Worth the Hype? Keychron K4 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard

I’ve constantly been requested to check
out this board, even though it’s like pretty much the same thing as the K2 that I already
reviewed, but bigger. Probably because of their immense marketing,
and that a bunch of YouTubers have it, but anyway, let’s see what the hype is about
on this, the Keychron K4. First impressions in the hands, it’s pretty
solid with no flex, as it does have aluminium sides. And it’s decently hefty at around 935 grams. However, this is also available in the plastic
version which is cheaper, starting at just 69 USD. So it shares the exact same design and aesthetic
of their K2. So we have this kind of aluminium frame design,
like an actual picture frame sort of construction. So yeh, not solid alu, you may or may not
like that with the parting lines and such. Looking at the side, and we can see that it’s
completely flat, as in, it has no angle or inclination to it, without the flip up feet
up. Pretty unusual, and feels very foreign to
me, just not used to having a flat board with sculpted keycaps. So I definitely used it with the feet up. And because this, which is an issue I had
with the K2, it’s still pretty high at the front. Normally a keyboard would be pretty low towards
the front, naturally. But this is one of the taller fronts I’ve
seen on a mech. So what that means, is that if you’re resting
your wrists on the table, this will create a steeper angle, which isn’t great for ergonomics. And I personally, don’t find it as comfortable
to use, in comparison to other mechs, even though the difference isn’t huge, it’s
noticeable. So definitely consider a wrist or palm rest
to get elevated. Otherwise, hover when you type, which is the
recommended technique anyway, but when gaming, that probably won’t be the case. On the bottom, we have our rubber feet, and
our two flip feet. Pretty cool design with the flip up feet,
how it’s rubberised all round. Just looks cool, and works fine. They’ve kept the USB type C port on the
left, so we get that awkward cable positioning, which is where their right angled cable comes
in. Again, stop folding these please. Here, we’ll also find our OS switch, to
switch between Windows/Android and Apple operating systems, which is great that it’s guaranteed
to work on majority of devices. I guess that’s another reason it’s been
super popular, is because they actively promote it as an Apple compatible device, even though
like all mechs are fine on Apple. It’s just the keycaps that are different,
and we have the Mac symbols and functions on here. And the other switch is for changing between
Bluetooth and cabled mode. So we can use it in cabled mode, and it will
charge the device as well. And Bluetooth, another big feature. To pair to a device, we press FN + 1, 2, or
3, meaning that we can have 3 different devices connected. And then just pair it on the device, super
simple. Performance seems to be absolutely fine, just
like the K2. I don’t feel any noticeable lag or latency
when just using it normally. So, typing this script, I didn’t notice
any missed keypresses, or double presses or anything. It worked perfectly fine. I’m not a hardcore gamer or anything, so
I didn’t notice any difference in that regard. But, I’m sure there probably is a difference,
and that some people will notice that. But if that’s so important, you still have
the cable for that. Just like the K2, it features a 4000mAh LiPo
battery. I’ve never run out personally, but going
off what other people have said, and also with the K2, it should go about a week or
so on a charge which is really good. Alright, back to the top, and the K4 is a
96% form factor, which is like a compact full size sort of board. It has 100 keys. For reference a standard ANSI full sized board
would have 104 to 108 keys, so very similar in regards to primary functionality, as it
basically gives us all of the keys. But in a condensed manner, which very slightly
shortens the board in height, but more importantly, it’s only slightly longer than a tenkeyless
keyboard. This gives us more space on our desk, which
is great for giving more room for everything else. But the main thing, is that it allows us to
bring the mouse closer to the left, creating a more natural and ergonomic experience. However with a condensed layout like this,
there’s no gaps between the different clusters. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan, but
that’s just me. It can make some keys more difficult to locate,
such as the arrow keys. But obviously overtime you’d get used to
it. And I just prefer a more spaced out sort of
feel. It does have pretty standard keycap sizes,
so you could replace them if you wanted. You’d just need to get an extended kit,
not just the simple 104 keysets. However these are backlit caps, so they do
allow that RGB backlighting to come through. Nice font as well, really clean and simple
which I like. They are pretty cheapy keycaps though. They’re thin 1mm ABS plastic, and are coated
and laser etched, so overtime they will shine and fade. They don’t sound and feel the best, and
don’t make the switches feel as good. But that’s probably something you won’t
notice if you haven’t tried other stuff. And that brings us to the keyswitches. The K4 is available in Gateron switches, which
is nice to see, being a great alternative to Cherry MX switches, but cheaper. But they also have their Optical switches
in Blue and Red. In hindsight, I would have loved to get one
of those, but I didn’t know at the time. In my experience, optical switches have been
very smooth, which I’ve enjoyed. Anyway, I have Gateron Yellows in mine, which
are a medium weight linear switch, with no click or tactile bump. Alright, so first up, the spacebar has this
terrible squeak in mine, which is super annoying. It’s just on the left side of the spacebar. Probably a one off instance, but an instance
nonetheless. Otherwise, the stabs are actually pretty decent,
with minimal rattle. As said before, the cheap keycaps don’t
pair that well with these medium weight linears. They feel ok. But I think it’s bringing out more scratchiness
as well, it’s just easier to feel in my opinion. So I know Gateron are regarded to be one of
the smoother switch options, but in this particular board, they’re not as good as they should
be. But not bad at all or anything, it still has
that linear mechanical experience. And that’s why I really would’ve liked
to try out the optical switches. To take the board apart, first we have some
Torx head screws on the sides. And yeh, the aluminium version of the keyboard,
just means that we have these aluminium bars that slide off. And you’re left with what the plastic version
is. So it’s basically a really easy way to have
the same design for both models. And then there’s a bunch of Phillips head
screws under some keycaps that we have to remove. Here’s the plastic bottom shell, and of
course the nice large 4000mAh battery. There’s a lot of ribbing on the bottom surface
for reinforcement. But there is a lot of space, which from what
I can see, is to accommodate the switches on the side. And that’s why we have that flat 0 angle
design, and therefore tall design. The mounting plate is made from 1.5mm aluminium,
which is pretty standard. And here’s the PCB. The switches are soldered in, so you cannot
change them unless you desolder them. For the optical version, I’m quite sure
that you’d be able to take the switches out, as they won’t be soldered in. And that’s the Keychron K4. What we really have to consider in all of
this, is the price. Which starts at 69USD. There’s not a whole lot of budget options
for this 96% layout, so there’s that. We also get Bluetooth connectivity, as well
as proper Apple support. So it is a unique product, therefore it has
its place. Obviously I’m not a big fan of the design
personally, in how it’s quite tall, which I don’t find that ergonomic, and everything
that lead up to that. So the side placement of the OS and Bluetooth
switches, makes sense for accessibility, but causes issues inside. There’s a tonne of space in there, especially
to make it angled and lower profile. And for simplicity’s sake, the USB C port
is there as well. The plastic version case is unrefined and
is literally a stripped back version of the aluminium version. And it is somewhat misleading calling this
an aluminium keyboard, as it’s more plastic than alu, by quite a lot. Very negative from me, which is unusual. But I feel that these design choices are sloppy
in my opinion, and the hype does play a part in this. So why is it so popular? I don’t want to make people feel bad if
they have this, it’s still a fine keyboard, and is very feature rich, and at a good price,
so all good there. But you’ll see a lot of positive reviews
about it, especially amongst sizable YouTubers. And this will sound pretty bad, but I just
don’t believe that they’ve tried enough out there, which is absolutely fine, as you
base your opinions on previous experiences. And I’m not talking about crazy multi hundred
dollar customs. It’s just not a great experience in my opinion,
and could be a lot better. But it’s like the only one out there with
these specifications at this price, so I can’t really offer alternatives. Although for the K2, consider the Akko 3084,
it’s better in nearly every way in my opinion. So that’s that. If this is what you need, then this may be
the one for you.

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