Keycaps are not unfamiliar to those of you who are familiar with information technology. However, learning more in-depth and precisely about these items with novices is quite difficult. For those who have the question: “What is a keycap?”, this article will give you useful information about keycaps and types of keycaps.
What is a keycap?
A keycap is a small cover made of plastic, metal, or other material that is placed over a computer keyboard’s key switch. The key function or alphanumeric character corresponds to the keycap. Separate keycaps were added to allow for the creation of multiple keyboard layouts. The most frequent color for keycaps is black, however, they are also available in white, gray, and other colors.
What is the best material for a keycap?
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PBT are the two most common material types used in keycaps (Polybutylene Terephthalate). You might be asking what the heck ABS and PBT are. They are, after all, two distinct forms of plastic with distinct properties. Both varieties of plastic have a distinct feel, sound, and appearance.
ABS keycaps are the most economical and extensively used keycap material. ABS keycaps are mass-manufactured due to their ease of injection molding. PBT plastic is less prevalent, however, it is often of higher quality than ABS plastic. ABS keycaps have a smooth feel and a greasy gloss with time, but PBT keycaps have a rough feel and are more durable. PBT is said to be superior to ABS since it is more durable and wears down less over time. That being said, there are some pretty good ABS keycap sets available, and it all comes down to personal opinion. Some people favor ABS’s smooth feel, while others prefer PBT’s textured feel.
Types of keycaps
1. Cherry Profile Keycaps
In mechanical keyboards, the Cherry Profile Keycaps are the most popular and widely used layout profile. Cherry keycaps are fairly identical to OEM profiles, with the exception that they are somewhat shorter and the first-row key shape is slightly flatter than OEM profiles. Because of this quality, users will spend less time getting acclimated to this cherry profile and will find it more pleasant to type with.
Although it is extensively used on mechanical keyboards, the Cherry keycaps profile is sculpted and slightly more expensive than other profiles on the market. Because there is less area for sound to bounce within, cherry keycaps provide a deeper bassy sound. This keycap profile provides the best typing experience among all keycap profiles, whether you are a gamer or perform casual typing.
2. OEM Profile Keycaps
OEM Profile is a traditional sculpted profile found on mass-produced mechanical keyboards. These OEM Profile Keycaps are one of the most popular and widely used keycap sizes. OEM keycaps are typically seen on prebuilt mechanical keyboards from well-known manufacturers such as Logitech, Razer, and Corsair.
If you look at the top of the keycaps, you’ll see that it’s slightly tilted to provide you with a good grip on your hand. This OEM profile has been molded to provide you with outstanding typing comfort. Whether you are playing games or typing, you will have a satisfying experience with OEM Keycaps Profile.
3. KAT Profile Keycaps
The KAT Profile, also known as Keyreactive All Touch, is a new version of the SA profile produced by Keyreactive. KAT Profile Keycaps are shorter, mid-size profiles, and smoother versions of SA profile keycaps, with each keycap, mounted tall, somewhat, and curving.
KAT Keycaps are made of a thick plastic material, which creates a chattering sound when a keypress is recorded by the user. Because of its spherical and inclined design, you like to type on the KAT keycaps, and your fingertips slide effortlessly over the keycaps thanks to its smooth keypress mechanism.
Have you noticed the fluidity of typing on KAT Keycaps? It provides for quick actuation due to its similar and inclined design structure, which is great for gamers looking to increase their efficiency. The KAT Profile Keycaps provide an amazing typing experience as well as accurate precision, making them ideal for users who type frequently.
4. XDA Profile Keycaps
XDA Keycaps is a short uniform type keycaps profile with a big surface area that is similar to DSA. XDA profiles are often low-profiled, homogeneous across the row, and lightweight, providing you with pleasant aesthetics. Because of its uniform construction, the Uniform profile type is suitable for persons who quickly move their hands from one key to another on the keyboard.
XDA Keycap profiles are typically made of high-grade ‘PBT’ material, which is far superior to ABS in terms of construction quality. Due to its uniform shape and size, it may be difficult for users to get acclimated to the XDA profile, as opposed to Cherry Profile Keycaps.
XDA keysets have a particular surface with more rounded square corners, thus you may notice a slight difference and a flatter surface as soon as you register a key. XDA keycaps have the lightness of cherry keycaps but are uniform rather than carved.
5. DSA Profile Keycaps
DSA Profile Keycaps are slightly lower-profile keycaps with a consistent profile, similar to XDA, and are one of the most popular profiles on the market. DSA keycaps are typically made from original special signature plastic, so if you like signature plastic keyboards, this is a must-have. Because this keycap does not have a sculpted profile, it will be difficult to use at first and will take some time to get used to.
The hitting sound of DSA keycaps is comparable to cherry keycaps, but when a keystroke is detected, it provides users with pleasant feedback. This keyboard’s lower profile, consistent height, and spherical top make it an excellent-looking keyboard with a wonderful typing experience. Because of the consistent profile, users like typing and gliding their fingertips on these types of keyboards.
6. SA Profile Keycaps
SA Profile Keycaps have a tall height profile, are angled from the top, and have spherical tops for the convenience of typing. Signature Plastics was the first to provide these SA keycaps, which are part of the Sculpted profile. Simply said, if you type with your hands up, these SA profile keycaps are ideal for you.
Because of its strong construction and sculpted type profile, the SA profile allows users to quickly glide their hands from one key to the next. SA profiles were commonly found on vintage keyboards like IBM Models M as well as some new models on the market since they had extremely comparable height profiles.
SA Keycaps are the most recognizable profile due to their excellent design, distinct sound, and reputation for creating a Thock sound when registering a key. These SA keycap profiles are not as quick as the others for fast-paced gaming requirements, but typing performance will increase dramatically after you get acclimated to them. SA keycaps provide a pleasant user experience despite having a Spherical and tilted top.
7. DOM Profile Keycaps
The DOM Profile Keycaps are mostly employed in Artisan keycaps, with the see-through keycap being particularly eye-catching. The height of the DOM keycaps is equivalent to the profile of the SA R1, making the keyboard appear as level as possible. The width of DOM keycaps is likewise comparable to that of SA keycaps. The height profile and breadth structure give this layout the appearance of a snow globe with a rounded top, which aids in magnifying the inside contents.
Because DOM keycaps have a standard profile shape, it takes some time for users to become used to them. This DOM Profile keycap has a rounded top layout that users like, and I like it as well. Check out the Dome keycap profiles if you want to build something unique and creative with the keyboard that completely changes its layout.
8. DSS Profile Keycaps
DSS Keycap Profile was created in the 1980s, and a newer profile was reintroduced just a few years ago. Signature Plastics is also resurrecting DSS Profile. This DSS keycap has a Sculpted profile and provides a fantastic typing experience that is also fully suited for touch typing.
The DSS Profile keycaps are somewhat shorter than the SA profile, but they are much closer in height to the Cherry/OEM profile. Typically, these keycap profiles have a clean and quality style layout that is well-liked by consumers. This keycap retained one of the key qualities of DSA keycaps, namely the textured feel of the keycaps. This textured feel of DSS profile keycaps will undoubtedly captivate you.
9. NP Profile Keycaps
The Kbdfans created and built NP Profile Keycaps with a somewhat medium profile height. NP Keycaps feature a consistent shape and rounded edges that provide a good grip on the keyboard, allowing you to type often. Because of its uniform profile type, this NP keycap has a flat look.
In terms of design and structure, the XDA and NP keycap profiles are very similar. Popular NP profile keycaps on the market include NP Icecream, NP PBT Crayon, NP Panda, NP Lollipop, and others.
Because of its uniform profile type keycaps, NP Profile is the best choice for users who undertake casual typing and regularly shift their hands from one key to another when typing.
Purchasing a new keycap set for your keyboard is an exciting first step for many individuals, and it is the impetus they require to tumble down the rabbit hole of the mechanical keyboard hobby. We hope we were able to assist you in understanding the distinctions between keycap kinds and answering the question “What is a keycap” when you in selecting your first keycap set.