father to visit from San Jose, California. The journey to Corpus Christi, which involved a layover in either Dallas or Houston followed by a transfer to a smaller plane for the final stretch, was simply too cumbersome for him at his age. Despite being in his 80s, he's in great health—keeping active with regular swims and golf games. Mentally sharp as ever, he prefers the role of a cool grandpa over contemplating a presidential run.

    Since I planned to spend more than half of my time in San Antonio during the summer, setting up a work-from-home arrangement there seemed logical. I needed a desk, a good keyboard, and a mouse to augment my travelling laptop. I invested in a nice desk (details to follow in a review). For the mouse, I opted for a budget-friendly, lightweight Coolermaster model, deciding against splurging on a Glorious O. While I already had a basic keyboard without switches back in Corpus, this time I didn't want to deal with buying and installing switches. That's when I recalled Keychron keyboards, recommended by one of my favorite YouTube personalities, Keybored. I figured these mechanical keyboards were ready to use out of the box yet customizable later to fit my preferences.

    After a brief Amazon search, I found several models available. Favoring TKL designs, I opted for the higher-end Keycron K8 Pro. It boasts programmable RGB backlighting, Gateron Brown Switches, PBT keycaps, a sturdy aluminum frame, support for both MacOS and Windows, and Bluetooth Wireless—something I initially overlooked but ended up finding quite convenient.

    IMG_1991.JPEG

    To be honest, there isn't much of a review to offer here. The mechanical keyboard market has advanced so much that you no longer need to spend a small fortune on a keyboard base, switches, foam inserts, painters tape, and various other accessories beloved by keyboard modding enthusiasts. You also don't have to wrestle with complicated programs just to customize RGB backlights. The only thing left for me to do is perhaps switch out the Gateron Brown switches for ones that better suit my preferences. It's a far cry from the days of the Drop K-type keyboard from years past.

    After watching numerous keyboard modification videos from Keybored, it appears that Keychron has essentially integrated all these mods and tweaks into their latest K8 Pro, with some enhancements. The aluminum frame is significantly sturdier than the K-type from years ago. It features both Bluetooth wireless and wired connections, catering to gamers by shaving off a few milliseconds of response time. The stabilizers for the long keys (such as Enter, Space, Backspace, and Shift) are the screw-in type, offering a more robust feel (this was a weak point in previous Drop keyboards - I don't know if things have changed). The plate and case are dampened with foam or other materials, including a substantial silicone dampener.

    With the Gateron Brown switches, which are marketed as tactile but feel more like a hybrid between tactile and linear, the keyboard produces a decent "thock" sound, more than expected for this type of switch.

    Ultimately, there's nothing left for me to modify on this keyboard besides possibly changing the switches. Even then, I'm uncertain if I will. Having used clicky or tactile switches for so many years, I was unsure about the feel of the Brown switches. However, after a few days, I've grown accustomed to them, enjoying the option to either type lightly without bottoming out or fully press the keys. Back at my desk in Corpus, I realized how much I was impacting my fingers with the Holy Panda X switches, which are much more tactile.

    If anyone has any recommendations for switches similar to Browns but with better sound, maybe slightly more tactility, yet less forceful than the Holy Panda X switches, I'm all ears.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention the price. You can get this for $80 to $120, depending on the bling options you choose. It's amazeballs what we can get out of the box for the money today. No more need to spend a fortune and futz with things to get a great mechanical keyboard.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Two web-based tools for customization and RGB lighting. This is far less convoluted than the stuff from years ago.

    The more in-depth VIA
    kvia.jpg

    And the simpler Launcher from the Keycron site, which requires less brain cells and what I used.
    klauncher.jpg

    Digital Rain (a la Matrix RGB backlight)
    IMG_1999.JPEG
     
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    Last edited: Jul 3, 2024
  3. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    I have had the K10 Pro (I use the numpad a lot) for about a year now. Flawless performance. So much nicer than the Logitech G610 with Cherry switches that I had prior. Only the slightest bit of wear on my WASD keys. My K5 Pro at work looks and feels basically new still. Keychron is my recommendation to just about anyone looking for a decent keyboard now.
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Yeah, to make things clear, I'm somewhat a noob. Or more that I just don't have the time these days. Being a adult with real professional and family responsibilities offers little time for futzing around.

    Indeed Keycron has been killing it. They are kind of like the Schiit of keyboards. Curious if there is other competition with such a wide high-value lineup.
     
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  5. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    If you do ever get the time I feel like it'd be grand if you could use your speaker building experience to design a scratch keyboard, haha. My Keychron Q1 (got used at a steal of a price) is definitely more than enough keyboard, the only reason someone might want anything better is just folks being *very* particular about sound profile or plate feel or whatever else. Either that or bragging rights, which I can definitely see being a factor for loads of folk.

    VIA is a godsend, makes programming macros and customising lighting a lot easier. No switch recos but with how many options are out there it's genuinely more intimidating to get into than audio is, it seems. Some friends heartily recommend the MMD Princess (tactile and linear) switches which are pretty affordable, tried buying some but got scammed with fakes. Sound tests and opinions on how easy they are on the hands at lighter weights are encouraging.
     
  6. YMO

    YMO Chief Fun Officer

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    Before I gotten my Logitech MX Mechanical I was looking at the Keycron options. They just didn't have the keyboard that I was looking for (full size keyboard with a num pad, bluetooth and brown switches).
     
  7. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    For future reference, both of mine are fullsize with numpad, bluetooth, and brown switches. The K10 Pro is full height (OSA profile), and the K5 Pro is low profile. Gateron switches, though if you were looking for official Cherry.
     
  8. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    Actuation force on the gateron browns is low but feels higher than it is weirdly.

    I like the baby kangaroos. Tactile but, truthfully, feels better than holy pands for my typing style.
     
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  9. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I just recieved a Q6 Max for work - I'm absolutely loving it. Only thing that is frustrating is the 'stuck key' effect in wireless mode.

    What a well built keyboard- probably my last for work.
     
  10. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Quick aside just for searchability, it's "Keychron". The keyboard nerds might get angry :D (or not, it's not a posh brand after all, but really great value nonetheless)
     
  11. decompositions

    decompositions New

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    I had 2 keyboards with gateron browns in the past and loved the switches, but both of them had random keys die in < 6 months - maybe I just had bad luck or the brand wasn't so great (they were both varmilo). The varmilo keyboard I had with bluetooth was also super spotty though and its connection dropped out all the time, is the bluetooth on the keychrons more stable if anybody has had one for long enough to speak to it? I don't care about latency as much nowadays, so this would be super up my alley if they can actually last a while.
     
  12. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    I use bluetooth exclusively to connect my K5 Pro to my work laptop and haven't had any issues during use. If you go for a while without typing there is a short delay to wake up the connection, which was annoying at first, but I am used to it. Kind of like wiggling the mouse to wake up a computer.
     
  13. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

    Staff Member Pyrate Flathead IEMW
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    Fixed the thread title.

    Looks like Keychron is moving into Logitech territory with an ultra-slim model with scissor keys. Looks like MX Keys but priced like Pebble Keys/K380 territory.
     
  14. YMO

    YMO Chief Fun Officer

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    I hope for better build quality. My MX Keys got retired since the keys got warned after two years of use.
     
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  15. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    LOL, probably had "cron" as I was thinking cron jobs in *nix. Not gonna bother changing it in the text because the title is now correct.
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    I discovered why the Gateron Pro Browns are still slightly annoying. They start off smoothly, but then require a sharp increase in force at the pressure point just before 1.5mm of travel. This creates the sensation that the switch is about to actuate, but it doesn't, necessitating a progressive increase in finger pressure. Mushy is the word.

    Gateron G Pro Brown (kbdfans.com)
    [​IMG]

    The Holy Panda X switches start with a higher initial force and lack a well-defined pressure point. The force decreases until actuation at around 2mm (my estimate). Since I tend to press Holy Panda switches hard from the start, the decreasing force throughout the travel causes me to slam the keys down.
    [​IMG]

    The Baby Kangeroos are similar to the Holy Panda X, but have a better defined pressure point just before 0.5mm of travel. There is a slight uptick in pressure for 0.5mm before actuation. (The Holy Panda X have no play - they do just go down).

    Baby Kangeroo 2.0 (divinikey.com)
    [​IMG]

    LOL, I'm starting to understand these Force vs. Travel diagrams now after direct subjective experience with several key switches and reading the graphs! Cool. It's like understanding frequency response graphs.

    I think I may actually like the earlier actuation peak of the Baby Kangeroos along with big drop and then the slight uptick in force right just before actuation which should give me a smoother bottoming out compared to the Holy Panda X.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 3, 2024
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    The well-known Boba u4t-62g is similar to the Baby Kangeroos, but with less uptick before actuation.
    RTings of all places. LOL
    upload_2024-7-3_22-25-54.png
     
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  18. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Is there any online tool that lets you visually the compare the force curves of different switches? There was a site years ago that had a good database (input club? I think it's long dead now)
     
  19. Garns

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    I have this exact keyboard. It's great and very dependable. The keycaps they come with are quite thin and have a really high profile which makes them feel a bit wobbly. With mine the sound and feel improved switching to a set of Cherry profile PBT keycaps. In a normal world you could google that and go buy some but this is keyboard world so you either have to wait three years or else get a set in a puke green colourway with all the alphabet in Cyrillic and the modifier keys replaced by anime characters.

    Edit: LOL, I see Keychron themselves will sell you a fairly vanilla set of PBT Cherrys for 40 bucks. Well done Keychron!
     
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    LOLOLOLOLOL. So true.
     

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