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Keychron S Series Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.2
Reviewed Jan 26, 2023 at 11:47 am
Latest change: Retest Jun 20, 2023 at 03:31 pm
Keychron S Series Picture
8.8
Gaming
2.2
Mobile/Tablet
7.7
Office
7.6
Programming
2.3
Entertainment / HTPC

The Keychron S Series is a lineup of low-profile mechanical keyboards manufactured by Keychron. This series combines elements from existing Keychron series, including a low-profile design found on Keychron K Series keyboards, LSA profile (low-profile, spherical-angled) keycaps introduced on certain Keychron K Pro Series keyboards, and the high-end build quality that defines Keychron Q Series boards. Unique to this series is a slim, all-metal construction that features an aluminum body and steel plate.

We tested the Keychron S1, a wired-only, compact (75%) mechanical keyboard, and the first release within the Keychron S Series. It's available in several configurations. You can choose to have white or full RGB backlighting, a hot-swappable PCB, and stock Red, Brown, or Blue Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches.

Our Verdict

8.8 Gaming

Although not specifically for this use, the Keychron S Series are superb keyboards for gaming. They have remarkable build quality, full RGB backlighting, and low-profile switches with very short pre-travel that provide responsive-feeling gameplay. These keyboards also have decent ergonomics, as the low-profile construction makes them comfortable to use without a wrist rest. Their latency is excellent for nearly all gaming genres, though it's best to have somewhat lower latency if you're a competitive gamer.

Pros
  • Remarkable build quality.
  • Excellent latency.
  • Low-profile design is comfortable without wrist rest.
  • Individual-key backlighting.
Cons
  • Hot-swappable variant only compatible with other Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches.
2.2 Mobile/Tablet

The Keychron S Series are wired-only keyboards that are largely inadequate for tablets or mobile devices. These keyboards include a USB-C to USB-C cable, meaning you can connect them to mobile devices with a USB-C port. However, some function keys don't work, and the keyboards are prone to drain batteries at an increased rate, especially with backlighting on.

7.7 Office

The Keychron S Series are impressive keyboards for office use. They feel very sturdy and provide excellent typing quality. These keyboards are compatible with all major operating systems and have robust software for customization. The ergonomics are also decent, as the low-profile design is comfortable to type on without a wrist rest. You can purchase this keyboard with stock Gateron Low Profile Red, Brown, or Blue switches to suit your preferences, and there are hot-swappable configurations available if you want the option to swap out stock switches for other Geteron Low Profile mechanical switches without soldering.

Pros
  • Remarkable build quality.
  • Low-profile design is comfortable without wrist rest.
Cons
  • Hot-swappable variant only compatible with other Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches.
7.6 Programming

The Keychron S Series are impressive keyboards for programming. The keyboards feel extremely sturdy and offer excellent typing quality with your choice of stock Gateron Low Profile Red, Brown, or Blue switches. The ergonomics are decent, and the low-profile design is comfortable to type on without a wrist rest. You can also purchase this keyboard with either white or full RGB backlighting, and although the keycaps don't have shine-through legends, there's a fair amount of illumination, meaning you can see your keys in darker environments. These keyboards are also compatible with VIA customization software across all major platforms, so you can remap keys, assign macros, and more.

Pros
  • Remarkable build quality.
  • Low-profile design is comfortable without wrist rest.
  • Individual-key backlighting.
Cons
  • Hot-swappable variant only compatible with other Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches.
  • Wired-only.
2.3 Entertainment / HTPC

The Keychron S Series are poor keyboards for entertainment or home theater setups. These keyboards are wired-only and lack dedicated media controls or additional features for on-screen navigation. These keyboards do feel very sturdy and have full RGB backlighting to help you see the keys in a darkened room.

Pros
  • Remarkable build quality.
Cons
  • Wired-only.
  • No dedicated media controls.
  • 8.8 Gaming
  • 2.2 Mobile/Tablet
  • 7.7 Office
  • 7.6 Programming
  • 2.3 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Jun 20, 2023: We've corrected an error in the result of the Switch PCB Socket test in the Hardware Customizability section of this review. The result has been changed from 3-pin Cherry to Non-Cherry Pinout since the PCB sockets aren't in the same position as they are to accommodate standard Cherry-style switches.
  2. Updated Jun 15, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.2. This update introduces new Backlight Features and Backlight Clarity test boxes. We've also added a new Switches test box, added additional test comparisons to our Hardware Customizability test box that we introduced with our last Test Bench. For an in-depth look at our changes, you can see our full changelog here.
  3. Updated Mar 22, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.1. This update adds several new tests addressing Hardware Customization, Macro Keys And Programming, and Wireless Mobile Compatibility. We've also added new objective evaluations to the Typing Noise test, and we've simplified several tests and removed several others that were no longer relevant. For an in-depth look at all our changes, you can see our full changelog here.
  4. Updated Feb 13, 2023: We've added a link to the newly-reviewed Corsair K100 AIR in the Latency section of this review.
  5. Updated Jan 26, 2023: Review published.
  6. Updated Jan 20, 2023: Early access published.
  7. Updated Jan 18, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  8. Updated Jan 11, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  9. Updated Jan 05, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Keychron S Series is currently made up of one model, which is available in different configurations. We expect additional variants to be released in the future, at which point we will include them in this section. We purchased the Keychron S1 with RGB backlighting, a hot-swappable PCB, and Low Profile Gateron Brown mechanical switches. You can see the label for the unit we bought and tested here.

Name Size Backlighting Switch Type Switch Options Hot-Swappable
S1 Compact (75%) White only, Full RGB Low Profile Gateron Mechanical Red, Brown, Blue Yes, No

Compared To Other Keyboards

Keychron's S Series Keyboards are low-profile mechanical keyboards with an aluminum body and steel plate under the switches. Compared to other Keychron keyboards, the keyboards in this series are less readily customizable but with similarly high-end build quality of the Keychron Q-series. This keyboard is a compelling option if you're interested in a low-profile model with a comparably high-quality typing experience and price point as other premium Keychron Series keyboards or popular prebuilt custom keyboards from other manufacturers like the GLORIOUS GMMK PRO and the Ducky One 3.

If you're interested in more options, check out the best mechanical keyboards and the best keyboards for typing. Or, if you're curious about other Keychron models, check out the best Keychron keyboards.

NuPhy Air75

The NuPhy Air75 and the Keychron S Series are both low-profile mechanical keyboards with hot-swappable PCBs compatible with Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches. These two keyboards are very similar but have a couple of standout differences. The NuPhy is a wireless model and can pair with up to three devices simultaneously via Bluetooth. Also, the body of the keyboard is made of metal on top and plastic on the bottom. On the other hand, the Keychron S Series keyboards are wired only, and their bodies are made entirely of aluminum.

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

The Keychron K8 Pro [K2 Pro, K3 Pro, K4 Pro, etc.] and the Keychron S Series are mechanical, hot-swappable keyboards available in a range of sizes and configurations. The K Pro series keyboards include high-profile and low-profile options and are all wireless models with mixed metal and plastic bodies. On the other hand, the S Series are low-profile, wired-only models with all-aluminum bodies.

Corsair K100 AIR

The Corsair K100 AIR and the Keychron S Series keyboards are low-profile mechanical keyboards. The Corsair is a wireless model designed specifically for gaming. It has lower latency and a higher maximum polling rate of 8000Hz. On the other hand, the Keychron S Series keyboards are wired-only models for more general use. They also feature hot-swappable PCBs and are available in stock red, brown, or blue switch types, while the Corsair is only available with a tactile switch type.

Keychron V Series

The Keycrhon S Series and Keychron V Series are lineups of wired, mechanical keyboards. The S Series keyboards have low-profile designs and an aluminum body; on the other hand, the V Series keyboards have a standard high-profile design and a plastic frame. Both keyboards are available with hot-swappable configurations, but the S Series is only compatible with other Gateron Low Profile switches, while the V Series is compatible with a significantly wider range of switch types.

Keychron Q1

The Keychron Q1 and the Keychron S Series are wired mechanical keyboards. The Keychron Q1 is available in a wider range of colorways and is highly customizable. It includes a toolkit for disassembly and has a hot-swappable PCB compatible with a wide range of Cherry OEM switches. On the other hand, the Keychron S Series are low-profile models, and while they also have a hot-swappable configuration available, they're only compatible with Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches.

GLORIOUS GMMK PRO

The GLORIOUS GMMK PRO and the Keychron S Series are wired mechanical keyboards with hot-swappable PCBs. The GLORIOUS is compatible with a much wider range of switch types and has lower latency, making it a better pick for gaming. On the other hand, the Keychrons have a low-profile design and feature robust software for customization. However, their hot-swappable PCBs are only compatible with Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches. It's important to note that the GLORIOUS is only available in a barebones version without pre-installed switches or keycaps, while the Keycrhon is a fully-assembled unit.

Ducky One 3

The Ducky One 3 and the Keychron S Series are wired mechanical keyboards with hot-swappable PCBs. The Ducky has significantly lower latency, making it a better option for gaming. Its hot-swappable PCB is also compatible with a much wider range of switches. On the other hand, the Keychrons are low-profile keyboards that have a robust software option for customization. Their hot-swappable variants are only compatible with other Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Size
Compact (75%)
Height
0.9" (2.3 cm)
Width 12.2" (31.0 cm)
Depth
4.7" (11.9 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
2.05 lbs (0.930 kg)

The Keychron S1 is a compact (75%) keyboard. It takes up considerably less space on your desk than a standard full-size keyboard, and it's fairly easy to carry around, although it's moderately heavy compared to most compact models.

9.0
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material PBT

The Keychron S Series keyboards have remarkable build quality. The body is made of aluminum, and the switches sit on a steel plate. These keyboards feel very sturdy overall and aren't flexible. The keycaps are double-shot PBT plastic and have an LSA (low-profile spherical-angled) profile. They feel nice to type on, and while they have a fairly smooth texture, they aren't slippery. All keys feel stable while typing, and there's no rattling sound from the stabilizers. On the bottom of the board, there are four rubber feet to keep the board in place on your desk.

7.0
Design
Ergonomics
Curved/Angled
No
Split Keyboard
No
Key Alignment
Staggered
Minimum Incline
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
Home Row Height
21.5 mm (0.8")

The Keychron S Series has decent ergonomics. The keyboards include a set of feet you can add to the board to provide one incline setting, and while they don't include a wrist rest, this doesn't contribute to added fatigue because their low profile design is comfortable to use without one.

7.5
Design
Hardware Customizability
Replaceable Cherry Stabilizers
Mixed
Stabilizer Fixation
Plate-Mounted
Spacebar Stabilizer Size
6.25u
Size Of Right Mod Keys
1u
Hot-Swappable Switches
Yes
Switch Stem Shape
Low Profile Cherry MX Style
Switch PCB Socket
Non-Cherry Pinout
North-Facing Cherry MX Interference
No

All keys with stabilizers use Cherry MX-style stabilizers, except for the two Shift keys, which have non-Cherry MX-style stabilizers with two metal bars on either side of the switch that hook into the keycap.

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

These keyboards have full backlighting with individually-lit keys. There are both white backlighting and full RGB backlighting options available. You can customize the lighting and effects with key combinations directly on the keyboard or using VIA customization software.

4.0
Design
Backlight Clarity

The legends on the keys aren't shine-through, but there's enough illumination between the keys to read the legends while you're sitting directly in front of them. Note that the white backlighting on these keyboards has a fairly cold blueish hue, which is typical of other Keychron keyboards.

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 S Series keyboards have a braided USB-C to USB-C cable, and there's a USB-C to USB-A adapter included in the box. Note that the result of the Length test is measured with this adapter attached.

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

The Keychron S1 is a wired-only keyboard. We'll add details within this section if wireless variants in this series are released in the future.

4.0
Design
Macro Keys And Programming
Dedicated Macro Keys Count 0
Onboard Macro Programming
No
Macro Programming With Software
Yes
Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Non-Dedicated
Trackpad / Trackball No
Scroll Wheel
No
Control Knob
No
USB Passthrough
No
Numpad No
Windows Key Lock
No
Lock Indicator Caps Lock

The Keychron S Series keyboards have several extra features. Like other Keychron models, there's a switch on the top left side of the keyboard to toggle between Windows and macOS comparability modes. There are several hotkeys for media control and a dedicated key on the top right corner that allows you to cycle through lighting effects. You can purchase this keyboard with or without a hot-swappable PCB that allows you to add and remove switches without soldering. Note that this keyboard is only compatible with Gateron Low-Profile mechanical switches.

Design
In The Box

  • Keychron S1
  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • USB-C to USB-A adapter
  • 2x incline feet
  • Keycap puller
  • Switch puller
  • 3x Windows keycaps
  • Alternate black-colored Enter and Esc keys
  • User documentation

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Switches
Switch Name
Gateron Low Profile Brown
Switch Type
Mechanical
Feel
Tactile
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Operating Force
55 gf
Actuation Force
50 gf
Pre-Travel
1.7 mm
Total Travel
2.7 mm

The Keychron S Series keyboards are available with Gateron Low Profile linear Red, tactile Brown, or clicky Blue switches. The Gateron Low Profile Brown switches on the Keychron S1 have a somewhat light but satisfying tactile bump that comes almost instantly due to the very short pre-travel distance. For details on the performance of other switches, you can check out the Keychron K1, which is a similar keyboard we tested with Gateron Low Profile Red switches. We haven't tested the Gateron Low Profile Blue switches, but we expect them to have very short pre-travel and a substantial clicky bump before actuation. Specific configurations of these keyboards feature a hot-swappable PCB, allowing you to swap or replace these stock switches without soldering. However, the PCB only supports Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches.

8.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

The Keychron S Series keyboards offer impressive typing quality. The PBT keycaps have an 'LSA' profile (low-profile spherical-angled), meaning they have rounded tops and are angled slightly downwards away from you. These keycaps feel nice to type on and provide good spacing between keys to help you avoid frequent typos. The Gateron Low Profile Brown mechanical switches on the unit we tested have a gradual and satisfying tactile bump and very short pre-travel, making them feel very responsive. We expect the Gateron Low Profile Red switches to be completely smooth and linear without any bump, resulting in a very quick and responsive-feeling, while we expect the Gateron Low Profile Blue switches to feel heavier and have a noticeable bump to overcome before actuation.

7.8
Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Average Loudness
51.2 dBA
High Pitch Clicks
No

These keyboards are quiet to type on with the tactile Gateron Low Profile Brown switches, but the typing noise will be considerably louder with clicky Gateron Low Profile Blue switches installed.

8.6
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
6.6 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
N/A

The Keychron S Series keyboards have excellent latency that's more than fast enough for casual gaming. However, we recommend a keyboard with somewhat lower latency if you're a competitive gamer. For a low-profile keyboard with significantly lower latency suitable for competitive gaming, check out the Corsair K100 AIR.

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+

The Keychron S Series keyboards are compatible with VIA customization software. This software is available on Keychron's website, with versions for Windows, macOS, and Linux. This software allows you to remap keys, set macros, adjust backlighting, and save custom layouts to your hard drive.

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

The Keychron S Series keyboards are fully compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux, but you'll need to ensure the toggle on the keyboard is set to the correct operating system. Set the toggle to 'macOS' for compatibility with Linux. VIA customization software is also compatible with all three major operating systems.

0
Software and Operating System
Wireless Mobile Compatibility
Android
Not Compatible
iOS
Not Compatible
iPadOS
Not Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
Not Compatible

While these keyboards are wired only, they include a USB-C to USB-C cable, which means you can connect them to mobile devices with a corresponding USB-C port. However, these keyboards aren't considered compatible since not all mobile devices have a USB-C port.