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Keychron K8 Pro mechanical keyboard review: An affordable trip back to the Mac future

A couple of years ago, I switched from using a Brydge keyboard with a Google Pixel Slate and enjoyed the clicky experience of a Keychron K2 wireless mechanical keyboard. For the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to enter text on various devices with the new Keychron K8 Pro QMK/VIA wireless mechanical keyboard.

The new keyboard was sent along as a barebone keyboard with a keycaps kit and a set of Gateron G Pro mechanical brown switches. I installed the switches and the keycaps with the keycaps set up for Windows so I could use it with my Microsoft Surface Book 2. The double-shot PBT keycaps have a cool spherical OSA profile with good size and spacing on the keyboard.

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Like

  • High-quality design, fit, and finish
  • Double-shot PBT keycaps with Gateron switches
  • Adjustable typing angle
  • VIA software support
  • Mac and Windows compatibility -Bluetooth or USB-C
  • Affordable price

Don’t Like

  • Wrist pad needed due to front height

Keyboard hardware

The Keychron K8 Pro keyboard connects to your computer through its USB-C port. You can also connect to computers, tablets, and phones via its Bluetooth 5.1 wireless connection. An OS switch is found on the left side, next to the USB-C port, with another switch for Bluetooth, off, and cable connection.

The keyboard is clearly not as hefty as the Keychron Q1 custom keyboard I tested last year, but it does weigh in at 2.2 pounds so it is fairly substantial. I like a heavier keyboard as it stays in place while you pound out text. Due to the wireless connectivity option, there is a 4000 mAh battery inside the keyboard that supports up to 100 hours of working time with the lowest brightness setting. The charging time is five hours and is charged via the USB-C port.

keychron-k8-pro-4.jpg

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

South-facing (towards the typist), RGB LED lights are provided on the keyboard with a key in the top right that you press to change through the 19 different lighting options. When you have different switches mounted in the keyboard, then the lighting changes a bit as it shines through the switch openings on select switches. There is also a white backlight model where you can control the levels of backlighting rather than various color options.

Also: Keychron Q1 QMK custom mechanical keyboard review: A premium, affordable experience built for you

The keyboard has a plastic bottom piece, aluminum case, silicone dampening bottom pad, PCB, sound-absorbing foam, steel plate, switches, and keycaps. Various switch options are supported, and they are also hot-swappable.

The Keychron K8 Pro is a quantum mechanical keyboard that can be programmed and remapped using the VIA software application. The VIA software lets you fully configure the keyboard, including adding in macros, media controls, and much more. I’ve only touched the surface of the VIA software and am impressed by the possibilities of using this open-source software to create an extremely productive and efficient keyboard experience to help you get work done.

Four layers of key settings are provided, with layer 0 assigned to Mac OS and layer 2 assigned to Windows. Layers 1 and 3 are available for customization for Mac and Windows using the VIA software.

The Keychron K8 Pro mechanical keyboard weighs in at 990 grams (2.2 pounds) and measures 359 x 127 mm. It has a front height of 35mm, including the keycap, with typing angles of 0, 6, and 9 degrees supported by the design so you can adjust it for your optimal wrist comfort.

Switch options

The Keychron K8 Pro QMK/VIA wireless mechanical keyboard arrived as a barebone keyboard with a box of keycaps and Gateron G Pro brown switches. Keychron provides red, blue, brown, yellow, green, black, and white switch options for the K8 Pro. The brown switch is suitable for office/gaming with tactile behavior and a gentle sound level. I may switch it out for the blue clicky switches, but I am enjoying the smooth sounds of my fingers flying across the brown switches at the moment. You can also hot swap every switch with most 3-pin and 5-pin MX style mechanical switches on the market.

Keychron also incorporates Gateron screw-in PCB stabilizers so that the larger keys have stable and smooth performance. The space bar gets used a lot, and I’ve enjoyed the response on the K8 Pro keyboard. There are also stabilizers for the shift, enter, and backspace keys.

keychron-k8-pro-2.jpg

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The retail package includes the keyboard, keycap puller, switch puller, Windows keys, and a few extra keys. A 1.2-meter USBA to USB-C cable is provided to charge and connect the keyboard. There are 87 keys on the Keychron K8 Pro QMK keyboard with three indicator lights on the right side above the directional arrows. The area around the keys is set down from the aluminum edge a few millimeters, with the metal plate showing the switch mounts in white. There are 12 multimedia keys too.

Also: Keychron K3 wireless mechanical keyboard review: Easily move between the office and home

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

The Keychron K8 Pro first launched on Kickstarter in March and had more than 5,150 backers investing $673,000. The barebones option will be available for $79, and the fully assembled RGB model with an aluminum frame for $109. There will also be a RGB model with a plastic frame available for $99. Fully assembled switch options include red, blue, or brown that cover a range of parameters and styles, but you can always swap the switches to your particular preference.

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Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The keyboard reminds me of the Apple keyboards I used decades in the past, and I’ve enjoyed using the keycaps that were provided for the review. The weight of the keyboard is perfect, and I also love the ability to alter the angle quickly and easily.

The option to use the keyboard wirelessly is fantastic, and I was blown away when the keyboard worked perfectly with my iPad Pro 12.9. Even the top functions and special controls worked out of the box with volume, brightness, media, and more. I’ll likely use the keyboard even more than other wired solutions, thanks to the ability to use it with every mobile device I use daily.

While I enjoy using the Keychron Q1 as a rock-solid keyboard, the K8 Pro is another great option that I am enjoying pounding away on daily. These mechanical keyboards are very affordable, and the ability to fully customize them to your preferences with switches and keycaps makes them a must-have accessory for your daily work.


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