Best Mechanical Keyboard Kits in 2022

Atif Liaqat | Last Updated On January 2nd, 2022

Once you go full-on mechanical, there’s no going back to plain old membranes. A mechanical keyboard has that extra feel on every key that hits back at you and gives you a solid response. These mechanical keyboards have a very unique sensation that makes typing and gaming a very intense and enjoyable experience.

DIY Mechanical keyboards have been a thing for quite a while now. Gamers and typing enthusiasts would dedicate their time, effort and money to build their own keyboards so that they could experiment with their own creativity and flex on “them peasants”.

These DIY options were very attractive because of their huge customization features. You could have a wide range of colors; for your keycaps and cases, programmable RGB modes, smaller keyboards; with fewer keys and a wide variety of cases made out of wood, aluminum, plastic, acrylic and so on.

To help you get started on your DIY keyboard journey, I’ve compiled a list of the best mechanical keyboard kits out there on the market. These will help you get started on building your very own customizable keyboard in no time. The great thing about these DIY kits is that you can play around with different mechanical switches, keycaps and cases to match your style and experience.

Quick Mechanical Keyboard Kits Recommendations

Award Model Price
Best Full Size Mechanical Keyboard Kit GMMK Full Size Barebone Edition Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Best 96% Mechanical Keyboard Kit Drop Shift 1800-Compact Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Best 75% Mechanical Keyboard Kit GMMK Pro 75% Keyboard Kit Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Best 65% Mechanical Keyboard Kit Drop ALT Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Best 60% Mechanical Keyboard Kit Glorious GMMK Modular Mechanical Keyboard – 60% Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Best 40% Mechanical Keyboard Kit Drop Planck Check Price Read Customer Reviews
60% Mechanical Keyboard kit alternative, Personal Favorite EPOMAKER GK61XS 60% Check Price Read Customer Reviews

What to look for when getting a new kit

repairing a mechanical keyboard with blue switches

So you’re looking to buy a new mechanical keyboard kit but you don’t know about the necessary parts. Getting a pre-built with hot swappable switches is easy but DIY kits are a different story altogether. In this quick session I’ll list out the parts that you need to look out for.

Barebones Edition

Most mechanical keyboards on Amazon are pre-built so that you can easily plug-and-play these keyboards directly into your PC, including some DIY kits that are already pieced together when it is being delivered to you.

In order to recognize if the kit you are getting is pre-built or not there’s an option called the “Barebones kit”. Like the name suggests, it consists of the barebones essentials such as the Case, PCB, plate and sometimes, the USB-C Cable.

You need to buy the remaining key switches and key caps yourself. But remember that some of these kits (even the ones in our list) come with pre-built options as well, so you have the option to choose between a barebones version or the pre-built.

Case

When you can’t build a case, you buy one. All of these keyboard kits provide cases that come in different materials such as plastic, aluminum, acrylic and even wood. Plastic and aluminum cases are usually cheaper while wood is more of a luxury.

PCB

The next part is the printed circuit board (PCB). It consists of all the electronic components that are used to relay the keyboard signals to the PC. The switches that get actuated will close a circuit and will send a signal to the PC that corresponds to the key that is being pressed.

Most of these kits provide universally compatible sockets for your switches, so there is no need to solder the switches onto the PCB. This is where the famous term “Hot swappable” comes in.

For beginners I wouldn’t recommend soldering as it is a time-consuming process and requires another set of tools such as a soldering iron. Besides, with hot swappable switches you can experiment with each type of switch and figure out what is best for you.

Connectivity

USB cable plug isolated on white background

This is the other factor that you should be concerned about. In most cheaper pre-built mechanical keyboards, you would come across non-detachable cables. These cables can be difficult to deal with because of their short length and low durability.

In other kits you would come across USB-C detachable cables, these are the better option and allows you to customize your setup with any color or length of cable you desire, so be on the lookout for these.

On the other hand you could entirely get rid of the cables with the help of a wireless keyboard. These connect to the PC via bluetooth and run on batteries located inside the keyboard. They are awesome if you want to make your entire setup look cleaner with fewer wires but it’s not a long-term heavy duty solution. Most gamers usually stray away from bluetooth even if they have the option.

The Best Mechanical Keyboard Kits

A decent DIY kit, the GMMK Full Size Barebone Edition will get you started with your first DIY mechanical keyboard kit, it’s beginner-friendly and has all the bells and whistles you could expect from a mechanical keyboard. The full-size form factor has all the keys to make sure that you will be crunching numbers at 9 and playing minecraft at 10.

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  • Size
    • Full size
  • Keys
    • 104
  • Backlight
    • RGB
  • Cable
    • Non detachable
  • Hot Swappable
    • Available
  • Programmable
    • RGB fully programmable

Review

The Glorious GMMK modular mechanical keyboard is a great addition to the DIY world. It’s a very affordable (relative to mechanical keyboards) barebones kit that includes the case, PCB and cable. Slap on some key switches and keycaps (of your choice) and you are good to go.

In this lineup, we are getting started with a full-size form factor and slowly moving down towards smaller sizes. If you are someone that uses the 10-Key numpad a lot, then you better stick to these full-size (100%) and compact (96%) keyboards.

Personally, I use the numpad whenever I have to type a long string of numbers, such as the pin for my account login and credit card information after I receive an email from a Nigerian prince.

The RGB is fully programmable and the case is made from plastic. I know it looks cheap, but this is a very reliable kit. It may not look the best, but it is definitely worth the price.

The layout looks very clean and there’s a lot of space in-between keys. You could go for a more spacious and abundant look with this keyboard as it’s got the standard 104 key with the standard layout.

What We Like
Price - This is a good full-size kit that’s got a decent price point. It’s great for beginners, and the programmable RGB feature alone could keep you entertained for hours.
Know Before Buying
Versatility - Lacks wireless features and the cable cannot be detached. So this leaves out the ability to use custom cables. I know that this is a more beginner friendly kit, but they could have given the ability to customize the cable so that more beginners would be able to fully mix and match as they please.
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A more premium member among the fold, the Drop Shift 1800-Compact looks great and it feels just as well. Added with a ton of features, this mechanical keyboard kit will keep you coming back, again and again for that beautiful aesthetic and premium build quality.

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  • Size
    • 1800-Compact (96%)
  • Keys
    • 96
  • Backlight
    • RGB
  • Cable
    • USB-C Detachable
  • Hot Swappable
    • Kalih Hot Swap switches
  • Programmable
    • RGB and hotkeys

Review

The Drop Shift 1800- Compact is a premium motherboard. It’s got the most essential features along with a solid build quality that’s made to last. If you take good care of it, this mechanical keyboard will stand the test of time and will let you keep pumping out those keystrokes for as long as you wish.

This form factor is something which really stands out to me, it is my favorite as it strikes the perfect balance between form and function. This form factor accommodates the ten-digit keys without wasting a lot of space. Everything looks neatly tucked away and it looks very well optimized in terms of space.

The premium plastic case and aluminum frame is another factor that adds to the overall aesthetic, without compromising the strength and durability of the case. The all-white design looks very cool and gives off serious Magic Keyboard vibes.

What We Like
Build Quality - The look and feel of this entire keyboard is amazing. The anodized aluminum frame along with the premium plastic gives the case a more premium finish. Along with that the plastic is also very durable and won’t decay with time. Coupled with some matching keycaps, and this baby is gonna look fancy.
Know Before Buying
Price - The price is not so appealing to the average consumer, it’s much pricier than most entry-level kits and even though most would argue that you get exactly what you pay for, it is, however, a very significant investment. I wouldn’t recommend newbies getting started off with this kit. 
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This time we are going smaller and getting rid of the 10 digit keypad entirely, so accountants: beware, these keyboards are not for you, especially the GMMK Pro 75% barebones premium. A good choice for the more, seasoned enthusiasts out there.

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  • Size
    • Tenkeyless (75%)
  • Keys
    • 86
  • Backlight
    • RGB
  • Cable
    • USB-C Detachable 2.0
  • Hot Swappable
    • Kalih Hot Swap switches
  • Programmable
    • Rotary Encoder
    • RGB side lighting

Review

The GMMK Pro 75% is a sight to behold, the White-Ice version gives off more Apple Magic Keyboard vibes but in a much more premium looking build. Right off the bat, this case looks very sleek but very sturdy, a perfect kit for seasoned veterans and amateurs; who wouldn’t miss the 10-digit keypad.

The optional features on this kit are just amazing, the rotary encoder is something you won’t normally see in most keyboards and they have integrated this knob in a very subtle manner. It blends in with the all-white color scheme and looks even better with the adjacent RGB lighting.

The side RGB lights are a cool new feature, it adds to this futuristic design. The customization features are endless especially when you have an open-source firmware where you can easily find compatible software.

Another cool new feature is the gasket mounted plate design. This plate helps give off better haptic feedback and a more satisfying “click”. Coupled with the Cherry MX blue, this would be perfect for gamers and disastrous for open-offices.

What We Like
Price - Although it isn’t the cheapest entry on this list, the price is decent enough. For such a good looking kit they didn’t go overboard with the pricing. Seasoned veterans aside, it is also a good option for beginners who have done their homework and are hoping to invest their time in a high-quality keyboard.
Aesthetics - This keyboard looks cool, no doubt about it. Glorious went the extra mile here by adding the rotary encoder, side lighting and a gasket mounted plate. The layout looks very clean and the PCB looks very orderly as well. This is a great option in terms of customization alone.
Know Before Buying
Versatility - Despite the detachable USB-C cable, we don’t get any wireless functionality with this kit. It would have been great to use this keyboard wirelessly as it would look a lot cooler and be a lot easier to use. 
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A stylish look in a more compact space, the Drop ALT 67 Key is a great find for many gamers and enthusiasts. The RGB features, along with the sturdy design makes it very handy for a quick gaming session while keeping enough functionality to perform other basic tasks as well. Although it lacks the function keys, this keyboard has a lot of functionality in both performance and customization. 

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  • Size
    • 65% Tenkeyless and without function keys
  • Keys
    • 67
  • Backlight
    • RGB
  • Cable
    • USB-C Detachable 2.0, ports at both top left and top right
  • Hot Swappable
    • Available for MX blue, MX brown and Halo clear
  • Programmable
    • RGB
    • Macros

Review

The Drop ALT looks simple enough, but it has a ton of functionality hidden beneath those keycaps. It’s a perfect addition for many gaming and typing enthusiasts who need some semblance of control over their components.

The Frame is made from aluminum along with a plastic case, and this entire case has an RGB stripe going around it. This is a very cool feature that’s absent in most conventional keyboard kits and it also helps add to the under-lighting of the RGB components.

In terms of color options for the case, you’ve got the space gray version that gives it that premium look and the all-out black version which unfortunately, makes the keyboard look like cheap plastic from up-close. You could easily remedy this by setting up some high-quality looking keycaps along with a matching RGB setting, so it’s not that big of a deal. What’s great about these keyboards is that you’ve always got the opportunity to mix and match as you go along.

The PCB accepts only 3-pin switches, so that’s something to look out for, along with that, the other noteworthy feature are the cherry-style stabilizers. These are very durable and sturdy stabilizers that will perform consistently.

In the right hands, the Drop ALT can be a very efficient and very durable keyboard that will continue to serve you without fail, for a very long time.

What We Like
Price - The barebones version is not very expensive and it could be a good option for most beginners, provided that you will be missing out on the 10 digit keypad and the function keys. 
Aesthetics - The RGB stripe and the ton of programmable options on the individual keys make it a very aesthetically pleasing keyboard. With time, effort and the proper keycaps you’ve got a great addition that perfectly compliments your setup.
Know Before Buying
Versatility - Like I mentioned previously on the GMMK Pro 75%, the lack of wireless functionality is the only feature that is holding this back. I’d love to have a wireless mechanical keyboard that I could swing around whenever I want to, without worrying about the cables and damage done to the USB ports. Once again, it’s not a big deal but there are a few who would prefer to go wireless.
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Another solid recommendation of the Glorious PC Gaming Race. The GMMK modular 60% is a neat little package with all the crucial components. The barebones edition is a great addition for gamers and other enthusiasts because, it’s performance and customization is unrivalled by many other entries in this list. Glorious PC Gaming Race did a great job of finding the perfect name in order to relate to the gamers, while also providing great mechanical keyboard kits on the side. 

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  • Size
    • 60% Tenkeyless and without separate function keys, arrow keys
  • Keys
    • 61
  • Backlight
    • RGB
  • Cable
    • USB-C Detachable 2.0 port at the top left
  • Hot Swappable
    • Available for Cherry’s, Gateron’s, or Kailh switches
  • Programmable
    • RGB

Review

Another great kit by glorious. By using just one amazon listing they are showing off three different sizes and all of these are great affordable options. The color scheme is the plain-old black where the finishing doesn’t look like cheap plastic.

The hot swappable feature is amazing, and unlike many other kits, the GMMK provides fully modular support for most of the available key switches out there, whether it’s Cherry, Gateron or Kalih, every switch is supported in this 3-pin PCB.

Even though we don’t see any fancy RGB stripes or rings, we do have the ability to choose from 16.8 million RGB combinations with fully customizable brightness and effects. You could also customize the RGB functionality of each individual key. (if that’s something you might want to do) The creative freedom is endless.

What We Like
Price - Like many of GMMK entries in this lineup, these kits are considerably cheaper than others. The value provided by these kits are amazing and depending on your preference of the keyboard form factor, these could be a great addition to your gaming setup. 
Aesthetic - Although these entries come in only one color, it is more than enough to showcase the kit’s minimalistic form and the hugely abundant RGB options. Despite missing some underlighting and fancy RGB stripes, this kit truly defines the term: “quality over quantity”.
Know Before Buying
Versatility - As we’ve seen time and time again with these affordable DIY kits, there is no room to integrate a wireless connectivity feature into these keyboards. Along with that another gripe I have with this is that I would love to have more color options for the case. 
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Thinking of going even smaller? The Drop Planck is the best option for all your 40 percenters out there. An ultra-minimalist design for all those obsessed with reducing as much space as possible. To some, it is a perfectly engineered marvel while for others, it’s a small board with huge buttons on it, with useless buttons, not enough to type in the numerical pin to unlock your PC. 

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  • Size
    • 40% Tenkeyless and without separate function keys, arrow keys, home cluster.
  • Keys
    • 45
  • Backlight
    • No RGB
  • Cable
    • USB-C Detachable 2.0 port at the top left
  • Hot Swappable
    • Kaihua hot swap switches
  • Programmable
    • PCB only

Review

This is the smallest you can go, anything smaller and you’ll have to settle for a split-key set. The Drop Planck is perfect for those living in the cage homes of South Korea, a minimalistic design that eliminates a lot of unnecessary keys and bundles them all into a 45 key package.

Right off the bat, the anodized aluminum case is very stylish, the finish has a premium look and feel to it. The case is very thick and sturdy. The PCB looks neat enough and it’s compatible with the most widely used QMK firmware, making it easier to program the macros and other functions except RGB.

The new integrated speaker however is a nice little addition, it’s not just for show either, it’s fully programmable so that you can make it do different “beeps and boops” whenever you press a certain key.

The Drop Planck is released in three different colors: green, black and space-grey along with two different heights: the Mid-Pro and High-Pro, I’ll let you decide which one has the most height.

The ortholinear layout is also something that needs to be considered here, it’s going to make it very easier for you to reach the keys, allowing for more speed, fast and furious style.

What We Like
Price - A relatively cheap keyboard kit, although not as affordable as the GMMK, the Drop Planck is good enough for amateurs that want to experiment with the extreme form factor. It’s a great addition for gamers who want to wave their mouse around without the keyboard getting in the way.
Know Before Buying
Aesthetic - Don’t get me wrong, I love a good 40% mechanical keyboard as much as the next man but the lack of RGB just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s a bold move but how will I be able to get a better aim when I don’t have a blood red RGB light pulsing out from the keyboard, it’s just not possible, I don’t think the council of gamers would approve of this defiance.
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Another compact design and another full set of features, the EPOMAKER GK61XS by Skylon is a great addition to your tiny PC build, especially if you don’t like GMMK’s PC race elitism. This is the perfect anti-hero to GMMK just by the lack of extensive RGB features and the availability of wireless connectivity. I’m more tempted to recommend this as they have done something that most other kits have failed to do.

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  • Size
    • 60% Tenkeyless and without separate function keys, arrow keys
  • Keys
    • 61
  • Backlight
    • RGB
  • Cable
    • USB-C Detachable 2.0 port
    • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Hot Swappable
    • Available with Gateron Blue Switches but compatible with Cherry and Kalih switches as well
  • Programmable
    • RGB
    • Macros
    • Full-key and presets

Review

A mechanical keyboard kit with some bluetooth connectivity, such a rare find. The EPOMAKER GK61XS 60% is very different from many of the other products in this lineup. The entire kit gives off a very retro windows XP vibe while still retaining a more premium looking finish. The material on the case is something called “Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene”, definitely not some cheap plastic, trust me guys, this new material has a first name, middle name and last name, so you know it’s good.

Also a rare keyboard with bluetooth functionality, this is a great win for us cable-free minimalists out there. Powered by a 1900 mAh battery this is a good option if you choose to switch back and forth between wired and wireless.

This keyboard is gonna look perfect on your desk with the grey white or grey black color options. There is no bare-bones version for sale and instead you get the option between Gateron blue and Gateron brown, if you don’t like these switches you can always swap them out, as the layout is fully hot swappable for most common switch types such as the Cherry MX, Kalih and Gateron switches.

What We Like
Price - The price is affordable for most entry-level gamers and enthusiasts, it is almost similar to the GMMK but I believe that this kit offers a higher value for money. A good option for entry-level noobs looking to get into a more compact keyboard.
Versatility - The bluetooth connectivity is another one of it’s saving graces. Most of the other kits lack this feature and because of this, the EPOMAKER GK61XS is highly regarded as a solid contender to the GMMK.
Know Before Buying
Aesthetic - I have to be honest, there aren't a lot of color options, and the finishing looks a little cheap. I could attribute this to the compact size and the low price tag and it’s apparent that they made some compromises with the appearance in order to make sure that everything else gets properly balanced, I can respect that, but for others, who are looking for a more beautiful keyboard with tons of RGB functionality and customization, this won’t be a good fit for them. So take note of that if you are considering this kit.
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Conclusion

Best Full Size Mechanical Keyboard Kit
Best 96% Mechanical Keyboard Kit
Best 75% Mechanical Keyboard Kit

So there you have it folks, six of the best mechanical keyboard fits for various sizes along with an extra personal favorite. Getting started with a DIY mechanical keyboard is no easy task, there’s a lot of time and effort involved in picking out the right parts, doing your research and getting down setting it all up; but when everything comes together, it can be a very rewarding experience.

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