Logitech MX Mechanical Mini review: A sensible keyboard for sensible people

Like last year’s Logitech Pop Keys Wireless Mechanical Keyboard was all style and no 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 paying attention to for their long battery life and a well-thought-out set of features that will make them a solid upgrade for anyone currently using a laptop-style wireless membrane keyboard.

For this review, I used the MX Mechanical Mini, which uses a 75 percent compact layout that’s similar to that 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 with a numpad. But apart from their layouts, both keyboards are functionally very similar.

The MX Mechanical Mini has a muted two-tone design that probably won’t draw too much attention. On the top is an on/off switch and a USB-C port for charging, and below that are a pair of flip-out feet to tilt the keyboard up at an 8-degree angle. It is lit, but only with regular white LEDs. While you can adjust 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 to detect when your hands are nearby and turn on the backlight before you press a key – a handy feature if you’re reaching for the keyboard in a dimly lit room. It’s all very sensible and well thought out.

This is a low-profile keyboard, meaning the switches are shorter, and there’s not as much travel as what you’d get from a full-height mechanical keyboard. Personally, I prefer my mechanical switches to be full-height, but shorter switches like these will probably feel more familiar if you’re used to typing on laptop-style scissor switches, like those found on the other keyboards in Logitech’s Master series — like the MX keys. The switches are manufactured by Kailh and there is a choice of tactile browns, click blue and linear reds. My test sample had tactile brown switches.

The keyboard is backlit, but only in white.

There aren’t many options for customizability here. Unlike Keychron’s competing low-profile keyboard, Keychron K3, the MX Mechanical Mini’s switches are not hot-swappable, meaning you’ll need to get a soldering iron if you want to replace them. And because they are inconspicuous, many of the aftermarket keycaps on the market are unlikely to work with them. This isn’t exactly the keyboard for hobbyists to tinker with.

The Logitech MX Mechanical Mini supports both Windows and macOS (and also happily connects to iOS and Android mobile devices). If you connect via Bluetooth, it will automatically detect the OS and adjust the layout, but if you’re using the USB receiver, you’ll have to do it manually with a hotkey. There is no choice of keycaps with Windows or Mac symbols on them; they are all pressed on the same keys. It looks a little cluttered, but Logitech’s priority is to minimize the amount of plastic that comes in each box. It’s another function over form decision Logitech has made with the keyboard.

The MX Mechanical Mini can store up to three paired devices and switch between them with a hotkey. 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 latency issues with the receiver, which Logitech spokesperson Wendy Spander says could be caused by “cables and metal near the receiver.” Using a short USB extension cable solved the problem completely, as did switching to Bluetooth, but it’s an annoying problem in the first place.

My device came with nondescript Kailh brown switches.

Its unobtrusive design will be familiar to anyone accustomed to laptop keyboards.

Battery life is estimated at 15 days with backlight on and 10 months with off. That’s a lot better than the Keychron K3, which offers 99 hours with its backlight off or 34 hours with its on. After a week of daily work, my battery life was 45 percent, indicating that my keyboard will be draining slightly before the 15-day mark. The keyboard charges via USB-C and the battery is technically replaceable when it eventually dies. The compartment is hidden under the sticker on the bottom, but for some reason, Logitech advises owners not to do the repair at home. There’s no way to see the keyboard’s remaining battery life on the device itself; for that you have to go to Logitech’s Options Plus software.

Options Plus is Logitech’s latest companion software for its computer accessories. In its most basic form, it provides an overview of the battery life of all your Logitech accessories, but it can also be used to customize how they work. You can’t remap every key, but you can change what the keyboard shortcuts on the top row do, as well as the all-important cluster above the arrow keys on the right. It seems like a nice mix of customizability and approachability, although it’s a shame that this reallocation isn’t saved on the keyboard itself and disappears if you plug the keyboard into a computer without Options Plus installed.

The MX Mechanical Mini has a compact layout.

For my typing test, I pitted the $149.99 MX Mechanical Mini against $74 Keychron’s K3. Logitech’s keyboard is a lot more expensive, but the form factors of the two keyboards are very similar and I suspect they will appeal to a similar type of typist. Logitech’s keyboard was the clear winner in terms of feel. It may not offer the same superb typing feel as a premium keyboard like Keychron’s Q1, and the spacebar rattles a bit, but it’s streets ahead of the K3’s relatively mushy feel. It feels fresh and clean and I can (and have) happily typed on it for hours.

Speaking of which, here’s a typing sound test:

I was also surprised by how thin Keychron’s keyboard feels compared to Logitech’s MX Mechanical Mini. Pick up the Logitech keyboard and it feels solid and refuses to bend when you try to bend it. It feels nice and durable in a way that Keychron’s (admittedly cheaper) keyboard just doesn’t. If you’re looking for where that extra $75 goes, you can find a lot here.

A sensible selection of keys on the right.

A USB-C port for charging and flip-up feel to change the angle.

Logitech seems to have a very specific kind of mass-market user in mind for its MX Mechanical keyboards. This isn’t a mechanical keyboard for enthusiasts who appreciate flashy designs, hot-swappable switches, and full customizability.

Instead, its low-profile design and handy feature set make it a premium alternative to Logitech’s proprietary MX Keys keyboards, which share the same layouts with laptop-style switches and are slightly cheaper between $99.99 and $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. But don’t expect it to offer the most premium typing feel or the kind of customizability that enthusiast mechanical keyboards are known for.

Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge

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