Customizing Your Clicks: A Guide to Keyboard Styles and Keycap Types

Keyboards are the interface through which we interact with computers, yet many users only experience standard membrane keyboards. With mechanical keyboards, a vast world of personalization and tactile upgrades awaits. One crucial element of a mechanical keyboard is the keycap itself. Here’s a deep dive into keycap styles and characteristics:

Keycap Profiles

  • OEM: The most common profile, found on pre-built keyboards. Typically taller and angled for a familiar feel.
  • Cherry: Lower profile than OEM, creating a shorter typing distance and often preferred for faster action.
  • SA: Tall, spherical keycaps with a retro typewriter aesthetic. Offer deep sound and satisfying pressure.
  • DSA: Uniform, low-profile keycaps suitable for blank key layouts and comfortable touch typing.
  • XDA: Similar to DSA, but with a larger surface area for a stable fingertip feel.

Keycap Materials

  • ABS: Durable and affordable, yet prone to shine over time. Produces a higher-pitched sound.
  • PBT: More textured, resistant to shine, and delivers a deeper “thock” when typing.
  • POM: Smooth, self-lubricating plastic with a unique muted sound profile. Often considered premium.

Keycap Printing Techniques

  • Doubleshot: Durable legends molded into the keycap – won’t fade or wear.
  • Dye-sublimation: Permanent color infusion creates vibrant designs resistant to smudging.
  • Pad printing: Budget-friendly method for simple legends, but susceptible to wear.
  • Laser etching: Precise, but legends can be less consistent depending on the material.

Beyond Basics: Artisan Keycaps

Artisan keycaps take customization to the next level with unique designs, often handcrafted from resin, metal, or other materials. These serve as visual accents or functional replacements for keys like ‘Escape.’

Choosing the Right Keycaps

Your ideal keycap choices will depend on:

  • Typing style: Faster typists might prefer a shorter profile and lighter weight.
  • Sound preference: Keycap materials impact the sound signature of your keyboard.
  • Aesthetics: From minimalist to bold, keycaps contribute to a keyboard’s visual style.
  • Budget: Keycap pricing ranges from basic sets to expensive artisan varieties.

A Note About Switches

While not part of a keycap itself, mechanical switches under the keycaps significantly affect typing feel and sound. Switch varieties come in linear, tactile, and clicky options.


With a spectrum of profiles, materials, and printing techniques, keycaps can elevate the mechanics, sound, and style of your keyboard setup. Exploring this dynamic customization option offers a path to a unique typing and gaming experience that reflects your tastes and needs.tunesharemore_vert

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