The best hot-swappable keyboard in 2024: all the top customizable decks compared

The best hot-swappable keyboards allow for almost infinite control over how every keypress feels and sounds. Not only that, but we're seeing more and more mainstream brands dipping their toes in the hot-swappable space these days, which means additional features like super low latencies and additional macro options are entering the fray. There are more hot-swappable keyboards on the market than ever - and some of the previous top names are dropping their prices to compete as well. Whether you're curious about the flexibility or just looking to liven up your setup with a little extra personalization, there's plenty to choose from right now. 

Hot-swappable keyboards offer something other decks simply can't - the ability to customize and re-customize your typing feel time and time again. These decks come with a PCB plate that allows you to swap the switches under each keycap simply by scooping out the old ones and pushing in the new. That means you can change how your deck generally feels and sounds without having to break it apart. We've put some top names to the test to find the best models right here, based on performance, build quality, and feature sets. 

We're balancing price with features and build quality to highlight the cream of the crop across a range of budgets and needs. Whether you're after one of the best gaming keyboards with a customizable twist, or a comfortable set of keys to use on Windows, Mac, or iPad, there's something for everyone here. 

The quick list

The best hot-swappable keyboard overall

The best hot-swappable keyboard overall

Specifications

Type: Mechanical (hot-swappable)
Connection: Wired / Wireless
Size: 75%
Switches: ROG NX Red linear
Keycaps: PBT doubleshot
Media Keys: Dedicated knob
Wrist Rest: None
USB Passthrough: None

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding typing experience
+
Speedy and responsive
+
Flexible OLED display and control knob
+
Smaller design still offers plenty of functionality

Reasons to avoid

-
Will be difficult to swap keycaps
-
One of the most expensive decks on the market

The Asus ROG Azoth is actually our favorite gaming keyboard overall, but if you don't need the speed of a deck dedicated to play, its lofty price tag isn't going to make much sense. Still, there's no other deck on the market that manages to pair the experience of a high-end custom hot-swappable keyboard with the speed and agility required for a PC gaming setup. 

Buy it if:

✅ You're happy to invest: The Asus ROG Azoth isn't cheap for a gaming keyboard, and it's still pricey by hot-swappable keyboard reckoning as well. However, if you're after a long-term option it's well worth the investment. 

✅ You prefer a snappier typing feel: The ROG NX switches on offer here provide a super snappy response, but still pack a soft landing for speedy repeat presses. 

✅ You need gaming speeds: Not many hot-swappable keyboards pack the flexibility of a custom deck with the speed of a gaming device - you're getting the best of both worlds here. 

Don't buy it if:

❌ You need a full-sized deck: Hot-swappable keyboards are generally smaller but if you do need the extra buttons for gaming or productivity it's worth looking elsewhere. 

❌ You rely on dedicated macro buttons: There are no dedicated programmable inputs here, aside from the media control switch. 

Design: The Asus ROG Azoth blew us away in our testing, offering a gasket mounted design with three layers of foam under the hood for a particularly soft landing and great sound. Aesthetically, the Azoth follows the same two-tone design of many custom decks, with light and gray luxury PBT keycaps across the 75% form factor. Everything under those caps is incredibly well built, feeling stocky and sturdy without any movement across the desk. It's not as solid as Keychron's unit, but it's still a reliable weight. 

Features: The NX switches that come stock in the box (and with pre-lubed stabilizers), offer up a snappy press and speedy debounce, with a super satisfying clack overall. You'll also receive a full switch lubing kit in the box to keep everything in top condition as well. On top of an extraordinary typing experience, you'll find plenty of gaming features that just don't make their way to the vast majority of typists' decks. Each key is programmable via the Armoury Crate software, and you'll also be able to assign presets with space for up to six profiles on the deck itself. A surprisingly detailed OLED display is the cherry on top here, offering system specs and plenty more via a bright screen in the top right corner. 

Performance: The Azoth boasts incredible performance in both everyday typing and gameplay. Those super slick switches feel particularly light and soft under the hands - a speedier feel that won't be for everyone but certainly translates in to long-term comfort and in-game precision. Not only that, but the battery life holds out well to boot. 

Verdict: The Asus ROG Azoth is a powerful piece of kit. A luxury typing feel, super speedy internals, and plenty of extra features make this a must-see for anyone looking to invest in a high end hot-swappable keyboard for both work and play. 

Read more: Asus ROG Azoth review

The best budget hot-swappable keyboard

2. Redragon K530 Draconic

The best budget hot-swappable keyboard

Specifications

Size: 60%
Switches: Red Dragon Brown
Connection: Bluetooth, Wired
Key-caps: PBT
RGB: Per-key
Battery: 3,000mAh
Keys: 61

Reasons to buy

+
Budget price point
+
Full rollover
+
3,000mAh battery

Reasons to avoid

-
Only ships with Redragon switches

The Redragon K530 is a compact 60% hot-swappable keyboard, but there's plenty of value packed into that tiny shell.

Buy it if:

You want to spend as little as possible: This really is as cheap as they come while still being worth picking up. The K530 is often on sale for far less than that $59.99 MSRP as well, which means it's often a steal. 

You're not fussy which switches you get out the box: You won't be able to get Cherry switches straight out the box here, so prepare to do some immediate swaps if you don't get on with Redragon's own clickers. 

You don't need the fastest speeds: This is a slower deck, but it still holds up well for more measured gameplay. Unless you're at competition level, this will do for the cash. 

Don't buy it if:

You want more functionality: The 60% form factor does limit the functionality here, so if you need a function row and don't want to double-map your WASD keys you'll want something with a larger footprint. 

You want a more luxurious typing feel: Those cheaper keycaps are saving you cash but upgrading them and the switches will add to your expenses. 

Design: The K530 looks a lot like any other hot-swappable keyboard you'll find on the market - things are fairly subtle here with either a stock black or white aesthetic to choose from. This is a super minimalist 60% design, which means you're dropping the functionality of extra keys to maintain a super portable form factor and plenty more space for larger mouse swipes. 

Features: You're picking up one of the cheaper options on this list here, but there's still a Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connection (with the ability to switch between three devices) baked in, as well as an impressive 3,000mAh battery. You can pay far more for far less juice right now, so that battery power is well worth taking note of. 

If you're using your Redragon for gaming, it's worth noting the full rollover and the smart double function placements. Because this 60% form factor does away with dedicated arrow keys, the K530 offers dual-function WASD keys. Usually, we find these arrow buttons mapped to the other side of the deck, but doubling up your driver keys does make far more sense in certain games. Not only that, but you're also getting an additional function programming setting, opening up more mapping options. 

Performance: This is a basic typing experience (you've only got Redragon's switches to choose from straight out of the box). However, the chassis plays nicely with faster Cherry options for a nice degree of flexibility and everything holds up well. Cheaper hot-swappable keyboards like this often run the risk of dead ports and finnicky inputs, but we haven't found any concerns in our own research. 

Verdict: You don't find wireless hot-swappable keyboards for under $60 every day, and while the Draconic does drop a few quality of life features to get you there for less this is excellent value. 

The best full size hot-swappable keyboard

The best full size hot-swappable keyboard

Specifications

Size: Full
Switches: Cherry MX
Connection: Wired
Key-caps: ABS
RGB: Per-key
Battery: NA
Keys: 104

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile design
+
Modular num-pad and display dial
+
Premium look and feel

Reasons to avoid

-
Not fast enough for tournament use
-
Cheaper ABS keycaps

The Mountain Everest Max is a turbo-charged gaming keyboard. Not only is it fully hotswappable, but the TKL base unit can also be expanded with a modular number pad and separate display dial. That makes it an incredibly versatile unit, with the gaming chops to match. 

Buy it if:

You have plenty of space on your desk: With all those additional extras installed, the Mountain Everest Max takes up some considerable space on the desk. 

You want a full control panel: With four dedicated macro buttons and a digital control dial to make the most of, there are plenty of additional control options on this deck. 

You play solo games: The Everest Max is fast enough for everyday gaming, even if it won't quite keep up with more competitive endeavors. 

Don't buy it if:

You don't need all the controls: If you're not going to use the macro functionality or the digital dial then there's no point in paying this premium for the full Max model. 

You play competitively: While faster than other hot-swappable keyboards when it comes to gaming, the Mountain Everest Max still can't keep up with more competitive decks. 

Design: An aluminium base plate, magnetic USB-C connections, and comprehensive software makes this an extremely luxurious package under the hand - as one would expect for that $299.99 price point. A minor gripe that we did come across in our testing was those cheaper ABS keycaps though, which felt out of place considering the high MSRP on the tag. That's easily fixed with a replacement set, though. 

Features: The Mountain Everest Max feels like it leans more into its gaming audience than other hot-swappable keyboards do. You're getting a nice response time (though not as fast as more competitive, purpose-built machines), and four dedicated macro buttons (with LED displays) to boot. However, the biggest indication that this kit is designed for a gamer to invest in is that digital display dial. From offering up stats on PC performance and APM to controlling RGB lighting, volume, and setting different profiles, this notched dial is a joy to use and completes the whole experience. 

Performance: The Mountain Everest Max is faster than the Keychron Q2 and, overall, held up better for gaming performance. It's not going to hold up to twitch reflex gameplay, but response times and repeat keypresses generally held up well for solo play across a range of genres. 

Read more: Mountain Everest Max review

The best 60% hot-swappable keyboard

The best 60% hot-swappable keyboard

Specifications

Size: 60%
Switches: Mountain Linear 45 / Tactile 55 / Linear 45 Speed
Connection: Wired
Key-caps: PBT
RGB: Yes
Battery: NA
Keys: 64

Reasons to buy

+
Soft but satisfying switches
+
PBT keycaps replace ABS on previous model
+
Arrow buttons
+
Space for optional modular number pad

Reasons to avoid

-
Drops some key modular features of the Max model
-
No dedicated volume or macro keys
-
Doesn't offer competition-level speeds

The Mountain Everest 60 is the second modular hot-swappable keyboard from the premium brand, following up from the Max model featured further up this guide. 

Buy it if:

You don't want to sacrifice arrow buttons: Need arrow buttons for productivity? Many smaller 60% keyboards omit these extra clickers but you're getting everything you need here. 

You want the option of a number pad: You're not tied to a smaller form factor here, with the optional number pad available whenever you need to connect it. 

You want a high-end typing feel: This is a deck built on luxury typing feel, perfect for those after more of a typing investment than a gaming one. 

Don't buy it if:

You want more dedicated controls: If you're after more of a macro array, you'd be better served by a larger deck like the Max. 

Design: The Mountain Everest 60 manages to squeeze plenty of extra features into a smaller footprint. That means you're benefitting from the shrunken design while also keeping that extra space for wider mouse sweeps. Elsewhere, you'll find a similar brushed black design to the Max model, with bright RGB lighting and a sturdy build quality. 

Features: While you're dropping some of the modular options of the premium version, this is one of the best hot-swappable keyboard for productivity that we've tested. One look at those arrow keys can confirm that. It's the overall form factor that makes the Mountain Everest 60 so well suited to productivity purposes. You're picking up a smaller 60% keyboard here, so leaving plenty of space on your desk, but there's very little sacrifice in the way of functions - compared to more speed focused models. The optional number pad does add a little extra to your setup, but if you're a spreadsheet wizard it's a must-have feature unique to the Everest lineup.

Performance: We found the stock Mountain Linear 45 switches to be supremely comfortable in particular - offering a soft landing but in no way dropping that classic mechanical snap. It was a dream to type on this particular deck, though ripping all those switches out was just as easy as well.

Read more: Mountain Everest 60 review

The best hot-swappable keyboard for gaming

The best hot-swappable keyboard for gaming

Specifications

Size: 75%
Switches: Razer Orange Tactile Mechanical Switch Gen 3
Connection: Wired
Key-caps: Doubleshot ABS
RGB: Yes
Battery: NA
Keys: 81

Reasons to buy

+
Compact but functional form factor
+
Luxury typing feel and sound
+
Comfortable elevation

Reasons to avoid

-
Tactile switches aren't great for faster games
-
Wired connection only

Razer entered the hotswappable keyboard chat in late 2023, but the BlackWidow V4 75% certainly caught up to competitors Asus and Corsair in its efforts to bring custom decks to mainstream gamers. With a solid level of elevation and super comfortable switches out the box this is a must-see for anyone who needs a wrist rest from day one. 

Buy it if:

Comfort is a priority: With a particularly high rear, luxury wrist rest included, and tactile switches this is a particularly comfortable deck. 

You have other Razer kit: Chroma RGB effects are best experienced with other Razer gadgets to hand, so if you've already got a Sneki setup this is a solid pick. 

A wired connection is sufficient: If you don't plan on taking your keyboard out and about with you, you might as well take advantage of the reliability and speed of a wired connection.

Don't buy it if:

You need a portable keyboard: If your deck is coming on the road with you, we'd recommend picking up something with a wireless connection.

You'd prefer faster switches out the box: Razer's Orange switches are super satisfying to type with, but the heavier actuation means faster repeat presses and twitch reflex commands drag a little in more competitive arenas. You can swap the switches, but if you'd prefer to pay for a set of clickers that will work first time around, we'd recommend looking elsewhere. 

Design: The BlackWidow V4 75% follows in the design footsteps of the behemoth Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro, with its wedge shaped form factor and plush textured wrist rest. That additional wrist support isn't to be taken for granted - very few hotswappable keyboards ship with this extra accessory. Plus, the feet risers work in conjunction with the already elevated rear to provide excellent elevation. You'll also find a clean strip of Chroma powered RGB lighting around the main base of the keyboard (though unlike the Pro this doesn't extend around the wrist rest) as well as super crisp LEDs under each keycap as well. Underneath, the 75% is both gasket mounted and tape modded for a super soft sound and feel. 

Features: Aside from that full hot-swappability (and compatibility with both 3-pin and 5-pin switches), the BlackShark V4 75% boasts a feature set that will satisfy both casual and competitive gamers - at least under the hood. 8K polling means this deck can keep up with non-hotswappable alternatives on the battlefield, and that wired connection means there are no latency concerns. The included Orange Tactile mechanical switches are some of Razer's finest work yet, offering a super satisfying tactile experience with robust depth and a solid thunk. While that makes for a particularly comfortable typing feel, though, faster paced games do suffer slightly for them. 

Performance: Everything felt super slick under the hand here, without a hint of the rattle or ping we've come to expect from some Razer decks. These switches were super reliable in solo action adventure style games, even if they did drag a little in faster more competitive affairs. Plus, you're keeping a good wad of navigation keys and a full arrow key array with that 75% form factor so productivity is never affected and there's no need for function overlays. The close quarters design of the actual keys takes a little getting used to, though, unlike the ROG Azoth. 

Verdict: The Razer BlackWidow V4 75% is an excellent hot-swappable keyboard, but it's best employed by those looking to prioritize comfort over portability. The wired design means it's likely staying right on your desk, but if that's no problem the included wrist rest, comfortable elevation and super tactile switches shine through. 

Read more: Razer BlackWidow V4 75% review

The best hot-swappable keyboard for typing

The best hot-swappable keyboard for typing

Specifications

Size: TKL
Switches: Gateron G Pro Red / Blue / Brown
Connection: Wired
Key-caps: PBT (OSA design)
RGB: Yes
Battery: NA
Keys: 67

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent sound dampening
+
Comfortable typing experience
+
CNC aluminium case

Reasons to avoid

-
No function row
-
Not fast enough for gaming

With all the customizations they go through, the best hot-swappable keyboards need to be tough enough to take a beating. The Keychron Q2 isn't just tough, it's an absolute unit. 

Buy it if:

You're building a home setup: The Q2 wants to sit on your desk and stay there. The weight and chunkier build mean you won't be transporting this deck too far. 

You want a solid feel: This is a deck made to feel sturdy, and it does just so. The CNC aluminum chassis and incredible heft means this won't be flying across your desk. 

You don't need super fast speeds: Typists are going to be best served with the Q2, and while it's more than useful for everyday play more competitive players will notice those slower speeds. 

Don't buy it if:

You travel regularly with your kit: Being this heavy, the Q2 isn't best suited to those who need a portable hot-swappable keyboard. 

You play competitively: The speed of this connection just isn't high enough to play competitively.

Design: This is easily one of - if not the - heaviest keyboards to grace our testing desk. Weighing in at an incredible 3.6lbs while only measuring 327 x 121 x 33.8mm. That's a seriously stocky board which certainly won't fare well in a backpack, but will stand strong on your table top. 

There's a reason the Q2 is so reassuringly dense; it's built with solid CNC aluminium, stuffed full of Poron foam, and double gasket mounted to keep everything whisper quiet. We were impressed by just how well the Q2 absorbed any unwanted switch sounds during our testing; it was like typing into a vacuum. Of course, you're still getting that satisfying thud of a heavier linear switch, and the clack of a debounce can still ring out.

The keycaps this hot-swappable keyboard ships with may split opinion. The Keychron-specific 'OSA' design sees a heavy curve to each of these keys. We did find some of the legends to be printed in strange ways, but the color scheme and luxury PBT feel made it a joy to work across this board.

Features: With the ability to open up every nook and cranny, and some premium enthusiast features built into the case, this is certainly one for the tinkerers out there. You're still getting a fully programmable suite of keys, as well as an optional programmable dial for dedicated media controls as well. 

Performance: We wouldn't recommend diving into this board for gameplay; the speed under the hood can't hold up to dedicated devices. However, the sound and feel underneath everyday typing is fantastic. That double gasket mount design works hard to make sure that no matter how hard you slam the keys you're getting a soft landing every time. There's a lighter profile to these keypresses, with a deeper thock on larger keys.

Verdict: The Keychron Q2 is a dense, solid bulldog of a keyboard. Heavy, stocky, and built for tactile stability, this is a hot-swappable keyboard for those after something chunky. 

Read more: Keychron Q2 review

Hot-swappable keyboards: FAQ

Asus ROG Azoth lubing

(Image credit: Future)

What is a hot-swappable keyboard?

A hot-swappable keyboard is simply a mechanical (or sometimes optical) keyboard that does solder its switches to the PCB plate underneath the case. This means you can easily pop the switches themselves in and out, customizing the sound and feel of your keyboard. 

Are gaming keyboards hot-swappable?

The vast majority of gaming keyboards produced by brands like Razer, Corsair, HyperX, and others are not hot-swappable. You'll often have to delve further into the customizable keyboard space to find a model that will let you swap the switches, whereas gaming brands will typically stick to cheaper soldered PCB boards. 

There are, however, a few gaming-oriented hot-swappable keyboards, like the aforementioned Mountain Everest Max.

How to tell if a keyboard is hot-swappable

The most reliable way to find out if a keyboard is hot-swappable is to check the product page on the brand's website. Many keyboards allow you to remove the key cap to see the switch underneath, but pulling at this switch to try and remove it can seriously damage your board if it's not hot-swappable itself. 

What switches should you use in a hot-swappable keyboard?

The best part of picking up a hot-swappable keyboard is experimenting with the massive range of switches on the market to find the best feeling clickers for your fingers. Thankfully, it's a lot easier to narrow your choices considering there are only three main switch types up for grabs; linear, tactile, and clicky. 

Linear switches will move straight down when pressed, without any bumps or sound on the way down. That makes them typically faster for gaming or programming. Tactile switches remove the smoothness of a linear, adding a tactile bump to the press which can make them faster to actuate once you get a feel for the travel distance. Clicky switches, meanwhile, offer the same tactile bump but with a much louder clack noise for extra feedback. 

How we test hot-swappable keyboards

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We test hot-swappable keyboards using all the same checks we would place on dedicated gaming keyboards, running through out of the box switch performance, any macro or media controls, speed and response times, and typing feel. When testing a new keyboard, we'll live with that deck for a considerable period of time, bringing it into our everyday work and gameplay to ensure it holds up beyond just a few hours of use. After that, though, we'll tear these things apart, completely swapping the whole switch set to make sure there's no dead PCB, and to check the ease of pulling and plugging. 

You can find out more about how we test keyboards, or check out how we make all our recommendations in our full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy.


We're also rounding up all the best Razer keyboards and taking a look at the best wireless gaming keyboard on the market right now. Or, for more discounts, take a look at the latest cheap gaming keyboard deals.

Tabitha Baker
Managing Editor - Hardware

Managing Editor of Hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards and mice that come with them), and tracking everything that suggests VR is about to take over our lives.