Finding keycaps that will fit your mechanical keyboard might be challenging due to the wide range of mechanical keyboard sizes. Smaller modifier keys, peculiar right shift keys, strange spacebars, unusual enter keys, and split backspace are all features of several keyboards. There are countless options. It’s critical to know what to look for when purchasing keycaps for your mechanical keyboard.
By looking at the layout of your keyboard, understanding the size of special keys like space, shift, backspace, and enter, as well as the bottom row keys like Ctrl, Alt, Win, and Fn, you can determine whether a keycap set will fit your mechanical keyboard. Some keyboard layouts need the use of smaller or more additional keys.
We’ll go over all the specifics of things to watch out for when buying your next set of keycaps to ensure that they suit your keyboard.
Keycap Measurement Using the Unit System
Prior to getting into the specifics, it’s critical to clarify how keycaps are measured.
One alphanumeric key measures 1u in terms of keycap sizes.
2u is twice as large as 1u, which would be equivalent to two standard keys pressed simultaneously. As the sizes increase, the measures get a little more perplexing, such as 6.25u, which indicates that the keycaps are the same length as six standard-sized keys plus an additional quarter of a key.
Is the layout of your keyboard standard?
If your keyboard is not in the normal layout, you may have problems trying to determine whether a new set of keycaps will fit it.
The key widths of a full-sized, tenkeyless, or 60% mechanical keyboard are what people refer to when they talk about a standard layout.
The bottom row key widths are the major thing you need to look at when determining whether your keyboard has a standard layout. The spacebar and the keys in the bottom row of the standard layout are normally 1.25u and 6.25u, respectively. Always verify the keycap sizes before purchasing a keycap set.
The bottom row of some full-sized mechanical keyboards made by manufacturers like Razer, Logitech, and Corsair is referred to as “non-standard.” It requires keycaps that are a different size since it does not suit the specifications mentioned above. You may print off a very simple printable keycap ruler from Keyboard.University and compare it to the size of your keycaps to determine their dimensions.
Razer Huntsman TE, Ducky One 2 Mini, Anne Pro 2, Durgod Taurus K320 TKL, HyperX Alloy Origins Core, Keychron K8, Kemove Snowfox/Shadow, Drop CTRL, and other mechanical keyboards with typical layouts are a few examples.
Layout Typical: Right Key Sizes
- Right Shift: 2.75u
- Enter Key: 2.25u
- Backspace: 2u
- Numberpad (zero, plus, enter): 2u
Alternative Layouts (Where Things Get Tricky)
You’ll see that a LOT of mechanical keyboards are non-standard now that we’ve discussed the layouts that are considered to be industry standards.
In the sections that follow, we’ll make every effort to be as thorough as we can, but there are a variety of layouts for bespoke mechanical keyboards.
Full-Sized Non-Standard Layouts from Logitech, Razer, and other manufacturers
Many businesses design their keyboards with unconventional bottom rows. It is unknown why, however it makes locating keycap sets that fit and changing the keycaps challenging.
Some folks only change the modifiers and leave the alphanumerics alone. The bottom row of many Razer keyboards (not the Huntsman range), according to the MaxKeyboards Keycap Compatibility and Size Chart, consists of 1.5u or 1u modifiers with a 6u spacebar. While the layouts of Corsair and Logitech are similar, they additionally include 1.25u modifiers and a 6.5u spacebar.
If you want to replace the keycaps in the future with ones that have a different look, pay attention to the keycap sizes when purchasing pre-built mechanical keyboards from these suppliers.
All of the keys may be changed using big keycap kits. These kits, however, are often only offered in group buys or at a hefty cost in the aftermarket. You may create unique keycap layouts using MaxKeyboards that exactly match these sizes.
65%, 75%, and 96% Unusual Keyboard Sizes
Right shift is frequently smaller on keyboards with a more condensed layout, such as 65%, 75%, or 96% layouts, to make room for the arrow cluster. These layouts are more distinctive and need different keycap sizes from the conventional layout. Additionally, some of the keys will be on different rows, so if you are not using a consistent keycap profile, the heights could be a bit odd.
Instead of the full 2.75u of a conventional layout, this right shift is frequently 1.75u. The right shift key is 2u on several keyboards, including the Womier K66 and the Ducky One 2 SF.
This group of keyboards includes the Keychron K2, K4, and K6. The Drop ALT, Akko 3068, Magicforce 82, Vortexgear Race 3, Drevo Excalibur, iQuinix F96, Leopold FC660M, Leopold FC980M, and other mechanical keyboards are also included.
The bottom right modifier keys are another set of keys to keep an eye out for. They are smaller on certain keyboards, such the Keychron K6, to provide room for the arrow cluster. There are often additional keys on smaller mechanical keyboards that let you switch between layers to access different functions. The K6 in this instance possesses a 1u Win, Fn1, and Fn2.
Are you using an Ergonomic Layout keyboard?
An excellent option for individuals who prefer to type in an ergonomic and healthy method for their bodies, an ergonomic keyboard unfortunately makes it challenging to purchase replacement keycaps. Ergo layouts are split mechanical keyboards, including the ErgoDox, Corne, X-Bows, and Alice-style layouts.
You will need to acquire keycaps with these particular sizes since mechanical keyboards frequently include split spacebar modules on each side that can handle various functions (space, shift, fn, etc.). Because of the distinctive nature of the design, there is frequently information about the size of each single key when shopping for keycaps for these mechanical keyboards.
For instance, ergo keyboards sometimes require 5 tiny stabilizers. Those keys’ keycaps can come in a variety of styles. You may frequently choose an integrated ergo and spacebars kit with large group purchasing packages to make sure you have all the keys you require.
The Vulcan Maja, an ergonomic 65% layout keyboard, is a semi-affordable mechanical keyboard.
The sizes for the solderable PCB and the hot-swappable PCB are both clearly listed on the product page. There are other split choices, including split left spacebar, split backspace, and more, depending on the settings you select.
Make sure to inspect the keycaps when purchasing keycaps for ergo mechanical keyboards. A full-sized keycap set with various shift key sizes will frequently be able to make the fit. Putting a shift key on a spacebar key may seem odd, but it will at least fill the empty space.
Different Key Designs
You can decide that a split spacebar or backspace is what you want to use after looking at the various key styles. We’ll discuss where to look for a keycap set that complements one of these patterns.
You may choose whether or not your custom mechanical keyboard has a split spacebar. With a split spacebar, you may add frequently used keys like Shift or FN to a location that is reachable with one of your thumbs.
It’s hard to get inexpensive keycap sets for this. These keycaps are frequently offered only in custom keycap sets as part of group buys at stores like GMK, JTK, ePBT, etc.
You may frequently choose and buy an additional set of spacebars with these kits. Additionally, they let you purchase novelty keycaps, which frequently include a symbol associated with the keycap set’s subject rather than a letter or number.
Split Left Shift or Split Backspace
Similar to split spacebars, certain custom mechanical keyboard PCBs let you divide the backspace key and use the backslash key as the backspace key in its place. This can be used to access backspace more easily or to include delete into a small keyboard that lacks such buttons.
Mechanical keyboards with the ISO layout frequently fit a split left shift. Your pinky finger might not require all of that room while utilizing the left shift. Many languages require extra letters or symbols, which can fit in that space.
It may be simpler to locate and install these keycaps than split spacebars. ISO-compatible keys are included in a lot of keycap sets. Finding a 1.5u backspace for the split backspace might be challenging. However, since those keys already come in a normal set, altering the backspace to two 1U keys (likely delete and another key) is simple.
Additional Notable Designs
The options for Mac keycaps are relatively constrained. The Option and Command keys come in a variety of sizes, and KBDFans sells a PBT Mac Compatibility kit with them.
Purchase of Keycaps
You may look for keycaps and buy them from a variety of sellers. To track mechanical keyboard and keycap group purchase, we consult the sites below:
- There are now group buys available for mechanical keyboards and keycap sets at MechGroupBuys.com.
- And many more on Reddit!