Best types of keyboard keycaps: Choose the Right Ones!


Updated: 02/02/2024

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Are you ready to take your keyboard customization to the next level? 

Look no further than keyboard keycaps! These little pieces of plastic can completely transform your keyboard’s look, feel, and sound. But with so many options available, knowing which ones to choose can be overwhelming. That’s where we come in. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about keyboard keycaps, from the different types and profiles to the best options for gaming and typing. So, let’s dive in and find the perfect keycaps for your mechanical keyboard!

Understanding Keyboard Keycaps

Before we delve into the world of keycaps, let’s start with the basics. Keycaps are the plastic caps that cover each key on your keyboard. They make your keyboard look good and also affect how it feels when you type. By customizing your keycaps, you can add a personal touch to your keyboard and make it truly unique.

Types of Keycap Materials

When it comes to keycap materials, there are two main options: ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate). Each material has its unique characteristics and advantages.

ABS keycaps are the most common type of keycaps. They are known for their vibrant colors and smooth texture. However, ABS keycaps wear down over time and develop a shiny appearance. 

On the other hand, PBT keycaps are more durable and resistant to wear. They have a textured feel and are less likely to develop shine. However, ABS keycaps are less colorful than PBT keycaps.

Comparison table of ABS and PBT Keycaps: ABS offers smooth texture, while PBT provides durability.

Keycap Profiles: Finding the Perfect Fit

Keycap profiles refer to the shape and contour of the keycaps. Different profiles offer different typing experiences, so choosing the one that suits your preferences is essential.

The most popular keycap profiles include CherryOEMSA, and DSACherry profile keycaps are slightly lower and widely used in production keyboards. OEM profile keycaps are similar to Cherry’s profile but marginally taller. SA profile keycaps have a vintage look with a high profile and sculpted rows. DSA profile keycaps are low profile and have a uniform shape, making them popular among enthusiasts.

Compatibility and Sound Profile

When you pick keycaps for your keyboard, it’s essential to think about whether they will work with the kind of switches your keyboard uses, like MX or Topre. Different keycap sets are made to fit specific switch types, so it’s important to check if they will work with your keyboard before buying them. Also, the material and shape of the keycaps can change the sound your keyboard makes when you type. 

For example, PBT keycaps usually make a deeper and more satisfying sound than ABS. Knowing about these things will help you choose keycaps that not only fit your keyboard but also make the sound you like when you type.

Low Profile Keycaps: Pros and Cons

In the last few years, low-profile keycaps have become more popular. They are different from the traditional keycaps and give a unique typing experience. These keycaps are shorter and flatter, making keyboards look simple and stylish. People who like typing on laptops often prefer them. But only some people like low-profile keycaps. Some people don’t find them comfortable because they want the traditional keycaps that give more feedback when typing. Before choosing low-profile keycaps, it’s essential to think about what you like and how you type.

Keycap Set Reviews

Now that we have explored the basics of keycaps, let’s talk about keycap set reviews. We will categorize the reviews into four categories: budget-friendly, Best keycap set for gamers, Best keycap set for typing, and Best overall. Each type has keycaps that suit different preferences and budgets, so there’s something for everyone to choose from.

1. The Best Budget-Friendly Keycap Set

A keyboard with a number pad and YMDK DSA Retro Keycaps.

If you want to make your keyboard look fantastic without spending too much money, the YMDK DSA Retro Keycaps are a great choice. These keycaps come in a retro style, which means they have a relaxed, old-fashioned look that’s sure to make your keyboard stand out. Not only do they look great, but they’re also really affordable. They’re also straightforward to install on your keyboard, so you can give it a new look without any trouble. If you want to add retro flair to your keyboard without spending much money, the YMDK DSA Retro Keycaps are worth checking out.

Pros
  • Durable PBT plastic resists wear and shine.
  • Classic design adds vintage charm to your setup.
  • Low-profile DSA profile for smooth keystrokes.
  • Works with common MX layouts (60%-full size).
  • Affordable option for quality keycaps.
Cons
  • Only available in one retro colorway.
  • It is not backlit and is compatible with keyboards with lighting.
  • A textured surface might result in louder typing.
  • Retro style might not be for all tastes.
  • Might not fit split or ergonomic keyboards.

2. The Best Keycap Set for Gaming

White keyboard with Cherry Profile PBT Keycaps

If you love playing games on your computer, then the Cherry Profile PBT Keycaps Set is the best one for you. These keycaps are super durable and comfortable to use. They have a smooth surface and a unique shape that makes them great for gaming. Also, they come in cool colors and designs, so you can make your keyboard look fantastic while you play. If you want the best keycaps for gaming, these are the ones to get!

Pros
  • Comfy classic: Familiar profile, great for most typists.
  • Fits everywhere: Works with most MX keyboards.
  • Built to last: Durable PBT material resists wear.
  • Style choices: Plenty of colors and designs to match your setup.
  • Balanced sound: Not too loud, not too quiet, just right.
Cons
  • Basic look: Might feel plain compared to unique profiles.
  • Not for ergonomics: Less sculpted than some options.
  • Can be pricier: PBT and classic designs cost more sometimes.
  • No backlight shine: Doesn’t work with backlit keyboards.
  • Slower for speed: A higher profile might be slower for rapid typing.

Choose them if: You value comfort, compatibility, and durability over cutting-edge features.

3. The Best Keycap Set for Typing

Drop Matt3o MT3 Susuwatari keycap - a black keycap with a cute Susuwatari design

The Drop + Matt3o MT3 Susuwatari keycap set is super good for typing. The keys are shaped nicely and feel great when you type. They’re made from solid material so that they won’t wear out quickly. The colors are excellent and make your keyboard look awesome. If you want to type comfortably and make your keyboard look stylish, this keycap set is perfect for you.

Pros
  • Unique Design: The Drop + Matt3o MT3 Susuwatari keycap set features a distinctive and eye-catching design that stands out on any keyboard.
  • Quality Material: The keycaps are made of high-quality material, providing a satisfying typing experience and durability.
  • Compatibility: These keycaps are compatible with a wide range of mechanical keyboards, making them versatile for different setups.
  • Ergonomic Profile: The MT3 profile of these keycaps is designed to provide a comfortable and ergonomic typing experience.
Cons
  • Price: The set may be relatively expensive compared to standard keycap sets, making it less accessible to budget-conscious consumers.
  • Availability: Due to its limited production, the set may be difficult to obtain, leading to potential frustration for those interested in purchasing it.
  • Color Fading: Some users have reported that the dark color of the keycaps may fade over time with heavy use, impacting the overall aesthetic.
  • Lack of Customization: The unique design of the keycaps may limit the ability to customize the keyboard’s appearance, as they may not easily pair with other keycap sets.

Choose them if: You want comfy, unique, and high-quality keycaps and don’t mind spending a bit more, then these are perfect! Just be aware of the deeper sculpt and lack of backlighting. Otherwise, there are plenty of other great keycap options out there.

4. The Best Keycap Set Overall

HyperX Pudding Keycaps set on black and red keyboard with vibrant red keys.

The HyperX Pudding Keycaps are a fantastic choice for anyone looking to upgrade their keyboard. Not only are they budget-friendly, but they also offer outstanding performance. The keycaps are designed to enhance the look of your keyboard while also improving its functionality. With their durable build and stylish design, these keycaps are an excellent investment for anyone looking to personalize their typing experience without breaking the bank. Overall, the HyperX Pudding Keycaps are a top choice for those seeking a budget-friendly keycap set that doesn’t compromise on quality or performance.

Pros
  • Light it up: Backlit design shines brightly for low-light gaming or aesthetics.
  • Budget-friendly: This is an affordable option compared to many PBT sets.
  • Smooth & slick: ABS plastic offers a comfortable, quiet typing experience.
  • Wide compatibility: Fits most standard MX mechanical keyboards.
  • Stylish & sweet: Translucent design with pudding keycaps looks unique and fun.
Cons
  • Shine magnet: ABS material prone to wear and shine over time.
  • Not as durable: Less resistant to wear and tear compared to PBT keycaps.
  • Limited customization: Fewer color options compared to some sets.
  • Can feel cheap: ABS texture might not be preferred by all typists.
  • Fading concerns: Legends might fade slightly over extended use.

Choose them if: You prioritize affordability, backlighting, and a unique aesthetic but are okay with potential shine and less durability.

YMDK DSA vs. Cherry PBT vs. Drop MT3 Susuwatari vs. HyperX Pudding Keycaps

FeatureYMDK DSA RetroCherry Profile PBTDrop MT3 SusuwatariHyperX Pudding
ProfileLow-profile DSAMedium-profile CherryHigh-profile MT3Medium-profile OEM
MaterialPBTPBTPBTABS
DurabilityHighHighHighModerate
TextureTextured matteSmoothDeeply sculptedSmooth
SoundSlightly louderModerateLouderQuieter
BacklightingNoNoNoYes
AestheticsRetro colorwayClassic optionsWhimsical soot sprite themeTranslucent pudding design
PriceBudget-friendlyModeratePremiumAffordable
CompatibilityMost MX keyboardsMost MX keyboardsMost MX keyboardsMost MX keyboards
Typing experienceFast and lightBalancedComfortable and sculptedSmooth and quiet
Best forBudget-conscious gamers, minimalistsComfort typists, classic setupsUnique aesthetics, comfort typistsGamers with backlit keyboards, budget-conscious users

How to Install Keycaps on Your Keyboard?

Once you have selected the perfect keycaps for your keyboard, it’s time to install them. Installing keycaps is a relatively straightforward process, but it requires some care and attention to detail. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the installation process:

  1. Prepare your workspace: Clear a clean and well-lit area to work on your keyboard. Gather all the necessary tools, including a keycap puller if needed.
  2. Remove the old keycaps: If you’re replacing existing ones, gently remove them using a keycap puller or carefully prying them off with your fingers. Take care not to damage the switches or the keyboard itself.
  3. Align the new keycaps: Take each new keycap and align it with the corresponding switch on your keyboard. Make sure the keycap is centered and sits flush with the switch.
  4. Press the keycaps into place: Apply gentle and even pressure to press the keycaps firmly onto the switches. Ensure that each keycap is securely attached and doesn’t wobble or become loose.
  5. Test the keys: Once all the keycaps are installed, test each key to ensure they register correctly and function as expected. If any keys are not working, double-check the alignment and reseat the keycap if necessary.

Conclusion: 

Customizing your keyboard with keycaps is a fantastic way to add your personal touch and elevate your typing or gaming experience. By choosing the suitable keycap material, profile, and thickness, you can create a keyboard that not only looks great but feels great to use. Remember to consider your specific needs and preferences when selecting keycaps, and don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with different styles and designs. With the right keycaps, your keyboard will truly become an extension of yourself.

Now that you have all the knowledge you need, it’s time to start exploring the world of keyboard keycaps and find the perfect ones for your mechanical keyboard. Happy keycap hunting!

What are the different types of keycaps?

The different types of keycaps include ABS, PBT, and Doubleshot PBT.

What is the difference between ABS and PBT keycaps?

ABS keycaps have a smooth texture and are more affordable, but they tend to develop shine and wear over time. PBT keycaps are more durable, have a textured surface, and resist shine.

What are keycap profiles?

Keycap profiles refer to the shape and height of the keycaps. Different profiles, such as Cherry, OEM, SA, and DSA, offer varying comfort levels and aesthetics.

How do I choose the right keycaps for my keyboard?

Consider factors such as material, profile, compatibility, sound profile, printing method, and aesthetics to choose keycaps that suit your preferences and typing style.

Where can I buy high-quality keycaps?

You can purchase high-quality keycaps from online retailers, mechanical keyboard enthusiast communities, online marketplaces, and dedicated keyboard accessory stores.

How do I install keycaps on my keyboard?

To install keycaps, remove the old keycaps (if applicable), align the new keycaps with the switches, press them into place, and test the keys to ensure proper registration.

How do I maintain and clean my keycaps?

Regularly remove and clean your keycaps with mild soap and water, use a keycap brush or compressed air to remove dust and debris, avoid eating or drinking near your keyboard, and store unused keycaps properly.


Shifa Tariq

Shifa Tariq

Hi, I'm Shifa, the CEO and Co-founder of Best Keyboard Tester, the go-to website for comprehensive keyboard guides, in-depth reviews, and top recommendations. As a huge keyboard enthusiast and tech lover, I created this website to help everyone find the perfect keyboard, whether you're a casual typist or a hardcore gamer. Our unique online keyboard tester tool lets you virtually try different switches and layouts before buying. I'm passionate about helping people discover the joy of an excellent keyboard and always looking for ways to improve our website.

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