Keyboard stabilizers are one of the most important parts of any keyboard, and there’s so much to know about them. From different brands to bandaid mods and lube, stabilizers are much more flexible than they first appear. Here’s everything you need to know about keyboard stabilizers and what they do.
What are keyboard stabilizers?
A keyboard stabilizer is a component that is placed underneath larger keys like the space bar, backspace, Enter, Shift, and some of the larger number pad keys. These stabilizers are placed to prevent these larger keys from moving around while typing. This makes the keys much more stable while in use.
Types of keyboard stabilizers
There are a few different types of keyboard stabilizers that are offered: Cherry-style, Costar, and optical. Each type of stabilizer offers different options for mounting styles, colors, and even the types of material used. Some keyboard stabilizers are much more effective than others, and each one provides a unique experience that another cannot.
For example, Cherry-style keyboard stabilizers are the most common stabilizers on the market and tend to be the most popular type. Their popularity stems from how easy they are to modify and the options they offer when it comes to mounting styles, colors, and material types. This style of keyboard stabilizer gets its name from its shape being similar to that of a Cherry MX stem. Cherry-style keyboard stabilizers come in screw-in, snap-in, or plate-mounted mounting styles.
Costar keyboard stabilizers are not often found in modern keyboards, though they still appear on occasion. Unlike Cherry-style stabilizers, Costar stabilizers hook into the keycap to fit properly. They can be difficult to modify and also make cleaning the keyboard a much longer and harder process than Cherry-style stabilizers. However, Costar keyboard stabilizers are more affordable and provide decent performance without needing to worry about doing any modifications. For users that prefer to mod their keyboards often, Costar stabilizers typically aren’t the best option.
Optical keyboard stabilizers are typically only found on keyboards that use optical switches, like the Razer Huntsman V2, Huntsman V2 Tenkeyless (TKL), and Huntsman Mini. These mount using small clips that go into the keycap and snap into the stabilizer bar underneath the keyboard plate.
Keyboard stabilizer sizes
For those that are looking to get a little bit custom with their keyboard stabilizers, there are a few different things to know, starting with the size. Keyboard stabilizers come in three different sizes including 7u, 6.25u, and 2u, where 1u is equal to the width of one keycap.
Standard space bars use 6.25u stabilizers, but some non-standard keyboard layouts will need to use the 7u size. Full-sized keyboards will need one 6.25u stabilizer for the space bar and seven 2u stabilizers for the other keys. TKL keyboards require one 6.25u stabilizer for the space bar but only four of the 2u-sized stabilizers. The stabilizers required for keyboards smaller than a TKL layout can vary, so there is no universal amount.
Keyboard stabilizer mounting styles
Cherry-style keyboard stabilizers offer a few different styles for mounting, including snap-in, screw-in, and plate-mounted.
Plate-mounted stabilizers tend to be the most common and are typically the go-to choice for many pre-built mechanical keyboards. These are attached to the metal plate that is inside of the keyboard, rather than being directly connected to the printed circuit board (PCB). Plate-mounted stabilizers are generally viewed as the least effective mounting style due to increased vibration and rattling that make typing exceptionally noisy. These stabilizers can be found for about $10-15 on Amazon.
Snap-in stabilizers mount directly to the PCB, meaning they offer a much more stable experience to minimize vibration, which makes them more desired than plate-mounted stabilizers. However, snap-in stabilizers are much less common than plate-mounted stabilizers and are typically only found on custom-built keyboards. These stabilizers can be found for about $10 on Amazon.
Screw-in stabilizers are typically hailed as the best mounting style because they are the most secure and vibrate the least out of all three mounting styles. However, screw-in stabilizers are the least common and are generally found only on custom-built keyboards. Durock, one of the most popular screw-in keyboard stabilizer manufacturers, sells their stabilizers for about $20-30 on Amazon.
While they may not make the biggest impact in typing or gaming experiences, keyboard stabilizers are certainly one of the most important components of any keyboard, which makes them a reasonable place to start for anyone looking into custom keyboards.