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Keychron K4 Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Jun 29, 2020 at 08:02 am
Keychron K4 Picture
7.7
Gaming
7.2
Mobile/Tablet
7.6
Office
7.7
Programming
6.6
Entertainment / HTPC
Connectivity Wireless
Size
Compact (96%)
Mechanical
Yes

The Keychron K4 is an overall decent wireless mechanical keyboard for most uses. It's a keyboard that can be configured with your preferred type of switches. Our unit is fitted with LK Optical Brown switches, which provide a good amount of tactility without producing much noise, making it a good option for use in quiet office settings. It's well-built, it has backlighting, and since it's a Bluetooth keyboard, it can be used with a wide range of devices. You can choose to have a plastic or full aluminum frame, and there's also an option with full RGB backlighting. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any programmable keys, doesn't come with a wrist rest, and there's no customization software. On the bright side, it has a multi-device pairing feature that lets you pair up to three devices at the same time, and it comes with keycaps for Windows and macOS.

Our Verdict

7.7 Gaming

The Keychron K4 is an okay keyboard for gaming. Although we don't test for wireless input lag, the Bluetooth latency may not be suitable for games that require precise timing, so it's best to use it wired when gaming. The LK Optical Brown switches on our unit have a low pre-travel distance, making it feel very responsive, and it doesn't require much force to actuate the keys. Unfortunately, there are no macro programmable keys or dedicated macro keys for MMO games. Also, there's no customization software.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Low operating force.
  • Short pre-travel distance.
Cons
  • No customization software.
  • No programmable keys.
  • No wrist rest.
7.2 Mobile/Tablet

The Keychron K4 is a great keyboard for use with mobile devices. Thanks to its wireless Bluetooth connectivity, it can be used with a wide range of devices. It has a multi-device pairing feature, and it has good compatibility with mobile operating systems. It isn't too heavy, but it may be a bit too big to carry around.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Good compatibility with mobile operating systems.
  • Bluetooth connectivity and multi-device pairing.
Cons
  • No customization software.
  • Size is a little big for portable use.
7.6 Office

The Keychron K4 is a good office keyboard. The LK Optical Brown switches on our unit provide a great typing experience. It's easy to type on, but you might need a wrist rest to avoid getting fatigue. It doesn't generate a lot of typing noise, so you shouldn't have any issues using it in a quiet office environment. It's well-built, and it's fully compatible with Windows and macOS.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Great typing quality.
  • Quiet typing noise.
Cons
  • No customization software.
  • No wrist rest.
7.7 Programming

The Keychron K4 is a decent keyboard for programming. With the LK Optical Brown switches on our unit, this keyboard provides a great typing experience that isn't fatiguing. However, some may find the keyboard's high profile uncomfortable and it doesn't come with a wrist rest. It can be used with any device that's Bluetooth-capable, and it has full compatibility with Windows and macOS. Sadly, none of the keys are programmable.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Great typing quality.
  • Bluetooth connectivity and multi-device pairing.
Cons
  • No programmable keys.
  • No wrist rest.
6.6 Entertainment / HTPC

The Keychron K4 is okay for use with a home theater PC. It has Bluetooth connectivity so that you don't need to have a cable running from the couch to the computer. However, it lacks a trackpad for navigation, which means you'll need a separate mouse.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Bluetooth connectivity and multi-device pairing.
Cons
  • No trackpad.
  • 7.7 Gaming
  • 7.2 Mobile/Tablet
  • 7.6 Office
  • 7.7 Programming
  • 6.6 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Feb 04, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  2. Updated Aug 07, 2020: The switch type has been changed to 'LK Optical Brown'.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Height
1.5" (3.7 cm)
Width 14.6" (37.1 cm)
Depth
4.9" (12.5 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
1.69 lbs (0.765 kg)

The Keychron K4 is relatively compact for a nearly full-size keyboard. It's considered a 96% keyboard since it's lacking the Insert, PrintScreen, Scroll Lock, and Pause/Break keys. If you prefer a compact option, then check out the 75%-sized Keychron K2 or the 60%-sized Keychron K12.

8.0
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material ABS

The Keychron K4 has a great build quality. Our unit of the K4 has a plastic frame; however, you can get one with an aluminum frame if you prefer. The plastic frame feels strong, and the board doesn't exhibit any noticeable flex. That said, it doesn't feel as high quality as the Obinslab Anne Pro 2, for example. The doubleshot ABS keycaps feel slippery and might be prone to cracking. The keys wobble a bit, and the stabilizers rattle. The rubber feet are grippy enough to keep the keyboard from sliding around, and the incline feet feel sturdy. The USB-C cable that comes with the keyboard is braided, and the cable's quality is okay.

6.5
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
0°
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
8°
Wrist Rest No

The Keychron K4 has okay ergonomics. There's only one incline setting, and it doesn't come with a wrist rest. The lack of a wrist rest might cause some fatigue for some people because the keyboard has a fairly high profile. Also, when used without the incline setting, the spacebar feels higher than the rest of the keys.

8.9
Design
Backlighting
Backlighting Yes
Color
White
Individually Backlit Keys
Yes
Color Mixing
White Only
Effects
Yes
Programmable
No

The Keychron K4 has backlighting with individually-lit keys. Our unit has white backlighting only, but you can get the keyboard with full RGB backlighting. There's a button at the top right corner of the keyboard that allows you to cycle through different lighting effects, but there's no way to make custom effects since there's no customization software, and the keyboard doesn't have onboard memory. If you want a keyboard with full RGB backlighting, consider the Keychron K6 or the Keychron K1.

Design
Cable & Connector
Detachable
Yes (Wired Mode and Charge)
Length 3.8 ft (1.2 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
USB type-C

The keyboard is charged via a USB-C cable and can be used wired too. The cable is braided and is on the short side.

10
Design
Wireless Versatility
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Multi-Device Pairing
3
Proprietary Receiver
No
Battery Type
Rechargeable

The Keychron K4 is a wireless Bluetooth keyboard. It has a built-in rechargeable battery and is rated to last up to 72 hours of continuous use, although it isn't something that we test for. The keyboard has multi-device pairing capability, which lets you pair up to three devices at the same time, allowing you to switch between them easily for better multitasking.

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

There aren't many extra features on this keyboard. There are media control hotkeys, as well as buttons to control the backlight's brightness and to cycle through the various lighting effects.

Design
In The Box

  • Keychron K4 keyboard
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • Keycap remover
  • Extra keycaps for Windows users
  • User guide

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Key Switches
LK Optical Brown
Feel
Tactile
Operating Force
58 gf
Actuation Force
57 gf
Pre-Travel
1.9 mm
Total Travel
4.0 mm

Update 08/07/2020: We previously reported the switch type as just 'Optical Brown'. It's, more specifically, the 'LK Optical Brown'. The name has been corrected.

Our unit of the K4 is fitted with the LK Optical Brown switches. These switches provide distinct and satisfying tactile feedback but without any audible clicks. It requires very little force to actuate the keys, and the pre-travel distance is close to the advertised 2mm. Do note that the keyboard can be fitted with your preferred type of switches, and there are seven different types to choose from. The LK Optical switches are available in Blue, Red, and Brown, and the non-optical Gateron switches are available in Blue, Brown, Red, and Yellow. It's worth mentioning that due to the extremely low initiation force (the amount of force required to initiate key movement), it may be bothersome to people who like to rest their hands on the keys, as it can cause unintended keystrokes to be registered.

8.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

Typing on this keyboard with the LK Optical Brown switches feels great. There's a good amount of tactile feedback and the ABS keycaps feel nice to type on, albeit not as good as PBT keycaps. It's a bit odd to type without the incline setting, as it feels like the bottom portion of the keyboard is more elevated than the top. Typing feels light and responsive, but it can cause a bit of fatigue if you use it without a wrist rest. The keys are stable and key spacing is pretty standard, which is good for typing accuracy.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Quiet

The Keychron K4 doesn't generate a lot of typing noise. It's fairly quiet overall and shouldn't be too bothersome in an office environment, but it gets loud if you tend to bottom out the keys.

7.4
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
11.1 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
23.3 ms

The Keychron K4 has decent latency. If you're using it for gaming, it's recommended to use the wired connection.

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

Unfortunately, there's no customization software for the Keychron K4. Some third-party ones are recommended by Keychron, and they provide links to them, but they're not officially supported. As for the backlighting, there's a button at the top right corner of the keyboard that lets you cycle through the various lighting effects. If you want a keyboard with software for customization, check out the Razer BlackWidow Lite.

9.1
Software and Operating System
Keyboard Compatibility
Windows Full
macOS Full
Linux Partial
Android Partial
iOS Partial
iPadOS Partial

The Keychron K4 has outstanding compatibility. It's fully compatible with both Windows and macOS; however, there are a few issues when using the keyboard with Linux and mobile operating systems. Most of these issues have to do with the function keys and the escape key, which either don't work at all or don't perform the appropriate function. Additionally, the entire NumPad doesn't work on Android devices.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the Keychron K4 with white backlighting, plastic frame, and Optical Brown switches. However, Keychron offers many configuration options. You can choose to have white backlighting or full RGB, and the RGB variant has an option with a full aluminum frame. In addition, there are seven different types of switches to choose from. The LK optical switches are available in Brown, Blue, and Red, and the non-optical Gateron switches come in Brown, Blue, Red, and Yellow.

Note that this keyboard isn't available through retailers such as Best Buy or B&H. It's available on Amazon and Newegg; however, Keychron's website offers the most configuration options.

Compared To Other Keyboards

The Keychron K4 is a fairly simple keyboard with decent overall performance. Unfortunately, it lacks features like programmable keys and software support, and its Bluetooth latency may not be suitable for serious gamers. For other options, you can also check out our recommendations for the best gaming keyboards, the best wireless keyboards, and the best mechanical gaming keyboards.

Keychron K2

The Keychron K2 is a 75% version of the Keychron K4. The K2 that we tested has full RGB backlighting, while the K4 has white backlighting, although you can get it with RGB backlighting as well. The K2 is smaller and lighter, so it's a better choice for use with mobile devices. However, the K4 has more switch options because it's available with LK Optical or Gateron switches, whereas the K2 is only available with Gateron switches. The K2 has slightly higher latency, but it shouldn't be noticeable to most people.

Keychron K1

The Keychron K4 is better than the Keychron K1 for most uses, but you should get the K1 if you prefer low profile switches and RGB backlighting. If you prefer having a Numpad, you should go with the K4. Also, the K4 has a much lower latency over both wired and Bluetooth connections, and it doesn't have any function issues with Windows or macOS like we had on the K1.

Keychron K8

The Keychron K4 is essentially a full-size version of the Keychron K8. There are some small differences, though, The K8 feels better built, and it offers two incline settings, whereas the K4 only has one. The K8 uses Gateron switches, but you can also get it with Keychron Optical switches, and it has a hot-swappable version that lets you change the switches without soldering. The K4 is available with various LK Optical or Gateron switches.

Keychron K6

The Keychron K4 is a full-size version of the Keychron K6. There are some small differences, as the K6 feels better built and has lower latency when using it wired. Both keyboards are available with LK Optical or Gateron switches.

Obinslab Anne Pro 2

The Obinslab Anne Pro 2 is a much better keyboard than the Keychron K4. While they're both Bluetooth wireless keyboards with a multi-device pairing feature, the Obinslab can connect to four devices at the same time, whereas the Keychron can connect to three. The Obinslab has software support to customize the backlighting, and all keys are macro-programmable. The Keychron is available with Gateron or LK Optical switches, while the Obinslab is available with Cherry MX and Kailh switches.

Logitech MX Keys

For most uses, the Logitech MX Keys is better than the Keychron K4. Both are wireless keyboards, and both have a multi-device pairing feature for multitasking. Although both feel great to type on, they provide very different typing experiences since the Logitech is a low-profile keyboard with scissor switches, and the Keychron is a mechanical keyboard with a fairly high profile. The Logitech has software support, which the Keychron doesn't have, and it produces less typing noise, which is better for quiet offices.

Glorious GMMK

The Glorious GMMK and the Keychron K4 are two very different keyboards. The Glorious is a wired keyboard, while the Keychron is wireless via Bluetooth and can be paired with up to three different devices. The Glorious has a hot-swap board that allows quick-release of the switches, so it's easier to customize to your needs. The Keychron is available in various switch options, including Gateron and LK Optical switches. It has better latency than the Glorious, but only if you use it wired. The Ducky has macro-programmable keys and software for customization, which the Keychron lacks.

Keychron K12

The Keychron K4 is a 96% size board, while the Keychron K12 is a 60% compact board. The K4 has a Numpad and dedicated navigation keys. It's available with Gateron Red, Brown, Blue, and Yellow switches, as well as LK Optical Brown, Blue, and Red switches. On the other hand, the K12 is very compact and comes with more switch options, including Gateron, Keychron mechanical, and Keychron optical switches. Both boards have hot-swappable variants.

Microsoft Surface Keyboard

The Microsoft Surface Keyboard and the Keychron K4 are very different keyboards. Both are Bluetooth keyboards, but only the K4 has a multi-device pairing feature. The Microsoft uses scissor switches and chiclet-style keys, while the Keychron is a mechanical keyboard that you can customize with the switches of your choice. The LK Optical Brown switches on our K4 provide a better typing experience, but the Microsoft's low profile makes it a bit more comfortable to type on without a wrist rest. The Keychron has backlighting, which the Microsoft doesn't have, and it has a built-in rechargeable battery instead of using disposable batteries.

Vortex Race 3

The Keychron K4 and the Vortex Race 3 are very different keyboards. The Vortex is a wired-only keyboard and can only be used with desktop operating systems, while the Keychron is a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and has a multi-device pairing feature. Both keyboards can be configured with your preferred type of mechanical switches, and neither of them has software support for customization. However, all keys on the Vortex are macro-programmable using a macro recording sequence on the keyboard. Our Vortex unit doesn't have backlighting, but you can get a variant that does. If you plan on using it for gaming, the Vortex has lower latency.

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