Keycap Profiles: OEM, Cherry, XDA, SA, DSA & More

Users have a lot of customization options in the mechanical keyboard industry to suit your preferences, including the shape and the height of your keycaps.

Let’s examine the differences between some of the most well-liked keycap profiles in order to better understand how changing the keycap profile might improve the way the keyboard feels and sounds for you.

keycap profiles

List of Keycap Profiles

Keycap Profile Height Shape
SA Tall Sculpted
DSA Very short Uniform
OEM Normal Sculpted
Cherry  Short Sculpted
XDA Short Uniform

XDA vs DSA vs SA vs OEM vs Cherry

Five of the most prominent keycap profiles in the mechanical keyboard hobby are SA, DSA, OEM, Cherry, and XDA, and there are numerous distinctions between them.

keycap profiles
Keycap profiles

Here is a brief explanation:

  • SA: A keycap profile with a tall, sculpted appearance and a thock sound.
  • DSA: A keycap profile that mimics a low-profile design and is extremely short and uniform.
  • OEM: The most common keycaps’ typical size and form.
  • Cherry: A keycap profile with a short length and a sharp angle for simple typing.
  • XDA: An upright, uniform keycap profile that is shorter than DSA.

Each profile has a unique height, sound, and feel.

Some have stronger bass, like the lower profiles, while others, like SA, have a pleasant “thocc” sound.

The most popular alternatives for an intermediate height are cherry and OEM.

Even while OEM profile keycaps and Cherry occasionally appear on keyboards for sale, these five options are all fairly common when seeking for custom keycaps.

Cherry Profile

One of the most used profiles for keycaps from aftermarket manufacturers is this one. These keycaps are carved, making them different between rows but also more pleasant than keycaps that are homogeneous.

cherry profile keycap
A Cherry profile keycap set – Photo by quoctien.tran

Unless you purchase from a business that does not use authentic tooling, they are a little bit shorter than OEM profiles but typically cost more than OEM as well.

If you are used to mechanical keyboards, it should be very simple for you to get used to this height. Even if you are new to keyboards and are coming from something with a lower profile, it should only take a few weeks to become used to them.

Because there is less space within the keycap for sound to bounce, the keycaps of this profile sound bassier. In our experience, cherry has been one of the greatest profiles for both gaming and typing, if not the best.

SA Profile

One of the highest profiles and the tallest of these alternatives is the SA profile, which is sculpted.

If you are coming from a low profile keyboard, it may be challenging to adjust to these keycaps. For some people, it is impossible for them to adapt.

sa keycap profile
SA keycap profile – Photo by minhnhat.nguyen.9634

The “thocc” sound that this profile produces is well-known and adored by many aficionados. Many people like SA’s more retro appearance, which is well recognized.

Even if other profiles in this post could enable you to type more quickly, this profile might not be the greatest one for gaming. However, it is a solid choice for typing.

DSA Profile

Low-profile keycaps are a feature of one of the most widely used uniform profiles, called DSA.

Unless you are coming from a high profile keyboard, it is rather simple to get used to, albeit the fact that they are not contoured may be challenging for you.

dsa keycap profile
DSA profile – Photo by antran.pixieset

Many people adore the appearance of these because of the uniform height and appearance between rows, and many also enjoy the sound, which has the lowest pitch on this list since there isn’t much space within the caps.

Although contoured keycaps are often favored, these are fairly excellent for gaming. The consistent profile may need some time to modify for typing.

XDA Profile

Like DSA, XDA keycaps are low profile and consistent, thus aficionados choose this profile for its attractive appearance.

If you are coming from a high profile like SA, it will be simpler for you to use this profile than DSA. You’ll probably have the greatest trouble if you’re not used to the regularity of the profile.

xda keycaps
XDA keycaps – thinhtv

Just slightly lower in pitch than the Cherry profile, XDA has a comparable sound.

Overall, this profile is a good choice for speedy or regular typing as well as gaming. The uniformity of XDA may be a problem for players since it makes it more difficult for them to locate the keycap.

OEM Profile

Probably the most common keycap profile is this one.

It is found on the majority of pre-built keyboards and is moderately common for aftermarket keycaps.

The keycaps are contoured, which means they vary in height for various rows and fit your fingers better for typing and gaming pleasure.

oem profile keycaps

We think they are an excellent choice for both applications because of their sculpted form.

If you’re coming from a low profile board, it can take you a few weeks to get acclimated to the OEM profile, which is often the least expensive choice here.

The sound is rather bassy and fairly similar to the Cherry profile, although the differences in materials, thickness, and the keyboard will be more audible.

Keycap Profiles: Uniform vs. Sculpted

The keycaps’ sculpted ness or uniformity is one of these keycap profiles’ greatest variances.

The surface of uniform keycaps is flat and not at all angled.

Sculpted keycaps are slightly angular in design to enhance typing comfort. Every row has a distinct aspect of its own.

More people choose Sculpted because it makes typing feel more natural. Others might discover that generic profiles like XDA and DSA suit their interests.

On some enthusiast keycap sets with distinctive designs, the consistent profile is typically present.

Where to Buy Unique Profile Keycaps

You can buy keycaps that are always in stock or via group buys, where several individuals can buy a product in advance and it will then be created and supplied to them in one run, usually.

It’s quick and simple to purchase keycaps from a website that has them in stock, but group buys may take up to 9 months to complete, but you can get keycaps with more intriguing designs that better fit your tastes.

These are a few wonderful locations where you may go to acquire keycaps of many unique profiles, including SA, DSA, and more:

  • Amazon is a fantastic resource for fast obtaining in-stock keycaps and they do offer certain uncommon profiles like SA, DSA, XDA, and other profiles not previously listed like MT3, supplied by Drop on Amazon. Although Amazon won’t have the cheapest pricing or the most choices in this area, it does offer reliable shipping and seldom has stock shortages.
  • Banggood: Banggood is quite comparable to Amazon. They offer many more affordable selections and a somewhat greater selection than Amazon, but the delivery isn’t as good.
  • Drop: Drop is a wonderful website for in-stock keycaps and group purchases. Drop often works with organizations like GMK and people like Mito or Tomb3ry. In addition to the ones we’ve highlighted today, they have a ton of other pretty unusual profiles, such MT3, which is a more sculpted version of SA and resembles the old IBM keyboards.
  • Mechanicalkeyboards.com offers a significant assortment of moderate alternatives for profiles including DSA, XDA, and SA at a sizable price point.
  • Mechgroupbuys.com is a terrific resource for discovering the newest and most intriguing designs on the most distinctive profiles, but expect to wait in line for a while.
  • /r/mechmarket is a terrific location to buy keycaps that have been used or are being sold again. It frequently offers excellent alternatives for profiles and designs of various kinds, however the cost is frequently higher. You may frequently avoid having to wait a long time for group purchase items by purchasing them directly from this site once delivery begins. You could even have your entire set within a few days.

Conclusion

Preference underlies your choice of profile.

Finding the ideal height and sound for typing or playing games all comes down to personal preference.

The keyboard’s surface, the material of the case and plate, the thickness of the keycap, the lubrication of the switches, the modification of the stabilizers, and other factors may all have a significant impact on aspects like sound.

Because of the sculpted design, OEM or Cherry keycap profiles may be the ideal choice for you if you play video games primarily because you won’t need to extend your fingers as far.

If you type a lot, Cherry and OEM are both excellent possibilities, but you may be quick on any profile that matches your preferences.

Keyboard mappings like COLEMAK or DVORAK and contoured keycaps, which make it easier to find keys, might also increase your speed.

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