Gone are the days when people ultimately depended on their mechanical keyboard purchases based on the popularity of brands. As the competition gets tougher, the community’s knowledge of what they know and want in a mechanical keyboard gets more mature and definitive. For example, people now consider the different form factors and sizes in choosing their keyboards. Another factor considered by buyers, as the subject to today’s discussion, is the keyboard’s profile.
Ultimately, like all factors that one considers, a keyboard or keycap profile is subject to the personal preferences of the end-user. One may prefer the chiclet-laptop style of low-profile mechanical keyboards, and the other, the regular high-profile mechanical keyboards. Low-profile keyboards are not necessarily better than the others. However, it has limitations that one should take note of before buying one.
For those shopping for their first mechanical keyboard, all these options may confuse newer buyers who have not yet found out about their own preferences. This article will help you further understand the differences between low-profile and high-profile mechanical keyboards and their pros and cons, which will greatly help you choose what mechanical keyboard to purchase.
What is the Key Height of Regular Mechanical Keyboard Keys?
The height of the keys refers to the distance from the highest point, which is the top surface of the keycap, down to the bottom part of the keycap. Thus, it is not easy to define a particular key height of mechanical keyboard keys because the height of mechanical keyboard keys depends on the keycaps used. The following are known keycap profiles that are widely used by different keyboard companies and professional gamers around the world:
Cherry profiles are the most famous profile keycaps in the keyboard industry. Furthermore, cherry profiles came from Cherry’s G80 and G81 mechanical keyboard series. Since the keycap profiles used in this mechanical keyboard series reached the standards of keyboard enthusiasts and professional gamers, they became widely known in the keyboard industry.
On the other hand, Cherry profile keycaps are under 10mm in height. Also, this keyboard profile is sculpted with a cylindrical keycap top that effortlessly hugs the user’s finger, meaning that this keycap profile has a low center and higher edges on both left and right. This is why Cherry profile keycap users claim to experience the most comfortable typing experience.
SA stands for Spherical All. Thus, from the name itself, SA profile keycaps are keycaps with a spherical design enabling the rounder concave keycap tops possible. Just like Cherry profiles, SA profiles are also popular in the keyboard industry because of the vintage vibe it provides through their larger legends and round tops. Moreover, the fact that SA profile keycaps allow customization is another reason why it is a hit in the keyboard market.
SA profile keycaps offer the tallest profiles among the other keycap profiles available in the market, with over 16.5mm for its outside keys. This sculpted set is angled toward the center, which many people find comfortable and satisfying.
OEM profile is also known as Standard profile as it is the most available in the market. This keycap profile is mass-produced, allowing various big companies such as Logitech, Corsair, and Razer to use this kind of keycap profile with ease. One more interesting feature of this keycap profile is the fact that it is not a uniform keycap set, which means that the different rows of a mechanical keyboard that uses an OEM profile also have different overall designs and heights.
OEM profile is almost similar to Cherry’s height, with over 10mm for its slightly sculpted center keys and almost 12mm for the rest of the set. The fact that this keycap profile is widely available and is convenient to purchase makes it a go-to keyboard profile by plenty of gaming companies, keyboard enthusiasts, and professional gamers.
What are Low Profile Mechanical Keyboards?
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Low-profile mechanical keyboards are equipped with low-profile mechanical switches. These keyboards are 35%-40% thinner than the typical mechanical keyboard profiles.
As mentioned earlier, the height of mechanical keyboard keys depends on the keycaps used. Thus, low-profile mechanical keyboards are armed with not your typical keycaps, for the keycaps used in low-profile mechanical keyboards are also thin and slim.
Furthermore, low profile mechanical keyboards are in demand in the keyboard industry, especially nowadays: wherein the demand for keyboards in the keyboard industry is higher than usual because of people who engaged themselves in gaming and because of the current learning and working setup. People who have low-profile mechanical keyboards tend to claim that these keyboards are as reliable as the typical mechanical keyboards.
What are the Differences Between Low and High Profile Mechanical Keyboards?
The main difference between low and high-profile mechanical keyboards is, of course, their height. Low-profile mechanical keyboards equate to shorter lower profile which goes with shorter keycaps, switches, and board, making low-profile mechanical keyboards more compact than high-profile mechanical keyboards that tend to be a lot bigger and heavier.
Low-profile mechanical keyboards are also equipped with low-profile switches that make the keys have a shorter travel distance. Because it is built with different switches compared to the usual high-profile mechanical keyboards, it also provides a different typing sound that is subject to the user’s personal preference.
In other words, some may not be accustomed to the typing sound of low-profile switches, especially those enthusiasts who are used to typing with your regular mechanical ones. Thus, to provide more information about low-profile and high-profile mechanical keyboards, we provided the different pros and cons of these keyboards that may help you weigh which keyboard is appropriate for you.
Pros and Cons of Low Profile Keys
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Low-profile keys are slowly dominating the keyboard industry nowadays because their various features are indeed worth the try. Now to let you venture low profile mechanical keyboards with its low profile keys, the following are their pros and cons:
The number one advantage of low-profile keys is their height. A lower travel distance of keys means the actuation of keys is faster. With that, if you are looking for a keyboard that can match your typing speed, then considering low-profile mechanical keyboards might be worth the try.
Another advantage of a low-profile mechanical keyboard is its design. Since it is designed lower than high mechanical keyboards, the use of wrist rest to support the muscles in your wrist is not that needed because it is ergonomic. The angle of individual keys in a low-profile mechanical keyboard also helps fix unhealthy typing positions that may cause tensions in the wrist.
Lastly, low-profile mechanical keyboards are smaller than high-profile mechanical keyboards, making them more compact. Moreover, since it is smaller, low-profile mechanical keyboards are also lighter and very handy. This keyboard’s portability is a big advantage to people who prefer on-the-go keyboards and to people who love to travel while working.
A major disadvantage of low-profile mechanical keyboards is their availability. Unlike high-profile mechanical keyboards, only a few keyboard brands were able to offer low-profile mechanical keyboards: considering that their switches are different from the typical switches used in the available mechanical keyboards in the market today. Not only that, because the popularity of high-profile mechanical keyboards is still at its peak, another reason why the keyboard market is still flooded with them, making low-profile mechanical keyboards harder to find.
Another is, low-profile mechanical keyboards are generally not customizable. Thus, if you are into keyboard customization, this keyboard may not suit you. Its switches are different from their high counterparts making switching switches impossible. The same goes with its keycaps. Since a low-profile mechanical keyboard has a distinct keycap, to change it, you will have a hard time looking for the same keycap, which is, again, rare.
Pros and Cons of High Profile Keys
The popularity of these high-profile mechanical keyboards still reigns because of the growing gaming community and the eSport community. With that, the following are its pros and cons.
Contrary to the disadvantage of low-profile mechanical keyboards, high-profile keyboards are all around the market for the past few years up until now. Moreover, professional gamers and keyboard enthusiasts prefer using a high-profile keyboard because of the satisfying tactile feedback that gamers worldwide prefer, not to mention the wide variety of switches to choose from. Thus, the wide variety that high-profile mechanical keyboards offer is indeed a big advantage on its part.
Also, high-profile keyboards are customizable. There are various ways to customize and modify these keyboards to match the needs of its user in all possible ways. Lastly, high-profile mechanical keyboards are easier to clean and repair.
The height of high-profile mechanical keyboards can be a disadvantage to some people, especially those who do not use wrist-rests. The tendency to get muscle strain in the wrist is higher when using this keyboard type.
Another is its weight and size. High-profile mechanical keyboards tend to take up space because they are taller. With that, if you prefer a keyboard that you can bring anywhere, a handy keyboard, then a high-profile mechanical keyboard may be too bulky to bring compared to the low profile.
Lastly, because of its high demand, these keyboards have high prices in the market, especially if it comes from a big brand such as Corsair, Razer, Logitech, and more.
Which Type of Mechanical Keyboard Should You Get? (Low or High Profile Keys)
If you are used to typing on your laptop’s keyboard before purchasing a mechanical keyboard: then it is advisable that you should choose low-profile mechanical keyboards over high-profile mechanical keyboards. In that way, adjusting will not be an issue in switching to a mechanical keyboard.
On the other hand, if you prefer customizing your keyboards, which is the current trend, then high-profile mechanical keyboards are the best option for you, especially if you are customizing them to support your gaming skills.
Choosing between low and high-profile mechanical keyboards is, of course, and as always, subject to the user’s personal preferences. At the end of the day, your preference is what matters in choosing between these two, but either of these can provide an excellent typing experience.
Additional Reading: Low Profile Mechanical Keyboards vs. Chiclet Keyboards