Great Price, Lots of Features

Key Takeaways

  • Great low price for a mechanical keyboard with foam and gasket mounting for quiet operation.
  • Open-source VIA software support allows for customizable key programming.
  • Red backlighting only and lacks a number pad, but overall a highly recommended budget mechanical keyboard.



The Keychron C3 Pro wired mechanical keyboard is budget-priced and should appeal to a broad audience. Available in two color combinations, the keyboard has been designed with noise reduction in mind, supports custom macros and shortcuts, and works with all the major operating systems.

Keychron C3 Pro keyboard

Keychron C3 Pro

Designed to provide ultimate flexibility, this budget-priced Keychron keyboard offers QMK/VIA software support, includes a gasket mount design, a 1000Hz poll rate, and more. 

Colorways
Red/Black, Brown/Black

Backlight
North-facing red LED

Construction
ABS Plastic

Keycaps
Shine-Through Double-Shot ABS

Supported operating systems
WIndows, macOS, Linux

Connectivity
USB-C

Software customizability
QMK / VIA

Dimensions
364.5mm x 137.9mm x 31.75mm

Weight
912g

Number of Keys
87

Num Pad
None

Typing angle
4, 6, and 8.7 degrees

Pros

  • Great low price for a mechanical keyboard
  • Foam and gasket mounting for quiet operation
  • Open-source VIA key customization
Cons

  • Red lighting only
  • No numbers pad

Design and Form Factor

Removing keys on a Keychron C3 Pro keyboard.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


Exclusively available through Amazon, the Keychron C3 Pro is a “ten keyless” keyboard or a TKL. As the name suggests, no separate number keypad is on the right-hand side. My keyboard shipped with red space, enter, and escape keys that match the product’s red backlighting. The rest of the keys are black. If you prefer black keys throughout, you’ll find three alternatives in the box (along with an installation tool).


The keyboard’s backlighting is enhanced by ABS keycaps, which allow the light to shine in a northerly direction. It’s a nice touch, but non-gamers may find it distracting, although adjusting the setting is simple. The ABS keycaps feel solid and are made through a double-shot process, which means two layers of plastic are injected into the molds, making them extra durable and wear-resistant. The design means the letters and symbols on the top layer shouldn’t wear off with long-term usage.


Although many might prefer white lights instead, red isn’t the worst color for a keyboard backlight. Sacrifices must be made when paying less than $40 for a mechanical keyboard. There may be only one backlight color option but Keychron didn’t cut corners when it came to pre-programmed light effects. There are 14, which are easy to change by pushing two keys.

Solid Build Quality and Performance

keychron c3 pro on a desk with a mouse
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


Mechanical keyboards take some getting used to and are often expensive. If you want to try one, going with a less expensive one like the Keychron C3 Pro is a good idea. One big difference between a mechanical keyboard and all others is the enhanced feel and responsiveness. By design, mechanical keyboards give off click-and-clack sounds. Some are loud when doing so.


The Keychron C3 Pro does make noise, but not nearly as much as other mechanical keyboards. This is because of its sound-absorbing case foam in two locations inside. Additionally, its mounting design uses gaskets to decrease unwanted sound vibrations and provide more keypress bounce, allowing for a softer, quieter typing feel.


The mechanical keyboard also has a polling rate of 1000Hz. A keyboard’s polling rate is the number of times per second it checks if any keys are pressed. Measured in hertz, it indicates how many times something happens per second. The higher the polling rate, the quicker keystrokes are detected, which results in less lag time and fewer missed keystrokes.


I noticed zero latency when using the Keychron C3 Pro. This was especially noticed when I played the director’s cut of “Death Stranding” on my MacBook Pro. That game, and most others, benefit greatly from low keyboard latency.


The keyboard also includes a handy NKRO feature that makes entering multiple key presses at a time easier.


The Keychron C3 Pro keyboard from the front.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


The other thing to note about the keyboard from a design perspective is its available typing angles. There are three: 4, 6, and 8.7 degrees. Having three typing angles adds some additional customization besides the backlighting patterns.


One slight annoyance about the Keychron C3 Pro is that it ships with a Type-A to Type-C cable. A Type-C to Type-C cable would have been a much more helpful choice in today’s environment. At least there’s a Type-C port on the keyboard.

VIA and Shortcuts: More Ways to Customize

Screenshot showing VIA keyboard software in action.

VIA software


A key selling point of the Keychron C3 Pro and other Keychron products is that it features open-source firmware with full VIA support. This allows you to program and remap any key on the keyboard. You can adjust your keyboard layout, add shorts, adjust backlight effects, and more. One feature here is that you can program every key so it’s compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux systems. Returning to the factory settings is also simple if you grow tired of your customization.


To get started, you must install the open-source VIA software on your computer and, with the keyboard physically attached to the machine, link the software and hardware.


If you have no desire to use VIA for customization but still want to toggle back and forth between computer operating systems, you can do so using old-school keyboard shortcuts.

Should You Buy the Keychron C3 Pro Mechanical Keyboard?

The Keychron C3 Pro keyboard from the side.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek


The Keychron C3 Pro is less than $40 on Amazon. That’s an excellent price for a mighty mechanical keyboard from one of the best companies. The biggest drawback is the keyboard’s use of red, and only red, backlighting. It’s not the wrong color for this purpose, but it would have been nicer had Keychron offered a few more lighting options. Keychron could have ditched the separate black space, enter, and escape keys and critical removal tools to keep the price low. Not having a numbers pad is also unfortunate, but plenty of alternatives do.


Beyond this, the Keychron C3 Pro comes highly recommended for anyone who wants to take the leap and use a mechanical keyboard. From its solid construction and mostly quiet operation to its support for VIA customization, it has a lot going for it that makes it worth considering.

Keychron C3 Pro keyboard

Keychron C3 Pro

Designed to provide ultimate flexibility, this budget-priced Keychron keyboard offers QMK/VIA software support, includes a gasket mount design, a 1000Hz poll rate, and more. 

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