What We Bought: The NuPhy Air75 is the low-profile, Mac-compatible mechanical keyboard I was looking for
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For as long as I can remember, my primary keyboard has been Apple’s standard wireless model. I even upgraded to the Magic Keyboard when it was introduced in 2015. After all, I thought it worked with my MacBook Pro, I typed relatively well on it, and that’s what I needed from a keyboard.
Still, I harbored a secret desire for mechanical keyboards. There’s a part of me that misses the tactile feel of the big keyboards of my youth, especially as someone who spends as much time typing as I do. Also, since working full time from home, I no longer have to worry about annoying cabin neighbors with the sound of my typing.
So, a few months ago, I decided on a whim to dig a little deeper into the whole mechanical keyboard. It took me weeks of research, but I finally found the one that seems to meet all my needs: the NuPhy Air75. Turns out I fell down a rabbit hole while researching this space. I ended up reading lots of reviews, watching dozens of YouTube videos, and diving deep into the product category. I discovered different types of keyboards (full size, keyless, 75%, 65%), various switches (linear, tactile, clickable), keys and much more. To be honest, I was a little intimidated by the whole thing, but after all that research, I was sold. That luscious sound of clicky keys finally got me considering buying one.
My research helped me define some important criteria for the keyboard I wanted. Above all, I wanted one with a Mac-specific layout. I know most keyboards will work with both Macs and PCs, but not all have a Mac layout and I really prefer the keys to match the OS I’m using. Then it has to be wireless – I don’t like cords and cables messing up my desk. I also wanted the keyboard to support multiple devices so I could easily switch it between my work and personal laptops. Also, I prefer hot-swappable switches and keycaps so I could have the freedom to swap them out if I wanted to. Finally, I wanted a relatively low-profile keyboard, as I didn’t want to use a wrist rest.
That’s how I settled on the NuPhy Air75. It’s Mac-compatible, low-profile, has hot-swappable switches and is wireless, with the ability to connect up to four devices – three via Bluetooth and one via a 2.4GHz receiver. I also really like the 75% size, as the layout is similar to what I’m already used to with Apple keyboards. Crucially, I could also buy it right away from Amazon instead of having to wait for a bulk order, which is common practice in the mechanical keyboard market. As for the switches, I chose the Gateron Brown Tactile Switches because I’ve read reviews suggesting they’re a good middle ground between the smooth linear red switches and the more clicky blue switches.
I’ve been using the Air75 for months and love it. I admit that it took me a while to get used to it at first. The keys have a relatively short travel distance thanks to their low profile, and I made a lot of typos early on. But I quickly got used to the layout, and typing on it is now second nature to me. I also like the feel of the Brown switches.
I also really like the overall build quality of the Air75. The aluminum frame is solid, and the default PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) keys also look and feel great. I like that the spacebar and enter keys are yellow and orange respectively. The keyboard has two LED light strips on either side which I find quite attractive, plus they’re functional; you can customize them to light up if the keyboard battery is low or when caps lock is on. Plus, it’s super easy to connect via Bluetooth, and swapping the keyboard between my two laptops is simple too (just press the function key and an assigned number).
I have a few things to do, though. The NuPhy Air75 has an RGB lighting feature, but since the keys are unobtrusive and not translucent, it’s quite difficult to notice them. I ended up not using it at all because it drains the keyboard battery. Another is that due to the low-profile nature of the keyboard, it’s hard to find third-party keycaps that will fit the aluminum frame (there just aren’t many low-profile keycaps on the market). One of the features of customizable mechanical keyboards like these is that you can easily change the keys to any color and design you want, but it’s not that easy here.
I saw a YouTube video a few months ago that compared the feeling of typing on a mechanical keyboard to writing with a fountain pen, and I agree. Fountain pens make handwriting so pleasant thanks to their fluidity and softness. Likewise, typing on the NuPhy Air75 is a pleasure due to that satisfying tactile feedback. Now that I’ve tried mechanical keyboards like the NuPhy Air75, I don’t think I can go back to standard Apple models.