Up your game with a new Keychron Q3 custom mechanical keyboard | Cult of Mac

Up your game with a new Keychron Q3 custom mechanical keyboard

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Keychron's tenkyeless Q3 follows the popular Q1 and Q2 custom keebs.
Keychron's tenkyeless Q3 follows the popular Q1 and Q2 custom keebs releases.
Photo: Keychron

Keychron launched its Q3 80% tenkeyless (TKL) full metal custom mechanical keyboard on Tuesday. Following sold-out initial runs of its Q1 and Q2 customizable keebs, the Q3 is a full aluminum mechanical keyboard with gasket mount design. It features hot-swappable switches, a high-grade aluminum case, QMK/VIA mapping support and more, the company said.

Keychron Q3 80% TKL full metal custom mechanical keyboard

Founded in 2017, Keychron makes a range of 15 popular wireless mechanical keyboards for Mac, Windows and Android. It added its Q line of customizable boards to its K line of boards with the release of the Q1, featuring a 75% layout, in September 2021. The sleek, 65% Q2 followed at the start of the new year. And the company recently added a wired optical mouse to its lineup, as well.

The new Q3 80% TKL full metal custom keyboard doesn’t skimp on the essentials, Keychron said. That makes it a suitable tool for gamers and programmers.

“Gamers and programmers love the familiar and classic TKL layout because skipping the number pad allows for wider mouse movement and faster access to required keys. These user types also have deeply ingrained habits that would be disrupted should they move away from this layout,” said Paul Tan, COO of Keychron. “The trick is, full metal TKL is typically expensive, barebone and has lackluster switches and keycaps.”

“Users can customize every part of the Q3 to create their ultimate typing experience. In case of fully-assembled keyboards, users can still reap the benefits of a beautifully designed CNC aluminum bodied keyboard in either a knob or knobless version,” Tan added.

Keychron said the Q3 uses a new microcontroller unit (MCU), an ARM-based chip with ultra-low-power and 128KB of flash storage.

The keyboard has a polling rate of 1,000Hz (rare for the QMK and VIA) for responsive key presses. The company said the responsiveness makes the keyboard good for competitive player vs. player gamers, when milliseconds matter during gameplay. The Q3’s main benefit for programmers, Keychron added, is that they can customize every key and make shortcuts.

Can you picture this on your desk?
Can you picture this on your desk?
Photo: Keychron

Technical challenges, Mac layout

Keychron mentioned it faced some technical challenges with the Q3.

“The biggest technical challenge we faced when designing the Q3 was how to create the full metal keyboard, while providing the comfortable typing experience,” said Tan. “It’s difficult to adjust keyboards for comfort in mass production and there are long lead times to bring them to life. With patience, we overcame this challenge and the result is very high-quality requests for the entire Q series of keyboards, which is why they’re so comfortable to type on.”

The Q3’s Mac layout retains the same multimedia and function keys as the Apple keyboard, while still being compatible with Windows devices with a reliable USB-C cable, Keychron said.

Other features of the Q3 include screw-in stabilizers, south-facing RGB lighting, an ANSI/ISO layout and hot-swappable switches. You can order the keyboard in black, gray or blue color schemes.

In addition, Keychron said “users can experience the next level of key sounds and comfort with a gasket mount design. It provides a gentle resonance and elastic fingertip feel.”

If you’d like hear how the clicker-clacking sounds on different versions of the Q3, have a look and listen to the video below. It demonstrates the Gateron G Pro red, brown and blue switches’ sounds.

Price: barebone version, $154; fully assembled version, $174

Where to buy: Keychron