More and more individuals are interested in buying bespoke keycaps to match their new keyboards as the hobbyist world of mechanical keyboards continues to soar in popularity.
If you ask anyone in internet communities like Reddit and Geekhack for keycap suggestions, they will send you to GMK keycaps.
Are GMK keycaps worth the price, and why are they so well-liked?
What is GMK Keycap?
German business GMK specializes in creating high-end keycaps for mechanical keyboards. The initials GMK stand for Gunther, Meinhardt, and Kredler, the original founders of the business.
The personalized and limited-edition designs on GMK keycaps are distinctive, and they are often only available through group buys six months in advance for a hefty price. Many people believe their keycaps sound and look better than other keycaps because they are created with an ABS plastic that is unusually thick and has a Cherry profile.
Why Are GMK Keycaps So Expensive?
The average cost of a GMK keycap is $200, and they are sometimes more expensive than the keyboard itself. Not to mention, depending on the popularity and accessibility of the particular set, you could typically expect to pay an extra $100 or more for the keycaps if you opt for an aftermarket set. Why on earth are these keycaps so pricey is the question.
Thick Cherry Keycap Profile
The popular Cherry profile, which describes the keycaps’ general form and height, is available on GMK keycaps. The Cherry profile is distinct because it is thicker and shorter than other typical keycap profiles. Due to how cozy the keycap profile feels in comparison to other profiles, the size of the keycaps is perfect for gaming and typing. Additionally, typing produces a pleasant acoustic sound thanks to the thick plastic.
In order to create the authentic Cherry profile for their keycap, GMK acquired the keycap tooling from Cherry. Instead of purchasing the rights, other keycap makers design their own tools, which results in keycaps that are only imitations of the Cherry profile and not the actual thing.
Little to no flaws in the quality
When you buy a standard keyboard, the keycaps are constructed of a thin, shoddy ABS plastic that deteriorates with usage and takes on a greasy sheen. Most people advise replacing your keycaps with a PBT plastic set instead, as PBT plastic is considered to be more sturdy and long-lasting (read more about ABS vs. PBT here).
GMK takes a different approach and uses thick ABS to create its high-end keycaps instead. Although utilizing ABS instead of PBT first seems counter-intuitive, there are valid reasons for doing so. Your keyboard can have no warping, few flaws, more vibrant colors, and superior acoustics thanks to thick ABS plastic.
The majority of PBT keycaps, particularly the bigger keys, have a tendency to distort during production, which results in twisted spacebars and off-center legends. The keycaps are always incredibly exact and have few flaws because they are made of ABS plastic. Remember that even after a year or two of heavy use, you will still have a greasy shine.
One-of-a-Kind Limited Edition Keycaps
GMK consistently produces new keycaps with distinctive designs that are available for a brief period of time only. If you miss a deal, your only options are to wait for another one to come along or buy the keycaps from an aftermarket supplier (usually an inflated price).
Due to a constrained window for ordering and very unique designs, GMK is able to set the price of its keycaps pretty much whatever they choose.
High Entry Barrier for Consumers
When purchasing GMK keycaps through a group purchase, you often have to wait a minimum of six months for the keycaps to be delivered to your door. Most consumers are unable to wait even for Amazon’s two-day shipping. You must also be highly active in online groups to learn about the newest group buys and where to find the greatest keycaps from GMK. When you combine these elements, you have a lot of requirements you must meet in order to obtain the keycaps. As a result, GMK may demand a high price if clients are prepared to put in all that effort in order to purchase keycaps from them.
If a group buy doesn’t work out for you but you really really want a set of GMK keycaps, you can buy them on aftermarket forums like /r/mechmarket and geekhack, but be ready to blow your budget. There is a whole community of individuals that join groups with the specific intention of subsequently reselling the keycaps for a greater price. The aftermarket vendors will join group purchases that they anticipate selling for a premium price in the future. One sale from these vendors can bring in hundreds of dollars. In truth, this is done with other groups buying items as well, not only GMK keycaps.
I don’t see much of a difference between an aftermarket seller and someone who buys and trades sports cards or action figures.
GMK Keycaps: Are They Worth It?
Can we decide if the GMK keycaps are worth the price now that we’ve looked at why they are so expensive? They are only tiny colorful pieces of plastic that you attach to your keyboard, at the end of the day.
GMK keycaps are priceless. The Cherry profile design’s rarity, the distinctiveness of each group buy, and the high prices consumers are prepared to pay for GMK keycaps all contribute to its worth. Even if you buy GMK keycaps and decide you don’t like them, you can frequently sell them for a price that is equal to or more than the amount you paid. They are, in my opinion, superior to new automobile purchases since they retain 30% more value after leaving the dealer. The price of the GMK keycaps will remain reasonable as long as there is a market for upscale keycaps. Although they get glossy after prolonged usage, the quality is quite exact.
When buying anything through group buying or aftermarket sales, there are hazards. The majority of group buy sign-up phases occur when the product is still in the conceptual stage, therefore the final product may differ from the projected picture. Additionally, if you do not purchase the set from a trusted website, you risk being defrauded. Before making a purchase, it is advisable to conduct some preliminary research on the merchant.
Where to Purchase GMK Keycaps
MechGroupBuys has a variety of keyboard/keycap group buys, not just from GMK, so you can stay up to speed on the newest deals there. You may access all of the many retailers that provide the particular goods on the website.
/r/mechmarket is often your best option if you want to buy a GMK keycap set that is no longer offered through group buy. Just keep an eye out for con artists and shop with extreme caution.
A select number GMK keycap sets are generally accessible on Amazon.com. You must look into group buys and the aftermarket if you want the more distinctive setups. Here is a link to the GMK Samurai set on Amazon (affiliate).
The greatest location to locate GMK keycaps that are currently in stock. I’ll provide some links below for your watching enjoyment.
- GMK Yoda 2
- GMK Classic Retro
- GMK Vice Nights
- GMK Miami
We covered every aspect of GMK keycaps, including their absurd price, whether they are worthwhile, and where to buy them. Overall, GMK keycaps are of quite excellent quality; obtaining them can be challenging, and you may need to pass through a number of hoops. People are prepared to pay more for the Cherry profile with thick ABS plastic since it is widely recognized as the greatest material and profile for a keycap.
Similar to sports cards or action figures, the demand and uniqueness of GMK keycaps contribute significantly to their value. If you get the proper set, your keycaps may be worth more than twice what you paid for them after a year. You should definitely visit GMK keycaps to see for yourself what all the excitement is about.