Laptop Mag Verdict
With gorgeous elegant styling and flawless ergonomics, the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro is a win. The build quality is through the roof, with a tactile feel, excellent bounce, and quickness. Although highly stylish, the Keyboard 81 Pro is far more substance than style.
Gorgeous elegant design
Sturdy aluminum build
Perfect bounce, highly responsive, and clickiness
Clicky without being an audible distraction
The rotary knob and slider are a win
Trying to download Via was an adventure
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The OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro is a remarkable addition to the family — boasting a premium design, innovative features, and outstanding build quality. The company partnered with Keychron to design the premium aluminum body, cutting-edge marble-mallow keycaps, and smart compatibility options. The mechanical keyboard is meticulously engineered to elevate your typing experience, and it shows.
Let’s delve into the standout features of the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro and see if it delivers on its promises.
Keyboard 81 Pro pricing and configurations
There are two configurations of the Keyboard 81 Pro: Winter Bonfire and Summer Breeze. The Winter Bonfire, which I was sent to review, costs $219 and features dark gray coloring and PBT keycaps with a tactile switch.
The Summer Breeze is light gray in color with marble-mallow keycaps and a linear switch and will run you $239. According to OnePlus, the marble-mallow keycaps are an industry first and feature enhanced wear resistance.
Keyboard 81 Pro design
The OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro's design radiates elegance and sophistication. Each element reflects the brand's premium DNA, from the minimalistic visual appearance and blended curves to the signature OnePlus red loco on the escape key.
The flawlessly crafted aluminum body exudes a silky-smooth, matte feel that is high-end and durable. You can connect it via the included, snazzy red six-foot USB-Type C cable or via Bluetooth. On the back, you will find the USB or Bluetooth option switch, the USB-C port, and a switch for Windows or Mac.
I love the combination of dark and light gray keys with the two red keys (Enter and ESC), which makes it pop and flare.
The other noticeable control on the keyboard is in the upper right-hand corner, the rotary knob, which allows you to control your computer's volume smoothly or customize its use to your preference.
OnePlus also included its classic notification slider to help you reduce distractions and stay productive.
I love the overall aesthetic of the 81 Pro and the useful kickstand at the rear, allowing you to prop the keyboard up at a friendlier angle.
I love this feature because it allows me to make room to film a product on my desk.
Also, my daughter saw it on my desk, fell in love with its style, and threatened to snatch it when I wasn’t looking. I may have to chain it to my desk.
The Keyboard 81 Pro is 13.3 x 5.9 x 1.86 inches and weighs in at 4.6 pounds, the weight makes sense; it’s all aluminum and premium in every way. Although in comparison to other Bluetooth keyboards, this may seem heavy. I think once the Keyboard 81 Pro is on your desk, you won’t want to move it anyway. It’s just deliciously eye-catching.
Keyboard 81 Pro keys
The 81 Pro comes with (you guessed it) 81 total keys plus the rotary media knob. It’s laid out very nicely, and each key features per-key RGB backlighting that can be controlled with the VIA app (or you can download it from Github). Collaborating with keyboard industry leader Keychron, OnePlus has optimized the Keyboard 81 Pro's layout, which made transitioning from my larger keyboard easy.
The PBT on the Winter Bonfire’s double-gasket design provided a precisely calibrated yet softer actuation, producing a satisfying clicky sound. By amplifying the typing experience without going for full silence, the keyboard struck a perfect balance between audible feedback and comfort. The tactile peak point is 0.5mm with a stronger rebounding force, and the larger tactile drop delivers a solid typing experience.
My massive corn crusher hands had no problem speedily typing away. I also liked that while very clicky, the clicking wasn’t obnoxiously loud like I have experienced in some keyboards. It’s the perfect amount of audio feedback for me.
Whether you're typing extensively for work or engaging in intense gaming sessions, the double-gasket design should deliver all-day comfort and an improved typing performance.
Keyboard 81 Pro performance
I took the 10FastFingers.com test and tallied 95 words per minute with an eye-watering, hard-to-believe 98% accuracy. My usual is closer to 80-to-85 WPM with 90% accuracy.
I used the Keyboard 81 Pro all weekend to write this review, work on my book, rewrite some stand-up material, and edit videos. All-in-all, it was an excellent experience for my productivity needs.
I then played some Borderlands 2, and everything went swimmingly with me slaughtering the desert villains easily. Using the W, A, S, D or arrow keys was a breeze. The 81 Pro is super responsive, and input speeds were quick with no lag to speak of.
Keyboard 81 Pro software
Regarding software, OnePlus went with Via, which is open source and gives users intimate control over the 81 Pro, allowing for deep customization of the keyboard’s functionality.
You can adjust the RGB lighting, the function keys, and the rotary knob to do your bidding, including setting up macros.
I am not a big custom keyboard settings person, so I played with the lighting. I know this is a mistake, especially for someone who edits as many photos and videos as I do, and I hope to rectify this in the future.
The only con about the software was when I tried to download it from Github, my MacBook rejected it faster than a baby spits out peas. Apple’s security protocols were not having it, so I went the online route. This is fine, but some MacBook users may not like this option.
The OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro emerges as a standout mechanical keyboard, combining OnePlus's premium design philosophy with Keychron’s innovative features to deliver an outstanding typing experience.
The layout is easy to transition to, and connectivity is a cinch with seamless compatibility with various operating systems, like macOS, Windows, Linux, and Android OS. However, at $219 for the Winter Bonfire and $239 for the Summer Breeze, some may consider this a luxury purchase.
It's a fantastically well-built keyboard with excellent mechanical keys and superior performance. The open-source QMK/Via software is clean and enhances functionality (even though it’s a little complicated to download). Every aspect of this keyboard exudes quality and versatility. Whether you're a professional seeking comfort during long work hours or a gaming enthusiast chasing the ultimate keystroke precision, the OnePlus Keyboard 81 Pro is an excellent choice for elevating your digital lifestyle
Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.