If last year’s wireless Logitech Pop Keys were all chic and no slouch, Logitech’s newly announced MX mechanical keyboards are the opposite of polarity. These are powerfully functional keyboards with reasonable feature sets, reasonable designs, and reasonable layouts.
That can make the $169.99 MX Mechanical Mini and the $149.99 MX Mechanical Mini an outlier in the world of mechanical keyboards, which often use flashy designs, RGB lighting, and colorful keycaps to catch your eye. But Logitech’s new keyboards deserve attention due to their great battery life and well-thought-out feature set that will make them a solid upgrade for anyone currently using a laptop-style membrane wireless keyboard.
For this review, I’ve been using the MX Mechanical Mini, which uses a 75 percent compact design similar to what’s found in most laptops along with the company’s new MX Master 3S Mouse. (See my review here.) MX Mechanical, meanwhile, is larger and uses a full-size keyboard layout that includes a number pad. But, apart from their layouts, both keyboards are very similar functionally.
The MX Mechanical Mini has a silent two-tone design that isn’t likely to attract much attention. Around the top is a power switch and USB-C for charging, and beneath it are a pair of reversible feet to tilt the keyboard up at an 8-degree angle. It is backlit, but only with white LEDs. Although you can customize how the LEDs blink, they are not RGB and cannot light up your desk like a multicolored Christmas tree. Like some previous Logitech keyboards, the MX Mechanical Mini has sensors to detect if your hands are close and turn on the backlight before pressing a key — a neat feature if you’re reaching for the keyboard in a dimly lit room. Everything is very reasonable and well thought out.
This is a low-profile keyboard, which means its keys are shorter, and there isn’t as much travel as what you get from a full-height mechanical keyboard. Personally, I prefer my mechanical switches to be full-height, but shorter switches like this are probably more familiar if you’re used to typing on laptop-style scissor switches like those on other keyboards in Logitech’s Master series – like the scissor switches. MX. The switches are manufactured by Kailh, and there is a choice of tactile brown, tap blue, and linear red. My review sample had brown tactile switches.
There are not many options for customization here. Unlike Keychron’s competing low-end keyboard, the Keychron K3, the MX Mechanical Mini’s switches aren’t hot-swappable, which means you’ll have to get a soldering iron if you want to replace it. Because they are unobtrusive, many aftermarket keycaps on the market are unlikely to work with them. This is really not a keyboard for amateurs to fiddle with.
Logitech MX Mechanical Mini supports both Windows and macOS (and is happy to connect to iOS and Android mobile devices, too). If you’re connecting via bluetooth, the operating system will automatically detect and adjust its layout, but if you’re using its USB receiver, you’ll need to do it manually with a keyboard shortcut. No choice of keycaps with Windows or Mac icons on them; They were all printed on the same keys. It sounds a little messier, but Logitech’s priority is to reduce the amount of plastic shipped in each box. It’s another decision more about functionality than the look of Logitech made with the keyboard.
MX Mechanical Mini can save up to three paired devices and switch between them using a keyboard shortcut. It can connect via Bluetooth but also comes with a USB-A Logitech Bolt receiver (which Logitech claims offers better security and lower latency). I had some response time issues with the receiver, which Logitech spokesperson Wendy Spander told me could be caused by “cables and metals near the receiver.” Using a short USB extension cable completely fixed the problem, as did switching to Bluetooth, but it’s an annoying problem in the first place.
Battery life is rated at 15 days With backlight and 10 months with it off. That’s much better than the Keychron K3, which offers 99 hours with the backlight off or 34 hours when it’s on. After a week of daily battery use, my battery life has stabilized at 45 percent, which indicates that my keyboard will dry out a little earlier than the 15-day period. The keyboard is charged via USB-C, and its battery can technically be replaced when it eventually dies. The cabin is hidden under the label on its underside, though, for whatever reason, Logitech doesn’t recommend owners do the repair at home. There is no way to know the remaining keyboard battery life on the device itself; For that, you’ll need to head over to Logitech’s Options Plus software.
Options Plus is Logitech’s latest companion software for computer peripherals. At its simplest, it provides a quick look at the battery life of all your Logitech accessories, but it can also be used to customize the way they work. You can’t reset every key, but you can change what the hotkeys on the top row do as well as the important group above the arrow keys on the right. It’s a nice combination of customization and accessibility, although it’s a shame this reset isn’t saved to the keyboard itself and it disappears if you connect the keyboard to a PC without Options Plus installed.
For my typing test, I’m setting the price of the MX Mechanical Mini at $149.99 against the $74 for the Keychron’s K3. The Logitech keyboard is more expensive, but the form factors of the two keyboards are very similar, and I suspect they would appeal to a similar type of printer. The Logitech keyboard was the clear winner in terms of feel. It might not offer the same great typing feel as a premium keyboard like the Keychron’s Q1, and the spacebar jiggles on it a bit, but it’s ahead of the streets the K3’s relatively mushy feel. It looks crisp and clean, and I can (and have) written it happily for hours.
Speaking of which, here’s a typing sound test:
I was also surprised by how poorly the Keychron’s keyboard feels compared to Logitech’s MX Mechanical Mini. Pick up a Logitech keyboard, and it will feel strong, refusing to bend if you try to bend it. It feels nice and durable in a way that the (recognized) Keychron keyboard doesn’t. If you’re looking for where the extra $75 goes, plenty of it can be found here.
Logitech seems to have a very specific type of mass market user of MX mechanical keyboards. This isn’t a mechanical keyboard for enthusiasts who value flashy designs, hot-swappable keys, and complete customization.
Instead, its low-profile design and affordable feature set make it feel like a more premium alternative to Logitech’s MX Keys keyboards, which have the same layouts with laptop-style keys and are slightly cheaper at $99.99-$149.99 — or even Apple’s range of Magic Keyboards, which start at $99.
The Logitech MX Mechanical Mini is a solid and affordable keyboard, with plenty of useful features to get the most out of. But don’t expect it to offer the best typing experience or offer the kinds of customization that enthusiast mechanical keyboards are known for.
Photo by John Porter/The Verge