We talk a lot about gaming gear. It’s what we do. Sometimes, we talk about big, exciting things like VR headsets. Other times, we look at more mundane things, like mouse pads. Hey, not everything about your gear can be as exciting as VR.

Today, we’re going to be looking at keycaps for mechanical keyboards. But why would you care what keycaps you use?

Keycaps are where you interface with your PC – literally. If they don’t feel right, or have the wrong weight, your badass gaming keyboard won’t perform as well as it could. But no worries. We’re about to show you the best keycaps on the market.

Before we start, let’s look at what makes one set of keycaps better than another.

Different Materials

The most obvious difference between keycaps is the material used in their construction.

Most keycaps on the market today are manufactured from ABS, which is a durable, lightweight plastic that’s used in all kinds of products, from cell phone cases to pistol grips. Keys manufactured from ABS tend to have a light touch, and have the higher-pitched click you’d expect from an office keyboard.

A lot of higher-end keyboards utilize PBT keys. These have a heavier feel, and make a deeper, chunkier sound when you strike them. They also don’t absorb skin oil, so they won’t develop the smooth shine you may have noticed on ABS keyboards after a few months of use.

Some gaming keyboards have aluminum keys. While this is overkill in the durability department, there’s nothing wrong with using the toughest material possible.

Other keycap materials include PVC, PC plastic, POM plastic, and resin. But these options are either too cheap or expensive for gaming use, or, like resin keys, are predominantly used for novelty key sets.

Lettering Type

There are three types of lettering commonly used on keys.

  • Printed keys. These are the most basic type, where the letters and numbers are printed on top of the key. This process is cheap, but it means that the lettering wears off under extended use.
  • Etched keys. This is most common with aluminum keys, where the lettering is etched into the material.
  • Doubleshot keys. In these keys, the lettering goes all the way through the material. Not only does this make it impossible for the letters to wear off, but it allows for the use of other materials. For example, a clear acrylic can be used to allow for backlighting. All of the keycaps we reviewed are doubleshot.

Other Things to Look For

Beyond the basics, there are some advanced features you may want to look at if you’re looking to seriously geek out over your keycaps. We’re not going to get into that here, but this Reddit FAQ has enough information to satisfy even the most obsessed keycap nut.

Now, let’s check out some keycaps!

Best ABS Set: Redragon A101 Replacement Keycaps

Redragon A101 Replacement Keycaps are a full, 104-key replacement set that ships with a key puller for easy installation. These keys are made from lightweight ABS plastic, and feature doubleshot keys that are compatible with RGB backlights.

We liked this set because it fits non-standard keyboards like Corsair, which has different sized Ctrl, Alt, Win, and spacebar keys.  It’s also inexpensive, so you can buy it with the money you save by skipping coffee for a few days. That said, these are ABS keys, so they’re going to develop some shine with continued use.

Pros:

  • Backlight compatible
  • Fits non-standard keyboard layouts
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Not as durable as other sets

Best PBT Set: Huo Ji E-Element PBT Double Shot Keycap Set

The Huo Ji E-Element PBT Double Shot Keycap Set is another complete keycap set, so you can give your whole keyboard a facelift. These keys are constructed from durable PBT, which will maintain its touch and texture for years if you need them to. They’re also compatible with RGB backlights.

This set has an electroplated surface that makes the keys look like heavier aluminum keys, so all of your friends will be impressed with your upgrade. The downside? They’re only compatible with standard keyboards, so you’ll need to look elsewhere if you have a non-standard design.

Pros:

  • Backlight compatible
  • Durable PBT construction
  • Beautiful metallic-looking design

Cons:

  • Only compatible with standard keyboards

Best Aluminum Set: Quartet Trade Generic Backlit Keycaps

If you want the toughest, most durable keys on the market, you’re going to want to use aluminum. There are plenty of complete aluminum keycap sets on boutique sites, but we decided to look at something that’s more reasonably priced. In the case of this set, you’re getting WASD and arrow keys, so you can upgrade your most frequently-used keys without breaking the bank.

These keys are backlight compatible, have a textured surface, and feel nice and heavy when you’re running around a Call of Duty map.

Pros:

  • Backlight compatible
  • Sturdy aluminum construction
  • Heavy, chunky feel

Cons:

  • WASD and arrow keys only

Best Partial Set: Runstar 9 PBT Key Set

The Runstar 9 PBT Key Set is another partial set, but unlike the Quartet Trade set it also includes an Esc key and a keycap puller. These keys are backlight compatible, and work with almost any standard-sized keyboard. All in all, they’re a great value at a low price.

Pros:

  • Backlight compatible
  • PBT construction
  • Good value

Cons:

  • WASD, arrow, and Esc keys only

Verdict

If we had to pick a single keycap set as the best on the market, we’d choose the Huo Ji E-Element PBT Double Shot Keycap Set. They’re tough, they’re durable, and they’re a complete matching set.

That said, all of these choices are good. If you prefer an ABS set, the Redragon A101 is a solid choice that will perform better than most on the market. And if you just want more durability from your WASD and arrow keys, the Quartet Trade set will get the job done. Alternatively, the Runstar set is a more affordable option, and utilizes sturdy PBT that will keep you gaming for years.

Share This