There might be a point in time where you finally decide that you want to upgrade your current mechanical gaming keyboard but not necessarily buy a new one. So how do you do that? Modify it! This article will tell you ways to mod your mechanical gaming keyboard. Whether it’s for visual or performance purposes, we got you.
Changing your keycaps is, if not one of the most impactful ways you can mod your gaming keyboard. This is the part of the keyboard where you have the most contact with and as time goes on, they might be faded or may not be as comfortable as they were when you first got them. Getting ones that are made of better quality will really improve your experience with your keyboard. There are also key caps with custom designs that allow you to choose one that fits your taste visually.
Keycap Puller and Keycaps
There are basically two things you need when you want to mod or upgrade your keycaps: a new set of keycaps (duh) and a keycap puller. So let’s talk about these two for a bit.
Keycap pullers are an important tool for the maintenance of your keyboard. It allows you to safely pull out your keycaps while minimizing the risk of damaging the switch compared to just pulling it out with your hands. There are three types of keycap pullers: plastic ring keycaps, wire keycap pullers, and keycap pliers. A lot of people prefer the wire keycap pullers as it doesn’t scratch keycaps but any of these will do. Just get one.
For keycaps, there are things you should consider when upgrading:
- Material – most common are ABS and PBT. PBTs are generally thought of as better than ABS types. PBT’s are pricier but are of higher quality, more durable, and they develop a shine slower than the ABS types. ABS though are readily more available and are typically cheaper.
- Profile – the shape of the keycaps. Cherry profile is preferred by most gamers. Just choose this if you want to get started as it’s a safe choice. It feels natural as well.
- Double-shot – If you have an RGB keyboard, most probably you also want the legends in your keycaps to glow. Choose double-shot keycaps if this is the effect you want to achieve.
- Compatibility – make sure that the stems of your switches are compatible with the keycaps you wish to replace your old ones with.
Putting O-rings In Your Key Caps
O-rings are rubber rings that you put on the stem of your keycaps. These rings will dampen out the sound of your keycaps. There are a lot of people who say that this is a helpful mod while there’s also a lot of people who say that they don’t like o-rings as it gives a “mushy” feeling especially when bottoming out. This is a quite simple and inexpensive mod so it’s easy to do but this may not be something that you’ll like. Just give it a try though and feel for yourself.
Replacing or Upgrading Switches
Another very impactful way of upgrading your keyboard is swapping out your current switches. If you’ve already used your keyboard for quite some time, you’ll already have a feel of how you want your switches to feel or sound like. If you’re not content with your current switches, then you make this upgrade.
If you want to change the switches of your keyboard, there’s something you need to know first about your current switches itself. If your keyboard is hot-swappable, it’s quite easy to swap out your current switch with another one. If not, you will have to desolder your current switches and solder the new ones, thus making it more time and effort intensive.
How do you know if your keyboard is hot-swappable?
Most keyboards explicitly say that they have this feature as this is also a selling point. So check your box, product description, or reviews to find out if it is.
If your keyboard is not hot-swappable, How To Geek has a guide to help you out with soldering your switches.
Mechanical keyboard switches come in different brands, tactility, or noise levels. Three major categories of switches are linear, tactile, and clicky. Depending on your usage and preference, there’s a ton of options available for you.
If you’re not quite sure what switch do you want for your keyboard, we got you covered. (link to blog).
To replace all your switches or not?
When talking about keyboard switches, it really boils down to personal preference and how you’ll use your keyboard. There are some gamers who replace all of their switches while there are others who just want to use different switches for specific keys such as WSAD.
What’s a stabilizer?
Stabilizers are these parts on your keyboards that are on larger keys such as the space bar, enter, capslock, backspace, and etc. so that they won’t wobble or shake as much when you press on them. Despite being larger than the usual character keys, these keys only have one switch below them which is why they need stabilizers.
People usually want to mod their stabilizers to improve the performance of their keyboards. This can particularly be helpful with gamers if you want your keys to feel more stable and also improve the sound.
How To Mod Stabilizers
When it comes to modding stabilizers, there are some ideas that are pretty easy for you to do. They don’t cost much, don’t need to buy pricey materials, nor are they hard to do as well.
Here are some simple things you can do with your stabilizers:
Lubing your stabilizers gives you a smooth instead of a scratchy feel for your keys. For a pretty simple process, it’s one of the most noticeable things you can do. While you can use any lube for this, it’s ideal to use teflon grease for the plastic-to-plastic parts and dielectric grease for the wire.
For more info about the kinds of lubes you can use, Switch and Click has a helpful guide.
Stabilizers have these little legs that will make contact with your PCB whenever you bottom out your keys. Clipping your stabilizers will make them more stable and also make it more silent. You will need clippers for this and also be more careful when clipping the plastic parts out. If you want to learn more about how to do this, here are a few tips by Top Clack.
Band-Aid Stabilizer Mod
This is probably one of the oldest mods in the book and many gamers have success in doing this to mod their keyboards.
Just by using a little bit of band aid (fabric ones), tweezers, scissors, and dielectric grease will dampen the sound of your stabilizers even more. The band aid will cushion the stabilizers when they hit your PCB so this is a good step to do if you want to reduce the noise even further.
In simple terms, you’ll have to first remove your stabilizers. Next, cut your band aid into rectangles just big enough that they’ll fit the size of where your stabilizers rest. Make sure it’s wide enough to cover the stabilizer. Then, apply dielectric grease to the band aid.
Here’s a good video by Taeha Types on how you can lube, clip, and do the band-aid stabilizer mod.
Changing Your USB cable
If you want to complete the look of your customized gaming keyboard, you might want to consider changing your USB cable! You can do this quite easily if your keyboard has a detachable USB cable. While this is a mainly visual mod, this is also one of the easiest things to do with your gaming keyboard. These custom USB cables come in different color ways so you can choose one that matches with the color scheme of your keyboard. Usually, you have an option to choose between coiled or straight so these custom USB cables can definitely spice up your keyboard!
Dampening foams can help minimize the hollow sound your keyboard makes when you’re typing on it. Adding a dampening foam to your mechanical gaming keyboard will take some time as you have to take your keyboard apart. Also depending on the type of foam you’re using, you will also have to do a bit of cutting out so it will fit the case of your keyboard.
Kinds of Dampening Foam
This mainly depends on the gap you have between your PCB and the case of your keyboard. Here are a few materials that’s recommended or commonly used::
- Neoprene foam
- Shelf liner
- Sorbothane Acoustic dampening sheets
- Packaging foam
Adding vinyls or decals to your keyboard is one of the ways you can mod your keyboard where your creativity is the limit. Take note that you might have to do some of these things by yourself such as printing, cutting the vinyls so that they’ll fit your keyboard, and sticking them on.
Here are a few ideas you can do:
Adding vinyl decals to your keycaps
Are you pretty content with your keycaps but just want to change how they look a bit? Then adding vinyl decals is a very viable alternative to changing your keycaps! Personally, I think it’s better if you measure the keycaps, design, print, and apply decals on your own. This way, you’ll have huge control on the visuals and material.
Here’s a guide on Reddit that you can roughly follow.
Don’t like the look of your backplate? Then just add vinyl to it with your desired design! There are two ways you can go about this. You can add vinyl on your current backplate or replace it with another. If you go for the latter, you will have to do a little bit of soldering.
Just like adding decals to your keycaps, it’s better if you do the design and measurement personally so it will really fit your backplate well.
Sticker-bomb your mechanical keyboard
This is a creative way of making your mechanical gaming keyboard cooler. Basically, it’s just adding a bunch of stickers to your backplate or keyboard case and get a collage sort of effect. It can look really awesome and honestly, it depends a lot on how you want it look like. /upeanutbuttermuncher has a comment on this Reddit thread about how to sticker bomb your keyboard.
Sticker bomb backplate example:
Sticker bomb case example:
Recap and conclusion on Ways To Mod Your Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
There are different ways to mod your gaming keyboard and the ones listed here barely scratched the surface. Modding your keyboard is about what goal you have in mind. Are you seeking to improve its performance or do you want to make it look cooler? Of course, you don’t have to choose one over the other. You can do both at the same time and it just goes to show that you can mod your keyboard in a lot of ways just to make it fit your taste.
To recap, here are some of the ways you can mod your gaming keyboard:
- Keycaps – Replace your current keycaps with a new set that looks and feels how you want it to. Though not necessary, adding o-rings may make your experience with your keycaps better.
- Replacing or Upgrading Switches – change your current switches to other switch types depending on your preference and use case.
- Stabilizers – You can lube, clip, and do the band-aid stabilizer mod. All are pretty easy to do and don’t require expensive materials.
- Changing your USB cable – Complete the look of your gaming keyboard by getting a custom usb cable that fits with the color scheme of your keyboard
- Dampening Foam – Add a foam in between your board and your case to eliminate the hollow sound your keyboard makes when you type.
- Vinyls/Decals – Use your creativity to design your keyboard’s keycaps or backplate by using vinyls or decals. You can also sticker bomb your keyboard to give it an exciting, dynamic, collage type look.