Are you looking for the best barebones keyboard in 2023? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will discuss the top 7 best barebones keyboards available on the market today.
For some people, the best way to make sure they have a keyboard that will last them for years is by purchasing a barebones model.
These keyboards are designed with no frills at all and can be found in many different sizes. They may not come complete with extra keys or programmable buttons, but these models do provide an excellent typing experience as well as durability.
If you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank and has a minimalistic design, then this type of keyboard might be just what you need! Here are 7 of the top-rated models on the market today.
In a hurry? Here are our top 3 favorite picks when it comes to the best barebone keyboards in 2023!
What’s a Barebones Keyboard?
A barebones keyboard kit is strongly recommended by most fans. The main reason for this is that they provide the consumer with more control. As a matter of fact, it’s the different customization options that entice individuals to buy barebones keyboards.
By purchasing barebones keyboard kits, a user is spared from removing and replacing each individual keycap or switch. Once the keyboard has been removed from its packaging, users can begin disassembling it right away.
Many pre-assembled and barebones keyboard sets require disassembly and modification. Because manufacturers can’t fine-tune the keyboard from the production, this is the reason.
Is A Barebones Keyboard Worth it?
Currently, barebones keyboard kits are pre-built custom keyboard kits that do not include switches or keycaps, which are popular in the mechanical keyboard industry. In contrast to standard custom keyboard kits, the majority of the assembly work is already completed by the manufacturer. All that is required of the user is the installation of the switches and keycaps.
The functionality and design components of pre-assembled keyboard kits, on the other hand, are identical to those of their barebones version. The major difference would be that the mechanical switches and keycaps have already been installed on the keyboard when it is delivered to the customer in the box.
A barebones keyboard is included in the majority of products, like those made by Drop Technologies. This makes the products extremely versatile, as they can now be used by people who want a wonderful product right out of the box and also users that want to mess around with their keyboard settings to make them even better.
Speaking of that, here are our picks for the top 7 best barebones keyboards in 2023:
1. GMMK Pro Barebone Keyboard – Best Overall
In addition to being one of the best-selling bare-bone keyboards on the market, the GMMK Pro boasts a 75 percent layout as well as a rotating knob on the top right that can be used to create a personalized keyboard impression.
The GMMK Pro Barebone’s compact 75 percent layout is incredibly cool. In addition, the GMMK Pro has a premium aluminum body that is strong and sturdy. You’ll see a large Glorious logo at the bottom of the body.
Mechanical switches may be swapped out for hot-swappable 3 and 5 pin PCB parts, making GMMK Pro an extremely versatile mechanical keyboard for MX-type switches or even other mechanical switches. With the stabilizer installed, the GMMK Pro features a screw-in stabilizer of exceptional quality.
There is a built-in RGB option in GMMK Pro, which allows you to light each button separately with a number of RGB animations that you can control. Connectivity USB Type C only connects to GMMK Pro, which may be used on any computer running Windows, Mac, or Linux software.
Users can use the VIA firmware to set programmed keys, layer functions, and even adjust RGB in GMMK Pro. If you’ve ever wanted to use the volume wheel on your computer, this keyboard has you covered.
Why Is This the Best Barebones Keyboards in 2023?
Barebones keyboard kits, such as the GMMK Pro, could be a major convenience if you want to customize your keyboard by selecting your own switches and keycaps and don’t want to deal with the logistical burden of acquiring all of the numerous components you’ll need to create a keyboard from the start.
The PC Gaming Race’s package, which sells for a hefty price of $169, is equipped with a variety of high-end elements such as an aluminum frame, a rotational knob, hot-swap sockets that support 3 or 5-pin switches, as well as a 75-percent layout that is much more compact than a tenkeyless design while still providing access to all the major keys.
2. Drop + OLKB Preonic Keyboard MX Kit V3 – Premium Pick
The Preonic, which was invented by OLKB’s Jack Humbert, is a high-performance device. A similar design to the OLKB Planck is used here; the difference is that a second row has been added, allowing quicker access to numbers, keys, or whatever you want to program.
The smaller space bar allows users to view higher and lower levels by using their thumbs to press the “raise” and “lower” keys on the keyboard. Even with the extra row, the keyboard has a low footprint, which makes it ideal for mobile computing applications.
The metal base is reasonably sturdy, if not a little heavy, and has a high-end feel to it due to its high-quality construction. The use of an acrylic base may be preferable if you want to highlight the inbuilt LEDs which illuminate the keyboard’s base while typing.
Since the space bar is so small, a stabilizer may not be absolutely necessary, but it is an excellent option to have on hand. Using the included hardware, you may either fasten or leave the plate floating on the surface. Having a variety of options is always a plus.
However, using LEDs to illuminate the keys will require the use of an extra set of procedures and sources, which is not included in this kit. LEDs are not included in this kit.
3. HK Gaming Galaxy 75 Barebone Keyboard – Runner Up
A 75 percent barebone keyboard, the HK Gaming Galaxy 75 is sold at a very low price and features a stylish design and excellent build quality. It is among the most affordable barebone keyboards available and is one which you should seriously consider.
Design-wise, the barebone keyboard is really cool and slender, with a superb aluminum casing that ensures a highly durable and solid build quality.
This is because the PCB of the HK Gaming Galaxy 75 enables hot-swappable features for 3 or 5 pin switches, making it extremely adaptable in terms of which mechanical switches to use, including brands such as Gateron, Kailh, and Cherry MX. A stabilizer is also included, and the stabilizer used in this keyboard is a high-quality screw-in stabilizer.
The RGB Backlit, which illuminates individually on every button and features a broad range of RGB animations that you can tailor to your liking, is also quite cool and worth mentioning. The HK Gaming Galaxy 75 barebone offers connectivity through a detachable USB Type C Cable, so it is suitable with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, among others.
4. EPOMAKER Next time Skyline Gasket-Mounted
|✅ Gasket-mounted design
✅ Hot-swappable switches
✅ RGB backlighting
✅ Rotary knob
✅ Wide switch compatibility
✅ 75% layout
|❌ Assembly required
❌ No wireless connectivity
The EPOMAKER Next time Skyline is a premium gasket-mounted 75% hot-swappable wired gaming keyboard DIY kit that offers enthusiasts a high level of customization and performance. This compact keyboard features a 75% layout, providing most of the functionality of a full-size keyboard, including function keys and arrow keys, while saving desk space and improving portability.
One of the key features of the Next time Skyline is its gasket-mounted design, which provides a smoother typing experience and reduced noise compared to traditional plate-mounted keyboards. The hot-swappable feature further enhances the keyboard’s customization potential, allowing users to easily replace or modify switches without soldering.
The DIY kit is compatible with 3-pin and 5-pin switches from various brands, such as Gateron, Cherry, Kailh, and Otemu, allowing users to choose their preferred switches to achieve the best typing experience. The customizable RGB backlighting adds to the keyboard’s aesthetics and provides an immersive gaming experience.
An additional feature that sets the Next time Skyline apart is the inclusion of a rotary knob, which offers extra functionality, such as volume control or software-specific commands. Users can customize the knob’s functions according to their preferences and needs.
However, the EPOMAKER Next time Skyline comes as a DIY kit, which means assembly is required. This may be challenging or time-consuming for users unfamiliar with keyboard building. Additionally, the keyboard lacks wireless or Bluetooth connectivity options, which may be a disadvantage for users seeking a cable-free setup.
In summary, the EPOMAKER Next time Skyline is a feature-packed, gasket-mounted, hot-swappable gaming keyboard DIY kit that offers a high level of customization and performance. With its compact 75% layout, compatibility with various switches, customizable RGB backlighting, and rotary knob, it is an excellent choice for gaming enthusiasts and keyboard builders seeking a unique and personalized keyboard experience.
5. FL ESPORTS MK870 CMMK Barebone
Compared to the GMMK Pro, the Keychron Q1 Barebones mechanical keyboard frame is highly customizable. Additionally, it has 83 keys (including one designated for use with a rotating knob), is gasket mounted, and can be programmed using QMK and VIA.
Durable and sturdy, the frame is made of CNC aluminum. The case is supported by four rubber feet that protrude from the bottom. Apart from that, there is a USB Type-C port and an OS switch on the left side of the case’s back.
The plate has significant flexibility of up to 2.5mm because of its gasket mount arrangement. The GMMK Pro has a reputation for being a bit tight, but this makes it a lot more flexible. Because of this, you can expect a gentler typing experience and a more pleasant sound.
RGB LEDs on the PCB’s south-facing side are compatible with 5-pin mechanical switches. No valves are included, but you receive a couple of screw-in stabs as this is a basic board. These Gateron stabilizers are silver-plated and pre-lubed, so they sound great right out of the box.
6. Keychron V2 Wired
|✅ 65% layout
✅ QMK/VIA programmability
✅ Hot-swappable support
✅ Mac, Windows, and Linux compatibility
✅ Frosted Black Translucent design
✅ Barebone version
✅ Wired connection
|❌ Assembly required
❌ No wireless connectivity
❌ Learning curve
❌ No dedicated function row
❌ Potential compatibility issues
The Keychron V2 Wired Custom Mechanical Keyboard is a versatile and highly customizable barebone keyboard designed for enthusiasts and users seeking a unique and personalized typing experience. This 65% layout keyboard offers a compact design that saves desk space while retaining essential keys, making it ideal for both gaming and productivity tasks.
One of the standout features of the Keychron V2 is its QMK/VIA programmability, providing advanced customization options for key mappings and macros. This level of configurability allows users to tailor the keyboard to their specific preferences and workflows, further enhancing its appeal.
The Keychron V2 also supports hot-swappable switches, allowing users to easily replace or modify the mechanical switches without soldering. This enables greater personalization of the keyboard’s feel and performance, catering to individual typing preferences.
The barebone version of the keyboard offers enthusiasts the opportunity to select their preferred switches and keycaps, creating a highly personalized keyboard experience. The Keychron V2 is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems, making it suitable for a wide range of users and setups.
The unique Frosted Black Translucent design sets the Keychron V2 apart from other mechanical keyboards in terms of aesthetics, offering a stylish and eye-catching appearance.
Despite its numerous advantages, the Keychron V2 does require assembly, as users need to purchase and install switches and keycaps separately. Additionally, the keyboard lacks wireless or Bluetooth connectivity options, which may be a disadvantage for users who prefer a cable-free setup.
In summary, the Keychron V2 Wired Custom Mechanical Keyboard is a highly customizable and versatile option for users seeking a compact, programmable, and hot-swappable keyboard. With its advanced configurability, compatibility with multiple operating systems, and unique design, the Keychron V2 offers a premium and personalized typing experience.
7. Drop Carina Barebone 60% Keyboard
The Drop Carina is probably the best 60 percent barebone keyboard you can find on the market today. In addition to having a really cool acrylic design that can generate RGB lights all around the keyboard body, the quality and reliability of this keyboard are also quite good since it is made of thick and sturdy acrylic material.
This barebone allows hot-swappable switches using 3 or 5 pins on the PCB, making it extremely adaptable and allowing it to work with mechanical switches from a variety of manufacturers. On top of that, a high-quality screw-in stabilizer has been fitted on this keyboard barebone.
When using the Drop Carina Barebone, the RGB lighting is fantastic because it illuminates the entire body while also lighting up individually on each of the buttons. The RGB animation possibilities are numerous and may be customized to suit your needs and preferences.
How to Choose the Best Barebones Keyboards in 2023?
You’re probably familiar with a full-size keyboard. They feature 104 keys on the right-hand side, along with a Numpad. A Numpad is preferred by someone who spends much time with numbers. Full-size keyboards, on the other hand, can be inconvenient for some due to their width. This moves the mouse to the side, increasing the amount of movement required to utilize it.
Compact keyboards, often known as tenkeyless keyboards, get rid numeric keypad but keep the arrow and function keys above it. For people who don’t frequently use a Numpad, this reduces keyboard size greatly without affecting their day-to-day experience. TKL keyboards save space on your desk and keep your mouse close at hand, which several people prefer.
Wired Or Wireless
For the most part, wireless keyboards are normal. It’s not difficult to see why. Wires are inconvenient, and the keyboard’s cable is among the few you can’t hide.
Wireless devices have become so common that they are no longer considered a premium feature. Most low-cost and mid-range keyboards are wireless; however, most high-end keyboards either are wired or have a wired/wireless option.
The main factor is reliability. Modern wireless connections are excellent, but they are not without flaws. When people buy high-end keyboards, they want them to detect every keystroke every time.
Membrane Or Mechanical
The most important consideration when purchasing a keyboard is whether to use mechanical or membrane key switches.
When you press the keys on a membrane keyboard, a surface of conductive material beneath the keys establishes an electrical contact. Mechanical keyboards, on the other side, have physical switches beneath each key that are activated when the key is pressed.
Mechanical keyboards are often considered to be more sharp and responsive, with Red MX mechanical switches being a particular favorite. Mechanical keyboards have several disadvantages over membrane keyboards, such as being much more costly, large, and noisy.
One of the most important considerations when choosing a barebones keyboard is how customizable it is. Many people want to be able to change the feel and responsiveness of their keyboard, and for that, they need keyboards that allow for replaceable keycaps and switches.
Some barebones keyboards come with a variety of different switch types that you can swap out, giving you more control over how the keyboard feels. Other keyboards allow for custom lighting effects, so you can truly make your keyboard your own. Being able to customize your keyboard is a great way to make it feel like an extension of yourself and your work style.
The best barebones keyboards in 2023 do not have to break the bank, but they will likely cost more than a standard keyboard. You may find that the price varies based on the features and materials used in the keyboard’s construction.
When considering the price, it is important to remember that you get what you pay for. A low-cost keyboard is likely to have fewer features, lower-quality materials, and a shorter lifespan. A mid-priced keyboard may offer better value with more features and a longer lifespan. High-end keyboards often have the best materials, the most features, and the longest lifespans.
If you are looking for a new keyboard, the barebones keyboards mentioned above may be just what you need. The keyboards on this list offer features like customization and compatibility with different operating systems. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, we recommend checking out each of them to find your perfect match!