Keychron Q1 HE Review: The wireless HE keyboard you've been waiting for

Magnetic switches come to a Keychron classic.

Keychron Q1 HE
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Q1 HE looks, feels, and sounds very good, and it has 2.4GHz wireless connectivity. What more could you want, really?


  • +

    Solid, full-metal build

  • +

    2.4GHz wireless connectivity (1,000 Hz polling rate)

  • +

    HE magnetic switches


  • -

    Hot-swappable but switch options are limited

  • -

    Some larger key rattle

  • -

    Not cheap

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We can't seem to go five feet without tripping over a gaming keyboard featuring magnetic Hall Effect switches these days, so it's no surprise that Keychron has launched its first HE keyboard — the Keychron Q1 HE QMK Wireless Custom keyboard. 

We actually first saw this keyboard back in January at CES, and it officially launched at the end of April after a successful Kickstarter run. While it's not necessarily being marketed as a gaming keyboard, it's got the magnetic switches and 1,000 Hz polling rate (wired and wireless) that might just land it on our list of best gaming keyboards

The Q1 HE is a 75-percent wireless mechanical keyboard featuring Gateron 2.0 double-rail magnetic Nebula switches — linear magnetic Hall Effect switches with an actuation range of 0.5 - 3.8mm and a bottom-out force of 60g. It comes fully assembled in a solid aluminum chassis with a double gasket mounted hot-swappable PCB, double-shot PBT keycaps, and a programmable knob for $219. You can also buy the barebones version — which comes with the knob but no keycaps or switches — for $20 less ($199). It's available now in carbon black (black case with white, black, and red keycaps) and shell white (white case with white, teal, and aqua keycaps).

Design and Construction of the Q1 HE 

The Q1 HE is a 75-percent gasket mount wireless mechanical keyboard with magnetic switches. At $219 fully-built, this keyboard is pricier than you might expect, especially as Keychron has made a name for itself by producing surprisingly well-priced mechanical keyboards. Keychron also makes the Q1 in a standard, non-magnetic-switch version, which costs $179 fully assembled. The 75 percent layout means that the Q1 HE comes with all alphanumeric keys, a full function row, and a handful of navigation keys — by default, the Q1 HE has PgUp, PgDn, and Home under its customizable rotary knob, but the keyboard comes with other navigation key keycaps that you can swap in if you decide to remap. It comes in both black and white colorways, each with a matching metal knob in the upper-right corner and matching keycaps in complementary colors.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Q1 HE features the same full metal chassis as its non-HE counterpart: Its body is made entirely of 6063 aluminum and our unit weighed in at exactly 3.75 pounds (1,700g). It's not the heaviest keyboard we've reviewed, but it's certainly very dense. Its measurements are pretty standard for a 75-percent keyboard: 12.89 x 5.71 x 1.41 inches (327.5 x 145 x 35.8mm), so it will occupy a fairly compact (but hefty) footprint on your desktop. This is similar to the Meletrix Boog75 — another enthusiast-grade gaming keyboard with magnetic switches — which measures 12.74 x 5.74 x 1.37 inches (323.6 x 145.78 x 34.73mm). The Boog75 also has a full metal body made of 6063 aluminum and is heavier at 4.28 pounds (1,941g). (It's not, however, wireless.)

Like most fully metal mechanical keyboards, the Q1 HE has no built-in height adjustment — it sits at a 5.2-degree angle by default and has four small round rubber feet on the back to prevent slippage from overenthusiastic typing or gaming. The front of the keyboard is about 0.89 inches (22.6mm) high — I didn't need a wrist rest, but it's likely some (perhaps most) people will want one. Keychron sells wooden wrist rests sized to fit all of its keyboards on its site; you can pick up the Q1-sized rest for $25, but it's currently out of stock.

The Q1 HE comes with double-shot PBT keycaps with printed legends, in Keychron's OSA keycap profile. The keycaps have a smooth matte finish and feel thick and sturdy. The legends are crisp and clear, and several of the keys also feature secondary legends for things like switching between Bluetooth devices and media controls. There are no dedicated media controls on the Q1 HE aside from the clickable rotary knob, which controls volume/mute by default but is customizable via QMK/VIA. The knob is also metal, with textured sides and notches for precise control.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

In the box, the Q1 HE comes with a bundle of accessories, including extra keycaps for swapping out navigation keys and switching between PC/Mac modes, a dual keycap and switch puller, and a small kit for opening up and customizing the keyboard (screwdriver, hex key, extra gaskets, feet, and screws). It also comes with a 6-foot USB-C to USB-C cable (with a USB-C to USB-A converter on one end), a USB extender, and a small USB-A dongle that you'll need to connect to 2.4GHz wireless. There's nowhere on the keyboard to store the dongle, but as the case is just a solid chunk of aluminum, that's understandable.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
Number of keys81
SwitchesGateron Double-Rail Magnetic Nebula Switch
Onboard StorageYes
Dedicated Media KeysKnob
Game ModeNo
Additional Ports0
Connectivity2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.1, wired (USB-C)
CableUSB-C to USB-A
KeycapsDouble-shot PBT
Construction6063 aluminum top and bottom case
SoftwareQMK / VIA
Dimensions (LxWxH)12.89 x 5.71 x 1.41 inches/ 327.5 x 145 x 35.8mm
Weight3.75lbs / 1700g
MSRP / Price at Time of Review$219 at Keychron/ $219
Release DateApril 18, 2024

Typing and Gaming Experience on the Q1 HE 

The prebuilt Q1 HE comes with Gateron 2.0 Nebula switches, which are linear magnetic switches with a starting force of 40g and a bottom-out force of 60g. This is the only prebuilt switch option, but Keychron also sells two other compatible switches separately — Gateron 2.0 Dawn (linear, 30g starting force, 50g bottom-out) and Gateron 2.0 Aurora (linear, 50g starting force, 70g bottom-out). 

It's worth noting that while the Q1 HE is hot-swappable, it's only compatible with similar magnetic switches — not all magnetic switches (and no non-magnetic switches). The Q1 HE is not compatible with Gateron KS-37B switches (seen in the Meletrix Boog75, which is also hot-swappable but is, similarly, only compatible with select magnetic switches). KS-37B switches have a longer tube that penetrates the PCB, and the Q1 HE's PCB can't accommodate this. Keychron states that the Q1 HE is only compatible with other magnetic switches sold by Keychron. However, while the Gateron 2.0 Nebula/Dawn/Aurora switches are Keychron-exclusives, they look very close to Gateron KS-20U switches. So it's possible the Q1 HE is also compatible with those, but I don't have any KS-20Us on hand to test this theory.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Q1 HE's switches are pre-lubed and have a dual-rail structure designed to reduce stem wobble. This works well; the switches are smooth and stable — there's still some stem wobble but it's not bad. The board features a double gasket mount design that makes for a comfortable typing experience, and the case is lined with sound-dampening foam and an acoustic pad to reduce ping. It's a nice-sounding keyboard out of the box, though there's some noticeable stabilizer rattle (especially in the space bar) and bottoming out sounds slightly dull. The Q1 HE's sound is not too far from that of the Boog75 — but I did have a (mild, but definitive) preference for the latter. 

The Q1 HE comes with double-shot PBT keycaps in Keychron's OSA profile, which is the same height as standard OEM profile keycaps, but with a slightly angled, spherical shape on top that cups your fingers. The keycaps have a smooth, matte finish — a little less textured than most PBT keycaps, and they feel fairly thick. They're comfortable to type on so long as you don't mind the OEM profile height, and the tops are just curved enough to help keep your fingers from slipping onto the wrong keys. I adapted to the keycap profile almost instantly, and I was able to type with my normal speed and accuracy within a few minutes of sitting down with the Q1 HE. 

The Q1 HE also makes a great gaming keyboard — actually, I'm not sure why Keychron didn't release this under its gaming brand (Lemokey), considering magnetic Hall Effect switches are mainly advertised to gamers for their speed and features like Rapid Trigger. (Well, it's probably going to; the P1, which appears to be the Q1's equivalent, is up for pre-order on Lemokey's site now.) Anyway, the Q1 HE offers the standard swath of magnetic switch features: wide range, precise adjustable actuation, multiple inputs on a single key, and Rapid Trigger. The switches have an actuation range of 0.5 - 3.8mm, with a sensitivity of 0.1mm, and each key's actuation can be set individually with Keychron's new web-based customization app, Keychron Launcher. The keyboard also offers low-latency 1,000 Hz polling rates over both wireless (2.4GHz) and wired connections.

Features and Software of the Q1 HE

The Q1 HE offers three forms of connectivity: low-latency 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth 5.1, and wired (via USB-C). The 2.4GHz wireless connection was solid and consistent in my testing, and there was no noticeable difference in latency between it and the wired connection (as you might expect, there was noticeable lag over the Bluetooth connection). The keyboard has two switches on the back: one to switch between connection types and one to switch between PC and Mac modes. My only minor gripe was with the connection switch, which was trickier to quickly move into position than it should have been. (Luckily, speed-switching connections isn't one of my priorities.)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

You can customize the Q1 HE with Keychron Launcher, Keychron's new web-based tool that supports all of its keyboards. It's Keychron's in-house answer to VIA and it's very similar — it only works in WebHID-enabled browsers and you'll need to connect the keyboard via USB-C to use it. It has several sections: HE Mode, keymapping, lighting, macros, firmware updates, key testing, and bug reports. In the HE Mode tab, you can set switch actuation, turn on and customize Rapid Trigger, program multiple inputs on individual keys, and set up gamepad emulation. It's not the most polished software I've used (updating the board's firmware was a little messy) but it wasn't too difficult to figure out.

You can also change the keyboard's lighting effects in Keychron Launcher, though you are limited to preset effects — most of which only offer customization in the way of speed and/or color. The lighting is bright — thanks to the keyboard's south-facing PCB — and vibrant enough that it looks good behind the Q1 HE's solid, non-shine-through keycaps.

The Q1 HE has a 4,000 mAh battery that Keychron says will last "up to 100 hours" with the backlighting turned off. That's not terribly impressive given the keyboard's weight, but it also seems like plenty... given the keyboard's weight. I expect this nearly-four-pound keyboard will spend most of its time on desks.

The Bottom Line

The Keychron Q1 HE QMK Wireless Custom keyboard is pretty impressive — even though every custom keyboard company seems to have a nearly identical offer. Nearly being the key word — the Q1 HE has the solid build and nice typing experience of the Meletrix Boog75, the tri-mode connectivity of the Akko MOD007B-HE PC, and the larger layout we wanted from the Arbiter Studio Polar 65

It doesn't, however, have the budget-friendly price of the Redragon K683WB FIDD (far from it) — at $219, it's definitely on the pricier side. It's got some issues — switch options are limited (and might be forever); the software is a little messy; and it could sound a little better. But if you've been contemplating hopping on the magnetic Hall Effect switch bandwagon — well, you won't be disappointed with the Q1 HE.

MORE: Best Gaming Keyboards

MORE: How to Pick Keycaps for Your Mechanical Keyboard

MORE: How to Build a Custom Mechanical Keyboard

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
Senior Editor, Peripherals

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware covering peripherals, software, and custom builds. You can find more of her work in PCWorld, Macworld, TechHive, CNET, Gizmodo, Tom's Guide, PC Gamer, Men's Health, Men's Fitness, SHAPE, Cosmopolitan, and just about everywhere else.

  • helper800
    I love my Q1 Pro. This is the magnetic and wireless dongle version of that, and I always love when companies come back to a successful product and give you more choices with how you can enjoy that product in a way that you may prefer.