When I bought my first mechanical keyboard, I had NO CLUE what “hot-swappable” meant.
I ended up with a loud keyboard with cheap blue clicky switches soldered on.
I won’t make that mistake again 😎
Ever since then, I try to buy hot-swappable keyboards. I’m obsessed with switches, owning 100+ sets–trying to find the perfect balance of sound & feel.
The great news?
There’s a metric ton of hot-swappable keyboards to choose from these days!
Here are my nominees for the best hot-swappable keyboards:
Let’s clack 👇
The Best Hot-Swappable Keyboards (List):
Note: There’s no “best overall!”
I truly don’t believe there is one single hot-swappable keyboard that’s head and shoulders above the rest–it all comes down to what YOU need, and that’s different for everybody!
Best Wireless – Epomaker Theory
- 【75% 80 Keys Mechanical Gaming Keyboard】With built-in modularity for everything from connectivity to switches, the TH80 is a keyboard for those who like to change things up. The 75% layout offers...
- 【Hotswap Gateron Pro Mechanical Switches】When it comes to the feel and performance of your switches, every detail counts. For this model, we go with Gateron Pro...
- 【Three Modes of Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0&2.4GHz&Type-C Cable】Equipped with the Large Capacity battery, this keyboard supports wireless and wired connections. By the wireless option, either...
- Wireless via Bluetooth or Dongle
- rotary knob (for volume, etc)
- Great price point
- Knob for switching between Windows & Mac
- GREAT layout and design (my personal fave)
- Gateron Pro switch options
- Some variants are hard to find (often sold out)
- Honestly that’s about it.
Epomaker is one of the more popular modern brands in mechanical keyboards, and the Theory TH80 is easily my favorite keyboard they make.
Hot-swappable, wireless (via 2.4ghz dongle, though I prefer Bluetooth), and with solid Gateron Pro switch options.
(I mean it’s hot-swappable, but Gateron Pro switches are absolutely fantastic, so…)
That, and the 65% layout is one of my favorites. This saves desk space (and looks cool), but still has dedicated arrow keys and a few “home cluster” keys. It’s a perfect size.
The volume knob also presses in–allowing you to pause music, etc. But this keyboard can also be 100% customized via software! (Epomaker’s software).
It’s rare to find a wireless hot-swappable keyboard, and one that looks so cool!
Best Gaming – Corsair K70 Pro
- Make it Yours: A high-performance wireless gaming keyboard in a compact 60% form-factor that’s big on customization, with swappable MX switches and a 360° RGB LightEdge.
- Three Ways to Connect: Powerful wireless connectivity with hyper-fast, sub-1ms SLIPSTREAM WIRELESS, low-latency Bluetooth, or USB wired with CORSAIR AXON 8,000Hz hyper-polling.
- Customize with Swappable CHERRY MX Red Keyswitches: Equipped with smooth 100-million-keystroke CHERRY MX Red keyswitches with a modular design, easily replaceable with any combination of MX-compatible...
- Also wireless
- Genuine Cherry MX switch options!
- Corsair is a well-known brand that makes SOLID keyboards
- Aluminum frame (most people prefer, I personally don’t care)
- 60% compact keyboards aren’t for everybody
- A very “gaming” design
The NON-Pro version, the Corsair K70, took home our “best overall” award in our best gaming keyboards roundup.
But it’s not hot-swappable…
This Pro Mini version is similar–but it’s hot-swappable!
And even though it’s hot-swappable (Corsair’s 1st hot-swappable option), you can choose from Cherry MX switches:
- MX Red (linear)
- MX Blue (clicky)
- MX Speed Silver (linear)
- MX Brown (tactile)
Click here to check out our full guide to Cherry MX switches.
Also, Corsair is calling this “the fastest sub-1ms wireless” keyboard. It’s wireless, but still plenty fast for low-latency gaming 👍
Out of the big gaming keyboard brands (Logitech, Razer, SteelSeries, etc), Corsair makes my favorite keyboards. They just FEEL solid (heavy, and the K70 Pro has an aluminum frame, which most gamers probably prefer).
The only downside to me is the design. It definitely LOOKS like a gaming keyboard (which could be a huge plus if that’s your thing!).
But you can also turn the RGB off if you wanted (as well as switch out the keycaps).
Runner-Up for Gaming: Redragon K530
|Redragon K530 Pro Draconic 60% Wireless RGB Mechanical Keyboard, Bluetooth/2.4Ghz/Wired 3-Mode 61...||$69.99 $48.36||View on Amazon|
If you’re looking for a wireless & hot-swappable gaming keyboard, but want something more budget-friendly, try the K530.
Redragon keyboards are definitely more budget, and can sometimes feel & sound a bit more cheap, especially the stabilizers.
But the difference is small, especially for beginners.
And it’s a good thing it’s hot-swappable because the default stock switches are super cheap. 😎
Best Budget – Tecware Phantom 87
- RGB BACKLIGHTING- Enhance your gaming experience with 18 pre-set configurations on the mechanical keyboard, or create a unique one to match your setup
- OUTEMU SWITCHES - The gaming mechanical keyboard comes with Outemu mechanical switches for precise gaming and comfortable typing. Spare switches + keycap & switch remover tools are provided for easy...
- FIBERGLASS PCB - Built with SMD LEDs and FR-4 fiberglass printed circuit board, this Tecware mechanical keyboard is able to withstand extended periods of intensive and hardcore gaming sessions
- SUPER cheap
- Heavy and well-built
- Feels surprisingly good!
- Wired only
- only accepts Outemu switches
WE DID A FULL REVIEW OF THE TECH WIRE PHANTOM KEYBOARD HERE, BUT IT IS A SURPRISINGLY FANTASTIC KEYBOARD AT THIS PRICE RANGE!
We did a full review of the Tecware Phantom here, but it is a surprisingly fantastic keyboard at this price range!
These come stock with Outemu switches, which is one of the more “budget” switch brands, but they don’t feel terrible.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You can only swap in other Outemu switches to this keyboard! Standard MX-style switches (like Cherry, Gateron, Kailh, Akko, etc) don’t naturally fit.
Technically you can modify those switches to fit, but it’s a pain and would take forever.
So why am I including this as the best budget hot-swappable keyboard?
Honestly? It’s still just an insane value for such a low dollar amount. $30-$40 and it still delivers!
But if you want a TRULY hot swappable keyboard that’s still cheap, check out the RK84 👇
Runner-Up Budget: Royal Kludge RK84
|RK ROYAL KLUDGE RK84 Wireless RGB 75% Triple Mode BT5.0/2.4G/USB-C Hot Swappable Mechanical...||$79.99||View on Amazon|
For only $20ish more–you could grab the RK84 and get a REAL hot-swappable keyboard.
It’s also wireless, and you can put in any MX-style switches you want!
Royal Kludge also has several sizes of this keyboard
Best for Mac – Keychron K2
- A 75% layout (84-key) RGB backlight compact Bluetooth mechanical keyboard. The ultimate tenkeyless keyboard that retains shortcut and arrow keys. Aluminum frame.
- Connects with up to 3 devices via Bluetooth 5.1 and switch among them easily. With high reliable and broad compatibility Broadcom Bluetooth chipset, the K2 is best to fit home, office and light gaming...
- With a unique Mac layout, K2 has all necessary Mac function keys, while compatible with Windows. Extra keycaps for both Windows and Mac operating system are included.
- Works GREAT with Mac and Windows (even has a physical toggle switch to swap between the two)
- Aluminum frame
- Keychron makes these keyboards in a TON of sizes and styles
- Can save money by buying different versions
- Gateron Pro switch options
- High-profile (it’s a tall keyboard)
The Keychron K2 was the VERY FIRST mechanical keyboard I purchased, and I still use it to this day.
It’s a perfect balance of features & price. Not too expensive (sub-$100), but is still hot-swappable and wireless.
It even comes with Mac keycaps (Command, etc), and will work with your Mac right out of the box. (Actually, all mechanical keyboards work with Mac, but the Keychron does it easier and faster)
It also has toggle switches on the back/side of the keyboard allowing you to quickly switch between wired/wireless and Windows/Mac.
IMPORTANT NOTE: They also sell the K2 in a NON-hot-swappable version. Make sure you’re purchasing the correct one!
They do this so you can save a bit of cash if you want to. The no-RGB and non-hot-swappable versions are $15-20 cheaper.
Best TKL – Vissles V84
- 【Wireless/Wired Modes Keyboard& Bluetooth 5.1】Connects with up to 5 devices via Bluetooth and switch among them easily. With high reliable and broad compatibility Bluetooth 5.1, faster and more...
- 【PBT Keycaps/Improved oil resistance】After using a normal keyboard for a period of time, the surface of the keycaps is easy to Oil , and it is very slippery to use, which Seriously reduce the feel...
- 【Hot-Swappable Switches& Compatible With All Devices】Equipped with the compatibility hot-swappable socket though, with the hot-swappable option, this wireless mechanical keyboard gives you the...
- Wireless as well!
- Comes with accessories, including a nice padded wrist rest
- Heavier and includes sound-dampening
- Decent switch options (including a proprietary silent switch)
- Easy to mod!
- Medium expensive
- Spacebar & stabilizer rattle
The Vissles V84 has the EXACT SAME keyboard case as the cheaper Royal Kludge RK84 above–but rest assured–it’s a more premium typing experience.
It’s heavier and has some factory-installed sound-dampening foam already inside.
Here’s my full review & sound test of the V84 👇
I’m a big fan of 75% keyboards. It’s a great balance of desk space and design, while still giving access to plenty of keys.
If you NEED the full function row and the home cluster keys (delete, home, end, page up, page down, etc). The V84 offers a great sound & feel around the $100 mark.
It’s better than the RK84.
PRO TIP: If you’d like to save some money, purchase it from the Vissles website and use code “V84” for $10 off!
Best Compact 60% – Ducky One 3 Mini
- Ducky makes REALLY cool keyboards
- Neat design and color options
- Cherry MX switch options!
- 60% compact isn’t for everybody
- Medium Expensive
- Not wireless
The newer Ducky One 3 is the ONLY hot-swappable keyboard from Ducky (which is well known for their 60% compact keyboards).
The older versions (One 2, etc), weren’t hot-swappable.
And though they’re a little harder to find, you can pick up the Ducky One 3 in a few different colors (I think the all-yellow looks amazing, but they make standard white/black versions).
They also have the One 3 in different sizes, but I really think Ducky has NAILED the 60% compact format.
Many 60% keyboards are difficult to use (since you don’t have dedicated arrow keys, the delete key, etc, they use function shortcuts). Ducky provides excellent documentation that teaches you how to access all the keys you need.
I just wish they were wireless, but alas. It’s a premium keyboard, not a budget keyboard.
Runner-Up 60%: Keymove Shadow
|KEMOVE Shadow Wired/Wireless 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Compatible with Mac Windows, Hot...||View on Amazon|
Keymove is definitely a more budget keyboard brand, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad.
The Shadow (the black version) or Snowfox (the white version) both offer normal Gateron switches (not terrible, not great), but again–it’s a hot-swappable 60% keyboard under $100. That’s a win.
Personally, I DID notice a bit of scratchiness and wobbly stabilizers when typing–but I got used to it pretty quickly, and didn’t hate it. 🤷♂️
Best 65% – Ducky One 3 Daybreak
- Featuring Ducky's all new QUACK Mechanics design philosophy
- Dual layer Hot-swap PCB w/ exclusive Kailh yellow hotswap sockets
- Low profile One 3 case design in a wide array of exclusive color options
- All the same lovely PROS as the normal Ducky One 3 (above)
- But with dedicated arrow keys and Del, PageUp, and PageDown!
- Beautiful design
- Not wireless?
- That’s about it.
If there’s one keyboard size I like MORE than a 75% TKL layout–it’s a 65% keyboard.
I like arrow keys, what can I say.
And although there are a few 65% options on the market under $150, they are rare, and the new Ducky One 3 Daybreak is probably the best.
It feels the best (V2 stabilizers are super solid), offer Cherry MX switches, and looks really cool.
Best Custom Kit – KBD67 Lite
- Sounds AMAZING
- Feels way, way, way better than pre-built keyboards
- A TON of case colors to choose from
- A TON of PCB options to choose from
- QMK/Via compatible
- Doesn’t come with switches or keycaps
- You do have to assemble it yourself (but it’s not hard)
I purchased two KBD67’s last year on KBDfans, and they are two of my favorite keyboards to date!
This is a custom keyboard “kit,” which means they’ve assembled all the different parts and packaged them up together:
- The keyboard case
- The PCB
- The plate
- Sound-dampening foam
- All screws & accessories, etc
The building process is actually half the fun! It only takes an hour or two, after which you’ll have a premium typing experience you can’t find on pre-built keyboards.
And at $109, it’s one of the cheaper kits (though you’ll still have to purchase switches and keycaps separately of course).
They also offer 75% and full-size kits as well.
Best Barebones – GMMK Pro
- Award-Winning Design - Voted by the mechanical keyboard community as one of Reddit’s favorite custom keyboard. The GMMK PRO Barebones is a hotswappable, gasket-mounted 75% layout keyboard with a...
- Glorious Care: Our products receive an additional year of guarantee, on top of the one that already comes included, when you register your product on the Glorious website. All electronic devices come...
- Compatibility: The GMMK 2 is compatible with Windows, Mac iOS, Linux, PS4, and Xbox. USB-A port is necessary to connect the device. Glorious mechanical keyboards are compatible with any gaming mouse...
- A premium custom keyboard
- Rotary knob (customizable)
- Side lighting
- QMK/Via compatible
- Kinda of a “pre-built custom hybrid“
- Doesn’t come with switches or keycaps
- Not wireless
A “barebones” keyboard kit just means it’s already pre-built, but doesn’t come with switches or keycaps.
The GMMK Pro is one of the most popular mechanical keyboards of all time, and for good reason: It’s a premium keyboard that’s EASY to get started with.
No building required.
Just grab whatever mechanical switches you want, pick up some keycaps, and you have a REALLY premium typing experience.
- Hot-swappable (of course)
- Pre-lubed screw-in stabilizers
- Beautiful design with customizable side lights(!)
Personally, I do think this keyboard is amazing, but it is a bit pricey.
You can save $50-60 and grab a custom kit (like the KBD67 above), and have roughly the same sound & feel.
Still, the rotary knob is nice, and it does look amazing 👍
Best Low-Profile – Keychron K7
- Keychron K7, a compact 65% layout 68 keys hot-swappable ultra-slim white LED backlit wireless mechanical keyboard built to maximize your productivity and desktop space, with its 65% layout and...
- The redesigned low-profile keychron optical switch is 40% slimmer than conventional switches with a shorter pre-travel and total travel distance that triggers an input and feedback faster than...
- You can easily hot-swap every low-profile optical switch without soldering to customize your typing experience on the K7 (*This keyboard is NOT compatible with any conventional MX style mechanical...
- Wireless & Hot-swappable
- Low-profile Gateron switch options
- VERY travel-friendly
- Only accepts low-profile switches
99% of low-profile mechanical keyboards use both low-profile keycaps, as well as specific low-profile switches.
And while these are fairly easy to find (both Cherry and Gateron make low-profile switches), there aren’t NEARLY as many varieties and switch options available.
But that aside, the Keychron K7 brings all the wonderful features of Keychron keyboards (like the K2 above), but in a low-profile 60% compact keyboard!
I have a travel pouch for mine, as it’s my go-to travel keyboard!
If you suffer from carpal tunnel (or other wrist or finger problems), low-profile keyboards can certainly provide a better experience!
Honorable Mention Keyboards:
There are two more hot-swappasble keyboards I want to mention here…
Epomaker SK61 – Best Optical Switches
|EPOMAKER SKYLOONG SK61 61 Keys 60% Hot Swappable Programmable Mechanical Gaming Wired Keyboard with...||View on Amazon|
The Epomaker SK61 is actually a great little keyboard, and comes with both mechanical OR optical switch options.
Optical switches are supposedly a bit faster than mechanical, but they don’t have the same sound & feel.
They don’t feel BAD, just different.
But regardless of which switch you choose, the SK61 is otherwise a feature-rich keyboard, and fun to type on! (Not wireless though).
Drop CTRL – A premium keyboard with too high a price tag
- PUT YOURSELF IN CONTROL: Our flagship, the CTRL combines quality construction with feature-loaded functionality. A versatile tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard designed with input from the Drop community, it...
- PREMIUM ENGINEERING: Constructed with a solid aluminum frame with a built-in switch plate and magnetic legs, the CTRL is rock-solid and ready for any setup.
- CHERRY MX BROWN RGB SWITCHES: This CTRL model comes equipped with Cherry MX Brown switches, which have a tactile bump, silent travel, and medium actuation force—great for both typing and gaming.
You’ll find the Drop CTRL at the TOP of most people’s keyboard lists–but I think it’s absurdly overpriced for what you get.
It looks great, sounds and feels great, and also offers several unique switch options out of the box:
- Cherry MX switches
- Halo Clears or True (really popular in the mechanical keyboard community!)
- Kailh Box White or Speed silver
But it’s hot-swappable, so you could put those switches in ANY hot-swappable keyboard.
And at over $240, there’s simply not enough keyboard here for the price tag. You could grab a GMMK Pro at that price (including switches and keycaps).
If you absolutely do NOT want a custom or barebones kit, you might grab the Drop CTRL. It is a premium experience.
But it doesn’t get my recommendation. Sorry Drop!
What is a hot-swappable keyboard?
A hot-swappable keyboard is one where you can literally push in (and pull out) mechanical switches from your PCB—WITHOUT soldering.
It’s incredibly easy and fast to change switches on hot-swappable keyboards.
On the other hand, a NON-hot-swappable keyboard means you will need a soldering iron and accessories in order to both install switches, as well as remove them.
Can you put ANY switch in a hot-swappable keyboard?
No. You’ll need to make sure the switch is compatiable with your PCB. The most popular connection is “MX-style” mechanical switches, but there can be other connections (such as Outemu, which fit slightly differently into their sockets). It’s a good idea to double-check which type of switches your keyboard accepts.
How can you tell if a keyboard is hot-swappable?
The simplest and fastest way is to just try to remove a switch! Using a switch puller (or screwdrivers or your fingernails), gently try to remove the switch from the PCB/plate. It’s there’s any leeway (or the switch comes out), you have a hot-swappable keyboard. If it doesn’t budget at ALL, chances are it’s soldered in.
Are gaming keyboards always hot-swappable?
No. In fact, most gaming keyboards are NOT hot-swappable (especially from gaming brands like Razer, SteelSeries, or Corsair). If you’re purchasing a new keyboard, they will almost always describe themselves at “hot-swappable” or “swappable” if they are. If you already have your keyboard, you can try to remove your switches (gently), and if they come out easily, it’s hot-swappable. If not, the switches are likely soldered in.
How many times can you hotswap keyboard?
As many times as you like! Hot-swappable PCBs allow you to easily and quickly change out the switches, and there’s no limit to how many times you can do this. Just be gentle during this process so you don’t accidentally damage the keyboard or switch.
What is the best hot-swappable gaming keyboard?
The newer Corsair K70 Pro is my favorite gaming keyboard that offers hot-swap capabilities. It’s a functional 60% compact design that has all the standard gaming features, and will sound and feel fantastic. The wireless Redragon K530 is also a solid choice for gamers, and it’s a bit cheaper (though it doesn’t feel quite as premium as the K70 Pro).
Can you put a hot-swappable PCB in a normal mechanical keyboard?
This will depend on your keyboard. If you’re using a pre-built keyboard (especially from a big brand like Logitech, Razer, or Corsair), you probably will NOT be able to put in a new PCB that’s hot-swappable. That would also void the warranty. However, if you’re using a custom keyboard kit, you can usually search for compatitble PCBs (and they often make hot-swap versions)!