Finding a good mechanical keyboard can be a complicated business. The search is made worse if you are a Mac user and you want one that will work well with your device as the mech market is heavily geared towards Windows users. TheHowever, this could be exactly what you are looking for.
That's because it's a rare breed: a mechanical keyboard with a Mac layout. By default, all keycaps are prepared for use with the Mac (there are Windows keycaps in the box if you want to switch). There are even dedicated Siri / Cortana and Screenshot buttons (great on a Mac). If you throw in a very reasonable starting price of $ 69 (most high quality mechanical keyboards are over $ 100), we're off to a good start.
Even better, you can connect three devices at the same time and, thanks to the combination of cable and Bluetooth 5.1, switch between them at the push of a button. For someone like me, who frequently switches between a Mac and a Windows PC, this is an absolute godsend. Before I got the K8, I got by with two full-size mechanical keyboards on my desk, each attached to a different computer. Bending over from one to the other was a pain – literally and figuratively. Now I just have to press a switch on the K8 and a second later I type on my second device.
There is also a control to switch from Mac to Windows keyboard layout and vice versa. The two operating systems place their modifier keys (e.g. Alt or Command) in different places, so this switch is perfect for avoiding unexpected key presses.
A joy to type
The K8 is configured in a ten-key layout (I have the UK version), which means that the number pad of a full-size keyboard has been cut off (most laptops are ten-keyless). That makes it much more compact than its bigger brothers and great for travel and crowded desks. This was something I hesitated about before buying the K8 until I realized the only reason I wanted a number pad was to end up using the big Enter key, and then only rarely. When I got over myself, I realized that the ten key option is much more practical.
Keychron offers even more compact alternatives like the K6, but these press the arrow keys near the main part of the board. The result is that they are harder to find by touching them, making them less useful for apps and games that use the arrow keys. The K8, on the other hand, does not suffer from this inconvenience.
The K8 has three different switch options: Gateron red, blue, or brown. These determine how the buttons feel when you press them – for example, whether they feel smooth or click. Gaterons are essentially clones of the popular Cherry MX switches, but they are cheaper and their inclusion can keep the K8's price tag reasonable. If you change your mind about which switch you want, there is a hot-swap version of the K8 that allows you to use a variety of key switches as needed.
My K8 has blue Gateron switches that match the Cherry MX blues. These are tactile, which means you can feel a small bump when you press the button and produce an audible click when you use it. This bump is great for writers, programmers, and anyone else who type for hours every day as it provides feedback so you don't hit the keys too hard with your fingers and drop them on the floor.
Gateron reds are soft and good for playing, while browns have the tactile bump but are quieter than blues.
The result is that typing on this keyboard is a joy. When you write for work, the last thing you want is tired, tired fingers after a day at work.
After a month, I haven't gotten anywhere near that far with the K8. In my workaround before Keychron, the secondary keyboard I used had red switches that lack the tactile blues. The difference is like day and night in terms of fatigue.
Note that the keys are not inconspicuous, but rather the usual price you get with a mechanical keyboard. Remember how I said it was difficult to find a good mech for Mac? Try to find a Mac-focused mechanical keyboard with flat keys like what you get from a MacBook or the iMac's Magic Keyboard.
You basically have the Keychron K1 and the Vinpok Taptek … and that's about it. If you are desperately looking for a Mac layout flat keyboard, one of these is your best bet.
Battery life and extras
Another reason the K8 is such a comfortable keyboard for typing is its adjustable stand. You can leave it flat on your desk or support it at one of two different stand heights so that you can easily adapt it to your needs.
What is missing, however, is a palm rest. Cannot say this has been a huge issue so far, but it would certainly be a great addition and something to keep in mind when considering purchasing the keyboard.
The exclusion was probably one way Keychron could keep costs down, and another because there was no cable adapter. The supplied cable is only suitable for USB-A computers. You will therefore need a dongle if you want to use it wired with a MacBook or USB-C Windows PC (wirelessly is obviously not a problem).
If you want backlighting, this is available on every version of the K8. There is a model with a simple white backlight and one with the full RGB smorgasbord for an additional $ 10 (although there is currently no software customization). Regardless of what you choose, there is a dedicated backlight button that cycles through different lighting effects in the RGB version.
The downside of the backlight is battery drain.
The downside to the backlight is battery drain – a major concern with wireless keyboards. According to Keychron, the K8's 4000 mAh battery gives you around 240 hours when you turn off the lights. Using a single color LED cuts battery life to 68 hours while RGB saves 72 hours. That is a drastic decrease.
In practice, however, this is by no means a bad thing, provided you use the K8 over the cable every now and then. I connected mine to my main computer with the cable while my secondary device connects via bluetooth. This way I don't drain the battery excessively and I top it up frequently via the cable. The result is that in over a month of all-day use, I've never run out of juice.
This is just one reason why the Keychron K8 stands out and is a great keyboard option. Sure, it would be nice to have a palm rest, but there is little else to complain about. It's one of the few mechanical keyboards designed for Mac users, but it also works well with Windows and any other device you might want to connect. The switches are top notch, convenient to use, and are fantastic value. That makes it an offer that's hard to beat.