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Popular Custom Keycap Sets

Overcast

Overcast is one of the most customizable keysets we've ever seen. This set comes from designer MiTo with myriad color options and some cool "gamer-style" novelty kits. You can get keys with various weapons on them, as well as characters from games like Overwatch. It's common to cover the left side of the board around the WASD cluster with the Overcast novelty caps, which you can match with in-game keymaps. It was produced in DSA profile by SP with doubleshot ABS plastic, which was necessary because of the wide selection of colors—PBT caps with dye-sublimation work only with certain colors.


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Skeletor

Whereas some keysets like Miami are obvious callbacks to the slick, modern veneer of the 1980s, Skeletor is a bit more aloof. This set was produced in Cherry profile by GMK, meaning they're excellent quality doubleshot ABS caps. The colorway is composed of cyan and purple, which are based on Skeletor from the 1980s He-Man cartoon. (It's a bit weird when you realize that Skeletor, the big bad of the show, had light blue skin and a purple costume. What sort of skeleton has skin anyway?) The keyset is really pretty, though. It was sold by Originative for a few months before it sold out, so prices aren't out of hand. You can find a set in the aftermarket for around $175.


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DSA Quartz

Like Granite, DSA Quartz is a PBT set with dye-sublimated legends. It's mostly light gray, but the bottom row is a darker gray. The set also includes cyan accent keycaps. It's a subtle but beautiful colorway. The caps also use mono legends (only one glyph per key) for a clean look. This set is produced by Signature Plastics every few months and posted on Pimp My Keyboard, but it's around $100 for the base set.


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Troubled Minds

The villains of our childhood seem to make good fodder for keysets. There's GMK Skeletor, but before that was Troubled Minds. This SA keyset produced by SP was designed a few years ago by community member Thesiscamper. It's all purple and green, the Joker colorway. The set also has clever novelties like a "Die" cap and "Lose CTRL" instead of just "CTRL."


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Hydro

GMK Hydro has been run only once, but it was a huge hit. It's a keyset based on the Squirtle Squad from Pokemon, produced in Cherry profile with thick doubleshot ABS caps. It uses white, blue, and gray colors, along with novelty caps emblazoned with the sunglasses worn by the Squirtle Squad. If you missed the group buy, someone might sell you a Hydro set for around $200.


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Sky Dolch

We already mentioned the popular Dolch colorway, but retailer Originative came up with a cool twist on Dolch called Sky Dolch. This GMK-produced keyset has proven extremely popular, too. It has the same two-tone gray base color, but the legends are cyan. As a GMK set, it's made from thick, doubleshot ABS plastic. Re-sellers usually ask around $250 for this one.


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DSA Borealis

Borealis is a Northern Lights-themed keyset produced by SP in the flat DSA profile. The keycaps start light blue on the bottom row, getting progressively darker as you move up. The effect is supposed to look like the Northern Lights, but Borealis has another trick up its sleeve to complete the effect. The legends in this doubleshot set aren't ABS like the rest of the cap; they're glow-in-the-dark plastic. After being exposed to light, the legends glow sort of like the Northern Lights. DSA Borealis was sold for only a few months in late 2016 and early 2017 on Pimp My Keyboard. It's unclear if it will be run again, but one occasionally pops up for sale at about $100. That's not a bad price for a keyset like this one.


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Nuclear Data

Retro keyboards are a great source of inspiration for keyset designers, and such was the case with Nuclear Data. This SA keyset was produced by SP in 2014 with the intention of reviving the old-school style of keyboards produced for scientific instruments by Nuclear Data Inc. The set has dark green caps with white legends, plus some bright orange accents. It's SA, but flat R3 just like 1976. As you might expect, the novelty keys are nuclear-themed. The original group buy was small, so there's lots of demand for the set. It sells for around $300 in the aftermarket, but it's rare to see a set for sale.


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Pulse

Pulse is another keyset designed by MiTo, and it has become one of the most instantly recognizable sets out there. The striking black and cyan colorway has been produced only in SA profile courtesy of Signature Plastics. The first round sold just a few hundred units in 2014, but that was a good number at the time. The second round in 2016 sold in the thousands. You're still looking at somewhere north of $200 when someone puts their base set up for sale. The heartbeat-style novelty caps will add a bit to the cost, but those are even rarer.


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Calm Depths

The Calm Depths SA keyset was produced in 2013 by Signature Plastics. It's doubleshot ABS like most SA keysets, with a blue/gray colorway. It's a lovely set, but there are precious few floating around; the community was just so much smaller in 2013. The designer never ran it after that first go around, and consequently, the price has skyrocketed. We've seen it sell for as much as $650 in the recent past. Demand has gotten to the point that others have taken on the responsibility of reviving the set. There are preliminary plans for a new round of SA as well as DSA.


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  • Ne0Wolf7
    Carbon is number 12 now!?!?! That's magnesium, carbon is 6 lol. Unless the thing called carbon is dedicated to magnesium... Either way, how is orange and white carbon themed?
    Reply
  • lsatenstein
    What about US language or other keyboard keytops? for PC105
    KBDID: 058
    Description: Canadian French old style
    Status: Registered
    National Layout: Yes
    Regions: Canada
    Registration Date: 1991-01-01
    Last Revision Date: 1995-05-08
    Notes:
    Required for Canada

    Or Latim layout
    Reply
  • doubletake
    Forgot the best caps available: blank PBT in black/dark grey so that anyone who wants to use your keyboard but hasn't learned to type ends up fumbling and regretting having asked you in the first place :D
    Reply
  • AnimeMania
    What is the name of the standard for the hole in the keycap/post on the key so that you know the keycaps are compatible with your keyboard.

    What do people do when the number of keycaps that are supplied are less than the number of keys on their keyboard? I noticed that the ones pictured did not include keypad or function keycaps. Is there a standard number of keycaps for a set?
    Reply
  • lsatenstein
    20158421 said:
    Forgot the best caps available: blank PBT in black/dark grey so that anyone who wants to use your keyboard but hasn't learned to type ends up fumbling and regretting having asked you in the first place :D

    My keyboard is 10 years old and going strong. Four keytops showing wear are:
    c, v, '.' and ',' with a close second for < and for >
    Reply
  • kitfaaace
    animemania- i don't know how to reply here but your answer is this: what most of these minimalist keyboards use is covered under a "base set". most keycap set drops also include things like "numpad set", and also options for unusual layouts. some of these minimalist keyboards have smaller than usual ctrl alt etc keys and there will usually be a "compact set" or something similar to cover those. and finally. depending on the set, there will also be a european set or two, for things like é and ñ and ö, and the ISO enter.
    Reply
  • doubletake
    20158587 said:
    What is the name of the standard for the hole in the keycap/post on the key so that you know the keycaps are compatible with your keyboard.
    There are several, but the most common by far are the Cherry MX-style post (cross shaped). The switch compatibility is pretty much always clearly stated in any product listing for aftermarket keycaps, just look for it.

    20158587 said:
    What do people do when the number of keycaps that are supplied are less than the number of keys on their keyboard?...Is there a standard number of keycaps for a set?
    That doesn't happen unless you mistakenly order the wrong set. The 3 most common sets (assuming U.S. layout) include the 100% - 104 key (typical full layout + number pad), the TKL (ten key-less) 87 key, and the 60% - 61 key layouts.

    There are quite a few other layouts that require shopping at dedicated sites for compatible caps, but unless you went out of your way to buy such a keyboard, your board should be compatible. If your board happens to have any additional keys not covered by the usual standard counts (e.g. macro keys, multimedia, etc), you'll have to buy those separately.
    Reply
  • bloodroses
    I'm surprised not to see the typewriter keycap set. I get compliments all the time about mine on my cherry blue keyboard:

    https://www.massdrop.com/buy/typewriter-abs-keycap-set
    Reply
  • bit_user
    I was sure the article was building to something like this:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/jelly-key-forbidden-realm-keycaps-mechanical-keyboards,35016.html

    Now, I see the word "Popular" in the title. Plus, I guess it's about full sets, which those aren't.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    It'd be interesting if some small/medium-sized company commissioned a custom keycap set for the workstations & laptops provided for employee use.
    Reply