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[GameSpot] - Cherry's Compact Gaming Keyboard Is One Of The Best Yet - MX-LP 2.1 Review


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The hobbyist scene around mechanical keyboards has been wild to witness flourish with an abundance of custom builds, aftermarket keycaps, and non-traditional layouts. And we've seen the usual suspects like Corsair, Logitech, and Razer lean a bit more into that enthusiast space, branching slightly out from the typical gaming-style keyboards (and I'd say most have done away with the extravagant features and gaudy branding of yore). Cherry's new wireless MX-LP 2.1 is a reflection of how the keyboard niche has evolved, because out of the box, it feels like the exact kind of compact keyboard I would've outfitted myself.

Cherry has been a pioneer in mechanical switches with the likes of the linear MX Reds and clicky MX Blues, and everything in between--if you've used a mechanical keyboard, chances are they had Cherry switches in them. The company also has its own line of keyboards, one of which we recently reviewed: the wireless Cherry KW X ULP. But while that was an ultra-low-profile and super-thin take on a mechanical keyboard, it didn't exactly fare well for gaming. With the MX-LP 2.1, however, we have a low-profile keyboard that excels in almost every respect whether it be for typing in the workspace or competitive gaming, all packed in the bite-sized 65% form factor.

The Cherry MX-LP 2.1 mechanical keyboard.

The core of what makes the MX-LP 2.1 so great out of the box is the MX Speed Silver switches. These are smooth, linear-style switches similar to the MX Red but with a shorter actuation point and total travel distance--1.2mm and 3.4mm, respectively. This allows the keyboard itself to maintain a thinner profile without sacrificing the precision and feel of a proper mechanical switch. It also gives you that satisfying "thock" sound with each keystroke while also being noticeably quieter than my Keychron K4 and Razer Huntsman, even when hammering away and bottoming out. The buttery smooth feel and responsiveness made me a bit more excited to just type. But if I'm dropping $130 USD on a keyboard, it'll be put to work in gaming.

As with any of the previous PC peripherals I've reviewed, I put the MX-LP 2.1 through its paces in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV and a competitive shooter--Valorant in this case--to get a feel for gaming performance. My main concern with playing FFXIV on a compact keyboard is not having the extra keys to map actions or the number pad for punching in values on the market board, but admittedly that's not necessarily a problem unique to the MX-LP 2.1. That just comes with the territory with any keyboard of this style. That said, the slick feel of the MX Speed Silver switches made long raid sessions easy on my fingers and enjoyable to mash on my attack rotation. Despite the short actuation point, I rarely made errant inputs as I got used to spacing between keycaps and the firmness of the keys themselves.

When it came to Valorant, I had no issues with the MX-LP 2.1. In fact, the shorter actuation point and travel distance of the MX Speed Silver switches allowed me to quick-strafe and peek corners swiftly, or hit crouch or any of my Agent abilities with ease. It may not have improved my personal performance (that's on me), but at least I know my keyboard was as good as it could be in the heat of ranked matches. And having the extra real estate on my desk mat was a nice perk for when I needed wider mouse swipes since I play on a relatively low sensitivity.

A closer look at the Cherry MX Speed Silver mechanical switch.

What rounds out the sleek design of the MX-LP 2.1 are its thin, low-profile ABS keycaps. Regardless of which color scheme you get, it comes with three tones of keycaps--I received the white version with light blue and bright red accented caps. This sort of mimics the trend of keyboard enthusiasts outfitting their custom planks with multi-color schemes to visually group certain key-types together, like highlighting WASD, the space bar, or functions. The stock keycaps pop out easily if you want to swap them out or if you need to get in the board itself to clean it. While I don't plan on replacing the stock keycaps, it's worth noting that it's a bit tougher to find aftermarket low-profile keycaps, so customizing the MX-LP 2.1 in a way that's consistent with its original design might be a challenge.

What's neat about these caps is that the lettering is transparent, letting the RGB lighting shine through the cap itself and not just as an ambient effect between keys. And the straightforward Cherry software lets you customize the RGB effect extensively with various patterns, reactions, and individual key colors. It's here where you can program macros and remap key functions as well. It's also the only way to monitor battery life.

The MX-LP 2.1 can be used wirelessly through the packaged 2.4GHz dongle, which I used during my time playing FFXIV, so I can attest to the 1ms rated response time being on point. There's Bluetooth connectivity to add versatility, though I tend to avoid Bluetooth for input-based devices, especially for gaming. Of course, the keyboard can be used wired via USB-C as well, which is also how you charge its 650 mAh battery. Through roughly 20 hours of using the MX-LP 2.1 wirelessly for work and gaming with full RGB brightness, the battery would be drained to about 20%. Plugging in a desktop keyboard to recharge isn't that big of an issue, but relatively speaking, this would place it on the lower-end of battery life for wireless keyboards.

It may not be ultra-thin, but the MX-LP 2.1 leaves a small footprint and rocks low-profile keycaps.

By virtue of the truncated layout, the MX-LP 2.1, you sacrifice some of the ease-of-use like a number pad, individual function keys, and a dedicated home row. You can access the F1 through F12 keys by holding the FN key and using the number row, and things like media control or swapping different keyboard functions, which takes time getting used to. But personally, that trade-off for having a cute little keyboard that leaves a small footprint for more desk space (and at least still has all the necessary functions) is one I can accept. The only other thing I wish it had was keyboard legs for a steeper angle, but the reversible rubber feet on bottom of the base work just fine.

While physical customization is at the heart of the enthusiast keyboard space, the Cherry MX LP 2.1 is designed to offer that kind of experience out of the box. So much of finding the right mechanical keyboard comes down to preference, and for me, the MX LP 2.1 ticks most boxes--especially regarding mechanical switches, overall design, and gaming performance. I'm still partial to the 96% layout, like my Keychron K4, since it has the functionality and versatility I need for various situations. But the Cherry MX-LP 2.1 is one of the best keyboards I've used in recent memory, and may have convinced me to fully embrace the compact 65% style.

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  • 11 months later...

It's refreshing to see how these keyboards have evolved beyond just gaming gimmicks into something that blends practicality with performance. The QwertyBro they offer a fantastic typing experience with that satisfying "thock" sound—I'm sold on the idea of quieter keystrokes without losing that mechanical feel. It seems like a solid investment, especially if you're into both work and gaming. The compact  layout is intriguing too, offering a lot of functionality in a smaller size.

Edited by Baldaresan
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