Mechanical keyboards let you customise your typing experience to every single thing, from the switches to the sound profile of each key; you can have a lot of control over how you type.
However, the most interacted with part of the keyboard, the keycaps, remain somewhat neglected, at least on cheaper, entry-level mechanical keyboards. This is rather unfortunate as a good set of keycaps can make your keyboard feel and look a lot more expensive for almost a quarter of the price.
In this article, we’re talking about keycap profiles, what they are, their different types and which one’s the best choice for you.
Also read: Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard
What are keycap profiles?
Keycap profiles basically determine the shape of your keycaps. They dictate the shape and sometimes even the placement of keycaps, both of which play an important part in how your keyboard will end up feeling.
They’ve been around since pretty much the beginning of mechanical keyboards, one of the most prominent examples being the Cherry MX family of keycaps which usually accompany the Cherry MX switch lineup.
Why should you consider changing your keycaps?
10 types of Keycap profiles
Over time, keycap profiles have become more diversified for different typing and user experiences. You can choose from any of these 10 popular keycap profiles based on what you want from your keyboard.
|Keycap profile||Description||Height||Shape||Profile||Recommended for|
|KAT||KAT switches are rather uniform in terms of the overall shape. They’re short and flat and work well in case you’re looking for a low-profile keyboard.||Short||Flat||Uniform||People who type a lot|
|XDA||These keycaps have a medium height and have a spherical top, meaning your fingers will sit well in the groves. They make for an excellent typing experience. Similar to KAT switches, they’re rather uniform across the keyboard, so you won’t really be able to tell the difference between keys based on the keycap feeling alone.||Medium||Spherical and flat||Uniform||Suitable for extended typing sessions.|
Work well for people with short hands.
|OEM||These keycaps are considered standard across the mechanical keyboard industry (as the name suggests). They come in a sculpted profile, meaning different keys can have different feeling keycaps and are often short and angled to appease a wider audience.||Short||Angled||Sculpted||Best used for gaming and typing alike. |
Comfortable during long sessions.
|Cherry||Another popular keycap profile, thanks to the massive popularity of Cherry MX switches. They’re short in height, although taller variations exist as well. The keycaps are also rather angled, so you can easily tell which key you’re pressing based on feeling alone.||Short||Angled||Sculpted||Best used for gaming and typing alike. |
Comfortable during long sessions.
|NP||Another medium height class of keycaps, they’re somewhat similar to XDA keycaps in terms of the top being rounded, giving more of a traditional typewriter feel on touch. The profile is uniform across the board as well.||Medium||Spherical and Flat||Uniform||Flatter alternative to Cherry keycaps.|
Better suited to typing than gaming.
|DSA||Consider these XDA keycaps but shorter in height. If you like spherical keycaps on a low-profile keyboard, these are the keycaps to buy. Similar to XDA, they’re also uniform in profile.||Short||Spherical and Flat||Uniform||Better suited for typing.|
|DOM||These are tall, rounded top keycaps that can vary in design and look unique. Depending on your typing style, you’ll either love or hate them. They feature a uniform profile across the board, so you’ll need to know your keyboard layout rather well.||Tall|
|Uniform||Better suited for custom keyboards. |
More suited to gaming than typing.
|DSS||These keycaps are specially built for touch typing and work well with low actuation switches. They’re short, have a rounded top and come in a sculpted profile.||Short||Rounded Top||Sculpted||Suited for gaming and typing alike.|
|SA||These are highly angled keycaps which are also rather tall. If you have big hands and like using clicky switches (like Banana Splits or Cherry MX Blue), you’ll like their spherical and angled shape. They also feature a sculpted profile.||Tall|
Spherical and Angled
|Sculpted||Better suited for typing, especially longer typing sessions.|
|Apple||They are commonly seen on Apple keyboards. Although not made for mechanical switches, they’re short in profile and are completely flat.||Short||Flat||Uniform||Found on pretty much all Apple keyboards. Better suited for typing.|
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