4 Best QMK Keyboards – Ultimate Guide

QMK firmware is an open-source community center that focuses on developing input devices. QMK comes with a lot of features and functions.

But, the most popular ones are modifying your keymaps and keycodes on your keyboard. This gives you full control over the keys.

If you plan on doing so, you require a QMK friendly keyboard. You can use just about any keyboard but the experience will be sub-par and you might run into problems later down the line.

That’s why we gathered the best QMK keyboards in this article. Popular QMK keyboards that give the least amount of problems.

What Keyboards Are Compatible With QMK?

  • Drop Planck
  • Drop ALT Mechanical Keyboard
  • Drop + OLKB Preonic
  • Drop + Tokyo


Preview
Name
 
Drop Planck Mechanical Keyboard Kit V6 — DIY Compact 40% Ortholinear Layout, Kaihua Hotswap Sockets, Programmable PCB, USB-C, and Aluminum Case (High-Pro), Space Gray
Drop Planck
Drop ALT High-Profile Mechanical Keyboard — 65% (67 Key) Gaming Keyboard, Hot-Swap Switches, Programmable Macros, RGB LED Backlighting, USB-C, Doubleshot PBT, Aluminum Frame (Cherry MX Brown, Black)
Drop ALT Mechanical Keyboard
Drop + OLKB Preonic Keyboard MX Kit V3 — Compact Ortholinear Form Factor, Programmable QMK PCBA, Kaihua Hotswap Sockets, USB-C, Anodized Aluminum Case, (Silver)
Drop + OLKB Preonic
Drop + Tokyo Keyboard Tokyo60 Keyboard Kit V4 - HHHK-Style 60%, Hotswap Kaihua Sockets, Programmable QMK, USB-C, CNC Aluminum High-Profile Case (Keyboard Kit, Black)
Drop + Tokyo

Best Keyboards For QMK Reviewed


Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Minimal hand movement because it’s 40%
  • Compact
  • Feels natural after getting used to it

Cons

  • Steep learning curve

A 40% ortholinear keyboard – the Drop Planck right off the bat is compact. If you are looking for something portable or trying to save desk space.

Then this keyboard fits the requirements. But the major benefit of owning the keyboard is the ease at which you can easily customize it through the use of QMK firmware.

Because the keys are not already in place. You get 100% control over the key layout and keymaps creating them from scratch to your liking.

And the 40% size greatly minimizes hand movement when typing and ortholinear design makes it feel more natural and efficient.

However, if you are not familiar with custom or programmable keyboards. It might take some time to get used to the Drop Planck keyboard.  

Fortunately, that’s the only downside and quite a major one if you are a beginner. The Drop Planck keyboard is a well-built and input device that you can put together from scratch.

And keyboards with such benefits are highly recommended in the QMK community. Overall, one of the best keyboards for QMK firmware.


Pros

  • Beautiful machined aluminum frame
  • Awesome keycaps
  • Bright LED lights
  • Great QMK customizability
  • Dual USB-C ports

Cons

  • Not the best software
  • Pricey
  • Sub-par stabilizers

Changing the sub-par stabilizers of the Drop ALT is the first thing that should be done. Because the stocks ones aren’t that great and make keypresses sound like rattles.

For a keyboard, this pricey, having great stabilizers should be the bare minimum. Secondly, the software is too complicated and not user-friendly, and beginner-friendly.

To make certain changes you need to open terminal command work to do so. Sub-par stabilizers and bad software are the major downsides to the Drop ALT.

Now for the reason why the Drop ALT is a popular QMK keyboard.

Most QMK compatible keyboards don’t have LED backlights. But this has and they are beautiful.

Once you figure out the software you can play with several combinations of LED lights creating a pretty QMK keyboard.

Furthermore, the keycaps are great, smooth to touch, and don’t feel cheap. There are two USB-C connections on each side and you can choose any connection depending on the keyboard placement.

The next great thing about the keyboard is the construction. A 60% keyboard that’s built like a tank and made entirely from a machined aluminum frame.

The Drop ALT feels premium and will last a long time. Even if you drop this nothing will happen to it.

The price of having such solid construction is the weight which is quite heavy for a small keyboard.

Now for QMK compatibility, since this is from Drop. The ALT keyboard is easy to program with QMK firmware.

In conclusion, the Drop ALT keyboard is a premium input device that is easy to program with QMK firmware.

It has LED, excellent construction, and awesome keycaps that are missing from most keyboards.

However, you have to watch out for the bad stabilizers which can be replaced and the not-so user-friendly software.


Pros

  • Ultimate custom keyboard
  • Great construction
  • Compact
  • Easy to assemble
  • Finger-friendly

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not the best stabilizer
  • Not wrist-friendly
  • Shoddy documentation

The Drop + OLKB Preonic is a fantastic custom keyboard. Let’s get into what it doesn’t get right first.

First, this is a pricey keyboard. You need a decent budget to purchase the Drop Preonic. Most affordable keyboards cater to the general needs of users.

But the Drop Preonic doesn’t because it’s a niche keyboard e.g., QMK it has been designed to cater to the needs of the users hence the expensive price tag.

Secondly, the flat nature of the keyboard requires you to bend your wrist when typing and can lead to wrist strain. Finally, the stabilizers are not the best.

Now for what the keyboard gets right.

The Drop Preonic is easy to assemble from scratch and the fact that it’s custom means that with the help of QMK firmware.

You can create your custom keyboard layout and keymaps. You create the one you are most familiar with and this positively impacts your typing efficiency.

Secondly, although the keyboard is not wrist-friendly, it is finger-friendly. The keyboard feels more natural to type on because of its ortholinear design.

Apart from the stabilizers, the rest of the materials are well-built, and once you put them together. You get a well-made keyboard.

To sum it all up, the Drop Preonic is a pricey keyboard that delivers on its promise of being a build from scratch custom keyboard.

Materials are well made and it’s easy to assemble making it one of the best QMK keyboards you can get.


Pros

  • Great for starters
  • Layout feels natural
  • No flashing or programming out of the box

Cons

  • Pricey

A great custom keyboard for beginners. The Drop + Tokyo gives you the experience of putting together a custom keyboard and programming it to fit your needs.

In other words, a DIY keyboard that isn’t complex to put together. You don’t need to flash or program it out of the box and can quickly set-up it up.

You have the option of fitting this with several switches and keycaps. Plus, the ortholinear design of the keyboard makes the layout feel more natural to type on.

Furthermore, the Drop + Toyko is fully programmable via QMK. In addition to choosing your switches and keycaps.

You can fully program how you want the layout to be and keymaps. For beginners, these are great features and make the Drop + Toyko the best QMK keyboard option.

You don’t have to do a lot of things to set the device up and it’s pretty straightforward.

Yes, it’s pricey but the Drop + Tokyo keyboard is the best input device to introduce yourself to QMK.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are QMK keyboards?

QMK short for quantum mechanical keyboard allows you to create a custom keyboard. Installing the QMK firmware plus having a QMK compatible keyboard.

Allows you control over the keyboard layout and keymaps. If keyboard layout and keymaps are done well. You can greatly increase your typing speed.

What Is QMK Mechanical Keyboard?

A QMK mechanical keyboard is a computer input device that makes use of the QMK software.

The firmware is software that takes the responsibility of determining which keypress corresponds to a key from the CPU.

In other words, you can create custom key layouts and keypresses moving away from the traditional keyboard layout and keypresses.

Final Thoughts

Modifying your keymaps and keycodes via QMK is the best way to increase your typing speed and efficiency.

But you need a compatible keyboard that will give you the least amount of problems once you start using QMK.

Fortunately, the keyboards listed here are popular QMK keyboards that have been verified by a lot of users and are highly recommended for QMK purposes. That’s it for the best QMK keyboards.

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