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Budget Keycaps are an elusive thing in the Mechanical Keyboard hobby, since prices of keycaps can get quite high, the idea of “budget” seems to vary for many. Yet another problem facing the community is the argument of clones, and if they are okay to buy.
Personally, when I first started building keyboards I had a lot of trouble getting into keycaps or justifying waiting 2 years for a GMK set.
So, if you are looking for a set of high quality keycaps that won’t break your bank, and aren’t clones from scummy companies, here’s a nice list of websites for you to check out, with some examples also linked.
If you want a no frills, no reading budget keycaps list – check out my other compiled list here.
KineticLabs is a relatively well known keyboard website, they sell lube, switches, tools, and accessories like deskmats – but they also have started introducing a new keycap line called Polycaps. These keycap sets all appear to have some sort of animal them, and some even have novelties included like Polycaps Corn!
KineticLabs is striving for the quality of GMK sets without compromising on price, kitting, or wait times. While they are still actively trying to perfect that, and have switched between manufacturers a few times in the process of releasing the keycaps, they are definitely of high enough quality to recommend for the price range of around $60-80 USD, which is a nice price for what you get compared to your typical GMK set.
I’ve personally worked with KineticLabs, and have seen their passion in trying to make higher quality keycaps more accessible to new keyboard builders. The Polycaps sets I have owned so far, which are seal, whale, and octopus have been of amazing quality and never dissapointed me, and I’m actually typing this up now on my set of Polycaps Seal!
For a first time set, I would definitely recommend picking up some keycaps from KineticLabs. If you don’t like them they even accept returns!
Drop has been a pretty well-known retailer for hobbyists, especially audio ones – but they have started to add more and more keyboard parts to include the custom keyboard hobby in their customer base. Not only do they have their own in-house keycap profile that they ship out and make tons of designs for (MT3 Profile), but the options they have offer a great price range.
It really is no wonder how drop has become so big in the custom keyboard community, with great sets ranging from $35-100 USD there is something for everyone to find on their site. They also offer a handful of different profiles, colour options, and more – they even have artisans on their site! They also have an arrangement of other keyboard parts, including some DIY Kits, Switches, and some various deskmats.
I personally own two sets from drop, MT3 Camillo and MT3 Susuwatari, and they are both amazing sets that I love – the profile on MT3 is really easy to type on, and it makes the keyboard sound amazing considering all the acoustics the large keycap profile brings with it. The legends are always super crisp and clear as well, and the texture on them is really nice. The material for all MT3 keycaps (as far as I’m aware) is PBT plastic with Dye-Subliminated legends.
Including the fact that their MT3 profile is double-shot, it’s a no brainer so many people go with Drop when looking for budget keycaps. There isn’t really any other manufacturer out there that does what they do, and they offer a lot of options.