If last year’s Logitech Pop Keys wireless mechanical keyboard was all style and not substance, then Logitech’s newly announced MX Mechanical keyboards are the complete opposite. These are aggressively functional keyboards with sensible feature sets, sensible designs, and sensible layouts.
That can make the $169.99 MX Mechanical and $149.99 MX Mechanical Mini seem like outliers in the world of mechanical keyboards, which often use flashy designs, RGB lighting, and colorful keycaps to grab your attention. But Logitech’s new keyboards are worth considering for their great battery life and a well-thought-out set of features that make them a solid upgrade for anyone currently using a laptop-style wireless membrane keyboard.
For this test, I used the MX Mechanical Mini, which uses a compact 75 percent layout similar to what’s found on most laptops alongside the company’s new MX Master 3S mouse. (Check out my review here.) The MX Mechanical, meanwhile, is larger and uses a full-size keyboard layout that includes a number pad. But aside from their layouts, both keyboards are functionally very similar.
The MX Mechanical Mini has a subdued two-tone design that probably won’t draw too much attention. There’s a power button and USB-C port for charging at the top, and below that are a pair of fold-out feet that allow the keyboard to tilt up at an 8-degree angle. It’s backlit, but only with simple 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 of Logitech’s previous keyboards, the MX Mechanical Mini has sensors that detect when your hands are near and turn on the backlight before you press a key – a nice feature if you’re in a dimly lit room reach for the keyboard. It’s all very useful and well thought out.
This is a low-profile keyboard, which means the switches are shorter and travel isn’t as great as a full-height mechanical keyboard. Personally, I prefer my mechanical switches to be full-height, but shorter switches like these will likely feel more familiar if you’re used to typing on laptop-style scissor switches like those found on Logitech can be found – like the MX keys. The switches are made by Kailh and there is a choice of tactile browns, clicking blues and linear reds. My review unit had tactile brown switches.
There aren’t many customization options here. Unlike Keychron’s competing low-profile keyboard, the Keychron K3, the MX Mechanical Mini’s switches aren’t hot-swappable, meaning you’ll have to get out a soldering iron if you want to replace them. And because they’re unobtrusive, many of the aftermarket keycaps on the market are unlikely to work with them. This really isn’t the keyboard for hobbyists to tinker with.
The Logitech MX Mechanical Mini supports both Windows and macOS (and happily connects to iOS and Android mobile devices too). When you connect via Bluetooth, the operating system automatically detects it and adjusts its layout, but when you use its USB receiver you have to do it manually with a keyboard shortcut. There is no choice of keycaps with Windows or Mac icons; They are all printed on the same keys. It looks a bit messier, but Logitech’s priority is minimizing the amount of plastic that ships in each box. It’s another function-over-form decision Logitech made with the keyboard.
The MX Mechanical Mini can store up to three paired devices and switch between them with a key combination. It can connect via Bluetooth, but also comes with a USB-A Logitech Bolt receiver (which Logitech says offers better security and lower latency). I had some latency issues with the receiver, which Logitech spokeswoman Wendy Spander says can be caused by “cables and metal 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.
The battery life is given as 15 days with backlight on and 10 months with backlight off. That’s a lot better than the Keychron K3, which offers 99 hours with the backlight off or 34 hours with the backlight on. After a week of daily work, my battery life was at 45 percent, suggesting my keyboard is getting dry just before the 15-day mark. The keyboard charges via USB-C, and its battery is technically replaceable if it eventually runs out. The compartment is hidden under the sticker on the bottom, but for whatever reason Logitech doesn’t recommend that owners attempt the repair at home. There is no way to display the keyboard’s remaining battery life on the device itself; To do this, you need to enter Logitech’s Options Plus software.
Options Plus is Logitech’s newest companion software for its computer accessories. Basically, it provides an overview of the battery life of all your Logitech accessories, but can also be used to customize how they work. You can’t remap every key, but you can change what the shortcuts on the top row do, as well as the all-important cluster above the arrow keys on the right. It offers a nice mix of customizability and accessibility, although it’s a shame this remapping isn’t saved to the keyboard itself and disappears when you connect the keyboard to a computer without Options Plus installed.
For my writing test, I pitted the $149.99 MX Mechanical Mini against the $74 Keychron K3. Logitech’s keyboard is a lot more expensive, but the form factors of the two keyboards are very similar, and I suspect they’ll appeal to a similar breed of typist. The Logitech keyboard was the clear winner in terms of feel. It might not offer the same raised typing feel as a premium keyboard like Keychron’s Q1, and its spacebar clatters a bit, but it’s miles ahead of the comparatively squishy feel of the K3. It feels crisp and clean, and I can (and have) happily typed on it for hours.
Speaking of which, here’s a typing noise test:
I was also surprised at how weak Keychron’s keyboard felt compared to Logitech’s MX Mechanical Mini. Pick up Logitech’s keyboard and it feels sturdy and refuses to flex when you try to flex it. It feels as good and durable as Keychron’s (admittedly cheaper) keyboard just doesn’t. If you’re looking for that extra $75, you’ll find plenty of it here.
Logitech seems to have a very specific type of mass-market user in mind for its MX Mechanical keyboards. This isn’t a mechanical keyboard for enthusiasts who appreciate eye-catching designs, hot-swappable switches, and full customizability.
Instead, its unassuming design and reasonable features make it seem like a premium alternative to Logitech’s own MX Keys keyboards, which share the same layouts with laptop-style switches and are slightly cheaper at $99.99 to $149.99 — or even Apple’s range of Magic keyboards, which start at $99.
The Logitech MX Mechanical Mini is a solid, sensible keyboard with plenty of useful features to get the most out of it. However, don’t expect it to offer the highest quality typing experience or offer the kind of customizability that enthusiast mechanical keyboards are known for.
Photography by Jon Porter / The Verand