The Drop CSTM80 Is a Great Custom Keyboard for Everyone

The Drop CSTM80 Is a Great Custom Keyboard for Everyone

I’ve wanted to get into custom keyboards for a while now, but was intimidated by their seeming complexity. I’m not the most patient person, and going through the tedious work of sorting and sourcing the expensive pins, keycaps, and everything else a custom keyboard needs—and then assembling it myself—seemed more trouble than it was worth. Until I encountered the Drop CSTM80.

This latest keyboard from Drop intrigued me from the start. A hot swappable keyboard I could easily customize with different faceplates, as well as an optional way to increase the weight of the keyboard itself—it sounded so enticing I decided I was finally willing to dive into the realm of keyboard enthusiasts. Drop sent me a unit to test out prior to its Nov. 6 release date, and I’ve been using it ever since.

Easy customization

When looking into custom keyboards for the first time, there’s a lot of, “Huh, what does this do?” and, “Where do I even start?” Drop eliminates a lot of that confusion by outlining everything you need to know about the CSTM80 on its website.

Hot-swappable keyboards aren’t exactly a new product. I previously tested the Razer Blackwidow V4 75% and liked it more than I expected to, but the Drop offers additional versatility, supporting more switches and keycaps. It can be daunting to sort through the plethora of options available, but Drop sorts them well, allowing you to find exactly what you’re looking for.

The CSTM80 supports both 3-pin and 5-pin switches, so you can pick up new switches in either configuration. The company also offers audio samples for each switch that you can listen to online so you know exactly what they will sound like in action before buying. (You can also choose to buy them lubricated if you like your key presses to be on the smooth side.

Change at the drop of a switch

The CSTM80 I received came with Gateron Brown switches. While I like the way they sound, I listened to samples online and found I was more drawn to the sound of the Holy Panda X lubricated switches, so I grabbed some of those to swap out.

Once again, I went in a little worried about changing out the switches. While the keyboard is hot swappable, keycaps and switches can still be difficult to remove and replace. However, that wasn’t the case here: Using the included keycap and switch remover tools Drop provides in the keyboard packaging, I was able to get started pulling off keycaps and switches right away. It only took a few minutes to get through them all. I gave the empty board a quick once over with a can of compressed air to ensure no hairs or dust had gotten into ait before I started throwing on the new switches.

Once got the replacement switches lined up, it was easy to pop them all in one-at-a-time, followed by the keycaps. Another ten minutes went by, and I was done. Even as a novice, it only took me around 30 minutes to sort through and change out the switches on the CSTM80, which I consider a huge win.

Feel and comfort

The CSTM80’s aesthetics match its ease of use. This keyboard just feels really nice. It’s smaller than a full-size, as it is missing the numpad, and while I do use those keys occasionally, the addition space on my desktop is worth it. The default weight worked for me, though I can see the benefit of adding one of the available weighted pieces onto it if you prefer a studier build. That isn’t to say I didn’t face a learning curve—coming from a Ducky One Mini gaming keyboard, I found the CSTM80’s design to be less raised, which took some getting used to.

I do like the optional faceplates you can buy, which allow you to change up the style of your keyboard without having to buy a new one altogether—a great option if you like to mix things up every now and then.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a reliable mechanical keyboard that can be easily customized, you’ll be quite happy with the CSTM80. It sounds and feels great to work on, and has quickly become my daily driver, despite the love I have for my Ducky keyboards.

You can purchase different variations of the CSTM80 keyboard direct from Drop. The fully built option is available for $US149, but a barebones option can be purchased for $US99 and equipped with the switches and keycaps of your choosing. Alternate cases are available for $US25–$US60, although as of this writing they are currently on sale when purchased alongside a keyboard.


  • Feels and sounds great
  • Easy to customize
  • Removable faceplate makes cleaning simple


  • A bit more expensive than other tenkeyless options

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