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What we bought: The NuPhy Air75 is the low-profile, Mac-friendly mechanical keyboard I’ve been looking for

I will never go back to normal keyboards again.

Nuphy Air75 (Engadget)

For as long as I can remember, my primary keyboard has been the standard wireless model from Apple. I even upgraded to the Magic keyboard when it was introduced in 2015. After all, I thought, it works with my MacBook Pro, I type relatively well on it, and that’s what I need from a keyboard.

Yet, I harbored a secret lust for mechanical keyboards. There’s a part of me that misses the tactile feel of the chunky keyboards of my youth, especially as someone who spends so much time typing like I do. Plus, since I’m working from home full-time now, I no longer have to worry about annoying cubicle neighbors with the sound of my typing.

So, a few months ago, I decided on a whim to look into the whole mechanical keyboard thing a little more. It took me weeks of research, but I finally found one that seems to fit all my needs: the NuPhy Air75. As it turns out, I fell down a rabbit hole when researching this space. I ended up reading lots of reviews, watching dozens of YouTube videos and diving deep into the product category. I learned about different kinds of keyboards (full-size, tenkeyless, 75 percent, 65 percent), various switches (linear, tactile, clicky), keycaps and so much more. To be honest, I was a little intimidated by it all, but after all this research, I was sold. That luscious sound of clicky keys finally got me to consider getting one.

NuPhy Air75
NuPhy Air75 (Engadget)

My research helped me set a few important criteria for the keyboard I wanted. First and foremost, I wanted one with a Mac-specific layout. I know that most keyboards will work with both Macs and PCs, but not all have Mac layouts and I really just prefer the keys to match the OS that I’m using. Next, it needs to be wireless — I don’t like cords and cables messing up my desk. I also wanted the keyboard to support multiple devices so that I could easily switch it between my work and personal laptops. Additionally, I prefer hot-swappable switches and keycaps so that I could have the freedom to swap them out if I wanted. Last but not least, 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 friendly, low-profile, has hot-swappable switches and it’s 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-percent size, as the layout is similar to what I’m already used to with the Apple keyboards. Importantly, I could also purchase it right away from Amazon instead of having to wait for a group order, which is a common practice in the mechanical keyboard market. As for the switches, I chose the Gateron Brown tactile ones as I’ve read reviews that suggest they’re a good middle ground between the smooth linear Red switches and the clickier Blue switches.

I’ve now been using the Air75 for months, and I adore it. I’ll admit that it took me a while to get accustomed to it at first. The keys have a relatively short travel distance thanks to how low-profile they are and I made a lot of typos in the beginning. But I soon got used to the layout, and typing on it is now second nature to me. I love the feel of the Brown switches, too.

NuPhy Air75
NuPhy Air75 (Engadget)

I also really like the overall build quality of the Air75. The aluminum frame is solid, and the default PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate) keycaps have a great look and feel as well. I like that the spacebar and Enter keys are yellow and orange respectively. The keyboard has two LED light strips on either side that I find quite attractive, plus they’re functional; you can customize them so that they light up if the keyboard is low on battery, or when the caps lock is engaged. In addition, it’s super easy to connect via Bluetooth, and swapping the keyboard between my two laptops is simple as well (it’s just a matter of pressing the Function key and an assigned number).

I do have a couple of nitpicks, though. The NuPhy Air75 has a RGB lighting feature, but because the keys are low-profile and not translucent, it’s pretty hard to notice them. I ended up not using it at all because it does drain the keyboard’s battery. Another is that due to the low-profile nature of the keyboard, it’s difficult to find third-party keycaps that will fit in the aluminum frame (there just aren’t that many low-profile keycaps on the market). One of the features of customizable mechanical keyboards like these is that you can easily swap out keycaps to whatever color and design you want, but that’s not so easy here.

I saw a YouTube video a few months ago that compared the feeling of typing on a mechanical keyboard to that of writing with a fountain pen, and I have to agree. Fountain pens make handwriting such a joy thanks to how fluid and smooth it feels. Similarly, typing on the NuPhy Air75 is a pleasure because of that tactile and satisfying feedback. Now that I’ve tried mechanical keyboards like the NuPhy Air75, I don’t think I can ever go back to the standard Apple models.