Keycaps come in a multitude of different colours and can either be manufactured from PBT or ABS. 

We’ve put together this helpful guide showing you everything there is to know about keycaps, including explaining the difference between PBT and ABS keycaps as well as what double-shot and dye-sub keycaps are.  


What are Keycaps?

A keycap is the plastic top that covers each individual key switch. It will have either a letter, number, or symbol imprinted onto it. This legend shows what you are inputting into your PC. 

Keycaps can be made from a variety of different materials and are available in a multitude of colours. The two most common are ABS and PBT plastic

There are two different types of keycaps: 

  • Double-shot  
  • Dye-sub 

What are double-shot keycaps?

Double shot refers to the way in which the keycaps are manufactured. These keycaps are made using two separate pieces of plastic which get moulded together. 

The housing, cap, and imprint are all separate layers. This helps to prevent any wear and tear or fading to the imprint.  

What are Dye-sub keycaps?

Dye-sub is another keycap printing method. These keycaps are made with a dye that is imprinted onto the keycap. 

Keycaps constructed through dye-subbing have a higher chance of fading and are not as resistant to general wear and tear. However, they are cheaper to produce compared to PBT. 

What is hot swapping?

Hot swapping is where you change and customise your keyboard’s keycaps or key switches.  

With most standard mechanical gaming keyboards, you can switch between different brands, types, or colours of keycaps. However, in order to change your key switches, you will need to ensure that your chosen keyboard has a compatible hot-swappable modular PCB. You will also need dedicated tools, such as a keycap puller.    

You can see more about hot-swapping and building your own mechanical keyboard in our very own Overclockers UK Academy guide. 


What are PBT keycaps?

PBT keycaps are made out of polybutylene terephthalate plastic. This is typically more expensive to produce but is durable and can survive even in extreme temperatures.

Advantages

  • Thicker material
  • More durable and long lasting
  • Stylish matte look and textured feel to them

Disadvantages

  • More expensive  
  • Louder when typing  

Our Favourite Keyboards with PBT Keycaps: 

Ducky One 3 Classic Full sized Mechanical Gaming Keyboard:

  • Full sized mechanical gaming keyboard
  • Built with all-new QUACKY mechanics
  • Hot-swappable PCB
  • Double-shot PBT keycaps
  • Per-key RGB backlighting
  • All white with either a Year of the Ox or Tiger spacebar

Corsair K65 RGB Mini 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard:

  • 60% mechanical keyboard
  • Comes with Cherry MX Red key switches
  • PBT double-shot keycaps
  • Per-key RGB backlighting
  • Compatible with Corsair iCUE software
  • Sleek, all white design

Razer Huntsman V2 Gaming Keyboard:

  • Full sized gaming keyboard
  • Razer branded optical switches
  • PBT double-shot keycaps
  • Per-key RGB backlighting
  • Included ergonomic wrist rest

You can also purchase sets of PBT keycaps that you can use to upgrade and change the look of your current keyboard.  

Ducky PBT Double Shot Violet Keycaps:

  • PBT keycaps
  • Double-shot
  • Both ISO and ANSI layout
  • Comes with 104 keys
  • Compatible with Cherry MX Switches
  • Stylish mixture of purple and pink

Glorious GPBT Caribbean Ocean Keycaps:

  • PBT keycaps
  • Dye-sub
  • ISO layout
  • Comes with 115 keys
  • Compatible with Cherry MX Switches
  • Vivid mixture of light and dark blues

What are ABS keycaps?

ABS keycaps are constructed from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene plastic. ABS plastic is cheaper to produce compared to PBT.  

Advantages:

  • Cheaper than PBT 
  • Quiet when typing  

Disadvantages:

  • Can be shiny/greasy  
  • Thinner material  
  • Wears down easier over time  

Our Favourite Keyboards with ABS Keycaps:

Cherry Xtrfy K5 Compact 65% USB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard:

  • 65% mechanical gaming keyboard
  • ABS keycaps
  • Includes Kalih red mechanical key switches
  • Per-key RGB backlighting
  • Hot-swappable

Das Keyboard X50Q USB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard:

  • Mechanical gaming keyboard
  • Gamma Zulu key switches
  • ABS keycaps
  • Per-key RGB backlighting
  • Includes an ergonomic wrist rest

Mountain Everest Core TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard:

  • TKL mechanical gaming keyboard
  • Comes with Cherry MX Brown key switches
  • ABS keycaps
  • ISO layout
  • Integrated media dock
  • Includes a USB hub for additional peripherals

You can also purchase sets of ABS keycaps that you can use to upgrade or change the look of your current keyboard.  

Glorious Aura ABS Keycaps:

  • ABS keycaps
  • Double-shot
  • US ANSI layout
  • 104 keys
  • Compatible with Gateron, Kalih, and Cherry key switches

Tai-Hao Rainbow Limited Edition ABS Keycaps:

  • ABS keycaps
  • US ANSI layout

Do You Have a Preference?

Do you prefer PBT or ABS keycaps? Either way, let us know in the comments below.

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