High Profile vs Low Profile Keyboard (Everything You Need to Know)
Now is the perfect time to switch to a low profile keyboard.
The problem with the conventional high-profile keyboards is the chubbier and heavier design. So to overcome this problem, recently launched low-profile keyboards are built with 30-40% shorter mechanical switches and keycaps in order to reduce the overall height and weight of the keyboard.
Whether you are about to purchase your first low-profile keyboard or searching for the motivation to replace your decade-old high-profile mechanical keyboard, this article is for you.
Let’s discuss the difference between these two types of mechanical keyboards and figure out which keyboard type is best to level up your gaming and typing skills.
But before we jump into the comparison, let us take a quick look at high and low-profile mechanical keyboards.
NOTE: We have found Keychron K3 and Logitech G915 as the best low-profile keyboards of 2022 in our expert review. Feel free to check them out.
A Short Intro to High-profile Mechanical Keyboards
Standard mechanical keyboards used by gamers and programmers are also known as high-profile keyboards.
The term ‘High-profile’ became popular amongst keyboard enthusiasts after the launch of low-profile keyboards. Otherwise, high-profile keyboards were famous as normal or standard mechanical keyboards in the past.
Keyboards are divided into two types: membrane keyboards and mechanical keyboards.
Most laptops have a built-in membrane keyboard. Another great example of a membrane keyboard can be the portable Apple Magic Keyboard. They are affordable, simple, and highly portable. You can easily carry them in your backpack.
In contrast to membrane keyboards, a mechanical keyboard equips a separate switch for each key. Dedicated switches allow mechanical keyboards to deliver greater performance and user satisfaction compared to portable membrane keyboards.
A typical mechanical switch consists of 3 major components: plunger, metal contacts, and spring. When you press the plunger, the metal contacts get closer to each other and complete the internal circuit to actuate the key. Refer to the following GIF to understand the working of mechanical switches.
Cherry is the first brand to invent high-profile mechanical switches. You might have heard about Cherry MX Blue, Red and Brown switches at some point in your life. Apart from Cherry, a few more brands named Kailh and Gateron are popular for designing high-performance mechanical switches.
Tactile feedback and scope of customization allow high-profile mechanical keyboards to dominate the market.
- Clackiness: Mechanical switches generate a clacky sound every time you press a them. This clacky feedback is well appreciated by gamers and programmers around the globe.
- Ergonomics: Unlike membrane keyboards, where you need to keep pressing the key until it hits the bottom of the board, a mechanical switch works on the principle of travel distance and actuation points (we will discuss this later in this article). They do not need to hit the bottom of the board to actuate the key.
- Customization: One of the main ingredients behind the popularity of mechanical keyboards is customization. One can easily play around with Blue, Red, and Brown MX switches and also keycaps of their choice. Not to mention the brands that are selling fully customized mechanical keyboards. There are an infinite number of keycaps available in the market.
High-profile keyboards have a huge fan base compared to the membrane and low-profile keyboards.
What is a Low-profile Keyboard?
New and advanced gadgets are making their way to the consumer market with growing technology. A low-profile keyboard is one of the new-tech on the table.
The term ‘low-profile’ was coined to highlight the reduced height of the keyboard.
IMHO the main goal behind inventing the low-profile keyboard is to minimize visual bulk, improve ergonomics and reduce wrist strain.
They are slimmer than high-profile keyboards, so the first thing you will notice in the above image is the height difference between the two keyboards.
A low-profile keyboard is built with shorter keycaps and low-profile switches designed by Cherry, Kailh, and Gateron.
The low-profile keyboard has become an excellent midway by sharing the properties of both the membrane and mechanical keyboards. In addition, its professional and minimalist design has been rising in popularity over the last few years among programmers and content creators.
The reduced height makes low-profile keyboards travel-friendly and portable. They are supposed to replace conventional high-profile mechanical and portable membrane keyboards.
High Profile vs Low Profile Keyboard
As stated earlier, the main difference between high-profile and low-profile keyboards is the tiny form factor, improved ergonomics, and instant actuation.
While looking closely, I haven’t come across a huge number of major differences between them. High and low-profile keyboards are similar in many aspects, and both provide sought-after tactical or clacky feedback.
But let’s discuss a few things you must know before making an informed decision.
For the sake of convenience, I have prepared a comparison table,
|Features||High Profile Keyboard||Low Profile Keyboard|
|Switches||Standard switches with comparatively greater height||Low-profile switches with shorter height|
|Keycaps||Taller keycaps with standard height||Shorter keycaps that are nearly 1/3rd of the standard high-profile keycaps|
|Travel Distance||3 to 4 mm||2 to 3 mm|
|Actuation Point||Around 2 mm||1 to 1.5 mm|
|Tactile or Clacky Feedback||High / Loud||Low|
|Ergonomics||Long-term usage can cause tensions in the wrist||Due to the low wrist angle, the chances of developing the wrist strain are quite low|
|Portability||Not portable||Compact and highly portable|
|Customization||Highly customizable||Less number of swappable switches and keycaps available in the market|
We will dive into the details of each comparison point in the upcoming sections of this article, so make sure to read till the end.
Moreover, as you have landed on this article to know if the low-profile keyboard can help you improve gaming skills and typing speed, we will try to answer it through the following points.
Now without any further ado, let’s begin.
#1 – Compact Design
The profile or height of a mechanical keyboard depends upon the type of switches and keycaps.
Conventional switches and keycaps are bigger and taller. So the overall height of the standard AKA high-profile mechanical keyboard is monstrous. Though in all honesty, these chunky keyboards have been at the heart of many gamers and programmers for years.
But technology is growing at an astronomical pace. And to get rid of the excessive height and bulkiness of high-profile mechanical keyboards, popular brands like Cherry invented smaller and shorter low-profile switches.
As a result, the latest mechanical keyboards (low-profile) are almost 40% thinner than their conventional high-profile counterparts.
You might think that the reduced switch size may also lower the clacky sound and hamper the tactile feel of the keyboard. But that’s not the case; the low-profile switches produce similar clacky sound at an acceptable intensity, so do not worry.
When we talk about the design of the board or frame, a low-profile keyboard has a sleek and minimalist board compared to a high-profile keyboard.
Another noticeable difference is that the high-profile keyboards have their switches mounted inside the keyboard. Whereas in the case of low-profile keyboards, the switches are mounted on the top of the keyboard.
#2 – Ergonomics
Enhancing ergonomics is one of the main reasons behind launching an improved version of conventional high-profile keyboards.
A keyboard is the main tool for many people spending most of their time in front of a laptop or computer.
Typing or using the keyboard for hours causes finger pain and wrist strain. Again, the keyboard height plays a crucial role here. The higher the keyboard’s height, the greater the stress on the wrist.
This particularly happens in the case of conventional mechanical keyboards where the wrist angle is high due to the height of the keyboard. The wrist angle is nothing but the angle between your hand resting on the surface of the table and the top of the keycap (please refer to the above image).
The wrist strain increases with the higher wrist angles.
Whereas in the case of low-profile keyboards, the shorter height helps you significantly reduce the wrist strain. And you don’t have to raise your hands so much to type on low-profile keyboards.
This simply means that low-profile keyboards are more ergonomic than high-profile keyboards.
You might already be using the plam rests for your high-profile keyboard to fix the unhealthy wrist angle. But using low-profile keyboards will eliminate the need for such additional accessories forever.
#3 – Impact on Gaming and Typing Skills
Extremely fast typing is possible with low-profile keyboards due to the short travel distance and actuation time compared to high-profile keyboards.
The travel distance is nothing but the total distance a key has to travel to reach the bottom of the keyboard.
As discussed earlier, the membrane keyboard key has to hit bottom to actuate the key.
On the other hand, the switches in mechanical keyboards use actuation points. It is the minimum travel distance required for actuating the key. It means you have to press the key until it reaches the actuation point to actuate the key.
Let’s compare the travel distances and actuation points of High-profile and Low-profile Cherry MX Red Switches.
|High Profile||Low Profile|
|Travel Distance||4 mm||3.2 mm|
|Actuatuion Point||2 mm||1.2 mm|
From the above comparison, it is clear that low-profile switches travel less distance than high-profile switches to actuate the key.
In other words, low-profile switches are faster than conventional high-profile switches.
This is especially beneficial for gamers. The fast activation can offer a competitive edge because the delay of milliseconds can change the outcome.
At the same time, as even slight pressure can activate the key, you are supposed to face lots of typos and typing errors in the beginning. For programmers, this becomes a serious issue because even a single typo is sufficient to ruin the whole program.
But you can solve this problem by getting used to the feel of low-profile keyboards with continuous practice and consistency.
#4 – Portability
If you have ever dreamed of a sleek and portable mechanical keyboard, then now is the time for your dream to come true.
Thin, lightweight, and extremely handy low-profile keyboards outperform conventional high-profile keyboards when it comes to portability.
You will find that the low-profile keyboards are sold as an ultra-slim alternative to their high-profile counterparts.
The weight of the low-profile keyboard is almost equal to the portable membrane keyboards like Apple Magic Keyboard. Also, the thickness can be compared to the height of an average laptop.
A low-profile keyboard is especially useful for people on the go.
If you are a gamer, freelancer, or content creator who has to travel often, then this keyboard is made for you. It can easily fit into your backpack.
#5 – Clacky and Tactile Feedback
Clackiness is the main ingredient behind the success of mechanical keyboards. For years high-profile mechanical keyboards have been killing the market with their soothing tactile feedback.
Since their release, professional gamers and programmers have been raving about the tactile feedback of mechanical keyboards. This highly appreciated feature of mechanical keyboards gives you strategic feedback about the activation of the key.
With each clacky sound, you will get to know that the key has been pressed.
In contrast to the conventional high-profile keyboards that use high-profile switches, the low-profile keyboards equip low-profile switches. Here the interesting fact to know is the working principle which remains the same for both switches.
So we can safely conclude that the low-profile switches also generate a clacky sound followed by each keystroke. But the point here is the intensity of the sound, which is quite low compared to high-profile switches.
However, the intensity of the sound is the user’s personal preference. It depends on various things, including the use case, surrounding environment, profession, etc.
If you’ll ask me, I am a content creator who may never wish to bother everyone with Cherry MX Blue Switches at my office. Not to mention but I just wish to hear a smooth clacky sound to ensure that the key is pressed successfully.
#6 – Customization
Keyboard customization is a popular hobby and also a trend to follow.
Mechanical keyboards equip swappable switches and replaceable keycaps. Different types of switches and an infinite number of colorful keycaps are the second ingredients behind the success of mechanical keyboards.
Standard high-profile keyboards dominate low-profile keyboards when it comes to customization.
Let me explain why
Low-profile switches are available in two variants, as shown in the above image.
You may notice that the low-profile switches are available in conventional MX style. However, their dimensions are slightly different than that of standard switches. In other words, they are not compatible with regular switch slots and keycaps.
This is the major downside of low-profile keyboards and a red flag for people that embrace keyboard customization.
IMHO, low-profile keyboards are new to the market. So the number of swappable low-profile switches and replaceable keycaps available is less. However, you can expect this number to increase in the future years.
#7 – Pricing
When it comes to high-profile keyboards, the competition is high because of the popularity rise and increasing demand over time. As a result, many brands have come up with excellent high-profile keyboards at a price affordable to everyone.
On the other hand, the low-profile keyboards have insane price points and fewer options to choose from. Keyboard expert says that low-profile keyboards are expensive because they offer a premium aura with a professional, sleek, and minimalist design.
Moreover, 2022’s best options are limited to popular brands like Logitech, Keychron, and Corsair. For example, the approximate cost of the popular Keychron K3 Ultra-slim Low Profile Keyboard with Blue Gateron Switch is around $100.
#8 – Usability
High-profile keyboards have been proven to offer 100% customer satisfaction over the past years.
“Will a low-profile keyboard be able to do the same?”
From us, the answer to this question is a big yes. Low-profile keyboards are designed to offer a similar feel and performance of high-profile keyboards.
In reality, compact gadgets nowadays are less versatile because they are mainly focused on portability and people on the go. They cannot withstand heavy and long-term applications.
But the main goal behind the invention of low-profile keyboards is not to make them compact and travel-friendly but to reduce the excessive visual height and improve ergonomics. In that sense, their performance and long-term usability are not questionable at all.
Also, low-profile switches are designed and tested by reputable manufacturers like Cherry, Kailh, Gateron, etc.
Things are pretty sorted on the low-profile keyboard’s end.
And ultimately, we can trust them without any worry.
Conclusion – Are Low Profile Keyboards Worth Investing?
Low-profile keyboards are the best choice for you if you want something aesthetically pleasing, more ergonomic, quick to respond, and portable.
By choosing a low-profile keyboard over the conventional high-profile keyboard, you will be unable to play around with swappable switches and a range of custom keycaps, at least in 2022.
Also, while we talk about the tactile feedback, the clackiness remains almost the same for both of them. Surely, without any doubt, high-profile keyboards are more clacky than low-profile keyboards.
However, I believe you want feedback or a smooth, pleasing, and satisfying sound while you type on your keyboard instead of noise that may disturb your teammates and coworkers.
The choice of the keyboard according to the tactile feedback is subject to the user’s personal preference. In our testing, we found the input sound or clacky feedback provided by the low-profile keyboard is acceptable and similarly pleasing.
Finally, the price tag remains a crucial part of any purchase regardless of everything. So in the case of low-profile keyboards, you may feel like spending much more than a high-profile keyboard but trust me, they are worth it.
We have found Keychron K3 and Logitech G915 as the best low-profile keyboards of 2022 in our expert review.
Let us know your thoughts on high-profile and low-profile keyboards in the comment section.