A major selling point of mechanical keyboards is their unparalleled customizability, especially when it comes to aesthetics. As the keyboard hobby has grown exponentially over the last few years, so have the number of keycap offerings from countless manufacturers. No matter your interests or personal taste, there is a keycap set out there that will match it perfectly. However, do all keycaps fit on all mechanical keyboards? Nothing would hurt more than to wait on that perfect keycap set only to find out it just does not fit. Let's break down the essential things to look for when ordering a brand new set of keycaps to guarantee they are compatible with your board.
Is This Keycap Set Compatible With My Mechanical Keyboard?
October 15, 2021
Check for MX Stem Compatibility
When looking at mechanical keyboard switches manufactured by today's leading brands like Glorious, Kailh, Gateron, and Cherry, you will notice a nearly identical design language. Double-check to see if your board has switches like these. At the top of the switch, there is a cross-shaped piece of plastic called a stem. This stem moves up and down, allowing the key to operate. It's also where the keycap sits to stay attached to the board.
Our Glorious Lynx linear mechanical switches use the "+" MX stem.
Underneath MX stem compatible keycaps, you will notice a hole that fits this cross-shaped stem perfectly. To find out if a keycap set has MX compatible stems, read carefully through the product description, tech specs, or look at close-up images. Most keycap sets on the market are designed to be compatible with this stem type, and all keycap sets on gloriouspcgaming.com are MX-stem compatible.
Note: If your keyboard uses Kailh box switches, they are still compatible with MX stems. The plastic "box" around the stem does not interfere.
Our Glorious GPBT keycaps are compatible with MX-style stems. Notice the "+" opening.
Watch Out for Topre & Alps Keycaps
Unlike MX-style keycaps, sets designed for Topre and Alps keyboards will not fit on a standard board. Keycaps with these stem designs are hard to stumble upon, but you need to know to avoid them if you do not have a board with Topre or Alps switches. They are unique in design and do not follow the same design language that Glorious, Kailh, Gateron, and Cherry utilize for their switches. Be sure to read the product's description, tech specs and double-check its images before deciding to buy these caps.
An uncapped Topre switch. Notice the lack of MX-style stem. Credit: ExtremeTech
Don't Stress About Keycap Profiles
When searching for a new set of keycaps, a wide variety of keycap body profiles are available. They range in different shapes, sizes, heights, and finishes. For example, our GPBT line of keycaps is Cherry profile, which is the most common. However, there are KAT, DSA, OEM, XDA, and so much more - it can get overwhelming, but give them a Google to see what we mean. What we want to emphasize is that these profiles do not affect overall compatibility. If they feature MX-stem compatibility, they will work on most boards unless there is an irregular clearance issue.
Graphic comparing different keycap profiles. Credit: Mechkeys.Tech
We hope this article was able to clear up any confusion or concerns regarding keycap buying. It's essential to get a clear understanding of what switches your board has, find a set that best fits your needs & personal style, and carefully read the product description to ensure it's compatible. With so many brands producing their own unique sets, the amount of sheer choice can be overwhelming, so it's important to make an informed buying decision.
Are there any tips or things to watch out for when buying sets that we missed? Let us know in the comments below - we would love to hear from you!