I don’t get agitated about keyboards much these days. There are so numerous good bones
out there and little in the way of invention. No surprise, also, that I wrote off the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro incontinently after it was blazoned. How good could a keyboard from a phone company be anyway? Boy, was I awry?
Like any new keyboard, I pulled the Keyboard 81 Pro out of the box and rapped my fritters along the keys, awaiting a harsh, unwelcome sprinkling of plastic and treble springs that I’d heard numerous times ahead. This stock mechanical keyboard sense isn’t bad, but I’ve come to a keyboard snot over the once many times( and yes, feel free to rally me for that fact). But I didn’t hear that sound or feel that sense. The Keyboard 81 Pro was quiet.
It sounded perfect — it was that sound, the bone that you hear from those ASMR TikToks and YouTube films. It was subtle but thick. roisterous but domestic. It was that sound that lower keyboards strive to achieve but generally fall suddenly of. It was a sound and feel that I wanted to come back to. Indeed after many days out for a trip, I was laboriously allowed about getting back to my office to class up half a dozen papers on the keyboard.
High praise, for sure, but let’s bring the Keyboard 81 Pro back down to Earth. It’s a mechanical keyboard that was co-developed by OnePlus and Keychron. That’s an important description because, according to the company, this isn’t just a Keychron board with some branding slighted on top. “ It’s a unique keyboard, ” is what OnePlus told me.
From what I can tell, the base of the keyboard is Keychron’s Q1 Pro. It’s the same 75 layouts, it comes with a volume clump, and critically, it includes a double gasket mount. For me, a gasket mount is a must-have for any keyboard. It situates the plate between sets of rubber gaskets, offering a bit of frivolity when you type. You don’t actually feel the keyboard moving as you type, no. It’s a sense, offering a bit of drive and pull that’s more comfortable to type on for long sessions.
This is a double-gasket mount. That just means it has doubly as numerous gaskets for further drive and pulls. The result is a keyboard that feels remarkably smooth to type on, indeed when you slam on your keys like I do. It feels like you can glide across the keyboard without any regard for how hard you’re pressing.
There are many other effects the Keyboard 81 Pro inherits from the Q1 Pro. It supports Windows and Mac with keycaps for each and a toggle on the reverse of the keyboard, and it supports wired or Bluetooth modes with over three biases. It also is completely hot-swappable, so you can change out the crucial switches, and it comes with a south-facing PCB, allowing the customizable RGB lighting to shine through. And don’t worry, you can still reassign RGB and remap keys through QMK and VIA, just like you can with the Keychron board.
So, what in the world did OnePlus do? For starters, there’s the branding. Sure, the Keyboard 81 Pro has many unique keycaps, but it also has a lustrous aluminum plate over many keys on the right side, along with a transparent volume clump that’s domed in the center, making it easier to press. There’s also the unique hinge design, which is a single malleable bar around the reverse of the keyboard. It doesn’t really change the functionality outside of giving you more options for your typing angle, but it surely looks cool.
But there’s more. First is the Marble- mallow material OnePlus used for the keycaps. I’m not sure what material or process these keycaps use, actually, but they feel fantastic. True to OnePlus ’ claims, they feel soft to type on. I know that sounds strange given that you’re slamming on a piece of plastic, but there’s a commodity about the keycaps combined with the double gasket that makes the Keyboard 81 Pro feel light.
The crucial switches are also different. You have two options, either the tactile Winter Bonfire or the direct Summer Breeze switches. I tested the Summer Breeze interpretation, but the difference between tactile versus direct isn’t what’s intriguing then. It’s that the crucial switches have a tactile “ bump ” point of 0.5 mm. You can slightly tap the keys and they will still register an input.
These changes may not feel like much, but they surely enhance the formerly solid foundation of the Keychron Q1 Pro. Of course, you could just buy a Q1 Pro — it’s immolation utmost of what the Keyboard 81 Pro does, short of the design, switches, and keycaps. But OnePlus isn’t charging much of a decoration.
The Q1 Pro is$ 200 completely assembled, but you could fluently spend$ 300 if you buy barebones tackle with keycaps and switches. The Keyboard 81 Pro is$ 220 for the Winter Bonfire interpretation with PBT keycaps and$ 240 for the Summer Breeze interpretation with Marble- mallow keycaps. That’s not a huge decoration considering this is a tricked-out interpretation of the Q1 Pro.
I clearly don’t mind the decoration. The typing experience on the Keyboard 81 Pro is superb, and I actually like it a bit further than my custom-erected Noble GMMK Pro. It’s indeed better than the Asus ROG Azoth, and that keyboard retails for$ 250. And on the Azoth note, don’t write the Keyboard 81 Pro off for gaming. It’s a Keychron board, and it comes with OnePlus branding, but I was gaming on the Keyboard 81 Pro for two weeks without any issues, from Diablo IV to Fortune 2 to Dave the Diver( I suppose I need further alphabetic variety in my Steam library).
I knew how important I liked the Keyboard 81 Pro many twinkles after using it, and it has held up to that lofty anticipation for weeks. I anticipated it to arrive at$ 300 or further given the typing experience, however. Now that I know the price of$ 200, it’s easy to recommend, anyhow if you need a high-end keyboard for typing, gaming, or both.