How Mechanical Keyboard Stabilizers Work: The Complete Guide

Stabilizers for your mechanical keyboard are what you need to make the long buttons steady (Space, backspace, shift, Enter, etc.).

Because there are so many kinds of stabilizers around nowadays, it can be hard to find the best one for you if you are new to this world. There are a lot of things to keep in mind, and we’ll tell you about them all in this article, including the best tips to make them a lot better!

mechanical keyboard stabilizer
A stabilizer for the space button.

What is a Stabilizer for Mechanical Keyboards?

Stabilizers are a super important part of the mechanical keyboard.

They are placed under the wider keys, like the space, backspace, and shift key, to keep them from wobbling, shaking, and tilting when you press the button.

The stabilizers make the buttons “stable” so you can type and play with a steady hand.

All Types of Stabilizers

Cherry, Costar, and Optical are some types of stabilizers that are currently out there, but there are many more.

In this article, we’ll show you how each of them is different.

cherry style stabilizers
Cherry-style stabilizers for space button (left) and enter/backspace button (right).

Cherry-style Stabilizer

This is the most popular type of stabilizer out there, and it is called “cherry style.”

They are the most popular type of stabilizer. They are simple to modify and arrive in many styles, colors, and materials.

Cherry stabilizers look like the stem of a normal Cherry MX switch, which is why they’re called Cherry style stabilizers. They make it easy to add and remove keycaps, well, almost all keycaps on the market at the moment.

In this article, we’ll be trying to focus mostly on the Cherry stabilizer type when we talk about all of the different options.

There are Cherry-style stabilizers that can be screwed in, snapped in, or assigned on a plate.

It’s always recommended to get a keyboard with Cherry stabilizers, as they’re the most flexible stabilizers out there.

stab costar
Costar Stab

Costar Stabilizers

Costar stabilizers are not very popular at the moment. They are mostly discovered on older keyboards, but some relatively new keyboards may have them as well.

Costar stabilizers are somehow hard to use, and they have to be inserted into the keycaps to fit. The challenge of bringing the Costar stabilizer bar to fit into the keycaps can be very annoying and could take a lot of time.

If you usually take off the keycaps for cleaning, this kind of stabilizer can be a real pain.

They are also very hard to apply mods. There are not so many mods for costar, however.

It’s okay if you just want to put the keycaps in and forget.

Costar Stabilizers are very cheap and easy to replace in the future if there is anything going wrong.

Even though, if you like to play around with your keyboard and change out your keycaps often, this isn’t the best option.

Optical Stabilizers
Optical Stabilizers on Razer Huntsman Elite

Optical Stabilizers

They have a unique design, but they are usually only discovered on keyboards with optical switches.

They have small clips that go into the keycaps that you put on the stabilizer bars, which are under the plate. You then snap them into place.

Adding a bit of lube to the optical stabilizers won’t enhance them by a lot, but it will make them less noisy and shaky.

From what we’ve experienced, optical stabilizers aren’t very stable. If you are using optical switches, you’re definitely stuck with them. They have nothing else to say about.

stabilizer sizes
Different sizes of keyboard stabilizers

The Stabilizer Sizes

Stabilizers have 3 main different size 7u, 6.25u, & 2u.

1u = the width of a keycap. This is the global measurement system for keycaps and stabilizers.

For a normal space bar, the 6.25u size is everything you need.

If your keyboard isn’t common, usually you’ll need the 7u size. In some cases you’ll need the 6u size but it is very rare.

A lot of the time, you can forget about the 7u and 7u length, only if you make your own keyboard, or the maker states it clearly when selling.

There will be a 2u stabilizer for all the bigger buttons on your keyboard that aren’t the space bar. This includes the Backspace, Shift, and Enter.

If have a full-sized keyboard, you’ll need these things:

  • 1x 6.25u stabilizer for the Space.
  • 7x 2u stabilizer for Backspace, Shifts, Enters, and (+) button.

If you have a TKL keyboard (85%), you will need:

  • 1x 6.25u stabilizer for the Space.
  • 4x 2u stabilizer for Backspace, Shifts, and Enter.

Depending on how the keyboard layout, there isn’t any exact number of stabilizers that you need. Always check out the layout clearly before purchasing stabs.

Most of the stabilizer packages currently are for TKL size.

a stabilizer set
a stabilizer set from uybv.cntt

Cherry Style Stabilizers Detailed Guide

If you’re building a keyboard, the Cherry-style stabilizers are the most common and the one you should really use.

Cherry stabilizers have three main parts: The wire (stabilizer bar), the stem, and the housing (case). These three parts are for keeping the larger keys steady and stable.

Each set of stabilizer will have a wire bar, two stems, and two housings. Each stem comes with a housing. When you type, the stabilizer bar makes the left side and right side of the keyboard go up and down together.

a stabilizer

Depending on which key it is for, the stabilizer bars come in different sizes. We’ll bring that up later on.

3 Ways to mount Cherry Stabilizers

There are three types of Cherry style stabilizers, that can be mounted in different ways, depending on whether your keyboard support them or not.

  • Plate Mount: Need to be attached to the Plate (1 type).
  • PCB Mount: Need to be attached to the PCB (2 types).

Plate-Mount Stabs

Plate-Mount Stabs are the most popular one that you can see on almost all pre-built keyboards, as well as cheap mechkey kits.

These stabs are attached directly to the plate, not the PCB, of your keyboard. That way, you can easily remove and replace them without having to dissemble the entire keyboard.

plate mount stabilizer
Plate-mount stabilizer

This is not considered an ideal way to mount your stab because plate-mount stabilizers are generally more wobble when you type, thus requires some more mods to make them more stable.

There are a lot of providers with different on the market now. If you don’t like your current one, you can always buy a better one and replace it with ease.

The stabilizers attach to the plate by clipping or snapping into it. This type of connection isn’t very stable, and it makes the whole thing shake and rattle more than the other types.

When you want to extract these stabilizers, you first need to remove the keycap, the switch, then push on a tiny plastic button on each size of the stabilizer, and then lift the stabilizer. Simple as that!

PCB Screw-In Stabilizers

Screw-in stabilizers are connected directly to the PCB with screws.

This is the best way to mount your stabilizers, as they’re more stable and won’t move a lot as you can probably guess.

These stabilizers also stay in place when you take off the key caps, not like snap-in stabs that tend to fall off when you doing so.

PCB Screw-In Stabilizers
PCB Screw-In Stabilizer

The PCB also doesn’t move as much as the plate, which makes it a better place to put the stabilizer.

They are usually just found on custom-made keyboards but not on pre-built keyboards, which tends to make them rare but very wanted after.

If you want to build your own keyboard, we think the screw-in stabilizer type is simply the best you must try.

PCB Snap-in Stabilizers

Snap-in stabilizers are another type of PCB stabilizer. They are better than plate-mounted stabilizers, but they aren’t as good as screw-in stabilizers.

The PCB snap-in stabilizers are superior to the plate-mounted stabilizers because they don’t move as much. Plate-mounted stabs are more popular, however.

PCB Snap in Stabilizers

Snap-in Stabilizers are usually only found on custom mechanical keyboards.

Screw-in stabilizers are generally better than snap-in stabilizers because they move less and are more stable. The only time we would recommend snap-in stabilizer is if you can’t find a keyboard with screws-in slots.

Snap-in stabilizers can pop out of the PCB when you remove the keycaps, while screw-in stabilizers don’t get any issue with that.

Brands That Make Cherry Stabs

There are many companies that make Cherry stabilizers out there, and they come in a lot of different colors, materials, as well as build qualities.

Durock Stabilizers

Stabilizers made by Durock are fascinating because the housing is translucent purple, and it comes with an additional gold-plated wire bar. Durock is perfect for making keyboards where each part looks like it fits in with the rest of the design.

These stabilizers are very cheap for how unique they appear. According to our researches, we think they are smoother than the basic GMK stabilizers.

Durock stabilizers only have the screw-in design available, so you can only use them if your keyboard or PCB supports this type of stab.

All the little feet on the bottom of the Durock stabilizer housing have already been cut off, making them more stable. Many folks will need to do this on their own GMK or Cherry stabilizers.

GMK Stab

GMK is mostly known for making high-end keycaps, and they also make some real Cherry style stabilizers. This means that they have the technology to make “proper” Cherry stem and stabilizers.

Most likely, your keyboard has Cherry stabilizers made by GMK.

There are stabilizers made by GMK that look very common. They have a black stabilizer housing and insert, as well as a gray metal wire bar.

If you want to use GMK stabilizers, you can attach them in three different ways: Plate mount, screw-in PCB mount, and snap-in PCB mount.

ZealPC

It costs $30 to buy the best stabilizers on the list.

The ZealPC stabilizers have golden wire bars and a clear housings. This means they can match perfectly with almost every keycap set that you have.

Because the stabilizers have already been clipped well, they rest on the PCB in a much more stable manner when being used,

The ZealPC stabilizers are only available in the screw-mount style, with a unique nut design to keep the threads from getting stuck.

Due to their high price, it’s hard to say that these stabilizers are worth it. Durock stabilizers have some of the same features for a fraction of the price.

Everglide

The Everglide stabilizers go with a golden bar and clear housing, they look very much like the ZealPC stabilizers. They are pre-clipped, arrive in the screw-in style, and they’re not too pricey, either.

In this way, you can buy the stabilizers in all three different sizes, or you can buy those as a bundle to save money based on the size of your keyboard.

mechanical keyboard stabilizers guide
Zeals Stab

How to improve Cherry stabilizers

If you’re prepared to put in a little more effort here, your Cherry stabilizers can gain from several custom modifications, the most popular of which are band-aids, holee, clips, and lubrication, but there are still many more.

To make the band-aid adjustment, put band-aids where each stabilizer housing hits the PCB to reduce the sound and make it sound better.

band aid mod for stab
band-aid mod for stabs

When you clip the stabilizer feet, this definitely feels more steady and less shaky. 

clip stabilizer feet
Clip the feet to make your stabilizers more stable!

Lubing the stabilizers makes them easier to type on and helps them feel smoother and more reliable. You can take a look at our lube guide for more details.

After making these changes, the stabilizers will feel a lot better, for sure. If you are really into modding keyboards, this is one of the best changes you could ever do to it.

Conclusion

There is a lot of information in the mechanical keyboard community about stabilizers already but we hope this post helped you understand the information in a clear and simple way.

When you choose a stabilizer for your next mechanical keyboard, there are a lot of little things to consider and figure out. Stabilizers come in a wide range of sizes and types. They can be made by different manufacturers and mounted in a variety of ways.

It’s a good idea to pick screw-in Cherry stabilizers for the first mechanical keyboard you build. You can choose the Durock or Everglide versions depending on which color and price works best for you. These two stabilizers are the best value for your money and provide a smooth, stable way to type.

There are usually plate-mounted stabilizers on pre-built mechanical keyboards, even if they aren’t very stable, but they are super easy to use and replace.

Screw-in and snap-in stabilizers are usually used on mechanical keyboards that are made to modify and adjust.

Making long buttons better is always the hardest and must-have step when modding your keyboard.

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