The best custom keycaps in 2022

PBT? Pudding? We take a look at all things keycap.

BEST CUSTOM KEYCAPS 2
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It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid gamer, a typist, or just a keyboard enthusiast, finding the best custom keycaps can be tricky. With a vast number of manufacturers, materials, and designs to choose from, it can be hard to pick the best keycaps for your new mechanical keyboard. As enthusiasts ourselves, we can fully back the value of custom keycaps as they can help elevate even the most average of keyboards and provide you with the best experience.

Custom keycaps can completely change the way your mechanical keyboard looks and feels. The most common switch type is Cherry MX, with many other companies simply producing clones of these switches. This is good news for the average reader as it will be easier to find a compatible set of keycaps for your keyboard.

In this article, we aim to help you make the right decision as you enter the realm of the keyboard enthusiast. We’ve created this guide and many others so you can feel confident in your purchases so when you’re filling that shopping cart you won’t be fraught with worries about wasting your money.

While you may have one of the best keyboards on the market, it can’t hurt to spruce up the design a little can it?

Our Top Picks

01
WePC Awards Best In Class
The Best Custom Keycaps
Gliging 140 Key Japanese Bento Root Cherry Profile Dye Sub Keycaps

Gliging 140 Key Japanese Bento Root Cherry Profile Dye Sub Keycaps

02
The Next Best Custom Keycaps
03
The Best Clean Custom Keycaps

How we choose

Regardless of the product, choosing the right piece of kit can be a painstakingly slow process.

We have selected each of these custom keycap sets for a reason, every selection offers top-tier design and quality for the price. Choosing can be tricky so we scoured the web to ensure only the best custom keycap sets make our selection process.

Once we have made our selections we narrow our lists down and get hands-on with the products we recommend.

How we test

Testing the products is a huge part of the overall process in our best of guides. Testing ensures we can conclude that our recommendations are the best out there for the job.

So how do we test custom keycaps? Well to ensure a product is the best and displays better qualities than the competition we simply start installing these on the vast amounts of keyboards we have here at the office!

We are looking for stunning design, beautiful color contrasts, and fonts, to ultimately find the best custom keycap sets on the market.

What to consider when it comes to buying custom keycaps

Before buying your next keycap set, there are going to be a few things to consider, like all products really. Finding the best custom keycap set can actually be pretty tough, they are sold all over and have different attributes that may or may not benefit your needs.

Compatibility

The majority of custom keycaps appear to be compatible with Cherry MX switches, and this is down to the brand’s dominance. Luckily a lot of switch manufacturers share the same “X” fitting as they are clones of Cherry MX, meaning there is some cross-compatibility. That being said, there are other switch types with keycaps to fit, so always check your switches and new keycaps are compatible!

Keycap material

The majority of keycaps produced these days are released with ABS keycaps as standard. Some premium keyboards may feature PBT, but what does it all mean?

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is generally a material considered to be of less quality. As mentioned above, these are widely mass-produced, leading to thinner, lower quality caps than your standard PBT. While this is a general opinion on ABS keycaps that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good quality options. Some ABS keycaps are double shot or sometimes triple shot injected and can be much thicker than some PBT caps.

PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate) caps are generally thicker and more durable. Of course, there is no rule to say which type of keycap you go for; it is just down to preference. PBT keycaps vary in much the same way ABS keycaps vary, only with subtle lifespan differences. PBT caps are generally considered to be of higher quality than ABS, but there is more to it than that. Check out our PBT vs ABS guide page for a more in-depth dive into the details.

Layout

This is an oft-overlooked but very important aspect of custom keycaps. Many people (including the author of this article) have waited in anticipation for their nice new keycaps to arrive only to have their hopes of custom keycap glory to be mercilessly dashed to the ground. This is because they didn’t pay attention to the layout.

ANSI vs ISO alt and backslash big

The layout is frequently confused with form factor, but it’s very different, essentially the layout defines the shape, size, and relative spacing between different keys, and purchasing a set of lovely keycaps, only to discover that they won’t fit because they’re the wrong layout is an emotional explosion that rivals the death of a family member. We’ve explained in more detail what this means on our ANSI vs ISO route guide page. take a gander and educate yourself before dropping big bucks deluxe on a set of custom keycaps.

Size and profile

As with most aspects of PC gaming technology, there are a few confusing and needlessly vague terms when it comes to custom keycaps. The most egregious of which is keycap profile. You might have spotted the term ‘OEM profile’ being bandied about on various subreddits, Etsy storefronts, and group buy pages, but what does it mean?

Keycap profile refers to the shape of the keys, not from a top-down view, but from a cross-sectional perspective. As you descend from the top row of the keyboard to the spacebar row, the keys change shape very slightly, this is for ergonomic reasons. OEM profile is the profile that is standard on almost all consumer keyboards, shortly followed by the Cherry profile keycaps, made famous by the eponymous switch manufacturer. Other popular keycap profiles include DSA, XDA, and SA all with very slightly different physical characteristics, some have rounded tops, and some are entirely flat.

So make sure the profile is something you’re going to be happy with. Having a few clicks and lacks on a friend’s keyboard with different caps is the most cost-effective way of testing these. There are a few different reasons why one might prefer one profile over the other, usually a mixture of ergonomics and personal preference, any decent mechanical keyboard community like the folks over at r/mechanicalkeyboards will have additional insight should you ask.

It’s worth noting here that the phrase ‘low-profile’ doesn’t refer to the profiles mentioned above, but to keycaps of reduced sizes often found on low-profile keyboards like the Corsair K70 Mk2 Low Profile keyboard.

A word of warning, however, low profile keyboards are hugely divisive, so be very sure it’s a good fit for you before splashing out on some low-profile keycaps.

Blank, artisan, and pudding keycaps

So we’ve covered the big stuff, but there are some more niche types of custom keycaps out there, and some of them can get very, very cool. If you’ve ever lusted after a limited edition ducky keyboard like the Ducky Year of the pig keyboard, you’ll be familiar with just how fancy keycaps can get, but fancy custom keycaps aren’t only available on rare limited editions boards, so let’s have a look at the different types you can get to replace your current caps.

DSC05455

Black keycaps

There’s not a lot to say about these as they are self-explanatory. Essentially these are caps with no legends whatsoever, just black plastic. Beholden by minimalists everywhere, these are as minimalist as it gets. We really like them here at WePC, however, you must be very confident in your touch-typing ability if you what to purchase these as blank keycaps, unsurprisingly, offer no visual queue for fixing a typo. Buy blank keycaps at your own risk.

Artisan keycaps

These are where it gets very cool and very expensive. Artisan keycaps do not utilize the aforementioned profiles and are entirely custom in their shape and design. You might have seen some of these around the internet in the form of miniature landscapes or adorable sculptures of Gengar (My coworker Danielle’s personal favorite pocket monster.). As these are functionally useless for typing, they are usually positioned on the escape key as a little accent to the overall board. taking a quick look over at drop.com, previously known as Massdrop will explain the ridiculous pricing of these caps better than we can.

Pudding keycaps

These are great fun, and a must-have for the RGB nerds amongst you. Pudding keycaps feature a dual-layer design, wherein the lower section is translucent, and the top of the keycap is opaque. If you want to show off your RGB lighting, pudding keycaps are the best option for sure, many different companies have started to make these and with the rise in popularity of RGB lighting, so too has the popularity of pudding keycaps.

They are available in all the aforementioned profiles and layouts so you’ll be able to find a set of pudding keycaps without too much trouble. It’s with quickly noting that some pudding caps, like those made by Razer, have the tendency to split where the layers join after a while, so check around for some with good build quality. Glorious and HyperX make some of the best. For more info, check out our ‘What are pudding keycaps‘ page.

The Best Custom Keycaps

01
Gliging 140 Key Japanese Bento Root Cherry Profile Dye Sub Keycaps

Gliging 140 Key Japanese Bento Root Cherry Profile Dye Sub Keycaps

02
03
04
05

In-depth Review

01
The Best Custom Keycaps
WePC Awards Best In Class

Gliging 140 Key Japanese Bento Root Cherry Profile Dye Sub Keycaps

Gliging 140 Key Japanese Bento Root Cherry Profile Dye Sub Keycaps

Material

PBT

Method

Dye-subbed

Profile

Cherry

Color

Japanese Bento Root (red, white, blue)

Switch compatibility

Cherry MX & clones

Pieces

141 (108 keys +33 modifiers)

Editor's Rating
4.6/5
Pros

PBT

Clean design

Great color contrast

Cons

Not for RGB boards

The Gliging Japanese Bento keycap set features some of the cleanest design and color contrast on this list. These look fantastic and this 141 piece set is going to make your boring mechanical keyboard explode with style. The set comes with a white, blue, and pink color scheme, making your board pop.

Aside from the superb color contrast, the font is sublime. The clean font of the letters is one of my favorites. These are dye-subbed PBT plastic, so more durable than ABS and high-quality for the price.

These are compatible with Cherry MX or any other switches that share the same X style stem, like Gateron, Halo, or Kaihua.

02
The Next Best Custom Keycaps

SDYZ 71 Custom Coral Sea Keycaps

SDYZ 71 Custom Coral Sea Keycaps

Material

PBT

Method

Dye-subbed

Profile

OEM

Color

White

Switch compatibility

Cherry MX & clones

Pieces

71 (61 Keys + 10 modifiers)

Editor's Rating
4.6/5
Pros

Incredible keycap design

Can make your own configuration

PBT

Cons

For 60% keyboards only

This stunning keycap set from SDYZ is supposed to represent a Japanese coral in all its glory. This 71 piece kit is going to give your board a very unique look, with a few alternative options in the box. The set is available for 60 percent boards and sports this wonderful white, red, and turquoise color scheme that just looks fantastic.

The main feature is the artistic pictures dotted around the caps,with a red sun here, a whale there, and the odd fish too. This keycap set is PBT dye-subbed plastic and looks great from every angle.

These are compatible with Cherry MX or any other switches that share the same X style stem, like Gateron, Halo, or Kaihua.

03
The Best Clean Custom Keycaps

Sumgsn 141 Keys PBT Botanical Keycaps

Sumgsn 141 Keys PBT Botanical Keycaps

Material

PBT

Method

Dye-subbed

Profile

Cherry

Color

White, green, black

Switch compatibility

Cherry MX & clones

Pieces

141

Editor's Rating
4.5/5
Pros

Attractive clean design and color scheme

PBT Dye-sublimated keycaps are very durable

Cons

For those out there that are stick to death with gamer fonts and flashing lights, look no further than this clean keycap set from Sumgsn. These are dye sublimated PBT, for extra durability without splashing any extra cash. The black, white, and green color scheme is a beauty too, with the contrast really making your board pop. This 141 piece kit is for your full-sized board, with a Cherry profile.

The font is a plain classical style, making your keyboard look very clean and understated. The included modifiers jazz up the board, with subtle pictures of plants, hence the ‘Botanical’ name.

These are compatible with Cherry MX or any other switches that share the same X style stem, like Gateron or Kailh.

04
The Best Gaming Custom Keycaps

Corsair Gaming Keycaps

Corsair PBT

Material

PBT

Method

Double shot

Profile

OEM

Colour

White

Switch compatibility

Cherry MX

Pieces

104

Editor's Rating
4.4/5
Pros

Attractive Corsair font

Ultra-durable

Comes with extra keycap alternatives

Legend allows for vibrant shine through

Cons

Only compatible with Corsair keyboards

Will get dirty very easily

The Corsair gaming keycap set is an all-white package and is a product sold by Corsair to replace the ABS keycaps we see on all of their keyboards. These custom keycaps are all white with a clear legend for a fully vibrant RGB shine through. These do come as a 104 set or a miniature 10 keycap set to cover the main FPS buttons.

These from Corsair feature a contoured design giving you a little bit of extra fingertip grip, not that anyone has been complaining of a slippery keyboard.  The clear legends make for some vibrant lighting to shine through thanks to the double shot method being used. These are of course made from PBT and offer a much more durable keycap than the ones that came with your Corsair keyboard.

05
The Best Pudding Custom Keycaps

HyperX Black & White Pudding Keycaps

HYPERX BLACK PUD

Material

PBT

Method

Double shot

Profile

OEM

Colour

Black & white

Switch compatibility

Cherry MX

Pieces

104

Editor's Rating
4.4/5
Pros

Pudding design

Very durable

Good value

Cons

The "pudding" element could do with being a bit more opaque

HyperX made this list twice with their simple yet snazzy Pudding keycaps. This set features the black top and an opaque white trim on the lower half. The design allows for RGB to not only shine through the legend but also through the bottom half of the keycap, bringing an enhanced keyboard design for next to no effort.

This set of custom keycaps comes as a 104 piece set and comes with a key puller too. These keycaps are produced using the double shot method and are made from PBT, so you know they are durable!

The keycaps are designed for Cherry MX switches but they will work with the likes of Kahil, Gateron, and Outemu.

Final Word

The allure of custom keycaps is strange; they don’t add anything other than aesthetics, so why bother? Well, the answer is, why not? They look fantastic and really finish off a mechanical keyboard in superb fashion.

If you are looking for a competitive edge over your rivals, then you may be in the wrong place, but if any gamers, typists, or genuine keyboard enthusiasts want to add some flair to their board, look no further. What keycap set did you go for? Is there a custom keycap you think should be on this list? Head over to the WePC Community and share!

The Author Who Worked On This Article

Staff Writer
at
WePC
Ben’s interest in video games started as a result of his intense need to be better than his sister at something. It didn’t work but it started a lifelong passion in gaming, which then evolved when he built his first PC. He completely botched it but it was fun and he hasn’t stopped since. He’s currently fighting an embittered battle to get even slightly competitive at Apex Legends. He has a particular interest in peripherals and loves messing around with his setup.

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