Should you’re obsessed with high quality PC keyboards, you could be assuming that the much-hyped OnePlus Keyboard 81 Professional ($219), the cell maker’s first hack on the PC keyboard market, is just a rebadged model of the fan-favorite Keychron Q1 Professional. The Q1 Professional is a well-liked compact mechanical keyboard with a dizzying array of customizable choices for switches, keycaps, and extra. It seems that the Keyboard 81 Professional provides a number of further options that set it aside from different enthusiast-level keyboards. Sharing the Q1 Professional’s nice format, the 81 Professional provides a metallic kickstand, a singular set of switches, two completely different keycap choices, and a sturdy chassis that is terribly heavy however nonetheless feels good. Add exemplary construct high quality and beautiful consideration to element, and also you get a transparent Editors’ Selection choose for fanatic keyboards. (Orders open for it July 26.)
Plus One for Aesthetics
Whereas the 81 Professional shouldn’t be a straight rebadging of the present Keychron mannequin, keyboard watchers will discover the putting similarity between it and the Q1 Professional. The 81 Professional was designed with help from keyboard maker Keychron, which makes many different fashions, together with the Keychron C1, our Editors’ Selection suggestion for finances mechanical keyboards.
The 81 Professional might not have all of the frills of the competing Asus ROG Azoth, which sports activities an built-in OLED show and key-tweaker instruments within the field. Nonetheless, it perfects the fundamentals, which for many individuals might be well worth the excessive value. The 81 Professional is a tenkeyless keyboard with a customizable rotary dial within the top-right nook, very similar to the Q1 it is derived from. The all-aluminum body measures 1.9 by 13.3 by 6 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.16 kilos, and it is pleasingly cool to the contact. Different compact boards weigh a fraction of this. (The ROG Azoth is 2.6 kilos, whereas the NZXT Operate Mini TKL is simply 1.5 kilos.) The underside of the case options the OnePlus “By no means Settle” slogan in a shiny chrome end, to distinction with the matte aluminum.
The keycaps have a white-and-gray coloration scheme with the recognizable OnePlus crimson coloration on the Escape and Enter keys. This specific colorway is restricted to the board, unavailable from Keychron for every other mannequin.
Within the field, you will discover the keyboard, a mixture keycap/swap puller, an additional set of Mac-specific keycaps, and a signature OnePlus crimson braided USB-C-to-USB-C cable with a Kind-A dongle adapter. The keyboard works as each a wired keyboard by way of the USB cable, and a Bluetooth one through a toggle on the highest left of the board. One other toggle modifications the keyboard from a Mac format to a Home windows one, and vice versa.
OnePlus says the built-in 4,000mAh battery will final for as much as 100 hours on the lowest brightness setting in wi-fi mode, and charging the battery from empty to full will take round 5 hours. The corporate would not provide a separate battery-life ranking with all the lighting disabled, however we count on the battery to final far longer if the RGB is off. In contrast to with the ROG Azoth, there isn’t any 2.4GHz wi-fi connection choice.
An apparent distinction from the Q1 is the metallic bar alongside the highest of the keyboard. When deployed, this bar acts as a superior different to the straightforward angled ft you will discover on less-expensive boards. In contrast to ft, with their fastened tilt angles, the bar has a stiff sufficient pivot motion to carry at any angle you would possibly want. The rotary dial within the prime proper is product of a see-through plastic that catches the sunshine in a lovely method. By default it’s set to regulate media quantity, although you may change this (extra on remapping later).
Beneath the keycaps are hot-swappable switches. OnePlus provides the 81 Professional with two completely different swap varieties created in partnership with Keychron. Our take a look at unit comes with the crimson Winter Bonfire switches, a sort of tactile swap with a 0.5mm actuation level. The Summer season Breeze swap choice comes with a set of keycaps product of a cloth referred to as “Marble-mallow,” which boosts the worth by $20, to $239. (Extra about Marble-mallow in a second.)
The 81 Professional provides the community-favorite format additionally discovered on the Keychron Q1, with an emphasis on the eye to element OnePlus is thought for. Many PC avid gamers now favor the minimalist 60% keyboard, however the 81 Professional’s barely roomier format provides a scroll wheel and a few further buttons under (Web page Up, Web page Down, and Dwelling, every of which might be remapped). Anybody not accustomed to the format shouldn’t have any downside typing on the 81 Professional, because the format is identical as an ordinary keyboard, minus the quantity pad.
The keyboard options per-key RGB lighting through multicolored LEDs. Every LED shines brightly sufficient to be seen across the edges of the keycaps, though the keycaps themselves don’t function see-through lighting to spotlight the important thing labels. As an alternative, the LEDs are south-facing, positioned on the underside a part of the keycap. Should you’re planning to interchange any keycaps with third-party ones, you will want to search out appropriate choices that may accommodate the south-facing LED path.
Even with PBT keycaps, the 81 Professional provides a typing expertise that’s arduous to beat. Every key press is satisfyingly current, from the texture of the keys bottoming out, to the sound of the switches, to the graceful RGB results. The net Monkeytype take a look at confirmed no apparent aberrations whereas typing, reminiscent of lifeless switches or unintentional key presses.
Though we examined the 81 Professional mannequin with PBT keycaps, OnePlus additionally despatched us a pattern of the Summer season Breeze Marble-mallow keycaps. Apart from a barely darker coloration scheme, they appear an identical to PBT keycaps, albeit with a barely rougher texture which will help in typing. As their identify suggests, the keycaps have a noticeable flexibility that left us skeptical of the long-term sturdiness of the fabric. (We don’t machine-stress-test keyboards at PC Labs, so solely time will inform the power of this keycap materials.) The keyboard comes with a one-year guarantee.
Personalized through VIA
Though OnePlus doesn’t provide a particular software program utility for the 81 Professional, it’s totally customizable by way of the open-source VIA desktop utility, a favourite of keyboard fanatics. Utilizing VIA means that you can remap all of the keys on the keyboard, set up new lighting results, assign customized macros, and even load customized keyboard profiles.
VIA additionally has a variety of specialised diagnostic instruments for essentially the most enthusiastic of keyboard fanatics, together with a key tester to check for lifeless switches, a instrument not generally present in different keyboard utilities.
Verdict: One Extra Winner From OnePlus
We’d be mendacity if we stated we weren’t left scratching our heads when an organization identified for its well-designed smartphones introduced it could be making an fanatic PC keyboard. However the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Professional is a good first exhibiting. The all-aluminum physique is cool to the contact, the sound of the keys is extraordinarily satisfying, and the burden of the unit means a secure typing expertise irrespective of how intense your gaming session is or how arduous your work wants are. The 81 Professional is a simple Editors’ Selection entry within the rarified world of $200-plus keyboards, and what we hope is an thrilling signal of extra to return from this new participant.