There is a lot of mechanical keyboard PCB’s to choose from. Here is my attempt to review some of the data and compare the information in a chart. This is by no means a complete list, especially regarding the more exotic form factors. If your favorite PCB is missing, feel free to drop me a line and I will happily add it.
When it comes to mechanical keyboard PCB’s there are a couple of things you might want to consider.
This is pretty obvious, there is different sizes and form-factors of mechanical keyboards. 80%, 75% or maybe a numpad – this is definetly the most important decision to make when chosing a PCB for your mechanical keyboard build.
There are basically two commonly used contact styles for the switches: MX or ALPS. MX style are definelty the most common style. Almost any PCB supports the MX style contacts. Some support ALPS too.
Underglow (Glow) are RGB LED’s placed on the bottom of the PCB. Different PCB’s come with a different amount of underglow LED’s. If you are planning on using an opaque case, this feature might not be relevant to you.
If you are not a fan of wires, go for a bluetooth (BT) enabled PCB. If you do so, do not forget to get a matching LiPo battery to power the keyboard from. The charging circuit is usually included on the board and you charge the battery by plugging in USB.
The USB connector that is used. The most common conectors are micro USB and USB Type-C. Personally I like USB Type-C best since you can plug it in any direction. Also the round plug looks more esthetically pleasing to me – but your taste may vary or you might not even care at all.
Almost any board will provide you with a means of mounting LED’s for the switches. Some even come with RGB LED’s pre-installed. The LED’s can come into two different positions: North or South. Meaning above or below the center of the switch. Which position you want your LED’s (if at all) will highly depend on the actual keycaps you are planning on using.
Hot swap refers to the replacability of the key switches. If the PCB is hotswappable it means that you can easily setup your switches without soldering. You simply plug them in and are ready to go. This gives you great flexibility if you want to experiment with different switches. Maybe you want to try out different switches on different keys – with a hot swap capable PCB this can be done in seconds. One step closer to your endgame.
Some PCB’s even have a built in microphone. But this is “only” used to display fancy patterns on the underglow or switch LED’s you can not actually use it as a voice input. Also people on the other side would probably not appreciate the clicking of the switches.
|1UP RGB Underglow||1UP Keyboards||$40.00||60%||MX||65||Mini||White||16||N|
|BM16A||KPRepublic||$18.80||4x4||MX, Alps||16||Mini||Brown||4||S||With plastic case|
|GH60||YMDK||$21.90 - $26.90||60%||MX||64||Type-C, Mini||Black||12||S||With / without backlight. Black or White|
|GK61||Liang||$49.00||60%||MX||64||Type-C||White||-||N||comes with case|
|GK64S||Skyloong||$35.33||60%||MX||64||Type-C||White||-||N||Not sure about the amount of underglow LED's. Possibly not an original KBDFans board.|
|GK64S||KPRepublic||$45.00 - $55.00||60%||MX||64||Type-C||White||-||N|
|GON NerD||1UP Keyboards||$97.00||100%||MX||108||Mini||Black||-||S||Underglow needs soldering|
|GON NerD TKL||1UP Keyboards||$95.00||80%||MX||90||Mini||Black||-||S||TKL, Underglow needs soldereing|
|GON NerD60||1UP Keyboards||$79.00||60%||MX||64||Mini||Black||-||S||Underglow needs soldering|
|JD40||1UP Keyboards||$45.00||40%||MX, Alps||44||Mini||Black||-||S|
|JJ 40||JJ||$31.70||40%||MX, Alps||48||Mini||White||5||S|
|JJ 4×4||JJ||$21.90||4x4||MX, Alps||16||Mini||White||-||S|
|JJ 50||JJ||$33.70||50%||MX, Alps||60||Mini||Black||5||S|
|KBD75 REV 2.0||KBDFans||$35.00 - $40.00||75%||MX||89||Type-C, Mini||White||16||S|
|SP50||KPRepublic||$46.90||50%||MX||60||Mini||White||8||S||4 underglow LED's per side.|
|Super 16 Macro||1UP Keyboards||$10.00||4x4||MX, Alps||16||Black||-||N||Components need to be soldered, needs controller.|
|Sweet 16 Macro||1UP Keyboards||$7.50||4x4||MX, Alps||16||Black||-||-||Components need to be soldered, needs controller. Available in black or white.|
|XD60 Rev 2.0||Xiudi||$29.90||60%||MX, Alps||67||Mini||Black||6||N|
|YD60MQ||Generic||$40.55||60%||MX||64||Type-C||Black||16||S||Listed as DZ60 - but is not genuine|
|YMD75||YMDK||$28.50 - $29.90||75%||MX||84||Black||14||S|