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What are Keycap profiles? 10 different types explained

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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. 

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Keycaps play an essential role in how your keyboard feels.

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?

Also read: What is a 80 percent keyboard? Benefits and top 5 picks

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 profileDescriptionHeightShapeProfileRecommended for
KATKAT 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 FlatUniformPeople who type a lot
XDAThese 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. MediumSpherical and flatUniformSuitable for extended typing sessions.
Work well for people with short hands.
OEMThese 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. ShortAngledSculptedBest used for gaming and typing alike.
Comfortable during long sessions.
CherryAnother 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. ShortAngledSculptedBest used for gaming and typing alike.
Comfortable during long sessions.
NPAnother 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. MediumSpherical and FlatUniformFlatter alternative to Cherry keycaps.
Better suited to typing than gaming.
DSAConsider 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. ShortSpherical and FlatUniformBetter suited for typing.
Good aesthetics.
DOMThese 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
Rounded Top
Uniform Better suited for custom keyboards.
More suited to gaming than typing.
DSSThese 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. ShortRounded TopSculptedSuited for gaming and typing alike.
SAThese 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.
AppleThey are commonly seen on Apple keyboards. Although not made for mechanical switches, they’re short in profile and are completely flat. ShortFlatUniformFound on pretty much all Apple keyboards. Better suited for typing.

Also read: Logitech GHub not loading: 6 Fixes


Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: [email protected].