What can be done to make your mechanical keyboard more comfortable to use? Not only does it make it older, this 7 Mods to Improve your Mechanical Keyboard a new look and give you a whole new experience when using it typing or playing games.
Here are some upgrades that can be done to make your mechanical keyboard more comfortable to use. Some of the information/upgrades that I have written here can also be taken into consideration if you want to buy a completely new keyboard:
Easy Mods to Improve your Mechanical Keyboard
1. Replace Your Keycaps
Changing keycaps may sound simple but it has some very significant impacts with minimal effort. First, keycaps will have a big impact on your comfort typing or playing games.
Second, keycaps will also affect the mechanical sound of your keyboard when used (especially when bottoming out). Third, no less important, keycaps are very influential on the appearance of your keyboard. Let’s discuss them one by one.
Keycaps are the components of the keyboard that your fingers come into contact with the most. Material (PBT, ABS, et al.) keycaps will feel different in your fingers. Unless you’re in Group Buy for exclusive or limited edition keycaps, my advice, look for PBT keycaps.
In addition to feeling more solid when pressed, the finishing used in PBT keycaps is also usually more comfortable for your fingers.
Besides being more comfortable on your fingers, the PBT material will also provide a thicker sound when you are bottoming out.
Remember, the thinner the walls of the sound cavity, the louder the sound will be. Therefore, ABS keycaps will usually provide a more hollow sound (hollow). You can also experiment with rubber or metal keycaps but, for me, PBT keycaps are the most ideal in terms of price, access, and convenience of use.
Did you know that keycaps actually come in different heights and shapes. The shape and height of the keycaps usually uses the term ‘profile’. The OEM profile is the most frequently used in all mass-produced keyboards.
There is also a Cherry profile which is shorter but still angled/sculpted. If you are looking for a higher than OEM profile and still angled, the SA profile could be your choice. Lastly, there is the XDA profile which is shorter and flatter.
In addition to the 4 profiles above, there are actually other variants (such as DSA, DCS, or others) however; from my experience washing my eyes in local online marketplaces, the 4 profiles I mentioned first are the easiest to find (even though the SA profile is not as easy as the other 3 profiles and the OEM profile is the easiest and cheapest).
Keycaps profile is also important to note because it will provide comfort and a different sound. For the convenience of use, the height of the keycaps will greatly affect the orientation of the keys (assuming you don’t see the keyboard anymore when using it) and how much power is needed for bottoming out.
As for the sound, the higher the sound cavity, the louder the sound produced by the keycaps when bottoming out.
My suggestion is that the cherry profile is the ideal one for you to look for — if you want to switch from OEM and before trying other profiles.
The cherry profile is easier to use than OEM because it’s shorter so you’re less likely to bottom out too — unless you’re too brutal with the keyboard. Due to its shorter length, the cherry profile’s sound cavity is also narrower which will make your keyboard sound denser as well.
Unfortunately, there are some major drawbacks to the cherry profile over OEMs. First, these keycaps are usually priced at a higher price.
Second, the keycaps variant is also much more limited. You’ll have a much harder time finding cherry profile keycaps with backlight translucent letters than OEM profiles. As far as I know, there are no pudding keycaps that use the cherry profile.
However, these two shortcomings are not a problem considering the comfort and the sound produced is much more important to me.
Oh yes, before changing the keycaps, it is also important to pay attention to the size and stem keycaps of the keyboard you are currently using.
Not a few gaming keyboards that do not have a standard bottom row. Most Corsair keyboards, for example, don’t have a standard bottom row (except the K100). The Logitech G Pro also doesn’t have a bottom row standard.
The default bottom row size is 6.25u for the spacebar and 1.25u for the rest of the keys (CTRL, Win key, ALT, et al.). For more details, you can see in the image below.
It’s also important to note the stem used because you can’t pair the keycaps if the mounts are different. Currently, there are 2 switches that I remember not being compatible with the Cherry MX stem, namely the Logitech Romer-G and the ASUS ROG RX switch.
2. Installing O-rings
After changing keycaps, another very easy way is to add O-rings to your keycaps. Because Blackwidow V3 has a hollow sound, I actually had to find out what ways I could do to reduce the keyboard sound that was too noisy.
O-rings are really effective at eliminating bottoming out sounds and installation is very easy. You just need to attach the rubber rings to the keycaps.
The result is also effective because it can completely eliminate the bottoming out sound — sometimes it takes 2-3 rings, sometimes it only takes one ring, depending on the row position/row keycaps. Even though, ideally, I would prefer if there was a bottoming out sound but not too loud/empty either.
Besides being able to eliminate the bottoming out sound, O-rings can also shorten the bottoming out distance. But this function is subjective depending on your taste.
Some people like long bottoming out distances and some like short distances. In addition to the changing bottoming out distance, another subjective aspect of using O-rings is the feeling of bottoming out.
Although words cannot fully describe the taste, you can imagine the taste with and without using O-rings through the following explanation. If you don’t have O-rings, the feeling you get when bottoming out is plastic meets plastic (hard layer meets hard). Whereas with O-rings, the feel you get is rubber against plastic — soft surface meets hard.
Some people really don’t like the feel that changes when using O-rings but I’m not bothered myself, although I can tell the difference. Plus, installing O-rings is the cheapest and easiest solution if you’re bothered by the sound of bottoming out your keyboard right now.
Oh yes, the O-rings themselves also have thickness and color variants. My advice is to take the transparent color — who knows, other colors will interfere with the LED backlight and take a thicker one because it won’t be too wasteful if 1 O-rings isn’t enough for certain keycaps.
3. Using a Long Mousepad Or Desk Mat
You may wonder why so use the mousepad for the keyboard. Previously, I also did not feel the need. However, after I used the mousepad which was the size of a tablecloth under the keyboard (I used the Ducky Flipper Extra R — 800x350x3mm), I found the mousepad to be of little help in dampening the vibration of the keyboard.
As with soundproofing, which I’ll cover in the next section, your desk usually has a hard surface (wood, glass, metal) that isn’t able to withstand vibrations. While the mousepad has a softer surface — as long as it’s not a hard surface.
That way, my keyboard doesn’t come in direct contact with the glass surface of my desk and the vibration between the two hard surfaces can be reduced.
In addition to dampening vibrations with the table, I feel that this long mousepad can also reduce the distance between the mouse and the keyboard. The reason is, if you use the mousepad only for the mouse, you may not put the keyboard on top of only part of the mousepad because your keyboard is so uneven.
However, the significance of using a mousepad for your keyboard is not as great as using O-rings which can completely drown out the bottoming out sound. However, using the mousepad under the keyboard, for me, is quite a bit less sound and also not a hassle — you just have to buy a mousepad that is long and place it under the mouse and keyboard.
4. Added Wrist Rest
If you’re like me who can spend 6-10 hours in front of the computer per day (whether it’s working, playing games, or watching books… er…), you probably often feel sore wrists. Ideally, you should be standing and moving around regularly and not sitting all the time. However, I know that life is often far from ideal…
Previously, I also often felt wrist pain when typing or playing games for too long — because my wrist was directly in contact with a hard table surface.
I know this position is not ideal either. Ideally, according to ergonomics experts, your wrist is not placed on the table but in a floating position while typing. You can see the link above to find out more about proper hand and body position when using the keyboard.
However, the problem with my wrist being sore due to the keyboard position being too high and pain from being pressed against a hard surface for a long time, was much less when I started using the wrist rest.
He said, even using a wrist rest is actually still not ideal if the position is not right either. However, I myself feel that just using a comfortable wrist rest can extend the duration of my typing and not get sore or sick quickly.
Currently, I have 3 types of wrist rest. The first wrist rest in the package from SteelSeries Apex 7 which is hard but covered with a rubber surface. While the second I got from the Razer Blackwidow V3 sales package which is made of plastic. The third wrist rest, made by Tecware, I bought separately which contains foam covered with cloth.
Of the three wrist rests that I have, the wrist rest of the Blackwidow V3 is the most uncomfortable to use. The reason is, the wrist rest still has a hard plastic surface that still hurts when used for a long time.
The second, more comfortable wrist rest is the one included in the Apex 7, which is hard but covered in rubber. Actually, if it’s just the material and the surface, I prefer this wrist rest to the one filled with foam — because the foam will definitely deflate with use.
Because the surface is also not cloth, wrist rests with a rubberized surface are also less likely to get dirty — because they are easier to clean. Unfortunately, the Apex 7 wrist rest, because it was specifically designed for this keyboard, has a strange position when used with other keyboards. And I no longer use the keyboard because one of the switches is worn out even though it hasn’t been used for a year.
The wrist rest that I currently use is the one made of foam and covered with cloth. From what I feel, using a wrist rest (either from SteelSeries or Tecware) can help me feel more comfortable when typing for two reasons. First, my wrists no longer have to be pressed/placed on a hard surface table.
Second, the wrist rest also makes your wrist position higher so that it is more in line with the keyboard.
Although using a wrist rest will make you feel more comfortable and less sore, I still advise you to try to type in an ideal position and keep moving regularly (eg once an hour).
5. Installing the Sound Damper Into the Keyboard Case
Although it’s more troublesome than the 4 things above, installing a silencer in the (bottom) case is also easy to do and will make your keyboard sound quieter.
Usually, your keyboard case is made of plastic that easily reflects sound vibrations. By adding a softer layer, the material can help absorb vibrations. There are a few things to keep in mind when you want to add silencers to your keyboard.
The first important thing is the material. The easiest soundproofing available is the thin layer of foam that is usually used when sending packages.
You can also use inexpensive EVA foam. You can also use other foam that is usually used for other purposes (which is usually yellow). If you have more funds and are patient, some say that sorbothane or neoprene is also better for reducing sound — but to be honest, I was too lazy to bother and bought more (hahaha) so I looked for materials that were already in my house.
Plus, from my experience, the thin foam wrapping, EVA foam, or yellow foam is also enough to reduce the loud sound of your keyboard. After all, in my opinion, there are other factors that are more significant in reducing the sound of a keyboard that is too noisy — such as keycaps, o-rings, switches, or the case.
The second thing that is important to note is the thickness of the foam layer. Don’t be like me, who stuffed the foam too thickly because it could damage the keyboard case holder and make it hard to reassemble.
6. Replacing Switch and Stabilizer
The next thing that can be done (relatively) quite easily is to replace the switch and stabilizer. As I wrote earlier, changing the keyboard switches has a greater impact on the sound than installing foam. Plus, changing the switch will make a much more significant difference in typing comfort.
Currently, I have experienced several keyboard switches such as Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Black, SteelSeries Blue, Gateron Yellow, Gateron Red, Razer Green, and Durock L2. Of all the above, Durock L2 provides the most special comfort. The switch is really smooth and the sound is not noisy.
If I had to make a suggestion, the Durock L2 is the switch you should make your top choice — if you like linear (not tactile or clicky) switches. The price is indeed more expensive (I last bought $6.02 per switch) but the convenience provided is really worth the price paid.
Durock switches are also pre-lubed from the manufacturer so they are suitable if you are lazy like me. If your budget is more limited, Gateron Yellow is the second option I recommend. I even previously preferred the clicky switch (Cherry MX Blue) however, after 2 months of impulsive shopping, I’ve switched to linear religion.
In addition to switches, keycap stabilizer is also important for keyboard comfort and sound. Stabilizers like the Razer Blackwidow V3, for example, are pathetic and make their sound very annoying when used. If you don’t want to bother, you can choose several keyboards that already provide lubricant in the stabilizer like the ones I found on the Tecware Phantom Elite or Dareu EK840. For me, such a pre-lubed stabilizer is enough because I’m too lazy to buy and apply my own lube.
To replace the switch and stabilizer, you might protest why it was put here if the title is an ‘easy’ upgrade. Well, I’m now using a hotswap PCB on my 3 keyboards. So changing the keyboard switch is also as easy as changing the keycaps.
In fact, as I wrote some time ago, PCB hotswap should be the new standard for all gaming keyboards — I don’t want to buy a keyboard if the PCB isn’t hotswap now. In addition to making upgrading switches easier, you don’t have to worry about changing the keyboard completely when one switch fails — as I did with my SteelSeries Apex 7.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to buy a new keyboard (which hotswap the PCB), learning soldering and desoldering skills is actually very useful as long as you are not lazy and patient. Although I personally choose to use my spare time to play games… So, once again, the PCB hotswap feature is a very crucial factor.
For lubing switches, I’m also lazy (either to buy the equipment or the lubing process) hahaha… That’s why I won’t discuss it here. But if you are patient, the lubing switch will also make the sound and taste smoother. Even so, I personally feel that a pre-lubed switch like Durock is also ideal because I don’t need to spend more time and additional funds.
Oh yeah, if you’re already using a keyboard with a hotswap PCB, it’s also important to find out what pins the PCB supports. There are 2 types of pin switches, namely 3 and 5 pins. Durock L2 was using 5 pins. Switches with 5 pins are usually called PCB mounts.
While switches with 3 pins are usually called plate mounts. You can indeed cut 2 plastic pins/pins from a 5 pin switch to mount on a hotswap PCB that only supports 3 pins. However, once again, because the title of this article is an easy upgrade and I’m lazy (hahhaa), hotswap PCB that already supports 5 pins (usually written support 3/5 pins) gives you more freedom in determining the switch.
7. Changing Case
Currently, I have 5 keyboards with 3 different sizes: 3 full size, 60% (61 keys), and 65% (73 keys). From my experience cramming silencers, changing switches, or keycaps, the size of the case (keyboard) is a more significant factor in determining the sound of the keyboard.
Logically, back to the sound cavity theory. The larger the sound cavity, the louder the sound will be. The mini-sized keyboard (60-68%) of course has a denser space in the case than the TKL keyboard, especially the full size.
I’ve tried several ways to reduce the sound of the Blackwidow V3 such as changing keycaps, installing O-rings, and stuffing foam (even if it’s too thick).
Tecware Phantom Elite or Dareu EK840 whose original sound is not as bad as the Blackwidow V3 was still louder and thinner than the sound produced by my 2 keyboards measuring 60 and 68% even with minimal effort. The sound resonance is very short and the sound is also thicker on the cute sized keyboard.
Unfortunately, replacing the case is not as easy as replacing keycaps, installing silencers, or O-rings. That’s why I put it in the last section.
There is also another reason why I discuss the case and keyboard size here, even though the effort is not as easy as the other 5 methods above. Previously, I was also confused as to why my full-size keyboard actually has a different color/type of sound from the keyboard sound I heard in YouTuber videos targeting mechanical keyboard enthusiast users (not just gamers).
Honestly, I also just realized after using a compact keyboard myself. Maybe there is a way to make a TKL or full-sized keyboard so that the sound is similar to the mini-sized (60-65%) but the method is too busy and I’m too lazy (like a lubing switch, remember if full-sized means you have to lubricate it). 104 switch) or I haven’t found any other easier and faster way.
Besides being useful in changing the sound color of your keyboard, the appearance of the keyboard can also change when you change cases. Especially if you replace it with an acrylic case (either transparent or frosted), you can make the RGB LED keyboard look more trendy — like the keyboards made by Gamakay/Womier, K61 or K87.
Removing the keyboard case itself is easy, but replacement cases aren’t easy to find — there aren’t even any pre-built keyboards from mainstream brands that are sold separately. However, you can find some craftsmen or service providers in e-commerce who are used to making custom keyboard cases.
Unfortunately, most of the materials used for custom cases from these service providers are acrylic. Maybe the acrylic material is not bad, actually, but your choices are limited. However, if you know wood or metal craftsmen, you can actually pay for their services to make custom cases from materials other than acrylic.
If you intend to make a custom case, what you need to remember is the size of the sound cavity in the keyboard case that you want to make. If you want a thicker, rounder sound, make the empty space in the case as narrow as possible — as long as it doesn’t interfere with the keyboard components and PCB. Supposedly, the material of the case also affects the sound but, since I haven’t experimented much with the material of the keyboard case, I can’t comment further.
Those were 7 things that are (relatively) easy to do to make your keyboard more comfortable to use (including the sound problem because I’m also not comfortable with a keyboard that is too noisy).
For the switch part, as I said earlier, if you are already using a hotswap PCB — changing the switch is as easy as changing the keycaps. I say this again because I also hope that we together demand mainstream gaming brands to implement hotswap standards; rather than features that are just gimmicks like 4k polling rate or analog switch.
As for the case, it’s really a hassle if you have to find a new craftsman — if you haven’t had any acquaintances before. However, making a custom case can be your last resort if other easier ways still can’t get you to the sound or appearance of the keyboard you desire.