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Keychron K5 Max [K1 Max, K3 Max, etc.] Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Reviewed Jun 07, 2024 at 11:31 am
Keychron K5 Max [K1 Max, K3 Max, etc.] Picture
8.4
Gaming
8.2
Office
7.4
Mobile/Tablet
8.1
Programming
5.8
Entertainment / HTPC
8.5
Raw Performance

The Keychron K5 Max is a full-size model in Keychron's wider K Max series of wireless mechanical keyboards. These keyboards have slim, low-profile designs and aluminum cases. You can connect them wirelessly with their included USB receiver or via Bluetooth with up to three devices simultaneously. They're available in tactile or linear Gateron low-profile mechanical switch options and with white-only or full RGB backlighting. There's also an option for a hot-swappable PCB that allows you to change the switch options without soldering, and like most recent Keychron releases, these models are also compatible with VIA software for customization.

We bought and tested the full-size K5 Max model with Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red switches. For comparisons between other size variants and assembly options in the wider K Max series, see the Differences Between Sizes and Variants section below.

Our Verdict

8.4 Gaming

The Keychron K Max keyboards are great for gaming at a casual or competitive level. They have amazing build quality and offer excellent all-around latency performance over a 2.4GHz connection. These keyboards also have full RGB backlighting that you can adjust along with various other settings using the web-based or downloadable configuration software. Just note that the keycaps aren't easy to read in darker rooms, as the stock keycaps don't have shine-through legends.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Excellent overall latency performance.
  • True 1000Hz polling rate using a wired or 2.4GHz wireless connection.
Cons
  • Stock keycaps don't have shine-through legends so you can't read legends in darker rooms.
8.2 Office

The Keychron K Max keyboards are great office keyboards. They have excellent build quality, and their low-profile design makes them comfortable to type on without a wrist rest. They're also very quiet, and the stabilizers and switches are pre-lubed from the factory and offer an impressive and fairly consistent typing feel overall. You can connect them wirelessly with an included 2.4GHz receiver or via Bluetooth with up to three devices simultaneously. You can also remap keys, change backlighting settings, and create custom profiles using web-based or downloadable configuration software.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Quiet typing noise.
Cons
7.4 Mobile/Tablet

The Keychron K Max keyboards are decent for use with tablets and mobile devices. They have excellent build quality and can connect wirelessly either with a USB receiver or with up to three devices simultaneously via Bluetooth. They also provide an excellent overall typing experience and are comfortable to use without a wrist rest due to their low-profile design. We bought and tested the full-size K5 Max variant in the wider K Max series, but there are several much smaller and more portable models available, including the TKL (80%) Keychron K1 Max and the compact (75%) Keychron K3 Max.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Quite large and bulky, depending on the size variant you buy.
Cons
8.1 Programming

The Keychron K Max keyboards have excellent build quality and connect wirelessly either with their USB receiver or with up to three devices simultaneously via Bluetooth. They also deliver excellent typing quality, and their low-profile design makes them comfortable to use without a wrist rest. We bought and tested the full-size K5 Max, which has a set of dedicated macro keys, but you can also program macros to any key yourself and make other adjustments using the configuration software. These keyboards also have full backlighting. The stock keycaps don't have shine-through legends, so you can't read them in the dark.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Quiet typing noise.
Cons
  • Stock keycaps don't have shine-through legends so you can't read legends in darker rooms.
5.8 Entertainment / HTPC

The Keychron K Max keyboards are generally sub-par for an entertainment or home theater setup. They have impressive build quality and connect wirelessly with a USB receiver or via Bluetooth with up to three devices simultaneously. Unfortunately, there aren't any dedicated media keys, and while these keyboards have full RGB backlighting, the keycaps aren't easy to read in the dark, as the stock keycaps don't have shine-through legends.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Quite large and bulky, depending on the size variant you buy.
Cons
  • Stock keycaps don't have shine-through legends so you can't read legends in darker rooms.
  • No dedicated media keys.
8.5 Raw Performance

The Keychron K Max keyboards provide excellent raw performance, making them well-suited for playing games at a casual or competitive level. They offer outstanding single-key latency and excellent multi-key latency. Using this keyboard wired or connected wirelessly with an included 2.4GHz provides an effective update rate of 1000Hz that isn't bottlenecked by other latency elements.

Pros
  • Excellent overall latency performance.
  • True 1000Hz polling rate using a wired or 2.4GHz wireless connection.
Cons
  • 8.4 Gaming
  • 8.2 Office
  • 7.4 Mobile/Tablet
  • 8.1 Programming
  • 5.8 Entertainment / HTPC
  • 8.5 Raw Performance
  1. Updated Jun 07, 2024: Review published.
  2. Updated May 30, 2024: Early access published.
  3. Updated May 27, 2024: Our testers have started testing this product.
  4. Updated May 13, 2024: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  5. Updated Apr 29, 2024: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Keychron K5 Max [K1 Max, K3 Max, etc.] series are low-profile keyboards available in several assembly configurations with White or full RGB Backlighting and an optional Hot-Swappable PCB. Each model comes with Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical switches.

We bought and tested the full-size (100%) Keychron K5 Max with RGB backlighting and Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red switches. You can see the label for our unit here. We expect our results in the table below to apply broadly to all current size variants in this series.

Name Size Assembly Options Switch Type Switch Options Dedicated Macro Keys
Keychron K1 Max TKL (80%) White Backlight, RGB Backlight, RGB Backlight (Hot-Swappable) Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red, Brown No
Keychron K3 Max Compact (75%) White Backlight, RGB Backlight, RGB Backlight (Hot-Swappable) Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red, Brown No
[nolink:Keychron K5 Max] Full-size (100%) White Backlight, RGB Backlight, RGB Backlight (Hot-Swappable) Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red, Brown 4
Keychron K7 Max Compact (65%) White Backlight, RGB Backlight, RGB Backlight (Hot-Swappable) Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red, Brown No
Keychron K13 Max (80%) + Numpad White Backlight, RGB Backlight, RGB Backlight (Hot-Swappable) Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red, Brown No

Models in the table below have special layouts, which means their case designs differ significantly from those of the unit we bought and tested. While we expect most of our tests will remain broadly applicable, these additional elements may produce differences in build and typing quality.

Name Size Assembly Options Switch Type Switch Options Knob Dedicated Macro Keys
Keychron K11 Max Compact Alice (65%) White Backlight, RGB Backlight, RGB Backlight (Hot-Swappable) Gateron Low Profile Mechanical Red, Brown Yes No

If you have a variant within this series that isn't listed in one of the tables above or feel there are other differences or issues to mention regarding variants in our review, reach out to us in the comments, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Keyboards

The Keychron K5 Max [K1 Max, K3 Max, etc.] are a series of wireless mechanical keyboards with low-profile designs. While related to Keychron's K and K Pro series, this new lineup only features low-profile models, while the K and K Pro lineups have a mix of low-profile and standard-profile models. Apart from this distinction, these new Max series models have several changes, the biggest being the introduction of 2.4GHz connectivity, which provides better raw performance for gaming. They also have additional layers of acoustic foam inside the keyboard.

These keyboards are great, budget-friendly options with flexible wireless connectivity. However, they don't offer the same degree of hardware customizability as some of Keychron's other lineups, like the Keychron V Max or the more premium Keychron Q Max models.

For more options, you can see our recommendations for the best keyboards, the best wireless keyboards, and the best low-profile keyboards. For more options from Keychron, see our picks for the best Keychron keyboards.

NuPhy Air75 V2 [Air60 V2, Air96 V2]

The Keychron K5 Max and the NuPhy Air75 V2 are wireless mechanical keyboards with low-profile designs. Both also belong to wider lineups with other size variants available. The NuPhy keyboards have more switch options available and better overall hardware customizability, while the Keychron offers slightly better overall latency performance.

Keychron V5 Max [V1 Max, V2 Max, etc.]

The Keychron V5 Max and the Keychron K5 Max are wireless mechanical keyboards; both are also part of wider lineups with different size variants available. The V Max keyboards have a taller, standard profile, a plastic chassis, and a gasket mount design that lends a softer, slightly springy typing quality. Additionally, they provide significantly better hardware customizability and come with a toolkit for disassembly. The K Max keyboards, on the other hand, have much slimmer low-profile designs.

Logitech MX Mechanical

The Logitech MX Mechanical and the Keychron K5 Max are wireless mechanical keyboards with low-profile designs. The Logitech has keycaps with shine-through legends, making them much easier to read in darker rooms. On the other hand, the Keychron has significantly better latency performance for gaming and has expanded wireless versatility with an option for 2.4GHz connectivity, which the Logitech lacks. You can also buy the Keychron with a hot-swappable PCB, an option that isn't available for the Logitech.

Keychron K8 Pro [K2 Pro, K3 Pro, K4 Pro, etc.]

The Keychron K5 Max and the Keychron K8 Pro are wireless mechanical keyboard models that are each part of a wider series with other size variants available. The major difference between the keyboards in these two lineups is that the K Max keyboards have expanded wireless versatility with the addition of 2.4GHz receiver connectivity, offering better overall raw performance. The K Max boards also have more layers of internal acoustic material.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Size
Full-size (100%)
Height
0.9" (2.4 cm)
Width 16.5" (42.0 cm)
Depth
4.7" (12.0 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
1.60 lbs (0.727 kg)

These keyboards are available in various sizes, and all models have a low-profile design. We bought and tested the full-size Keychron K5. However, it takes up somewhat less space on a desk than most basic office keyboards which often have more space between key clusters and wider bezels around the outside edge.

There are several smaller models available in the wider lineup, including the TKL (80%) Keychron K1 Max, the compact (75%) Keychron K3 Max, as well as more unique form-factors, including an Alice layout option. For more details, see the Differences Between Sizes and Variants section.

8.5
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material PBT

These keyboards have excellent build quality. The case is made of aluminum and exhibits very little deck flexibility. Inside the case, several layers of dampening foam help soften the overall typing feel and round out the sound profile. The keycaps are also made of high-quality, doubleshot PBT plastic and have a slightly textured finish that doesn't feel slippery.

Four rubber feet on the bottom of the keyboard do a reasonably good job of keeping it from sliding on your desk, provided you don't nudge your keyboard intentionally while typing. However, we observed that the feet on the left side were slightly grippier-feeling than those on the right.

Lastly, the stabilizers do a good job of keeping keystrokes feeling even and mostly consistent with minimal wobbling. The stabilizers and switches are also pre-lubed from the factory and feel very smooth. We noted during testing that the stabilizers on larger keys, including the spacebar, enter, and backspace keys, rattle slightly. However, this isn't very noticeable when typing.

7.0
Design
Ergonomics
Curved/Angled
No
Split Keyboard
No
Key Alignment
Staggered
Minimum Incline
3.3ยฐ
Medium Incline
4.5ยฐ
Maximum Incline
6.6ยฐ
Home Row Height
20.9 mm (0.8")

These keyboards have low-profile designs that make them comfortable to use without a wrist rest, as you don't need to angle your wrists at a steep angle to reach all the keys.

A pair of flip-out feet are on the underside, which provides two additional incline angles.

4.4
Design
Hardware Customizability
Replaceable Cherry Stabilizers
No
Stabilizer Fixation
Plate-Mounted
Spacebar Stabilizer Size
6.25u
Size Of Right Mod Keys
1.25u
Hot-Swappable Switches
No
Switch Stem Shape
Low Profile Cherry MX Style
Switch PCB Socket
Soldered
North-Facing Cherry MX Interference
Yes

The full-size Keychron K5 Max we bought and tested has poor overall hardware customizability, largely because we purchased this keyboard with a non-hot-swappable PCB. Additionally, the stabilizer design is non-standard, as the Caps Lock stabilizer, in particular, has an unusual design that we've designated as non-replaceable.

If you're interested in more hardware customizability, you can buy this keyboard or other keyboards in the wider K Max lineup with hot-swappable PCBs, which allow you to change the switches without needing to solder. Note that Keychron indicates that the hot-swappable PCBs are compatible with Gateron or Keychron Low Profile Mechanical switches but not Gateron or Keychron Low Profile Optical switches.

10
Design
Backlight Features
Backlighting Yes
RGB
Yes
Per-Key Backlighting
Yes
Effects
Yes
Software Controllable
Yes

These keyboards have full RGB backlighting and individually lit keys. You can customize backlighting brightness and effects directly on the keyboard or by using VIA configuration software.

4.0
Design
Backlight Clarity

These keyboards have poor backlighting clarity as the stock keycaps don't have shine-through legends. However, the switches are north-facing in their sockets, so you can replace the stock keycaps with shine-through keycaps to provide better illumination for legends if you prefer. For reference, we replaced several stock keycaps with low profile, shine-through keycaps.

Design
Cable & Connector
Connectivity Wireless
Detachable
Yes (Wired Mode and Charge)
Length 3.9 ft (1.2 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
USB type-C

These keyboards come with a braided USB Type-A to Type-C cable, which retains some kinks from its packaging. There's also an extension adapter for the receiver included in the box, which you can use with the cable to position the receiver as close as possible to your keyboard.

10
Design
Wireless Versatility
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Multi-Device Pairing
3
Proprietary Receiver
Yes
Battery Type
Rechargeable

Keychron advertises that the Keychron K5 Max has a 2000 mAh battery that provides a working time of up to 110 hours with all backlighting off and up to 70 hours with backlighting on (at lowest brightness settings).

Keychron doesn't explicitly state the connection type used to produce these estimates, but we expect they reflect the maximum battery life using a 2.4GHz connection. However, using a 2.4GHz connection provides superior stability and performance at the cost of battery life.

For the best wireless performance with a 2.4GHz connection, you can use the cable as an extender for the wireless receiver by using the included extension adapter.

6.7
Design
Macro Keys And Programming
Dedicated Macro Keys Count 4
Onboard Macro Programming
No
Macro Programming With Software
Yes

While you can't program macros directly on these keyboards using hotkey combinations, you can program macros to any key using the configuration software.

Note that most other models in the K Max lineup lack dedicated macro keys. However, the full-size K5 Max we bought and tested has a set of four dedicated macro keys in the top right corner of the board.

Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Non-Dedicated
Trackpad / Trackball No
Scroll Wheel
No
Control Knob
No
USB Passthrough
No
Numpad Yes
Windows Key Lock
No
Lock Indicator Caps Lock

These keyboards have a set of switches on the keyboard's top edge, one of which toggles between connectivity modes and the other between Windows/Android and Mac/iOS compatibility modes. There's also a Caps Lock indicator LED on the right side of the Esc key that turns blue when enabled.

Many hotkeys, including media hotkeys, are labeled directly on the keycaps. For a full list of supported hotkeys out of the box, you can reference an online version of the user manual from Keychron's website here.

These keyboards also have a physical reset button under the spacebar.

While the full-size model we bought and tested doesn't have a programmable knob, some variants in the wider K Max series do. By default, this knob adjusts volume and toggles mute when pressed.

Design
In The Box

  • USB-A to USB-C charging cable
  • 2.4GHz USB-A receiver
  • Extension adapter for receiver
  • Alternate Windows Keycaps (2x Win keys, 1x Alt, 1x Esc, 1x lock key)
  • Keycap puller
  • User documentation

Note: On Keychron's product page, this keyboard is advertised to also come with a USB-A to USB-C adapter, but this item was not included in our box. Additionally, the manual that came with our keyboard also indicated it should come with a USB-A to USB-C adapter but doesn't list the Extension Adapter for the receiver, which was included in our box. Ultimately, this is a minor mismatch, but it's important to note if your computer or device lacks a USB-A port, you'll need to have your own USB-A to USB-C adapter to use this keyboard's receiver.

Typing Experience
8.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality
Key Spacing
19.0 mm (0.748")

These keyboards offer an impressive typing experience overall. The low-profile design makes them comfortable to use without needing a wrist rest, and several layers of sound-absorbing foam contribute to quieter, more even-sounding typing.

The key spacing is also standard, and the switches and stabilizers are pre-lubed from the factory. The stabilizers generally do a good job of providing smooth and even-feeling keystrokes on larger keys. Unfortunately, they rattle slightly on some keys, including the spacebar, enter, and backspace keys.

9.4
Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Average Loudness
41.3 dBA
High Pitch Clicks
No

These keyboards are extremely quiet with the linear Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red switches. You can also buy this keyboard with the Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Brown switches, which are a tactile option that we expect to be somewhat louder.

Typing Experience
Switches
Switch Name
Gateron Low-Profile MX 2.0 Mechanical Switch Red
Switch Type
Mechanical
Feel
Linear
Analog
No

These keyboards are available with either the linear Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red switches or the tactile Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Brown switches.

Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Operating Force
48 gf
Actuation Force
48 gf
Pre-Travel
1.8 mm
Total Travel
2.9 mm

We bought the Keychron K5 Max with Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Red switches. These switches are linear with a moderate weight and pre-travel distance with a shorter total travel distance due to their low-profile design. While not explicitly advertised, these switches appear to have double-stage springs, so they require a progressive, slightly higher amount of force near the end of travel compared to most linear switches with a single-stage spring. This helps to soften out the feeling of bottoming out too abruptly and provides slightly more active-feeling return travel, as can be seen in the actuation graph above.

You can also buy this keyboard with Gateron Low Profile 2.0 Mechanical Brown switches, which are slightly heavier feeling switches with a tactile bump to overcome before actuation.

Performance
9.1
Performance
Single-Key Latency
Best Connection
2.9 ms
Best Connection Std Dev ยฑ0.5 ms
Wired
2.9 ms
Receiver
4.4 ms
Bluetooth
9.7 ms
PCB (Estimated)
1.5 ms

These keyboards provide remarkably good single-key latency performance, making them well-suited for competitive gaming.

8.6
Performance
Multi-Key Latency
Connection Evaluated Receiver
Key Press
4.5 ms
Key Release
8.7 ms

These keyboards have excellent multi-key latency performance, with very low and reasonably consistent key press and key release results. This makes them a good choice for playing games requiring additional inputs while you're already pressing and holding down multiple keys.

8.2
Performance
Data Transmission
Connection Evaluated Receiver
USB Polling Rate
1,000 Hz
Effective Update Rate
1,000 Hz
N-Key Rollover (NKRO)
Yes
Multiple Keys Per USB Report
No

The Keychron K Max series keyboards support a maximum polling rate of 1000Hz. Data transmission isn't bottlenecked by other latency components when connected wired or wirelessly via their 2.4GHz receivers.

Using a Bluetooth connection limits the maximum polling rate to 125Hz, which is normal and expected.

These keyboards have 6-key rollover (6KRO) enabled by default, but you can toggle full N-key rollover (NKRO) with the Fn+N hotkey.

7.4
Performance
Chord Split
4 Chord Split Delay
6.5 ms
8 Chord Split Delay
17.6 ms

These keyboards deliver decent overall chord split performance for playing rhythm games or other titles that demand many simultaneous inputs.

Software and Operating System
Software and Operating System
Configuration Software
Software Name VIA
Software Windows Compatible
Yes
Software macOS Compatible
Yes
Onboard Memory
Yes
Profiles
6+

These keyboards support QMK firmware and VIA software for configuration. You can download and install the VIA software app for Windows, macOS, or Linux on Keychron's product page here. Before using the software, you must also download a separate .JSON file from the product page. Alternatively, you can use a web-based version on a Chromium-based browser here.

This software has a straightforward layout. It allows you to customize a range of expected settings, including key assignment, backlighting, and macros. You can also save your custom settings as profiles onto your keyboard's onboard memory.

10
Software and Operating System
Computer Compatibility
Windows
Fully Compatible
macOS
Fully Compatible
Linux (Ubuntu 22)
Fully Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
Windows, MacOS & Linux

These keyboards are fully compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux. There's a switch on the top edge that toggles between Windows/Android and Mac/iOS compatibility modes. There's also a set of alternative Windows keycaps included in the box.

10
Software and Operating System
Wireless Mobile Compatibility
Android
Fully Compatible
iOS
Fully Compatible
iPadOS
Fully Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
Android, iPhone & iPad

These keyboards are fully compatible with Android, iOS, and iPadOS. While no software is required, there isn't a compatible software option for configuration. Additionally, some hotkey functions behave differently, depending on what operating system your device is using, which is expected behavior.