A hot-swappable keyboard is a keyboard that is built to enable you to easily change switches for a different or a new one. You’ll often need a simple tool called a switch puller to swap switches. With this tool, you can just pull out a switch and replace it with a different switch.
While with traditional keyboards you have to take the entire keyboard apart and solder, this is not so with hot-swappable keyboards. Because of this reason alone, you can create your custom keyboard layouts at any given time and do whatever it is you want on your keyboard.
A wide range of benefits makes hot-swappable switches a remarkable piece of tech. These keyboards are stylish, with multiple colors, and the RGB lighting adds a nice touch to their look. It’s no surprise that they’re a big deal in the market and everyone is on the hunt for the best hot-swappable keyboards.
In this article, we’re going to help you find the best hot-swappable keyboards in the market. We’ll do a quick roundup review on the best hot-swap keyboards and discuss the features we think are suitable for your needs.
Our Top Picks: Best Hot Swappable Keyboards
- Best Overall: Redragon Draconic K530 Pro
- Best TKL: GMMK TKL Mechanical Keyboard
- Best Full Size: GMMK Full Size Mechanical Keyboard
- Best 60%: Kemove Shadow Mechanical Keyboard
- Best Premium: Drop Alt Hot-Swappable Mechanical Keyboard
The 5 Best Hot Swappable Keyboards Reviewed
The Best Overall
- Form factor: 60%
- Number of Keys: 61
- Weight: 0.61 kg / 1.34 lbs
- Dimensions: 330 x 150 x 50 mm / 12.99 x 5.91 x 1.97 inches
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, 2,4GHz, USB-C & USB-A In One
- Backlight: RGB backlit
- Hot swap: Outemu box switches
- Battery: 1,600mAh
Everything on this 60% compact keyboard; its comfort, connectivity, switch experience, speed, and RGB lighting, may make you think this is an expensive hot-swappable keyboard when in reality, it is not.
We’ve got our hands on Redragon Draconic K530 Pro and we can confidently say it’s a solid choice for both gamers and typists. The typing experience on Draconic K530 Pro is seamless. The keycaps are beveled so that your hands can glide from one key to another while typing. The tactile response is also certainly fast. However, the lack of arrow keys can generally slow you down. For gamers, directional keys won’t be an issue at all.
Connecting to Redragon Draconic K530 Pro is straightforward. It has got a dual mode which you can switch between wireless or wired mode. For wireless, any 2.4GHz receiver will easily connect to the keyboard. Bluetooth is easily picked up and connected. It has a wired option as well through a USB connection. Especially in wired mode, the USB cable has an adapter that allows you to use USB-C or USB-A flexibly.
Its 61 keys are fully hot-swappable over plate-mounted PCB. You can swap different keys instantly based on your needs; whether it’s for gaming or just typing. There are 13 dynamic preset modes for RGB lighting you can choose from to create a stylish atmosphere and keep track of all your gaming controls at one glance. Its optical anti-ghosting (full N-key rollover) feature is another feature that will impress you during gameplay, with no worries about keystrokes being missed.
The Best TKL Hot Swappable
- Form factor: 85% TenKey less (TKL)
- Number of Keys: 87
- Weight: 1.13 kg / 2.5 lbs
- Dimensions: 356 x 129 x 35.9 mm / 14 x 5.1 x 1.4 inches
- Connectivity: removable USB-C
- Hot swap: removable switches, removable keycaps
- Switch type: Gateron brown
- Backlight: RGB backlit with special effects
This is the most affordable TKL keyboard Glorious Gaming has designed to provide advanced users, who are on a budget, a hands-on experience. And if there’s any reason to go for the GMMK TKL mechanical keyboard, then its awesome build quality, functionalities, and easy-to-replace keys will convince you.
Straight away you’ll be impressed by how compact and durable this keyboard is. The color scheme is very simple; the keyboard is black with white lettering. The 16.8M color RGB backlight is distributed well across the lettering. You can manipulate any color, any combination to achieve the desired effect.
Its high-quality, double-shot keycaps will prevent your keycaps from rubbing off. Glorious gaming includes a slightly rough texture on each key to have a feel-good experience as you type. The keycaps have transparent fonts and transparent sides which light up beautifully with RGB. With this, you can glance at the keyboard and type on it in the dark with no extra light needed.
Another impressive feature of the GMMK TKL mechanical keyboard is its hot-swappable switches. You can easily replace them without messing around with soldering. Moreover, the switches are black and white, aura black, and aura white keycaps which you can mix up for unique RGB lighting.
GMMK TKL is also low profile in design. This means it doesn’t sit too high, which if added to its slightly inclined and stabilizers beneath, should make it comfortable for anyone to type on.
The Best Full Size Hot Swappable
- Form factor: Full-size
- Number of Keys: 104
- Weight: 0.95 kg / 2.1 lbs
- Dimensions: 440 x 129 x 35.9 mm / 17.3 x 5.1 x 1.4 inches
- Connectivity: non-removable USB-C
- Hot swap: Removable switches, removable keycaps
- Switch type: Gateron brown
- Backlight: RGB backlit
Compared to the GMMK TKL version, this full-size Glorious Gaming variation is considerably more expensive. You get to retain all the niceties in the TKL model, but with a wider deck, more keys, broad customization, and full RGB backlighting.
The full-size GMMK is specifically designed for everyone. Particularly, for beginners who are getting their hands on mechanical keyboards for the first time. The overall experience in this keyboard is quite similar to its GMMK TKL counterpart. At the outset, you’ll find the Gateron brown switches are easily replaceable and offer smooth key presses and quick tactile response.
The spacing between keys is also just right. We’re quite happy with the fact that you can now switch to GMMK full size if you wanted a wider deck with more keys. The numpad will give you more flexibility especially if you do a lot of data entry with a lot of numbers involved.
Just like the TKL model, the keycaps in the full-size model are also double-shot, ABS plastic, and LED-compatible. We didn’t mention this earlier, but most users shun ABS because it picks fingerprint “grease” easily. However, Glorious Gaming works around this by adding a rough texture to each keycap.
Generally, the rough aluminum face plates, RGB-LED backlighting (several modes), full anti-ghosting NKRO, and modular switches don’t only revolutionize GMMK Full-size mechanical keyboard in the market but also give you full control without any technical experience.
The Budget Choice Hot Swappable
- Form factor: 60%
- Number of Keys: 61
- Weight: 0.67 kg / 1.47 lbs
- Dimensions: 295 x 99 x 35 mm / 11.6 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C wired
- Hot swap: Compatible with 5-pin or 3-pin
- Switch type: Gateron switches
- Battery: 3,000mAh
- Backlight: RGB backlit
For flexibility in customization and ease in switching between keyboards, this keyboard has another impressive combo: The Kemove Shadow. It is meant to be a super affordable hot swappable keyboard that should compete with the big 60% keyboard brands.
Kemove Shadow is one of the most flexible, practical, and accessible gaming keyboards ever designed. It is also a bit on the affordable side and is super attractive, stylish, and effective in gaming and typing.
The keyboard is thin with a sleek design that doesn’t need any cable conversion to be used on Windows or Mac OS. It has two buttons on the side; an on-off button for the keyboard itself, and the other for switching between Mac and Windows.
Kemove uses Gateron switches that are either red, blue, green, or black. You will also get extra Gateron green, clear, and yellow switches to experiment with. The Kemove Shadow is also compatible with PCB and supports 3-pin and 5-pin mechanical switches.
As if that wasn’t enough, the keycaps are durable double-shot PBT caps that don’t rub off easily or accumulate finger grease over time. One limitation you’ll see with the Kemove Shadow is how unclear the legends on some keys are; for example, the Tab, Enter, and Shift keys don’t easily let RGB light go through them.
Overall, you’ll love this keyboard. Kemove has made everything from connection, mechanical switching, and RGB lighting to cleaning easy on the go.
The Best Premium Hot Swappable
- Form factor: 65%
- Number of Keys: 67
- Weight: 0.696 kg / 1.53 lbs
- Dimensions: 322 x 112 x 32 mm / 12.7 x 4.4 x 1.25 inches
- Connectivity: USB-C cable
- Backlight: Customizable RGB
Drop Alt’s built quality is one of the best things about this keyboard. The entire case is built from anodized aluminum. The aluminum adds some heft to the board, and no matter how hard you type on it, it will stay put. Plus, the bottom of the keyboard is fitted with removable magnetic feet that’s meant to help you type at an ergonomic angle.
You get to choose which switch type you prefer; either Halo Clear/True, Kaihua, Cherry MX brown, or blue. If you want to type on this board, you can opt for a tactile switch type (Halo clear or true) for better accuracy on your work. Linear switches tend to produce smooth actuation with no tactile response, while clicky focus on producing a tactile bump with audible sound for each keystroke.
The RGB backlighting on the Drop Alt keyboard will blow you away. You can set your keyboard to a single color, or customize it to show different color styles when touching the keys. What’s more, you can light up your keyboard with a rainbow wave pattern to add aesthetic beauty to your workspace. This is even amplified with its double-shot PBT keycaps that let RGB light go through.
Normally, all keyboard brands, including any popular e-commerce, will specify in their product description if the keyboard that you’re about to buy is either hot-swappable or not. This is the simplest way to confirm if you’re getting a hot swappable keyboard. In addition, you can visit the manufacturer’s website to know more about their features.
Not all hot-swappable keyboards are the same. This is because each brand uniquely designs its hot-swappable socket that should be compatible with certain types of hot-swap switches.
In simple terms, think of a hot-swap socket as a wall socket and a hot-swap switch as your wall charger. Hot-swap switches, like chargers, have either a 3-pin or 5-pin configuration and can be plugged into sockets. While a 3-pin switch will fit into a PCB with 3 slots and 5 slots, a 5-pin switch will only fit into a PCB that has 5 slots.
It is important to know what type of hot-swap socket is used in your keyboard so that you don’t end up purchasing the wrong hot-swappable switches for your keyboard. But, if you want to build your own hot-swappable keyboard from scratch, then you can go for popular hot-swap sockets like Kailh which is compatible with most switches like Cherry MX. Other common hot-swap sockets include; Gateron, Outemu MX, and Mill-Max.
Hot-swappable sockets have reduced durability. And like any other man-made thing, they will eventually wear out. Typically, hot-swappable sockets are rated depending on the number of times you can swap switches on them.
It’s advisable, however, that if you plan to regularly swap switches, then you need to purchase a hot-swappable socket with the highest cycle rating. The durability of hot-swappable sockets can also be reduced greatly by dust, spills, food debris, and more.
Some of the best hot-swappable keyboards largely depend on your preferences. While the typing experience on Redragon Draconic K530 Pro is phenomenal, you will realize it’s mostly optimized for FPS gamers, and not typists. Its minimalistic design will give gamers enough desk space to maneuver during gameplay.
Otherwise, the GMMK Full-Size mechanical keyboard is a go-to option for any kind of typist. Specifically, for those who are new to mechanical keyboards. It’s also low profile and if you’ve got short fingers, you can adjust it for more angling. If you do a lot of data entry jobs, the full-size variant fits the bill because it is easier to use when you want to enter large numbers on your computer using num pads.
The GMMK TKL model is more or less similar to its full-size counterpart except for the num pads only. It’s a perfect choice for advanced users and programmers as well. And if you spend a lot of time typing, the GMML TKL mechanical keyboard will definitely improve your productivity while typing or gaming.
Drop ALT keyboard is a killer for us when it comes to the number of switches and RGB backlighting. It’s an absolute choice for programmers. For the best typing quality, go for the Cherry MX brown switches. Kemove Shadow is a great choice for all gamers and is suitable for personal office use.