5 Best Clicky Beasts: Custom Mechanical Keyboards 2024


Updated: 06/01/2024

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A custom mechanical keyboard with vibrant and colorful keys

In the world of keyboards, a subset stands out from the rest – Custom Mechanical Keyboards. These keyboards have gained immense popularity among enthusiasts and professionals due to their superior build quality, customizable features, and satisfying clicky switches. Investing in a custom mechanical keyboard can significantly enhance your experience if you spend hours typing or gaming. This article will explore the Top 5 custom mechanical keyboards for 2024, highlighting their unique features and benefits.

The Best Custom Keyboards – Our Top Picks

SpotlightKeyboardClicky Specs & Highlights
Our Top PickKeychron Q1 ProHot-swappable clicky switches, premium build, gasket mount
Second BestKBDFansEndless customization options, unique layouts, premium materials, clicky switch options
Budget BeautyKeychron V1/V2Hot-swappable clicky switches, solid performance, budget-friendly
Gamer’s Level UpGMMK ProModular design, vibrant RGB, fast response speed (1ms)
Tenkeyless ExcellenceDrop CTRL BarebonesHot-swappable clicky switches, tenkeyless layout, solid aluminum build, per-key RGB lighting

Benefits of Using Custom Mechanical Keyboards

Custom mechanical keyboards offer several advantages over their standard counterparts:

  1. Their build quality is unparalleled, with sturdy materials and precise craftsmanship ensuring durability and longevity.
  2. These keyboards provide a customizable experience, allowing users to personalize their typing or gaming setup to their preferences. The possibilities are endless, from keycap materials and colors to switch types and lighting effects.
  3. Customizable mechanical keyboards often use clicky switches, which provide tactile feedback and an audible click sound, enhancing the typing or gaming experience.

These are highly programmable, enabling users to create custom key mappings and macros for increased efficiency and productivity.

The Top 5 Custom Mechanical Keyboards for 2024

In this section, we will explore the top 5 custom mechanical keyboards for 2024, diving into their unique features and performance. Let’s discover the perfect blend of personalization and functionality!

1: Keychron Q1 Pro: The Epitome of Quality

Keychron Q1 Wired Custom Mechanical Keyboard (75% Layout QMK/VIA Programmable with Hot-swappable Gateron G Pro Brown Switch)
REASONS TO BUY
  • Unmatched customization options
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Versatile compatibility
  • Hot-swappable switches
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Limited availability
  • High price point
  • The learning curve for customization

The Keychron Q1 Pro reigns supreme as our top pick for custom keyboards. Designed for enthusiasts and beginners, this Bluetooth keyboard offers a seamless and hassle-free experience right out of the box. Unlike other keyboards requiring time-consuming modifications, the Keychron Q1 Pro delivers a high-quality typing experience without tedious tasks like lubing switches or tuning stabilizers.

The Keychron Q1 Pro is a user-friendly keyboard that requires minimal effort to set up. Unpack the tenkeyless keyboard, connect it to your computer, and power it on. That’s it!

No messy lubing process or complicated assembly is required. The keyboard has pre-lubed switches, ensuring a smooth and satisfying typing experience. With keycaps made of durable PBT plastic, you won’t have to worry about them getting oily or worn out over time.

The Keychron Q1 Pro offers customizable options for those seeking a wireless mechanical keyboard solution, such as Bluetooth connectivity. Its user-friendly setup, durable materials, and exceptional typing experience make it the top choice for keyboard enthusiasts and beginners.

2: KBDFans: Endless Customization Options

A purple keyboard on a white background, showcasing KBDFans keyboard with endless customization options
REASONS TO BUY
  • Premium Build
  • Customization Heaven
  • Unique Designs
  • Supportive Community
  • Competitive Value
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Higher Cost
  • Technical Knowledge Required for Customization
  • Pre-orders can take months to fulfill.
  • Limited Availability

For those who crave endless customization options, KBDFans is the go-to destination. With many products, KBDFans offers many choices that satisfy even the most discerning keyboard enthusiasts.

One of their popular options is the KBD75, a highly customizable keyboard that provides a fun and exciting build experience. The KBD75 comes in various colors and plate materials, allowing you to create a personalized hot-swappable keyboard that suits your style. Its full aluminum frame and RGB underglow add a touch of elegance to the overall design.

The keyboard’s compact 75% layout perfectly balances functionality and comfort, making it suitable for various purposes. KBDFans is known for its rotating selection of products, so it’s essential to explore its website to discover the latest and most exciting options. If you’re looking for a keyboard that offers endless customization possibilities and a fun build experience, KBDFans is the place to be.

3. Keychron V1/V2: Budget-Friendly Customization

Keychron V1 keyboard: White and black keys for budget-friendly customization
REASONS TO BUY
  • Budget-friendly customization
  • Variety of sizes
  • High-quality basics
  • Gaming-ready performance
  • Extensive customization options
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Plastic case
  • Group buy system
  • No pre-built option

If you’re looking for a custom keyboard on a budget, the Keychron V1/V2 series is the perfect choice. These barebones kits from Keychron offer excellent value for the price, allowing you to personalize your full-size keyboard without breaking the bank. The V-series lineup includes various sizes to cater to different needs and preferences.

While the V1/V2 keyboards have plastic cases compared to the premium Q-series, they still offer impressive features without compromising quality. Keychron ensures attention to detail by including stabilizers and a silicone dampening pad inside the case for improved acoustics. These keyboards also offer RGB options that can be customized using in-keyboard combinations or turned off if you prefer a simpler aesthetic.

The Keychron V1/V2 keyboards are highly responsive and ideal for gaming, thanks to their 1000Hz polling rate, which minimizes input lag. The knob version of these keyboards is programmable, allowing you to customize its functionality according to your preferences.

With a wide range of customization options and affordable prices, the Keychron V1/V2 series is an excellent choice for those looking to enter the world of custom mechanical keyboards.

4. GMMK Pro: Gamer’s Level Up

GMMK Pro: Gamer’s Level Up - A white keyboard adorned with vibrant, colorful keys
REASONS TO BUY
  • Dedicated Macro Keys and Knob
  • Fully Programmable
  • Vibrant RGB Lighting
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Some assembly is required
  • Customizable, but could be daunting for newbies
  • Barebones – needs switches & keycaps

If gaming is your primary focus, the GMMK Pro is the ultimate customizable keyboard to enhance your gaming experience. This stunning 75% keyboard features a unique case design and aesthetic build that will turn heads. Unlike other custom gaming keyboards, the GMMK Pro is available in stores like Micro Center, offering accessibility unmatched by other high-quality options.

The GMMK Pro comes in black and silver colors, which exude a sleek and sophisticated look. The keyboard’s configurator allows you to choose from different plates and top frames, enabling you to create a customized keyboard tailored to your preferences.

One of the standout features of the GMMK Pro is its compatibility with a wide range of accessories. Glorious offers a variety of matching accessories, including a numpad with a slider for increased convenience. The keyboard’s hot-swappable PCB makes building relatively easy, provided you install the switches correctly.

With its customizable options, the GMMK Pro allows you to unleash your gaming potential and elevate your gaming setup to new heights.

5. Drop CTRL Barebones: Tenkeyless Excellence

Image of a keyboard, the Drop CTRL Barebones, showcasing numerous distinct keys
REASONS TO BUY
  • Premium Build
  • Double Shot PBT Keycaps
  • Customizable Layout
  • Vibrant Underglow RGB
REASONS TO AVOID
  • Assembly Required
  • Limited Pre-Built Availability
  • Hot-Swap PCB Potential Issues 

As the bigger sister to the Drop ALT, the Drop CTRL Barebones offers a tenkeyless size that combines functionality with elegance. This keyboard boasts many of the same features as the ALT, including a full aluminum frame, multiple power ports, and full RGB lighting. The Drop CTRL Barebones is an excellent option if you’re looking for a hot-swappable build without soldering.

The Drop CTRL Barebones is designed to make the assembly process a breeze. Its tenkeyless size strikes a perfect balance between compactness and usability, making it comfortable for various purposes. The standard layout of the keyboard ensures compatibility with almost any keycap set, allowing you to further personalize your keyboard’s appearance.

Drop offers the CTRL Barebones in various styles and colors, ensuring you can find a design that suits your preferences. The keyboard’s hot-swappable PCB eliminates the need for soldering, making it beginner-friendly and perfect for those who want to experiment with different switches.

Whether you’re a gamer, a programmer, or a writer, the Drop CTRL Barebones provides a customizable and reliable keyboard option.

Choosing the Perfect Customizable Keyboard

With so many customizable keyboards out there, it can be tough to figure out which one is just right for you. But don’t worry, I’m here to help! To simplify the decision-making process, consider the following factors when selecting a customizable keyboard:

  1. Intended Use: Determine the primary purpose of your keyboard. Are you a gamer, a writer, or a programmer? Different keyboards offer specific features that cater to each use case.
  2. Layout: Consider the layout that best suits your preferences. From compact options like tenkeyless to innovative layouts like the 96%, choose a layout that enhances your productivity and comfort.
  3. Customization Options: Evaluate the level of customization offered by each keyboard. Some keyboards allow you to customize keycaps, switches, and even the case, while others offer limited customization options.
  4. Build Quality: Look for keyboards made from high-quality materials like aluminum, which are more durable and long-lasting.
  5. Budget: Set a budget and find a keyboard that offers the best value for your investment. Remember that customization options and build quality often come at a higher cost.

Considering these factors, you can narrow your options and find the perfect customizable keyboard that meets your requirements.

Building Your Custom Keyboard

Building your custom keyboard is a rewarding and exciting experience that allows you to create a keyboard tailored to your preferences. While it may seem daunting initially, anyone can embark on this journey with the right resources and guidance. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you build your custom keyboard:

Step 1: Research and Planning

Before diving into the building process, conduct thorough research to understand the components and options available. Decide on the layout, switches, keycaps, and other customization details that align with your preferences. Join online communities and forums to gather insights and seek advice from experienced keyboard builders.

Step 2: Gather the Components

Once you have a clear plan, start gathering the necessary components for your custom keyboard. This includes the PCB (Printed Circuit Board), case, switches, keycaps, stabilizers, and any additional accessories you wish to incorporate.

Step 3: Prepare the Workspace

Set up a clean and organized workspace with ample lighting. Ensure you have the tools and equipment, such as a soldering iron, solder, desoldering pump, flush cutters, and a screwdriver.

Step 4: Soldering and Assembly

Follow the assembly instructions provided with your keyboard kit. Begin by soldering the switches onto the PCB, ensuring a secure and proper connection. Take your time and double-check your work to avoid any issues later on. Once the switches are soldered, assemble the case, attach the keycaps, and connect the keyboard to your computer.

Step 5: Testing and Troubleshooting

After assembling the keyboard, test each key to ensure proper functionality. Use a key testing tool or a keyboard tester to verify that all keys register correctly. If you encounter any issues, refer to the troubleshooting guide provided with your keyboard kit or seek assistance from the online community.

Step 6: Personalize and Customize

Now comes the fun part – personalizing and customizing your keyboard. Experiment with different keycap sets, switch types, and custom key layouts if your PCB supports it. Let your creativity shine, and create a keyboard that reflects your unique style.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the best custom mechanical keyboards offer a world of customization and performance that standard keyboards cannot match. Whether you’re a typist, gamer, or enthusiast, investing in a custom mechanical keyboard can greatly enhance your typing or gaming experience. From the top pick Keychron Q1 Pro to the budget-friendly Keychron V1, there is a keyboard to suit every preference and budget. Consider the factors mentioned in this article, such as keyboard keycaps, switch type, keyboard layout, and build quality, to find the perfect custom mechanical keyboard. Remember, finding the ideal keyboard is as enjoyable as the destination. Happy typing or gaming!

What is a customizable keyboard?

A customized keyboard is a keyboard that allows users to personalize various aspects of its design and functionality. This includes custom keycaps, switch types, case materials, and even programmable macros.

Can I customize an existing keyboard?

Yes, many keyboards offer aftermarket customization options. You can replace keycaps and switches and modify the case to create a unique and personalized keyboard.

How difficult is it to build a custom keyboard?

Building a custom keyboard can range from easy to more advanced, depending on your chosen components and level of customization. Beginner-friendly options like hot-swappable keyboards eliminate the need for soldering, making the building process more accessible.

Are customizable keyboards more expensive than regular keyboards?

Customizable keyboards can vary in price depending on the components and desired customization level. While some options may be more expensive, there are also budget-friendly choices available that offer customization without breaking the bank.

What keyboard from your article would you recommend?

It depends on your needs and budget! The Keychron Q1 Pro offers top-notch quality and features, while the Keychron V1/V2 is a budget-friendly option with plenty of customization potential. Consider your priorities and explore the keyboard details in the article.

Do I need special software for a custom keyboard?

Some keyboards, like the GMMK Pro, offer software for in-depth customization, including remapping keys, creating macros, and setting lighting effects. Others rely on hardware controls for basic options. Check your chosen keyboard’s features to see what software might be needed.

Where can I find replacement parts and accessories for my custom keyboard?

Online stores like MechanicalKeyboards.com, NovelKeys, and KBDFans offer various switches, keycaps, stabilizers, and other components. Many physical keyboard enthusiasts’ meetup groups also hold regular vendor markets where you can browse and purchase parts.


Shifa Tariq

Shifa Tariq

Hi, I'm Shifa, the CEO and Co-founder of Best Keyboard Tester, the go-to website for comprehensive keyboard guides, in-depth reviews, and top recommendations. As a huge keyboard enthusiast and tech lover, I created this website to help everyone find the perfect keyboard, whether you're a casual typist or a hardcore gamer. Our unique online keyboard tester tool lets you virtually try different switches and layouts before buying. I'm passionate about helping people discover the joy of an excellent keyboard and always looking for ways to improve our website.

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