Logitech’s MX, or Master Series, has been the company’s flagship series for mature (read: non-gaming) or productivity-minded users craving more from their computer peripherals but may have been turned off by the design and feature-bloat that comes with most mechanical keyboard and mouse options out there. Of course, this has meant substituting “gamer” for “creator”, but it’s been a (mostly) good trade-off that’s helped free some of the better and more exciting features trapped in the colorful world of gaming peripherals.
Logitech’s MX Mechanical Keyboard lineup, available in both full and Mini sizes, is the first mechanical keyboard in the MX brand and among the company’s first mechanical keys designed specifically for non-gamers. The closest analogue to them would be Razer’s Pro Type Keyboard, though Logitech has Razer beat on looks (and availability).
With its minimalist design and lack of gamer aesthetic this keyboard, much like Razer’s option, feels like it’s aggressively targeting Mac users first and foremost, which makes sense. Apple fans are light on options when it comes to mechanical keys that match their setup, and almost none offer a great software experience. The MX Mechanical feels tailor-made for Mac users starving for a keyboard that won’t embarrass them.
Apart from the obvious size, available keys (110 vs. 84) and weight differences (1.8lb vs. 1.3lb), the only things differentiating the full-sized and Mini variants are the lack of full numberpad and some rejiggering (and omission) of the function and arrow keys on the Mini.
Much like the aforementioned Pro Type alternative, and much of Logitech’s MX lineup, the design and style of the MX Mechanical Keyboard is deliberately minimalist – especially the Mini variant. Here is a full low-profile QWERTY mechanical keyboard that strips away nearly all the “gaming” excess we expect from most mechanical keyboards, focusing instead on a stylish, premium typing experience that’s loaded with functionality to spare.
The MX Mechanical looks exactly like the premium product it is with a graphite aluminum base housed in a hard colored plastic underside complimenting an array of gray and black colored keys. There are exactly zero gaming flourishes here, meaning no macro keys, no disco-colored lighting arrays, no media-specific volume rockers, no sharp edges, or anything like what you’d expect on a pricy gaming keyboard. A single USB-C charging port and power slider on the top-right and two extendable legs on the bottom to raise typing levels slightly complete the package.
Connectivity is either via the included USB Bolt dongle or Bluetooth LE, and you’ll be able to connect and quickly switch between three different profiles (which comes in handy when syncing with Logitech’s Flow software). The MX is designed to connect and work immediately on both Windows and Mac with instant button-mapping for each OS, with select keys (i.e. Command/Alt) sharing labels for OS-specific functions. You can just as easily connect to your iOS, Android, or Chromebook device as well, just don’t expect 1:1 native button mapping on them.
I did experience some connection issues when using the Bolt USB connector, on multiple machines, but had no such problems when connected via Bluetooth. Those used to wired keyboards should note that the MX Mechanical only connects wirelessly. While the device comes with a USB Type C cable, it’s only for charging and not connecting; though you can still use the keyboard while charging.
Keycaps and Backlights
Under the caps are Kailh Choc V2 mechanical switches, which are best suited for low-profile keyboards like these. Both MX Mechanical keyboards are available in three configurations: Linear (Red), Clicky (Blue), and Tactile Quiet (Brown). Those unfamiliar with the differences between the three – and there are differences – may want to play with a store model before committing to such an expensive investment first if possible. Personally, I’ve found that Brown offers the best compromise between comfort and quiet, but I realize some of you love having the loudest, clackiest keys possible. Go to town.
It’s also possible to swap out the caps to customize how the keyboard looks… I’m not sure doing so would be worth the trouble. This isn’t the kind of keyboard you buy to modify or tinker with.
The MX Mechanical offers per-key adjustable backlighting, but only in one color (white) with six different, albeit basic, lighting effects to give your typing experience an extra kick. Unfortunately, the lights are on a timer that goes off quickly, owing to the built-in proximity sensor that senses your hand (and your area’s own lighting) to activate the backlights only when you “need” them lit.
Sadly, I found Logitech’s “smart illumination” to be anything but as the sensor often failed to recognize my hands after a few seconds of inactivity, meaning I had to press a key to activate the lighting (which can interfere with a program if you’re in the middle of doing something). There’s no way to set the backlighting to “always on”, though I discovered that keeping the USB charge cable plugged in extended the lighting timeout just a bit. I’ve seen this flaw in other wireless keyboards (and on laptops), but I wish there was a way to keep the lights on permanently.
Battery life was phenomenal. Logitech promises 15 days with backlighting on and a whopping 40 weeks without. Lighting. A week of intense testing made me believe this was true as the MX Mechanical just sipped on a full charge, though even this almost becomes irrelevant if you choose to use the keyboard plugged into the charger. Not for nothing, Logitech also says a quick 15-minute charge will give you a full day of use, so keep that in mind if you’re a heavy (wireless) user.
Form and Function(ality)
One cool thing about a productivity-driven mechanical keyboard is that we get to talk more about using it than what else you can do with it, which in this case means typing! This is a low-profile keyboard, meaning the caps and switches sit much lower than most standard desktop keyboards; think how a laptop feels and you’re close. As stated above, there are three switch variants (Red, Blue, and Brown) to choose from that can affect your typing experience considerably, so choose wisely.
It’s also possible to swap out the caps to customize how the keyboard looks, a huge feature on most mechanical keyboards, but I’m not sure doing so would be worth the trouble. This isn’t the kind of keyboard you buy to modify.
I love mechanical keyboards, but I also love low-profile laptop-style keyboards, and the MX Mechanical gives me both in a single package, which is pretty great. I’m a fairly fast typist, and most of that typing was very accurate and super comfy as key spacing is perfect and every key is within reach when you need it. I can’t imagine any power typists complaining about the actuation levels of these keys or the overall typing experience you’ll get here.
I’ll admit that some of the “productivity” features were a little suspect; a dedicated emoji button but no print screen button? There’s a dedicated snipping tool button (on Windows), and Calculator, and dedicated Show Desktop and Search buttons as well. There are basic media playback buttons nestled on the Function keys, including some oddities, like the dedicated Brightness Up / Down buttons, obvious holdovers from a laptop design. It’s also possible to modify or assign a few button shortcuts using Logitech’s Options+ software, but customization options are anything but robust.
Logi Options+ and Flow
Getting the most out of your Logitech MX Mechanical Keyboard – and possibly the MX Master 3S mouse – means installing Logitech’s latest Options+ software. Here you’ll be able to see battery life, remap some (but not all) buttons, add keyboard shortcuts for specific installed applications, swap between profiles, and change the backlighting effects. You can even create a Logitech profile to store and move settings between devices, which is great for multiplatform multitaskers.
Hardcore users expecting a more robust, feature-packed software suite may be a little disappointed at the sparseness of Options+, but I appreciated how clean and straightforward the interface was. I won’t get into Logitech’s Flow service, which allows you to use single devices across multiple computers (and operating systems) because it primarily deals with their various mice, but the MX Mechanical works like a charm if you’re already embedded in Logi’s growing workspace garden.
Some may find their design boring and critics complaining about the lack of customizability are missing the point; Logitech’s MX Mechanical Keyboards aren’t designed or meant for hardcore gamers, and that’s exactly why they hold such appeal. This keyboard delivers a sophisticated, sublime typing experience and looks great doing it, especially for Mac users. Power users may find the features too paired back, and the lack of persistent backlighting may turn some off, but these are small issues in an otherwise attractive package. Whether you think that merits its premium-appropriate price will be up to you, however.