Keychron K8 Pro: Great wireless keyboard for the Mac
Keychron is widely know for their affordable range of mechanical keyboards that works well with MacOS. When I decided to get a wireless TKL (ten key less) mechanical keyboard, I was deliberating between getting one Logitech G, specifically the G915 TKL, or this Keychron K8 Pro. My two key considerations was MacOS compatibility and the keyboards configurability.
First look at the Keychron K8 Pro
When the Keychron K8 Pro got delivered to me, the first impression I had when I picked up the package was “Wow, this keyboard is has heft!” Soon enough, I understood why. The keyboard comes in a nice cardboard box that sufficiently protects the keyboard during shipment. Inside, you will find the keyboard protected between foams.
I’ll get to the keyboard itself soon. But inside the box, you will also find a bunch of a set of allan key and screw driver you will need to dismantle the keyboard, the keycap and switch remover tool, a set of Windows keycaps and a USB Type-C to Type-A cable.
Now for the Keychron K8 Pro keyboard itself. The keyboard is really well built. The keycaps are quite wonderful to type on and the brown Gateron G Pro switches are just amazing. All in all, my very impressed with the K8 Pro even before using it. You can really feel the make quality with the material used and the heft of the unit itself.
Amazing built quality
And speaking of its weight, the Keychron K8 Pro RGB Aluminium case version weighs in at 1293 grams! I’m quite sure it’s the heaviest keyboard I’ve ever used. Yes. 1293 grams (2.85 lbs). That’s almost as heavy as a 13″ MacBook Pro.
Due to its weight, the Keychron K8 Pro will sit solidly on the table no matter how hard you type on it. Rock solid! You can raise the keyboard by 6º & 9º degree with the feet under the keyboard.
Connectivity and VIA configuration
As I shared earlier, Bluetooth wireless connectivity is a major consideration for me with this new keyboard. The Keychron K8 Pro includes Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity which has so far flawlessly so far. You can find the switch for the connectivity mode on the left side of the keyboard, along with the switch between Windows/Android and MacOS mode and the USB Type-C port.
You will need to use the USB cable to get the keyboard to be detected in VIA software. But once loaded and saved on your K8 Pro, the new layout configuration will continue to work on wireless mode.
I highly recommend checking out the guide here to know how to get VIA to work with the K8 Pro. The guide is meant for the Q-series keyboards but it works just the same with the K8 Pro. You will also need to get the K8 Pro’s keymap json that Keychron posted here. Make sure you pick the right one, i.e ANSI / ISO and white/RGB backlight. You can find these files on Keychron’s page for the K8 Pro.
The ability to customise the K8 keyboard software is the reason I went with the Pro version of the K8 which has VIA and QMK support. I’ve only scratched the surface with the customisation options for the K8 Pro using VIA, and I’ve yet to start playing around with QMK to rework the firmware.
Using the Keychron K8 Pro
Overall, the K8 Pro with Keychron’s own OSA profile PBT keycaps and the brown Gateron G Pro switches types really well. It is quieter than I’ve expected. The keyboard’s sound-absorbing foam and silicone bottom pad does a great job minimising the “clacking” noise of the keys, producing a very pleasant “thock”sound instead.
If you have concerns that the aluminium frame causes the sides to rise up too much, don’t worry. The keycaps are raised high enough that your fingers would never really be bothered by the frame. Personally I prefer the aluminium frame upgrade as it gives an additional heft to the keyboard and it gives the keyboard a nice feel when you hold it.
The Keychron K8 Pro provides 3 LEDs to indicators. However, I find that the only one that is really useful is the Caps Lock LED indicator at the far right. The left one is for when the keyboard is charging and the middle indicating Bluetooth connection. But when the keyboard is actually being used in Bluetooth wireless mode, the LED only lights up during the initial connection phase. Once connected, it turns off.
What would be nice though is if the keyboard is already configured to light up or change the colour of the Caps Lock backlight. I’d imagine that to be far more useful as you can visibly see the light where the Caps Lock key is. Maybe that’s a QMK project for another day.
Speaking of clever uses of the backlight, the way Keychron shows the battery level of the K8 Pro is rather cool. The default hot-key for the battery level is fn+b. When pressed, the keyboard would use the backlight from 1-0 keys to show the battery level.
The brown Gateron G Pro switches
Personally, I’m no expert with the many different keyboard switches there are out there. My only experience with mechanical keyboards are from the old days of IBM and Apple keyboards back in the 80s, and a recent return to mechanical keyboards 2 years ago with the Cherry MX brown switch Cooler Master MK750. So all I can say is that I really like how the brown Gateron G Pro switch feels. The tactile behaviour of the switch is really nice, at least for me.
For the larger keys, the Keychron K8 Pro also has screw-in stabilisers installed to make the keys less wobbly, specially for the space bar, shift, enter and backspace keys.
The RGB backlight
For some reason, Keychron only sells the K8 Pro with the aluminium frame along with the RGB backlight. While it’s fun to have all full RGB colours for the backlight. I found that I’ve hardly turned in on since using the Keychron K8 Pro.
The keyboard already comes with a few backlight mode pre-configure and all you need to to just hit the backlight mode change hotkeys to cycle through the different versions. The Keychron K8 Pro sports a south-facing LED configuration. It supposed better for you to see the lighting. But that’s only because the keycaps are not the shine-through type. And having it south-facing makes it really hard to find compatible key caps. Most of the shine-through key caps only works well with north facing lights.
Personally, this isn’t a big deal for me. I hardly use the RGB lighting anyways. And even when I do, I’ve configured it to be the still mode in “white”. Simple.
Final verdict: The Keychron K8 Pro lives up to the hype
The Keychron K8 Pro really is a great wireless keyboard to pair with your Mac. There’s a lot to like about the keyboard.
- Amazing build quality
- Flawless Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity
- Great MacOS compatibility out of the box
- Customisable using VIA and QMK
- Brown Gateron G Pro switches have a really nice tactile feel
- The PBT key caps is very nice to type on
- Quiet for a mechanical keyboard, no additional modding required
The bad? I can’t really think of any really. But if I had to choose one, perhaps it’s the decision to use a south-facing backlight configuration for the K8 Pro. The non-Pro K8 has a shine-through key cap with a north-facing backlight. Why not use the same?
But all in all, I’m very happy with the choice I’ve made. So if you’re considering one, go ahead. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on a great, yet affordable mechanical keyboard from Keychron.
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