Mark Llobrera

Keychron Q2

For the last year or so I’ve been using a Drop Alt 65% keyboard. It’s served me pretty well—it’s compact enough to fit in my desk tray, reducing my RSI. But over time there’s been a few nagging issues: the stabilizers rattle, and more annoyingly the board was prone to key chatter (doubling up characters). Pulling out and re-seating the switches would help for a time, but eventually I would get key chatter again. It began to feel like a game of whac-a-mole, where I’d fix one key only to have another one start chattering.

Enter the Keychron Q2. When Keychron released their first custom keyboard—the Q1—I was interested, but it was just too large for my keyboard tray. So I was happy when Keychron decided to release a 65% version.1 I grabbed on on release day, and within five days it was at my door.

I got the Q2 in a barebone configuration, since I didn’t really care for any of the switch/keycap options, and I also got the variant without the knob, since I route audio through my Schiit Valhalla amp that has a nice volume knob.

A top-down shot of a grey 65% keyboard with no keycaps or switches.
The bare board

A few months ago my friend Max sent me some five-pin Gazzew Boba U4 Silent tactile switches that I couldn’t plug straight into my three-pin Alt. The Q2 PCB is five-pin, though, so I dropped the Bobas in:2

A top-down shot of a grey 65% keyboard white keyswitches.
Boba switches installed

For keycaps I decided to go with my Polycaps Octopus ones over the SA Chalk ones I originally had on my Alt.

A close-up shot of keycaps being installed on a keyboard.
Polycaps Octopus keycaps going on

The final result:

A top-down shot of a grey 65% keyboard white keyswitches.
Fully built

So far I’m finding it to be a pretty good alternative to my Alt. A few notes after a week of use:

It’s been exciting to see the mechanical keyboard hobby explode in the last decade—I still remember how hard it was to get a proper keyboard with Cherry switches about fifteen years ago. I see the Q2 as a mass-market, ready-to-ship, budget offering for enthusiasts who might tinker a bit with a board (swapping out switches/keycaps) but balk at lubing/tuning stabs and swapping out different plates/foams. I imagine folks who want a true custom board will skip over this to something like the Mode Sixtyfive, Parallel Portal, or a Vega.5 I’m fairly certain I’ll end up in that territory, but more for vanity (that top-right key!) than necessity.

  1. Keychron is also releasing a 60% layout, and a split layout. ↩︎

  2. Except for the CAPS LOCK key, where I used a clicky Kailh Box White switch—it’s nice to hear that click when toggling it on/off. ↩︎

  3. You’ll have to take the plate off to access the stabs, so this is probably something you’ll want to do before you put switches/keycaps on. ↩︎

  4. Ironic, given that my former Domani Studios teammates dubbed me “Thunderkeys” after I brought a mechanical keyboard in and hammered away on it. ↩︎

  5. All of those options are nicer but also require a wait (if they’re even available). There’s something to be said for Keychron producing enough quantities for immediate shipping. You also have to build those boards (the Q2 comes pre-assembled) but that might be part of the appeal for most folks. ↩︎