I need some advice on Entry-Level Custom Keyboard Kits

Hey everyone,

I am new in mechanical keyboards, and I’m feeling a little lost! I’m thinking about building my first custom one, but I’m a total newbie. Any recommendations on beginner-friendly kits? Ideally, I’d like something that’s easy to put together but still feels amazing to type on.

Here’s what I’m hoping for:

A keyboard with a TKL or 75% layout (those are the ones with the function keys but a bit more compact).
Hot-swappable switches! I’m still figuring out which type I like best, so being able to try different ones is a big plus.
Bonus points for some aesthetic options – RGB lighting would be cool, but it’s not a dealbreaker.
I’ve been checking out some stuff online, like the GMMK Pro and the Keychron Q1. Those seem interesting, but I’m definitely open to other ideas! On top of that, if anyone has any advice on good switch and keycap options for a beginner, I’d be eternally grateful.

Thanks a bunch in advance for the help!


Take a look at the Neo or QK boards. They are very well reputed. I just built a QK100 for a friend, and it’s a great value.

Consider Luminkey as well. I don’t have personal experience, but they seem like good “getting into the hobby” keyboards without a lot of compromises.


There is also the Rainy75 that has been getting a ton of hype for the value it presents. It checks all your boxes at very low price. I can’t really say much about it myself as I have never got to try one yet, but a quick search shows very little complaints about it. All I could find was some people on reddit unhappy with WOBKEY’s customer service. Then there is a slew of pretty decent entry level alum. KBs to be found on AliExpress as well. Overall though the Neo/QK, Luminkey, & Zoom series of boards would probably your best bet. They’re gonna be a bit more expensive than the Rainy75 or anything found on AliExpress, but they’ll also have better quality & better customer service if you’d need something replaced.


I also really like my Brutal v1 board, and there is a hotswap option now. There are going to be fewer configuration options than these other boards, but what’s there is a good one. Just go with A-stock and make sure the screws are not over tightened when you get it and stop and contact customer service if they are to get it swapped. I didn’t have this issue with mine at all, but I saw a few reports of that in a newer batch after they had them re-machined to support hotswap. I think the factory may have been overzealous in some cases.


Oh! Sorry for too many replies, but I didn’t see your second question. I’d go with Gateron Yellow Pros 3.0 for an extremely balanced and affordable switch that is great out of the box. The price is kinda ridiculously low for how consistently good they are.

For keycaps, check out the CannonCaps or NicePBT options on CannonKeys. Again, they sometimes have really good deals, but even at MSRP they are nice caps. Some of the older sets are a little lower priced and will have fine kitting for a 75%/TKL.

Other good options are Drop’s DCX line and NovelKeys Cherry line, which has some deep clearances as well. Drop sometimes does a BOGO.

Among these, the DCX are the only ABS sets, which tend to be a little higher pitched but are doubleshot, instead of dyed. They’re all very durable, either way. (The legends on the older DCX BoW/WoB sets are a little weird, so I’d avoid those ones.)


Thanks for the solution.

1 Like

Thanks @Halfling_Barista :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
I check your both replies. It is really helpful for me.


It’s kind of an older mounting style, but the NK87 Aluminum Edition is a very solid option on sale at $99. Build process isn’t anything special or difficult (build guide), but it seems like NovelKeys is clearing out their inventory and it’s only available in neon green, pink, or blue. They also have additional NK87 plates available in brass, copper, and FR4 for $5/each if you wanted to experiment.

1 Like

It’s probably too late, but I noticed that some suggestions might lead you to a pre-order. I would not do a pre-order (and would never entertain a group buy), especially for a first keyboard. If you do go this route: 1) Read the cancellation/return policy very carefully (some policies are onerous); 2) make sure you use a credit card so you can get a charge back, if needed.

You might also look at the Monsgeek M1 (the M1W is also ok, but does not support VIA). It’s been my experience that CannonKeys and Monsgeek provide good customer service. I did not have a good experience with the Zoom75.

1 Like

I disagree regarding preorders and group buys in general but agree regarding not doing one for your first keyboard. Regardless, good advice to take note of the difference before buying.

The current crop of QK and Neo boards seem to be in-stock now. The QK100 def is. It will just take a few weeks to arrive. So are the Brutal and NK boards…I think Luminkey as well. I’m not sure about Zoom boards, but yah at least one of those is in preorder/GB now.


Sure. Whether to do a group buy or pre-order is a personal choice.

A good choice requires basic knowledge about what we are getting into. People need to know that group buys and pre-orders assume risks that are not present with in-stock products. In addition to reading the policies and understanding that each vendor has their own policy, understand that protections in some countries are different from others. Research the group buy vendor and producer thoroughly. What experience do they have? What is their track record? How many other group buy or pre-orders do they have running? Do they have the capacity to meet their deadlines and maintain expected quality control? I don’t get involved because it’s not possible for me to get reliable information about this, and I’m not willing to assume the risk. Others may have better access to information or may be less risk averse.


There’s basically two types of keyboards you’re looking at here.

The first are pre-built hotswap keyboards, where little to no assembly is required.

The second are fancy custom kits where you will have to put it all together. [Obviously, some are easier than others.]

In the first category, the Keychron Q-series, as you alluded to, are a great choice. In the second category, the Neo or QK are probably good choices. Maybe the upcoming Cycle8.

In your case, it is probably best to get something in the first category. You don’t want to have to put too much together on your first try, right? The Keychron will allow you to mess with stabilizers, dampening, maybe alternative plate options. But only if you want to. So it’s more forgiving in that respect.

An intermediate option is something like the Monsgeek M3. I think they expect you to put it together. But it’s a hotswap keyboard with probably no soldering involved. Putting it together gives you the opportunity to get the dampening and stuff just right.

There’s also the Leobog Hi75 / Hi 8 in terms of prebuilts. It is said to have great sound, very cheap, but you might not find yourself customizing much if it’s already alright out of the box.

The Neo80 is interesting, as it is part of a new generation of custom keyboards that use ball-catch or latch systems that allow the keyboard to just … come apart. Very easy to assemble and disassemble, at least in terms of the case. The Cycle7/8 also use something similar.

The Neo80 and Cycle series should allow for massive customization. If you can get an extra Neo80 that has recently arrived [as they are being constructed and delivered in batches], that would do it, I suppose. Although a Keychron would likely come assembled and ready to use.