If last year Logitech Pop Keys Wireless Mechanical Keyboard was all style and no substance, then Logitech’s newly announced MX mechanical keyboards are the polar opposite. These are aggressive functional keyboards with responsive feature sets, responsive designs, and responsive layouts.
That may make the $169.99 MX Mechanical and $149.99 MX Mechanical Mini exceptions in the world of mechanical keyboards, which often use flashy designs, RGB lighting, and colorful keycaps to grab your attention. But Logitech’s new keyboards deserve special consideration because of their great battery life and a thoughtful feature set that will make them a solid upgrade for anyone currently using a laptop-style wireless membrane keyboard.
For this review, I used the MX Mechanical Mini, which uses a 75% compact layout similar to what’s found on most laptops alongside the company’s new MX Master 3S mouse. (Check out my review here.) The MX Mechanical, on the other hand, is larger and uses a full-size keyboard layout that includes a number pad. But, aside from their layouts, the two keyboards are functionally very similar.
The MX Mechanical Mini has an understated two-tone design that probably won’t draw too much attention. At the top there’s a power switch and USB-C connection for charging, and below are a pair of flip-up feet to tilt the keyboard up at an 8-degree angle. It is backlit, but only with solid white LEDs. Although you can customize how the LEDs flash, they aren’t RGB and can’t light up your desk like a multicolored Christmas tree. Like some of Logitech’s previous keyboards, the MX Mechanical Mini has sensors to detect when your hands are near and turn on its backlight before you hit a key – a nice feature if you’re reaching for the keyboard in a dimly lit room. Everything is very sensible and well thought out.
It’s a low-profile keyboard, which means its switches are shorter and there’s not as much travel as you’d get from a full-height mechanical keyboard. Personally, I prefer my mechanical switches to be full-height, but shorter switches like these are likely to look more familiar to you if you’re used to typing on laptop-style scissor switches like the ones the found on other Logitech Master Series keyboards – like the MX Keys. The switches are made by Kailh, and there’s a choice of tactile browns, clicky blues, and linear reds. My review sample had tactile brown switches.
There aren’t many customization options here. Unlike Keychron’s competing discrete keyboard, the Keychron K3, the MX Mechanical Mini’s switches aren’t hot-swappable, meaning you’ll have to whip out a soldering iron if you want to replace them. And because they’re low-profile, many aftermarket keycaps on the market are unlikely to work with them. It’s definitely not the keyboard that hobbyists can tinker with.
The Logitech MX Mechanical Mini supports Windows and macOS (and is also happy to connect to iOS and Android mobile devices). If you connect via Bluetooth, it will automatically detect the operating system and adjust its layout, but if you use its USB receiver, you’ll have to do it manually with a hotkey. There is no choice of keycaps with Windows or Mac symbols on them; they are all printed on the same keys. It sounds a little more complicated, but Logitech’s priority is to minimize the amount of plastic that comes in each box. It’s another function-over-form decision that Logitech made with the keyboard.
The MX Mechanical Mini can register up to three paired devices and switch between them with a hotkey. It can connect via Bluetooth but also comes with a Logitech Bolt USB-A receiver (which Logitech says offers better security and lower latency). I had latency issues with the receiver, which Logitech spokeswoman Wendy Spander says can be caused by “cables and metal near the receiver.” Using a short USB extension cable solved the problem completely, as did switching to Bluetooth, but it’s an annoying problem to have in the first place.
Battery life is rated at 15 days with backlight on and 10 months without backlight. It’s much better than the Keychron K3, which offers 99 hours with its backlight off or 34 hours with it on. After a week of daily use, my battery life was at 45%, which suggests that my keyboard will run out a bit before the 15 day mark. The keyboard charges via USB-C and its battery is technically replaceable when it eventually dies. The compartment is hidden under the sticker on its underside, however, for some reason Logitech does not recommend owners perform the repair at home. There’s no way to see the keyboard’s remaining battery life on the device itself; for that, you’ll need to head to Logitech’s Options Plus software.
OptionPlus is Logitech’s latest companion software for its computer accessories. At its most basic, it provides an overview of the battery life of all your Logitech accessories, but it can also be used to customize how they work. You can’t remap all the keys, but you can change what the top-row shortcut keys do as well as the all-important cluster above the arrow keys on the right. It offers a good mix of customization and accessibility, although it’s a shame that this remapping doesn’t save to the keyboard itself and disappears if you plug the keyboard into a computer without Options Plus installed.
For my typing test, I put the $149.99 MX Mechanical Mini against the $74 Keychron K3. Logitech’s keyboard is much more expensive, but the form factors of both keyboards are very similar, and I suspect they’ll appeal to a similar type of typist. Logitech’s keyboard was the clear winner in terms of feel. It may not offer the same sublime typing feel as a high-end keyboard like Q1 from Keychron, and its spacebar rattles a bit, but that’s streets ahead of the K3’s relatively mushy feel. It looks crisp and clean, and I can (and have) happily typed on it for hours.
Speaking of which, here’s a keystroke test:
I was also surprised by how fragile Keychron’s keyboard was compared to Logitech’s MX Mechanical Mini. Take Logitech’s keyboard, and it feels solid, refusing to flex if you try to bend it. It’s nice and durable in a way Keychron’s (admittedly cheaper) keyboard just doesn’t. If you’re looking for where that extra $75 is going, you’ll find a lot of it here.
Logitech seems to have a very specific type of mass-market user in mind for its MX mechanical keyboards. This is not a mechanical keyboard for enthusiasts who appreciate flashy designs, hot-swappable switches, and full customization.
Instead, its low-profile design and responsive feature set make it a more premium alternative to Logitech’s own MX Keys keyboards, which have the same layouts with laptop-style switches and are slightly cheaper at around $99.99. and $149.99 – or even Apple’s line of Magic keyboards, which start at $99.
The Logitech MX Mechanical Mini is a solid and responsive keyboard, with plenty of useful features to get the most out of it. But don’t expect it to offer the most premium typing feel or offer the kinds of customization that enthusiast mechanical keyboards are known for.
Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge
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