Custom mechanical keyboards are all the rage these days in the world of PC gaming and typing enthusiasts. One of the best ways to make your mechanical keyboard truly your own is to outfit it with a custom set of keycaps. A custom keycap set allows you to add flair and personality to your keyboard while also potentially improving the look and feel.
Crafting the perfect custom keycap set takes some planning and consideration. Here are some tips on how to choose the ideal keycaps for your mechanical keyboard.
Decide on Keycap Material
Keycaps come in a variety of different materials, each with their own pros and cons. Here are some of the most popular options:
- PBT plastic – PBT keycaps are durable, long-lasting, and have a nice textured feel. They resist fading and oils from your fingertips better than other plastics.
- ABS plastic – ABS is shinier and smoother than PBT, but more prone to fading and showing oils/shine over time. It lets RGB lighting shine through better than PBT.
- Polycarbonate – Polycarbonate keycaps are durable and translucent, great for showing off colorful RGB backlighting.
- Resin – Resin keycaps allow for more intricate and colorful designs versus traditional plastic. They may be less durable over time.
Choose a Keycap Profile
Keycap profiles dictate the shape, contour, and height of the keycap. Common profiles include OEM, Cherry, SA, DSA, and more. Different profiles provide distinct typing feels and aesthetics. OEM and Cherry are popular standard profiles while SA and DSA have their own unique shapes. Make sure to get keycaps that match your keyboard’s original profile.
Select Color Scheme
Now comes the fun part – picking your colors! Determine if you want a colorful rainbow style, clean monochrome look, or themed colors like vaporwave or cyberpunk. Doubleshot keycaps have two plastic layers for extra color vibrancy. Backlit keycaps work great with RGB keyboards. Plan your color combo carefully if going for a specific vibe.
Research Keycap Sets
Do some browsing online to find keycap sets that match your desired material, profile, and color scheme. Look at maker sites like Signature Plastics and Drop for tons of custom set options. There are also many custom keycap group buys within mechanical keyboard communities. Browse this niche marketplace for unique and limited designs.
Account for Layout and Keys
Carefully measure your keyboard’s specific layout to ensure keycap coverage. Standard 104 key or 60% layouts are the most common and widely available. But 75% Keyboard, TKL, 65%, 40%, and other sizes may require special accommodation. Also account for extra keys like ISO Enter, stepped Caps Lock, split left shifts, and 1.75u right modifiers.
Pay Attention to Legends
Keycap legends are the letters, symbols, icons printed on the keys. Make sure your chosen keycap set has correctly legends that align with your keyboard layout. Proper sizing and location of legends is crucial for navigating while typing. Avoid mismatched or misaligned legends.
Custom keycap sets can range hugely in price from $40 entry level PBT sets to $300+ GMK sets. Factor in extras like artisans and shipping costs too. It helps to decide on a comfortable budget beforehand when browsing options. Consider starting with affordable PBT sets while you narrow down your ideal aesthetic before investing more.
Assemble with Care
Once your keycaps arrive, carefully remove your existing caps and install the new set. Make sure each cap is pressed down fully and evenly onto the switch stem. Avoid forcing or damaging the stems when inserting. Use a keycap puller tool to safely remove caps without scratching.
Show Off Your Creation
With your shiny new custom keycaps installed, show off your keyboard on Reddit, forums, or Instagram to get feedback from fellow enthusiasts. Take pride knowing your keyboard is one-of-a-kind with your own personalized touch. Plus you’ll get to enjoy an improved typing and gaming experience every time you use your new custom set!
Following this guide will help ensure you craft the perfect custom keycap set to make your mechanical keyboard stand out. Accurately matching your keyboard size and layout while expressing your own style takes research and planning. But the time invested is well worth achieving your ideal aesthetic and typing feel. Every keystroke on your new custom set will be satisfying.