Not sure how to mod and bring your mechanical keyboard to the next level? Here you can find some modifications and upgrades, and you can find more guides on HelveticaForever. You are about to enter the world of mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, get ready for it !
1. Upgrade your Keycaps
Why You Need to Replace Your Keycaps
What is the most frequently used part of your keyboard? Specifically, your keycaps! The entire time you use your keyboard, you are either typing or looking at your keycaps, so it’s time to get rid of your boring and low-quality keycaps and replace them with an awesome set of premium keycaps. If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to purchasing keycaps, you’ve come to the right place.
What Will Be Required to Upgrade Your Keycaps
To upgrade your keycaps, you must purchase a new set of keycaps and a keycap puller online. There are a variety of keycaps in a variety of price ranges, so even if you are on a tight budget, you can find an awesome set of keycaps at a low cost. Most sets will include a keycap puller, but if yours does not, you can purchase one online for a very low price or make your own by following this guide.
Guidelines for Keycaps
Most stock keyboard keycaps are comprised of a cheap ABS plastic that quickly degrades and acquires a greasy appearance. Look for PBT plastic when purchasing a new set, as it is more durable and generally feels and sounds better as well. You can read here about the distinctions between ABS and PBT keycaps. You should also find a profile that is comfortable for you; the Cherry profile is widely regarded as the most optimal for typing and gaming. Additionally, the other profiles are quite distinctive, so it is worth considering.
2. Enhance your Switches
The allure of mechanical keyboards is the satisfying feel and sound of the switches, whether they are linear, tactile, or clicky. We will demonstrate some simple ways to improve and enhance your switches.
Acquire Superior Switches and Replace Them!
Many keyboards feature Cherry MX imitation switches that are not of the highest quality or durability. You could always remove the switches and install new ones if you don’t like them. If your keyboard is not hot-swappable, you will need to solder/de-solder the switches to add/remove them, which can be a time-consuming process.
This can be accomplished in under 30 minutes if your keyboard is hot-swappable. We advise experimenting with switches from ZealPC, Kailh, or Cherry MX. We have compiled a list of our top five favorite clicky, tactile, and linear switches, so if you are looking for some inspiration, be sure to check those out.
Lubricate your switches to make them more fluid and less grating.
Lubricating your switches is an alternative to purchasing new switches if you want to improve the smoothness and stability of your switches. Note: If your switches are clicky, you should avoid lubricating them. This primarily applies to tactile and linearly actuated switches. Lubricating your switches is a more time-consuming process, as you will need to remove them from your keyboard and disassemble them. This is definitely for keyboard enthusiasts with more experience.
Alternatively, you can purchase switches that have already been lubricated so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself. If you are DIY-inclined and want to do it yourself, we have a guide on selecting the best lubricant for you. Remember that having a hot-swappable keyboard will greatly facilitate this process.
Install Switch Film to Stabilize Switches and Decrease Wobble
Do your switches occasionally feel shaky and unstable? Sometimes, when keyboards are manufactured, the tolerances are slightly off, and the switches do not fit as perfectly as they should. I would strongly consider adding switch film to improve the stability of the switches.
This is a time-consuming process because the switch must be removed and disassembled in order to install the film. This can be done at the same time as lubricating the switches, so it makes sense to do it if you intend to lubricate the switches anyway. We discovered an excellent video guide, so if you’re interested, you can simply follow along.
3. Stabilizer Modifications
Band-Aid, Lubricate, and Clip Stabilizers for Improved Sound and Stability
This stabilizer modification may sound intimidating, but it is actually quite straightforward. Modifying the keyboard’s stabilizer is the first thing I do to immediately improve the sound and feel. The Band-Aid, lubricant, and clip modification is a three-step process to reinforce your keyboard’s stabilizers.
Simply cut the adhesive portion of a few band-aids and place them on the printed circuit board (PCB) where the stabilizers strike to reduce the impact and produce a more satisfying *thud* sound. Then, you lubricate the stabilizers to make them feel smoother and trim off the excess bottom portion to make them more stable. I recognize that this brief explanation may sound confusing, so I’ve included an informative video above to assist you.
4.Proof your Mechanical Keyboard against Noise
Does your keyboard have a louder volume than desired? Or does it emit a grating metallic *ting* sound each time you press a key? We will discuss some simple mods/upgrades to improve the sound quality and quietness of your keyboard.
Get a Desk Mat (s)
Believe it or not, using a desk mat is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve the acoustics of your keyboard. By placing your keyboard on the mat, it vibrates less and produces less noise. Popular Twitch streamer TaehaTypes, who creates custom mechanical keyboards, is known to stack four to five desk mats to improve the sound quality of his keyboards. Quite cool, eh? Who could possibly complain about the cool designs on some of the available desk mats? They also make for excellent photographs. You can view our favorite desk mats on Amazon/Kit.co via this link.
O-Rings Are Your Friend
Installing O-rings on the underside of your keycaps is a simple way to reduce the amount of noise your keyboard produces. You simply slide them onto the underside of your keycaps, they are inexpensive, and they are available in bulk. You can view them on Amazon by following this link. Notably, some people dislike O-rings because they can make keystrokes feel softer and less crisp, whereas others prefer to use three to four O-rings on each key. The decision is entirely up to you, but they are one of the easiest ways to soundproof your keyboard.
If you have a Philips screwdriver and are willing to order some foam online, you can soundproof your keyboard relatively quickly with this upgrade. You must disassemble the keyboard case and place a piece of foam on the bottom of the case under the PCB. Depending on how your keyboard is assembled, this may be a quick or lengthy process. On some keyboards, you may be required to remove all of the switches, while on others, only a few screws. Neoprene or Sorbothane foam is recommended for keyboards. Sorbothane is marginally superior to Neoprene, but whichever material fits your budget best should be utilized. Both can be found on Amazon via the aforementioned links.
5. Acquire a Tailored USB Cable
Check out some custom USB cables if you really want to spruce up your desk setup. These are extremely cool and come in a variety of designs and colors. Only keyboards with a detachable power cable, typically USB-C to USB-A, are compatible. We have an additional post that discusses custom USB cables and their availability.
The cables are typically available in coiled or straight forms, depending on the desired aesthetic. The coiled cables are typically more expensive, and the coil will unravel and become unsightly over time, but they have a cool appearance. Just something to keep in mind.
Many of the cables also include an aviator, allowing you to switch between USB-C, micro-USB, and mini-USB without disconnecting the entire cable from your PC. This saves me a ton of time, as I am constantly reviewing new keyboards for my blog.
That was simplest mods for upgrading a mechanical keyboard to the next level, surely some are more time-consuming than others, but that’s the beauty of this hobby: you decide how deeply you want to delve into it. Upgrading your keycaps, upgrading your switches, modding your stabilizers, soundproofing your mechanical keyboard, and obtaining a custom USB cable are a brief summary of the modifications.