There are different reasons different people want to make use of keycaps for their keyboard: mainly to give a customized look to their keyboard, or for a different typing experience with various different materials. Keycaps come in different materials, textures, shapes and colors.
If you are new to the mechanical keyboard community, you may not be sure of how to know if a keycap set fits your keyboard. Although you can ask a pro (or customer service) if you are not sure, you may want to know how to do this yourself to save time when buying keycaps. In this article, we will be sharing with you a guide on how to know if a keycap set will fit your keyboard. Alright, let’s get into it!
What You Should Consider Before Buying Keycaps for Your Keyboard
Example of Keycap Sizings
- The size of your keyboard: In this case, you should know the size of your keyboard, especially your special keys such as the spacebar, shift, enter, backspace, ctrl, Alt, Fn, and other keys in the bottom row, as this is usually the area of your keyboard that may give you trouble. Your keyboard may need smaller or extra keys than a keyboard with the standard layout. Researching and finding the size of your keyboard (and if it's compatible with standard-sized keycaps) will make finding a keycap that fits easier. You should note that keypads are measured in “u”. One alphanumeric keypad is measured 1u, therefore 2u will be the size of two alphanumeric keypads i.e. two normal keys joined together. The measurement can get bigger as the size of the keypad increases, which may make the measurements get a little bit confusing, but you should get a hang of it in a little while with patience and research.
- The compatibility of your keyboard : Another thing you should know that will make the search easier for you is to know your keyboard layout and compatibility. Is your keyboard layout standard or not? Standard layout usually refers to the key sizes of the sizes standardized by Cherry, which are widely used in the mechanical keyboard industry. Keyboards that use a standard-sized layout will be compatible with 3rd party keycaps sold online. If you're not sure if your keyboard is compatible with 3rd party keycaps, reach out to the keyboard seller to make sure. As a rule of thumb, buying a keyboard from a keyboard-enthusiast vendor such as Kinetic Labs will be a sure sign the keyboard is compatible with 3rd party keycaps. Other vendors such as Razer, Corsair, and Logitech, may not be compatible with 3rd part keycap sets, however.
- For most standard standard layouts, the space bar is 6.25u, the right shift key is 2.75u in size, the enter key is 2.25u in size, and the backspace is 2u. See the reference image above. Some common variations include a small Shift key, a longer spacebar (7u), and longer alt/fn/ctrl keys, although these variants are not nearly as common, and the keyboard product page will usually call this out.
TG67 V2 with Whale PBT Keycaps and Blue Horizons Desk Mat
- You may also download a printable keypad ruler to measure your keypad to ensure that you got the measurement. With this it becomes easy to know if the keycap will fit. All you have to do is to ensure that your keycaps and keypads are the same measurement.
- An ergonomic keyboard, such as the Keychron Q10, also has a different layout from a standard keyboard, known as an Alice layout, which uses smaller space-bars that are standard-sized, but sometimes not included in all keycap sets. All keycaps from Kinetic Labs are compatible with standard sized boards including Alice. Special layouts like this can make it difficult to find a keycap set that fits, but with the right measurement and information (usually a layout of the keycap set shown on the product page), you should be able to find the right fit.
- Switch and stem compatibility: you need to know which switch and stem your keyboard is compatible with. Almost every keyboard is compatible with Cherry MX style switch stems. Most manufacturers make use of this switch as it is the industry standard. All keyboards sold by Kinetic Labs conform for this standard.
Husky Linear Switches with Cherry MX-style Cross Stem
- Cherry MX style switch stems usually have a "+" (cross) shaped stem. You can check the keycap to be sure it'll fit.
- The keycap profile can have an impact on compatibility as well, mainly with north versus south-facing switches. As a rule of thumb, south-facing keyboards have the best compatibility, as north-facing keyboards are known to have some compatibility issues with Cherry-profile keycaps that can lead to interference between the keys.
Although recognizing and knowing the perfect keycap set for your keyboard can seem a bit tedious, it becomes easier as you buy more keycaps. With time you may be able to tell different sizes apart at a glance. Knowing and considering the four points mentioned above will help you to know if a keycap set will fit your keyboard. You know what they say: practice makes perfect! With practice you will become an expert in recognizing different keycaps and which keyboard they will fit.
If you are ever unsure of the compatibility of a keycap set, keyboard, or switch sold by Kinetic Labs, be sure to reach out to our customer service team, which will be happy to help you!