The easiest way to upgrade your mechanical keyboard is to replace your old keycaps with a new set of keycaps. By replacing the old keycaps with new keycaps, of course your mechanical keyboard will look like it was just taken out of the box.
But there are some people who have a problem with keycaps, not because of the price, not because of the quality, not because of the color. They are just confused about “how do I know which keycaps set will fit my mechanical keyboard?”
You might go and register on a mechanical keyboard forum or head to a mechanical keyboard group on social media to find out about keycaps sets that fit your mechanical keyboard. This is a very precise procedure. But in this article, we will try to give you the procedure to find the keycaps set that fits your mechanical keyboard in depth and detail.
5 Things You Should Pay Attention to!
You should know some of these important things on your mechanical keyboard. If you already know these 3 things, it will be very easy to find the right keycaps set for your mechanical keyboard:
- Knowing which Switch you are using: Are you using Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh, Otemu, or any other brand?
- The keycaps profile you are currently using: Is it the Cherry Profile or the OEM Profile. Most mechanical keyboards today use OEM profile keycaps.
- Low Profile Keyboard or High Profile Keyboard?
- Low Profile Switch or Normal Switch?
- What is the size Your keycaps: This aims to find out the right size, so that your new keycaps are installed with precision.
Low Profile Keyboard or High Profile Keyboard
1. Knowing which Switch you are using
You must know the brand of switch you are currently using. In general, today’s mechanical keyboards use Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh, and Otemu. You have to know it, but only the type and color of your switch is enough. Gateron, Kailh, and Otemu are cloned switches from Cherry MX, so you only need to know the color of your switch, between Red, Blue, Brown, Yellow, Black, or Green.
But there are some unique switches such as the Gateron Low-Profile Switch, Topre Switch, Choc, and Alps. As long as what we have mentioned is not installed on your mechanical keyboard PCB, then you are most likely using a Cherry MX switch or a Cherry MX clone.
2. The keycaps profile you are currently using
Profile keycaps are all about high profile or low profile. This is very important for you to know because for high profile keycaps it is compatible with switches such as Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh, or Otemu. As for low profile keycaps, use special low profile switches and special keycaps for low profile keyboard switches such as Keychron K1V4.
In general the keycaps that are flooding the market today are OEM profile keycaps and Cherry Profile keycaps. OEM Keycaps profiles are very widely sold in the market at a fairly affordable price. While Cherry Profile keycaps are quite rare and have a very expensive price of around $120 to $200 for a set of keycaps.
When you buy a new keyboard we can make sure that your mechanical keyboard is equipped with OEM profile Keycaps. Karen OEM profile keycaps have become the market standard. Some of the mechanical keyboard manufacturers that install OEM profile keycaps on their keyboards are Logitech, Razer, Corsair, SteelSeries, Red Dragon, HK Gaming, and many more.
But there are some keyboard mechanics that embed keycaps with DSA and XDA profiles but these are very few. The most likely ones are OEM Profile Keycaps and Cherry Profiles.
The main difference between OEM and Cherry profile keycaps is in the height. OEM Profile keycaps are higher than Cherry profile keycaps on all keys. For design, build quality, ABS or PBT it depends on the manufacturer.
3. Low Profile Keyboard or High Profile Keyboard
Low Profile Keyboard – This is a case difference on a mechanical keyboard, if it has a thin and shorter case than a normal keyboard, then it is a low profile mechanical keyboard. The low-profile keyboard is made to keep your switches invisible and completely covered by keycaps. This type of mechanical keyboard uses low profile switches such as the Gateron Low-Profile Switch.
High Profile Keyboard – This is the mechanical profile keyboard that we most often find, has a high case (We’ll call it a normal mechanical keyboard). The high profile keyboard is made so that your switch bars are visible and the keycaps are floating on top. The high-profile mechanical keyboard uses normal switches such as Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX Brown.
4. Low Profile Switch or Normal Switch
Some keyboards with low profile switches such as the Keychron K1V4 for example have already started production. The low-profile keyboard is built for comfort, ergonomics, and makes it easy for your fingers to move from key to key.
With the creation of Low Profile Switches, manufacturers must also prepare keycaps that match this type of switch. You can indeed use normal sized keycaps, with the risk that your keycaps will bump into each other, due to the wrong size. The only solution is to buy keycaps that are officially provided for your low profile mechanical keyboard only. Usually manufacturers who produce mechanical keyboards with low profile switches, have prepared this for business purposes.
5. What is the size Your keycaps
Modifying the keyboard is one of the interesting activities you can do. In fact, this activity is becoming a new trend among gamers, especially PC game lovers.
To modify a keyboard, of course one important thing you need to know is the size of the keycap. This is to determine whether the keycap is suitable for your keyboard layout.
Maybe, in the past, it was easy for us to determine the size of a keyboard’s keycap because there were not many choices of keyboard types and layouts. Nowadays, along with the increasing number of keyboard choices, you certainly have to be smart about knowing the size of the keyboard keycap.
It’s not easy. Some keyboards have smaller modifier keys, a dedicated right shift key, odd spaces, unique enter keys, and spaces. In fact, some keyboards require extra keys or keys that are smaller than the standard layout.
So that you don’t get confused for a long time, let’s discuss the important things you need to pay attention to to make sure the keycap you want to buy with your keyboard.
How to Measure Keyboard Keycap Size
Before we go any further, it is important to define how keycaps are measured. The size that is often used is the unit or 1u. A standard keycap measures 1u or equal to a 19.05 x 19.05mm square placement size. In this placement size, it means that the keycap size is in the range of 18 x 18mm.
When referring to keycap size, 1u is the size of one alphanumeric key. 2u is double the size of 1u, which would be two normal keys combined into one. So if there is a keycap size of 1.75u, it means that the size is 1 unit plus of that size. With this standardization system, it will be easier for us to determine the keycap size.
Pay Attention to Custom Size Keyboard
As a guide, here are the standard size keycaps:
- Standard Layout: Key Sizes
- Right Shift: 2.75u
- Enter Key: 2.25u
- Backspace: 2u
- Numberpad (0, + , enter): 2u
However, there is a standard-sized keyboard, but the keycap size is a bit “warbyasah”. There are several full-sized mechanical keyboards by companies like Razer, Logitech, and Corsair whose bottom row is referred to as “non-standard”.
From this fact, when buying a mechanical keyboard with a certain layout, be careful with the keycap size if you plan to replace the keycap in the future with a different keycap and not the default keyboard product.
The conclusion we can draw is that to modify the keyboard keycap, you must first know the size of the keyboard keycap unit you have. Second, try to use a keycap with the same profile and from the same manufacturer as the default keycap.
When you buy a mechanical keyboard and hope to replace your keycaps in the future, pay attention to this, because there are some keyboards that do not use standard keycaps sizes.
We’ve outlined the exact procedure for finding the right keycaps set for your mechanical keyboard. But there is still something you should pay attention to. There are some mechanical keyboards that don’t follow the standard keycaps layout and size. This happens frequently on 65% custom keyboards, but the required keycaps are different sizes:
1. KBD67 Lite
KBD67 Lite is a custom mechanical keyboard that requires a 1.75u right shift key, this is the right shift size below the standard which should be 2.75u.
2. Ikki68 Aurora
This is a custom mechanical keyboard with non-standard keycaps sizes. The number of keycaps already meets the requirements as a 65% mechanical keyboard, but the size is almost the same as a standard 75% mechanical keyboard.
Where to Buy Keycaps
There are several websites that we would recommend to buy a good and quality keycaps set. To buy Cherry Profile keycaps from GMK you can buy them through the official Mechanicalkeyboards.com website. For the marketplace, we recommend Amazon, because there are so many affordable keycaps sets that you can find there. Other websites are Drop, Mechgroupbuys, Keycaplendar, and Keycapsets.com. You can also read our other articles about the 20 Best Keycaps that you should consider.