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Drop ALT Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Updated Nov 04, 2021 at 01:56 pm
Drop ALT Picture
8.3
Gaming
4.6
Mobile/Tablet
8.1
Office
7.8
Programming
4.6
Entertainment / HTPC
Connectivity Wired
Size
Compact (65%)
Mechanical
Yes

The Drop ALT is a highly-customizable mechanical keyboard. It's available in several mechanical switches and is hot-swappable, so you can easily change the switches without any soldering. Drop also sells different keycap sets to give it a unique aesthetic. It's well-made with an aluminum frame, and the RGB lighting gets very bright and looks great. Its latency is very good, but it may not be low enough for some gamers. Every key is macro-programmable, but there isn't dedicated software and setting macros through the QMK software on the website isn't user-friendly. It has okay ergonomics, but it doesn't come with a wrist rest, meaning some people may feel fatigued after long periods of use.

Our Verdict

8.3 Gaming

The Drop ALT is an excellent gaming keyboard. It's available in a wide variety of switches, so you can get the ones you prefer. It has full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys, and every key is macro-programmable. It has low latency, though some gamers may prefer it lower. Sadly, there's no dedicated software, so you can't customize the board as easily.

Pros
  • Outstanding RGB lighting.
  • Macro-programmable keys.
  • Available in a variety of switches.
Cons
  • No dedicated software.
4.6 Mobile/Tablet

The Drop ALT is a wired-only keyboard that isn't designed for mobile devices.

8.1 Office

The Drop ALT is very good for office use. The Cherry MX Brown switches on our unit provide good tactile feedback and excellent typing quality. It's well-built, and you can change the position of the feet to create a negative incline. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a wrist rest, and you may feel fatigue typing on it.

Pros
  • Excellent typing quality.
  • Available in a variety of switches.
  • All default keys work on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Cons
  • Lack of wrist rest.
  • High profile of keys may lead to fatigue.
7.8 Programming

The Drop ALT is great for programming. It offers excellent typing quality with the Cherry MX Brown switches on our unit, and you can get it with a variety of switches. It has full RGB lighting and every key is macro-programmable, but without dedicated software, it's a bit difficult to set macros. It has two incline settings, but unfortunately, it doesn't come with a wrist rest.

Pros
  • Outstanding RGB lighting.
  • Macro-programmable keys.
  • Excellent typing quality.
  • All default keys work on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Cons
  • No dedicated software.
  • Lack of wrist rest.
4.6 Entertainment / HTPC

The Drop ALT is bad for a home theater PC setup, but it isn't designed for this use anyway. It's a wired-only board, so you need to plug it in directly to the TV, and it lacks a built-in trackpad. Also, it doesn't have a volume control wheel. On the bright side, it had media hotkeys and RGB lighting to help you see the key legends when in the dark.

Pros
  • Outstanding RGB lighting.
Cons
  • No built-in trackpad.
  • Wired-only.
  • 8.3 Gaming
  • 4.6 Mobile/Tablet
  • 8.1 Office
  • 7.8 Programming
  • 4.6 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Dec 17, 2021: Corrected Macro Programmable Key test result from 'All' to 'No' and added clarification.
  2. Updated Nov 04, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  3. Updated Apr 01, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  4. Updated Sep 24, 2020: Review published.
  5. Updated Aug 18, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Height
1.3" (3.3 cm)
Width 12.7" (32.2 cm)
Depth
4.4" (11.2 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
1.57 lbs (0.711 kg)

The Drop ALT mechanical keyboard is a compact 65% model with dedicated arrow keys. It doesn't take up much space on your desk, and it's about the same size as the Ducky One 2 SF. If you prefer a bigger model with a numpad, check out the Drop SHIFT instead. The board also comes in a TenKeyLess version called the Drop CTRL.

9.0
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material PBT

The Drop ALT has outstanding build quality. It has a really solid aluminum frame that doesn't flex at all. The doubleshot PBT keycaps feel great, but the keys wobble just a bit. The incline feet attach to the board magnetically. There's rubber underneath the feet and, combined with the weight of the aluminum frame, it doesn't slide around easily.

7.0
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
-5°
Medium Incline
Maximum Incline
Wrist Rest No

This keyboard has okay ergonomics. It comes with incline feet that attach magnetically, so you can easily remove them, and they stay in place well while you're using them. You can also flip them around to have it on a negative incline. Sadly, it doesn't come with a wrist rest, which is a bit disappointing considering the higher profile of the keys.

9.5
Design
Backlighting
Backlighting Yes
Color
RGB
Individually Backlit Keys
Yes
Color Mixing
Good
Effects
Yes
Programmable
No

The Drop ALT keyboard has incredible backlighting. It's very bright and looks great even in a well-lit area. There's an RGB strip that goes around the frame, which is a nice touch. You can control the brightness and effects directly with hotkeys, but you need the user manual to learn the full list of hotkeys. You can also customize the RGB lighting through Drop's interface on their website and flash the settings onto your keyboard. However, it's not user-friendly and isn't considered dedicated software.

Design
Cable & Connector
Detachable
Yes (Wired Only Keyboard)
Length 5.0 ft (1.5 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
USB type-C

The included USB-C cable is basic, and the connector wobbles a bit when plugged in. There's a USB-C port on both sides of the keyboard, and you can use either one to connect to your computer.

0
Design
Wireless Versatility
Bluetooth
No
Bluetooth Multi-Device Pairing
No
Proprietary Receiver
No
Battery Type
No Batteries

The Drop ALT keyboard is wired-only, and you can't use it with wireless devices.

Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Hot Keys
Macro Programmable Keys
No
Trackpad / Trackball No
Wheel No
USB Passthrough
Yes
Numpad No
Windows Key Lock
No
Lock Indicator Caps Lock

Update 12/17/2021: We initially listed our Macro Programmable Keys test result to 'All', but this is incorrect. You can't set macros directly from the board, and there's no native software for customizations. While you can reprogram keys by flashing the board with QMK, it isn't native software, so Macro Programmable Keys should say 'No.' We updated the review accordingly.

The Drop ALT keyboard has two USB-C inputs, and you can use either one as a USB passthrough, meaning you can charge your devices at USB 2.0 charging speeds. You can also connect your mouse if it has a USB-C cable ending or if you have an adapter. Unfortunately, there's no dedicated customization software, so you can't easily set macros or reprogram keys. While you can set macros through Drop's QMK firmware on their website, it isn't user-friendly, so it might take some time to learn how to use it. That said, if you want a compact keyboard that has two USB-A ports in addition to two USB-C ports, check out the System76 Launch.

Design
In The Box

  • Drop ALT keyboard
  • USB-C cable
  • Magnetic incline feet
  • Keycap remover
  • Switch remover
  • User manuals

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Key Switches
Cherry MX Brown
Feel
Tactile
Operating Force
51 gf
Actuation Force
44 gf
Pre-Travel
1.9 mm
Total Travel
4.0 mm

The Cherry MX Brown switches on our unit provide good tactile feedback and are fairly light to press since you don't need much force to actuate the key. The pre-travel and total travel distance are in line with Cherry MX's advertised 2mm pre-travel and 4mm travel distance, but these may change per unit due to manufacturing tolerances. It comes in a variety of switches, including clicky and linear ones, meaning you can get the ones you prefer.

8.5
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

It has excellent typing quality. The doubleshot PBT keycaps feel nice, and the Cherry MX Brown switches provide good tactile feedback, but you can get the board in several switches. You may feel fatigued after typing for long periods because of the high profile of the keys and lack of wrist rest.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Quiet

Our unit is quiet and won't disturb others around you. It's louder if you get the clicky Kaihua Box White or Cherry MX Blue switches, like on the Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM XT.

8.0
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
8.1 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
N/A

The Drop ALT keyboard has low latency. It's fine for most gamers and daily tasks, but competitive gamers may notice a delay.

Software and Operating System
0
Software and Operating System
Software & Programming
Software Name No Software
Account Required
No Software
Profiles
No Profile
Onboard Memory
No
Cloud Sync
No
Macro Programming
No
Ease Of Use
No Software
Software Windows Compatible
No
Software macOS Compatible
No

The Drop ALT doesn't have dedicated software. However, there's a QMK firmware available on their website, but we don't count it as dedicated software. Unfortunately, it isn't very user-friendly. It lets you set macros and customize the RGB lighting, but you need to download the profile and flash it onto your keyboard. If you're looking for a keyboard with companion software that allows you to program macros to any key, check out the Dream Machines DreamKey.

8.2
Software and Operating System
Keyboard Compatibility
Windows Full
macOS Full
Linux Full
Android No
iOS No
iPadOS No

The board is fully compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the Drop ALT mechanical keyboard in black with Cherry MX Brown switches. It's also available with Cherry MX Blue, Kaihua Speed Silver, Kaihua Box White, Halo Clear, and Halo True switches. It's sold with a gray frame, and you can purchase just the frame (sold as 'Barebones') and add the switches yourself. Drop sells a variety of keycap style sets, too, so you can get the ones that suit your style the best, but we tested the Slate keycaps from the Skylight Series set. Besides typing experience, we expect our results to be valid for the other variants.

There's also a Drop ALT High Profile mechanical keyboard sold in black or space gray with the same switch options as the Drop ALT we tested. We don't expect our results to be valid for this one.

Compared To Other Keyboards

The Drop ALT is well-built and offers better typing quality than most other mechanical keyboards of its size. However, for its price, it's disappointing that it doesn't come with dedicated software, and there are cheaper options with software, such as the Razer Huntsman Mini.

Also see our recommendations for the best keyboards, the best mechanical keyboards, and the best keyboards for programming.

Drop CTRL

The Drop CTRL and the Drop ALT are similar hot-swappable mechanical keyboards, but the CTRL is TenKeyless, while the ALT is a compact (65%) sized keyboard. The ALT also has lower latency, better RGB color mixing for its backlighting, and it has an additional incline setting. Both keyboards feel very well-built and offer very similar typing experiences with the Cherry MX Brown switches we tested, but they're available in a range of other switch types. Unfortunately, neither has customization software, but you can adjust settings on either keyboard using the QMK firmware tool on Drop's website.

Ducky One 2 SF

The Drop ALT is slightly better than the Ducky One 2 SF. The Drop feels better built, and it's fully compatible with most desktop operating systems. Also, you can position its magnetically attachable feet to give a negative incline. It has a USB passthrough and much lower latency. Both boards are available in several switches, and neither has dedicated software; however, you can still set macros on the Ducky by using a combination of hotkeys.

GLORIOUS GMMK PRO

The Drop ALT and the GLORIOUS GMMK PRO are both compact gaming keyboards. However, the Drop ALT is a 65% compact prebuilt board with a USB passthrough. It's available with many different switch types, and you can also buy it barebones if you prefer to add the switches and keycaps yourself. On the other hand, the GLORIOUS is sold as a barebones board only. It has dedicated navigation keys as the Drop does, but the GLORIOUS also has a programmable rotary knob and a dedicated F-row.

Drop SHIFT

The Drop ALT and the Drop SHIFT are very similar keyboards. However, the ALT is a smaller, compact model without function keys, while the SHIFT is a compact full-sized keyboard with all the standard keys. That said, both options have similar build quality and ergonomics. They are available with the same Cherry MX, Kaihua, or Halo switches, and both offer an excellent typing experience. They also share the same customization options through Drop's website and the QMK toolbox, which aren't very user-friendly.

Razer Huntsman Mini

The Drop ALT and the Razer Huntsman Mini are both compact boards, but the Drop is slightly larger and has dedicated navigation keys, including arrow keys. The Drop has magnetically attachable feet, which you can also position to create a negative incline, and it has a USB passthrough. It's available in a variety of Cherry MX, Kaihua, and Halo switches. On the other hand, the Razer has much lower latency, and it has customization software to set macros, reprogram keys,  and create profiles.

Drop ENTR

The Drop ALT is a better keyboard than the Drop ENTR. The ALT has full RGB lighting, and all of its keys are macro-programmable. Also, the ALT has a higher travel distance and a lower actuation force. Although the ALT has no companion software, all of its settings are customizable via the Drop website, unlike the ENTR.

Dream Machines DreamKey

The Drop ALT and the Dream Machines DreamKey are mechanical gaming keyboards, but they have different features. The Drop is a 65% size compact board that has a better build quality, more incline settings for better ergonomics, and significantly better latency. It also has a USB passthrough feature. The Dream Machines has companion software to customize the board, and every key is macro-programmable. Also, it has a Windows key lock feature, which the Drop lacks.

Ducky Mecha Mini V2

The Ducky Mecha Mini V2 is a 60% compact board, while the Drop ALT is a 65% compact model. The Ducky has better typing quality and a Windows Key lock. Like the Drop, it lacks customization software, but you can set macros and create multiple profiles directly from the board. On the other hand, the Drop is has a USB passthrough and much lower latency. Also, it has magnetically attachable feet, which you can position to give a negative incline.

Obinslab Anne Pro 2

The Obinslab Anne Pro 2 is a 60% wireless gaming keyboard, while the Drop ALT is a compact 65% wired gaming model. You can pair the Obinslab with up to four devices via Bluetooth, but you can also use it wired. Also, its latency is much lower. On the other hand, the Drop has dedicated navigation keys, including arrow keys, and has a USB passthrough. The Drop has magnetically attachable feet, which you can position to give a negative incline.

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