Best thocky prebuilt for a newbie

Looking to get my first mechanical! Dipping toes in so don’t necessarily want to build quite yet, but super down for something barebones or needing only minor mods.

Have looked at Keychron Q2 and Q1 but they seem pretty naturally clacky.

Have also checked out the below:
Tofu 65v2
Epomaker TH80

Hoping for something either 75% or 65%, wireless and around $150-20 barebones.

Know this is super broad and newbie but would love any help!

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My go-to great-sounding prebuilt recommendation these days is the Luminkey75.

Another two to consider for your list:

  • Yunzii AL71 / AL66 - these are shockingly decent pre-built boards also available in barebones versions. The numbers in the names are how many keys they have, with the 66 including a knob. Both are hot-swap “tri-mode”, which means they have USB, Bluetooh, and 2.4ghz dongle connectivity. Both are also full RGB. They come in a handful of colors and feature a polycarb plate.

  • Neo65 - an outstanding barebones kit that looks, sounds, and feels like a high-end custom with a price closer to something from the department store. There are soldered, RGB hot-swap, and hot-swap tri-mode versions available, along with a selection of plate materials and case finishes.

I think both of these represent a convergence towards the less-expensive end of what I call the middle-market from either end, with the Yunzii representing how “budget” boards have improved over the years, and the Neo representing how custom-oriented boards have become more affordable.

Edit; almost forgot I have recordings of both:

Different switches, conditions, all that jazz - but at least gives a general idea of what these sound like with linears in them.

Another edit, about “thock” in general:

  • the recommendations are for general quality; but for chasing the t-word, choose softer plate materials like polycarb (which the above either have or have as an option) or POM

  • Taller keycaps tend to make deeper sounds. Keycap material makes a difference, too, but I’ve found that to be more situational and less universal. In my collection, the the deepest-sounding keycaps are ABS material MT3 profile

  • Softer case materials like plastic also tend to yield deeper sounds; one of the deepest-sounding keyboards I own is a hollow plastic box (BBOX 60)

  • Switches also matter quite a bit; off the top of my head switches like Oil Kings, New North Pole 2.0s, and Black Sesames are examples of deeper-sounding switches

Okay one last edit now that I’ve properly ruminated on the whole question and noticed it happens to align with what’s on my desk today - this was going to be a post in that thread, but it’s relevant to this ask so here we go:

One more to consider, maybe more as a format example than a specific one to buy just because it costs quite a bit more than the other two I recommended:

  • MelGeek Mojo68, as configured on my desk today: this is an all-plastic prebuilt 65% hot-swap tri-mode RBG keyboard from a few years ago, and I have some dampened linears and those ABS MT3 keycaps I mentioned on it. I bring this one up because it’s a prebuilt that’s very easy to get a deep sound from, and if you really want one for less than the $200 MSRP I bet you can find one used. Here’s what mine sounds like, complete with stabs that haven’t had attention in years:

All the stuff I mentioned above plus a little more is helping this keyboard sound deep:

  • Plastic, roomy case
  • Tall, thick keycaps
  • Dampened switches tend to make a deeper, if softer sound
  • Like the other two, it has a plastic plate and dampened mounting

It looks like this - mine is the “pigeon” colorway, but it comes in a bunch of colors:

Here’s the “desk” I’ve been using it on, the control station of a print embellishment machine:

That thing that looks like a phone with my avatar on it is actually an e-ink Android device I use for writing - it’s like an endless notebook with a bluetooth connection to my keyboard. (A benefit of all three keyboards I mentioned here is that they can easily connect to devices like this, or your phone.)


Woah!! This is such an in-depth overview. Thanks so much for taking the time.

What are your thoughts on saving up some money and going for the Mode Envoy or Sonnet? I know it’s a considerable jump from the $200 max, but it seems like a more “serious”’entry point yet still decent value.

That Neo and a lot of the others you mentioned are super tempting though.

Most welcome!

I love my Envoy, easily one of my favorite keyboards. I think Neo genuinely gives it a run for its money, though, as it’s very tough for me to pick a favorite between them. Both are fantastic keyboards, and among the two I’m happiest to own. Obv the Neo wins on value, but the Mode has fairly unique mounting blocks and of course those gorgeous accent options.

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Consider the Bauer Lite as well. I’ve typed on a couple. Lightweight but solid, and there should be an internal weight coming soon. Plenty of links to streamers on there. I believe you can buy spare tops, an aluminum plate, and so on to mix and match colors if you like.


Im pretty new to mechanical keyboards but since others mentioned the Bauer Lite, Envoy, and Neo65 - I actually own the first 2 and just placed an order for the neo80 this week so I figured I’d share my experience so far.

First and foremost if you’re new to mechanical keyboards like I am, both the Bauer lite and Envoy are in-stock which I recommend mainly because parts are usually easier to acquire in case your PCB is bad or you want to change things around. I ordered the Neo80 from qwertykeys so its around a 4-6 week wait.

As far as how they sound, I absolutely love both the Envoy and the Bauer lite so it’s hard to recommend one over the other. I’m using WS Morandi switches in both (highy recommend) and PBT keycaps so they have a similar deep and marbly sound with the Bauer lite being a tad louder and the Envoy being a bit deeper, muted, and even more marbly sounding due to the POM plate and foam kit (add-on). You honestly can’t go wrong with either, however since the Envoy has more plate options and the foam kit add-on it makes it a lot easier to “tune” the board to the sound you want.

Only thing to be aware of with the Envoy is that some people have complained about the set screws that hold the PCB down to the tray, saying it affects the sound of certain keys near the screws. I just screwed them halfway down and honestly can’t tell the difference. Lastly while I can’t comment on the Neo since I just ordered, based on price and features alone it is the best value of the 3. All the reviews I’ve seen online seem to point to it being the deepest sounding of the 3 in a stock config but we’ll see.

Hopefully this helps but if you have any questions at all feel free to ask!


Nice write-up!

Thank you! Was my first post so hopefully I don’t cringe re-reading it a year from now lol.

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No, you’re good.

Thocky prebuilt to me SCREAMS to get an HHKB.

Depending where you’re located has a sale going on and the standard version is right around that $200 point. HHKB Classic Topre 45g 60% PBT Mechanical Keyboard

I know every thread that mentions thock degrades into a topre/HHKB recommendation, but there is good reason for it. The HHKB is simply incredible for thock and a great board all around. I’d be using one today if it weren’t for the Kinesis ergo boards.

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