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Keychron Q5 Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Jul 13, 2022 at 10:41 am
Keychron Q5 Picture
8.5
Gaming
3.2
Mobile/Tablet
7.8
Office
8.1
Programming
5.1
Entertainment / HTPC
Size
Compact (96%)
Connectivity Wired
Mechanical
Yes

The Keychron Q5 is the fifth installment of Keychron's customizable Q-series. It retains the same gasket-mounted design, hot-swappable PCB (printed circuit board), screw-in stabilizers, and specialized, rounded PBT keycaps found on all the other Q-series boards. It also comes with an included toolkit to make customization easy. The key difference is the size, as the Q5 comes in a full-size (96%) form factor with a Numpad and a full row of dedicated function keys.

Our Verdict

8.5 Gaming

Despite not being designed for this use, the Keychron Q5 is an excellent keyboard for gaming. It feels incredibly well-built thanks to the premium materials used in its construction, and using it feels very satisfying. Using the companion software, you can program macros to any key, adjust the RGB backlighting, and remap buttons. As it's a hot-swappable keyboard, you can pop in your favorite gaming switches without having to solder. However, its latency is too high for competitive gaming, and it can get uncomfortable after a while since it has a high profile and doesn't come with a wrist rest.

Pros
  • Incredible build quality.
  • All keys are macro-programmable.
  • Hot-swappable PCB.
  • Full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys.
Cons
  • High-profile design feels uncomfortable without a wrist rest.
  • Latency is too high for competitive gaming.
3.2 Mobile/Tablet

Since the Keychron Q5 is a wired-only keyboard, it isn't suitable for use with mobile devices. However, it connects using a USB-C to USB-C cable, so technically, you can use it with mobile devices with a USB-C port, though this will drain the battery faster.

7.8 Office

The Keychron Q5 is a very good keyboard for office use. It feels incredibly well-built with premium materials and offers an excellent typing experience right out of the box. Thanks to the layers of sound-dampeners inside the board, it's very quiet to type on and well-suited to open office environments. Also, its companion software is available on all major operating systems. Unfortunately, it can get uncomfortable to type on after a while as it has a high profile and doesn't come with a wrist rest.

Pros
  • Incredible build quality.
  • All keys are macro-programmable.
  • Hot-swappable PCB.
  • Full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys.
Cons
  • High-profile design feels uncomfortable without a wrist rest.
  • Wired-only.
8.1 Programming

The Keychron Q5 is a very good keyboard to use for programming. It feels incredibly well-built, thanks to the premium materials used in its construction. Impressively, its software is available on all major operating systems, including Linux. Using the companion software, you can adjust the RGB backlighting, remap keys, and program macros to any key. Unfortunately, as this is a wired-only keyboard, you can only connect it to one device at a time. Also, it has a high profile and doesn't come with a wrist rest, which would improve the comfort.

Pros
  • Incredible build quality.
  • All keys are macro-programmable.
  • Hot-swappable PCB.
  • Full RGB backlighting with individually-lit keys.
Cons
  • High-profile design feels uncomfortable without a wrist rest.
  • Wired-only.
5.1 Entertainment / HTPC

The Keychron Q5 is a poor keyboard to use with a home theater PC setup. Since it's wired-only, you'd have to run a cable across your setup to connect the board to the PC. Plus, it lacks a trackpad for on-screen navigation, so you'll have to use another peripheral. Though there's full RGB backlighting, the key legends aren't shine-through, so you may have difficulty reading them in the dark.

Pros
  • Incredible build quality.
Cons
  • High-profile design feels uncomfortable without a wrist rest.
  • No trackpad for on-screen navigation.
  • Wired-only.
  • 8.5 Gaming
  • 3.2 Mobile/Tablet
  • 7.8 Office
  • 8.1 Programming
  • 5.1 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Sep 02, 2022: Updated the "White Shot" image to better reflect real-life color mixing observations. This result has changed accordingly. Also updated Linux compatibility as this keyboard is fully compatible with this system. The review now shows these changes.
  2. Updated Jul 13, 2022: Review published.
  3. Updated Jul 04, 2022: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Keychron Q5 comes in different configurations, listed in the table below. The barebones versions don't include keycaps or switches, whereas the fully assembled versions come with your choice of switches and colorways. The version with a knob has a rotary knob in the top right corner and includes your choice of keycaps in two different styles, labeled A and B. The A colorway has lighter-colored alphanumeric keys, while the B colorway has darker-colored alphanumeric keys. We bought and tested the fully assembled, knobless version in Navy Blue with Gateron G Pro Brown switches installed. While we normally include a label photo, this unit doesn't have one.

Type ISO Layout Available Color Gateron G Pro Switches
Fully Assembled  No Carbon Black, Silver Grey, Navy Blue (dark keycaps only)  Red, Blue, Brown
Fully Assembled Knob  No Carbon Black, Silver Grey, Navy Blue (light or dark keycaps)  Red, Blue, Brown
Barebone Yes Carbon Black, Silver Grey, Navy Blue (no keycaps) No switches
Barebone Knob Yes Carbon Black, Silver Grey, Navy Blue (no keycaps) No switches

Compared To Other Keyboards

The Keychron Q5 is the fifth entry into Keychron's Q-series of customizable keyboards, but it marks the first keyboard in this lineup to have a full Numpad. Like the rest of the Q-series, this board is designed to be easily customized and altered to your liking. It includes a full set of tools to help you achieve this. It has a hot-swappable PCB, screw-in stabilizers, and plenty of premium parts built into the board, so you don't have to spend too much money upgrading the keyboard. While its latency is decent enough for casual gaming and productivity tasks, it's a bit too high for competitive or fast-paced games.

If you're interested in looking at other options, check out our recommendations for the best keyboards for typing, the best mechanical keyboards, or, if you're looking for another Keychron model, the best Keychron keyboards.

GLORIOUS GMMK 2

The GLORIOUS GMMK 2 and the Keychron Q5 are two full-size (96%) customizable keyboards designed with different uses in mind. The GLORIOUS caters to a more gaming-oriented crowd and has significantly better latency, while the Keychron is better designed as a hobbyist or typist keyboard, so it has a more premium build quality and includes a small toolkit to help you customize the keyboard.

Keychron Q6

The Keychron Q6 and the Keychron Q5 are both customizable keyboards in Keychron's Q-series. They have nearly identical build qualities, features, and appearances. However, they are slightly different sizes. The Q6 is a full-size (100%) keyboard, while the Q5 is a compact (96%) keyboard.

Keychron Q1

The Keychron Q1 and the Keychron Q5 are both customizable keyboards in the Q-series. They have a few main differences as the Q1 was the initial release in the lineup, and the design of the Q-series has changed since the release. The Q5 better reflects these changes, which include rounded PBT keycaps, an additional gasket for better feel and sound absorption, and a regular USB-C to USB-C cable as opposed to the coiled aviator cable included with the Q1. 

Keychron Q3

The Keychron Q3 and the Keychron Q5 are both customizable boards in the Q-series. They're nearly identical in performance, with the biggest difference being the size. The Q3 is a TKL (80%) board, so it lacks a Numpad, while the Q5 is a full-size (96%) board, so it has the Numpad but loses a portion of the navigational cluster.

Ducky One 3

The Ducky One 3 and the Keychron Q5 are wired-only, customizable mechanical keyboards with some notable differences. The Ducky has more of a traditional keyboard design with a plastic frame and two incline settings, while the Keychron has a more premium gasket-mounted design with an aluminum frame and a fixed incline. The Ducky lacks companion software for tweaking any of the settings, while the Keychron's companion software is available on every major PC operating system.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Size
Compact (96%)
Height
1.7" (4.4 cm)
Width 15.4" (39.1 cm)
Depth
5.7" (14.5 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
5.14 lbs (2.330 kg)

The Keychron Q5 is a full-size (96%) keyboard, so it has a Numpad but lacks a portion of the navigational cluster found on full-size (100%) keyboards. For a full-size (100%) version very similar to this keyboard within the same lineup, check out the Keychron Q6.

9.0
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material PBT

The Keychron Q5 has an incredible build quality that's similar to the other keyboards in Keychron's Q-series. The chassis is solid aluminum, while the baseplate is solid steel, so the keyboard exhibits no flex. It's also quite heavy, which helps keep it in place on your work surface, along with the four rounded rubber feet for grip. It has a gasket-mounted design with two layers of sound-dampening foam inside to improve the acoustics and feel. The keycaps are double-shot PBT with a smooth texture that feels nice on the fingertips. They also have a unique profile that tapers to a rounded top, which Keychron calls an "OSA" profile. Additionally, this keyboard is hot-swappable, and you can see a close-up shot of the unit without keycaps here.

6.0
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
5.2°
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
N/A
Wrist Rest No

The Keychron Q5 has mediocre ergonomics. Like the other Q-series boards, it has a high profile with a fixed incline, meaning you have to tilt your wrists upwards to reach the keys, which can cause discomfort over long periods. It doesn't come with a wrist rest to help alleviate some of that discomfort, but Keychron offers them on their website as a separate purchase.

9.6
Design
Backlighting
Backlighting Yes
Color
RGB
Individually Backlit Keys
Yes
Color Mixing
Poor
Effects
Yes
Programmable
Yes

The Keychron Q5 has individually-lit RGB backlighting. The LEDs are south-facing, so they're compatible with Cherry keycaps if you want to replace the stock keycaps. The legends aren't shine-through, but you do get enough illumination while seated in front of the board to read the keys. You can customize the RGB backlighting using the companion software to change the brightness, colors, effects, and effects speed. Unfortunately, the color mixing is poor as the white backlighting has a blue tint to it.

Design
Cable & Connector
Connectivity Wired
Detachable
Yes (Wired Only Keyboard)
Length 5.9 ft (1.8 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
USB type-C

The Keychron Q5 comes with a USB-C to USB-C braided cable and a USB-C to USB-A adapter. The length measurement above includes the length of this USB-A adapter (2.1cm). Though the cable keeps kinks from its packaging, its quality feels good.

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

The Keychron Q5 is a wired-only keyboard.

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

The Keychron Q5 has few extra features. Like other Keychron boards, it has a switch on the top left to toggle between Windows and macOS modes. Like the Keychron Q4, this keyboard also has a Caps Lock indicator which was missing on some earlier Q-series boards. The media keys are hotkeys accessible in the function row. The user documentation also outlines the RGB hotkeys to make on-the-fly adjustments to the lighting effects, colors, and brightness. Also, this keyboard is hot-swappable, meaning you can change the stock switches for any 3-pin or 5-pin switch you want.

Design
In The Box

  • Keychron Q5
  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • USB-C to USB-A adapter
  • 8x foam gaskets
  • 3x Windows-specific keycaps
  • Keycap puller
  • Switch puller
  • Screwdriver
  • Hex key
  • 6x extra screws
  • 2x extra feet
  • 2x adhesive stickers for feet
  • User documentation

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Key Switches
Gateron G Pro Brown
Mechanical
Yes
Feel
Tactile
Operating Force
51 gf
Actuation Force
40 gf
Pre-Travel
2.7 mm
Total Travel
4.0 mm

The pre-assembled version of the Keychron Q5 comes with your choice of Gateron G Pro switches in linear Red, clicky Blue, or tactile Brown. This keyboard is also hot-swappable, meaning you can change the stock switches out for most 3-pin or 5-pin switches without having to solder. The Gateron G Pro Brown switches come pre-lubed, providing a smoother feeling during the keypress. There's a distinct tactile bump, but it doesn't take much force to get over, so typing feels light. These switches also have a long pre-travel distance, which helps to reduce typos.

8.5
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

The Keychron Q5 provides an excellent typing experience. The double-shot PBT keycaps have a nice, smooth texture that feels good on the fingertips. They also have a unique shape, which Keychron calls an OSA profile, meaning they have a similar height to a standard (OEM) keycap, but it tapers off to a rounded top. There's a slight wobble in the modifier keys, but it's not distracting during use. Since this is a full-size board, the keys don't feel too cramped together, and they have a standard layout that doesn't take much getting used to. Inside the board, the tactile Gateron G Pro Brown switches feel light, meaning you won't feel any finger fatigue. However, this keyboard has a high profile and doesn't come with a wrist rest, which would improve the comfort as you're more prone to wrist fatigue during long use sessions.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Very Quiet

With the Gateron G Pro Brown switches, typing on the Keychron Q5 is very quiet. Inside the board, there are two layers of sound-dampening foam to improve the acoustics and keep the typing noise to a minimum. However, the typing noise varies depending on the switches, so if you opt for a clicky Blue switch, it'll be louder.

7.3
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
11.7 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
N/A

The Keychron Q5 has decent latency. It's low enough for casual gaming or daily use but isn't fast enough for competitive genres.

Software and Operating System
9.6
Software and Operating System
Software & Programming
Software Name VIA
Account Required
No
Profiles
6+
Onboard Memory
Yes
Cloud Sync
No
Macro Programming
Software
Ease Of Use
Easy
Software Windows Compatible
Yes
Software macOS Compatible
Yes

The Keychron Q5 uses the VIA companion software and supports QMK firmware. The software and all corresponding files are available for download directly on Keychron's website. Using the software, you can remap keys, set macros, and customize the RGB backlighting. You have four layers of key customization. Layers 0 and 1 are Mac-specific, and layers 2 and 3 are for Windows. To access these layers, you'll need to ensure the OS toggle is set correctly.

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

The Keychron Q5 has very good compatibility. It's fully compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux as long as the toggle on top of the board is set to the correct operating system. For Linux users, the toggle should be set to "Mac Mode" for compatibility. The VIA companion software is available on all three major operating systems.

Although this is a wired-only keyboard, it comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable, so you can technically use it with any mobile device that has a USB-C port. On Android, all keys work as intended. However, as not all mobile devices have a USB-C port, it's considered not compatible.

Discussions