Drop SHIFT Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Mar 16, 2021 at 09:50 am
Drop SHIFT Picture
8.2
Gaming
3.2
Mobile/Tablet
8.2
Office
7.9
Programming
4.5
Entertainment / HTPC
Connectivity Wired
Size
Compact (96%)
Mechanical
Yes

The Drop SHIFT is a fairly versatile keyboard that delivers great features in a slightly compact size. It's remarkably well-built with an aluminum body and doubleshot PBT keycaps, and it should be a very good addition to any gaming or office setup. It has full RGB backlighting and offers some extra features, like hotkeys for media control and a USB passthrough. It also has excellent latency, which is great for fast gaming. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any dedicated software, so the only way to really customize it is by coding your own firmware or using Drop's keyboard configurator offered on their website. On the plus side, it provides an outstanding typing experience, and it's available with many different types of switches, which are hot-swappable so you can easily pull them out and replace them.

Our Verdict

8.2 Gaming

The Drop SHIFT is a great keyboard for gaming. It has amazing latency for fast movements, and the Cherry MX Brown switches on our unit have a short pre-travel, though some other models have a much shorter one. This keyboard is remarkably well-built and has full RGB backlighting. However, it doesn't have any dedicated software, and the customization options aren't very user-friendly.

Pros
  • Short pre-travel and amazing latency.
  • Feels remarkably well-built and solid.
  • Full RGB backlighting.
Cons
  • Lacks a wrist rest.
  • Doesn't have any dedicated software.
  • Customization options aren't user-friendly.
3.2 Mobile/Tablet

The Drop SHIFT is a wired keyboard that isn't recommended for use with mobile devices.

8.2 Office

The Drop SHIFT is great for office use. This slightly compact model has remarkable build quality with stable keys that feel good to type on. The Cherry MX Brown switches on our unit offer nice tactile feedback, while also feeling light and responsive. They're also quiet enough to use in a noise-sensitive environment. However, typing could cause fatigue over time, as this keyboard lacks a wrist rest and has a rather tall profile.

Pros
  • Feels remarkably well-built and solid.
  • Remarkable typing quality.
  • Typing noise is quiet.
Cons
  • Lacks a wrist rest.
7.9 Programming

The Drop SHIFT is a very good choice for programmers. It feels remarkably well-built and offers an outstanding typing experience. The Cherry MX Brown switches on our unit give good tactile feedback and feel light to type on, but it's also available in a variety of other switches if you prefer. Unfortunately, it lacks a wrist rest for better comfort, and it doesn't have any dedicated software, so customizing it can be a bit more complicated.

Pros
  • Feels remarkably well-built and solid.
  • Full RGB backlighting.
  • Remarkable typing quality.
Cons
  • Lacks a wrist rest.
  • Customization options aren't user-friendly.
  • No dedicated macro keys.
4.5 Entertainment / HTPC

The Drop SHIFT is a bad choice to use with a home theater PC. It's wired-only, meaning you need to run the cable from the couch to your PC, which isn't ideal. It also lacks a trackpad, so you need a mouse to navigate the user interface. On the plus side, it has full RGB backlighting to use in the dark.

Pros
  • Full RGB backlighting.
Cons
  • Wired-only.
  • No trackpad.
  • Not as compact as other models.
  • 8.2 Gaming
  • 3.2 Mobile/Tablet
  • 8.2 Office
  • 7.9 Programming
  • 4.5 Entertainment / HTPC

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Height
1.3" (3.2 cm)
Width 15.2" (38.7 cm)
Depth
5.5" (14.0 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
2.43 lbs (1.100 kg)

The Drop SHIFT is a compact full-sized keyboard, meaning it has the same number of keys as a normal-sized model, but in a slightly more compact layout. It still has a numpad, dedicated arrows, and keys like Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock, but everything is much closer together. This allows to free up some desk space, as this keyboard is quite a bit shorter and narrower than regular full-sized options.

9.0
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material PBT

The Drop SHIFT feels remarkably well-built and solid. Its body is fully made of aluminum with no signs of flex whatsoever, and the keycaps are doubleshot PBT with a nice textured finish. Most keys feel very stable, with no wobble or rattle. However, the spacebar on our unit makes an echoey sound when pressed down. Also, while the magnetic feet are very grippy, they don't fit quite perfectly into the slots at the bottom, making them just slightly less stable overall. On the plus side, they aren't collapsible so you don't have to worry if you push down on the board while typing.

7.0
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
-4 °
Medium Incline
0 °
Maximum Incline
4 °
Wrist Rest No

The Drop SHIFT has decent ergonomics. The magnetic feet can be used to create a positive or a negative incline, depending on where you attached them. Since the keyboard has a fairly tall profile and lacks a wrist rest, it may not be the most comfortable to use for hours on end.

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

The Drop SHIFT has full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys. There's also an RGB strip that goes all around its body, which adds a nice touch to it. White backlighting looks good overall, though it tends to have a slight tone of magenta and you can see the reflection of the blue light on the keys. You can cycle through many different color presets with the function keys, or you can customize it through Drop's website and then flash your chosen settings onto the keyboard. However, this method of customization isn't user-friendly, and the website isn't considered dedicated software.

Design
Cable & Connector
Detachable
Yes (Wired Only Keyboard)
Length 4.8 ft (1.5 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
USB type-C

The included USB-A-to-C cable can be detached in case you need to replace it. There's a USB-C port on both sides of the Drop SHIFT, 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
Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Hot Keys
Macro Programmable Keys
No
Trackpad / Trackball No
Wheel No
USB Passthrough
Yes
Numpad Yes
Windows Key Lock
No
Lock Indicator Caps, Scroll & Num lock

The Drop SHIFT offers a few extra features. By default, there're RGB controls built into the function keys, as well as hotkeys for media control. There's also a USB-C port on each side of the keyboard and one can be used as a USB passthrough to transfer data or charge devices at USB 2.0 speeds. Unfortunately, there isn't any Windows key lock to prevent you from accidentally minimizing your game while playing. Also, while every key is theoretically programmable, you can only do so by customizing your own firmware and then flashing it to the board using the QMK open source flashing tool. However, this method of customization isn't user-friendly.

Design
In The Box

  • Drop SHIFT 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
54 gf
Actuation Force
46 gf
Pre-Travel
2.2 mm
Total Travel
4.1 mm

The Cherry MX Brown switches on our unit provide good tactile feedback and feel light to type on. They also have a short pre-travel distance that makes them feel responsive. If you prefer other types of switches, the Drop SHIFT is also available with a variety of Cherry MX, Kaihua, or Halo switches, so you can choose according to your own preferences. The switches are hot-swappable, meaning you can easily pull them out and replace them.

9.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

The Drop SHIFT's typing quality is remarkable. The doubleshot PBT keycaps have a good feel to them and a nice textured surface that isn't prone to finger shine. Also, the keys are fairly stable and the Cherry MX Brown switches on our unit offer nice tactile feedback, while also being light to press. Even if the board is slightly more compact than a full-sized model, the layout of its keys still feels pretty standard and shouldn't require any time to get used to. That said, it could cause some fatigue over time, as it lacks a wrist rest and has a rather tall profile. Also, while the spacebar feels fine overall, it has a slight rattle and emits an odd sound when pressed down.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Quiet

Typing noise is quiet on this keyboard and shouldn't bother people around you, even if you're in a noise-sensitive environment.

8.8
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
6.2 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
N/A

The Drop SHIFT has amazing latency, and most people shouldn't notice any delay when gaming.

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 SHIFT doesn't have any dedicated software for customization. However, you can add your own custom firmware using the QMK toolbox, or you can use the compiler offered on Drop's website. Both options have to be flashed onto the keyboard to save your changes. As for macro-programming, you have to be able to code your own custom firmware using QMK. Otherwise, there are many different pre-set functions available on Drop's website. Your firmware can have up to 16 layers programmed, meaning you can create distinct keyboard layouts to match different activities you do frequently. For example, you could have different layers for gaming and programming.

7.6
Software and Operating System
Keyboard Compatibility
Windows Full
macOS Partial
Linux Full
Android No
iOS No
iPadOS No

The Drop SHIFT keyboard is fully compatible with Windows and Linux, but the Scroll Lock and the Stop Track keys don't work on macOS.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the Drop SHIFT mechanical keyboard in Space Gray with Cherry MX Brown switches. It's also available with clicky Cherry MX Blue, linear Kaihua Speed Silver, clicky Kaihua Box White, tactile Halo Clear, and tactile Halo True. You can also choose to 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 preferences the best. Aside from typing experience, we expect our results to be valid for the other variants. You can see our unit's label here.

Compared To Other Keyboards

The Drop SHIFT feels remarkably well-built and offers an outstanding typing experience compared to many other keyboards we've tested. It has the same number of keys as a full-sized keyboard but comes in a more compact size, which is great if you want to save some space on your desk. Also, it features hot-swappable switches, meaning you can easily pull them out and replace them, which is great. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any dedicated software and the customization options aren't user-friendly and can get fairly complicated. For more options, check out our recommendations for the best keyboards, the best mechanical keyboards, and the best RGB keyboards.

Drop ALT

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 very 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.

Obinslab Anne Pro 2

The Obinslab Anne Pro 2 is a better gaming keyboard than the Drop SHIFT, and it's also more versatile overall. The Obinslab is a compact 60% keyboard that can be used wired or wirelessly. It's available in an even wider variety of switches than the Drop keyboard, and the Gateron Brown switches on our unit provide a better typing experience overall. It also has better latency, and it comes with the ObinsKit software for easy customization. On the other hand, the Drop is somewhat bigger and has all the same keys as a full-sized model. So it could be a better choice if you prefer having dedicated arrow keys or a Numpad.

Ducky One 2 SF

The Ducky One 2 SF and the Drop SHIFT perform somewhat similarly but have different designs. The Ducky is smaller and doesn't have a Numpad, while the Drop is similar to a full-sized model but with a slightly more compact layout. Both options are great for gaming and are also versatile enough for office work or programming. The Ducky is available with different Cherry MX switches, and all of its keys are programmable, though you have to record macros directly on the keyboard. On the other hand, the Drop is available with Cherry MX, Halo, or Kaihua switches, and it has a much better latency, which is great for fast gaming.

Ducky One 2 Mini V1

The Drop SHIFT and the Ducky One 2 Mini V1 are two great options for gaming but with different designs. The Ducky is a very compact 60% keyboard that doesn't take much space, but that could feel a bit limiting as it doesn't have dedicated arrow keys. Just like the Drop, it's available in a wide variety of mechanical switches and offers an outstanding typing experience overall. The Drop is slightly bigger, but it has all the same keys as a full-sized model and feels more solid. It also has much better latency, so it should give you a more responsive gaming experience.

Keychron K3

The Drop SHIFT and the Keychron K3 are two great gaming keyboards, though they're fairly different. The Drop is a wired-only model that has all the same keys as a full-sized keyboard but in a slightly more compact layout. It feels a lot more solid and durable, and it offers a much better typing experience. It also has better latency, so it should feel more responsive for fast gaming. On the other hand, the Keychron has a 75% compact layout with function and arrow keys but no Numpad. You can use it wired or wirelessly, which makes it a lot more versatile for other types of uses.

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