Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Drop’s CSTM65 mechanical keyboard offers extensive customization options for a personalized gaming experience.
  • Swappable top case, key switches, and weight make it easy to change up your keyboard’s look and feel.
  • The CSTM65 comes with Gateron Brown switches, smooth keystrokes, and tactile typing for a comfortable experience.

Drop is aiming its compact CSTM65 mechanical gaming keyboard at the customize-everything crowd. You can hot-swap switches, replace keycaps, and even choose a new top case, to name a few options. Drop’s goal worked too because I liked having so many options.

Drop keyboard

Drop CSTM65 Mechanical Keyboard

The CSTM65 is a compact enthusiast desktop centerpiece made for game-changing customization. The game changer? An innovative new component, purpose-built for personalization. Drop calls it the decorative top case, and it fits magnetically—and seamlessly—onto the CSTM65’s specially designed polycarbonate case.

Form factor
Compact 65%

Switch options
Gateron Brown Pro 3.0; Gateron Yellow KS3

Black; Support for multiple color top cases

South-facing RGB LEDs

Polycarbonate case

Poron case and plate foam; IPXE switch foam

Doubleshot ABS

Supported operating systems
Windows; Mac


Typing angle
6 degrees


Number of Keys



  • Gateron Brown switches offer smooth, tactile typing
  • Gorgeous RGB lighting
  • Hot-swappable switches
  • Supports Windows and macOS
  • Near-endless customizability

  • Keyboard software doesn’t control RGB lighting

Design: A Sturdy, Compact Keyboard

DROP CSTM65 Keyboard custom covers
Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

The Drop CSTM65 is much smaller than a typical 104-key keyboard. It doesn’t have a number pad at all and the directional keys (along with home, delete, page, and others) have moved to the left to make the CSTM65 even smaller than the average tenkeyless board.

The result of this design is that your mouse hand is much closer to your left hand, if you’re a righty. Many gamers prefer compact boards like this because it makes for a more comfortable posture during gaming sessions. Of course, gamers aren’t the only people who like a compact keyboard.

I don’t have any complaints about this layout. The right shift key is a little smaller than the left one, so I paid special attention to it when I typed. I had no problems with accuracy when it came to pressing the right shift key. The backspace and enter keys are plenty big—those didn’t shrink. The delete key is also easy to reach, as are the directional keys. At the top of the board, the function and number keys have been combined into a single row, which is not unusual for compact boards.

While I’m at it, I should point out that I found typing on the Drop CSMT65 to be a pleasure. The keystrokes are smooth and the keys make a soft, but audible clack. The board I tested featured Gateron Brown Pro 3.0 switches. Brown switches are known for being tactile and audible. The other option is Gateron Yellow KS3 switches. They will be less tactile and are not as loud as brown switches.

I don’t mind that Drop etched the key legends into the front edges of the keycaps, instead of the tops. That might throw you for a session or two, but it shouldn’t be a big deal in the long term.

Customization: Swap Away

Side view of the drop CSTM65 keyboard with a custom cover attached

Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

The CSTM65’s claim to fame is that it has loads of customization options. Among those, the swappable top case is one of the more interesting ones. All it takes is unplugging the cable from the CSTM65 and lifting the top case off. The built-in magnets mean no fuss. Popping a new plate on is just as easy.

Drop already has several top cases to choose from. You can pick from an array of colors at $25 a pop. The colors match Drop’s custom keycaps, which means you can change the entire color scheme of your keyboard to match your killer office design. There is an Overgrowth case (which has plant-like designs) for an extra $10. Drop also has an aluminum option in silver or black. The cases are heavier than their polycarbonate counterparts.

You can swap out several other parts of the CSTM65, including the key switches. Support for hot-swapping switches is a noteworthy feature, but it’s a given in a board that boasts extensive customization options. Beyond the swappable switches, keycaps, and top case, the CSTM65 also has a swappable switch plate and a replaceable weight.

I like that you can choose your own weight and that it’s visible when you flip the keyboard over. Yes, most people will never see your shiny keyboard weight, but I think it’s a nice touch on a board like the CSTM65. It ships with a 3.9oz weight, which is heavy enough to keep the keyboard in place under normal circumstances. If you tend to get a little aggressive while gaming and want to make sure the CSTM65 isn’t going anywhere, you can choose from CNC-machined brass (12.97oz) and stainless steel (11.96oz) weights. When it comes to the steel weights, you have a few color options, including a slick chroma color weight.

Software: Customization for Keys, Not Lighting

CSTM65 backlit with front-key markings

Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

Given that Drop is going all-out on customization options for the CSMT65, it’s not surprising that the keyboard is designed for both Mac and Windows. It has Windows keys by default but ships with extra keycaps for Mac users. It offers control software for Windows and Mac.

I downloaded the Drop Keyboard Configurator. Flashy software it isn’t, but you can heavily customize the key assignments. The software has some bumper rails to help you avoid making a mess of things, but if you want to unlock those protections, you can. The Configurator also lets you flash the firmware, should you need to.

The software doesn’t handle the CSTM65’s per-key RGB customization, though. For that, you’ll need to use the keyboard itself. That likely means going to the website and reading the instructions there. That’s going to annoy users who like to have software for customizing that sort of feature. On the other hand, some people will be happy to not have any extra software using their PC’s resources.

Should You Buy the Drop CSTM65 Keyboard?

Drop CSTM65 with keycaps removed

Jerome Thomas / How-To Geek

The Drop CSTM65 mechanical keyboard is a solid choice, regardless of whether you want to customize it. If you are creating a particular color scheme in your office, there’s a lot to like about the keyboard’s customization options. The barebones CSTM65 starts at $79 and the website lets you “build” it with the colors and parts you prefer. If you want the complete keyboard, you’re looking at $129.

As for whether you should go with the Gateron Brown or Yellow key switches, it’s a matter of preference. If you have already owned mechanical keyboards, you probably know which switch is for you. If you’re new to mechanical keyboards, I’d suggest the brown switches. I think they’ll hit the mark for many people, especially those who type frequently.

Drop keyboard

Drop CSTM65 Mechanical Keyboard

The CSTM65 is a compact enthusiast desktop centerpiece made for game-changing customization. The game changer? An innovative new component, purpose-built for personalization. Drop calls it the decorative top case, and it fits magnetically—and seamlessly—onto the CSTM65’s specially designed polycarbonate case.

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By John P.

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